Monday, April 30, 2012

Pretty Simple Stuff






Today is Janey’s—one of my bestests friends—birthday!
Happy Birthday Janey!

Janey and I were born exactly one year and one month apart; she on the plus side (as I like to remind her), so she’s a lot wiser and sager than I am, in most things, because of the age difference. 
 
A lot went on in those 13 months that I missed out on.

I won’t tell you just how old she is—she wouldn’t want that—but like a lot of us, it’s much more than what she would like, right now, but much less than what she would hope, in the future.
So it’s a mixed blessing, these birthdays, not to mention message, I suppose.
I have a lot of women friends. In fact most of my bestest friends over the years have been women. Mostly because they smell better than men, always insist on picking up half the check…and let me win at leg wrestling…most of the time.
It’s been my experience that women aren’t as naturally competitive as men, at least in the sense that their win means your loss. They’re just as happy when you win too…in fact I think they might prefer it.
Not so much, the men.
Plus, women like to talk, which I do too…and about things that don’t always require a ball.
I’ve known Janey for just a week over 24 years now, and she hasn’t changed a bit…except for her hair color...which has changed several times.
Sorry….
We met at a little hole in the wall, corporate production company that was literally located in a hole in the wall. Well, more like an old converted warehouse, actually, on this nasty little industrial side street in this ritzy little town on Long Island.
It was run by some nice, well-meaning people, literally a mom and pop shop, but like a lot of small corporate communications places at the time, they were making it up as they went along.
There were a lot of young, talented, professionals on staff, and we did a lot of good work there, when we weren’t running into each other and the walls, which we weren’t used to, you know...because they were new.
Anyway, Janey was the receptionist/ switchboard/ typist/ secretary/ mailroom/ kitchen attendant and so on, person.
Basically, any tedious little job that no one else wanted to do was hers. And she did them all without complaint…sort of.
See, that’s where I came in.
My office, before the warehouse had a lot of new walls, was situated right behind where Janey sat; up front, protecting us all from unwanted intruders, who may or may not have meant us harm…or just wanted to deliver the mail.
So whenever Janey had a bone to pick—or more likely, an entire skeleton—about some assignment that she found particularly tedious, she would stomp in, plop herself down on the classy canvas director’s chair across from my desk and proceed to let out this noise that resembled the sound of a locomotive releasing steam.
That gosh darn–which sounded like something very different when Janey said it—(fill in the name of any offending employee at any given time) is a pain in my gosh darn butt!”–which sounded like something very different when Janey said it.
It didn’t matter if I was on the phone or figuring out a way to get a camera crew to 4 office buildings to interview 6 executives in 3 hours…the next day.
I would usually respond, usually without lifting my head up from what I was doing….
“(Fill in the name of any offending employee at any given time) sucks!”
Which would make her laugh and seemed to be all that she required before she picked herself up, walked out the door and  plopped herself back in her own chair, with a thud.
From there, now unseen behind the wall, she’d continue,…
“This is wrong I tell you…wrong, wrong, wrong….”
Which is when I would usually get up and shut my door.
Which is when she would usually get up and push it back open…but always with a big bright smile.
And on and on it went, every day, in some form, for about 2 years.


After I began freelancing and Janey moved on to full time housewifing duties, we continued to keep in touch and got together every now and again.  More so in the beginning than now, but we still talk on the phone and manage a lunch a few times a year. Occasionally, even a trip to the beach, which is an experience with Janey because she says any exposure to the sun will make her skin slough off; so extreme precautions must be taken, because, as she says... nobody wants to see that.
We’re actually getting together this afternoon for our annual joint Birthday gathering—if two people sharing lunch qualifies as a gathering—and I expect the conversation to go something like this.   
“My gosh darn–which will sound like something very different when Janey says it—neighbor is a pain in my gosh darn butt!"–which will sound like something very different when Janey says it.
I’ll respond….
“Your neighbor sucks!”
To which she’ll reply….
And that gosh darn–which will sound like something very different when Janey says it—contractor that’s redoing my kitchen is a pain in my gosh darn butt!”–which will sound like something very different when Janey says it. 
And I’ll respond….
“Your contractor sucks!”
Which will make her laugh and seem to be all that she requires.
That’s how it is with bestest friends for 24 years. 
Pretty simple stuff….


