Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Monday, November 8, 2021
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
Monday, November 1, 2021
I sit on the front steps with my old friend after lunch as fall, having finally gotten its shit together, blesses the afternoon with clear blue skies and a crisp breeze.
“Bubble gum?” I ask, incredulous, but he shakes his head sadly.
“No bubble gum,” he replies, and then, “All the candy seemed the same, like everybody got the same bags of regular candy from the same stores, none of the weird stuff we used to get.”
“Loose candy corn, just thrown in the bag,” he adds, almost wistfully.
Monday, October 25, 2021
The driver made a crucial error in where he's placed his GPS, because now, every time he drives right into the red outline indicating traffic jams, we can see the route he should have taken.
Beside me, Katie's fuming is threatening to burst into flame.
The increasingly erratic driver, in a move that baffles us, turns down a seemingly random Chinatown side street, and suddenly we are careening down a narrow alley lined with spherical, brightly colored paper lanterns and signs covered in flame-like letters we cannot read.
My mounting frustration is forgotten in the novelty of the view, until we end up at Canal Street, arguably the worst street to be on during rush hour traffic, and I can almost hear, from across the back seat, the sound of Katie grinding her teeth to powder.
Sunday, October 24, 2021
I stand at the sink in my underwear and fill up my and Katie's water bottles for the night, like I do every night. Turning my head, I look out the kitchen window into the darkness of the backyard, and at the glowing lights of the apartment building that looms over one side of it.
I read somewhere that if you don't have a naked neighbor, you probably ARE the naked neighbor. I turn the water off, screw the bottles tight so they don't spill in the night, and go to bed.
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
The cold air of an autumn's night claps me on the back like an old friend as I climb out of the earth from the subway.
As I'm about to round the corner, a flash of color and movement catches my eye from the street, and I turn to see a man, a Jewish man from his black orthodox-approved hat, to his white shirt, to the tzitzis hanging out over his black pants, riding on an electric scooter, much like the one I own. Strapped to the front of his scooter is a flag pole, and from this flag pole, streaming out behind him like he's going into battle, is a giant yellow flag, at least six feet long and four feet high, covered by a picture of crown surmounted by the word "MOSIACH" in all-caps.
He weaves in and out of traffic, nonchalant and triumphant, until he disappears up Flatbush and into the night.
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
She relaxes, leans back, and puts her foot up on the pole directly in front of her seat. This seems a bit uncouth, but nothing I haven’t seen before, so I continue looking around, while the man next to me, seeing the sole of her foot towards him, sighs and rolls his eyes.
Monday, October 11, 2021
At the bottom of the stairs, I shoulder the enormous bag of laundry and trudge down to the corner. I think of peasants carrying enormous bags of sticks, like on that Led Zeppelin album cover.
At the laundromat, I drop it off after receiving assurances that I can pick it up, clean and dry and folded, before the end of the day, a privilege for which I will pay dearly, and then head back home. The cloudy sky that has been threatening rain all morning begins to pour in earnest, and I wrap my flannel around me and run across the street, my size 12 Converse flapping on the rapidly wetting asphalt until I'm safely under the awning of the real estate office around the corner from my apartment, and I walk under that until I'm safely home.
Friday, October 8, 2021
I pull out my phone to type this, despite the notebook and pen in my bag.
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
The floofiest dog I've ever seen (imagine Bob Ross's halo of curls given four legs and a rambunctious personality) catches sight of me on the shoe floor, and we lock eyes, sharing a moment as you do with a random dog. He immediately stops to greet me, like a good boy, stopping his owner dead at the end of his leash as she heads toward the elevator.
But I'm the manager, so I can't inconvenience her, so in order not to impede her progress, I start walking too. The dog is totally on board with the addition to his traveling pack, and together we bound to the elevator, where his grateful owner offers me sheepish thanks while a confused dog watches as the doors close.
Monday, October 4, 2021
Sunday, October 3, 2021
Saturday, October 2, 2021
Friday, October 1, 2021
Thursday, September 30, 2021
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Friday, September 24, 2021
The subway car erupts with the wail of “Greensleeves,” but only the first verse, played at maximum volume on violin by a stringy, deeply tanned man with greasy, thinning hair.
