Chivalry is Alive! In Exactly One Place. Tuesday, Jun 29 2010 

Let’s face it … the changing times, the advent of feminism (or as some may prefer, “Girl Power”), and a sea change toward utter apathy has resulted , of late, in a relative lack of chivalry. Perhaps it is because I am not as cute as I once was nor am I elderly enough to command respect and/or sympathy.  But no, rather, I think we’re in the throes of a changing tide. If you are a lady between the ages of 14 and 70 trying to wrestle a rollerbag into an overhead bin? Expect dudes in the surrounding rows to continue reading their USA Todays. Standing around waiting for a first-come, first-served table?  Watch out, because those Fred Durst wannabes will swoop the f*ck in before you and your girlfriends can spin on your high heels.  And it’s fine, really, because we’re independent, throw our hands up at you, etc. etc., but there is a certain thing as manners, and respecting the comfort of others.

One place where charity isn’t extinct, however, is on office-building elevators.  True story.  I work in an iconic building smack dab in the financial district and I would say at least 75% of the elevator riders each morning and lunch hour are of the XY chromosome variety.  And without fail, they always, always, allow me to board first, even if they are directly in front of the parting doors and I’m several steps away. The same is true for the elevator exit – they hate to see me leave, but they love to watch me go – HA!  In fact, this relic of proper upbringing is so prevalent that it becomes shocking in other elevator situations if I am not treated with the same courtesy.

Perhaps letting the womenfolk board and unboard first is just one way to miss out on 15 additional arduous seconds at the office, but I’ll  take what I can get.  And in a city life that recently involved getting slugged in a dodgy burrito joint 10 minutes after a massive and universal celebration of human rights, simple elevator preferential treatment seems like a lot.

Name that Lyric – The Friday Lyric Quiz Returns! Friday, Jun 25 2010 

Hint!

So back in April, 2001 – good God, that’s nine years ago – I began a silly little game. Every Friday, I sent out snippets of song lyrics from 15 different songs. Just to my close friends.  Just a “lyric quiz” of songs from the past 21 years (since 1980 … yes, that would now be the past 30 years, for those keeping score).

The distro list grew.  Friends of friends got added, as did strangers.  I began posting the quizzes to my old blog, and traffic would spike (relatively speaking, of course) on Fridays.  I started adding themes (“Songs with Girls’ Names,” “Bands With Bald Singers,” “Songs with Animals in the Title”).  And then!  BAM!  Book deal.  Revenue-banking web site. A spot on VH1 I Mother-F*cking HEART the 90s!  Well, so none of that last part is true, as it turns out.  In actuality, I was faithful and loyal to the project for eight years and quit, quite unceremoniously, last March.  I felt out of touch with the music of today (as I’ve noted here previously), I was slammed at work, no one was “playing along” with the quizzes anymore, and it had become more of a burden than a hobby.

And yet, I miss doing them. While certainly not an original idea, it was my unoriginal idea, and it was something people expected from me (even though I heard nary a complaint when I stopped sending them).  So what better place to reinvent them than here, my blog that five people read?  Spread the wealth, Lucy.  SPREAD the WEALTH! But I’m not going to overextend myself – I’ll do 10 quips a week, instead of five, and for all of my anonymous readers out there, I’ll mix in (not on Fridays) snippets from an old quiz – a classic rewind, if you will. (more…)

I’ve Been Had … by Mr. Wendal? Thursday, Jun 24 2010 

Today on my twice-weekly (sometimes … ahem … more) trip to Whole Foods, I think I succumbed to gullibility.  No, I didn’t opt for the organic walnuts over the regular ones.  But right by the meat counter, I was approached by a man who, while not poorly dressed, was missing teeth and was also clearly missing even a distant relationship with deodorant and/or soap and/or water.  He held a ragged brochure for a charity walk to combat Pancreatic Cancer; said walk is scheduled for this September.  He claimed he was trying to raise money and had lost a loved one to the disease.  Hmmm.  Written on the tattered paper were a few unintelligible first names and cash pledges – $20, $10, $5, etc.  I mentioned that I had very little cash, but gave him what I had (literally, $2).  He thanked me profusely and went on his way.

While I can’t imagine that Whole Foods management would tolerate solicitation of any kind within its walls (even if his “charity walk” story was on the up and up), there he was and there I was and I do believe I just gave $2 to a panhandler.  But I’m really okay with it.  That $2 would have gone toward lunchtime sushi or a post-work martini or something similarly frivolous, and I gotta give the guy credit for at least showing some ingenuity.  Tracking down a cancer-walk sponsorship form and developing a sob story … well played.Way better effort than the guys just shaking a Dunkin Donuts cup while chain smoking Marlboro Reds.

Unless of course everything  – the walk, the lost loved one, the pledges – WAS true and now instead of being gullible, I’m reverse-gullible, which is to say, totally jaded.

Chubby Chasing Wednesday, Jun 23 2010 

What's the secret Monica diet?

Yesterday at worker, a co-worker said, “I would love to see one of those people who ate tons of junk food in high school and was still super skinny … what does that person look like now?” I spoke up.  “That person … was me!”  Duh-duh-DUH!

My daily intake my senior year in high school consisted of the following … two Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and a steaming cup of hot chocolate for breakfast (the school provided the seniors with breakfast as a perk).  Lunch was either the delicious, lard-based Southern cooking of my award-winning cafeteria (fried shrimp, fried ham-and-cheese turnovers in phyllo dough, richly cheesy chicken-and-broccoli casserole, all topped off by an orange/cream dreamsicle) or – if I left campus – Taco Bell.  Dinner, as I had to hang around for drama rehearsal, was often Taco Bell again or Chick Fil A.  The only exercise I got was P.E. twice a week and some heavy petting with my boyfriend (sorry, Mom).