Friday, April 27, 2012

Quite a thing...this Spring





On a raw late April morning, walking down a puddled lane that snakes and rises through the back woods of town, I can’t help but think….

Quite a thing…quite a thing, this spring.

Residual drops from last night’s rain cling to blades of thirsty lawns.

A small break of sun splits the clouds; tendrils of steam rise off the heated roadway as robins splash in pollen painted pools.

Again…I can’t help but think….

Quite a thing…quite a thing, this spring.

Drooping rows of lilacs bow as I pass by; down, but not out, bent but not defeated.

A Dog yaps as he passes; the owner assuring, he only wants to play.

A jogger slogs by scattered rows of tulips; they struggle to stand tall again, reaching towards the sun.

Pink eared Dogwoods sway within a breeze that nibbles more than bites; squirrels jump from branch to branch, in the moment, uncaring, but not uncertain.

Azaleas, splashed in white, purple, pink, and red, stand proud like King and Queen watching by the gate.

The mourning dove coos, the woodpecker pecks, a hawk soars and a pair of chipmunks dart beneath parked cars.

The air is moist and cool.

The earth refreshed.

Again…I can’t help but think….

Quite a thing…quite a thing, this spring.






Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday Movement





At the risk of sounding overly optimistic, which is something I’m overly prone to, which often leads to being overly disappointed…I just wanted to let you know there’s been some movement with the Wednesday situation.

Nothing for certain, but the good news is the Mexican government has agreed to let Wednesday off with a warning, providing it leaves the country immediately.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Wednesday without some sort of a hiccup to work through.


Apparently the US border patrol had some issues with Wednesday, as well.

It seems he was carrying Saturdays passport and not his own, which is really dumb because everyone knows Saturday and Wednesday look nothing alike.

You know…except for the big ears.

Plus, I think Wednesday is sporting one of those cheesy goatee beards now…and a nose ring.

So from what I’ve been able to determine, they dragged his fat midweek butt into one of those Homeland Security border interrogation facilities.

Of course Wednesday, being Wednesday, starts in with the indignant, “You don’t know what kind of day you’re dealing with here,” speech, which you can imagine didn’t do him any favors.

Next thing you know this big guy walks in and says “So I can see it’s gonna be one of those days, huh?”

Then closes the door. 

Which doesn’t sound like much, at least to me, but apparently he used tone, which, Wednesday, really being Wednesday, immediately took to be threatening.

I don’t have a lot of details as to what actually went on behind that closed door but the next thing I know I’m getting a call from Wednesday saying he’s sorry for all the fuss he’s caused, and they’ll let him come home as long as he can prove he’s gainfully employed.

He said he wants to sit down with me without the agents and the lawyers; just the two of us mano y dia.

So now I’ve got some Seinfeld like “hand” in this little matter, which we’ll describe as upper…way upper there.

But I’m not a spiteful person who likes to hold a grudge. I believe in second chances.

So I’ve decided to think about it.

For a while….

Plus I have to see how all the other days feel about the whole situation.

And, as you know, getting any kind of consensus from the rest of the week is always tricky; you never know what they’re thinking from one day to the next.

It’s just a day to day kind of thing.



Monday, April 23, 2012

Reality TV & The Blogger Bore





About a thousand years ago, the closest thing we had to what is now called “Reality TV” was a show called Candid Camera. 

I’m sure most of you are familiar with it since it’s been around in various incarnations through the ages.

It was a mean little show based on the premise that all of us love to watch other people be made fools of in public.

And who can argue with that….

