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January 22, 2017 / thackersam

No Debate

talk

I have a question. Why is it considered insane to talk to yourself? I have found talking to myself to be what keeps me sane. I sometimes use Max as a shill, even though we’re the only ones in the room. There are some things I can talk to him about and some things I need to work out with myself, and then other things that are simply none of his business. Max is my congregation. He has heard more sermons from me than probably all of the people I’ve ever known combined. Max is a good therapist. He listens well, when he’s paying attention or hasn’t lost interest.

Throughout the holiday season, which I am extending to Valentine’s Day, he has held on at 20 pounds showing that he’s done better at the diet thing than I have. Me, well the Valentine’s Day extension won’t help, but it’s another first goal as the Ex and I have started our weight loss pact again. He thought that losing one pound by Valentine’s Day is a bit tame, after he asked me when Valentine’s Day is, but we’ll both probably push it a bit and he’ll do better than me, because he’s got about three times as much weight to lose as I do. His buddy just had a heart attack, so the Ex is more motivated. The friend is alright now, but the Ex was bemoaning the similarities in their physiques, not to mention their long grey ponytails. You gotta love us aging boomers.

The Ex and I have similar views and values and we differ on some issues, and that’s fine. However, the other day I heard myself tell him that if he was not agreeing with me I was not going to talk about it. It was not open for debate. He was defending some trump supporters and I feel there is no defense. [As a courtesy, I will warn those of you reading along who would like to avoid my political rants, I am starting one now. ]

Arguing is not something I am very good at, so I’d rather not, thank you, but everything in my being, every organ, every muscle, even my toenails and hair follicles, is telling me I must get out there and fight. I first thought I must go to the Women’s March on DC, but couldn’t get on the NOW bus. Then the NYC March had been organized and I could go to that. Not enough though, so I volunteered to work as crowd control. I had such an exhilarating day that I need to share it, but I will give it more time to write it coherently so perhaps you can follow along. I’m still a bit giddy and have already scribbled tomes about the mere quarter of one day that is still resonating inside me. I will say this, my Facebook friends were already treated to a picture of me wearing a pink pussy hat and though it is so not my thing, I looked happy and comfortable doing so, because I was. What can I say? I got swept up. So, if you don’t mind coming back during the week, I think I will have a nice little story for you.

But, I promised you a rant didn’t I. Here you are: I believe trump finds the rifts he has caused in this country to be quite satisfying. Look at the power I have, he’s thinking. He’s trying to divide us to feed his ego, yes, but from what I saw, what we all saw yesterday, his presence is creating a tighter weave throughout the world. He is narrowing the chasms drawing us closer each day. We are bonded in our disgust for him. We don’t say nice things about him. We are the majority. Let’s make his life a living hell.

Oh, and Kellyanne Conway, I have two words for you – Lee Atwater.

BTW – Did Putin actually say that Russia has the best prostitutes, or was that a spoof or fake news, or did I dream it?

One last thing, my Millennial staff member just learned after having to take the young dog she adopted to the vet, that she had been shot, twice, as a puppy. Who fucking does that? She’ll be taken care of physically and mentally, but how much of a moron do you have to be to shoot a puppy.

January 15, 2017 / thackersam

We Are Catwoman!

catwoman

I’ve signed up to volunteer for the Women’s March on NYC next week. A friend had convinced me to go to the big one in DC, but when I got around to registering for the NOW bus to go with her, they’d already filled their seats (NOW = National Organization of Women, founded in 1966 by some seriously impressive broads). I kept checking back on their website, but then I found that we are having a march here in New York. The NOW bus takes you from locations in the metro area at 5am to the march in DC then starts back home at 5pm, all for $60. Good deal. Sure our MTA sucks and makes it exceedingly difficult, not to mention slow, to get around the city on weekends, but I would leave my apartment sometime before 8am to get to my 9am-Noon shift, and whether or not I decide to extend my participation, get home at a reasonable time, for $5.50 round trip.

They’ve put me on crowd control, which basically makes sure the marchers stick to the route and notifies NYPD if anything untoward happens. At yesterday’s meeting, I learned that as the first group of marchers starts at 11am, the first shift of crowd control would not be walking with a group. I must remain behind and control the crowd at the gathering point. A little disappointing, but at least my fear of leading the them into the river, either one, East or Hudson, has been alleviated. If so motivated, I can march later if I want.

Tonight’s original post was plagued with tangents. There’s this January 9, 2017 article from Kaiser Health News picked up by USAToday, “One In Three Women With Breast Cancer Treated Unnecessarily, Study Concludes,” authored by Liz Szabo, that prompted me to write a whole blog post, well, half a whole post on the topic, as I had had a theory about my own tiny stage one lumps when first diagnosed. The article I was writing was going along smoothly until it got a little out of hand, and emotional. So I’ll just recommend the article, which is not to say that I think mammograms are bad things, but really cancer specialists, can you not throw us all in the same box, please?

