Saturday, November 12, 2011

People I'm inclined to like

OK, I'll admit it: people drive me nuts. (Makes total sense that I live in a city with 8 million of them, right?) But I don't loathe everyone. Here, wild generalizations about certain categories of folks, designed to make me feel like less of a misanthrope.

1. Women named Jennifer. There are a lot of them out there, so it's interesting that I've liked pretty much every one I've encountered. Sorry if I'm discriminating against men named Jennifer. It's just that I haven't met any.

2. Public transit riders who, when they get a phone call, say, "I can't talk right now, I'm on a bus/train."

3. People who went to so-called Public Ivys. If your parents ever told you, "Sure, you want to go NYU, but we can only afford SUNY," I'm predisposed to be on your side. (Not that I dug everyone I went to college with, exactly, but I still feel a certain kinship.)

4. Minnesotans in exile. I've met at least half a dozen Gophers in New York and I've enjoyed them all. What is it with those people? Surely some of them must be jerks, but I haven't come across any. On a related note:

5. Californians who have moved to New York. Growing up, I always saw Cali as the promised land. So I'm impressed by people who gave up swimming pools and movie stars to live in a place where the weather is crap about 75 percent of the time. It shows they have character.

6. People who laugh at their own jokes. This is adorable. It helps if the jokes are funny, but it's not strictly necessary.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Six people, living or dead, with whom I'd like to have a beer

Feel free to use any of these in your college essays or job interviews. You're welcome.

1. Willa Cather. O Pioneers! is one of my favorite books — sort of a Little House for grownups. (Never mind that I still read the Little House books as a grownup.) I'd love to hear firsthand what it was like to live on the frontier. And Cather was a pioneer in more ways than one: as a high school student, she cut off her hair and dressed like a dude. This was in 1888. In Nebraska. Gotta respect that.

2. Jimmy Buffett. Hear me out on this, hipsters. It is my contention that Jimmy Buffett has the Best Life Ever. Seriously. He makes insane amounts of money traveling around the world, playing happy music for people in aloha shirts looking for a good time. I want to ask Jimmy if his life is, in fact, one big party. Also, he's rich, so he'd be buying.

3. O.J. Simpson. If I got him alone, I'm sure I could get him to 'fess up.

4. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I saw her once at a Simon and Garfunkel concert. That was so cool. We could talk about our favorite songs, and she could tell me how she resists the urge to smack Scalia upside the head.

5. Joey Ramone. It would have to be in a really dark bar, though, because his beady eyes and awful teeth would start to freak me out after a while.

6. Laura Bush. Look, I know Michelle Obama is infinitely cooler. But I probably have more in common with Laura. We're both librarians and we both love the national parks. I think if I got a couple of pints in her, she'd drop the whole Stepford facade and tell me how she really feels about, say, Dick Cheney.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Things I don't like about rock shows

1. People who talk through the entire concert. Seriously? And you paid $45 for this why?

2. When people cheer after the bandleader says, "This next song is from our upcoming album." Bullshit. No one likes when they play the new stuff.

3. Not being able to see the stage. I'm 5'3" so this happens, oh, pretty much all the time. When I open my venue there will be a corral up front for the short folks.

4. Ticketmaster "convenience" fees. 

5. When the headliner doesn't go on until 11 pm. OK, I admit it: I'm old. But really, it's hard to rock when you're thinking about bed. (Pretend I didn't just use "rock" as a verb.)

6. Drunk guys. Who always seem to be standing near me. Acting drunk.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Status updates about my cats

Mr. T (left) and Sally Timms
There are two kinds of people in the world: cat people, and people who find cat people infinitely annoying. As a reformed dog person, I can see both sides. Therefore, I have restrained myself from making all my Facebook status updates about my new kittens, Mr. T and Sally Timms, who just happen to the BEST AND CUTEST THINGS EVER. (Really. Look at them!) Here, to get it out of my system, are some things I resisted posting on Facebook.

1. Can't get off the couch. Got 2.5 lbs of kitten on my lap.

2. For some reason I occasionally pronounce Mr. T as "Mistah T." Friends of a certain age might remember Horshack from Welcome Back, Kotter. I sound like him.

