Friday, May 21, 2010

The Unkosher Guide to Subway Survival

There's nothing I love better than not having to pay car insurance, deal with mechanical failures or release pent up road rage by instead allowing public transportation to do the brunt work for me. However, the daily commute let's loose a whole new kind of rage that could drive some to the brink of bodily harm.

Thus, I'd like to share some coping guidelines that I've learned (or am trying to anyhow) on surviving the New York subway experience:

Walk swiftly, and don't stop in the middle of the walking paths on the platform, looking like a lost orphan. People, ie me, have places to go, faster than it takes you to figure out that you're on the wrong platform or to look at your shoes forlornly. If you don't move, then there will be nothing to hold against me when I accidentally push you off the platform. Which brings me to my next point....

Stay Away From the Edge of the Platform. Seriously, it makes me nervous.

Especially if you have kids. Why, as a parent, you are allowing your kids to venture any more than 1 foot in front of you in either direction, let alone screw around near the edge of the tracks is beyond me. And I'm no mother.

What To Do If You Fall on the Tracks. You won't, because I just told you to stay away from the edge. And if you went down there to get something you dropped, you're an idiot.

Subway Etiquette
Regardless of chivalry, good manners and all the other morals that humans should uphold, the subway-riding experience is more akin to the cutthroat ravages of the wild. Eat or be eaten. Kill or be killed. There is a delicate balance that must be found between the human and animals instincts within us.

Sitting. I don't care how much you've convinced your delusional mind on the size of your "package;" if you're sitting in a seat with other passengers, your legs should be reasonably equidistant from one another, not spread out like you're ready to hump the poor person who is forced to stand directly between them. If this person refuses to accept the fact that his dick can't possibly need that much breathing room, then even a female passenger seating beside him has the right to obnoxiously take up more leg space than needed until they close that shit up.

Eating. I've done it a few times myself, so I won't go so far as to condone eating on the subway; however if you must, please mind what your mother taught you. Don't eat with your mouth open (that's gross anywhere, at anytime). Also, anything that requires a utensil or sloppy enough to require a bib is absolutely NOT cool. It already reeks of BO and urine; do you really need to eat right now?

Loud Music. When dealing with a passenger who's trance/hip hop/death metal/Whitney Houston music volume is blaring through their headphones, I encourage the use of pre-made signs as an initial polite request:

If this method fails, feel free to use the following retorts:

If you'd rather not spend the time making communicative signs, there is always the possibility of beginning to dance in an obnoxiously spastic way, relative to the passenger's music of choice. If they are not dense, they will soon understand that you are making fun of their shitty music, to the delight of all other passengers.

Violence/Harrassment. If this is happening to others, don't be a hero unless someone is in serious danger and you have the balls. If the violence/harrassment is happening to you, verbally or physically, you MUST have the balls.

I won't speak for everyone, but I know that personally, if anyone utters any disrespect or purposely lays an extremity or other unwanted substance on me, there will be hell to pay. Subways are shitty places to begin with, and I can bet that at any point in the day I am not in the mood to deal with assholes. I will not hesitate to react. I'm not sure how, but let's just say I'm most likely taller than you, equipped with nails, and have at least 25 years of pent up rage waiting to be unleashed. Try me. I dare you.

Musical Subway Chairs
You deserve to sit down on your long journey. Why?
Because you've done a shit load of walking.
Because you're pregnant.
Because you didn't have time to do your make-up.
Because you're old and feeble, or have a lame leg.
Because you worked until almost midnight and need to catch some sleep before you go back to doing it all over again.
Because it's a free fucking country.

There is most certainly an art to finding a seat on a crowded subway. This often becomes a meditative study on human behavior, where one must "hide in the bushes" - metaphorically speaking - acutely observing any possibility of flight, in order to pounce at the most opportune moment.

Here are a few key observations to make whilst scoping out the next possible open seat:

Sleeping Passengers. Granted there is a BIG difference between fully conked out/drooling on oneself to simply closing one's eyes. Most likely, a person won't be getting off at the nearest stop if they aren't alert and awake. But then again, I'm the best at maintaining a state of half-conscious awareness which allows me to intuitively know when I need to open my eyes, stop dreaming about killing the person next to me, and get ready to bolt at the next stop. So don't completely rule out the sleepers.

