Monday, January 21, 2013

The Dispatch From Escalatorville: HollowDays and Wasted Nights.

As he often does, Mister Universal Truth rode by me on his bag and box laden two wheeler  the other day, offering the following kernel of wisdom:
"Man, people here LOVE it when it's warm, but the minute it gets cold -
they biiiiiitch."

Days of Yersteryule

Our recent cold snap has done a little to extend the holiday season here in Florida - mainly because it's been too cold to think about taking down the decorations. It's also helped to hold tight those long past and semi-current holiday memories.

This most recent Christmas Eve, I found myself as one member of the four generations of my family that gathered for Mass with my 92 year old Grandmother. Nearly a dozen of us took up an entire pew of The Holy Comforter, Episcopal in my home town of Richmond, Virginia.

We sang hymns together, enjoying the readings, and scanned our fellow attendees for familiar faces from times when we were regulars. The last act a more difficult one for your truly, having not been a practicing parishioner for nearly three decades.

(Confidential to the youngish, modern female church-goer: that peek-a-boo style blouse and thong-revealing jeans - more appropriate for sun worship than, y'know, Son worship. Just sayin'...)

To be completely honest, I can't recall the words spoken from the Christmas Eve pulpit, yet I could feel a sense of warmth as the preachers prose coated all in the sanctuary with a momentarily unified sense of belief.

The belief that there just may be a higher force guiding parts of this universe, the belief that there still exists a sense of common good in the world, the belief that justice exists, the belief that your check won't bounce if you write it to charity, the belief that cooler heads will eventually prevail, the belief that this coming week will be free of car trouble, the belief that the cute gal you've been eyeing will indeed call you back, the belief that manipulating 'pressure points' will make a headache vanish, the belief that the perfect pizza is waiting for you somewhere, the belief that my sister still has possibly the best singing voice of that entire congregation.

Of course, only the latter is close to verifiable - but for just a moment in the Holidays, it's nice to embrace the warmth of infinite possibility.

Yet, nobody has any fruitcake left, wha?

One thing I enjoy about these post-holiday weeks is the abundance of Holiday themed goodies that linger in the convenience stores. They're not going bad, not completely out of place, yet no longer seasonally trendy - and sometimes, they're on sale.

Such is the case with Eggnog.

I don't know when I first began to enjoy eggnog, but I have found it to be a near perfect apres-yule beverage. It mixes so well with so much, and turns any drink into an instant "Christmas" drink.

Normally, I shouldn't even go near the stuff. It's two main ingredients are things that, as separate entities, I despise wholeheartedly in their natural form.

Milk and eggs.

I'm not a milk drinker by any circumstance, no sir. Oh, I'll pour some of it into java if the creamers unavailable, and I adore Ice Cream, for certain. Yet, milk, standing alone in a glass - never gonna happen.

And Eggs; either simply yolks, or the whole damn embryo - slightly stirred to avoid separation. Ewww. For me to even eat eggs -much less drink them- they have to be prepared as to be nearly unrecognizable. Forget 'over easy or 'runny' - mine have to stop dead in their tracks. I cook them so harshly, it automatically raises the reputation of tofu.

Yet, when blended together - that milk and egg concoction just mixes so perfectly, with a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg to cap off whatever tasty beverage you may prefer - it goes real well in coffee, so I've heard...

Tales From The Retail Rodeo, part X in a seemingly never ending series (in which X = # of Years in Customer Service multiplied by the square root of Wages Earned/Wages Deserved +  Amount of Force used in "Choke Resistance" Per Day)

* A middle aged patron eyes the selection of cheapo slingshots available at the front of the store. Upon picking one up, she gleefully recalled,

"Oh, we had these when I was a kid..."

"But,..." she stated while dropping the item haphazardly to it's container "...they're weapons now."

*Near the cash register (the "Point Of Sale" for those in the game, also affectionately referred to as "P.O.S."- for all that abbreviation implies), we have a few similar tchotchkes that come in two very distinct sizes.

