Flying Over I-95 N. In Magic Kingdom.

Is that Magic Kingdom? Disney? Yes. Were you there? No. But Yes, in gusts of memories as I sat in a large ballroom at the J.W. Marriott in Orlando, listening to a speaker discuss “Cybersecurity in the Modern World.” Fastpasses. Teacup. Turkey legs. Splash Mountain. The monorail train ride to the park, Eric’s favorite part of the trip. The body aches, as I carry him on my shoulders along the parade route so he can see over the crowds. It’s a Small World (afterall).

It’s the late afternoon flight departing from Orlando — the 5:41 p.m. on jetBlue #1694.  “We will be boarding in a few minutes. This is a full flight. We are oversold and looking for volunteers to take the next flight.”  A morning flight was canceled “due to inclement weather in New York.” Why ‘inclement?’ Why not ‘bad’? Or ‘stormy.’ Or ‘wintry.’

A large crowd mills around the gate, impatient. “One of these things is not like the others. One of these things doesn’t belong. Can you tell which thing is not like the other by the time I finish this song.”

Mom’s, exhausted, shoulders slumped, have large bags slung over their shoulders. They watch their children run around the waiting area, others are consumed on their handhelds. Dad’s sit and watch loops of CNN on the overhead TVs.  Moms, Dads, kids, holiday, Disney and then me — the Suit, work.

We board.

We lift off. [Read more…]

Imagine having no talent. Imagine being no good at all at something and doing it anyway.

Imagine having no talent. Imagine being no good at all at something and doing it anyway. Then, after nine years, failing at it and giving it up in disgust and moving to Englewood, N.J., and selling aluminum siding. And then, years later, trying the thing again, though it wrecks your marriage, and failing again. And eventually making a meticulous study of the thing and figuring out that, by eliminating every extraneous element, you could isolate what makes it work and just do that. And then, after becoming better at it than anyone who had ever done it, realizing that maybe you didn’t need the talent. That maybe its absence was a gift.

These were the stations on the via dolorosa of Jacob Cohen, a.k.a. Rodney Dangerfield, whose comedy I hold above all others’. At his peak — look on YouTube for any set he did between 1976 and 1990 — he was the funniest entertainer ever. That peak was long in coming; by the time he perfected his act, he was nearly 60. But everything about Dangerfield was weird. While other comedians of that era made their names in television and film, Dangerfield made his with stand-up. It was a stand-up as dated as he was: He stood on stage stock-still in a rumpled black suit and shiny red tie and told a succession of diamond-hard one-liners.

The one-liners were impeccable, unimprovable. Dangerfield spent years on them; he once told an interviewer that it took him three months to work up six minutes of material for a talk-show appearance. If there’s art about life and art about art, Dangerfield’s comedy was the latter — he was the supreme formalist. Lacking inborn ability, he studied the moving parts of a joke with an engineer’s rigor. And so Dangerfield, who told audiences that as a child he was so ugly that his mother fed him with a slingshot, became the leading semiotician of postwar American comedy. How someone can watch him with anything short of wonder is beyond me.

~ Alex Halberstadt, from “Letter of Recommendation: Rodney Dangerfield” (The New York Times, January 26 2018)

Tell Me More

Me, I’m all over the place. I look like my dad, and like both the girls in different ways. My hair is naturally curly but not in the sexy beachy way. If I were a dog, I’d be the kind that’s easier to shave down than to groom. I have been told I have large teeth. I’m soft, and getting softer, and my ass is less pumpkin than helipad. To pretend I care enough to fix these things, I exercise every Saturday morning with Edward. I slow down when my forehead starts to shine—I’m not a huge fan of showers. I wear the same clothes all week and often get past noon before putting on a bra or looking in the mirror. I prefer projects to jobs. I’ve built “furniture,” been a “photographer,” and started a “company.” I am riddled with ideas, a dozen a day. My ambition waxes when I drink alcohol—one skinny margarita can have me filing to run for state senate—and wanes in the morning after the kids leave and I am alone with the work. The one absolutely good thing I do is volunteer for our local children’s hospital. Every Tuesday, from three p.m. to five p.m., I hold babies in the NICU.

~ Kelly Corrigan, Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say (January 9, 2018)


Verdict: Highly Recommended.

Cut it. Cut it in half.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

[fragment]

How does one begin to describe Saturday mornings? That lazy, lay-in-bed, nothing-to-do, no-where-to-go feeling. Is this what retirement feels like?

I hoist myself up, lean against headboard, adjust the laptop and screen brightness and begin ingesting data, photos, emails and the morning news. There’s a Metro North train whistle in the distance, Manhattan bound. Thank God that’s not me.

It’s 7:34 a.m. 16 minutes from opening.  We’ve officially boycotted The Salon after the last and final experience in Red Lines, Banalities and Grumpy Middle Aged Men.

So, we’re back. Back to Barber Shop. I pull into the lot at 7:57 a.m. and a “We’re Open” sign hangs from the door.

“Good morning!”
“Do you have an appointment?”
“No, anyone is fine.”
“Ok, no worries, we’ll be right with you.”

Wait time: 2 minutes.

“How would you like it?”

“Not short. Light trim, please.” Are you kidding? Crew cut. Tight. High and Tight. Flat top. Trim. This is a Barber Shop. Like it matters. The precision here is akin to cutting your lawn with a scythe v. a Honda power mower.

He grabs his bottle and spritzes me. Water droplets snail down my forehead. The mist clears, and there is me, staring at me in the mirror. Wow. Look at you. When did this happen? A few desperate hairs cover the front end of your scalp. That ain’t a flattering picture Pal.

And he gets after it. With a whole lot of electric clipper and not much scissor.

[Read more…]

Monday Morning


Photo: A lion yawns at the Wilhema Zoo in Stuttgart, Germany. Photo by Christoph Schmidt, Zuma Press (wsj.com December 26, 2017)

T.G.I.F.: Morning Swim (Post Grayson)


Source: Giphy.com

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

I’m glad. Oh, I’m so glad.

Table of Contents from: Be Glad You’re Neurotic” by Louis E. Bisch. (1946, original copyright 1936)

“From my admittedly low effort research, Be Glad You’re Neurotic is an example of early pop psychology publications. Bisch wants everyone to embrace their inner crazy, the idea that this is what makes you a better human (ie. superior). Bottom line: You can cure yourself by just embracing your inner freak.” By Mary Kelly, December, 7, 2017


Source: Awful library books (via this isn’t happiness)

Riding Metro North. One Car Short.

Thursday morning.
33°F. Feels like 23°F.
Out the door at 4:50 am to catch the 5:01.

Dark.

Directly across the street: new Neighbors. Young and DINK.  First things first. No curtains up, yet bright, white lights were carefully hand strung and evenly distributed across their bushes. The evergreens throw shadows on the front door. I pause. What was that? That softening, that load lightening ever so slightly. ‘Tis the season.

I board train. No open seats. At 5:01 a.m.?  Conductor announces that the train is one car short and apologizes. $15.25 for a one-way Peak ticket to Grand Central (Yes, Peak at 5:01 am.)  $15.25 and you get the privilege of standing. And standing for 55 minutes. Sigh.

I stand in the aisle, as the vestibule overflows with commuters. I set my bag down between my legs, grab the seat support, being careful not to brush against the passenger sitting in the seat.  I hover over him. He feels it. Nobody likes this.

We’re five minutes into the commute. I’m restless. I’m tired. I’m anxious. I’m not going to make it. [Read more…]

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

  • Photo: “You couldn’t have! To his fellow seal, this elephant seal seems in shock.” by George Cathcart
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again
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