Reading Passengers. If someone's stop is coming up, they will almost ALWAYS put their reading material away beforehand. Watch for movement.

Anxious Passengers. Many commuters will glance anxiously outside the subway car doors at each stop, making sure they haven't reached theirs yet. They will also glance at their watch or curse under their breath in frustration.

By Occupation. I don't want to make generalizations about all suits working in midtown, and all students going into the village, and all Asian bag ladies getting off at Canal Street. Okay, I am.

By Frequency. Get to know the people that you've seen leave seats early on previous morning commutes. That's your best bet.

The hardest time to grab a seat is rush hour times and in the middle of the subway car sections (where traffic usually gathers.) Also note that standing close to the chairs and hanging on the above bars will place you in an ideal position to grab any seats that free up along the edge of the car. If you decide to stand against the door or in between the door area, there's no way in hell you're getting to an empty seat fast enough.

And lastly, a note about manners. If you are one of the few who still have them, good for you. You will stand up for the elderly, disabled or with-child. But these are the only times when you should let your guard down and the politeness in.

The majority of the general public doesn't give a crap about your gender or physical state; they will take a seat in a heartbeat, regardless of whether you think you're entitled or that you're standing directly in front of it. Remember, kill or be killed. You will dart over the feet of others, push through the idiots who think it's okay to stand against the poles, cut in front of the asshole who tries to trick you into thinking he just needs to get to the door, or if needed, throw your bag/coat/whatever you have in your hands onto the empty seat before someone else's ass hits it first.

We all gotta survive somehow.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Mom always used to say that she wished she would have held on to the toys of her youth. When she was a wee little Italian girl growing up on Beverly Road in Brooklyn, she fondly remembers her most favorite playthings: a wooden circus train with accompany circus animals, like the seal on wheels, balancing a ball; hundreds of hand-sewn Barbie doll clothes that my grandma fashioned herself.*

*(On the other hand, she also told us about the zebra ash tray that Uncle Artie had made, casting long scary shadows on the walls at night, which just about scared the shit out of her. Her brother, Jerry (my godfather) used to chase Aunt Diane around with the real stuffed alligator that an aunt had brought from Florida. This in turn became a torture device for n older Diane to use on my much littler mother. It served a purpose for all ages, I suppose.)

After hearing about all the wonderful toys my mother could remember growing up, I wished that she had managed to save them over the years to one day pass them onto me. When I found out she had given the Barbie clothes and the train set away, I was heartbroken. I'm sure in some ways, she was too.

I resolved to never let the same thing happen to my toys. Yes, I enjoy holding onto the past for dear life, but I'm not talking about storing some Barbies and Polly Pockets in my current apartment and taking them out for a summer fun pool party with my boyfriend anytime soon. And yes, I will forgo my childhood dream of creating an ultimate Star Wars figurine stop-motion film now that I'm on the cusp of being an adult (note how I have not admitted it fully yet).

Instead, I am suggesting that I keep my treasured toys (at least, those that I know are still around) safely hidden away in my parent's New Jersey attic, unknown to garage sales and other bratty children, until I can pass them on to my someone who I feel is worthy enough to experience their toy-glory.

So, without further ado, I hereby present my toy will, which lists the toys of which must be kept safe and intact for however long I am here (and oh, let's say, 20 years after), at which point become the sole property of my predecessor, canine or otherwise. A failure to uphold my wishes will result in a.) bludgeoning with a nearby object of choice, b.) a tantrum, which includes excessive bawling and feet stomping, or c.) eternal haunting by my restless apparition.

Also part of this will is a list of those toys which shall be forever held in memoriam, as they have sadly been lost to the ravages of time and mom's spring cleanings.


Disney Magic Kingdom Playset, (Loss: Unknown)
I was quite young when I got this, so I'm not sure how it came about. All I know is that we kept it in a wooden box in the closet. It had a runaway train and monorail, and a Dumbo-esque ride.

