Saturday, December 25, 2010

Boring Titles

I almost had to stand up and cheer after reading this article from Popeater about 2010's most boring movie titles. I'm always complaining about how stuuuupid movie (and book) titles are these days. Like, "Because I Said So," "The Happening." What the eff is that? The Happening. That's not a title. That's anything. Going out to get your mail could be the happening.

My main problem with book titles is how everything has to be, Something [colon] Someone's Act of Doing Something. You know what I mean? It's especially frustrating to watch The Daily Show. Every author has written a book with a title, like, Miss Economics: The Small Businesswoman's Quest to Claim Her Identity During a Time of Change. Or, A Very Dark Day: The Secret of the Great Northeast Blackout of Twenty-aught-three, One Man's Harrowing Story.

It can't possibly be that people have simply run out of concise, appropriate titles, can it? I think everyone just needs to try a little harder. Myself included.

Five Christmas Lessons

OK, so Christmas is basically almost over (thank god.) Here are a few things I learned the hard way this year.

  1. Electric toothbrushes and black dresses aren't good friends. Turn on the toothbrush once it is safely inside your mouth, or do not turn it on at all. Wear a bib. Don't get dressed until after you've brushed your teeth. Anticipate these things. Don't be such a spazz.
  2. Spoon flour into the measuring cup, rather than pouring it directly from the bag. Unless of course the recipe calls for, "a bunch of extra flour...whatever...just dump it in." (No recipe calls for that, FYI.)
  3. There is some sort of law of physics that causes all Christmas ornaments to turn the opposite way of how they should when you hang them on the tree. This law is immutable...until you've tried fifteen different positions. Then it might work.
  4. If you create a 'Mele Kalikimaka' Pandora station, it will just play, 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' over and over and over again. Seriously, like, Bing Crosby's version followed by Gene Autry, then Burl Ives, Mariah Carey, Wilford Brimley, Macauley Culkin, She & Him, and then that Japanese holographic pop singer. All I wanted to hear was, 'Mele Kalikimaka.'
  5. It's silly, really, to spend sixty whole days stressing out about Christmas, which pretty much lasts, like, ten minutes and is always fun and nothing to worry about. It might be a good idea to try not to do that next year. But I will, anyway.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Serious Business

I keep forgetting to mention that a dear, childhood friend and I have started doing an online radio show on the site, blogtalkradio.com. It's probably going to take us about a year of doing the show before we have the professionalism and composure to refrain from giggling for the entire hour, but, we're working on it. We started out calling it, "Serious Business with David & Sissy," but there was nothing serious about it. So now it's, "Totes Whatevsies with David & Sissy." Much more appropriate. And just so there's no confusion, he's David and I'm Sissy.

Anyway, the show isn't really about anything. We talk about tips for going green (like the miracle of vinegar,) play silly sound effects and random songs, and try to entertain each other. We discovered that when the scheduled show time ends, it stops streaming but continues to record so then we have an after-show called Hard Rock Candy & the Beach, which contains even less content and more giggling.

So, check it out. Last night's episode began the merry death march towards Christmas, but the Thanksgiving show is still my favorite, thus far.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

(Mori)Bus Philosophorum: Move Your Feet, Give Up Your Seat

There are times when I really feel like I'm about six fist shakes away from being someone who says, "People these days! No respect!" and is exasperated. Well, I'm exasperated pretty much all the time, so maybe I'm only five fist shakes away. I swear, there is a porch and a garden hose in my future.

The level of respect our society has for the elderly and disabled among us is depressingly evident on the bus. This morning I watched as an older man (maybe mid-70s) boarded and surveyed the bus for open seats. There were two open towards the back where I was, but he opted to stand at the front and cling to one of the hand straps. I telepathically said to the people sitting around him, "Um, someone, get up and give that guy your seat. Please? No one? Really? Seriously, no one is going to offer this poor man his seat?! I can not believe people these days! NO RESPECT! Where's my garden hose?"