3. I allow Mr. T to sit on my head. There's gotta be something bad about this.

4. I have been about 75% happier since we got the cats. 

5. In the past week I have found myself Googling "cat butt smells" and "kitten stool soft." (Don't worry, everything's fine. It does, however, make Item No. 3 all the more alarming.)

6. Cats who desperately want to get into the fridge or dishwasher should be careful what they wish for.

7. I know you think your cat is cute, too. That's great.

8. What cat toys do you recommend?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Awful Astoria real estate photos

As anyone who has even briefly watched HGTV knows, proper staging is crucial to getting top dollar for your home. You're supposed to hide your personal effects, make sure everything is spotless, and generally give the appearance that no one lives in the place. Well, evidently many realtors in my neighborhood of Astoria, Queens, don't have cable. Here, some of the least appealing photos I've encountered on local real estate web sites. All are posted for your viewing pleasure with no permission whatsoever. (To freak out the non-New Yorkers: the properties below are two-family houses selling for just shy of $700,000. Please don't tell me what I could buy in your town for that kind of money. It would cause me to go into a corner, hug myself and rock.)

1. The bad bathroom. Nothing says home like an ill-fitting toilet lid cover, a full wastebasket and some stranger's toiletries all over the sink.

2. The bad bathroom, part deux. Because really, what's more attractive than leaving the seat up?

3. The bad bedroom. This house is cool because it comes with a dead body covered by a green sheet.

4. The other bad bedroom. Perfect for the homeowner who doesn't think closets need doors. 

5. The bad stairs. To quote the late great Joey Ramone, "Hey, daddy-o, I don't wanna go down to the basement." Because I'd probably break my neck on the way.

6. The bad workshop. Free with home purchase: a big pile of crap. Oh, and a hammer.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Features of my fantasy bar

I'm not a huge drinker. (Really. See No. 2 below.) But I do love a good draft beer, and since I don't (yet) own a keg, having a pint requires going out. And let's face it, being around other people is (sometimes) better than being on your couch. Here, a list of things I'd love to see in a drinking establishment.

1. Hooks under the bar. I hate when there's no place to hang your bag. I also hate groping under the bar for hooks and finding only gum.

2. A two-drink maximum. You read that right: maximum. That's my own personal limit and it has kept me out of any number of scrapes over the years. No one really needs to get more drunk than they do on two drinks. I will, however, be flexible: if you weigh more than 150 pounds, you can have three. Soft drinks will be served for free in between rounds.

3. Friendliness toward board game players. On weekend afternoons, Mr. SZ and I like to bring our travel Scrabble board to a pub and have a pint or two. It's helpful to have some lighting and fellow patrons who don't mock us. (Remember when I said I was through being cool? Well, yeah.)

4. Good music played at a reasonable volume. No one should have to scream to be heard. It's no fun to wake up after a night out sounding as if you've smoked a pack of Kools. And by good music, I mean stuff I like. No lite jazz, no Bieber, no Whitesnake.

5. Five to 10 interesting beers on tap. Any fewer is too limiting; any more makes me anxious about making the right choice.

6. Decent food. What's up with the mozzarella sticks, potato skins and cheeseburgers? I might be poisoning my liver but the rest of my body shouldn't have to suffer. A nice spicy hummus, veggie flatbread and hey, even oysters are excellent things to serve.

7. Clean bathrooms. One of my favorite bars, d.b.a., has a toilet so appalling that I limit my beer intake to avoid using it. That ain't right.

8. Big windows. I like watching rainstorms at bars. It's so noir.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Some recent grand delusions

1. I will never go gray if I continue to pluck out gray hairs as I find them. Nor will this practice make me bald.

2. My former co-worker did not see me casually adjusting my underwear just before we bumped into each other on the street.

3. Chocolate cupcakes could not possibly contain white flour. They're brown.

4. I never heard back from that person because my e-mail got caught in her spam filter. (Corollary: if I don't check my e-mail for at least two hours the message I'm expecting will arrive.)

5. Not washing my face before bed is good because the oil moisturizes my skin overnight. Hey, free wrinkle cream!

6. One of these days a big check will turn up in my mailbox for absolutely no reason.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Movie titles that give it all away

1. Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead. Seriously, don't tell her, because then we can have HILARIOUS AND AMAZING ADVENTURES with no grown-ups around to spoil the fun!