Miniature Dollhouses, (Loss: Unauthorized Chucking)
Not to be confused with the Polly Pockets of the same genre, this was a three house miniature set of pastel suburbia that was bought by my Aunt Diane as a Christmas/Birthday present. I don't think it had a brand name, since it was bought at a flea market or auction, but I fell in love with it. Each piece of furniture was delicate and detailed, and the houses came with a neighborhood mat with shrubbery and sparkling pools. There was a purple grand piano that really played music with the help of a watch battery.

One day I found out that mom had gotten rid of it because she thought I never played with it anymore. Now I go to therapy.


Colorforms, (Loss: Most Likely Unauthorized Chucking)
Some of you might remember these sticker-like, rubbery things from the early 90s. I had Mickey Mouse themed colorforms and (the best) a giant Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle underground scene that was as big as me. I don't know what ever happened to them, but if I found them on Ebay I would definitely reclaim them.

Inspector Gadget LIFE Cereal Box Back, (Loss: Recycling)
My brother and I always fought over who got the cereal box to read during breakfast, but none were more worth the battle more than the LIFE Cereal back which featured a map of Inspector Gadget's Metro city (very ala Where's Waldo.) With much pleading, we convinced our parents to hold onto this for months at a time; but sadly, it's only a matter of time before mom gets sick of keeping an empty cereal box around for "no reason."

Apparently, there are many who think that it IS worth it, nearly 20 years later!
(If you buy this before me, I will kill you.)

Micro Machines, (Loss: Unknown)
I'll admit it - even though I was a girl who loved Barbie's and play make-up, I loved playing with tiny cars. (This could also have been due to my fetish with miniatures but......for all intensive purposes, let's just say.....I enjoyed playing with cars.) My brother had the Micro Machines Super Van City (which is epic, even in its name), and was perfect for making up car chase disasters.

There was also a drive-in restaurant made especially for Micro Machines, which was my personal fave, but that disappeared suspiciously long before the van city...

Shrinky Dinks, (Loss: ....Probably Just Not Worth Saving)
These have been around for awhile, so I won't go into too much detail. But I had TMNT shrinky dinks, and I wish I still did. Mainly because I can color inside the lines now.

Burger King Playdoh Set, (Loss: Hardened)
Due to my obsession with play food, the marriage of Playdoh and Burger King (while on the surface, sounds incredibly gross) was AMAZING to me. Even long after the Playdoh turned into solid rock, I was using the condiment place mat to serve all my food-crazed needs.

Play Food, (Loss: Scattered about the house in disarray)
The rubber bacon. The plastic scrambled eggs. The Eggo waffle box with the fake pouring syrup. I freaking loved play food. I would still play with it now.

Precious Places, (Loss: Who knows; I may still have it.)
I had almost completely forgotten about this (again) small playset. You controlled moving the little Victorian, rosy-cheeked people by using a magnetic key. The main building was a lovely little Gazebo. Half the time I just used the little people in other locations to suit my own imagination.


Alright, might as well get this out of the way. I love Barbies as much as the next girl, and I had a pretty good assortment. The Heart Family, Skipper, Courtney, the older one my dog chewed, a bunch of mermaid outfits from various places. Then there were the Disney barbies who's heads were at least twice as big as those of regular Barbies (which made kissing Ken rather awkward.)

There was also my blonde Megan doll from My Little Pony. She had a different look than the Barbies; narrower eyes, a bit of a dirty face, and was smaller than Skipper, but I liked it that way. Made her unique. She became the charismatic adventurer/inventor, who would think up crazy ways of getting to the top of my bed, or into a cave.

And I had a LOT of accessories: red Mustang convertible, inflatable pool, kitchen, cafeteria, grocery store, the Barbie Fold 'n' Fun House (from a garage sale). But it doesn't matter how many I have, and that they were all massed produced. I CANNOT get rid of them. I refuse to grow old with regret.