When he reaches the end of the verse, rather than the song lifting into the soaring chorus, he simply starts over in a loop. He has some feel for music, it seems, holding certain notes longer in tension and speeding up as if tumbling down a hill in the descending phrases, but his overall ineptitude leaves the ends of notes trailing off, fraying out of tune, and the repetition begins to grate almost immediately.
His eyes are closed in (real or feigned) rapture, and the tendons on his skinny arms that protrude from the gaping sleeves of his dirty black oversized t-shirt strain with the emotion he is trying to convey through this one half-remembered phrase from an ancient song, until finally he stops for one blessed moment, before splitting the silence again with a ramshackle version of the theme from “The Godfather.”
Monday, September 20, 2021
Saturday, September 18, 2021
We leave the restaurant in that perfect state of sated and lightly tipsy, where the world has just a touch of sparkle around the edges, and you have no particular reason to say "no" to things, so you say "yes."
"Are we going the right way?" I ask, knowing we are, but wanting to see if Katie might have a better way.
"If we're going toward that we are," she replies, pointing at the multi-colored flashing lights spoking the ferris wheel a few blocks away in Little Italy.
Later, at the top of the same ferris wheel, as we look west across the island, with the crowds and noise and traffic far below us I remark, "Look, you can see America from here."
A few hours later, I learn that a co-worker's brother was shot three times in a random act of violence. He'll probably live, thank goodness, but I bet he's not worried if his life is meaningless.
Monday, September 13, 2021
Sunday, September 12, 2021
Friday, September 10, 2021
All the people who made this bridge upon which I cross the East River, the train, the clothes I wear, the shoes on my sore, weary feet, the music I pipe into my tired ears: none of them are on this train, but maybe I can let the people on this train stand in for the ones who have given something of themselves toward my comfort and pleasure. Maybe that’s how I puncture the swollen blister of my resentment I made at work today.
A very small girl with pigtails sitting in a stroller grins a messy grin around a half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and shakes her head in amused annoyance at something her daddy just said to her, and I guess that will have to be enough.
Thursday, September 9, 2021
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Monday, September 6, 2021
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Monday, August 30, 2021
The icy anxiety I've been carrying around in my solar plexus hasn't dissipated by the time it's time to leave for work, but since time only goes in one direction, there's nothing for it but to go. The cat still lies in the middle of the hallway, drunk on the phenobarbital the vet prescribed to control what she thought were seizures brought on by a brain tumor, though we have our doubts how well it's working.
I sit down next to her and pet her, and she gives a complaining mowr that stabs me right in the heart, but I get up and head out the door anyway. I lock the door behind me against her low yowl of protest, and go down the stairs, worried and sad and trying not to show it.
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Sunday, August 22, 2021
Friday, August 20, 2021
The walk home from the train hasn’t changed, even with a pandemic. Sure, some of the businesses have closed but the sky still looks the same, the streets still quiet and lined with brownstones.
I look up at one of the three churches I pass on the way, and I see, nestled in the crook of the steeple that the airplane knocked the cross off of back in the 60s, a single tree, incongruous and defiant. It is so far above the ground, and I have no idea how it grows or what keeps it up there.
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
Monday, August 16, 2021
I feel a small surge of annoyance and resentment when the guy sits next to me on the bench outside the vet's office and takes off his mask, even if he is downwind, and I instinctively pull the pet carrier in my lap a little closer. My cat, disturbed by the movement, yowls her disapproval despite her lethargy, attracting the attention of the man's dog, who shoves his nose into my crotch underneath the carrier before being dragged off by the maskless man.
A few minutes later, the nurse comes to the door and, after a few questions about why we're here, takes the carrier from me. She quickly disappears into the dimness of the vet's office, and I am left, standing on the sidewalk outside, my hands empty.
Sunday, August 15, 2021
Thursday, August 12, 2021
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Sunday, August 8, 2021
"So, now that you know which of these shoes is more dressy, and which is more everyday, you need to ask yourself: how important is being dressy?" I tell her.
