Archive for the ‘New York’ Category

I am a hero.

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Did everyone have a nice Friday? I did not. I had a Mission: Impossible Friday. Let’s start at the beginning.

I received a letter from the DMV. “You need to renew your license,” it said. “It’s going to expire. Come in so we can do the thing.” Okay. I got all the documentation. W-2 with social security number, passport, mail from ConEd sent to me with my address on it, etc. Cricket made an appointment for me at 10:45 am so I could zip past all that sadness that the DMV is famous for. I arrived at 10:45am with all my paperwork. I totally forgot that they take your photo and I didn’t have my hair done or any makeup on but whatever, I’ll get in and get out and that will be the end of that. Who cares if I have an janky license pic. The picture-taking woman handed me a number, told me to fill out a form and wait. It was B366. The screen was at B317. Not too bad. I sat down on those uncomfortable church pews and waited.

AT 2:15 IN THE AFTERNOON they got to B366. I had – foolishly, it turned out – parked at a meter that only lasted an hour because ha ha! I was only going to be there for the wink of a dog’s sphincter or whatever. So every hour I had to panhandle my way around the DMV. “Anyone got change for a dollar? Hey pal, can you spare some quarters for a sad lady who hasn’t had breakfast yet and whose phone is at 27%?” When B366 popped up on the screen I scraped the moss off of myself (there was no air conditioning, it wasn’t cobwebs, it was moss) and approached the counter. At last, my task will be complete! Hurrah! The guy looked at all my documentation and said, “Do you have a birth certificate? Or a social security card?” I was like, no but I have every other document ever issued to me in the history of forever, look at this heaping pile of documents in front of you and rejoice, sir. He said, “Well, all your documents say ‘Jessica N Rothman’ but nowhere does it say what the N stands for.” I said Nicole, it stands for Nicole. He said he needed proof that it was Nicole. I said, hey let’s look at that license y’alls issued me and the one before that and ooo here’s my learner’s permit, they all say Jessica N Rothman, clearly this office is super-cool with this so can I go now please. He said no. He said if I can get back to the DMV with my birth certificate by 4:00 that day I would not have to come in again and wait for another billion hours.

This would be the time to press play on this video and listen to it while reading the rest of this story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAYhNHhxN0A

I ran to my car, found the Port Chester Clerk’s Office on my phone (19 minutes away!) and drove there in great haste. I ran into their office (it was air-conditioned and for the duration of my time there I smelled less like an unwell donkey so that was nice) and asked for my birth certificate. I filled out the info. I gave the $10 fee. It wasn’t even 3:00. I was going to make it. And then all my dreams were shattered. The clerk that notarizes the printout wasn’t there with his punchy-punch. The clock was ticking. I told the Port Chester office people my sad tale and they called the notary and told him to stop doing what he was doing (I believe he was at Stop & Shop) and get back asap. He came back at 3:30. He signed. He punchy-punched. I now had 1/2 hour to drive about 20 minutes, not including traffic. I drove like I was powered by Satan himself. I may have honked at an elderly man to get out of the road. I pulled up to the side of the building, parked illegally and put on my hazards, tickets be damned. I ran up two flights of stairs and got inside the DMV at… 3:58.5. I did it with a minute and a half to spare. Now I had to stroll casually around the waiting area for a minute before dealing with my license because I was panting so hard and seeing black spots in my peripherals and sweating all down my back. I think the security guard thought I was going to die. Hell, I thought I was going to die. During my recovery period they indeed locked the doors and had I been late I would have had to come back.  After I collected all my organs together into a body-like shape I went up to a counter. I explained my predicament to the new guy and he said that I had all the things finally and I could get my new license. I might have wept with joy. It all was taken care of.  Then I saw my license photo and wooo it was unfortunate. I would describe it as somewhere between a walrus wearing a wig caught mid-blink and a cryptozoogical forest monster made of burrata with purple twigs where the hair should be. It’s not great. But it will forever remind me of the time I spent about six hours at the DMV and how grateful I am to not have to do it again for about a decade, praise the God of your choosing.

A break.

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

Hey, I’m going to need to take a break from blogging for a while. I have a great job opportunity on the horizon but that means I need to make a 200-page document explaining what I do so whoever follows in my position doesn’t come in blind. I will return as soon as everything is in place.

https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1600/1*U1a0Zy6yBM_KSs7wOpBOFg.gif

Why I started chortling in the middle of 6th Avenue.