It was originally created and hosted by Alan Funt, a chubby, bald man, which is of no relative significance other than he was, and boasted a super talented cast of writers and performers the likes of Woody Allen and Fannie Flagg.


Who needs Annie Hall and Fried Green Tomatoes?


Basically, Mr. Funt would hide a camera out on the street and ask unsuspecting passerby’s to watch his car while he ran into see a guy about a guy, and then have another guy in a gorilla suit come out and drive the car away…whereupon Alan would reappear and ask the guy what happened to his car? If all went well, the car watcher would then become totally apoplectic and, if we were really lucky, begin to hyperventilate and have a nervous breakdown, trying to explain about the gorilla.

Yeah…I know…that’s entertainment!

But that was then…when there were only 3 big networks around and most places were lucky to get more than 2 or 3 viewable channels.

Nowadays, there’re still only 2 or 3 “viewable” channels…but there’s a national network available for just about any topic and anybody who can operate a cable remote.

In fact I think there’s a hot new show called “Cable Calamities” on the new “Lifestyles & Remotes Network”.

Hidden cameras record the antics of people who are learning how to operate their new cable remote controls.  Hilarity ensues when grandpa mistakenly mutes the audio function and develops chest pain because he fears he may have gone deaf….

But you really need to see the whole episode to get the full comic effect once the paramedics revive the poor guy.

Good Times….

A mere 20 years ago if one wanted to make a social commentary on the nature of mass media, one might have created a satirical scenario that would have featured the very state of national television programming today.

If two had wanted to make a social commentary, then they would have probably just talked over one another and no one would have made any sense of it, if any sense is to be made of social commentary in the first place.


If you’ve always been a fan of storage lockers…there’s a show for that.


Pawn Shops…bingo!

Tow Truck Drivers…you got it.

Hoarders.

Obsessive Compulives.

Repo men.

Rich Women getting their nails done.

Rich Women getting their hair done.

Rich Women getting their faces re-done.

There are shows about bachelors.

Shows about bachelorettes.

Fat people losing weight.

Skinny people gaining weight.

People who live together.

People who live alone.

Shows about boring celebrities.

Shows about boring people who think they’re celebrities.

Monster Brides.

Fantasy Weddings.

Cupcakes.

Speed Cooking.

Surviving.

Not Surviving.

And on and on it goes….

Okay…I admit it.

I’m just bitter because I’ve been trying to pitch a new reality TV series based on the life of a Freelance writer who blogs for the fun of it, mostly because no one has volunteered to pay him for it.

I call it “Blogger Bore”.




Each episode begins with the Blogger Bore staring at the blank ceiling above his bed hoping that a funny idea will mysteriously appear there.

Cut to the Blogger Bore brushing his teeth hoping that a funny idea will mysteriously appear there.

Cut to the Blogger Bore drinking coffee hoping that a funny idea will mysteriously appear there.

Cut to the Blogger Bore drinking more coffee, pursuing the Internet hoping that a funny idea will mysteriously appear there.

Cut to the Blogger Bore drinking even more coffee, still pursuing the Internet hoping that somebody else’s funny idea will mysteriously appear there...so he can steal it.

And on and on it goes.

Hey, it could happen.

I’m just waiting to hear back from Dick Clark about hosting.


I'm pretty sure he was hot to do it, but now he's not returning my calls .


I guess that's how these kinds of big time negotiations go.


I'm sure he'll get back to me soon and we'll iron out the kinks....

While I’m waiting I’m hoping that a funny idea will mysteriously appear here.

I’m sure you are too….


Friday, April 20, 2012

Pizza Paranoia






Every now and then, Z and I like to sneak out on a Friday evening and get a jump on the weekend.

We actually put on disguises, complete with dark glasses, wigs and beards, so as not to be caught.

Okay, I’m kidding about that part…only Z puts on the beard.

You might think this is kind of an odd thing to do, these disguises, but what can I say…we just like to keep our personal business to ourselves.

Well, it’s mostly me…not Z.