"Not very," she admits.
"Then get the brown ones," I say authoritatively, and she nods, like of course.
When we're at the checkout, she hands me a Kind Bar (the one that's all chocolate and nuts), and says, "Because you made it easy, and you were kind."
Friday, August 6, 2021
Thursday, August 5, 2021
Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Monday, August 2, 2021
A shoe was a little dirty so I ask a co-worker if I should take it out of circulation. She tells me to put it back on the shelf and then asks about the customer who pointed out the (very small) dirt spot, “What was she?”
I give her a look and she adds, “It's okay, I’m not trying to pull the race card!”
“Nah," I say, shaking my head, "don’t ask a white man questions like that - we’re in enough trouble as it is!”
Sunday, August 1, 2021
Saturday, July 31, 2021
"Yeah, I'm pretty much done," he says after I ask him how the straightening up of the displays is going.
I already checked, of course, and he's nowhere near done, but rather than say that, I just say, "Cool! Let's go meet by the far wall and go through it together."
And he doesn't say, "Oh, wait, let me check that," or "Was I supposed to do that too?" (which I would have accepted as self-preservation, even though it's still a little sneaky), but just meets me where I said, where I proceed to show him all of the things that still need doing, to which he responds with slow, sullen indifference.
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Sunday, July 25, 2021
Saturday, July 24, 2021
Friday, July 23, 2021
"My mom said, 'We can't buy a shoe after the store closes!' But I work in retail too, and I said I'm pretty sure they're not going to kick us out," she says, sliding her card back in to her wallet.
I hold my tongue from saying, "So you know better," and instead just say, "Hmmm. Well, thank you, and good night."
Thursday, July 22, 2021
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
I added up the amount of time I spent on the phone with the IRS today, and it worked out to a little over three-and-a-half hours. While I was on hold, I thought about all the things I could be doing: reading a book, making a song, writing something (I keep thinking about writing the response to obituary I wrote for my father, something that more clearly shows the relationship we had, but I haven't written it yet) - but I was glad to just stay on hold, listening to the banal hold music which only exists to obscure the passage of time with its repetition. Something about a task where my only obligation was to stay with it, to not hang up, was comforting. I didn't have to do anything, I only had to not give up, to stay on the line, to be ready to say, "Hi!" when the person on the other end decided to interrupt the musical purgatory I was in and actually do some work.
Saturday, July 17, 2021
It's the day after I arrive home from helping my family after my dad died. I'm undressing to get in the shower, lifting my shirt over my head, when my hand knocks the glass globe covering the bathroom light off of its mounting.
I almost catch it before it bounces on the toilet and into the already occupied shower, where it shatters into thousand little pieces with a crash. I stand there, dumbstruck, trying to figure out what to address first: the razor shards of glass threatening my beloved's feet, or the blood welling from the cuts on my hands from where I tried to catch the damn thing.
Sunday, July 11, 2021
The fluffy white dog with whom I made a love connection at a distance on the shoe floor, lo and behold, is now up here on the fifth floor of my store.
Never one to miss an opportunity, I ask, politely, "Can I say hi to your dog?"
The dog, however, is already on his way to me, tail wagging and ears back.
"He just got groomed," his owner says, with only the faintest hint of impatience, as if she knows that she is only an accessory to this beautiful creature, and not the other way around, and indeed, Dandy (for that is his name, she informs me) has been groomed, because he is the softest thing on this earth, and when he curls up at my feet, I know that I am truly blessed.
Saturday, July 10, 2021
The delivery guy, like us, has figured out that the sky is about to totally open up, and he's struggling to drag his bike into the restaurant while talking in rapid, clipped Chinese into his phone.
I grab the door to help him out and he flashes me a grateful thumbs up, without stopping, or indeed even slowing, his conversation.
"Looks like it's starting to rain," I announce in a big midwestern voice to the woman packing up our food behind the counter, and she grabs a plastic bag in which to put the paper bag full of vegetarian hunan chicken and spareribs.
"Stay dry," Katie calls over her shoulder as we dash into the increasingly swift descending rain.