Sunday, October 21st, 2018

First a bus went by with this ad:

Immediately after a bus went by with this ad:

I don’t know why I found this so funny but I did so I’m sorry if you were startled by a purple-haired lady creepily chuckling to herself but there you are.

The internet has released its bounty and we are grateful for it.

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

1. In Amsterdam they were putting in a new tunnel near or under the Amstel River so whatever the engineers pulled off the bottom of the river was organized and displayed. Some of the items are quite old. I would fly to Amsterdam to see this if I could.

 

2. I don’t like horses normally but I would learn to ride just so I could ride this horse. Holy crap, this horse is amazing. I HAVE ARRIVED AT THE SUPERMARKET ON MY MASSIVE PREHISTORIC STEED. FEAR ME AS I PICK UP SOME ESSENTIALS LIKE TOILET PAPER AND YOGURT.

 

3. There’s an aquarium in New Zealand where they have penguins. Some of the penguins are good. Some are bad. Here are the reports.

       

 

4. These are all excellent responses if you’re transgender and you get that ever-so-common question. I heartily approve of all of these.

 

5. This is the best description of a thing possibly ever. I would like to be described like this. #Lovely #Skulking #Riparian #Denizen

 

6. Also from Audubon, an article about coot feet. I’ve always wondered about them and now all has been revealed.

https://www.audubon.org/news/better-know-bird-american-coot-and-its-wonderfully-weird-feet

 

7. Final bird thing: I saw this and immediately began singing Taps. Go with God, Chandelier Dove.

Bonus: An oldie but a goodie – When Obvious Plant renamed paint colors.

http://obviousplant.com/post/121284665608/follow-obvious-plant-on-facebook

Some good design. And some less good design. One might say garbage design.

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

I encounter a lot of design choices every day. Possibly no more than any other person, but I’m hyper-aware of them due to my career. I’ve talked about how I have binders full of design ideas that I collect in a folder and print out from time to time. So when I see good design it jumps out at me. And when it’s not good it also jumps out at me but it also vomits ectoplasm in my face like the ghosts in Ghostbusters. Let’s start with the good.

Some people have problems with their joints – they pop out, they’re too loose, they click and hurt. Normally they have to wear lame finger and wrist devices that are boring and sterile-looking, it’s an outfit-killer for sure. Which is why when I saw Silver Ring Splint Company I was impressed. Good for them, creating things of beauty out of necessity.

And now onto less good design.We’ll start with something light. I walk past a McDonald’s on my way to work and my distance eyesight is getting worse due to sitting in front of a computer all day so when I saw this sign I could not make out the “Our” smashed in between the “Join” and “Team.” I therefore read it in as a yelling Russian voice. “JOIN TEAM! YOU JOIN TEAM NOW!!” Until I walked up close to it and saw the “Our” I thought McDonald’s was getting a bit aggressive in their tactics.

Second unfortunate example: Whilst perusing Amazon or some such site I saw a banner ad at the top of my screen. I think they were going for a cloud with three bottles of Olay on it.

What I saw (because humans are predisposed to see faces in objects) was a wino who was down on his luck. Maybe just too many Christmases alone, or maybe his liver is finally giving out. I’ll zoom in so you can see.

Here’s a version I photoshopped to make it even clearer for you.

My point being my first reaction to this ad was not “I want to smear your fancy skin cream on my face” but more like “I am concerned about the homeless senior citizens is my area.”

The answer to this is easy: Never structure a group of products in anything that might be construed as a face. Three bottles in a row, decreasing in size. Simple. Non-facelike. I will make you a rough example.

See? That took me approximately fifteen minutes max and while it’s far from perfect you know what it doesn’t conjure in your mind? An alcoholic who looks like the physical manifestation of a defeated sigh.

Third and final failure of design: I also walk past Sax Fifth Avenue on my way to work and they change their windows up pretty regularly. Most of the windows are awesome tailored suits for women. I liked almost all of them. Look at this series of baller jackets and pants.

And nope. This is a hard nope right here.

Taking a shapeless garment and hot-gluing a bra onto the front of it with the hook parts hanging down ain’t gonna cut it. If one person says it’s fashion I will throw my shoe at them like that guy and President Bush, so intense will be my rage. C’mon now.

New York musings.

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

1. This past summer when The Moomins took me to all those concerts in Lincoln Center I noticed there were seats behind the orchestra for when there’s giant choirs. They were black chairs with with metal armrests which was fine when the lights were up.

