Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lucky 13

Courtesy of jenisfamous, I discovered a site that tells you how many people in the US have the same name as you do. Apparently, there are 13 people, presumably female, named Melinda Bruno.

LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Of course, if I actually did see 13 of me in one place, I would have the same impression I have whenever I see myself on video, only more extreme: "Ew, do I really slouch like that? I need Pilates."

Autumn: When Pieces of My Bedroom Wall Ripen and Fall To The Ground

I re-read my lease this weekend and it says that before I can make changes to the walls, floors, etc., I have to get written permission from the landlord.

Now, not everyone in this city would bother getting their landlord's permission to do a lot of things, and if it's just a case of putting up shelves or something, people usually don't bother. But if my neighbors see three or four guys in masks chiseling the walls, word might get around.

So I left him a voice mail and made sure I emphasized the "at my own expense" part, and also the fact that these chips with an amazing spectrum of colors, some possibly lead paint-based, have been cracking and crumbling off a couple of my walls for the past year at the slightest provocation.

And by provoking them, I mean I took a sponge to them and tried to wipe away some of the grime that's accumulated in the 11 years since the last time I had the place painted, 11 years that included 8 1/2 years of cigarette smoking.

Considering the long history these walls have had--my building was built in 1870--if the landlord doesn't call back, I could interest The Tenement Museum instead.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Twenty-four hours after saying to myself, "Hey, I haven't had a bad cold in years," I have a bad cold. It coincides with a particularly hectic week at the job and running home to interview various contractors who would like to bid on mending the walls of my humble little tenement. And about a million other things.

But my brain is grimy right now and I would end up agreeing to either 1) Nothing or 2) Laying out the price of a Lexus to have the apartment transformed into 325 feet of Trump Palace. So I will put off any decisions until my head clears up.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Kitty Condo

Monday, October 16, 2006

How I Got Here

David Frum is a former speechwriter for George W. Bush and a contributing editor to The National Review. So when I picked up his book, How We Got Here: The 70's I was fully prepared for the author to regard that decade as if it were the last two chapters of the Old Testament before Ronald Reagan came to redeem mankind. I still was looking forward to reading it.

That being said, enough already! From the sexual revolution to the economy, every chapter is a continuous rant about how everything was fine until the liberals came along and ruined it. You know how on "E! True Hollywood Story" or "VH-1's Behind The Music," where you have the celebrity going on this upward trajectory to stardom and then inevitably, "But there were dark times ahead," or "But then everything began to spiral out of control"? In this book, you get about two or three paragraphs into every chapter and then, like clockwork, "But then the Democratic Congress decided...." "But then the liberal courts ruled..."

And that's a shame, because the premise of this book is a good one. A lot of the social changes we associate with the '60s actually came about in the '70s, and I want to read a social history about that decade beyond the usual Disco/Polyester/Big Hair treatises. The '70s were supposedly about getting rid of all the "shoulds" we'd accumulated and becoming liberated and self-actualized. But they actually super-imposed a whole new set of shoulds on top of the old ones, and many of us who came of age in that era have spent the past 25 years chipping away at all these layers of shoulds—and, in some cases, making our shrinks wealthy.

In fact, if Frum had called his book "Why Conservatives Are Pissed" I would have agreed with him on several of those points. I enjoy challenging unquestioned assumptions, even momentarily entertaining Frum's contention that Nixon got a bum rap. But this book is one long polemic and after a while it's like listening to a bootleg concert at a high volume on your iPod: All you hear is noise, and you tune out.

I would welcome a book by op-ed columnists David Brooks or E.J. Dionne covering the same ground, but even Brooks and Dionne have expressed a lot of partisan ire in the past few polarized years. So it looks as if a contentious era will have to wait for a less contentious era before we can fully explore it.

Oh yeah, with all the rants about excess, there's one type of excess about which Frum actually writes positively: People running up an excess of consumer credit. This would be a good point of departure for a sequel: "How We Got Here: The 80's."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Free Movies!

As if there were not already googols of free videos available at YouTube, I found Like Television, which has hundreds of sitcoms and TV serials from the '50s and '60s, toy commercials, and feature-length theatrical and made-for-TV movies from the '50s, '60s and '70s...the kind you see sometimes late at night after Dave and Conan and Craig have signed off and you're channel-surfing and you go, "Oh yeah, that one." Pictured above is "Thursday's Game," a lost gem of a mid-life crisis comedy starring Gene Wilder, Bob Newhart and every major sitcom star of the early 1970's.

Also featured are cartoons and shorts from the '40s that were run on TV during the '60s, like "Hollywood Steps Out" which featured all the Hollywood stars of the era (identified for us by our parents during those '60s TV viewings.)

Also this, which manages to offend at least two ethnic groups. Hey, folks, it's history.

How do they give you all these things for free? Volume.

Also, because they have a bunch of ads to click on for sites where you have to pay for the movies.

You'll need Real Player to view, but how hard is that to get?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

How to Book A Short-Term Rental Apartment in NYC

I'm linking to this even though we have a long-term rental apartment in New York City. A long, long, long-term rental apartment in New York City.

