Why, oh, why is it so awkward to run into co-workers on the train? Especially when you're far from your destination? And you don't know the co-worker that well? Now, these questions may all seem rhetorical but believe me, THEY ARE NOT. On the Jay St. – Borough Hall platform, I ran into Roland, who heads up the interactive division here at US Concepts. I don't know him that well, but he's always seemed like a nice enough. But man, oh, MAN, it was strange riding to work with him. Because, you know, once you acknowledge that you're on the same train, you have stand next to each other or else you're being deliberately anti-social - and then you have to make some sort of conversation because it's kinda understood that conversation should trump reading, if you're with somebody you know. So what happened was the following exchange:

Roland: Hi.
Stefan: Hey! I didn't know we were on the same train. Where do you live?
Roland: Park Slope.
Stefan: Oh, me too. Where?
Roland: 5th St. & 4th Ave. By the gas station.
Stefan: The Hess?
Roland: No, the BP.
Stefan: Oh.
Stefan: How long have you been in the Slope?
Roland: Three and a half years.
Roland: How long did that meeting go yesterday?
Stefan: I don't know, I eventually grabbed one of those organic donuts and snuck out. Those donuts were aweseome.
Reaaaaaallllyy long pause during which Roland stares in the other direction and I start to read my magazine.

Now, granted, I'm not the best at small talk, but I'm enthusiastic and friendly (I think). I think it's Roland's fault, personally. Luckily, some ice was broken later when the subway we were in had some doors that wouldn't close, so we all had to exit. Complaining breeds solidarity, fortunately, and some funny griping ensued briefly. Then Roland led us onto the wrong train (heading towards Brooklyn instead of Manhattan), more funny griping ensued, and we managed to make it onto the right train and to our stop without much incident. More forced conversation upon exiting the train station about what we're both working on at the moment. Sigh. I just hate small talk. I'm not really good at it, and I can't really paper over gaps in conversation very well. It's one of the things I just wish I was better at. Mostly, I don't know what to ask people – I sorta run out of interesting questions to tease out their topics on interest. I have the basic New York questions down (where do you work, where do you live, where are you originally from, how much money do you make, that kind of thing) but beyond that, I'm just crap. It's my curse that I can be a very good friend to you if you've known me for about a month or so. But it's tough to get to that point if I just awkwardly stall out of every initial conversation. Anybody have any tips for me?


Another 8:30 Morning

Okay. So the thing I was in at 8:30 for on Friday never ended up happening, so I was told, again, to be there at 8:30 today. Fine. Okay. So I drag my tired didn't-go-to-bed-when-I-was-supposed-to ass to work, and arrive shortly before 8:30. I sit down, put my perishable food items in the fridge, and promptly pass out, figuring that I'll get a few moments of quiet before work formally begins. Of course this is the one day when he needs me before 9. So I wake to the CEO hanging over my cube wall saying "Sorry to wake you." It's a little embarrassing. Of course, all he needs me to do is print out a coupla documents - documents he already has. It takes me a sum total of 10 seconds. I'm so glad I was there for that.

Eh, this is getting a little too curmudgeonly for my taste. Now, not that I'm ecstatic about always being there early, but it's NOT terrible. Besides, for some reason, I'm leaning toward some sort of higher job satisfaction level. Not sure what that's all about, but my attitude's been a little bit more positive. So whereas before it was hovering in the 65-70 range, it's now nudging more toward 75 or so. It helped I think that the Sprite presentation that I worked so hard on (and quite enjoyed, in addition) went apparently very well on Friday. Not that that means we're going to get the business, but they did say we displayed "revolutionary thinking." Whatever that means. I've been feeling pretty happy with the actual work I've been turning out too, which is nice. I go in cycles, where I'll be happy with nothing, and then there will be weeks where I feel like I sneeze and good stuff comes out. I mean, I know that's not true, because I mostly exist in the big middle bit of the bell curve, but some days are easier for me than others. Creativity is weird. Because to some extent my job is very technical and relies on me knowing my programs and being able to use them properly. But the other bit is the part that I don't feel like I have any control over - it's like I have to give my brain the proper environment, and it will come up with things. But I don't know how it does it. It's a little frightening, because it's very easy to have the technical bits all down cold, memorized, but you can't memorize inspiration. Not that I'm doing anything ground-breaking at work, but largely what I do is guess. Guessing what will look good to me, and hopefully, to other people. It's a strange thing. It's like the part of my brain that doesn't quite let me functional in a rational, normal way, the part that makes me forget my cellphone and stare into space and be all spacy - that's the part that gets rewarded at work for being non-linear, random and mysterious. Bizarre. I'll have to think more about this.

