Category Archives: Tiny Annoyances

Two Sizes Too Small

First, let me say this: I love the Grinch. The Dr. Seuss book is magical — a perfect Christmas story — and the 1966 cartoon version is one of the greatest and most successful adaptations of a literary work for TV or film ever. Seriously.

Because I love the Grinch, I hate Ron Howard’s revolting film version of the story. It’s a hideous mess and if there were a way I could destroy every copy of the movie I could find, I would do it. Yes, I know that sounds a tad… extreme, but what can I say?

And because I love the Grinch, seeing him mischaracterized in the media troubles me — and every December, writers trot out Grinch as their description for every holiday evildoer. I’ve explained before (ad nauseam) that this is inaccurate because the Grinch returned everything he stole back to Whoville.

Bear with me. When would you describe a thief as being like Robin Hood? Only if he turned over his booty to the poor — not if he kept the loot. Similarly, without giving back, one can not be like the Grinch.

Nevertheless, every December the Grinch gets a bad rap. A few examples:

Woman Stealing Wreaths Called “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”

Grinch Steals Salvation Army Kettle in Oak Lawn

The Grinch Who Stole Jesus

Real-Life ‘Grinch’ Committing Christmas-Related Crimes

‘Grinch’ Arrested for Stealing Readstown’s Christmas Tree

As you might suspect, I could go on all day.

So how can you help? The next time you see Grinch misused in a news story, leave a friendly comment pointing out the error. And be nice! It’s Christmas — and you wouldn’t want to be inappropriately compared to Scrooge.

The Kitchen Cabinet

On Thanksgiving I suddenly started humming the 1980 Jona Lewie technopop hit You’ll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties. Allow me to refresh your memory:

What’s it been, 30 years since I heard that song? It was certainly forced up from my subconscious by the oppressive turkey day crowd in my kitchen.

It’s not like our kitchen is unusually small, but it’s small enough that when five people are standing around it feels crowded — and when you’re juggling Thanksgiving dinner, perhaps having five extra people standing around is not helpful.

I managed to drive away several guests during my expletive laden attempt to lift the hot turkey from the roasting pan, but it was only temporary. Soon the kitchen was again filled with people eating appetizers, offering gravy tips, asking questions…

But let’s be real: it may have been mildly aggravating, but it beats the alternative. To have my family and friends around was a real blessing. Now, please, go watch some football.

Spacing Out

I shared an elevator earlier this week with an older woman who was visibly flustered.

“The parking here! It’s horrible!”

Yes, I agreed, it’s never good on weekdays in Downtown Albany. I suggested she use a nearby garage next time; it’s a longer walk, but much less of a hassle.

The parking downtown stinks, and that’s why this caught my eye:

Park(ing) Day

Yay, a mini dog park!

These folks are part of an event called Park(ing) Day sponsored by Parks & Trails New York. The idea is to raise awareness of the need for open space, and the way they’re doing it is setting up temporary “parks” in actual parking spaces. In a press release they say it’s “an excellent way to remind ourselves of the importance of having natural areas that are accessible to everyone.”

Well, that’s certainly interesting  — and I do get it — but it has to be one of the most poorly thought out things I’ve ever seen.

There was a fellow standing nearby when I took the picture above.

“What do you think of this?”

“Oh, it’s pretty cool!”

“How would you feel if you couldn’t find a parking space?”

“Haha.. I guess I’d be pretty pissed!”

Look, nobody can argue against green space, but within a mile of that parking spot are the Corning Preserve, Washington Park, Lincoln Park and half a dozen smaller urban parks.

Maybe inconveniencing people is a good way to make your point. Albany seems to think so, because the city and Downtown BID are among the event’s sponsors. Me? I’m not sure that the elderly woman  who couldn’t find a parking space would agree.

A Towering Mistake

Love it or hate it, the Empire State Plaza defines Albany’s skyline, and the jewel in this crown is the Corning Tower.

Maybe you’ve noticed that the building’s distinctive profile has been sullied by the construction of some sort of storage shed on the roof.  It’s bad enough that the Corning Tower has sprouted antennas in recent years, but the shed is nothing less than a huge wart on the nose of one of the city’s most important landmarks.


Most of you probably don’t care, but it’s wrong to mess with the vision of the architects — and of Nelson  Rockefeller himself — by ruining the clean lines of the building. According to Joseph Persico’s terrific biography, Rocky was an aesthete who was famously controlling over the design of the Plaza; the shed would have driven him mad.

Worse yet, according to All Over Albany, the structure is a permanent fixture.

What were they thinking? I’m guessing there was no serious consideration at all. It’s hard to imagine that an architect would be that disrespectful of a building so important — or that anyone could look at the plans and not see the damage they were doing.

There are buildings all over downtown that have had various structures and equipment piled on top of them. That’s a routine practice and most of it goes unnoticed, but what they’ve done to the Corning Tower? That’s an abomination.

