Oh, Hollywood. You come to town and throw your money around and tell us we’re wonderful — and then then the next day you’re gone and all we’re left with is a hangover. And then you never call. And if we do see you again, it’s really awkward.
No industry holds sway over the imagination like the movie business, so when The Place Beyond the Pines came to Schenectady they were treated like royalty. If a cell phone company came to town and spent two million dollars nobody would even notice — and the entire city certainly wouldn’t bend over backwards and kiss their ass.
But Hollywood is different. In David Mamet’s comedy State and Main, a small town goes nuts when the movie people show up. But it’s not just about the locals; Mamet’s movie also shows how producers use the mystique and glamour of movie making to get whatever they want.
Hey, I’m not saying that the Pines shoot wasn’t interesting — but maybe it’s time for the Capital Region (media and area film commissions, in particular) to stop screaming like teenage girls whenever somebody shows up in town with a film crew.
We need to take a lesson from New York, where they’re more like, “Oh, you’re making a movie? That’s nice… now get the #$%@ off the sidewalk, I’m walkin’ here!”
You should always try to park legally, feed the meter, and be responsible about where you put your car. If you do get a ticket, just pay it promptly and avoid further aggravation. I haven’t always been perfect on every one of these counts, but we’re all a work in progress, are we not?
However, if you spend any time in Albany, you should closely follow my advice.
Writing parking tickets in downtown Albany has become a big, huge deal. An army of parking enforcement officers roam around hunting for expired meters and cars parked where they don’t belong. I have even see them pull out a measuring tape and check how far vehicles are from the curb. Just doing their jobs — and it’s not a job that makes you any friends.
But in case you have neglected tickets, you must see this: parking agents now drive around with license plate scanners like the ones on police cars.
Note the scanners on the roof.
This means if you’re on the naughty list — or more accurately, the naughty database — you’ll get caught more easily than ever before. And unpaid fines may get you booted. Pretty soon, they’ll probably use the technology to enforce the new residential parking permit system.
Not making excuses for people with outstanding tickets here, but this is certainly another example of how we’re being monitored in our everyday lives. Some people say that being watched all the time makes for a safer and more orderly society. I say it’s a slippery slope.
It’s possible to find a copy of Esquire magazine with the lights out, not because they print it with some sort of glow-in-the-dark ink, but because it reeks. The copy that arrived at my house last week had no less than four cologne ads inside, and my magazine smells like the proverbial French whorehouse.
I don’t wear cologne, so I’m not likely to peel these things open and give them a test run. And besides the unholy stench, there’s another problem: the pages with cologne ads are printed on heavier stock. This interferes with the tactile experience of handling a magazine and leafing through the pages — and if you ask me, magazines these days should take care not to make reading them on paper annoying.
The solution? Tear the damn things out. Now when I get the magazine the first thing I do is go through and rip out the cologne pages. Ha! Take that you advertisers! Maybe that’s not so good for helping preserve print either, but come on!
On a related note, when I was growing up we had a mailman in our neighborhood who would sit and eat his lunch in the mail truck while reading people’s magazines. That always seemed a bit weird to me; I wondered if folks would find mayonnaise stains on the pages or have crumbs fall out when they opened them. And if your mailman smells heavily of men’s cologne, that me be another dead giveaway.
I love discussing the hypothetical zombie apocalypse, especially talking about which weapons and vehicles you would use to survive. What a geek – but a close second fave is the superpowers conversation.
Here’s how that goes: if you could choose, would you want the power to fly or be invisible? Superhuman strength or blinding speed? Shapshifting or x-ray vision? All of them have their pluses and minuses.
But I believe I have now decided on what superpower I would really want: the ability to make people STFU. Here’s how it would work: you could use your telepathic power to silence the obnoxious.
The best and most obvious use would be to literally make people STFU. Boorish louts who insist on having loud phone conversations in inappropriate places. STFU. Annoying co-workers. STFU. Teenagers who do not grasp their place in your world. STFU. Movie theatres? Goes without saying. STFU.
Talk about doing something heroic!
Naturally, you would only use this power for the good of mankind, eliminating behavior that everyone finds deplorable. I suppose a costume of some sort would be needed, right? No tights, please — but a cape might be nice.
It would be even better if you could squelch things like Facebook posts — especially during this election year — but that might be asking too much. Even superpowers have their limits.
Tuesday was a blustery day, so much so that I was nearly knocked off my feet by a giant shoe.
An oversized Dutch clog, part of Albany’s Sculpture in the Street project, was swept up by the wind and tumbled across the sidewalk, coming just inches from taking out my legs. Imagine that conversation in the emergency room.
