Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Just a Quickie

Ha! Y'all have dirty minds, ya know that?!?


Just a quick update, as things have been moving VERY rapidly here. Mom came by this past weekend to help with the stair demo and reconstruction. We got all the old stairs & risers out - from the top down, natch - by Saturday mid-afternoon...effectively barring us from the second storey until the NEW stairs were in! There weren't any unpleasant surprises, luckily; a few places where the stringer was cracked, but those were easily repaired with add-on patches of plywood. We took a trip to Lowe's for necessities, and it was probably the WORST experience there I've ever had. Despite eventually getting everything we were seeking (including an early-birthday present for me, in the form of a DeWalt table saw!), the "helpful staff" at the store were nothing of the kind. Y'know the only thing worse than not getting ANY help at a store? Getting the kind of help where the staffer kind of goes "Ummmm...uhhhhh..." and either has no idea what it is you're looking for, or else just pokes around the same shelf YOU'VE been poking around on and brilliantly decides "I guess we don't carry that!" No SHIT, numb-nuts!

So, the end of Saturday was spent arranging all our tools and prepping for an early Sunday morning. Using the old landing as a pattern we spend the morning reconfiguring the bottom-most step, and then just started an assembly-line production of riser, tread, riser, tread. Mom left in the early afternoon, and I buckled down until dark, finally putting my toys away only four stairs from the top. Exhausting work, but MAN! do those new oak stairs look better than the shitty old ones!

I had to start my class on Monday, but arrived home to basically finish the job. It has been too hot here to sleep upstairs, even with the AC on, so Tess & I have stayed with camping out on the futon. The carpet installer came today, so Roslyn's room is all cozy with it's new berber flooring, and we're really moving stuff in now.

Which is GOOD, because the Docs think Miss Tessmacher is measuring a little "small" at only 33 inches in her 36th week, and they've put her on twice-weekly visits to the obstetrician. I personally think that TESS HERSELF IS PRETTY SMALL, and a tiny baby that is fully developed is better than some gargantuan monstrosity...but, nobody ever asks me. The upshot is, they'd prefer to see her start to labor sooner rather than later, and since we're technically at-term here in the middle of the 37th week, I guess that works for me. Bring on the baby, baby!

I'm back to grading and scrambling to get things done, so the posts may be few and far between over the next couple of weeks. Who knows? The next one might be from POPPA Animal! Sweet.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cult of Personality

Just finished putting the first coat of paint on the ceiling & walls of the stairway. Things are gettin' done fast! The new stairs come this weekend...hopefully with no unexpected snags. While I've been painting in solitude, I've been thinking about Roz, wondering all the things that new parents must wonder: who she'll look like, who she'll act like...

That uncertainty about her personality made me start to think about my OWN sense of self, of being, of "who I am" and who I identify with. And really, I'm not talking about the genetic sense of things. I like to make lists: that's my dad. I like to shout at bad drivers (practically everyone, then): that's my mom. No, I mean the personality traits I've picked up by choice, by identifying with a certain character in a movie or book. When I look back on these characters, the ones with whom I identify the most, I notice a trend: they're all outsiders. More specifically, they're all outsiders who either 1) don't MIND being "freaks," or 2) they're freaks who find a way to stay that way but to remain charming and eccentrically accepted. In almost every case, they end up with the "good girl." Let's take a look, shall we?

Charles Cummings, from No Small Affair. Jon Cryer is one of those guys who is so similar to someone else (in this case, Matthew Broderick) that you don't really need them both. (Think Laura Dern and Helen Hunt...don't NEED 'em both!) Sadly, I think Jon Cryer got the short end of the "fame" stick in this case, because this early film is pretty brilliant. Charles is a total weirdo who is obsessed with taking photos (getting caught at school shooting...flies?) who finds himself in this totally hot relationship with Demi Moore. After she convinces him that he's "got it goin' on" and pops his cherry, he finally figures out that hottie classmate Mona (played to perfection by Jennifer Tilly) has been pining for him all along. That's WAY too short of a synopsis, but that's not my point here; rather, I just like the way Charles (who GOES by Charles, never "Chuck" or "Charlie") is completely unimpressed with the world around him, and so goes about his day in the manner he sees fit, with nary a though of what others might think. Good way to live, eh?

