Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In a Fix

Good news, fellow New Yorkers.  Your own Metropolitan Transit Authority (motto: "Train Skipping Your Station") is getting a makeover! Maybe you've seen the ad.  It's on all the subways, just to the left of the redolent yelling gentleman with the twenty-six garbage bags.  It goes like this:

"If it's broke, fix it."
Instead of waiting to fix everything in a station at once,
we're fixing critical parts as soon as they need fixing.
This is accompanied by a reassuring picture in which a hard-working actor pretending to be an MTA workman performs the vital workman task of getting photographed.  Now, I don't know about you, but golly, I think this is just an amazing revolutionary progressive breakthrough business method.  Just think! Fixing things that are not only broken but could possibly maim or kill you! One can hardly guess what kind of cushy amenities they will dream up next.  Perhaps they'll institute a "valued rider" program that, for a fee, guarantees you the comfort of knowing the conductor won't slice your fingers off in the doors, at least not on purpose, unless perhaps he is having a bad day.

If you ask me - and I hope I do not sound hyper-patriotic here, but gosh darn it, I just can't contain myself - this is precisely the sort of "new-frontier" business vision that makes America great.  I give you Exhibit B: my shower.  Now you may recall I live at college, which means a shared bathroom, which in turn means such features as seething, raging, tentacled bacteria the size of standard Angus bulls.  You get used to them after awhile, but it's a little disconcerting at first when you walk in only to have them come lurching forth from the toilet to say things like, "HA HA HA.  PREPARE TO DIE, (YOUR NAME HERE)."*  

But it's all worth it when you get to take a nice hot shower, except if you ignore the little bitty minor infinitesimal small detail that the shower is actually ice cold.  So it was that, with a heavy heart and the theme from "Jaws" beginning spontaneously to play in the background, I put in a maintenance request to: University Facilities Management.  I explained that when you turned on the shower, hot water runs for 45 seconds, after which it goes cold.  Their response was to wait a few days, then send me back a status update, as follows:

Problem: No hot water in shower
Actions taken: Turned on shower.  Ran hot water fine.
Status: Fixed

Yes, I'm proud that, as a nation, we're committed to taking this kind of "go-getter" initiative.  It just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside as you go through your daily routine, eat breakfast, go to the gym, take a shower ... YAAAAAHHHHH! THIS THING IS LIKE ICE!!!! WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA????

Ahem.  It's all right; naturally, there are always kinks to work out of any system.  We consumers understand the concept of "work in progress."  And it's not just the subway and my shower.  There's also the Space Shuttle Program (motto: "No Catastrophic Losses of Life Since [Tuesday]").  Now to their credit, the folks at NASA tried to get this one right.  They really did.  However, this is obviously hard.  To begin to understand the sort of complexity involved in such an undertaking, let's look at just a few of the rejected designs for the Space Shuttle over the years:


But practice makes perfect, which is why, next year, after the Space Shuttle is retired, NASA plans to replace it with the ultimate vehicle: 

Of course, there are sure to be certain snags in this plan as well, such as when the fleet loses one of its headlight eyeballs.  But still I have enormous hope for the future, and I'm sure you do too, especially if you are talking about the future on Planet Zwumf.  But it's okay; works in progress are part of life.  We know that; the people at NASA know it.  And we're all in this together.

However, NASA, if you're listening, I hope you'll permit me a small suggestion.  If things don't work out with the Magic School Bus, I say it's high time you "take the plunge" and replace your fleet with the ultimate vehicle: the New York City subway (motto: "Train Skipping Your Planet").

* They don't actually say your name, you see; they literally say, "(YOUR NAME HERE)".

Friday, February 4, 2011

Meet the Puppets!

Looky looky!

This is Marie-Claude, the Golden Stoat.  And, yes, as you have no doubt astutely observed, she's a very foxy stoat.  (Get it? Woodland creature pun! Hah!)  

Anyway, she's a puppet I made.  (Formerly a bath towel.  Fun fact.)  Which is all to say, I haven't been idle in my absence.  I've been putting together a good dozen of these guys, of all different styles and species, for a puppet show called - yes - the Golden Stoat.  

Here's one of her co-stars, Her Royal Highness Marcheline, Princess of Groin (pronounced Groin - it's French).  Marcheline has a lovely blonde mane and tiara now, but obviously this was taken in her pre-hair days:

Ain't she purty? Well, except that back before her Rogaine moment, she vaguely resembled Patrick Stewart.  Or perhaps Zwibble Dibble (pictured below):

Speaking of which, another fun fact: my sister happens to own such a Zwibble, which we got in maybe 1992.  We recently found that they go for upwards of $75-$100 on eBay, which led her to muse that perhaps hers would go for that much had she not spent much of her toddlerhood sucking on its tail.  Now let's face it, you have to wonder about the sort of individual who would shell out that many doubloons for a dinosaur wearing a diaper.  I mean, EVERYONE knows this is historically inaccurate, right? (In real life they wore Hanes.)

The Golden Stoat will be performed in late April, in Manhattan, for those NY-ers who are suitably interested and/or deranged.  (It will be the week after Aisle Six.)  Stay tuned for updates on both.....