Our display sign indicates prices for "small" and "large."

More than once, I have been asked:
"Which are the small ones?"

*Simply a point of observation - any customer facing a situation in which they feel compelled to alert you to the antiquated dictum "The Customer Is Always Right" - is usually dead wrong.

I have  a degree in English as well as Theatre - in these situations, I combine my knowledge of both to create something we call "Tact."

The Worst Tinsel
On my morning walk, I noticed that a neighbor a few block overs had been a victim of a prank that I had long thought had it's heyday. A house, yard, and trees, all covered in streams of toilet paper. Floorboards to chimneys,  roots to bird nests - toilet paper everywhere - blowing ever so gently in the morning wind. Unspooled rivulets of bleached, processed  pulp draped lazily over branches and power lines.

I would have taken a picture - was about to - but I realized how un-amused I might be if it were my place that had been rolled in comfortably soft and fluffilly absorbent "papier hygiƩnique."

For a moment, I even thought that maybe, just maybe, I was looking at a half-hearted holiday display that had grown haggard and worn with time and weather.

Nope. They definitely got pranked.

The little kid part of my brain thinks it's hilarious. The old man part wonders if anyone is going to help them clean up. Yeah, it would be an oddly tedious job  - but hey, free toilet paper.

Because "Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta" hadn't been written yet.
Cruising the Intertube video feeds at random, as I am wont to do - I happened upon a 1980's commercial that used as it's background music, an instrumental version of the '60's song 'Georgy Girl.'

Yup, 'Georgy Girl' - that pop tune which includes lines such as:

"Hey there, Georgy girl
Why do all the boys just pass you by?
Could it be you just don't try - or is it the clothes you wear?


Life is a reality, you can't always run away
Don't be so scared of changing and rearranging yourself

And what, pray tell, was this ode to near anti-feminism used to hawk, you ask?
Why, Barbie Dolls, of course...

Ermagherd, The Derspertch Ferm Erscalerterverlle!

Z.F.Lively, Proprietor/Mistletoe-Stubber
for platitude, gratitude, quotes from The Dude. (link NSFW)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Dispatch From Escalatorville: Wonky McRuthless And The "Happy" New Year...

Sometimes, I step outside myself - look at circumstances surrounding my life and think "Gee. What's the deal with THAT guy?"
Then it hits me.

I assume everyone goes through this every once in a while. After all, a little identity crisis (No. "Crisis" is the wrong term - think less startling, more reflective...) - identity "reconciliation" (that's more like it) never hurt.

Also, it occurs to me that any of our lives, in and of themselves- each with it's own peccadilloes, secrets, shames, pains, and private jokes - could indeed be a heck of a lot worse.

To be who we are and where we are at this point in time is a blessing that tends to get overlooked. Troubles, trifles, mysteries and muses we all have, and oft times focus on; yet, there are so many other possibilities that escape us, paths un-taken, lives we could have lead - that we forget to be thankful for the place we are.

The fact that you are reading this right now means that you are more privileged than over half of the people on the planet. And yet, we can so easily devolve...

Head Check
Every town has it's share of what we once called "Crazies" - the folks that, due to various and sundry circumstances find themselves on the mental edge, and thus the fringes of society. The people that need, but seem not to find, help to improve the health of their noggin. Sometimes, there's a bona fide, physician classified disorder; sometimes the disorder is caused by random or methodical chemical ingestion. Nonetheless, each little burg in our world has those that roam the streets, hurtling through the intersection of 'Insanity Road' and 'Low Meds Boulevard.' Heck, this town has it's allotment, and probably a few other towns portions as well.

