Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ode to my bitch.

A poem, jointly composed with Secundus while walking the lady Leila around a pond on Halloween. Not that those last two facts have anything to do with it.

Our dog
Is not a possum.
When bigger dogs diss her in the street, she doesn't lie down and play dead till they go away, thinking she's just put one across 'em.
She fearlessly barks right back, which makes her

(Note to international readers: That Og de Nash-ian last rhyme doesn't work with an English accent.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

I need a minder.

A few days ago, I put my kettle on the stove for some tea, got distracted by something, and forgot all about it. I didn't hear the whistle through the closed door, but an hour or so later, I distinctly heard the kitchen smoke detector. The kettle had boiled dry, and although still intact, it had taken on a smoky odor on the inside.

Not wanting all my tea to taste like lapsang souchong (I'm decidedly either green or Orange Pekoe), I survived for a day or two by sticking my mug in the microwave.

But I broke down and spent the $60 for a cordless electric kettle, on the grounds that it has an automatic cut-off when it reaches boiling point. Safe, right? Foolproof.

Not if you come down for breakfast, fill your new electric kettle, and then absent-mindedly put it on the gas burner. This time my nostrils detected the stink of scorched black plastic just before the smoke detector started shrieking.

Tea addiction and ADD -- not a good combination.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hitchcock should've had these problems.

I've just left the house with the beast when I hear the noise of a sudden hailstorm in the road ahead.

A black splattering of grackles -- the collective noun is a "plague" -- has flecked the treetops around the nearby pond, several hundred birds that all sound as if they need oiling. Their greedy scamperings in a high oak tree causes a cloudburst of acorns, which pelt me and Leila, and, to the surprise of its driver, bounce off the paintwork of a car that attempts to nose its way down my Dead End street.

Leila barks, and they flee, in concerted cowardice. But they're back by the end of our walk, and we're pelleted again from above.

Now if I were a true poet, I'd be trying to make this into a metaphor for something.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What don't like it?

Right-click with your cursor on the stripe along the bottom of the screen in Microsoft Windows. You get a menu with an option to "Lock the Taskbar."

Wasn't that a song by The Clash?


Multi-tasking! Not a male strong point, but I'm doing my best with some much-needed time management.

The fair Leila requires her daily exercise. So do I. So I've combined them into my new regime -- no less than an hour of non-stop walking around the streets of Rye and Harrison and occasionally Mamaroneck*, at a brisk and calorie-consuming pace of 4 mph, apart from those days when I'm dragging children behind me. With varying four-mile loops plotted on Google Earth.

Ah, but it doesn't stop there -- that's also a good hour for thinking and planning and plotting, with the blood gushing through my brain and my lungs filled with air. Or I can listen to informative BBC and NPR podcasts on the iTouch, which did dry out after its recent dunking in the john. Or I can make a personal phone call or two, as long as the person at the other end doesn't mind the heavy breathing or the pause (and sound effects) when I have to gather dog poop.

(Given the praise she gets when she delivers and the care with which I pick up after her and carry it away in those little blue New York Times bags, Leila must think I'm some kind of collector.)

Sometimes I get more exercise than planned. A couple of weeks ago, I was about two-thirds of the way around my loop when I noticed my glasses, which I'd hooked over the neckline of my shirt, were missing. I turned around and retraced my steps, scanning the ground. Amazingly, I found them in the middle of the sidewalk, just a hundred yards from home. It would have been quicker to complete the original circuit and then go round a second time. Instead I covered five and a half miles that day.

Yesterday, the same thing happened. This time I was going the opposite way round the same loop, but two-thirds into it, I looked down at my jeans pocket and realized my new pedometer must have fallen off. Again, reverse course, retrace steps, study the sidewalk fruitlessly, get home after a much longer walk than planned. But I found this missing item, too. I'd dropped it on the bedroom floor.

*I like Mamaroneck because it's easy to spell. Just one consonant per syllable. None of that confusing Massachusetts or Mississippi stuff.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

And they say it's snooker that's the sign of a misspent youth.

I'm telling the boys about the movie trivia game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." (Very happy that Secundus immediately spots the assonant similarity between "Kevin Bacon" and the word "Separation" from the original phrase. He also thinks Bacon is a funny name.)