2. Snakes on a Plane. Without having seen this film, I'm gonna guess it's about a millionaire newspaper tycoon and his sled.


3. Bad Santa. That Santa? Really, really bad. (See also: Bad Teacher.)

4. Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. OK, this doesn't tell the WHOLE story — for example, how exactly did that gal get so tall? — but you get the gist.

5. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Yep, that about sums it up. Side note: if you haven't already seen this film, don't. It haunts me years later, and not in a good way.


6. Zack and Miri Make a Porno. What more does one need to know?


7. Revenge of the Nerds. It might not be apparent from the title (or the poster), but the dorks prevail.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Free crap I got after a charity run

It's hard to say what's best about charity 5K runs: the exercise, the supporting of a worthy cause, or the swag you get at the after party. Below, some highlights (and lowlights) of a recent haul.

1. A tote bag. The way they give out totes these days, they're practically as big an environmental menace as the plastic they were meant to replace. This came in handy on race day when I needed something to carry all my free crap. In the future, however, I am unlikely to run around town sporting a bag that says "Sensible Portions" on it. 

2. A Womentum T-shirt. Let's be honest: Womentum is not a great slogan. How do you even pronounce it? Whoa-mentum? Wimmin-tum? Whatever. The shirt is ill-fitting and destined for Goodwill.

3. A medal. Unless you have some sort of display case for your, um, medals, I can see no earthly use for this. That said: I did wear it home on the subway because really, how often does one get to wear a medal? 

4. A mini box of granola. Score! Any breakfast food with dark chocolate in it is OK by me.

5. Minute Rice. OK, this was cool: the rice booth had a wheel you could spin to win fabulous prizes, including magnets, measuring cups and, of course, rice. I hit the big time, people. Also part of this package: a Quick & Easy Minute Rice cookbook, featuring such family favorites as Cheesy Tuna Dinner and Porcupine Meatballs (with real porcupine! OK, I made that part up). 

6. A change purse. This is actually fairly useful as it can hold a credit card, keys, etc. and clip on to your shorts when you run. It came with a free one-week pass to Lucille Roberts, that gym that only allows ladies.

7. A nail buffer. And not just any nail buffer: this one promises "400% shinier nails in just 10 seconds." Jeez, how shiny would they be if you buffed for 20 seconds? (That involves math so I'll leave it to you to figure out.)

8. Lipstick. The shade: Wink for Pink. It seems to be the exact color Barbie wears. This will sit unused in my makeup basket for about two years until I remember that you're supposed to chuck your cosmetics after six months or you'll get leprosy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Reasons why I♥NY

20 years ago this month, a young SZ moved to New York City (OK, Brooklyn) with stars in her eyes and the dust of a small town on her shoes (OK, so she took the Metro-North in from Peekskill. THAT STILL COUNTS). She's had a bit of a love-hate thing with it ever since (hence the idle threats of moving somewhere else). But today, it's all about -ing. (Note: these are in addition to all the obvious things like museums, music, theater, etc.)

1. The anything-goes atmosphere. It is impossible to feel like a weirdo in this town. No matter what your quirks, there's always someone even kookier.

2. The pizza. My God, the pizza. In the past year I've had the pleasure of dining at Paulie Gee's, Lucali, Co., Franny's, Keste, Rubirosa, Saraghina, Roberta's, Motorino, Fornino, Zero Otto Nove, Donatella, Veloce, Luzzo's, San Matteo and my beloved neighborhood joint, Sac's. Truly we are living in a golden age.

3. The unlimited Metrocard. Yes, the card technology kind of sucks, but oh, the luxury of taking all the subway rides you want for what seems like free.

4. Central Park. I used to think it was an overcrowded scene — and on warm weekend afternoons, it totally is. But if you get there before, say, 9 am, it's among the most magical places on earth. The city planners of the 19th century were geniuses.

5. The health care. If I were, God forbid, to get ebola or something, there are no better doctors or hospitals in the world.

6. The spring and the fall.

7. Brownstones. For my money, the most attractive form of housing anywhere.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Reasons to celebrate the Irish (that don't involve getting blind drunk)

1. They write like this.

Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead. 

2. They make music like this. (Note: the dancing is not under any circumstances to be celebrated. Same goes for the hair. And sure, I could have picked something less obvious, but why miss the chance to showcase a tiny Bono?)