Randy from Valley Girl. This was the first thing I remember seeing Nic Cage in, and I loved his punk-ass outsider stance. When I was in high school, THIS is who I wanted to be, and (hairdo notwithstanding) I really tried to imitate him. He's the classic outsider, who seems unafraid to exist outside the "norm," but still wants the insider girl. This pretty much sums me up: I've always cultivated this quasi-metal head, freakazoid exterior, all while chasing after the totally smart, pretty girls who represented high-class ideals. When I took my girlfriend - the valedictorian! - to prom, I really felt like I'd made it.

Prince from both Purple Rain and Under the Cherry Moon. Ahhh, the mid-80s, when Prince was both establishement pop and a bad boy, all rolled up into one. I watched Purple Rain incessantly when it was on HBO, and I loved that even the casual Prince seemed to always dress in these coolly outrageous clothes. (See An Evening With Kevin Smith for the truth about Prince's dressing habits!) I loved the way Prince seduced his women; when I got to college, I "decorated" my dorm room with these little crystals that I hung from the ceiling, and lots of candles, and I had a bunch of CDs consisting of what can only be described as my "fuck music." I always remembered when Apollonia first went into Prince's bedroom, and I thought THAT was what turned women on! (Hoo-boy!) Years after the fact, I wonder how the women who were lured into my sex-den remember our encounters. (*shiver!*) I even bought into Prince's roughness, the way he slapped his bitches around...I thought I needed to be that kind of a "tough guy." When I discovered by prom-date girlfriend hanging out with her ex, I threw a Coke bottle at her (back in the days when they were nothing BUT glass!). It missed (intentionally, I think) but exploded on the brick fireplace behind her. Yikes! I've since learned that cool guys don't smack their wimmen around. Luckily.

Derek from Back to School. Okay, obviously I wasn't watching a lot of high-class movies back in the day.'s yet ANOTHER example of the total whack-mobile living completely unconcerned with what anyone else thinks of him. Robert Downey Jr. is the supporting roommate to main character Jason Melon, but Downey steals every scene he's in. He's one of those guys who completely seems to live his characters, so much so that even many years and films later I still find myself trying to be more like his characters. Not so much the real guy.

Bert from If You Could See What I Hear. Gettin' a little more obscure here, but this was another HBO fave that I couldn't stop watching. Sadly, it's now relegated to the "way too expensive" bin on eBay, having only seen one release back when VHS was new. The main character is Tom Sullivan, a blind singer played by...well, Marc Singer. a-HEH. I like his character too, but really it's his supporting roommate (again!) Bert, played by (thank you IMDb!) Harvey Atkin who I remember imitating. His cool demeanor and complete irreverence for being pulled over while drunk ("G-Man! Be casual!") thrilled the early-teenage me.

Anything with John Cusack. Remember playing that game? Y'know, "If a movie was made of your life, who would play you?" John Cusack would play me. Not because we look alike, but because his movie characters embody everything that I tried to be in my formative teenage years...and, frankly, beyond. From his great stolen scenes as nerd-o-rama in Sixteen Candles to the out-of-luck Lane Meyer in Better Off Dead ("I want my two dollars!") to the trenchcoat-clad romantic Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything...yes, even to midlife-crisis misfit Craig Schwartz in Being John Malkovich, John Cusack rocks my world. His characters always seem to embody a certain aloof outsiderness, while remaining edgy and hip besides. High Fidelity? Fuhgeddaboutit! That's totally me: not in the specific, understand, but his obsession with reorganizing his LPs and visiting all his ex-girlfriends to see why they broke up...yeah. Me. (*sigh*)

So, that's just a sample of who I looked up to, and who I tried to emulate as a teenager searching out his own identity. While I've never been as edgy or outsider-y as these characters were, still, I worked hard on that image. I can only hope that Paris Hilton is FINALLY out of flavor when Roz starts looking around for HER character idols!

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Home Stretch

Here at Chez Harding/Miller, we're getting close to the the end of several important milestones. I particularly enjoy that feeling of impending completion, even as I sometimes wonder what I will do once my current activity or situation reaches an end. Endings, beginnings, endings, beginnings...