Ignoring their initial challenges -- I'm not sure that Miley Cyrus or Miranda Cosgrove* have exactly the body of work that makes this worthwhile --they give me John Cleese to Harrison Ford.

Hmmm. But I got a three-degree answer within two minutes: John Cleese was in Rat Race with Rowan Atkinson; Atkinson was the comic relief in Never Say Never Again with Sean Connery; Connery was in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with Harrison Ford.

What pleases me is not the speed, which was only average, but the unlikely members of the chain: Basil Fawlty -- Mr. Bean -- James Bond -- Indiana Jones.

(This morning, while walking the dog, I got that elusive two-degree solution -- I don't think there's a one-degree, because I don't believe Cleese and Ford were ever co-stars. Cleese was in Time Bandits with Kenny Baker as one of the dwarves; Baker was inside R2-D2 in the original Star Wars trilogy with Ford as Han Solo. Of course, Sean Connery was also in Time Bandits, so I could have just skipped Blackadder in the earlier chain.)

Am I boring you?

*She did do a voice in Despicable Me, which connects her to Dame Julie Andrews, no less. And that's a link to the Bride of Frankenstein (Elsa Lanchester in Mary Poppins.) And, incidentally, to John Cleese in Shrek 2.

Later addition: Okay, I had to hit up the Internet Movie Data Base to see what Miley Cyrus could offer in her brief movie career. She did a voice in Bolt, which connects her to John Travolta, who starred in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, which featured a guest appearance by second man on the moon Buzz Aldrin. (Two steps.) You can also get through Travolta to Abe Vigoda (Looks Who's Talking.) And to Jamie Lee Curtis (Perfect) who was in A Fish Called Wanda with  . . . John Cleese.

But the scariest is that Malcolm McDowell also did a voice in Bolt, and he starred in Caligula, which also featured Sir John Gielgud. The greatest Hamlet of his time to Hannah Montana in just two steps. Oy.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cereal filler.

Doing a Whole Foods run to equip the kitchen, I also load up on my favorite breakfast cereal, a nutritious blend of kamut, spelt, and quinoa, which doesn't taste like an Ikea tabletop and which, combined with say banana slices, blueberries, and blackberries and a sprinkling of toasted wheatgerm is the perfect way to start the day, unless of course there's cold mushroom pizza in the fridge.

When Tertius was in nursery school, he dictated the captions for a clutch of his drawings that were bound into a book and presented to me for Fathers Day. It all seemed a pretty accurate assessment, until it got to my favorite food. His teacher had transcribed that I "like to eat Harry T. Jones."

More recent portraits of me by Tertius.
A little distracted by the homoerotic overtones of this observation, I protested that I didn't know anyone called Harry T. Jones even to talk to, let alone, well . . . (The nearest name in my experience was "F. Harry Stowe," which isn't a person but the way to pronounce the Greek word for "thank you." Benefits of a classical education, which I freely bestow on you, dear reader. Oh, you're welcome.)

It took me a while to realize that Tertius had quite accurately offered up the name of this Cheerios-shaped breakfast cereal. It's called  "Heritage O's."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's (something, something) gone mad, I tell you.

From the instructions for a new purchase:

"Use a qualified electrician for installation of this lighting fixture.
Before installing fixture disconnect power by turning the circuit breaker or by removing the fuse at the fuse box . . ."

It was only a bloody reading lamp!

Mind you, it reminds me of the joke: How many Rye housewives does it take to change a light-bulb?

Two. One to call the electrician and one to mix the cocktails.

Somebody has to write this stuff.

Another mindbender, this time on a webpage for an end-table. (Clearly, I'm furniture shopping.)

"Rustic cottage style for contemporary spaces."

Took me five goes to get "rustic" right. I must learn to type some day.

P.S. Just dropped my iTouch in the toilet. I had flushed already.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Words fail me. And the copywriter.

Seen on a furniture website, this highlighted feature of a club chair:

"Furniture piece is perfect for sitting down."

As opposed to all those other chairs that force you to . . .?  Oh, never mind, insert your own joke, it's too easy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Daily . . . Compliment, for once. I think.

Chatting with a friend (and blog follower) after attending a meeting at Rye's City Hall -- the only person I know in Rye who also knew my first wife, gosh, twenty years ago. She expresses mild surprise that some of the women in my life have concluded that I'm completely superfluous to their requirements. (As the publishers' rejection letters put it, I did not meet their needs at this time.)

