Thursday, April 29, 2004

Where I've Been

As usual, I can't write too specifically about work for paranoid fear of getting myself in trouble, but I want to explain why I haven't been blogging much lately and give a little update.

In the When It Rains, It Pours department (that's the same department that handles looking before I leap and getting burned by playing with fire), after six months with minimal employment at the end of last year, at the moment I not only have two jobs, but two stage management jobs. A workshop I was involved in a while back is going forward in a full production, and things are happening very quickly. The new job (we'll call it Show #2) is going to have an unusual performance schedule, which meant that if I just take a little time off from Show #1 for rehearsals, I could theoretically do both. It's a shocking and unsettling concept, really. Actually having extra money? Maybe being able to save some?

The tricky part, of course, would be during the weeks of daytime rehearsals for Show #2, combined with evening performances for Show #1, with non-matching days off on each project. Faced with a stretch of no free time and likely fast food bingeing, I planned to the first two weeks of April trying to make up in advance for the inevitable exhaustion weight gain. I started getting up earlier to get my body used to the long days. I Atkinsed as best I could, and tried to work out in some fashion every day. It was like I was trying to stockpile fitness, as if I could store it away. I figured if I lost ten pounds I wouldn't be upset when I gained five of it back.

I had everything worked out, personally and professionally, and I was pretty pleased with myself and with the state of things.

I should have known that wouldn't last! (The Council on Anything That Can Go Wrong Will is right down the hall from the WIRIP Department.)

At first, it was good news: The schedule for Show #2 would actually be very light, so I wouldn't stretched as thin as I'd thought. But then Show #1 started to fall apart sort of spectacularly, and I spent half of the first rehearsal for Show #2 (my day off from Show #1) on the phone dealing with that. It came as no surprise that we weren't doing well financially, but the producers seemed to be panicking about it. More specifically, they seemed surprised to learn that an off-Broadway play was a shaky investment. Um, yeah. But they also wanted to stick it out and try to get things to pick up. I have to admit, I admire their tenacity, and their belief in the project, but sometimes when the ship is sinking the smartest thing to do is accept that you're going to lose your luggage and head for the lifeboats. Several of the actors knew this and did just that. All the scrambling, phone calls, and last-minute rehearsals for the understudies meant a lot more work for me, at exactly the point when my job should have been settling into the auto-pilot of just running the show for at least a month or two.

Meanwhile, the creative team on Show #2 was realizing that we'd been over-optimistic about our light schedule, and started adding hours. Of course, by now, thinking things would be pretty easy, I'd blown my opportunity to get my shit together, which included, along with gym time, finding a guest blogger.

THEN, more good news/bad news. The producers of Show #1 decided to do only four shows a week, since we were only making any money on the weekends. Terribly convenient for me! Better still, our contracts specifically state that we must be paid for eight shows a week, and our union union wouldn't budge on that. There's actually a long, complicated story about that, and I would have rather they had budged, but the good news for me in the short term was that I was getting paid for a full week but only working half, and juggling the two gigs became much easier.

But THEN it dawned on the folks at Show #1 that if they had to pay us for a full week anyway, they weren't really saving much money (on the handful of non-union staff) by not having us work for it, so they might as well go back to a full schedule. OY.

Which brings us to this week. It's not so bad, really, and of course I'm thrilled to be in the unusual position of having a surfeit of theater work and making a decent salary (even if it is in the form of two half-decent salaries combined). Today, I'm halfway through a three-week stretch without a full day off. I'd been prepared for a much longer period of that, of course, but the constant changing of my schedule is what's getting to me now. I'm completely confused now about simple things like days of the week. I'll often call people and forget which show I'm calling about. I haven't done it yet, but it can't be long before I send a daily report to the wrong e-mail list. Though I love what I do, these are the times when I do long for the stability and predictability of a "regular" job. Is it any wonder I've been gorging myself on ice cream and not blogging much?

This week, finally, some definitive news: Show #1 is closing for good. It'd be nice to get a few more weeks towards my health care, put some more money in my savings account (my what?)...but I'm also kinda over it. I really can't complain, since I'm the only one in the company in the rare position of having another gig to go to immediately, and for me personally the timing, if it had to happen at all, is perfect. I'll have to find some day work at some point once the rehearsal salary for Show #2 ends and the per-performance kicks in, but I plan to be as slothful as possible for the first week of previews. I've been getting enough sleep most nights, but I've done so at the expense of normal free time activities, like blogging, and the Explorer 8000 Home Entertainment Server is quite full of backlogged TV. Plus, it seems like the warm weather is finally here to stay, and it would be really nice to enjoy it before it becomes nasty and sticky.