In other news, the Super Clean 24/7 laundromat that I passed by this morning thinking "Will it ever open?" finally opened tonight. It looks like a very shiny, sparkly new laundromat. I've never seen that before. All laundromats look like they've been half-shitty forever. It's too bad that I'll never use it since I have a washer/dryer downstairs gloatgloatgloat.

Oh, wow, I can't end an entry on that kind of horrible mean note. Uh...bunnies are soft. Good night!


Vogue, Damn You, Vogue

Why, oh why, does every party attended by theater people end with somebody popping in "The Immaculate Collection?" I swear, this is like my signal to go home every single time. Because whereas I do know the Madonna songs in question, I have SO little desire to dance to them. And the fact that it's somehow de rigeur for attention-seeking theater people makes it even worse. Oh, man, am I getting crotchety?

Anyway, the reason I mention this is that I went to a party A BLOCK AWAY from my apartment. It was awesome. I mean, the party was okay (I didn't know anybody really, except for my friend Steph and her friends Logan & Laura) but then when it was over, I just walked ONE BLOCK and then I was home. It was the most convenient party ever. Not much to say about the party really aside from that, though the big highlight was that there was no tequila - so me and Steph tried to make up for that by labeling as many things as possible "tequila." So some Toasteds crackers became tequila, some cookies were written on to read "tequila" and there is, as we speak, a bottle of olive oil in the freezer that was labeled tequila. I hope they find it soon and don't think that somebody made off with their olive oil.

Final cool thing: they had a papasan sofa. It was awesome. I had to repeatedly get up out of it to prevent getting stuck in there. It was really easy to just sit down and never want to get up again. Dangerous! Yet comfy. Puts my papasan to shame.


8:30 AM, Friday Morning

Well, here we are, 8:30 in the morning, called in on special assignment by the CEO of my company. Which is totally, utterly fine, because he has that right. Of course he can commandeer me extra early. BUT, the clock is gradually ticking toward nine, and he hasn't e-mailed or made contact and I swear to god I just heard him say he was going somewhere right now. And this wouldn't be so bad either, if it didn't happen in this exact way every single time he calls me in early. I'm here, I'm awake, I'm ready to kick some ass, and my assignment doesn't happen till, oh, 10 or 11. I don't care, at 9 I'm going downstairs to get myself an everything bagel with ham, egg & cheese and come hell or high water, nothing will stop me. That's going to be my treat for getting up early.

It's ridiculous, but having to get up to be here at 8:30 is so much harder than it really should be. I don't know what it is. But the difference between waking at 7 and waking at 7:30 is HUGE. Especially since I generally don't have a hard deadline time to get in by - my general guideline is 9 to 9:30. So if I slack a little in the morning (which I am wont to do) and mess around a bit, don't go too fast, that's generally okay. But if I have to be here at 8:30, it is CRUCIAL that I do everything in the time that it takes optimally. Guh. I don't like my mornings to be quite that structured.

I do however like being outside earlier. The light is prettier, all golden, day seems all full of possibilities. I like watching people get their coffee and gradually wake up on the train. And there's something hardcore about it like "I am getting up to get things accomplished now. I am useful, able and ready." And if I didn't always run on a perpetual sleep deficit, I might just do this more often. I also like this office when it seems quiet and non-stressed. It's not a bad office, but it stresses me out when it gets noisy and full of people walking around very fast. Especially since I feel like my office/art pit is just made for people to sneak up on me. But it's nice and peaceful at this hour, cool and calm. Yeah.

Timecheck: 8:45. Still no sign of him. Dammit.