However when the lights went down and the tips of the armrests caught the light they looked like creepy animal eyes peering out of the forest. I didn’t take a picture during the performance because I’m not a HEATHEN GARBAGE PERSON LIKE THE GUY IN FRONT OF ME DICKIN’ AROUND ON HIS CELLPHONE so I photoshopped exactly what it looked like. It certainly made the concert spookier which I consider a bonus.

 

2. I passed a pawn shop on 8th Avenue and the window was filled with the usual… and a giant tomato. I decided it was because the owner wanted the tomato to ripen or something, but it really drew your attention away from the merchandise.

 

3. I saw a really nice mashup of modern and retro. I was walking past a coffee shop and I saw what looked like one of the oldey-timey Edison bulbs, but the filaments were replaced by three rows of discs where the edges of the discs had wee yellow LEDs. It looked really cool. I highly recommend using it if you’re thinking about eclectic but environmentally conscious lighting.

I found a pic online. It’s called the Edison LED Fireworks bulb.

 

4. I don’t normally care much about fashion but Cole Haan has come out with sandals that look like lobsters. Not only are they lobsters, but they’re ombre lobsters.

I support this fashion movement and I hope that the spring fashion season is awash in color-blend sea creatures. See my previous three posts to understand my love of ocean beasties (it’s intense).

 

5. Closing with another weird store window: There is a sweet perma-Christmas store down the street from my job and they sell all kinds of charming trinkets as well as old hotel keys with the tags on them (I do love an old hotel logo). But in there window right now, monopolizing the whole left front section is a intentionally dirty handmade doll of the Statue of Liberty. I believe they were going for whimsical but it looks straight-up haunted. Haunted and stinky.

I can make you a badly sewn doll and then drag it behind me on a string through the streets of NY on a rainy day if that’s what you’re looking for in home decor. I don’t like to call people out for how they dress their homes but unless you’re running a Halloween Horror House and need to make a children’s room extra creeptacular I would say skip this one. You’re just asking for problems (and by problems I mean ghosts).

The Handmaid’s Tale (Spoiler: it’s not a bedtime story. Don’t read it to your kids.)

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

Since it was my birthday last week and I am officially enmeshed in my forties I have decided to complain about the weather. Is it getting muggier or is my tolerance for The Mugg getting lower? Let me tell you what walking to and from work in NYC was like recently: You know when you went to the water park and you wore normal clothes, not a bathing suit, and you got on the water floom thing and then for the rest of the day your damp underwear tried to crawl into your butt? That’s what it was like, but all over. And the smells! So vibrant! So rich! At one point I thought everyone in Manhattan had thrown up in unison because that’s what it smelled like. I long for eternal autumn.

Okay, now that’s done, The Handmaid’s Tale. Whooooo. Not a fun show. Beautiful and evocative and pertinent, but not fun. I was concerned about Season 2 because the book that the series is based on ends with Season 1 so Season 2 is not based on anything. It could have gone horribly wrong. It did not. I mean, it did (it’s about a dystopian society where most people are infertile and the earth is poisoned) but in all the right ways. One of the things I love about the show is how the director and cinematographer pulled from Flemish and Dutch art of the 1600s, predominantly Vermeer. I studied that period of art so I saw the references right quick. I was delighted. Here are shots from the show:

Here are some paintings by Vermeer:

And here are some additional paintings from the same time period as Vermeer:

 

Blatant ripoff that I 100% support.

ADDENDUM: What makes this show so good is there’s a distinct lead character. However, there are a variety of secondary characters that I would like to learn more about. If they killed off the lead and then followed one of the other people I would be okay with that because the showrunners have set up a richness that can be plumbed in many directions. I vote they go Game of Thrones, kill of the lead (sorry Elizabeth Moss, you’re awesome) and then tell someone else’s story.

What I’ve been up to. (Normally, no good. This time, actually good).

Sunday, July 29th, 2018

I would love to say I’ve been busy with cool, rock-star-esque activities but let’s be real here: I went to some classical music concerts with The Moomins and I am teaching myself After Effects. I was never, no will I ever be, hip or cool in any manner.

First, the concerts. The Moomins bought tickets for a bunch of performances at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall (it’s been renamed David Geffen Hall but I ain’t havin’ any of that ish; David Geffen is the juice, Avery Fisher is the sauce) and she always gets two in case my dad wants to go with. He did not want to go with so I was drafted into the Going to the Concert Army for the day. This particular night was a Baroque chamber orchestra doing Bach and Handel, specifically Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto and Handel’s Water Music. You know both these pieces. The Brandenburg Concerto is used in a lot of high-end product commercials. Play it and think of a Lexus commercial. There ya go. Handel’s Water Music you know from, I don’t know, weddings and graduations or maybe other high-end product commercials. Music from the Baroque period seems ideal for shilling overly expensive objects to the bourgeoisie. Anyway, the concert was good and the harpsichord they brought in was good but they had the dumbest-looking lute I’ve ever seen in my life. Baroque lutes normally look like if a banjo and a guitar went to a steampunk convention.