Anyway, that's where I've been. I'm not complaining, really I'm not, but blogging has taken a backseat, and I felt like I owed the three of you who still read Judgment Call an explanation.

If anyone's interested, I'll take volunteers to fill in for me next week.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

It's bad enough I'm deaf, do they want me blind too??

Okay, what is up with the lighting on American Idol?? I know no one's watching for stellar design in any department, but I'm getting annoyed with the way you can't actually see the contestants at all half the time. There are ten or twenty instruments (including the ones on the bottom of the video screen) focused downstage at any given moment, and it looks like they have a filter on the camera lens to make the lights flare. So, for example, last night when LaToya was dancing her little heart out (to the detriment of her singing, unfortunately), most of the time my screen was just completely white. I mean, what's the point? Considering how much money they must spend on their lighting package, you'd think they'd use it to actually, I don't know, light the people onstage?

Sunday, April 25, 2004

When good dessert makers go bad

Okay, the low carb thing has gone too far.

Dont get me wrong, I'm still a big proponent of Atkins, etc. and I'm grateful that all these chubbstitute products now exist, but sometimes I still just want the real thing! The Ben and Jerry's section of my supermarket has shrunk from an entire freezer to two shelves, one of which is yogurt, no sugar added and Carb Karma. I went to the Food Emporium in Union Square last week, where they have an entire aisle of ice cream -- same thing. Since I'd be hard pressed to think of a flavor of ice cream I really dislike, and I shouldn't be eating it anyway, you'd think I could manage, but I am on a quest.

I guess I should backtrack a little to explain. Last summer, Ben and Jerry, whom I've always assumed are very nice men, did something incredibly mean. They read my mind and created my perfect flavor -- Oatmeal Cookie Chunk, a surprisingly light combination of cinnamon ice cream with oatmeal cookies and chocolate chunks – but marketed it as a "Limited Batch." I didn't (and still don't) actually know what "Limited Batch" means. I mean, in a general sense, it's obvious, but how exactly were Ben and Jerry using the term? Would it be around for a month? A year? A season? Was it a test-marketing ploy, like when new things show up in some McDonald'ses but not others, then disappear, then come back months later with a different name? I went to their website to try to find a definition, but they didn't mention it at all. I did, however, find the flavor graveyard, which made me unaccountably sad (I'll always remember you, Concession Obsession!). I emailed them, telling them how much I loved the flavor, and hoped for an answer, or maybe a coupon or a free t-shirt. No response.

I have a long history with discontinued flavors. I still sometimes wake up in the night weeping for Haagen Dazs' Chocolate Chocolate Mint. So I started hoarding. Every time I saw Oatmeal Cookie Chunk I'd buy at least four pints, if they had that many. I could eat one and hide the rest in the back of the freezer. It's meant to be frozen, right? It keeps!

Sure, it keeps. Unless, of course, the entire Northeast loses power for 24 hours. I don't want to think about how many pints Boy and I ate on that long August night. I actually have a couple left; their texture is a little off from the melting and refreezing, but they're okay in the middle, and I refuse to let them go.

Which brings me back to my current quest. It's rumored that Oatmeal Cookie Chunk is back for this summer, minus the "Limited Batch" mark, but I have yet to see any with my own eyes. Then, a couple of weeks ago, Boy brought over a pint of this year's Limited Batch: Dublin Mudslide. It's Bailey's ice cream with a coffee-fudge swirl and some kind of chocolate cookie thing. Are they trying to torture me?? Patently odd flavors with gummy candy or banana ice cream are mainstays of the company, but something so perfect and simple is a limited batch?? I've been searching for more Dublin Mudslide ever since, so the stockpiling can begin, but it was nowhere to be found amid all the "diet" ice cream. It's really a problem.

Of course, there's another problem, and it seems I'm in a lose-lose situation. Because I finally found some last night, and I was so blissed out that I ate an entire pint in one sitting without quite being aware I was doing it. Maybe a freezer full of Carb Karma isn't so bad after all.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Ew

I watched like two minutes of The Swan. I don't know what I was thinking. Okay, well, yes I do, I was thinking the guy in the commercial for this week's ep who says, "It's a scalpel, not a magic wand," was funny. But the show made me physically ill. And not because of all the surgery, I didn't make it that far. The opening, with the recaps of the first two weeks, was revolting, and when one of this week's contestants said, without a trace of irony, "The Swan is going to make me a better person," I knew I had to change the channel.