I'm linking to it in case we ever need a place to put up out-of-town friends, since no New Yorkers ever have a spare room. Depending on how long you're going to be in town, this could be much cheaper than a hotel room.

Plus the apartments have kitchens, so you can make your own meals and save money. You can do what I've been obsessed with doing lately, which is to go to Trader Joe's on East 14th Street and load up on cheap gourmet food and then enjoy the communal experience of waiting a half-hour on line to pay for it.

Also, I'm putting this link here in case we need a place to stay while our walls are being busted up and redone. We would need a place that accepts people with cats. I would imagine a big security deposit would be involved. A big, big security deposit, because our cats are insane and as I write this they are trying to remove each other's heads.

And lastly, I'm putting this link here because we have 1,543 URL's in our bookmarks and none of them are sorted into folders. So perhaps that will be the first thing that we renovate.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It Was A Plane, And One of the Yankees Was On It

Cory Lidle was killed.

A Helicopter Just Crashed Into An Apartment Building

Picture from cnn.com

It's on Lexington Avenue in the 70's. I just looked out the uptown-facing windows here, which have a decent view, but all I see is lot of fog, and a bunch of helicopters hovering like mosquitos.

NY1's server is down, probably because ten million people just hit it from their cubicles.

It's very windy and rainy here today and the heliport is nearby.

P.S.: cnn.com is saying it's a small plane; NY1's saying it's a helicopter.

P.P.S.: It's a small fixed-wing plane, not a helicopter. Largest response since 9-11, but "they don't think it's anything," i.e. not terrorism.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Yeah, This is About What I'm Going For

I'm linking to this, because if I bookmark it, it will get lost in a sea of bookmarks and never found again.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Cat Room

I checked out the pet boarding place our vet's office recommended. It was on a quiet street in Chelsea where almost everything else was closed this afternoon. It was on street level, but not a storefront--the two young women in the front office had to buzz me in through two sets of steel doors, and then regarded me with apprehension until I identified myself.

The place primarily caters to dogs, with daily walking and exercise. In order to get to the Cat Room in the basement, the staffer took me past two long rows of pens of dogs who must have thought I was their owner coming to take them home, because they began to bark hysterically and charge the doors when they saw me. Remember the scene in "The Silence of the Lambs," where Jody Foster's walking past these cells of criminally insane guys yelling at her and trying to get at her?

The Cat Room had a good soundproof door and a radio going, as well as a couple of room fans. It smelled mildly like cats, the way the dog rooms smelled like dogs, but not obnoxiously so. The boxes looked clean, as did the floors. The staffer told me they vacuumed frequently.

An elderly Siamese and a couple of young tabbies came over to head-butt my ankles, squawking insistently.

"We open the cages for a couple of hours every day. They don't have to go out and walk around, but they can." There were a couple of double-sized cages for cats from the same household to be boarded together. Some of the cats indeed chose to stay in their cages, but they still called out to me. People who've never owned a cat think cats are aloof. They may not be as desperate to be part of a pack as their canine counterparts, but believe me, they get needy when their owners aren't around.

"Do you have visiting hours?"

"We don't for the dogs, because when they see their owners they think they're going home." But Jim and I could come by between noon and three every day to hang out with Chico and Ashley. Yes, I thought, and the rest of the lonely cats whose bad mommies deserted them the way I'm deserting my cats.

But this is actually the lesser of two evils, since there's really no place to keep them safe while the workmen demolish several yards of lead paint-laden plaster. It's not like I can take them to a movie. Besides, the boarding place is asking for so many health certificates that it's unlikely that the other cats will so much as sneeze into my cats' faces.

And my cats may be a couple of pampered brats who live on gourmet cat food now, but they started their lives as two of fifty in the home of a cat hoarder who neglected them. Vaccinations and other vet care were barely known. And when the old lady died and they were sent to various rescues, they shared a foster home with up to twenty cats from all over the city. So they may get a little freaked, but other felines are not unknown to them.

Perhaps they'll network.

It's All Over For the YankMees

Yankees tanked. The Mets are my new boyfriend now.

But I'll always have my fond memories of 1996 through 2000.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Kitty Teeth

I’m settling in after having dropped off Ashley at the vet this morning. I’ve really gotta get a smaller case for her; the one we inherited from City Critters is larger than the one we used to use for Phoebe and Pongo, who were twice Ashley’s size.

When I got there, one of the receptionists was new and seemed not to be getting what I was asking. And she said that the vets don’t do the dental anyway—it’s done by technicians. Finally, we established that my regular vet was not the supervising vet for the dental today, but that she was there if I wanted to speak with her. So Ashley and I waited in the reception area with three daschunds and an English Bull Terrier.

Our vet was smiling as usual, thank goodness. She knows how to deal with neurotic pet owners. She said that she was seeing patients until noon, but if I wanted to hold off on the dental until noon, she would supervise Ashley then.