"I mean," she says, "you're not exactly an ax-murderer."

And there we have it. My complete epitaph, combining this passing compliment with an older comment about my recorded narration of a young adult novel, which I mentioned in a much earlier blog:


Sunday, October 17, 2010

There IS a leopard on your roof.

Last night's movie for the boys was Howard Hawks's classic comedy Bringing Up Baby. Black and white from 1938, but they loved it.

Every time I see this movie, I'm smitten all over again by Katherine Hepburn's irresistible Susan Vance. I often feel as bewildered by life as Cary Grant's hapless character (and I have a pair of glasses like the ones he eventually breaks), but unfortunately, that's where the resemblance to one of my favorite actors ends.

Screenwriters Dudley Nichols and Hagar Wilde reportedly fell in love while writing this movie. It shows.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hardscribble life.

I have the world's worst handwriting. I can't even decipher it myself. Just found last week's shopping list on a Post-It note stuck inside my billfold, and I had to stare at it for several seconds to figure out why I'd wanted to buy "succor." (If only you could get that at Stop & Shop.) Turned out to be "scissors."
Think I'm kidding?

But I was truly flummoxed by seeing the name of Ari Fleischer on my list of needs, even though the former press secretary for W is, I believe, a Westchester resident and as a media consultant is clearly for sale, so it wasn't entirely impossible.

I finally figured out that what I read as "Ari Fleischer" was actually "Air Freshener."

Friday, October 15, 2010

What was that quote about the intelligence of the American people?*

Brain-hurting endorsement spotted on the packaging of some "As seen on TV" gadget I didn't want in Bed, Bath & Beyond: "Pitchman Approved!"

To misquote a likely misquoted Abraham Lincoln: You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time . . . and that's clearly good enough for most purposes.

*"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." Not P.T. Barnum. Not Mark Twain. It was attributed to H.L. Mencken.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Any writer will tell you that a new project begins with the hunt for perfect stationery. It's procrastination disguised as work.

So I'm in Staples, failing to find a 9" x 6.5", five-subject college-ruled notebook with poly cover, preferably purple, for outlining my next book,* when I notice another large notebook, with an alternative binding to the usual spiral of black-plastic-covered metal. It's described, therefore, as "wireless."

I resist the temptation to buy one for Primus and tell him I got him the "wireless notebook" I know he wants.

*I actually have six ideas for the next novel, only one of them an Oliver Swithin story.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Words to live by. Or are they?

I don't contribute to my facebook account much, mainly because I'm too long-winded to fit my comments into those little boxes. That's what this blog is for, suckers. I don't check in very often either, largely because I don't care that some "friend" of a "friend" got a good night's sleep or now likes Febreze.* (And don't get me started on my nephews' open love letters to their girlfriends.)

But the profile page encourages you to add a favorite saying or quotation. My friend Maureen gave me a ceramic plaque with this mystery-writer's twist on existentialism: "It is what it is. Or is it?" which is now hanging over the mantelpiece of my new abode.

I was tempted by this, but for facebook, I went for this attributable variation on the same Fate-defying theme: "One never knows, do one?" courtesy of that frequent visitor to my CD-player, the ever-magnificent Mr. Thomas James "Fats" Waller.

This morning, however, I did waver for a second in my fidelity to Fats when I heard someone say: "I know it's just my opinion, but . . . I'm right." I'll be using that.

P.S. This reminder did come out of a recent facebook exchange: It's four years old, but if you've never seen and rejoiced in the lovely Feist's version of "1234" for Sesame Street, you're a complete loser. Hang on for the final frame, where she reacts to a good take.

(It's even better if you've already seen the popular original video for "1234," so simple, only one uninterrupted shot with the tiniest atom of digital manipulation, but one of the best videos ever. I know it's only my opinion, but . . .)

*I like Febreze.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stop following me.

Kohl's is a remarkable store. By some miracle of retail management, they always manage to have exactly two checkout assistants fewer than is needed at any time, no matter what the customer volume. That takes skill. (It's certainly harder than Petco's approach, which is to have exactly zero.)