In the recent past, I've encountered a local woman on random occasions as she darted about the street, spouting obscure and nonsensical phrases to tourists and residents alike. Almost always - a transparent plastic cup in hand, itself holding the remains of a clear mystery liquid.
(Attn.: burgeoning rock stars, this weeks free band name is 'Mystery Liquid') 

Every now and again, this woman pauses to yell at a sign or a lamppost. Once not too long ago, she poked her head into my place of employ, rolling her eyes half-back in her skull while stating to no one in particular - "I'mNotEvenGonnaSayOHNOMisterBill!" - before popping back out onto the thoroughfare.

Then, one day during the holiday season, she nonchalantly entered the store and proceeded to browse around, eyeing our gewgaws, knick-knacks, and jewellery. Cautiously, I watched as she made her way around the shop. A sketchy situation at best, my co-workers and I awaited her imminent breakdown and departure.

She lingered at a jewellery case for a few moments before I rallied up the courage to walk over and ask:

"Is there anything I can help you with?"

I held my breath and braced myself for a litany of lunacy...

Instead, we had a fully logical and comprehensive conversation revolving around her search for a holiday gift to give to her out of town daughter. A polite and pleasant talk in which she compiled a list of items in the store as potential holiday presents. Gifts in mind, if not in hand, she thanked me for my time, stating she'd be back soon, and gracefully headed out the front door with a pep in her step and a smile on her face.

Three days later, I caught sight of her - barking at a picket fence.

Brain Fart
Random thought: how 'bout we start up a take-out only restaurant, serving the tastiest in portable food - then confuse folks by naming it "Where Zis From?"
Imagine the fun party conversation when you bring in a few trays of our enigmatic delectables!

Or: I'm opening a bakery that makes only erotic breads from exotic sources;
"50 Shades Of Grain"

(p.s. The Enigmatic Delectables will be the opening act on
The 2013 World Tour of Escalatorville Recording Superstars: Mystery Liquid

This Neck O' The Woods
Recently Acquired Malaprops (gathered exclusively in St. Augustine, Florida - The Nation's Oldest City, Y'all!:

-From a man on cellphone reporting to his satellitic friend at the other side of that call, the tale of how another pal had just received a raw deal somewhere in The Ancient City Shop-o-Rama:
"Man, he sure got the short end of the stack."

-From a stroller-bound child (the best kind), as he reminisced to his parents of their moments ago visit to Castillo De San Marcos, tourist mecca and historic fortress/battleground:
"Fire The Canyons, Mommy - Fire The Canyons!"

As one may have guessed, I tend to overhear customers conversations as they come in through the front door of the shop.  Within the recent political season, I was privy to some interesting tete a tetes in regards to many of the political parties and their respective candidates for office.

A couple of regulars entered the store discussing those nefarious and greedy folks of "the entitlement culture" - "...always trying to get something for nothing..."

Moments later, as they were checking out - I made a mental note of their shock when they realized I hadn’t automatically given them a "Locals Discount."

Gut Wrench
I admire folks who are proud of their beliefs. I can even understand the wearing of symbolic imagery to show ones faith. What I don't get, however, is why anyone would chose to wear skin tight jeans with embroidered cubic zirconia crucifixes on the -for lack of a better term- "ass pockets" of said skin tight jeans.
I wonder what the higher powers think of those pants, and I kind of feel like a sinner just for knowing they exist.

End Notes
I cannot tell you enough how much I dig the sound of Booker T and the MGs - always have. The fact that they not only had major hit records of their own ('Green Onions,' 'Hip Hug Her', and on and on) - BUT, played as the backing band for "virtually every recording made at Stax from 1962 through about 1970*" as well as providing the core of the Blues Brothers Band = nothing but praise in my book.

However, there's one thing that always get me. Everytime I hear the band's version of 'Hang Em High' - I always end up singing both 'House of The Rising Sun' and 'Theme to Gilligans Island'.

Based on the overall awesomeness of the group, I'm going to assume this was intentional.

Here - try it yourself:
*Thank you Wikipedia
The Dispatch From Escalatorville
Z.F. Lively, Proprietor/PrettyPrettyPrincess (Did I mention that my house has a mischievous ghost?) for Eventualities/AvengedDualities