Sunday, January 23, 2005

You Know You're From NY

January 23, 2005 - Sunday

You know you're from NY...

You Know You're From New York City When...
You say "the city" and expect everyone to know that this means Manhattan.

You have never been to the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building.

You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Columbus Circle to Battery Park at 3:30 on the Friday before a long weekend, but can’t find Wisconsin on a map.

Hookers and the homeless are invisible.

The subway makes sense.

You believe that being able to swear at people in their own language makes you multi-lingual.

You've considered stabbing someone just for saying "The Big Apple".

The most frequently used part of your car is the horn.

You call an 8' x 10' plot of patchy grass a yard.

You consider Westchester "upstate".

You think Central Park is "nature."

You see nothing odd about the speed of an auctioneer's speaking.

You're paying $1,200 for a studio the size of a walk-in closet and you think it's a "steal."

You've been to New Jersey twice and got hopelessly lost both times.

You pay more each month to park your car than most people in the U.S. pay in rent.

You haven't seen more than twelve stars in the night sky since you went away to camp as a kid.

You go to dinner at 9 and head out to the clubs when most Americans are heading to bed.

Your closet is filled with black clothes.

You haven't heard the sound of true absolute silence since the 80s, and when you did, it terrified you.

You pay $5 without blinking for a beer that cost the bar 28 cents.

You take fashion seriously.

Being truly alone makes you nervous.

You have 27 different menus next to your telephone.

Going to Brooklyn is considered a "road trip."

America west of the Hudson is still theoretical to you.

You've gotten jaywalking down to an art form.

You take a taxi to get to your health club to exercise.

Your idea of personal space is no one actually standing on your toes.

$50 worth of groceries fit in one paper bag.

You have a minimum of five "worst cab ride ever" stories.

You don't notice sirens anymore.

You live in a building with a larger population than most American towns.

Your doorman is Russian, your grocer is Korean your deli man is Israeli, your building super is Italian, your laundry guy is Chinese, your favorite bartender is Irish, your favorite diner owner is Greek, the watchseller on your corner is Senegalese, your last cabbie was Pakistani, your newsstand guy is Indian and your favorite falafel guy is Egyptian.

You're suspicious of strangers who are actually nice to you.

You secretly envy cabbies for their driving skills.

You think $7.00 to cross a bridge is a fair price.

Your door has more than three locks.

Your favorite movie has DeNiro in it.

You consider eye contact an act of overt aggression.

You run when you see a flashing "Do Not Walk" sign at the intersection.

You're 35 years old and don't have a driver's license.

You ride in a subway car with no air conditioning just because there are seats available.

You're willing to take in strange people as roommates simply to help pay the rent.

There is no North and South. It's uptown or downtown.

When you're away from home, you miss "real" pizza and "real" bagels.

You know the differences between all the different Ray's Pizzas.

You're not in the least bit interested in going to Times Square on New Year's Eve.

Your internal clock is permanently set to know when Alternate Side of the Street parking regulations are in effect.

You know what a bodega is.

You know how to fold the New York Times in half, vertically, so that you can read it on the subway or bus without knocking off other passenger's hats.

Someone bumps into you, and you check for your wallet.....

You cringe at hearing people pronounce Houston St. like the city in Texas

Film crews on your block annoy you, not excite you.

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from NYC.

Friday, January 21, 2005

2004 Darwin Awards

January 21, 2005 - Friday

Stupid People Tricks


They are finally out again.

In case you don't know it's an annual honour given to the person who did the gene pool the biggest service by killing themselves in the most extraordinarily stupid way, thereby removing their "stupid" genes from infecting our grandchildren.

Last year's winner was the fellow who was killed by a Coke machine which toppled over on top of him as he was attempting to tip a free soda out of it.

And the nominees this year, in reverse order, are:

7. A young Canadian man, searching for a way of getting drunk cheaply because he had no money with which to buy alcohol, mixed gasoline with milk. Not surprisingly, this concoction made him ill, and he vomited into the fireplace in his house. The resulting explosion and fire burned his house down, killing both him and his sister.

6. A 34-year-old white male found dead in the basement of his home died of suffocation, according to police. He was approximately 6' 2" tall and weighed 225 pounds. He was wearing a pleated skirt, white bra, black and white saddle shoes, and a woman's wig. It appeared that he was trying to create a schoolgirl's uniform look. He was also wearing a military gas mask that had the filter canister removed and a rubber hose attached in its place. The other end of the hose was connected to one end of a hollow tube approx. 30" long and 3" in diameter. The tube's other end was, for reasons unknown, inserted into his rectum and was the cause of his suffocation.

Police found the task of explaining the circumstances of his death to his family very awkward. .