Why Britney? Well, I Googled the phrase "Kohl's checkout line" to find an illustration for this post, and this was the third image that came up. (The first was a picture of a J.C. Penney store.) Guests should go figure.
But waiting on line (as opposed to online) to pay for wineglasses gives you time to reflect on the extraordinary fact that, despite having the largest vocabulary of any language, English has very few true synonyms. By which I mean there are tiny shades of difference in meaning and of usage that prevent even the most closely related words from being interchangeable on all occasions. Take "little" and "small." You can waste a "little time" on line for a register to open up, but to waste a "small time" doesn't sound quite right.

And as one-by-one, the line ahead of you is gradually whittled down, you also get several opportunities to cringe every time you hear the standard corporate script Kohl's has clearly issued its employees: "Following guest, please."

Now let's leave aside that, as a "guest," I generally expect to have someone hand me a drink as soon as I cross the threshold, and then possibly the host will wash my feet with his or her hair, weeping over the inadequacy of the amenities. It's not a term I expect from an institution that exists to remove my credit card from my pocket and wring it dry.

(Bearing in mind that the checkout is further slowed by trying to get each punter to apply for a Kohl's credit card every time and by an encouragement to go online and rate their 30-second performance. Okay, you didn't drop my glassware and you didn't bite me in the neck. Gold star, then. You don't even have to make change. Why is it that every transaction these days -- on the phone, in a store, on a website -- requires marking?)

But that "following" sounds wrong, too, although I can't exactly articulate why. I think it's the fact that it's asking you to self-identify yourself as "following" in the present tense; in other words, I wouldn't describe myself as following until after I've followed. "Following" is not synonymous with "next," which is the word they really want.

"Who's following?" sounds weird when you want to ask "Who's next?" "I'm the next in line," I may shout irritably at the seven-foot, ape-like queue-jumper with the swastika tattooed on his forehead -- or maybe not. But were I to say "I'm the following in line," he would probably wince and call weakly for some sal volatile.

Are you following me? Oh, it's good stuff, this, isn't it? Tell your friends.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Fulminating about poor typography a couple of posts ago, and throwing in a reference to blackletter, reminded me of a quote from the great American type designer Frederic Goudy.

("Blackletter" is a generic term for those Old English or Germanic typefaces that seem inspired by the handwriting of monks in illuminated manuscripts. Like lower case fonts, it looks better when the letters are set without too much air between them.)

The apocryphal story is that Goudy's comment was inspired by an award he had received for his contributions to typography. He was honored by the recognition, but glancing critically at the specially made certificate, he added in an aside: "Anyone who'd letterspace blackletter would f*ck a sheep."
This fairly famous quote has been cleaned up in other versions, but trust me, this is what he meant.
Blackletter is almost unreadable set in all caps, too, but fortunately, she doesn't have to look at it. How long did it take you to decipher?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

All we are saying . . .

 . . . is happy 70th, John.

"They killed him you know, at least he didn't die alone did he? Merry Churstchove,  . . . old pal buddy."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Out with the old, in with the old.

A long-lost favorite haunt in Manhattan was a diner just south of Columbus Circle, whose name was an odd combination of past, present, and future: The Cosmic Coffee Shoppe.

You picture thatched tea-rooms on ye olde Planet Mars, with mylar cozies, freeze-dried tang-flavored scones, and a fat marmalade cat in a space helmet.

Reminded of this retro-futurism because, across the street from my new abode, is the hideously named Rye ExecuPlaza.*

Only it doesn't say "rye execuplaza" on the untrendy all-lower-case sign. (In the Avant Garde typeface? In the twenty-first century? Give me a break, you might as well put it in blackletter. Or entirely in upper case Old English.)

The r in "rye" is missing.

So imagine a medieval wandering knight, seeking damsels to slay and dragons to woo, trotting up to a bleak castle and demanding to know of the castellan if he's seen a flock of grails go by.

"Alack, good Sir Knighte," sighs the head guard, after the required banter about swallows carrying coconuts. "Thou hast just missed his nibbes. But hist, dogge! Thee might find him at his counting-house. Down yon lane, in Ye Execuplaza.**"

*Or Execuplaza or Execu-plaza or execuplaza, depending on where it's listed. Honestly, the tin-eared property development Philistines who came up with this monstrosity -- and no doubt thought it justified their fees -- might at least be consistent in the way they're effing up the English language. How about bringing a poet to one of those meetings?