This happens all the time and I'd like to encourage everyone to stop it, right now. Stop thinking that you're the most important person in the world, and be polite. I know what's going on in most people's heads. They get a seat and think, "Iiiiiii'm safe, nya nya. I got a se-eeeeat and you-oo do-on't." Stop it. If you see someone in a wheelchair about to get on the bus, please don't roll your eyes. Have a modicum of respect for people who are not as lucky as you are.

Now, I'm going back up to the porch. Be nice.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Biased Milk Hotel

(This post meanders, and has no real point. Consider yourself forewarned.)

If I hear an Albany resident under the age of 40 say, "That is my favorite. album. EVER." I immediately know what they're talking about, without even looking.  

'How could you possibly know that?' you say?  
You only talk to people who have the same taste as you! you say?

Nah, because it's always the same. (I say.) Without question, the most frequently-named favorite album ever is 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.' by Neutral Milk Hotel. I think that most people, when confronted with choosing a favorite album would balk and wave away the question saying, "Oh, I could never choose." But folks who have fallen head over heels in love with this album are quick to put it in position #1 with very little hesitation. Best ever. End of story.

And it is, but I wonder if it would have the same effect on me today as it did when I was 19 and about to be on my own, supporting myself for the very first time. Would it have buoyed me through that time (simply by distracting me from the major changes I was going through. I barely remember the transition period, but, boy oh boy, do I remember listening to the hell out of that album during it) in the same way? I really don't know. When it comes to other art forms, like movies, I usually feel that they have a time and a place. I never saw 'Goonies' as a kid and probably never will, because it will never be as magical to someone pushing thirty as it was to all the eight year-olds who watched the VHS on repeat until the tape broke.

When I first heard, 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea' I distinctly remember thinking, "Alright, well, there it is. If I die in my sleep tonight, I haven't missed out on this and no one will be able to take it away from me." That is a powerful piece of art, right there, to evoke that emotion in the heart of a kid. That feeling doesn't come around too often, for me, anyway (other inspirations being Joanna Newsom albums and anything written by Robert Pirsig.) That feeling where you're actually scared someone's going to try to take this thing from you. It's precious and, I'm telling you, 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea' will give you that feeling. But I guess I'm biased.

Good News

Back in June there was a violent mugging outside my apartment and the offenders were caught pretty quickly. Two of them were also involved in a beating that left a man fighting for his life. Sad to see people so young lose their freedom, but I'm incredibly glad that they've been convicted. 20 years is a long time to think about what you've done, for sure. I hope they learn something.

http://www.cbs6albany.com/news/years-1280662-soares-young.html

(Thanks to Erik Morton for passing this along.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

(Mori)Bus Philosophorum: Bus Graffiti

You guys, get ready for the most offensively hardcore bit of bus graffiti I've ever come across. It's so tough, I'm putting it after the jump. Prepare yourself for...

And for That, I'm Thankful

I'm going to try to dip my toes back into the blogwater, here, with a little reflection on what has made me thankful this year.
  • The interwebs, seriously. No other time in history has been so democratic, thanks to them. You can rant, rave, or have a radio show. No one or everyone may be reading or listening, and that's OK.
  • My friends and family, who are all intelligent and devastatingly good-looking. Some of them really know how to cook, too, and for that I'm truly thankful.
  • The fact that, even though I can't take exotic vacations or prance with the stars, there is always food in the pantry, water from the faucet, and electricity powering everything. This is something I think about every day, to be honest, because there have been times when that was not the case.
  • All of the art, music, beauty, pathos, tragedy, and triumph that surrounds us, always. What a beautiful world we live in.

Together Again...FOR THE FIRST TIME.