And what do I look like now? I’m 25 pounds heavier. Now, this isn’t a Nicole-Eggert-worthy shocking change, and I’m certainly far from obese.  But as my older friends always warned me would happen, my metabolism hit a wall right around 30.  To merely maintain that 25-pounds-heavier frame? I eat relatively healthy – no meat, no fast food, moderate snacking, lots of fruits and veggies, little-to-no alcohol during the weekdays. If I were to revert to my 1992 diet, I’d be in a world of hurt. Perhaps fused to my own couch.

So I’m not one of those gals who has “always struggled with her weight,” but because I was previously disposed to skinnyness despite my bodily abuse, I do continue to struggle with my will power. Yes, I do eat healthy most of the time, but if I’m in “diet” mode, I still have to occasionally snack (even if that snacking consists of healthy things).  And attempts to commit to a workout program have been pathetically, well, pathetic.  When it comes to certain things – quitting socially smoking, for example (sorry again, Mom) or cutting meat out of my diet – the power is there.  When it comes to throwing on the workout shorts and heading out for a run after a soul-sucking day at the office, well, I’d just rather watch TV or play online, comforted by a big bowl of calorie-light-but-sodium-rich Asian rice crackers.

So here I am, 35 and a little chubby in parts (as a misguided Lothario once told my very curvy friend, “You’ve got love in all the right places.”) Not fat, not where the boys from Stand By Me would call me “lard ass,” but not waif-thin like I was in high school.  Youth (and metabolism) is wasted on the young.

How do y’all get off your duff and onto the elliptical?  Because simply looking in the mirror isn’t working for me just yet.

Book Review – Hands of My Father (Myron Uhlberg) Friday, Jun 18 2010 

Hands of My Father, Myron UhlbergHands of My Father, by Myron Uhlberg.

The subtitle of this memoir is “A hearing boy, his deaf parents, and the language of love,” and that encapsulates this story to a tee (as most subtitles should). The author, Myron Uhlberg, was both in 1933 Brooklyn, at the height of the Depression. Born at this tumultuous time into a non-practicing Jewish home on the cusp of World War II, he entered life with challenges, but these were just the beginning.  Myron was born to a strong, hard-working deaf man (Louis) and his equally strong, strikingly beautiful deaf wife (Sarah).

The sweet if frequently saccharine tale discusses the struggles of Myron’s early childhood as the only ears in his household (until his little brother is born) and the quick maturation required so he can communicate on behalf of his parents at retail outlets, at parent/teacher conferences, and even at the hospital. While he clearly loves and respects his parents, he also occasionally resents this role.

Myron’s story is  worthy of being told to the masses – it is interesting to learn of the prejudices the Uhlbergs faced (due more to their disability than their religion) and to get a unique peek into 1930s-1950s Brooklyn. The most fascinating aspect of the story is the glimpse into the evolution of sign language (the precursor to ASL – American Sign Language). Because there are fewer signs than spoken words, emphasis is drawn from body language, turning “angry” into “furious,” for example. Some of the best and most memorable parts of the book are when Myron’s father Louis speaks with his hands and Myron paints the picture:

The sign for responsibility is a dramatic one and leaves little room for doubt as to its meaning … [My father] would place both hands, fingertips relentlessly pressing downward, on his right shoulder.  His shoulder would slump, as if bearing a great burden, and his face would assume a look of patient endurance.

While I appreciate the sentiment of the story, which is humorous, poignant, and inspiring, these emotions were occasionally overshadowed by my frustration with Uhlberg’s flowery prose and tendency to abort a story before its completion.  More than once, he recalls extravagant purchases his father made, adding a “I have no idea how he afforded ______” caveat but never explaining.  Equally frustrating are reflections on particular unique or amusing signs Myron’s Dad invented for use among the family members, but fails to share said signage as he frequently. Perhaps he is keeping these particular memories private, but he does this at the risk of sounding smug. One trap he doesn’t fall into, admirably, is that of martyr, despite his complex relationships with both his parents and his brother.  Uhlberg is a successful children’s book author, and that may be where my problems stem from for this particular read. Ironically, for someone forced to grow up and emit “responsibility” very early on, he sounds, quite often, like he is speaking to children.

Let Me Sum Up: quick read, some winning anecdotes, but a vaguely irritating narrative voice.  2.5 stars out of 5.

What a difference an article can make Wednesday, Jun 9 2010 

Scream poster (altered)

Liver Alone!

No, not a magazine/newspaper article (Dewey Defeats Truman!) I mean article in the grammatical sense – The, A, An.  Specifically, The.  At work today, some of us were laughing over a former co-worker’s Facebook page, which lists just one favorite movie: The Gladiator. Key word being THE.  Now, I think Russell Crowe is overrated and I actually dozed off in the theater when seeing (The) Gladiator, but I still know the “The” is oddly misplaced.  So we were left to wonder … is there another movie called “THE Gladiator?”  As it turns out, yes.  From 1938.  But I’m pretty sure she just screwed up the title.

So what other movies would be laughably misnamed with the addition of a simple “The?”  Here’s a few … all of which could grammatically include an article (e.g., I’m not saying “The Raising Arizona” or “The Jerry Maguire”).

The Raging Bull
The Taxi Driver
The Citizen Kane
The Clerks
The Titanic
The Chariots of Fire
The Scream
The Network
The Crash
The Private Parts
The Toy Story
The Field of Dreams
The Caddyshack

What are some others?