**Mentioning only that the "ye" as in "Ye Olde iPadde Shoppe" should be pronounced "the," and not like the old form of "you," which is a different word. In the "Ye Olde . . ." case, the Y is not our modern letter y, but a representation of a symbol called a "thorn," which made the "th" sound in Old and Middle English. It had largely died out by the time of Caxton, so when the early printers needed to include it, they used a y instead. So it's their fault, the lazy bastards.
The "curse" on Shakespeare's tomb, which he didn't write and which was pretty standard practice for the time, so that well-off ex-parishioners could hold on to their prime spots inside the church and not have their remains dug up by venal vicars and dumped in the charnel house as soon as another cash-paying stiff came along demanding altar-front property to decompose in. It includes several Y's representing the "th" sound. (That Y with a little T over it stands for Yat, meaning "that," pronounced "that.") For more about this inscription, see Alan Beechey's novel This Private Plot. Oh, wait, I forgot to finish it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dumb things overheard in bookstores.

I parked today in a White Plains car park in space number 2001, and this reminded me that, nearly a decade after Kubrik's movie took place, we still don't have any PanAm flights to the moon. Don't have any PanAm, for that matter. On the other hand, my computer does call me Dave. Even when it's switched off.

It also reminded me of another iconic year that passed without incident, 1984, and since nothing funny has happened to me in the last 24 hours that I can write about, here are a couple of real things heard in bookstores over the years.

So back in 1984, I'm in a small Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side -- they were mainly small in those simpler, gentler times -- and somebody asked the sales assistant for a copy of, yes, 1984.

"Who's it by?" asked the assistant. Six customers in the store simultaneously looked up and chorused "George Orwell!"

To be equaled by an even earlier overhearing, back in my local bookshop in Wimbledon, England, in 1979.

"Do you have Clive James's autobiography?" asked a customer.

"I don't know," answered the assistant. "Who's it by?"

There's a point where these stories stop being funny and start being, well, kind of sad, at least when you consider the longer term job prospects of the employees concerned. In the first case, the young woman assistant followed up her customers' prompting of the year's most famous classic by beaming around the store and merrily announcing "I never heard of it." And in the second case, James's book about his Australian childhood Unreliable Memoirs, with which the assistant was unfamiliar, was currently the at top of the British bestsellers list.

Monday, October 4, 2010

If you're reading this, get out your checkbook.

Sublime jazz guitarist Pat Metheny's current Orchestrion tour is stopping off at the Calhoun School on the Upper West Side on October 26 to play a benefit for the school. A generous gesture, a great cause, and because it's a benefit, the tickets are $200 each. But $500 will get you a backstage pass, where, presumably, West Side private-school parents can mix with the performers over a glass of Pinot Noir and some nibbles. (Rock and roll!)

Pat Metheny, by Latifa Metheny
A few years ago, Primus was in the same class as Pat's older son at the West Side YMCA's Co-op Nursery School, and I often ran into Pat when his schedule gave him time to do the drop-offs and pick-ups. I was always pleased to see him -- not because of his musical celebrity, but because it reminded me that there was one class father who was not only older than me but also generally untidier. (Although I was always more pleased to see his stunning and charming wife, Latifa, also a photographer.)

But I had no inkling he could have charged me for the encounter! Now I know that I was getting all those freebies, I wish we'd covered more than just the kids' snack schedules and the viscosity of homemade Playdough. Doh.

And this gives me an idea. I don't match up to Pat Metheny's multi-Grammy-award-winning fame, but there is a tiny sliver of the mystery-reading community that may still have a copy of An Embarrassment of Corpses on their bookshelves, so I'm not a complete unknown.

Anyway, that woman who called me over yesterday while I was struggling with half a dozen heavy Stop & Shop bags to ask directions to the place she was already parked beside: you owe me $27.50.

Anyone who stops me on the street to inquire what breed of dog Leila is, $20 for the first terse "mutt" and a further $15 if you want me to specify that DNA testing suggests she has a lot of Japanese akita in her. (20% discount if your motivation is to tell me she's beautiful.)

And that a**hole who called me on my cellphone at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday night while I was standing under the stars beside a boy scouts campfire and assured me he was entitled to ignore my listing on the "do not call" register because he wasn't trying to sell me the home insurance he was so clearly touting, $499.99 plus tax, you bastard.