Thursday, July 8, 2021
Wednesday, July 7, 2021
Monday, July 5, 2021
Thursday, July 1, 2021
Wednesday, June 30, 2021
At first it looks like it’s a regular park, filled with trees.
Upon closer examination, however, the weirdness starts to assert itself: thick, smooth, gray trunks are shoved into the ground like elephant legs, with long, heavy, seemingly impossible branches connecting each trunk sprawling everywhere across the park, until finally you realize that what you’re looking at isn’t a grove of trees in a park, at all.
It’s one single tree.
We sit on the bench beneath it, eating ice cream and listening to the park’s nighttime denizens blast their music and disagree about things we don’t entirely understand.
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
The light from Venus setting in the west lays a faint silvery trail across the ocean, while above, the stars that New York City lights have hidden from us begin to peek out timidly, then more boldly, until they glitter all over the sky.
We stand patiently on the packed sand, counting the waves as they roll in from across the Pacific, until they sweep up over our feet, and the water is so much warmer than we thought it would be.
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Monday, June 21, 2021
"Yeah, the Saudi Royal family is downstairs spending, like, twenty-thousand dollars," the woman says as she pulls box after box of shoes from the shelves to show them.
"Oh, the same Saudis that ordered the murder of that journalist?" I mutter, half to myself, but she overhears and laughs this hard, bitter laugh.
"Yeah, I'm Arab, and let me tell you, I hear you," she says with a smile sharp enough to break glass. "I'm gonna make commission!" she adds, pulling yet another pair of shoes with a look of grim determination.
Saturday, June 19, 2021
Friday, June 18, 2021
Thursday, June 17, 2021
Monday, June 14, 2021
Saturday, June 12, 2021
Friday, June 11, 2021
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Monday, June 7, 2021
Sunday, June 6, 2021
Guy rummages through the rustling plastic bags and trash with which he's filled his backpack until finally, at the peak of his frenzy, he announces, "Shit!" loudly enough for the entire train to turn his direction, then punches the bench next to him hard, making a resounding crack.
He catches a woman a few seats down watching him and this enrages him for some reason. "What?" he demands, ready for an attack, an argument, a fight, hoping for someone upon whom to vent his rage.
She shakes her head then looks away, and he contents himself with muttering "Shit," over and over under his breath in a disappointed voice.
Saturday, June 5, 2021
Friday, June 4, 2021
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Monday, May 31, 2021
Note: Katie’s feelings of loathing and disdain for Woodrow Wilson are well known.
“I always get irritated when people get Memorial Day wrong by thanking veterans for their service - that’s Veteran’s Day!” I tell Katie as she works in her studio.
“Also, you know how Woodrow Wilson was instrumental in establishing Veteran’s Day?” I ask mischievously.
“Would you like to wind me up, or should I just do it myself?” Katie asks, after doing a slow take at the mere mention of his name.
Saturday, May 29, 2021
Friday, May 28, 2021
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
The fluorescent lights don't hum, and as far as I know I don't have a "brain cloud," but the lunchroom at work is definitely getting to me. I'm sitting at my usual table, having finished my usual lunch (microwaved pesto tortellini, which is honestly pretty delicious), about to read a little in the book I'm currently reading (Italo Calvino's The Baron in The Trees - have I read it before? I don't remember any of the plot, but maybe? Why wouldn't I have? I've read everything else by him) and I'm so tired, just so wiped out, that when the thought occurs to me that I maybe should go outside to the park in the [checks clock] forty-five minutes I have left to me before I have to go back out on that floor and sell another shoe, I feel actual resentment, toward myself, for even suggesting that I exert myself on my own behalf.
Which means, of course, that I have to do it.
I haul myself to my feet, trudge down the hall to the exit, and climb the seemingly endless flights of stairs required to actually exit the building to the street, where, with each step, I find my tread growing lighter, my vision clearer, my breaths deeper, until I arrive in the park and lay on the grass, and the weight that I have been unknowingly carrying around is laid to rest on the earth, and I stare up into the trees and watch the wind spin and shake the leaves while pigeons mill around trying to get laid, and the clip-clip-clop-clip-clip-clop of the carriage horses sounds like techno beats fading in and out, and then I smile.