“So you were knocked down by a shoe?”
“A clog. A giant clog.”
“A giant clog?”
“Yes, a Dutch clog. A big one. Large enough to take a bath in.”
And this is when the doctor would discreetly ask for me to be moved to the mental health unit.
There is no shortage of interesting conversation in the emergency room.
When I lived in Albany we had no garage or storage shed, so the lawnmower needed to be carried up and down the rickety old basement steps to the yard. One day I slipped on the steps; I fell on my ass and the lawnmower fell on my knee.
In the ER, where I recieved five stitches, the doctor questioned me about the lawnmower incident.
“You were carrying the lawnmower down the stairs?”
“Was it running?”
OK, I’m not smart enough to be a doctor, but I am smart enough to know if someone’s carrying a lawnmower it is probably not running. But he was just doing his job. They keep track of all this stuff and my ridiculous mishap ended up in that year’s lawnmower accident statistics.
I always peruse the headlines while waiting in line at the coffee shop — but with some difficulty lately because the papers are always upside down.
This is the sort of thing you take for granted and never think about: when newspapers are displayed properly, the top is toward the back of the rack so consumers can read the headlines. Obvious, right?
So, what kind of person would put them in upside down? Someone who does not value newspapers.
Wait — I’m not saying that the twenty-something young lady behind the counter is poorly informed, just that she probably gets her news online rather than from printed newspapers. To her newspapers are probably just these annoying things she has to deal with at the beginning of her shift that stain her fingers black. Whatever. Why don’t you just read the news on your phone, you old fool?
I’ve considered offering some friendly advice about displaying the papers, but all too often friendly advice ends up sounding neither friendly or like advice. Another solution would be to discreetly reposition the papers every morning when I go in. This would peg me as merely nuts instead of hostile and nuts, so maybe I’ll give that a shot.
I’m so old that I remember when THERE WAS NO EMAIL. Isn’t that crazy?
Yes, there was no email, so if you wanted to communicate in the workplace, you would actually have to talk to people on the phone or stop by their office. How barbaric!
Don’t get me wrong, I love email, but here’s the thing: technology has spawned a whole new technique in intra-office communication, one in which people use email not just to send a message, but send a message about what they think of you and your work.
How do they do that? Let’s say someone has a problem or gripe. Instead of just asking you a simple question, they send an email and copy your boss, your boss’s boss, your boss’s boss’s bosses and so on; this way, when they ask you a question, everybody and their brother gets to see what they are bitching about. Delightful.
It’s a great way to take a shot without having to look you in the eye while they do it. And just a few years ago it would have been unheard of. Think of it like dropping a bomb from a drone aircraft. You don’t have to see your enemy, just kill them.
But Rob, you ask, didn’t people send around memos like this in days of old? Yes, but the threshold of sending a memo was always much higher; now, being a jerk is just a click away.
Anyway, here’s something I want you to try: next time you need something from a co-worker, talk to them face-to-face instead of firing off a nastygram and copying everyone. It won’t be easy, but it just might make you a better person.
Elevator etiquette is more art than science, but there are some things that are non-negotiable. For example, a gentlemen should always allow women and old folks to enter and exit first — and nobody should rush into the elevator until people are done getting off.
There are loads of elevator rules — and at ElevatorRules.com you’ll find a very good list of them — as well as a lively discussion of the finer points.
But here’s the thing: in my building lately I’ve noticed an extremely annoying behavior which, oddly, is perpetrated by people being unnecessarily polite. There have been numerous incidents of other men allowing me to enter the elevator before them. That’s not only uncomfortable, but I believe it’s a violation of the Man Code.
Look, when two men are waiting for the elevator, the one closest to the door enters first. Unless I’m a woman, elderly, or an elderly woman don’t stand aside and let me go before you. It’s simply not cool. Don’t do it. Ever.
The only time you may allow me to go first is if you’re doing so jokingly in faux deference — or maybe if I’m the UPS guy and I have a sh*tload of packages. In that case I need the elevator more than you do, so get the hell out oif my way, would you please?
General Electric doesn’t screw around with lightbulbs. Harharhaharhar… oh, I slay me.
Anyway, less than a week after complaining that my five year CFL bulb only lasted two years, the world’s 18th biggest company sent me a coupon that may be exchanged for $8 worth of their fine lighting products.
This came from no less than the world headquarters of GE’s Lighting Division in Cleveland, also home to the company’s Lighting & Electrical Institute.
This may seem like a small thing, but in terms of customer service it’s a real home run. Getting that sort of response to my dumb little complaint is impressive — and it may influence my buying decisions on things that are bigger than light bulbs.