Fine. Weird stuff happening near the twisty knobs, but okay. The guy comes out on stage with a ginormous lute where the frets end at a reasonable spot but then the neck continues on for, I kid you not, another four feet. It was taller than the guy. How much better is the sound that you have to lug an impossibly large instrument around with you when you could have a… not impossibly large version? That seems like self-imposed suffering. The lute looked like this:

Jessica: Ask Her About Her Strong Feelings Regarding Baroque Lutes.

Now on to topic #2: Learning After Effects. I’ve been making a real effort to learn this program because I’ve been doing presentations for over ten years and I’d like a bit of change. Animation is super-interesting to me so I made a bunch of stuff to update my portfolio AND teach myself this program. Let me take you on a journey.

When my company won Walmart as a client a few years back they decided to use The Spark in their campaigns, the yellow thing next to the name. So they figured out how to use it and break it up and incorporate it in things so if you’re paying attention you can pick it out.

And then this past December my company designed a sign that said “Rock This Christmas” with a snowman playing guitar, a penguin playing a saxophone and various other Christmas and/or music-related imagery.

So, armed with that knowledge, I designed two Walmart signs – one for Halloween because have you met me and one for summer to show that I have range and I am not a goth nightmare. For the Halloween one I made all different types of costumes using a variety of ethnicities and genders and if you look closely you’ll note I incorporated some Spark in each and every child. <3

Also please note that I made a little representative image on each treat bag that corresponds with the costume. The werewolf has the moon! The witch has a cauldron! The pirate has a parrot! The clown has a (not red) balloon! The mummy has an ankh! (I struggled with that one.) Then I assembled a variety of these kids on a composite similar to the Rock This Christmas one above. I got to put in candy corn and other candies and spiderwebs and an owl.

After I finished and it was to my liking I replicated the composite and started building a summer-themed version. I was psyched about this one too. I got to make cactii and popsicles and hell yeah I put in crabs because who’s gonna stop me. Also note the frequent use of Spark bits.

I know. I am very pleased with myself. So in order to give myself a challenge I decided to animate the “Fun in the Sun” image using After Effects. I would say I’m about halfway there.

I’ve done the blue background, brown base elements, words, waves, cactii, crabs, sunglasses, orange slice and pinwheel. I still have to do popsicles, beach balls, flip flops, shorts, the corner bits and fireworks. I’m getting there. I’ll keep you posted.

Whipped Cream Ballet.

Friday, July 6th, 2018

I went to the ballet with The Moomins, y’all! It was my birthday present from her to me. We went to the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center, known for its profoundly awesome light fixtures. I have been going there since I was a wee tot and you’d think I’d be used to the chandeliers by now. I am not. I stare at them and greet them like old friends and God forbid one day I am allowed to touch one, I may lose my cool in an epic fashion. Fluids will come out of my face. There will be drool and tears.

I could buy a small one but I don’t feel like dropping three grand on it. Maybe one day. When I win the lottery. After I buy a ticket.

Anyway, culture and art. I own several books featuring the work of the artist Mark Ryden. I don’t know if I’ve spoken about him before, but he is a spectacular oil painter who predominantly paints three things: Lincoln, prepubescent girls, and meat. I don’t know why that’s his jam but it is. Regardless of his odd subject matter the quality of his painting, specifically the detailwork, is about as good as it gets. Here are some samples of some of my favorites of his.

     

Ryden is clearly influenced by one of my favorite painters Jan Van Eyck (famous for his mastery of the oil paint medium and all of his people lookin’ like Vladimir Putin.)

ABT (American Ballet Theater) has a artist-in-residence, Alexei Ratmansky, who decided to bring back this obscure ballet from 1924 called “Schlagobers” (“Whipped Cream On Top” in German). It was written because WWI had just happened and there needed to be some light and joy brought into the world. Alexei thought the only person who could capture the creepy saccharine quality of this ballet was this particular painter so Ryden made illustrations which were then translated into stage sets and costumes by professional set designers and costumers and it’s something else, I tells ya. Here’s a picture from the ABT website.