Monday, May 24, 2021
Saturday, May 22, 2021
Friday, May 21, 2021
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Trash on the floor of the stockroom, don't stop, gotta get back on the floor, gotta sell, doesn't matter, nobody cares, just leave it, already past it: stop.
Out loud, "Goddamit."
I turn around, walk the five paces back to the spot, reach down, pick it up, throw the trash in the bin.
It's never automatic; every time I have to choose.
The mask of white spreading down from eyes to muzzle makes the dog look old and worried, and his owner, herself in mask and turban, with a gray sweatshirt that announces in all block-caps “CANCER CHEMO YEAH IT SUCKS”, seems to have worries of her own. We speak briefly, long enough for me to greet her dog with outstretched knuckles before wishing her the best and dashing off to sell another woman shoes.
Later, a DJ begins spinning in an effort to give Saturday’s mad shopping rush a party atmosphere, but the initial volume is too high, and an assault of pop music rumbles and shrieks through the store, drowning out conversation and rational thought. Shoppers and salespeople alike grimace and shake their heads, shouting to be heard above the din, while the dog sits next to his person on the couch, head buried in her side as she pats his back consolingly.
Saturday, May 15, 2021
Thursday, May 13, 2021
"The CDC says we don't need masks inside anymore," my co-worker says, his eyes wide. "NBA finals coming up, graduations coming up, they're gonna do this now?"
Later, riding the train home, I find myself eyeing my fellow commuters warily, wondering: if they've heard the news, if they've been vaccinated, if anyone might be brave (or foolish) enough to take their mask down, or sit next to a stranger - but nothing seems to have changed. We all ignore each other, sit with empty seats between us, keep our masks up, as if we're not all going to have to adjust to another "normal" yet again, one where we have to decide who to trust, with no simple rules, and nothing certain.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
I grab the bananas from the shopping basket to weigh them, and discover the tip of one of them has gone black and split, with a stringy, sunken texture and a few tiny patches of off-white fuzz.
I look at it, then at the woman helping with the self-checkout area, who is looking at me. "I think I'm gonna get some better ones," I say, and she gives a sort of shrugging nod.
I leave the remainder of my groceries and walk back to the produce aisle with a strangely proud feeling, like I somehow stood up for myself, even though I didn't do anything out of the ordinary.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
"We party like Post Malone," I sing the refrain of the pop song as I'm undressing for bed.
"You know, he wanted to touch a dybbuk," Katie says [ed. note: a DYBBUK is a creature from Jewish folklore believed to be the unquiet soul of a malicious dead person], "but he freaked out so his friend did it, and then something bad happened to both of them."
"Well, like I always say, those things can only hurt you if you believe in them," I reply primly.
"Just like bitcoin!" she adds.
Monday, May 10, 2021
I'm standing under the construction scaffolding, trying to get my umbrella to work, when the top of it just pops right of, and I'm left standing holding a metal stick and a spindly, deflated orange umbrella top that looks like a dead bat.
"Got your umbrella?" a co-worker asks as she passes by me into the rain. She's not being mean, just making a joke, but I resent her a little anyway.
"Sort of the opposite of an umbrella, but yeah," I reply as I attempt to get the two pieces reattached.
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Monday, May 3, 2021
Sunday, May 2, 2021
Saturday, May 1, 2021
Thursday, April 29, 2021
The CDC has advised us that it's okay to be outside without a mask on, so tonight, on the way home from work, I decide to lower my mask while walking from the subway stop on Flatbush to my home.
I smell the wet air from today's earlier rainstorm, and the scent of clean sidewalks; the trees all seem to be breathing fresh oxygen just for me, and the caress of their exhalations is gentle on my cheeks, like a soft kiss.
Then I spot, coming up the street toward me, a couple of people, one of whom is wearing a mask, and I begin to feel uncomfortable. By the time they reach me, my mask is firmly back in place, and I give them a wide berth as I pass.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
The customer service rep at the bank is busy, so we sit playing on our phones in the sun by the floor-to-ceiling windows on large bolsters the same green as the corporate logo. The lady security guard stares past us with a practiced expression that leaves some doubt as to whether or not she is eyeing us suspiciously, but after a while we just ignore her.