5. Three Brazilian men were flying in a light aircraft at low altitude when another plane approached. It appears that they decided to moon the occupants of the other plane, but lost control of their own aircraft and crashed. They were all found dead in the wreckage with their pants around their ankles.

4. A 22-year-old, man was found dead after he tried to use octopus straps to bungee jump off a 70 foot railroad trestle. Fairfax County police said Eric Barcia, a fast-food worker, taped a bunch of these straps together, wrapped one end around one foot, anchored the other end to the trestle at Lake Accotink Park, jumped and hit the pavement. Warren Carmichael, a police spokesman, said investigators think Barcia was alone because his car was found nearby. "The length of the cord that he assembled was greater than the distance between the trestle and the ground" Carmichael said. Police say the apparent cause of death was "major trauma." .

3. A man in Alabama died from rattlesnake bites. It seems that he and a friend were playing a game of catch, using the rattlesnake as a ball. The friend, no doubt a future Darwin Awards candidate, was hospitalized. .

2. Employees in a medium sized warehouse in west Texas noticed the smell of a gas leak. Sensibly, management evacuated the building, extinguishing all potential sources of ignition; lights, power, etc. After the building had been evacuated, two technicians from the gas company were dispatched. Upon entering the building, they found they had difficulty navigating in the dark. To their frustration, none of the lights worked. Witnesses later described the sight of one of the technicians reaching into his pocket and retrieving an object that resembled a cigarette lighter. Upon operation of the lighter-like object, the gas in the warehouse exploded, sending pieces of it up to three miles away. Nothing was found of the technicians, but the lighter was virtually untouched by the explosion. The technician suspected of causing the blast had never been thought of as 'bright' by his peers. .

AND THE WINNER.....(ouch....)

1. Based on a bet by the other members of his threesome, Everitt Sanchez tried to wash his own "balls" in a ball washer at the local golf course. Proving once again that beer and testosterone are a bad mix, Sanchez managed to straddle the ball washer and dangle his balls in the machine. Much to his dismay, one of his buddies upped the ante by spinning the crank on the machine with Sanchez's balls in place, thus wedging them solidly in the mechanism.

Sanchez, who immediately passed his threshold of pain, collapsed and tumbled from his perch. Unfortunately for him, the height of the ball washer was more than a foot higher off the ground than his testicles are in a normal stance, and his balls were the weakest link.

Sanchez's balls ripped open during the fall, and one testicle was plucked from him forever and remained in the ball washer, while the other testicle was compressed and flattened as it was pulled between the housing of the washer, and the rotating machinery inside.

To add insult to injury, Sanchez broke a new $300.00 driver that he had just purchased from the pro shop, and was using to balance himself.

Sanchez was rushed to the hospital for surgery, and the remaining threesome was asked to leave the course.

Note: This last one wouldn't normally count, because the idiot didn't die. But because he cannot reproduce as a result of his qualifying act of stupidity, we have allowed it.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Shuffle Shuffle Shuffle

January 20, 2005 - Thursday

Shuffle Shuffle Shuffle

Okay so I think I'm going to get an iPod Shuffle. I'm blaming Stephanie for this, and I'll continue to blame her throughout my congressional hearings. I'm a PC-man, not an Apple Person. Why am I buying an Apple product? Damn you woman. I'll get you for this; you, and your little iPod too!

I go on eBay, and I want to reach through the screen and smack people. They're paying $130-$160 for the 512mb shuffle. Which retails for $99.

I didn't even bother pricing the 1gig, which is the one I want - and can buy for $149. Freaks. Do you absolutely need to have it, now, that badly?

Anyway. I go to, and they've got it set to ship in "3-4 weeks". Hah. I think not. but they do have a link to the SoHo store here in NY. Okay good. The SoHo site has a list of all the stuff you can get from them. Wowzers. Joy. So I click on the Shuffle. Where does it take me?

Back to the original online store.

I hate Apple. I haven't liked Apple since they discontinued the Apple IIe, and came out with the first monochrome, boxy Macintosh. Yes, I'm that old; screw you.

Somewhat off-topic; is there a guy at Apple whose sole job is to yell "$29.99" when someone asks "how much should we sell this accessory for?" Every accessory is $29.99. I feel like I'm in some robotic universe with a mechanical, female voiceover directing me to what I should buy. I want to go to the Apple Store (and I say this in a trance-like, hypnotic caffine-induced state), but I'm afraid when I get there this robotic arm with a giant white eyeball on the end of it will unfold from the ceiling like some arctic arachnid and brain-scan me. A bar code will appear on my forehead, and every time I look at an Apple product $29.99 will be deducted from my bank account.