Wow, whaddaya know? I do have standards!

Sunday, April 18, 2004

We come in peace. We mean no harm to or...yourpeople.

The Practice and Star Trek The Motion Picture are both on TV right now, and I'm having more fun than I probably should flipping channels and playing Old Shatner/Young Shatner.

I thought that I heard you sing...

On my subway ride home last night, a man with a guitar entered my car and started to perform. This is not unusual, of course. For instance, there's a mariachi trio that plays the 7 train pretty regularly. If I'm alone on my commute, I always have headphones on, and at first sight or sound of a busker I usually turn the music up as high as I feel I can without making my ears bleed. It's not that these guys are necessarily bad, or that I have anything against mariachi, but I hate having my personal space (already an iffy proposition on the New York subway) invaded by someone else's idea of entertainment. With a traditional street performer, I can stop and watch if I want to, or walk on by if I don't. But on the train or the platform you're trapped. It's a small, enclosed space, there's nowhere to go, and usually it's loud. I find it really intrusive. The break-dancers on the A train are the worst, followed closely by the pair of conga players (also on the A, or at least they were when I lived on that line).

But I digress. I didn't pay any attention to this guy, and I thought that maybe one of the mariachi guys had gone solo. But some music poked through my headphones, and it definitely wasn't Mexican, so I got curious and hit pause. He was singing "Losing My Religion," but he only knew two chords on the guitar. Actually, I was impressed by how well he managed to keep in tune with the vocals despite the fact that he wasn't playing anything resembling the proper accompaniment. Not that he had a good voice, mind you. In fact it was terrible. Made Michael Stipe sound opera-trained. But he managed to hit most of the notes in his weird nasal tone.

There was a monotony to the performance that wasn't just about the boring guitar and droney voice, and I realized he was skipping the chorus, just going verse to verse. I wondered if he just didn't know how to play the chorus (or rather, if he knew even less of how to play the chorus than he knew the verses), laughed quietly to myself, and turned my music back on.

When the song on my iPod ended, I heard that he was still singing "Losing My Religion!" I mean, it's not a short song as radio hits go, and he was singing it way under tempo, but he really should have been done by now. Curious, I paused again. He was doing the chorus now, along with all the verses...again. It's one of those songs that no one really knows the words to, and I realized I had no idea if he was singing the verses in the right order. I started to wonder if he was just stuck in a loop, skipping this verse, singing that one twice, never really sure what came next. It was funny and sad, and given my disdain for subway performers, oddly gratifying. No one gave him any money.

At my stop I resisted the temptation to stay put and see what he would do next, but in my imagination he's still on that train, unable to remember how the song ends, but afraid no one will give him money if he just stops. Maybe he'll use the time to learn a new chord.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Fun With Playlists #6 (April Faves)

The last Fun With Playlists was so much fun that I played it every day for two weeks and got entirely sick of it. I realized that I've not been taking advantage of one of the easiest things to do with my iPod and iTunes: I can make a playlist that I update constantly with whatever's floating my boat right now. I tend to use the automatic Purchased Music and Most Recently Added lists, but those are less fun, and this way I can delete songs as soon as I get sick of them.

I also realized this was a good blogging opportunity, as I can add to my usual TV and movie rants a handy list of what I'm listening to most every month or so. I'm curious to see what sticks around longer (already I've put some things in that I've deleted after a single listen) and what new stuff comes in. So here's the latest...

Current Faves, April '04

(Mixtape purists, please don't complain about the order here because there was no attempt to make one -- I let My Precious pick it on Shuffle.)