Another customer comes into the bank and is directed to have a seat, and, instead of finding a spot literally anywhere else in the rather sizable lobby, she comes and sits down on another corporate green bolster mere inches from where I'm sitting.
"So much for social distancing," Katie says with a wry grin as I sigh and move away from the woman's offending back.
Monday, April 26, 2021
Thursday, April 22, 2021
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
My friend at work, a black woman, needs to go home - it's the end of her shift, she opened, and it's been a long week - but this woman she's helping isn't being very nice. She wants a different shoe, a better shoe, this one hurts, that one's too expensive, she hates the look of this one - so when my friend asks me to take over, I do so gladly.
I am, once again, completely non-reactive to her emotional shenanigans, and once she sees she's getting no reaction, she settles down, and we have a fine interaction. It may be in part due to my not playing her game, but I suspect it also has to do with my being a man, and women sometimes treat other women badly because they can get away with it.
Monday, April 19, 2021
Sunday, April 18, 2021
Friday, April 16, 2021
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
I drop off the van and walk home, leaving behind the grittier environs around the U-Haul place and strolling through the brownstones of Park Slope. Golden light from the setting sun illuminates the buildings and the blooming cherry and magnolia trees.
A woman walks by going in the opposite direction from me, wearing a t-shirt with a old-looking picture of a young woman on it and a range of years under the picture.
I pickup an old square nail, rusty and bent, from off the ground, and carry it home with me, tossing it in the air to feel its weight and flipping it from hand to hand to feel the texture of the rough rust on my palms.
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Sunday, April 11, 2021
After the doors on the train open and close for the fourth time and we continue to sit in the station, people really start to get wise to the fact that something is going wrong, and the guy sitting across from me starts to mutter and curse, his apparently already bad mood threatening to sour into something more generally poisonous.
Take it easy man, no need to take it personally, I think, sort of to him, but mostly to myself.
"Don't worry, it happens to me too, man," a skinny white guy says with a resigned smile to the angry fellow. "That means it's not personal."
Saturday, April 10, 2021
Friday, April 9, 2021
Thursday, April 8, 2021
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Sunday, April 4, 2021
Saturday, April 3, 2021
My knee gives a small, sharp complaint with every step as we walk a few blocks to pick up a mid-century modern coffee table we've been gifted, but I ignore its protests and continue explaining this morning's existential musings.
"So I don't believe in reincarnation, but someday these cells will be a part of somebody or something that achieves consciousness, and I'll have to go through all of it again, all of the suffering of growing up and growing old, and that just sounds awful," I tell her.
"Yeah, everybody will, but you won't remember, and you're pretty happy now, aren't you?" Katie asks.
After a pause, I say, "That's a good point."
Friday, April 2, 2021
I press my hand against the cold window to feel an intimation of the outside air. After a week of balmy spring sunshine and not-too-cold rainy days, the temperature crashing feels like someone pulling the rug out from under us.
"Will my plant be okay?" Katie asks, looking at a delicate trailing one hanging in the window. After a moment's consideration, I take it from its hook and place it on the table, before Katie (with a look of concern) lifts it from the table and hangs it on another hook far enough from the front window to be safe from the cold, where its tendrils are free to dangle in peace.
Thursday, April 1, 2021
On screen, an enormous nuclear-powered dinosaur trades blows with an enormous, ax-wielding ape across the cityscape of Hong Kong while Katie and I eat sushi (in honor of the lizard’s homeland) and drink banana-based cocktails (in honor of the ape).
The architectural carnage (not to mention the actual carnage, which must be substantial, but is hardly ever shown) is catastrophic - buildings are used as weapons, as backstops from which devastating attacks are launched, as objects against which one’s opponent is smooshed.
As yet another neighborhood is demolished, I say matter-of-factly, “The global economy must be in shambles.
“I was thinking the exact same thing!” Katie exclaims, while in on screen Hong Kong, the power inexplicably stays on.