3. Their countryside looks like this. (OK, I ripped this photo off the Discover Ireland web site. But I've been there, dammit, and it really is that green.)

4. They make movies like this.

5. They produce bloggers like this. Well, 5/8 of me, anyway. Hence my sick dance moves and culinary prowess.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Jobs at which I would fail

1. Cabbie. This involves two things I do not like: 1) driving and 2) dealing with the public. Oh, and those air fresheners shaped like pine trees.

2. Neurosurgeon. You really don't want me anywhere near your brain with a scalpel.

3. President. Why anyone would want this gig is beyond me. Barack Obama seems like a cool guy but he's gotta be essentially effed up to take on something like that.

4. Waiter. So what'll it be: awkward interactions, the wrong entrée or a bowl of gumbo in your lap?

5. Accountant. This job apparently has something to do with adding. Also, subtracting.

6. Prison guard. Hey, I've watched Oz: I KNOW WHAT THOSE PLACES ARE LIKE. I'm a wimp and would probably get shiv'd on my first day.

7. Stripper. Unless it was at some sort of fetish club for people who like bad middle-aged dancers with cellulite.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

10 reasons why I don't totally suck

Most days I'm what Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner calls "happyish." On occasion, however, I fall into what likable motivational speaker Stuart Smalley calls a "shame spiral," leading me to believe I am what acerbic former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann calls "the WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD." This happens after I've wasted an hour screwing around on Facebook or watching crap like Half-Ton Teen. At times like these I have to tell myself, "Honey, you've got nothing on genocidal dictator Adolf Hitler." This makes me feel somewhat better. Anyway today, being a wintry Sunday, is one of those days. So I'm making a list of reasons why I'm fit to be part of the human race.

1. I never give waiters a hard time. I'm a good tipper, too.

2. I write a blog that amuses me and possibly others. Perhaps you've heard of it.

3. I'm kind to animals.

4. After decades of utter slugdom, I became a runner. Now that I've finished five races of 5K or more, I think it's OK to say that. I'm not fast, but I finish.

5. I can spell.

6. My sense of humor is, um, quirky. For example, I think this cartoon is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. You do, too? Let's be friends.

7. I'm not normal. Unlike 80 percent of American women my age, I don't have a kid. Unlike 95 percent of U.S. households, mine doesn't own a car. To quote bowtied funnyman Pee-wee Herman, "What's the significance? I DON'T KNOW!" But it seems sort of cool. 

8. I've knitted garments that people can wear without being the object of ridicule.

9. I've been happily married for nearly 15 years. To the same person, even. In some circles this counts as a major accomplishment.

10. I vote. Almost always for the good guys.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Parts of the week (in rank order)

While most of my lists are in no particular order
really, what would be the point of ranking words or phrases I would (or do) feel stupid saying? this one is. So pay attention, OK? It matters.

1. All day Friday. Oh, the promise this day holds: 48 full hours of doing whatever I damn well please. I particularly enjoy my Friday morning ritual of disabling the alarm clock, which culminates in a joyful flipping of the bird. (I really do this. Every Friday.) Some will argue Saturday is the better day since most of us don't have to work. They're wrong. The workplace on Friday is generally a nice place to be because everyone is thinking about those 48 full hours to do whatever they damn well please.

2. Saturday morning. I especially love getting up before 8 am and feeling like I have all the time in the world. Sometimes pancakes are involved and that's a very good thing indeed.

3. Thursday night. Friday (see No. 1 above) is so close you can taste it. (Mmmmm... Friday.) Also, the excellent television situation comedy 30 Rock is on.

4. Midday Wednesday. I'm fairly neutral on Wednesdays, but lunchtime is cool because the Taim falafel truck usually parks outside my office.

5. Monday morning. No explanation necessary.

6. Sunday night. To quote the legendary band Gum, "Sundays are the lamest days." And once the sun goes down the dread really kicks in. There's a reason the phrase "beating the Sunday blues" gets 80 kabillion results in a Google search. (Don't test this. I totally made it up.)

7. All day Tuesday. Tuesdays suck. Perhaps it's because the reality of the work week has sunk in, or because the weekend seems so far away. Whatever: annoying things always seem to happen on Tuesdays.