My god. I've been Apple-ized!

Help me Bill Gates. You're my only hope.


UPDATE: it's post-midnight, and there is a 1G Shuffle about to sell for $200.48 (with 4 hours left) on eBay. It's $149.99 retail. I wasn't sure before, but now I'm absolutely certain - Apple People are crazy. You freaks.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


January 19, 2005 - Wednesday


In the midst of a conversation with a co-worker last week, it came out that I am what they call a "lucid dreamer". In short, lucid dreaming is "consciously perceiving and recognizing that one is in a dream while one is sleeping, and having control over the "dreamscape", or the faux-reality dream world within a dream. Stephen LaBerge, a published author and expert on the subject, has defined it as simply realizing that one is dreaming while in a dream. Other authorities contend that in order for the state of a dreaming person to be lucid, that person must have control over his or her dreamscape (because simply having the mental idea "I am lucid" could be a creation of the subconscious itself and not a real "rational" thought)." (court. of

Lucid dreamers are called - you guessed it - oneironauts. I may have to use that word in a story someday, just on general principle. But I digress.

As I understand it, this is a big deal to those who study the field of dreaming. Fascinating stuff, he said in a nasally British accent. People practice trying to enter a lucid dream state; it's incredibly hard to do on purpose, as I read more on it.

The kicker is this: I'm used to it. I never thought it was a big deal, at all. I've done it all my life, and to be honest I always thought this is how dreams were. Sure I have regular dreams, but as a child I had many, many recurring dreams, dreams that stuck with me in detail. I had one dream in particular that played out innumerable times; as a very young child I'd have the dream at least once a week, and I very strongly recall some elements of the dream even now. It took place in my childhood room in Detroit, and involved geometrical shapes as, well...spirits. Entities. I really don't know what else to call them. They were my dream versions of invisible friends, I guess. Two in particular I recall: a spiky one who, for some reason, hated me and was always trying to get me, and a sphere who was my friend and I'd named, appropriately enough, Casper. I had that dream, with lessening frequency, up until I was around 15 or 16 years old. By then, I hadn't had the dream for a couple of years so I was pleasantly surprised to have it again. It was like seeing an old friend for the very last time.

I've had night terrors, I've sleepwalked, I've been told I've carried on conversations in my sleep. And I could control my dreams at times. Easily so. I can recall another dream where I jumped through different sci-fi adventures in my dream, all of my own creation. There was, admittedly, a girl I had a crush on (who, ironically enough, I don't remember); in my dream she was the prototypical Damsel in Distress and I was the hero who had to save her. The monsters/aliens/demons/villains snatched her from a park and I got to run from horror movie to space battle to jungle cliff hanger (literally!) to save her from them.

I guess, in hindsight, I'd been a waking study (pun intended) in dream analysis. But to me it was par for the course. Not so much anymore, but for years I enjoyed my dreams as a form of entertainment.

Take last night. I had several dreams, one of which kept restarting. There was nothing overly fantastic about it, to me anyway, except that I was in my usual disenchanted state from the actual dream events. It was like the so-called out of body experience they say you have when you die; I was a metaphysical presence hovering in the corner of a room, watching events unfold - fully aware of what was happening, and frankly enjoying the show. William Shatner was playing "me", or what I understood to be my role. Which is a little freaky.

But then the dream changed, and got all nightmarish. I was in a bed, just rising from sleep; something woke me up. At first I thought I was in my own bed, but after actually waking up in the real world I realized it wasn't my bed. In the dream I was being tied down; two guys, black or hispanic in their late teens (their faces were shadowed, i couldn't see too much detail) were strapping me to my bed with bungee cords. They were wearing wool caps, I remember that much; one had a dark bubble coat on. I tried to scream, my throat closed up when I tried. One of them - or both, I'm not sure - looked at me, lunged at me with a knife...and I woke up. That was roughly 5am, give or take a few minutes.

So what do I make of it? Nothing, or at least I hope nothing. I've had dreams like that all my life, and to be honest I'm deathly afraid to read anything even remotely supernatural into it.

It was just a dream. Right?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Ghost Orchids, Part II

January 18, 2005 - Tuesday

the Ghost Orchid (II)

So: when did I stop chasing windmills?

Forget the movie, the movie is just a metaphor right now. The original point of my post was that the ideas and thoughts presented in the movie were mirroring my own, about various aspects of my own life. So in that respect, I suppose, the message hasn't been lost.

But again I have to ask myself, when did I stop chasing windmills?

I loved being the man of La Mancha, and I was in so many respects. At my core, I believed - strongly - in passion. Not love, but passion - listening to my heart and letting it lead me, often blindly, never regretably. I chased rainbows, I fought dragons and giants and leviathans of the deep; I loved, I lost, I spoke true and stayed true to myself.