A wider view after the jump…
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Madness

God, I’m so sick of it: this obsessive dissection of every TV show is really getting on my nerves.

For example, the morning after every episode of Mad Men the web is littered with stories about the show — and I don’t mean by stupid little blogs like this one, but major publications.

What ever happened to the time when you would just watch the show. Now we need endless analysis the next day, not just reviews, but extreme navel gazing about every single detail and what it all means, often with a grade or rating. Then there will be hundreds and hundreds of comments from fans taking it even further — many of them complaining that (insert show name here) now sucks, especially compared to the first two seasons.

Hey, internet: shut up, shut up, shut up.

Having said that, I think that Don hanging up poor dead Lane Pryce’s NY Mets pennant may be a good sign. After all, it’s 1969, the year the Mets won the World Series, so surely this symbolizes that something unlikely will happen — perhaps that Don, the guy everybody has dismissed, will rise up and win in the end. Or that he will die.

Craptacular

I love the Super Bowl, but I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate hate Super Bowl halftime shows. There has never been one that I’ve ever wanted to watch, even if a band that I like is performing.

The halftime show is the crown jewel of the mind numbing excess that threatens to smother the game itself — and nothing would make me happier than to see it eliminated.

And it’s not just about hating the show — even though the music usually sucks.

A normal NFL halftime is twelve minutes long — but you can expect Super Bowl halftime to last upwards of 30 minutes. This is objectionable because all year long players get a short breather between halves; why change this for the most important game of the year?

OK, maybe that’s extreme. Perhaps we should allow some time to accommodate the eating and socializing folks like to do at halftime, so let’s compromise and say 20 minutes. BUT NO MUSIC! Instead, let’s have more analysis. More replays. More heartfelt features. Yes, make halftime more like pregame — which in my opinion can never be too long.

Speaking of the Super Bowl, I love those I’m Going to Disney World commercials as much as I hate halftime. Here’s the first one, with Phil Simms in 1987:

Don’t Cry for Me, Arhentina

One of the NPR reporters I hear all the time is Lourdes Garcia-Navarro. Her stories are always good — but there’s one thing that drives me batty: her meticulously correct pronunciation of Spanish words and names.

Her textbook pronunciations are mildly irksome, but when I heard Argentina come out of her mouth as Ar-hen-tina, I nearly choked on my Cheerios. Yes, she said Ar-hen-tina — not fifteen seconds after Steve Inskeep said Argentina in the intro.

Even more maddening, later in the story she uses the word Argentines with the normal English pronunciation. Why wouldn’t they be Ar-hen-tines?

You may think this is intolerant, but I’m speaking strictly in terms of good broadcasting.

For years, the BBC has had a pronunciation unit that sets rules on how its news presenters should say the names of people and places. Here in the US, the AP sends out pronunciation guides every day to help newscasters.

In America, radio and TV news operations should try to use standard American English pronunciations.  It may be more accurate to say Arhentina, but it’s distracting —  and it sounds terribly pretentious.

Hudson River Blues

Am I the only one who’s sick of hearing about Hudson?

Every time you turn around there’s another Hudson story in a national publication, several of which are summarized here by my friends at All Over Albany.

True, the Hudson phenomena is impressive. I remember when it was a charming wreck, back before the antique shops and overpriced restaurants (like the dreadful Swoon Kitchenbar) took over Warren Street. But now, Hudson has caught a bad case of what’s afflicted Columbia County for a long time: affluent New Yorkers.

Remember in Back to the Future II, how Biff has a copy of Grays Sports Almanac from the future? I wish back in 1993 I could have gotten my hands on some real estate magazines from today. I’d be writing a blog post about being retired at 52.

So what town is next? Catskill? Athens? That may be on the wrong side of the river for folks who want to take the train. Anyway, we should all thank god that Troy isn’t a bit closer to New York City.

The Roar of the Greasepaint

Do people have no idea how to act any more?

For example, I went to see Romeo and Juliet on Broadway. Not my first choice, but my wife has always wanted to see the Shakespeare classic performed — and since this production involved Orlando Bloom removing his shirt… well, you get the idea.

Anyhow, the family in front of us spent the entire first act busily rustling around with their snacks. I don’t know what they were into — pretzels, crackers, cookies — but it was feckin’ noisy.  My ears ain’t what they used to be, so the distraction made it hard for me to focus on the play. And it doesn’t help that I have a mild case of misophonia.

Now, everybody knows you should unwrap your snacks before the lights go down, so not to annoy the other patrons. That’s a theatre rule, rather like never mentioning the name of the Scottish play. You just don’t do it!

They quieted down, thank God,  in the second act. Maybe the parents — well-heeled Connecticut types — remembered their manners. Or maybe they caught wind of us grumbling during intermission.

Either way, were able to enjoy all the dying with a little peace and quiet. And the rippling abbs, too, if you’re into that sort of thing.