Safe in the City
Genocide Peroxide
Out of Fashon
-Boy George/
Taboo
Toxic - Britney Spears
Invisible
Touch
-Clay Aiken
Worry About You - Ivy
Just Like Heaven - The Cure
Novocaine for the Soul - Eels
Tainted Love (2XS Remix) - Soft Cell
Light And Day/Reach for the Sun - The Polyphonic Spree
Excess - Tricky
Somebody Help Me - Full Blown Rose
Canned Heat - Jamiroquai
El Tango De Roxanne - from
Moulin Rouge
Losing My Mind -Liza Minnelli w/ The Pet Shop Boys (thanks to K. for sending me this!)
Only You (1999 Remix) - Yaz
Working For Vacation - Cibo Matto
Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream) - Icicle Works
To You I Bestow - Mundy
Trip On Love - Abra Moore
Freakshow - Ani DiFranco
No Myth - Michael Penn
Defying Gravity
No Good Deed
-from
Wicked
Midnight Radio - Cyndi Lauper
Tear Me Down - Meat Loaf
Turn Smile Shift Repeat - Phantom Planet
Another National Anthem - from Assassins
Jump in the Line - Harry Belafonte
Gett Off
Purple Rain
-Prince
On The Tower - Sondre Lerche
Till You Die - Candy Butchers
Famine - Sinead O'Connor
No One Knows My Plan
Twisting
-The Might Be Giants
If You Were Here - Thompson Twins
If You Leave - OMD
Black Cat Bone - Laika
Big Shot - Billy Joel
She Said - Collective Soul
She Said She Said - The Beatles


In related music news, I also learned a fun trick in MacWorld (it'll work for Windows users too) -- you can make a smart playlist in iTunes of songs that are in your music library that your iPod or iTunes have never played. The play count only changes when a song plays all the way through, so unfortunately it won't count if you advance the track, but it's a great way to go through your collection and not neglect anything.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Movie Updates

I'm trying to catch up on my movies and make a dent in my impossibly long Netflix Queue. So last week I finally watched The Stepford Wives (in preparation for the remake, which I must see, since the Paul Rudnick/Nicole Kidman/Frank Oz combo is too irresistible). Okay, so maybe I'm dumb or in a pop-culture hole or something, but [spoiler]

...I really enjoyed the film, and not just in the campy way I expected. It slow to get going, as many '70s movies are, but that kind of makes the climax more exciting. You get lulled into this almost-boring pace, so that the speed with which things come unglued in the third act is as exciting and surprising as anything that happens in the story. The acting is really good, and never goes over-the-top (which would be so easy to do), and it's nice to see all these gorgeous 70s actresses who don't work much anymore. I recommend it very highly, and I also can't wait to see what Nicole does with the role.


In more recent movie news, I actually managed to get to a theater and saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I don't want to say too much about it, even spoiler-proofed, because even though it's not very twisty I think the less known going in the better (I knew very little, but one piece of perfectly innocent outside information distracted me for several minutes). But I will say that I thought it was a nearly perfect film. I loved everything about it and would be hard-pressed to find a real flaw. Everyone's talking about the screenplay, and deservedly so, but the performances are also amazing. I'm not a big fan of Jim Carrey's usual schtick (though I think he's a talented comedian, it's not to my taste) and it's so nice to see him get to really act. It's way too early, of course, but I really think he's an Oscar contender. Kate Winslet seems to be following the Helena Bonham Carter career track (chuck the ingénue routine for quirky, occasionally ugly roles and show off a kick-ass American accent) and is wonderful as well. And it's a pleasure to see Elijah Wood wearing shoes, even if I still don't buy him for one second as a heterosexual.

Go see this movie right now!

Friday, April 09, 2004

Fresh Brush My Ass (Gripe of the Week)

So I picked up this thing at the grocery store called a Fresh Brush. It's a plastic handle with a claw on the end of it, and these little cleaning pads with "Scrubbing Bubbles built right in!" that you stick into the claw. You clean your toilet with it, and then push a button to open the claw, and flush the biodegradable pad away. They claim it's a less germy alternative to a traditional toilet brush, and since I'm always at a loss for what to do after you clean the toilet (rinse the brush off in the tub faucet? then you have to clean the tub!), and I have a thing for vaguely sinister household products, I thought it would be a good idea.

Okay, first of all, the "brush" is this weird, floppy little thing (it's pretty much made of toilet paper), and since the animated bubbles with the creepy eyes don't actually pop out of it and clean my bathroom for me, it's pretty hard to scrub anything effectively. Secondly, the floppy pad is about two inches top-to-bottom, and the water in my toilet is, as I imagine it is in most everyone's, deeper than that. So the handle and the claw get submerged anyway and doesn't that defeat the purpose? I've still got a germy, toilet-water-dipped handle hanging out in my bathroom, so what was wrong with my $2 brush from Ikea?

I suppose, in the end, I should just be happy that I cleaned....