The Littlest Pet Shop
One of the best presents I ever got was the Littlest Pet Shop playset, which included the shop and a shitload of small animals. I played with it ALL THE TIME, but still managed to keep everything intact and together, including the magnetic newspapers for the dogs and the gerbil water bottles. Even the cash register items! Then my sister inherited it, and now who knows where it all is.

Polly Pockets
I can't even count how many of these I have; I am praying that they are still somewhere in my attic waiting for me to re-discover. I didn't even need to play with the little Pollys; I just marveled at the intricacies of the minute worlds. I also had the mansion which had a sun-room and the water park, which you could fill with real water (much to the annoyance of my mother) and make jacuzzi bubbles.

I will be that old woman who has a bunch of Polly Pockets on display in her living room, rather than those crappy Christmas villages.

Star Wars Figurines
I admit I was a Star Wars nerd. After the trilogy was re-released, our parents got us nothing but Star Wars paraphernalia for two Christmases in a row (especially Princess Leia stuff for me, since she was like, oh my god, my idol). We'd race to the stores and search through hundreds of figures to find the rare ones. I even spent a whopping $14 each for the special Princess Leia collection figurines with cloth wardrobe, and then opened them in spite of other snooty collectors. My brother, Nicky and I would stage wars between the Rebellion and the Empire on our coffee table.

>sigh< Those were the days....

Assorted Little Peoples
Over the years, my whole family has amassed a collection of little people, or miscellaneous figurines from Christmases, birthdays, fast food meals and garage sales. Some of them might be worth a pretty penny, but I only want to keep them for the memories of many an imaginative days....

We have Disney characters, Looney Tunes characters, McDonald's Barbies from the Happy Meals, the transforming robot/McDonald's food, Smurfs....the list goes on.

Sadly, many of my Smurfs were lost in a supermarket when I was young. I left for a moment and then they were gone. I cried for them.

I'd have to say my favorite is the Anne Marie figure from All Dogs Go to Heaven that my cousin Janean let me keep. I'll definitely be keeping that one for awhile :)

Where do I even start? Legos were the staple of our familial happiness. We made a dream house out of Legos every year (on our Lego table, no less); I would always use the clean black slate Lego for the dining table, top it with a square black vase of flowers. My room would have a telescope and a lava lamp.

My brother was obsessed with legos, and also refuses to sell them or lend them out to cousins. Attaboy.

April O'Neil Figurine
As a TMNT fan, April O'Neil was a must have. My dad, who was manager at KB Toys for a long time, went everywhere trying to buy one for me. She came with a briefcase, a camcorder, gun and ninja store (all essentials for the working woman.) Eventually he did, and she is still lying somewhere with the rest of the toys I once loved. Hopefully I can find them all again soon.

One Christmas, all of us kids decided to get our mom two pieces of her long-lost wooden circus train off an Ebay auction.

It certainly was a surprise to her, nearly 30 years later. I'm hoping that by keeping what appears to be junk, around a little while longer, I'll have the very same moments a hundred times over.

What toys would you keep around?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Birthday: Rybotz & Nickyness

It's been a year since my last celebration with Ryan on his special joint Cinco de Maya/birthday. This year it's his 25th (quarter-life crisis time!....don't worry it only gets better from here, so I've heard.) It is also the week of my brother's birthday; he turned 20 this passed Sunday.

That's why I think it's only fitting to celebrate their many splendiferous years of living with a blog entry dedicated to two of the most important men in my life: one I know very well, and one that perhaps....I don't. You'd be surprised which one is which.

Ryan (aka Rybotz) is from Ohio, but contrary to what you might think, not nearly as boring as his birthplace. It's impossible to describe him in words. You just have to meet him to know that you're getting someone that has neon bolts of creativity bursting out of his ears. For the most part, experiencing the eclectic sounds of music fuels this phenomenon. But that's only the surface of his admiration for artful, imaginative things.

Like the rubber city of his roots, he is hard-working and reliable, but always in pursuit of a grander goal. We've been together 2 years now, and every day has been an individual struggle that we've tried to support one another through. The city has not been easy to his mid-western lifestyle: here it's fast, fleeting; blink one eye, and you miss it all. Everything in NYC is done on a larger scale; bigger/bolder/better. Luckily everything about Ryan is bigger and bolder. His excitement is catching to everyone around him, but on low days, so are feelings of anger and frustration.