You've probably been wondering, "Is Leigh in rehab again or something?" Surprise! No. But you're sooo funny. I was, in truth, taking a...sabbatical from the blog. It was getting to be a little too heavy for me, and a little too specific. Back when I started writing it, everything was just off the cuff, whatever came to mind and there was a freedom to it that I really loved. Then I started feeling like I had to write about the bus and keep things bus-centric, and people were assuming I actually knew what I was talking about (there was a post about sidewalks where I referred to "city planners" and people were all, "City Planners don't do that!" and I thought, "I just meant the people who...you know...plan...the city? Lowercase.")

It had become more of a chore than a lark. I went off in a different direction and started writing a semi-anonymous blog called Girlfriend in Progress, and that's been fun. It's been a great exercise in swallowing my pride, mostly, because the topics are much more personal.

Anyway, I'm going to get back to my totes whatevesies attitude towards the blog, and just write about what's entertaining me or on my mind. Sometimes it may be about the bus, more often than not it probably won't be. We'll see.

Oh, and P.S. I now have the domain name http://www.leighcummings.com to organize everything.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

(Mori)Bus Philosophorum: Bus Graffiti


My message to this rather uninspired graffiti, "artist," is: You have certainly mastered the literal. Well done.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Simpler Living Interview

The wonderful Naomi Seldin of Times Union's Simpler Living blog interviewed me for a series she's doing on local folks. Check it out!

And here's the actual link, just in case hyperlinks aren't your bag:
http://blog.timesunion.com/simplerliving/car-free-in-albany-an-interview-with-leigh-cummings/23899/

Monday, June 21, 2010

(Mori)Bus Philosophorum: Bus Tips Part II (I Think)

It's time for another round (I think) of my practical, time-tested bus tips! Don't say I didn't warn you...
  • Use $5. The new fare system allows you to put larger bills into the column. If you're purchasing a day pass with singles, you have to feed in four bills which, if they're not mint-crisp, will be spat back out at you (a la the snack machine) who knows how many times. Worse yet is trying to drop four dollars-worth of change. I've done it; it takes forever, and I don't recommend it. If you're determined to try, you'd better hope against hope that it isn't raining or cold out because the people queuing up behind you outside the bus will attempt to murder you with their eyes. Save yourself the trouble and use a five.
  • The rule of bus windows states (scientifically) that a closed window may be opened, but, for some reason, an open window can never be closed. I know it's tempting to sit by an open window when you board a hot, sticky bus, but do your best to resist. Unless you like that windblown look.
  • Always double check your seat. I can not tell you how many times I've left something behind on the bus: umbrellas, cell phones, wads of cash (not really, but if I had wads of cash I'd live in fear of that.) Each and every time I've pulled this little routine, I've felt in the pit of my stomach that I'm forgetting something, but neglected to double check. Even if you don't think you've dropped something, it doesn't hurt to take a second look. A few weeks ago I went to sit down and there was a wallet on the seat, which I scooped up and delivered to the bus driver. The next day the driver told me that the owner of the wallet had claimed it and had been astounded to find his big wad of cash still inside. If you leave your wallet behind, the person who finds it might not be as honest (dumb? I didn't even look inside) as I.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A+, APD. For real.


Last night around 11:30 I heard someone out on the street saying, “No, no, no!” I muted the TV, perked up my ears and heard what sounded like a girl laughing. ‘Probably just a guy playfully chasing his girlfriend,’ I thought, but the woman continued saying, “No!” and it was sounding more desperate. My boyfriend got up, looked out the window and bolted towards the door. As he did he said, “Someone’s getting mugged out there. A girl’s bleeding. Grab my shoes.”

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Black Thumbs Update: Green at Last!

This is more about the pictures.  So pretty!  I didn't realize that there would be two varieties of daisy springing up!

I'd include a photo of the lettuce bed, but it's looking a little unkempt.  There are a ton of greens ready to be harvested, so I can't wait to taste the fruits of my (very minimal) labor!

Loverly. 

Oh Sidewalk, Where Art Thou?