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

TV loose ends

Speaking of cancelled shows, there are still two shows from my Spring TV Preview that I haven't blogged about, and they're nothing alike, but in the interest of tying up loose ends I'll review them together. I hate to be getting so thematically repetitive, but aside from the crazy blind man, it's been a pretty uneventful couple of weeks. (Actually that's not true at all, but the only drama has been work-related and I'm not, sadly, at liberty to blog about it.)

So Century City kinda sucked. Oooh! We're lawyers! But in the future! See, it's different! Oprah Winfrey is president! We go to holo-court! We have wacky cases about penile implants and 75-year-old boy bands who still look 20! Eat your heart out, David E. Kelly!

Okay, yeah, the thing is, fight against it though I tried, I kinda loved it. The more serious cases, such as one about cloning and another about virtual rape (man puts drug in other man's drink that allows him to see, hear, smell, taste and feel everything the drugged man is, and thereby gets to have very realistic virtual sex with his girlfriend) were kinda fascinating hypotheticals. In the cloning case, the technology isn't so far off in the future, and the ethical and legal issues, while speculative, were really intriguing.

The cast was mostly terrible, but I really like the woman who runs the firm, and I'm always happy to look at Ioan Gruffuld. BD Wong and Robert Guillaume showed up from time to time as a lawyer and a judge, respectively, and they're always excellent.

The show was just inexplicably, strangely compelling. So of course it's been cancelled.

Meanwhile, I love love love (without shame) Cracking Up. It's what I want Arrested Development to be. Y'know, FUNNY. (Sorry, kids, I keep trying to get into AD and I just can't do it. I watched this week and didn't hate it, but so far that's the best I can manage.) Yes, it's a little more traditional than AD, but it does have the quirky thing down, and it tries to push how fucked up and hateful it can make its characters. The key for me is that I still believe that these people could be real, and even at their most heinous and inappropriate I kinda like them. There's something sad about them so that I feel pity instead of loathing. Funny pity, of course!

Molly Shannon is stellar, as always. I'll watch her do anything. Jason Schwartzman is disappointingly bland, but he does have the thankless role of straight man to a house full of whackos. The guy who plays his friend is more charming than he has a right to be, and I think the older son might just be a comic genius waiting to happen. Plus he's cute.

There seems to be little continuity or character development from week to week (which is a drawback), so in the interest of staying on top of my viewing I'm not taping it. I figure I'll catch up in the summer reruns. Well, or it'll get cancelled and I won't care.

That's Sir American Idol to you.

I was excited for the Elton John-themed American Idol this week, because my boy Jon Peter Lewis had done so well with "Tiny Dancer" in the semi-finals. Alas, the boy's rendition of "Rocket Man" (one of my favorite songs) was practically unbearable. Though it was gold compared to that poor girl who couldn't manage to hit a single right note in "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."

I still don't get George Huff. I thought he was dreadful. I really don't think he was on key for any of "Take Me To The Pilot" (another one of my favorite Elton numbers) but the audience and judges went wild. Every part of his appeal eludes me.

Leave it to Fantasia to steal the show again, and to find away to inject some soul into "Something About The Way You Look Tonight" (not one of my favorite Elton songs, but her version may change that).

It's sad, really, with shows being canceled left and right, Idol may be the most high-quality thing I watch these days.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Never Again

Okay, if they ever do another Average Joe I am NOT going to watch it. It's just too upsetting. What is it about being on television that turns these people into complete and total morons? You'd think that Adam, having been through it once on the other side, would have chosen the smart, sophisticated, funny, talented, caring (and none too shabby in the looks department) woman over the skanky, dumb, trashy, stupid, sketchy, idiotic, stuck-up one with the frighteningly unhealthy attachment to her gassy little rat-dog. But no. I guess the big teeth interfere with his brain somehow.

So if they do another one, that's it. I will not allow them to upset me again.

I mean, unless they bring back Tareq or something...

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Below-Average Average Joe

Part of what makes the loss of Playing it Straight so upsetting is that I'm incredibly disappointed by Average Joe: Adam Returns. It's really really boring. I can't really tell the girls apart, and I wish Adam were being a little less slutty. I mean, more power to him and all, but I wanted him to be a bit more of a traditional gentleman. (True, when a new group of "swimsuit models" was brought in, Adam went to a producer and asked that they be taken away immediately, but he's still making out with everyone.)