Z says she doesn’t owe anybody any money, so she’s doesn’t care what people think. I’m not sure, at all, what that means but she tells me this is something her mom used to say, so it must mean something.

I’ve learned, over the years, not to argue with that kind of logic, so we’ll leave it at that.

But I think it might have something to do with me.

Anyway, I guess you’re thinking I’m a little paranoid.

Maybe…but better to be safe than sorry.

You know….

Not that our neighbors keep a watchful eye out for our comings and goings; they all pretty much keep to themselves, too.

Well, except for the guy down on the adjacent corner who I suspect has a camera equipped with a long telescopic lens set up in his back window.

Or the woman in the house behind us who I’m convinced is using one of those big parabolic microphones to listen in on the conversations I have with myself.

Or the kid next door who is highjacking my internet connection and stealing at all of my personal information and reading all my blogs before I have a chance to post them.

Not that I mind him grabbing a sneak peek, but I resent all the revisions.

So, where was I?

Oh, yeah…Z and I sneaking out on a Friday night.

We went up to a local Pizza place in Greenwich that we’ve been known to frequent on occasion over the last decade or two.

There’s no set schedule as to when we go…so don’t be getting any ideas about following us there. We tend to mix up our routine just to avoid that kind of situation.

Plus you wouldn’t recognize us anyway, even if you did.  You know, because of the wig and the beard.

I know…I’m getting a little off topic again. 

I’m just saying…can’t be too careful.

We’ve been going to this little out of the way pizza joint since sometime in the 90s.  It doesn’t seem that long ago, but these days nothing seems like “that long ago”.

You know…because of the Russians.

We’re actually on our third owners there.

Not that any of the new owners have changed anything about the place except for some fresh paint and a few new menu enhancements throughout the years.

It’s just one of those quirky little spots with an eclectic d├ęcor, menu and clientele that you really can’t improve on.

Well, I could, like I told the first and second owners, but no one seems to listen to any of my suggestions about lining the ceiling with tin foil and adding the giant bullet proof Squid tank in the front window or even the puppet show on Thursday nights.

Anyway, I’m a little disappointed to say that this current ownership is still not up to speed yet, in the area of running one of our favorite places, even though they’ve been around now for well over a year.

Just little things like, except for picking up the tips, they’re pretty slow to clean up vacated tables or remembering to bring us menus, let alone wait on us.

I mean yeah, it was a Friday, so it was a little busy but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect to be served a glass of wine and a bottle of beer within the first half hour of sitting down.

Sure, I always require the waitress sample my drink for toxins first, but c’mon. 

And even with the e-coli screening, should we really have to wait 45 minutes for our medium veggie pizza to arrive, which, after it finally appeared, looked mysteriously like a small?

When we complained, that we had ordered a medium pizza, and not a small, the waitress told us that it was just on a large tray, which made it look small.

I don’t know…I suppose she might have had a point, but I’m pretty sure that a medium pizza is somewhat larger than the old 45 rpm of “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies, that I wear around my neck…you know, because it jams all the ultra-sonic frequencies coming from the surveillance satellites.

The new owner noticed we were a little dissatisfied with our order and once he finished updating his Facebook page, came over to our table and offered to make it up to us by bringing us one of his grandmother’s homemade meatballs. He said they were fantastic, and I have to say that they were. However, his grandmother wasn’t quite finished eating them yet and was understandably annoyed, shooting us the stink eye the rest of the night.

So that was uncomfortable.

But it’s just that kind of place.

All in all we spent an enjoyable 4 or 5 hours…waiting for the check to arrive and once it did we were pleased to see that they only charged us for the medium pizza once instead of twice…and Grandma’s meatballs were only half price.

But that’s okay…I paid with the phony credit card that I always use to avoid having my “real” identity stolen when I see the black SUVs parked across the street.

Not that I use it all that often.

But let’s just say Mr. Alfred E. Neuman has been very good to me.



Monday, April 16, 2012

You’re Welcome




See...a little bitching goes a long way. 