Anyway, we’ll talk about something else. How about politics. No? Movies then. I just watched Batman Returns again. It is my favorite Batman movie. Michael Keaton is my favorite Batman, Michelle Pfeiffer is my favorite Catwoman, and Christopher Walken is my favorite villain. It is obvious on whom his Max Shreck character is based, though Walken is far more attractive and intelligently evil rather than moronically so. I’m sorry for this spoiler, but if you haven’t seen the movie by now you will just have to deal with it. In the end, Catwoman gets Max Shreck. Batman does get The Penguin, so it’s all good. For next week’s march, volunteer cheer leaders have been recruited, a job for which I would not want as I’m not really a cheerleader, nor follower, but I wonder if I can get them to cheer “We are Catwoman!”

BTW – Sad that the circus is coming to an end. I have fond memories as a kid, but developed a dislike of clowns that I still have. They just like to harass and humiliate others so people will laugh at them. I actually did know someone once who went to Ringling Bros. clown college and was one of the very few graduates to get hired. I liked her. I doubt she became a mean clown.

January 8, 2017 / thackersam

Oh What Fresh Hell Is This

frustration2My favorite Dorothy Parker poem Frustration, copied from a book long before the internet made it easy to print out, has hung on the cabinet in my office, and has had a place of distinction wherever I have been sitting in my current and past jobs. When my boss noticed it not too long ago, he told me I had to take it down. Though she was known to have made more than one suicide attempt, I don’t think Dorothy Parker had any intention of physically harming anyone. I myself have carried an imaginary bazooka since I was in my early 20s, and when I worked as an assistant manager at a Victoria’s Secret store more than 20 years ago, I found that I also had an imaginary machete, which was used to chop off the hands of a piggy male client. And although my mind saw his severed bloody hands flop to the floor, that was and remains the extent of my violent behavior.

I share Ms. Parker’s frustration that there are so many awful people out there, chief of whom will be taking office shortly, and there is little we can do about it. So we imagine their demise and hope that karma gets them in the end, so to speak. The poem is now tacked up behind my computer monitor where it is still visible to me.

The impetus of tonight’s post came this week when the phrase “What fresh hell is this” came to mind, for a reason I don’t recall though I am sure is work related. When I looked up the phrase, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is attributed to Ms. Parker with a story that goes thusly: She was working on a manuscript when the phone rang causing her to cry out loud “Oh what fresh hell is this.” Obviously amused by her own utterance, from that point on she would answer the phone not with hello, but with those words as her greeting.

Like many others I’m sure, I’ve noticed the similarities between Dorothy Parker and Carrie Fisher; their work as writers and on movie scripts, and their caustic wit, their addiction issues, among other things. I was fortunate to see the documentary last night that was released months early due to the odd yet now understandable circumstances of Fisher’s and her mother Debbie Reynold’s deaths. Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, is, I think, a really good documentary on its own, made ever so much more poignant by their recent deaths one day apart. One line in particular stood out for me when Carrie Fisher pondered: “If you die when you’re fat, are you a fat ghost, or do you revert to a more flattering time.” Hmmm.

BTW – Even though I have dramatically cut down on my dairy consumption, prompted by a friend’s suggestion that it may help me avoid a third bout of breast cancer, I just noticed that my Sunday brunches at Tribeca’s Kitchen where I compose my weekly blog post, and where everyone knows that I must sit in Alberto’s section and that my coffee cup must always be filled, I consume nearly a whole pitcher of milk. You know, the small metal ones with the flip lids. And I don’t even drink my coffee light. What a dilemma. Cancer or coffee the way I like it, and lots of it (coffee, that is).

January 1, 2017 / thackersam

With Apologies to Kinky Friedman

kinkyDid you ever get that mortifying feeling of horror when you suddenly realize that you have mixed up Leon Redbone and Kinky Friedman, and have published your blunder? If you have, then you know just how I feel.

Two weeks ago I wrote about Leon Redbone (this is so embarrassing), mentioning that he had run for an office in Texas, and I quoted him as saying that he was “too young for Medicare and too old for women to care.” Then the other evening, while in the shower from where all ideas originate, it hit me why I could not find the information online to back up this distinct memory. It was not Leon Redbone at all. It was Kinky Friedman. I should have known better. Kinky is a country musician and satirist whose name I would often see on marquees in downtown Manhattan, but he’s a Texas boy who has run for Justice of the Peace and for Governor of Texas. He lost both. Leon Redbone did write “Seduced” however.