Last night when I got out of the subway (the 7th Ave. stop, because as usual when the F decides to go express it completely disrespects the 4th Ave. stop every single time), there was this incredible noise as I was climbing the stairs to the street. Like, huge, pounding, jackhammer noises. Which, as it turns out, they were. There was entire crew of workers jackhammering the street, tearing it up, at midnight. MIDNIGHT! Now, I understand that they probably don't want to tear up the street during the day because people are, I don't know, driving on that street, but these motherfuckers were so goddamn loud I was amazed that weren't more people leaning out of windows in their nightshirts yelling about the racket. Like seriously, if I was on that block, I'd have trouble sleeping, and I never have trouble falling asleep with noise. It just seems to me that the inconvenience caused to the neighborhood would outweigh the inconvenience to the drivers of 7th Ave. during the day. I mean, it's not an unpopular street, but there are certainly plenty of ways to get around it if you have to. All I'm saying is, come on, people let's do the roadwork during the day, like normal cities.

As I was walking home, it wasn't until I hit 5th Ave. that the sound starting to die down. That's ridiculous.

Timecheck: 8:52. At least I'm getting to catch up on my blogging. Sigh. Till next time, muchachos.

EDITED AT 9:37 AM: Okay, rumor confirmed, he headed out to a meeting at Schieffelin (the company for whom we were preparing this presentation) at 9. Won't be back till 11. I am victorious in my predictions, yet I have died a little inside. But it's okay, I now have my bagel, and my coffee, so I am happy.


And this is my other favorite shot. Or rather, it's my other shot. I only have two, unfortunately. But no worries, friends, there will be other nights when the Magic Hat comes-a-partying. And they will be special nights. Oh, yes they will be. You'll note the rakish Corona I have in my hand there - that was part of the amazing Corona-n-Cuervo-for-five bucks deal that they had going on there at the bar. I'd say that handily beats the Infamous Seven Dollar Corona I had at this place called Automatic Slim's - which, despite being a fun bar, with good music and some ridiculous people, has NO business charging seven bucks for a beer like Corona. For real, New York, what the hell is up with you? Posted by Hello

Okay, so if you remember, I was mentioning my "Magic Hat" which I had found on the street and decided to pimp out with all night on Saturday. Well, without further ado I present to you a few choice shots of it in action (courtesy of Slightly Known People, thank you very much!) Posted by Hello


Friggin' Settings

Okay, so several of you (in fact 2 Brians) let me know that I retardedly have my settings set so that only registered Bloggers can leave me comments. Which is stupid. Since most of you don't blog. But it's all fixed now - point being that if you were stymied earlier by wanting to comment and couldn't, now you can. Wheeeeeeeeeeeee.


Okay, Sound Off

Egotistical roll call: Who's reading this damn thing anyway? Comment below!

Well, If It Ain't The Superfan

So, after dinner at Virgil's BBQ (delicious actually - I had the Fried Shrimp Po' Boy YUM) with Geoff, Jerf & Monica, I skipped a Sky Captain excursion to go ahead and make it on home. I was kinda tired and in need of a chill li'l evening of not doing much at all. I went down to the F station at 42nd St., got down to the platform and was stopped by the Skits-O-Phrenics SuperFan.

I'm not sure what his actual name is (Chris? Riccione? or something like that) but he was a BIG Skits-O-Phrenics fan back at Cornell, always coming to the shows, and stopping us all on Slope Day. We would hear Hey! Skits-O-Phrenic! and we'd know it was him. He's now moved down to the city where he's been a fixture at our Elephant Larry shows. Apparently, he's now works in finance, investing people's money according to him, and I regularly get sucked into conversations with him that increasingly center on him being a sketchy dude, the kind that prostitutes and strippers gravitate to in search of business. The last time I talked to him (after the Crime Machine) he had mentioned that he was working on some sort of television show modeled after the "Mike's Apartment" website thing - ad is placed, girls respond, he requests favors like massages and stripteases from them in exchange for letting them stay in his apartment. Sketchy, right? Well, today he informs me that this project (entitled "Roommate with Benefits") is well underway, but that it's now going to be an all-acted endeavor - i.e. the girls will be actresses, and he's going to have pre-scripted scenarios that he'll play out. STILL SKETCHY, I'll point out. Especially since he's not going to be paying the Craig's List actresses that he's recruiting. The "twist" on the film is that he's going to have his friends observing the whole thing via some sort of hidden camera and commenting, colorfully, on the procedure. It still sounds like a television show to me, but he has the idea that he's going to turn it into a film. It's weird that for an idea that centers around thwarted expectations and hidden cameras, everybody's in on the deception. Which means that these better be some pretty damn well-written scenarios that he's got going on, and that his friends better be freakin' amazing at coming up with quips and hilarious zingers. He offered that I could be one of the friends commenting. I told him I'd consider it. Because, honestly, I would. This whole thing may just be too weird to pass up.