Yesterday I thought it would be a lark to take the bus up to the Target in Northway Mall.  It was an innocent idea but a really depressing trip, and it ties right in with my parking rant from last week.

I hopped off the bus at the Colonie Center stop, pushed the big button that tells the light that someone wants to cross the street, and waited.  And waited.  The lights cycled through and no Walking Guy appeared.  The Red Hand didn’t budge.  Eventually another person waiting to cross just went for it and I followed, sprinting across Central Ave.  On the other side of the road there is a pedestrian walkway into the plaza, which I was delighted to see.  I followed it for about three minutes until it inexplicably stopped at this point:


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Park It

I am always astounded by the number of people who will effectively boycott a business based on whether or not it has a parking lot.  Reading Steve's post about the reopening of the Townsend Park Bakery (hoooooRAY!) reminded me of this.

Even though I don't have a car right now I do vaguely remember what it was like to own and operate one and parking was never an issue for me.  If a restaurant or store had no parking lot I would find a nearby metered spot or, *gasp* a spot that wasn't nearby and walk to my destination.  This is still something that the majority of the citizens of Earth are capable of, right?  Excluding, of course, people with disabilities, most of us could presumably walk just about anywhere we needed to.  I mean, if I really wanted to, I could walk to Colonie Center from my house between Dove and Lark streets.  Walking enthusiasts routinely hike the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia without whining.  So why is it such a big deal to walk a few blocks from where you parked on Washington to the Townsend Park Bakery?  I'm just not buying it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

(Mori)Bus Philosophorum: Frustrations

I've kind of been writing and rewriting this post because I don't want to come across as being anti-CDTA.  I'm mostly entirely pro-CDTA but...they have issues I feel need to be worked on.  Like:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Black Thumbs Update: Mysteries

Lots and lots of things have been happening in my garden, no thanks to me.  As the weeks go by I'm realizing how many plants were left behind by previous tenants.  There are perennials popping up all over the place.  With some help from Mom, I've been able to identify spearmint, hasta, a possible geranium and some sort of daisy (I think.) 

Another learning experience has been seeing which areas of the back yard receive varying levels of direct sunlight during the day.  I had planted three types of greens: a mesclun mix, leaf spinach and baby spinach and it is pretty dramatic how one patch is thriving compared to another.  The salad mix is almost ready to eat while the spinaches are still just starting to become recognizable as spinach.

I know that this statement is going to indicate how naive I was about the whole process, but gardening takes a whole lot of work.  Like, a lotta lotta work.  Who knew?  There are all sorts of invading fluttery things that seem to clog the beds overnight.  Dandelions pop up up between pavers, and the spearmint appears to be on a mission to take over the world.  It's overwhelming.  As the weather improves, though, I find myself going out there even when I'm not motivated to weed or water.  It's so nice to just sit and breathe and feel the quiet.  My ultimate goal in life is to live at The Cloisters, and I realized the other day that I can kind of create my own cloistered area with the garden.  Our next door neighbor has a water feature (!!!) which makes the imagining that much easier.

Since the season has really just begun, I'm hoping to do another wave of planting once I see how the seeds I've already put in (mostly flowers: nasturtiums, cosmos, marigolds, poppies and a cutting mix) have done.  Even if nothing takes, the leftover mystery perennials, alone, will be enough for me.

Mea Culpa

I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.  I've been so terribly negligent.  And it's stopping, starting now.  (I'm sorry.)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Tragic Tale of Ol' 'Black Thumb' Cummings

I've never been especially talented at keeping things alive.  Actually, that's being nice.  The reality is that  I've killed every single creature of god that has ever been in my care.*  Chia herb gardens, hermit crabs, house plants, all of 'em, dead.   The only tree I've had any luck in keeping around is a fiber optic Christmas tree.  It's that serious.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Well, That's Awfully Specific

Here's a little bit of bus graffiti I spotted this morning...

Monday, March 8, 2010

(Mori)Bus Philosophorum: The Difference in the Stops

Who knew one block could change everything? (<-- that line should be read in a Don LaFontaine voice.)