Holiday Bummer Story – My Christmas eve present to myself was three CDs that I purchased from the Housing Works thrift shop in Brooklyn Heights. The day after Christmas, I thought I would listen to a couple of tracks starting with Tony Bennett and Paul McCartney singing “The Very Thought of You” on the former’s Duets CD, before my workout. But when I opened the case, no CD, only the book of liner notes. Damn. Suspecting the worst, I opened the Lady Gaga CD case to find the same results. Bummer. I actually don’t know any Gaga songs but I have heard of her Born This Way album and there it was for a dollar. Of course I know Tony Bennett, who is of my parent’s generation, and the adoration of his fans of all ages like Gaga and the late Amy Winehouse, but other than the fact that Lady Gaga is not stupid and does annoying stuff, I’m not familiar with her music. My radio station plays none of her music, though some of the new stuff considered rock is rather poppish drivel. I was ready to venture out into uncharted territory as the music of some of the artists singing with Tony Bennett is also unknown to me. Thankfully, the third CD, Peter Gabriel’s So was intact. It is wonderfully satisfying to have access to “In Your Eyes” at any time you want or need it.

BTW – A totally swell New Year to all kind people! I hope you made rather merry last night. My New Year’s resolution for 2017 is to find the perfect toilet paper. Oh yeah, and to become an activist.

December 25, 2016 / thackersam

Heard it at 7:40

heard-itAlong with the lovely holiday party my company throws each year, this one having a most unusual ending that involved my staff among many others, they have also provided me with a company phone for quite some time. It is a very nice perk and I try not to be too demanding of it, but recently my IPhone started acting weird. After years with my 5c that I was perfectly happy with, Siri no longer knew me and was kind of getting an attitude about it, and then the battery, which had been running down quicker and quicker, as they will, was now wanting to no longer exist, and the phone began to randomly opening up different apps though they weren’t being called upon to do so. It was time to ask for a new phone.

I now have an SE, yes, way behind everyone else, but very much like the one I’d been with for the last few years. One exception is Siri. I have choices now so that snippy Siri who couldn’t be bothered with me anymore, is an Australian male, who can be a bit playful. I think he likes me.

Everything was transferred from one phone to the other by one of our lovely IT guys, except the music a friend had uploaded from my CDs last year before I went to visit my stepmother in Holland. It got wiped out. I am not one of those people you see plugged into their phones, not paying attention to the noises of the City that may call for attention, nor did I use the music much on my trip, though I doubt I would have heard it above my own internal screaming. The problem is that my alarm was set to play “Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Gladys Knight and The Pips at 7:40 every morning. I’ve found the regular sounds are entirely unsatisfying, and the free download of the latest U2 album is not offering me any motivating wake-up songs. I guess I have to spring for the $1.29 to download the song. I should be able to handle that.

I had mentioned previously that I was determined to make to under 140lbs by the time the holiday season was over, which may have to be extended to include Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Just a smidge is fine, but it’s not going that well, so I have amped up the exercise a wee bit. Sunday’s have the same hour and fifteen minute workout since I substituted my lost alarm song for the Missy Elliot tune, but for four weekdays I decided on a mix that started with the usual alternate Linda Ronstadt songs; “Silver Threads and Golden Needles,” a country song, “Desperado,” a California song, and “Long Long Time,” the biggest heartbreak song of my high school years. I follow that with Fiona Apple’s “Criminal,” “Rainy Day Women” by Bob Dylan (you know that’s “Everybody must get stoned, right?), Gladys and the Pips’ “I Heard It Though The Grapevine” twice, The Beastie Boys’ “Finger Lickin’ Good” and “So watcha watcha watcha want,” (that’s actually a line, the title is just one watcha), and then I finish off with at least the first 20 minutes of Fiona Apple’s Tidal, giving me the opportunity to hear “Criminal” again. My neighbors must think Sybil lives here.

Since learning of the post office holiday party events, in detail from three very similar perspectives, I’ve been trying to write a country song called “Get the Bitch Off Carla.” It’s not quite coming together in that genre, but the Beastie Boys are proving to be an inspiration.

BTW – Happy Holidays!

December 18, 2016 / thackersam

Leon Redbone and Other Stories

seduced

Perhaps by now you understand how my mind works. The tangent thing. I think of one thing that leads to another thought, oh and possibly one or two more and then I write something that has nothing to do with the first thought, and so on. I have no albums, tapes or CDs by Leon Redbone, but let me use him to demonstrate.

It’s Christmastime, no matter what we celebrate or don’t celebrate, that’s what this is. And during this time of year we are bombarded with Christmas music, as I was, and probably you too, today. Fortunately, at least for me, the hot song this year is Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” and I don’t mind so much. Except for Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song” it’s all Christmas music, even the seasonal songs that are weather related. My two favorite holiday songs fall into that last category.

“Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” has always had me singing along until I realized there was a verse about clowns, and I’ve developed a dislike of clowns. Rock Hudson singing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Mae West on the Academy Awards (before my time, thank you) would make anyone really appreciate the song as I do. Now, if you will follow me in the bend in Tangent Road, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is thought by some to be a tale of a man infringing on a woman’s right to say no. But she knows she ought to say no, no, no sir, and does not. Does she even want to? I’ve always thought of it as a tale of seduction, and done nicely, I think.

Leon Redbone’s (we’re here – everybody out) 1981 timeless classic, “(I Want to be) Seduced” celebrates the need for seduction, that is made all the more enjoyable by his unusual voice and appearance. I am not exercising to Leon Redbone music, and may know only a handful of his songs, but at one time he was running for a local office and it is during a campaign speech, if memory serves, that he said, “I’m too young for Medicare and too old for women to care.” And that’s why we’re discussing Leon Redbone tonight.

Part Two – It’s All About the Bourbon

I wobbled home Friday night having had just enough bourbon to make me cross from the tipsy to the wobbly side. The venue for this year’s office holiday party was at the restaurant on the Hudson closest to us that is slightly recessed inside the park. As a group of us walked the short way through the park I made note of how I would exit later, knowing that I had a date with Jack. I live on just a bit north of where we were, but had never walked through this particular park at night. Plus I would be alone and in a special condition.

Upon the recommendation of the new guy in Marketing, I tried Bulleit Bourbon and had been looking forward to doing so. If you remember, Jack and I have a tenuous relationship, and he is only allowed in my home in small doses, or larger at Thanksgiving when I make my infamous bourbon balls. The bartender served me a healthy sized glass of the new bourbon, not quite a double, and I grabbed a mini slice of pizza from the server who passed me with a tray of them so the alcohol had something to land on. With all its faults, and there are many, my company does throw a nice holiday party, and those who attend are rewarded with an AMEX gift card.

So I come, I drink too much and shove the passed hors d’oeuvres in my mouth and wait for the gift card. The new bourbon was okay, but the second and third drinks were all Jack. I think the bartender was impressed with my drink of choice, and I hope I didn’t disappoint him by leaving the last one only half consumed. I loathe the boomby boomby loud disco enhanced music, and left my colleagues to dance the night away, taking one of the foam covered glo-sticks being handed out.

The park, usually filled with tourists, was void of anyone, and without my glasses, I plotted the course to the other side, guessing correctly each time I maneuvered around the metal fences that seemed to have no purpose whatsoever other than to provide me with an obstacle course. After making it all the way home, I realized that while it was only 8:30 when I ventured through the park, it was perhaps a reckless thing to do and it reminded me of the more reckless behavior of my youth. Yes, it was mildly reckless as it’s not a dangerous nor secluded park, but I like the fact that I made it through successfully with only my glo-stick for protection, and what I assume would be a nice clear yelling voice and the willingness to have a would-be attacker thinking I was too nuts to deal with.

On a related note, Trouble-Buddy, whom you may remember from past stories of youthful recklessness, is a food-editor, and has a lovely blog on her local NPR radio station. She asked for my recipe for bourbon balls, and recently published the article and instructions all about them. It’s short so take a look. I do have to clarify that you mix the coating, which is no set amount, you have to play it by eye, on a flat rolling surface. I have an old plastic cutting board that sucked as a cutting board but has been a dedicated instrument in the annual rolling of the balls. LINK.

Cool, huh. But dammit, her editor changed one word in the opening sentence. I wrote “I have been making these damn balls for more than a quarter of a century now” and the editor censored the damn and replaced it with the word “bourbon,” changing the flavor, if you will, of the article and changing my voice. It’s just one damn thing, but is it editing or censorship? Damn is probably one of the most innocuous things a New Yorker could say. I would understand if I had said I had been making these fucking balls, which I was tempted to do as the original article had a bit more innuendo, or even if I had written goddamn balls. Could be a difference between New York and North Carolina, although it is an NPR station, but I would have been happier with “Gosh-darn” balls. And that is all I’ll say, as I do thank TB for including the article, and urge others to take a look at her wonderful site.

December 11, 2016 / thackersam

Love Lane

love-lane

Love Lane is in Brooklyn Heights. It is all of one block between Hicks and Henry Streets, this being the exit on to Henry. Whenever I have occasion to pass it, I hear Jim Morrison in my head singing “she lives on Love Street.” Perhaps Jim’s road of love was longer, and not so bleak. And perhaps Love Lane is someone’s idea of a cautionary tale.

The good news is that I have to spend time today writing an extraordinary query letter to shop around the article I’ve written about immigrants in love and the quest for a Green Card. Vicki’s husband, who knows a thing or two about a thing or two gave me some good feedback and tips so off I go. The better news is that this is this evening post. Nice and short like Love Lane, and no political rants.

BTW – Max is now just under 20 pounds and I can’t weigh myself until I get the bourbon balls out of my refrigerator. Well I can, but I won’t.