“Great! I wanted somebody who knows Ashley’s history, with the ear infections. I also found something out since we were in here with her a couple of weeks ago.” I told her what I had heard from the volunteer who had adopted Ashley's mother, who had been half-feral when rescued and had not been handled by humans or given adequate vet care for most of approximately 17 years.

“Oh yes, the cat with the tumor in her ear.”

“Yeah, that one. Is she…”

“Yeah, she’s gone,” she replied sadly.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Don’t tell Ashley,” I pretended to cover Ashley’s ears through the carrier. “I’m her real mother now. But that’s why I’m so crazy with this—I want to keep Ashley from going through the same thing, so I’ve been on top of her health and getting her used to being handled.”

So I was reassured that Ashley would be well taken care of, and I could call after noon to find out how things were going.

I’ll have to remember to breathe in the meantime. I’ll also have to remember to ask the front office staff about health certificates when I go to pick up Ashley this afternoon. The place we're considering boarding the cats at while our walls are being demolished and rebuilt wants a certificate stating that they're leukemia-negative and up-to-date on all shots.

I’ll pick up a Sherpa bag as our extra carrier before boarding time. In fact, maybe I’ll pick up two. But I feel superstitious about calling the kennel or buying anything until this afternoon when I get the news that Ashley’s okay, the way I feel superstitious about doing anything to tempt fate when Jim has a scan.

If the mother cat lived until 17 with inadequate vet care, that's some pretty hearty genes. Hopefully, Ashley's inherited them.

Update: Home, and stoned on pain meds. No ear trouble, but a couple of rotten teeth pulled.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Travels In The United, Divided States

This is an article from the September 6, 2004 issue of New York Magazine, when New York was getting ready for the Republican Convention. It's part of a collection of articles by Mark Jacobson called "Teenage Hipster in the Modern World." Jacobson went to visit delegates in their home towns as a welcoming committee to New York. When I read this I thought, "Yeah, that's it; that's what I was thinking back then," and "Geez, I shoulda seen this a month ago, on the anniversary of 9/11":

While the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty were pretty cool, everyone agreed the city’s number No. 1 attraction was ground zero.

“Right,” Sheri said. “That place belongs to all Americans.”

This was the commentary that tried the resolve of even the most committed New York City missionaries. Because I didn’t feel like ground zero belonged to “all Americans,” certainly not the sort of “all-Americans” who took it as a moral imperative to keep George Bush in the White House. Ground zero belonged to New York, to the people who died there and their families, to those who rode the F train every morning and never once looked at the skyline without noting the absence of those not particularly beloved buildings looming over the Brooklyn Bridge.

It was a question everyone asked out here: Where were you that day? I had a compelling answer, or at least one people usually find compelling. Because I was there. Not when the planes hit, or when the buildings fell, but a couple hours later, when, in the horror and confusion, no one kept me from walking through the twisted rubble, right to the pile of dust that would come to be called ground zero. “Where are the buildings? Where are the people?” I asked a weary firefighter. “Under your shoe,” was the answer.

I told my WTC story to the delegates because—more than what restaurant to eat in or what play to see—this seemed to be what they really wanted to know about New York. Reliving that day is always emotional for me, and hearing about it was emotional for the delegates. If there was any real bond between us, it started there, as legitimate as it was that day.

Yet I begrudged them their emotion, their sense of outrage that 9/11 had been an attack on them, too, a thousand miles from the half-empty firehouse of Squad One. Perhaps it was provincial—should only Hawaiians have been pissed about Pearl Harbor?—but it bothered me that 9/11 had redefined the city in the minds of those who hitherto would have agreed with John Rocker’s assessment of the 7 train.

It has been declared sacred ground, a place of pilgrimage, separate from the real city. For many, Republican delegates certainly included, ground zero has acquired the patina of a Revelations-style Valley of Decision, with the steel girder “cross” found in the wreckage taken as proof of where God’s allegiance lies in the War on Terror. Don’t they know that cross is a fireman’s cross, a cop’s cross, an ironworker’s cross—a Democratic cross, if it’s any kind of cross at all?

Disclaimer that I really shouldn't be giving anymore because I'm getting too old to be caring about stuff like people not liking me and calling me names:

I voted for Giuliani twice and Bloomberg twice, although not on the same day;

I'm pro-Israel;

I'm the child of a steamfitter and a secretary, and I attended a State University;

I'm 52, not some little Marxist snotnose;

I was for the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan;

I'm probably inviting attacks from the left now because I'm writing this, which is a reaction to having been attacked by a rightie some months ago. I don't care. Who are you anyway; do you put food on my table and pay my health insurance?


Yes, I'm being thin-skinned today. Sometimes I get mad and take things personally, just like you. Read the description of this blog.

Monday, October 02, 2006

My Heart Belongs to Flat Daddy

When I first saw the link to this article, I thought it would lead to The Onion and not The New York Times.

Donklephant commenter ascap_scab remarked:

Why not leave the “flat daddys” in Iraq and bring the real daddys home?? It worked in Blazing Saddles!!

Hey, The Mel Brooks Doctrine! I love it.

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