So where did that person go? It's still there, inside me, but I let society's whims and needs and requirements exorcise my demons. I became respectable - or tried to be, anyway.

And that's not who I am.

"...the only barometer you have is your heart; how, when you spot your flower, you can't let anything get in your way."

It's funny, but I had a very similar thought earlier. That's the part of me I lost somewhere along the way, and I'm determined to find that person again.

"If the ghost orchid was really a phantom, it was still such a bewitching one that it could seduce people to persue it year after year, mile after miserable mile. If it was a real flower I wanted to see one. The reason was not that I loved orchids, I don't especially like orchids; what I wanted to see this thing that people were drawn to in such a singular and powerful way."

And there's it, right there. There was a time I knew what that thing was, without ever putting a name to it. Then I lost that innate knowledge; I turned to logic, to trying to understand what this thing was. I think I wanted to control it, to make it something I could manipulate and turn on, or off, as I pleased.

Understand: the movie hasn't given me any epiphany. It was a movie, for fuck's sake. What has me in this self-analytical bent is the combination of small events that inexplicably tie in, that seem to be telling me something pretty damned loud - if I would only take the time from my oh-so-busy day and listen.

I think...there was a moment in time when I faced down the windmill, and lost. Badly. It left its mark on me; it left, I think, fear. A sense of mortality. I didn't fear the windmill, the dragon, because it was a Dream. It was my ghost orchid - only, when I found it, it had thorns and pricked me.

So I gave up orchids. Fuck orchids.

But I think that mentality is wrong, at least it is for me.

There was a time when I did cave in to fear. Two moments, actually. Instead of climbing the windmill I passed it by, gave it a wide berth and ignored it. I had good reasons for doing it, and given the same circumstances I might - might - do it again. one of those windmills has come back into view, and the circumstances have changed. Life is giving me a rarity - a second chance to make a choice, for better or worse. To take a chance, to risk it all.

To regain that passion that used to define me.

Of course, if I'm wrong, that windmill is going to toss me up several miles into the air and watch me come crashing back down to earth in an incredibly decorative splatter. Mind the kiddies folks, and wear your galoshes.

Still. I miss that constant thump-thump-thump that told me, every day of my life, how alive I was.

And what's a little blood and guts compared to that?

Enough rambling for tonight.

Ghost Orchid, Part I

the Ghost Orchid (I)

"There are no coincidences."

I'm iffy on the concept. Sometimes I believe, other times - well, most times - I think it's just a bunch of bull.

This isn't one of those times.

I've had the movie "Adaptation" on my tv stand for about 3 weeks now, just waiting to be watched. It's a Netflix rental, so I'm not in any hurry to get it back...but for some reason I just couldn't bring myself to watch it. There's no rhyme or reason for it, I just...didn't want to see it.

So. This afternoon I get into a conversation at work about writing styles, and repeated a forum discussion about listing the various personality traits you can use to define a character in a story. One person in particular is very adamant about needing to start with this outline, this concept, this...code which defines a character, in order to understand what you're writing.

I, of course, disagree. I'm very free-form, flowing, emotive; I need to feel the character, get inside his or her head, almost become the character. I'm an actor in my mind, not on the stage; I need to feel the actions, to visualize them in my subconscious in order to portray them on paper to my own satisfaction.

But I digress; there is a point to this.

I'd also held off on reading a few magazines I have on subscription. To be specific, I decided to choose this month's issue of Discover Magazine for my subway read. This month's subject: Testing Darwin, and proving that evolution works.

Seeing a trend? Bear with me.

So here I am on the train, reading this article which provides, by way of an example, a sampling of several orchids - stunning flowers, each and every one - as a means of discussing Darwin's theories.

Then my discussion at work.

Now I'm at home, relaxed, and decide for no particular reason that I should watch "Adaptation". And I do.

If you've seen the movie, you might see the correlation. The movie is about a writer having problems adapting a screenplay of a book, The Orchid Thief. The book itself is about a man and his quest for the Ghost Orchid, a mystery flower that may or may not exist. A legend. It's Don Quixote, chasing windmills.

Anyway. Throughout this movie we have discussions on the "art" of writing, of the contrast in different methodologies involved in writing; we have Charlie, our "hero", with a more dedicated "true to form" style and his twin brother, the "hack", who learns his craft through a screenplay writing seminar, a Writing for Dummies course that, in contrast to the struggles of our hero, has him on the fast track to success.

And, of course, we have orchids. Lots of orchids, and a discussion of Darwin's theories.

More later. I want to think on this a bit. And finish the movie.