For the past three and a half years I've been catching the bus from the Armory at Lark and Washington.  It's quite the little slice of life, let me tell you.  Actually, I probably don't have to tell you; you probably already know that the swarming crowd can range from student to indigent to criminal and worse (like girls who wear high heels with sweatpants.  Terrifying.)   During peak hours the best you can hope for is to claim one square of sidewalk and avoid eye contact until your bus trundles up.  Unless of course you feel like doling out a bunch of cigarettes; in that case, by all means, go ahead and make friends.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Eating Off the Grid*

It was so much fun to write about local eggs that I'm going to start a regular (I hope) series of posts about my efforts to divorce myself as much as possible from factory foods.  One of my resolutions this year was to, "get back on track," but that really translates to, "get off the grid."  First, some self-indulgent background:

Morning Becomes Eggcellent

This is a little off-topic for me but I had to share about eggs.  Diana, a colleague of mine, raises ducks and chickens and sells $3.00 dozens to folks in our office.  Seeing the carton labeled, "Leigh," in the break room refrigerator is pretty much the highlight of my week and I always pop it open to admire the rows of colorful, mismatched pearls.  You never know what you're going to get, and, as you can see in the picture, it's usually a mixed bag.  The chickens lay brown, green and white eggs and the ducks are responsible for those giant guys on the right, which are excellent for breakfast or baking.  The yolks are larger and richer and the flavor is just out of this world.  People have a tendency to flinch at the thought of anything other than a traditional chicken's egg but that really shouldn't be the case.

While on a baking jag a few weeks ago, I ran out of Diana's eggs and had to buy a dozen from the supermarket for everyday use.  It had been a chunk of time since I'd tasted a corporate egg and was absolutely astounded by how flavorless they were.  I made myself a fried egg sandwich, bit into it, and tasted no egg at all.  The texture was tough and foreign and the yolk that ran out was a pale, pathetic yellow (not the robust orange to which I'd grown accustomed.)  It was disappointing, but not at all surprising.  We've been force-fed a factory product for so long that we, as a culture, don't even know what eggs are supposed to taste like.  That's tragic, and I won't stand for it.  So even if you aren't lucky enough to work with a free-range farmer, make it a point to go to Honest Weight, or a farmer's market, and try a local egg.  You're gonna die, I promise, and you, like me, will never want to go back.

P.S.  Diana also tells me all sorts of cute stories about the birds, my favorite being how they are free to fly out of their enclosure at any time, which they do.  They haven't yet wrapped their minds around flying back in, though, and always queue up in an orderly fashion at the gate, waiting to be let in.  They could easily escape, but choose to head home.  I love that.  Happy chickens equal yummy eggs.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fortune 500? Maybe Next Year...

Alternate title: Nutshell: Why I Need to Get Out of This Industry. 

We had a company-wide conference call this afternoon; you know, one of those, "rah-rah," sessions where high level executives lavish praise on groups of people you've never met or heard of, and confusing acronyms zoom around like BBs.  At the end they always open up the call to questions from the captive, "audience," and, I shit you not, one woman had the nerve to say something like this:

"Hi, Dr. [Executive,] this is Kelly Ann Employee in East Officetown, Pennsylvania.  I - and several of my coworkers - have had a lifelong desire for us to be listed among Fortune 500 companies.  There's an office down the street that made number 78 last year.  What are we doing to compete with this company and what are the chances we'll be recognized in the future?"

Um....what?  I don't even know where to begin with this question.  First of all, if you truly have had a lifelong desire to work for a Fortune 500 company, there is something desperately, irreparably wrong with your concept of self-worth.  Sorry.  It's true.  Second, 'There's an office down the street....?'  I'm sure that company's employees are staring at you when you drive by, shaking their heads and wordlessly shaming you and your non-Fortune 500 status.  They roll their eyes and say, "That company doesn't even deserve to be on the same street as us."  Third, and most important, please do not bring your unwitting coworkers into this folly.  The truth is they all think you're crazier than a cat lady in a scratch-post forest, and I don't believe for one second that you all gab at break time about your aspirations to be in a business journal. 