I have to say, it was pretty entertaining talking to him, especially since I put it out there right away that I thought this seemed like a sketchy excuse to get himself carousing with women who'd be "acting" while they massage him with oil or whatever. So there was some fun ribbing about that and he did joke around that he spent all his free time in strip clubs and cavorting with whores (not true, apparently). And I do like that I can run into people on subway platforms and have conversation buddies. I thrive on random situations, but I'm not quite forward enough to make them really happen. So it's nice when they decide to randomly decide to happen to me instead.

Oh, and playlists. Tonight on Real Rhapsody I've listened to: Wilco A Ghost Is Born, G. Love The Hustle & Nas Illmatic.


Weekend Funnery

So this weekend's been going pretty well so far. I usually don't do these "summaries of what's been going on" kinda entries, but I'm well-caffeinated, it's one of those amazing flood-your-living-room-with-light kinda mornings, it feels like fall, and I'm listening to chill white-boy acoustica (Donavon Frankenreiter - where the fuck does he get of spelling his first name so completely counterintuitively?) and I felt like I haven't updated in a while so here goes.

Friday night was Geoff's birthday party, which was a lot of fun - exactly the kinda evening I wanted to have, and he seemed to have a blast as well. It started out awesome - we met up at his new Sullivan St. apartment, where Chris created the newest Elephant Larry subgroup, VH-1 CLASSIC, so dubbed because he got three free VH-1 shwag watches from some off-site meeting that his bosses went to. I was Bob Marley, Geoff was David Bowie, and Chris was Joan Jett. So when we powered up, it sounded like this:

Chris: I LOVE rock n' roll.

It was our rallying cry for the evening.

Before we left the apartment to go to Otto, I presented Geoff with his present, a bottle of "Chaos" from the McSweeney's Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. Just as he opened it to find out what was inside, the umpire reversed a run the Red Sox had just scored. Chaos indeed! Geoff was quite happy about that.

So then we left, and went to Otto Enoteca (where enoteca = wine library; appropriate, since they have about 8 million wine options) which I'm always a big fan of. Chris had the ever-awesome Otto Lardo pizza (basically dough with olive oil and "lardo," or pig's backfat, on top), I had my usual favorite of Aglio, Olio & Pepperoncino (Garlic, Oil & Chiles), and Geoff had something with anchovies on it. I tried a li'l bit of the anchovy, but goddamn if that's not way too much fish taste for me. I feel like I'll eventually come around if I shut my eyes and pretend I'm having a Caesar Salad pizza or something, but whoa, crazy fish taste, for real, son. So after brief dessert (Olive oil gelato, with salt, strawberries and mint - mind-blowing, so good), we headed over to Dempsey's on 2nd Ave. for some boozing and chilling. We made a quick stopover on St. Mark's place to pick up some party accessories for Geoff (a fuzzy gray hat + some of those weird, hilarious bug glasses that only ever seem to available on St. Mark's for some reason). The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful in the best way - got to hang with people I wanted to hang with, it was fun.