Ms. Nature apparently took heed of my cool weather complaints on Friday and…voila...hello 70 degrees.

You’re welcome….

It’s mid Sunday morning as I’m writing this with a belly full of Z’s famous French Toast. The promise of another warm day lies ahead and they’re saying 80’s for tomorrow, or today, as you read this. 

So, the buds can once again get on with the business of blooming and the sun birds with the business of tanning their melanomas.

Again…you’re welcome.

Of course, even though I’m not one to complain…for more than 7 to 10 hours every day…I have to say that the nice weather does put a lot of pressure on a person to get outside and get things done. 

So there is a down side.

The upside is that the spell of premature warmth we had in mid-March did get the ball rolling early on some of those chores, so there is somewhat less to do now…at least for Z.  I don’t usually have much to do under any conditions, so my situation hasn’t changed much.

The garage has already been emptied of patio furniture and swept out.

The stack of this season’s left over firewood has been neatly stored off to the side to await next fall’s immolation along with its next season’s brethren in back of the garage.

The afore mentioned patio furniture is already in place on the deck, which itself awaits a power washing once the spring pollen has dissipated. And of course there are gardens to till and mulch, not to mention a slew of flowers and vegetables still to be purchased and planted.

Did I mention washing the cars...?

No wonder Z’s forgone sleep for the past couple of weeks.

Of course I exaggerate for entertainment purposes when I say Z does all the work.  There’s no way she could get the big patio table up there without my support and encouragement, which I know she appreciates.

She doesn’t say much to indicate her gratitude, but we’ve been together long enough that it goes without saying. Plus most of the four letter words she does mutter are on the softer side.

So you tell me….

My big thing is the lawn.

Yeah…I know. I’m one of those “lawn guys”.

Who would have thunk it.

But I kind of fell into it by accident, well, almost…about 11 years ago.

I mean literally almost fell into it….like in the 10 foot deep hole they had to dig in my not yet, but soon to be front lawn after it was discovered that the current owner at the time had not one, but two leaky oil tanks buried down there…along with various unknown associates. 

Luckily I had some soil testing done before we signed anything, so the remediation and clean up was of no cost to me, other than I was now buying a house with a front dust bowl instead of a lawn…along with various unknown associates.

The environmental remediation contractor did re-grade and seed, but the next weekend, the sellers decided to hold a tag sale out there, after it rained, and pretty much tore everything back up and left about a hundred footprints everywhere you looked.

Do you think they were bitter?

Anyway, once we got settled in I had no choice but to go out there and hoe like a farmer and smooth everything out. Of course being me, I missed a few spots so there are still several foot remnants buried under the green, here and there.  Something for the archeologists to ponder in the future I suppose…or not.

I bought a mountain of grass seed that fall and religiously watered twice a day….

I mean really religiously, down on my knees next to the priest and rabbi I hired to help hold the hose.

I wasn’t taking any chances.

And lo and behold, on the 7th day, there begat little green spouts in the previously barren soil…not to mention the rabbi’s beard, and the priest’s hairy toes.

Okay, they were my hairy toes, not the priest’s.  The priest had left earlier in the week to set up for Bingo.

This left me alone with the Rabbi, which I didn’t mind since his stories were more entertaining than the priests.

But I digress…

The bottom line is, a beautiful weed free lawn miraculously appeared that September and early October, which I, again, religiously keep that way through a sharp eye and immediate dandelion, crab grass and clover eradication.

I don’t really need the Rabbi any more, but like I said he tells a good story so I don’t have the heart to tell him.

Plus, as he always reminds me…what does it hurt?

Z is on to some indoor chores now; washing windows and curtains and other various and sundry tasks known only to those who do…certainly not to me.


And speaking of me, the lawn hollers with a dandelion alert, with a smattering of clover.


Okay…it’s really just the Rabbi. 

Such a nudnik, he is…but also a mensch, who grows a good lawn.