The worst part of all of this was that, after poor Kelly Ann asked her question, instead of laughing at her (what I would have done,) the answering executive launched into a 10-minute speech on what, exactly, we are doing as a company to knock those bastards down the street from 78 to 79 on the list.  You better watch out, Integrated Medical Synergies of East Officetown.  We are coming for you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Miss Organized.

This morning while stopped at a red light, I glanced out the bus window into the cab of a pick-up truck idling next to us.  Dangling from the rear-view mirror was an assortment of chains and shoelaces, each attached to an item the driver obviously felt he needed to reach at a moment's notice.  He had a pen, a roll of duct tape, a compass, a calculator, an EZ Pass, and a duck call (no joke.)  I nodded approvingly and thought, 'That's my kind of organizational system.'  Growing up I always felt more comfortable if everything I could possibly need was visible to me at all times.  This is a a very poor justification for being messy, but I am, and always have been.  I know just where that sweater/belt/scarf is, because it's right here on the floor in front of me, balled up in a space-saving fashion, ready to be shaken out and worn. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Pedestrian's Lament

Center Square is not the most pedestrian-friendly place in the world.  The walker/driver relationship, in my opinion, should be one of mutual respect where everyone uses his best judgment, but that isn't always the case.  I've come up with a simple three-point system from the pedestrian's perspective that I think would solve so many of these situations that appear to be really really difficult calls for some people:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

(Mori)Bus Philosophorum: Seriously, What the Heck is That?

(Pardon me for the poor camera phone photography.  It's kind of tough to discreetly snap a pic on a full, moving bus.)

This is something that has perplexed me for a while, now.  What the heck is that odd shape next to the man's head in the upper right corner of this inspirational CDTA poster?  For the first few weeks I wasn't looking at it analytically, and my brain interpreted it as a graduation cap but...it really isn't.



Monday, January 11, 2010

Great Dinner: The Wine Bar & Bistro

It had been a while since I had a meal at the Wine Bar & Bistro (like, a looong while.  The last time, I think, was with PDA and his parents before the Built show two and a half years ago.  A long while) so this weekend when Josh and I were trying to figure out where to have our anniversary dinner it popped right into my head.  While Justin's is our go-to place, we were looking for something a little more...romantical and fresh for this occasion.  (Plus I had just been to Justin's with my mom for brunch the day before.  Hehehe.) 

The Giving Tree

At the corner of Lark and Hamilton Streets, across from the dry cleaner, there is a scrappy, adolescent tree.  Even in the warmer months it struggles to sprout leaves and looks like it just might not make it another year (like most of  them on Lark since the great massacre of the old growth trees a few years ago.)  But this one is special.  There's something...magical about this tree, especially the strange fruit it bears.  For some reason people tend to lose articles of clothing at that corner.  Pants, gloves, dress shoes, all of these things get left behind, and good samaritans with few options seem to get the idea to just stick them in the tree.  I have no idea who started this tradition but at least once a month I'll see some recovered item deliberately balanced on the limp and scrawny limbs.  It's surprising that the poor little guy can even support a pair of slacks (complete with belt) but, there they are, and they never stick around which leads me to believe that this arborial lost and found system is actually effective.  In reality, someone probably just takes them, rather than the original owner having the presence of mind to return to the corner where, after stumbling out of Legends, he decided to remove his undershirt and left sock.  (How does that happen?)  So if you're partying on Lark and for some reason misplace one lace-up shoe, go ahead and check the giving tree at Lark and Hamilton.  Your shoe may not be there, but there's a pretty good chance that someone's will be and you won't have to walk home with one bare foot.  Although that might serve you right.