Ryan left Ohio to be a part of the energy of this city, and he is surely becoming part of it. One day, he will be in sync with this flow of passion and creativity, and really show the world what fantastic possiblities lie within the infinite universe that is his mind.

And all psychological theory aside, I am grateful to be by his side on his 25th year, as he experiences the most memorable, unpredictable and thrilling moments of his life.

Happy Birthday my Rybotz. You are just as amazing as you are sweet. <3

My brother Nick (or Nicky, which is what I've always called him) has come a long way from the little bald baby that once peed on my cousin when she was changing him. It makes you feel rather old and confused when you see the same boy you used to play Micro Machines and Barbie Prom Date with ('s true. Don't judge. Who didn't love Barbie? Even he got upset about ending up with the nerdy guy...), doing adult things: driving a car instead of pretending to blow one up.....working at Sears instead of perfecting his homemade sound effect technique.....dying his once light, wavy hair to the color aquamarine.....complaining about getting car tickets and bank statements rather than imagining that you've saved your family from a man-eating tiger while trapped in a raging fire.

Nick was always laughing; he once had a giggling fit after watching the Simpson's episode where Homer falls down a cliff for an absurdly extended period of time, yelling "Doh" at every moment of contact. He could hardly breathe, he was laughing so hard. Then he rewound the tape and watched it again.

At the age of 4, Nick would beg me to put on the Fantasia VHS and fast-forward through all the fairy stuff to get to the dinosaurs and their eventual demise to Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring." It gave me the creeps, but it never phased him. He watched Jurassic Park for the first time at age 6, while I hid in my parent's bedroom, trying to block out the sounds of velociraptors.

He could make any inanimate object explode with unidentifiable sounds. He engrossed himself in a small 1x4 Lego block for hours, making it emit spitful explosive sounds as he shook it within his hands. Who knows what kind of intergalactic war was being staged within his imaginative mind.

But most of all, Nicky was the sweetest, most gentle kid brother a girl could ask for. While other boys were tearing the heads off their sister's dolls and generally wreaking havoc, Nicky was eager to play with anyone at any time, and loved to make people laugh. His younger sisters were the rambunctious ones, and he took a lot of abuse from their rough housing and tantrums. But that was Nicky's way; he couldn't stand to see anyone upset. He just wanted to feel he belonged.

Today, Nick is in college, but still living at home. I know it must be hard still dealing with the craziness of sisters, shitty family cars and living in a town you can't seem to escape. It's enough to make anyone a little irritated. But I hope that even at 20, little Nicky is still there at heart.

Happy Birthday Nicky-ness Maximilian Eggward Whites Yolken Midori-Ximus.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Shameless Self-Promotion....What I Do Best

It's allllll about ME!


(*cough* please love me.) AHEM ^.^;;;; Please don't pay any attention to that small person; she is obviously retarded.

It may be that my creative pool has run dry (as is usually the case when I've had a shitload of work for a long time and then suddenly things are calm ::knock on wood::). Don't get me wrong I have tons of stuff to share (despite the fact that no one gives a damn), I just haven't had the energy or the brain power to squeeze it out. I start entries, then stop them, wondering what my inspiration was in the first place. Then I go back to making lists of the things I should be doing, and this sort of repeats itself in a dizzying, infinite cycle for the next few weeks.

I'm sure I'll get over it.

Meanwhile, allow me to invite you into the universe that seems to ever-revolve around me and my unkosher glory, and listen to my new VO Demo that I've been working on. Some of them are actual demos I've done for work, and others are exercises from a VO class I took back in October (with the wonderful Karen Murray! And since I am also a fan of shamelessly promoting others, please let this woman teach you how to make your voice a star.)

I'm still trying to fine tune things and add some more conversational character pieces, but I'm still open to critiques. This is your one chance to really be brutal on me and not feel like an asshole about it.
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