In the way of these things, I get to hear about this event taking place 25 miles south of my current location via my friend and former Calhoun mother, Gina, who lives in Australia but sent me the email from Cambodia.

About eight years ago, when we were all in Manhattan, Gina took her son, Jack, then a young teenager, to a Pat Metheny concert, his first grown-up concert-going experience. Jack really enjoyed it, and I had the chance in the next day or so to tell Pat that he'd just played a significant role in a new fan's life. Pat sent greetings, I passed them on, and "Uncle Alan's" coefficient of cool was, all too briefly, stratospheric. Jack just celebrated his twenty-first birthday, and I don't want to know how.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dadding for fun and profit.

Fall campout last night for the scouts of Rye, at the reservation in Putnam County. Not too wet, despite torrential rain over the last two days. Overnight temperature a surprising low-40s, but Secundus and I are snug in our sleeping bags and two-person tent. (He should be. I woke in the middle of the night to find him lying sideways, using my stomach as a pillow.) He's very happy, having caught the biggest fish of the afternoon.

But who drives a Porsche to a campout?*

Back home, later in the day, Secundus volunteers to work the self-service scanner at the Stop & Shop checkout, while Tertius insists he needs no help with the bagging. I step back and relax, luxuriating in a rare bit of successful dadding.

The checkout computer voices the price as items are scanned, and for produce without a bar code, names the food, so you can be sure you pushed the right button. It does so using that vocal ransom-note technique that pieces the sentence out of separately recorded snippets: "Place your . . . [apples] . . . on the belt.

Excuse the vulgar duplication of end-stops, but I swear that I heard this intonation when the moment came: "Place your . . . broccoli??!!  . . . on the belt."

*Not me, I had the minivan. Another dad. This is Rye.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bad day, part 2

(Still Thursday.)

Later, I go to the optician to get new reading glasses. For books and newspapers, a foot away, I need a 2.25 diopter. But for the computer screen, about two feet ahead of me, a weaker 1.75 diopter provides a crisper focus. (I don't need distance lenses -- I peer over the top. See the picture.) Fed up with swapping my over-the-counter spectacles every time I change close-up tasks, I've decided to invest in some progressive lenses that range over both these strengths.

(I have my eye on a pair of round Armani frames, even though the boys told me I looked like a middle-aged Harry Potter* when I tried them on.)

The young lady assistant in the store is very pleasant throughout, but warmly recommends an eye test before buying new glasses. I tell her my last test was only last December, at that very establishment, and these were the strengths recommended by the eye-doctor -- her employer -- at the time, as she can see from my records. I'm not due for another test yet, and I can vouch from the inside that my eyesight hasn't significantly deteriorated.

She makes the case for a test a second time, as if I failed to understand her point. I repeat that I take that point, oh I do, but my needs are clear and simple.

Ah, but now I have defied her expert advice. The horror. She's still pleasant, but the smile has vanished and her attitude suggests that I'm pegged as the village idiot. Sorry, city idiot.**

"But your last test was in December 2009," she keeps saying imperiously. "Since so much time as passed, I do strongly recommend an eye exam before spending money on lenses." "You dummy," is now clearly the unspoken addendum.

"But I know my needs haven't changed in the last nine months," I say, as calmly as I can.

"Nine months?" she echoes. "You haven't had an eye-test since December 2009!"

"Which was nine months ago," I say slowly. "This is still September 2010." She frowns, and I watch as a mental calendar passes behind her eyes.

But by now I'm too irritated to stay and try on glasses. Muttering that I'll call for an appointment, I leave the store, and I'll probably go somewhere else. Because what was so infuriating was that even after it dawned on this supercilious female that she had screwed up the fairly elementary task of remembering what year we're in, she neither apologized nor lowered the attitude a millimeter. She was the professional, I was the civilian; I couldn't possibly know what I was talking about. My opinions, since they defied her well-practiced script, must therefore be the worthless rantings of a dimwit, albeit one with an English accent and a nice new haircut.

But what can you expect from a day when we lost the immortal Tony Curtis and, lest the news be eclipsed by Jamie Lee's dad, the far too mortal Greg Giraldo?

*Remember the days when any vaguely round, wire-framed spectacles were immediately called "John Lennon" glasses? Good times.
**See yesterday's footnote.