Yesterday I bought a suit! I braved the post-Hurricane Ivan subway conditions and went to the Hugo Boss store on 5th Ave. & 55th St., easily the swankiest store I've ever entered with the intention of actually buying anything. It was one of those places that are excessively white and understocked - lots of floor space and, like, four garments. Luckily, it seemed practically attitude-free, at least in the men's suit department, which was (strangely!) where I spent most of my time. I basically threw myself upon the mercy of the salesstaff and confessed that a) I had never bought a suit and b) I didn't really know the rules or what to look for. I wasn't particularly worried about feeling ripped-off by doing that, since I had set a budget beforehand. Luckily, my boy Michael (this ridiculously ripped man in the tightest t-shirt possible) knew his stuff mostly and helped me out and good. I'm absolutely at the low-end of their sizing because I'm so skinny and therefore not even close to the American male average they usually cater to. This meant that there were not that many options for me, but I ended up, after extensive consulting with their head tailor and Michael, going with a black "Flynn-Vegas" cut that's going to look AMAZING once it gets altered properly and I pick it up next weekend. Man, all you fools at Liz's wedding are going to be like, man, who's the dude in the suit. It looks like Stefan, but he strangely doesn't look like total crap. Who is that? Hee hee. I really liked the whole experience. It was a completely novelty shopping for something in a luxury-ish store and being waited on by two people at once was crazy, and kinda fun. That never happens when I buy t-shirts.

Then last night I went out briefly to Will Nunziata's (of the Royal We) birthday party that was being held at Korova Milk Bar (this bar that attempts, not entirely successfully, to look like the creepy bar in A Clockwork Orange) in the East Village. Pretty fun, I didn't know that many people, but I ended up running into this girl Christina Casa who's all comedy scene-y and also used to temp at US Concepts (as recently as last week). Slightly Known People were there as well, celebrating Mel's birthday. It was cool to see them, they're crazy nice people. It also cemented their names in my head, which was good, since I'm so terrible at names. They're doing a run of shows at Rififi over the next month or so, and I think I'm going to go check 'em out. Plans were also made to have a Sketch Dance-off.

I should mention right now what I was wearing. I made a commitment to wear some funny "going-out" clothes earlier in the evening, because I was feeling a little "eh" during the day and wanted to feel swanky. So I put on my vintage Arizona bell bottoms, my "Here Comes A Special Boy" Achewood t-shirt, and my dad's old leather jacket. AND THEN as soon as I left my apartment and turned right, I saw this amazing hat somebody was throwing out -- all crumpled, kinda top-hatty, with a huge feather arrangement coming out of the back. And here's the best part - somebody had written, in glitter letters MAGIC across the front, with the last C being backwards. Fantastic! So I wore that hat for the rest of the evening and it made me feel really good. I've discovered I love hats - they completely make the rest of your outfit and allow you to be somebody through the hat. It's weird - more than any other kind of garment, they're costume pieces & make the man. I gotta invest in more hats. But yes, this hat was fantastic and garnered nothing but admiring comments all night. Serendipity. Sometimes life is so wonderfully coincidental and fun. Thank you, whoever threw out the hat. Thank you.

After Will's party, little J and I moseyed on over to Kenny's Castaway where Geoff, Chris & the Somers crew were hanging out because it was the debut of The Teenage Softies, which are a "band" fronted by Chris' friend Amy & her friend Anastacia (I think?). I put the word band in quotation marks because they're not actually a band so much as they're art direction, t-shirts, fake albums and a hoax in search of a band. Luckily, Amy confessed as much to me at Geoff's party - she was so excited about her deception that she couldn't keep it to herself. Basically, she thought it would be funny to make CD art, publicity art, Friendster profile and t-shirts (a signed one of which I am now in possession) without there actually being a band. Now, whereas I think this is actually pretty amusing, I'm very happy that I knew about this beforehand, because otherwise I would have felt obligated to stay all the way until the end of the evening to see their "show." As it was, I knew that they were just going to go up on stage, say "Hi, we're the Teenage Softies" and then leave. And that just wasn't worth staying for (though I'm sure I'll get a report from somebody as to how the actual show went - and I'll post an update, I promise). At least we got to hang out in the upstairs VIP area (Amy's brother, Lucas, was playing his birthday show there that evening with his band, Cool Hand). We watched some band that sounded like Idlewild went on, thinking that the Teenage Softies would be on after that. But then another band was set to go on at 2:30, and I decided that I'd had quite enough and headed on home. Amy seemed quite satisfied that we all came out to say hi anyway and forgave me for not seeing the show.

And now it's Sunday morning, it looks like beautiful fall outside, and Marika and I are going to go take a walk. It's just that kind of day. Ah, I love fall.