I was astonished by how faithful the sets and costumes were to Ryden’s original drawings. It’s perfect. It’s a ballet in two acts. The first act was lovely but kind of meh. Nothing particularly special happens.

  

The second act, however, is where the magic is. It opens with a hospital where a giant-headed doctor dances with nurses carrying giant syringes.

 

And then after they leave a parade of insanity saunters out on stage. I might have straight-up cheered. I could not find an adequate picture. Here’s Ryden’s original interpretation.

And that’s precisely what waltzed across the stage. Here are sections of it.

   

Here’s the best picture I could find from the end of the ballet.

Are you seeing this? Are you appreciating the giant two-person yeti? Are you appreciating the candy worm who drags himself across the stage on a little dolly and waves his tail around in support of the other dancers? Are you appreciating the tall thing with the ears which is called the Long Neck Piggy? The small children dressed as cupcakes who hop up and down with elastic suspenders so their cupcakes go boing boing boing? It does not get old.

In addition there were three anthropomorphic bottles of alcohol that get the doctor and nurses drunk so the main character can escape the hospital (don’t ask, the plot is not the strongest element to this ballet) and they were fantastic. You can see them in this photo – one guy was Vodka, one guy was Slivovitz (Eastern European plum liquor) and the girl was champagne.

I would recommend seeing this ballet because it’s amazingly weird and you know, Ryden. Here are a few other drawings of his.

 

 

New York observations.

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

1. On my way to work every day I come out of a tunnel that goes from Grand Central Terminal to further up midtown. There is a fancy glass office building being built across the street from the exit and the windows have a neat white faded pattern that have a top and bottom. It’s subtle, but it’s noticeable. Which is why I’m wondering when the building owners are going to notice that one of the windows was installed upside down and how they plan to fix it.

2. Additionally on my walk to work: Has everyone seen Moana? There is a small blorp of asphalt that is mushed up the sidewalk for some reason or another and it always reminds me of the anthropomorphic wave in Moana.

3. Occasionally I take a cab to work if the weather is garbage or I’m carrying something heavy and last week it was sleeting so I cabbed it. No biggie. When I got into the cab the cab driver was on a conference chat with like three other people. Also not that unusual. What was unusual was the cabbie who, shortly after I got in, decided to hold a prayer meeting with the other people on the conference call and they all starting being infused with the Holy Spirit. I was not thrilled with that. I do not want a person who is control of a large metal vehicle that has me encased in it traipsing through city traffic shaking their head and speaking in tongues. That’s not what I look for in a driver. I tried to casually video some of it and I isolated the sound. I was holding the phone down by my side so the cabbie wouldn’t see so you may have to turn up your volume but trust me, it’s worth it.

speaking-in-tongues

(I knew it was Christian-based because at the end the cabbie said, “Mumblemumblemumble HOLEE SPEEREET mumblemumblemumble JEEZUS CHRYYYYST.” But for a while there I thought maybe they were going to conjure a djinn or something.)

4. I didn’t go and see the window displays this Christmas but I did walk past one window that made me quite happy. I think it was the giant H&M on Fifth Avenue. They had cool giant dandelions aaaaaaand a big ole hare made of yarn! I thought he was great.

I loved that the window designers went fully into textures and kept the color palette super-muted. There was a giant yarn fox and a giant yarn otter in the store but I’m a rabbit-lover to the core so the hare was all I needed. I vote that this be the window display for the rest of the year.

5. The Westminster Dog Show happened this week and I watched religiously and picked my favorites and none of them won, the usual. The thing that stood out this year was The Camera. Let me explain. Normally, the cameras are manned by humans and I never had a problem with that. This year The Powers That Be at Westminster decided that they didn’t want live bodies on the judging green, they wanted robot cameras. On the main area where cameras that looked like tank turrets merged with R2D2 and that was fine.

HOWEVER, during the Toy Group I noticed someone off to the side. I say someone because I could have sworn it was a person. Look in the upper right-hand corner of this screengrab.

Uhhhhhh, who the hell is that? I eventually figured out that it was a robot camera wrapped in purple cloth but I could have sworn it was a person. Tonight was the finals and they moved The Camera right into the main shot where I couldn’t stop staring at it.

Even worse The Camera followed the dog presenting so it appeared extra-sentient.

So while I was supposed to be saying things like, “I love that fluffy dog’s ears,” I was yelling things like, “Why is the freakin’ Grim Reaper helping the judge?!??”

I hope next year they leave the camera naked. I’d rather see the inner workings of Robot Cam and I would imagine everyone else would too instead of being reminded of their own inevitable demise during the Terrier Group.