One thing I do like is the producers' willingness to show us how aware the women are of their situation. They found out that Adam had gotten hot and heavy on each of his dates when they all watched the finale of Average Joe: Hawaii, and saw the promo for their own show that followed it. Very clever, NBC! In a "private" conversation with "hidden" cameras, one of them wonders whether Adam is on a date with a particular girl because he really likes her or because "they told him it would be good TV," and in another, they speculate on what the twists for the show might be. In an interview, one woman said of another, "She's an aspiring actress, so I think maybe she thinks this is her way to get into the business." Another one, in her exit interview, said, "I've been dumped a lot of ways and I guess it was time for national TV." Sure, give her a personality and make me like her as she's leaving!

Well, that's really the problem. I've only really gotten a sense of two of the girls -- the Mean One and the Ugly One, both of whom I really like -- and both were sent home this week. The others so far are completely interchangeable, as far as I'm concerned. They all seem sweet, but I can't manage to care. Say what you will about the average joes, they were distinctive! Very, very distinctive! And now they tell us it's over already next week? What the hell? I wonder if that means no one's watching it and they're burning it off quickly. It just seems like NBC spent a lot of hype on a show that has no breakout personalities (including Adam, who seems to have gotten one shot and that's it), and is only running for four weeks.

Plus, in captions for individual interviews, they referred to each of the overweight guys from season one as an "Average Joe Alumni." Surely these people know that "alumni" is plural, right??

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Damn them! Damn them all to Hell!!

I suppose damning Fox to Hell is redundant, but the bastards have pulled Playing It Straight! How could they?? How can the rest of the country not see how brilliant this show is?! They could at least tell us who's who!!

What happens to the contestants when something like this occurs? Normally you can't claim your prize (or, in the case of a dating show, be seen with your new partner) until the show has finished airing, so as not to blow the ending. Kinda sucks for whoever won that million dollars, no?

This sort of thing is why I have a blog

So there's this guy I see on the 7 train from time to time. He looks sort of like Colin Powell. If Colin Powell dressed badly in unwashed clothes, wore his backpack under his jacket so he looked like some kind of weird hunchback, and were blind (which I suppose forgives the dressing badly thing). And he sounds sort of like Andy Rooney. I know this because he is often talking to himself. Usually muttering about "these people," but it's never been clear to me what he's really talking about. I say muttering but that's not accurate, because he sounds as though he's a bit hard of hearing as well as blind.

So last night he got on the train as we were sitting there in Times Square, but this time he was actually talking to someone. "I don't need your 'good deed of the day,'" he said to an older, blonde woman, loudly but not unpleasantly, "but I'll take your companionship. That I would take. Your companionship would be lovely."

The woman said something I couldn't hear, and the blind man repeated, "I'll take your companionship, but not your 'good deed.'"

The woman spoke louder, "You looked like you were going to walk into the train." (I assume she meant the side of the train, as opposed to the door.)

This set him off. "Ah, yes, well, of course it looked that way to you, because you have your sight. You have to realize that not all blind people lost their sight. I was born blind, so I don't get disoriented because I've never been able to see." A fair point, I suppose.

"Well I admire you," said the woman. "It must be very hard to get around the streets of New York. It's bad enough when you can see." I realized she had a German accent, and from her disparaging remark about my fair city I figured she must be a tourist. Poor thing, this wasn't going to help her impression of the place at all! But was she not listening?

"I don't need your admiration! You're not listening to me. Being blind doesn't make me helpless. You can't just go walking up to any blind person you see and grab us." Again, a fair point. "But like I said, I'll take your companionship." A less fair point, and was he actually hitting on her as he berated her?

"Well, I'm sorry I offended you."

And he was off again. "I knew you were going to say that. Why do you sighted people always assume you've offended me, just because I'm making an observation? Sure, I'm being critical, but I'm not offended. Your experience without your sight wouldn't be the same as mine is, so you can't just assume..." And the loop of his monologue started over again.

She moved over a couple of seats (he was standing), and he must have heard her because he asked what she was doing. "I'm moving over here," she said, "because I don't want to talk to you anymore. I said I was sorry and I wish you'd be quiet."

"But I don't want you to be sorry," he started, and went back to his script about how blind people weren't helpless and could take care of themselves and he knew exactly how to deal with the world around him.

And the German lady, my new hero, got up and walked away without making a sound.

As the man continued speechifying for a couple of minutes before breaking into a round of "Hello? Ma'am? Hello?" and everyone on the train tried hard to stifle laughter, I finally understood why I usually see him talking to no one.