Ed Koch Loves Stefan & Doesn't Even Know It

Hey babies! You gotta check this out - if you click on the headline above, you'll link to a picture of Ed Koch reading the menu I designed for the CNN Diner (the Tick Tock Diner, as converted for the RNC). Amusing, no? It made me giggle. If you look on the table, you'll also see the Beverages menu I designed as well. Bizarre little city we live in, honestly.

Watch Watch

Okay, so I'm just going to post this before I forget: I woke up this morning, alarm went off, and I look down on my wrist to see that at some point during the night I put on my watch (and not the Nixon one I usually wear, but the Fossil one). How did this happen? What was the process? Somehow I apparently thought it would be AWESOME if I just threw on a watch I guess. So weird. Similarly disorienting to the time when I was on vacation in Sweden when I was, oh, 15 or so and went to sleep in the top bunk of the bunkbed my sister and I were sharing - and woke up on the sofa in the living room. Man, I'm a freak when I sleep, I'll tell you that.


This one's for J - I promised him I'd post the picture of myself, with the bachelorette from Seattle for whom I stripped down to my skivvies, with scant more reward then the dollar bill that was unceremoniously stuffed into my boxers. But damn if it wasn't a gratifying experience - if for no other reason than that it freaked Jerf out that I wasn't getting dressed again fast enough. Ah, Jeff. Always worrying that I'm going to get arrested. Posted by Hello

Coffe [sic] Time

So I was just getting my afternoon coffee pick-me-up type of beverage from our in-office Flavia machine which, if you're not familiar, is a single-packet industrial coffeemaker. You pop your foil packet in, you get something that resembles coffee out, you squeeze it down and go on with your day. While it does not actually have any of the flavor benefits of coffee, it does retain the stimulating benefits, and is thus perfectly functional. In any case, the bin of disposed coffee packets was full and after I finished emptying it, it gave me the number of cups of coffee the machine had dispensed so far: 10814. That's SO much coffee. It's interesting, really, in a non-sky-is-falling-what-are-we-coming-to kinda way, that we as a nation have so thoroughly embraced coffee (bad coffee, too, which is ALSO an interesting, but separate, issue). It's like we've acknowledged that we no longer have the energy or time to do all the things which we expect ourselves to do -- and instead of solving that problem, we artificially keep ourselves awake longer. I mean, we're definitely functional addicts in this respect, but it's very telling that offices are expected to keep coffee on hand at all times. Isn't it just a smidge away from one of those dystopian sci-fi movies where people are injected with work drugs or given obedience pills? I mean, not that anybody's forcing you to drink coffee at work, but it's always sitting there, silently saying "This company does not respect that you're tired. Do something about it." Man, when I have a company (if I ever do) there will be a nap room, and you will get a nap allowance and that nap allowance will be respected dammit.

Of course, all of this ranting is from somebody who loves drinking coffee. And does feel like his days should be packed with gobs more productivity. Sigh.


I got blogged!

Wow, I totally got blogged. In one of my egotistical time-wasting maneuvers, I googled myself and this link came up:

Robotic Tronic Masterpiece

Apparently the author of my li'l profile in the Brooklyn Eagle (available to read on the Elephant Larry website) also knows Frank who made Dannybot, the movie in which I star as a robot. Oh, what a teeny little world.

Andres Is Funny

Okay, so you pretty much have to check out the link (by clicking on the title of this post). It's ludicrously awesome, so make sure you read the whole thing.

In case any of you don't know, Andres du Bouchet is a Cornell alum, a former Shrimp (from, like, way long ago), and currently is all over the New York comedy scene...he did a set at the Big Red Comedy Festival (along with Jamie Greenberg, as Only Children) and, like Elephant Larry, he is one of Back Stage's Comedy Best Bets 2004. Hot hot hot.

Now, if you're still not checking out the link after all that convincing, you're obviously no friend of mine. Get out. Get out now.


Completely Unrelated to the RNC

I think it's absolutely COMPLETELY adorable that Domino Sugar's slogan is "We'll always be your sugar." It seriously kinda makes me smile everytime I add brown sugar to my cereal blend that I make in the morning. It just doesn't smack of over-focus-group tested anything, and it's kinda folksy without being pretentious. I dunno, it's just cute.