Almost B-Day: No, that doesn't mean it's almost MY birthday (although in fact it is), but rather it's almost ROSLYN'S birthday. Today is the beginning of week 36, with an "official" due date of 4 weeks from today. W-O-W. Even as I kind of feel like Tess has been pregnant "forever," I look back now and realize that my perception of time is that it has passed VERY quickly. Some things still need to be done: carpet in her room (on order, just waiting for an installation date), carseat installed in Dr. Miller's auto (currently in the basement, waiting for me to get around to it), bags to be packed for the hospital (including Tess' "focusing items" for late labor). In some ways it's scary to consider that, beginning today, if Tess went into labor the Docs wouldn't try to stop it. I guess that means we could conceivably have a baby by this time Wednesday...although I've been cajoling Roz to stay put, dammit! This is usually being said late in the evening, when we're laying in bed (Tess not so well these days), poking around trying to find little hard spots in her belly, then pressing gently. We're usually given a kick or some sort of responding pressure. That's fun.

Finishing Touches on Stairway: This one really boggles my mind, as I usually think of renovation as being a summer-long project. But, the crown moulding went up on Saturday, and today's project involves 1) sanding the rest of the doorway trim to a uniform surface, 2) erasing uneven trim gaps with Elasto-Patch, and 3) painting the trim. Yes, that's right, I used the word "paint" there. As in, "the final thing you do in a room." Tomorrow will be trim paint coat #2, then Wednesday and Thursday I can do double-duty on the ceiling and walls. Friday is a catch-up day, and also the day to install the permanent light fixtures. I've arranged for Mom to come over this weekend, and we'll (wait for it...) tackle the stairs themselves. A quick, masterful re-do, perhaps in only 3 weeks' time. Yeah, baby!

Class Starts Next Week: I've taught music appreciation in the summer for...(thinking)...going on the 4th year now. I enjoy teaching music appreesh classes GENERALLY, although I was stuck for a couple of years doing the ginormous 300-seat regular semester class, and that had challenges I didn't care for. Lately I've just done this 20-seat summer session or the Honors section, and those are both fine. I'm not crazy about our book - the Kamien, which is pretty much the same as all the OTHER books out there. I'm not sure what I'd do to replace these dull texts, with their glossy photos and monotonous listening guides. In my jazz history classes I've eschewed a text entirely, relying on class lecture and the far-more-reasonably-priced Ken Burns "Jazz" box set of CDs. But for general Western music appreesh? I dunno...I sometimes just feel like using the text becomes a little "rote," like I'm using a book because that's what you do. ANYWAY. That starts next Monday, which brings to a close my first big chunk of summer break. Once that class is done...we'll have a baby! And then things can finally, FINALLY calm down for me! Those of you with children who just dropped out of your chairs with laughter at that statement: shut the hell up! I don't want to hear about it! I'm sure I'll find out on my own how wrong I the meantime, I'll just take solace in the thought that caring for my newborn and her healing mother must - MUST! - be easier than renovation. Right? RIGHT?!?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Photo Update

Whew! I've been cleaning like crazy today...because, you see, Miss Tessmacher is coming home!! That's a BIG sigh of relief you just heard from me. Do I enjoy time spent alone? Sure...y'know, I'm an only child and all, so I'm pretty comfortable with "by myself" time. Does the house seem empty and not quite as much like "home" when the good Doctor is missing? OH yeah! So, in preparation for her arrival, I've been cleaning up any last remnants of dust that might have filtered through the house. She was worried about her blood lead levels, and when we saw the obste....obstitri...fuck, the PREGNANCY DOCTOR last week, Tess got tested. (Tess-ted?) Anyway, her levels were fine, which prompts ANOTHER big sigh of relief. Maybe when Tess gets home, I'll present her with this lovely rose that survived the winter:

This was a potted plant that was gifted to Tess by one of her students; we plopped it in the ground, covered it with one of those...styrofoam covers, and waited to see if it would survive. It did, although, strangely, it came up red instead of its previous pink. Anyway. Or, I could present her with THIS, my crowning glory, growing right next to the rose:

MWAHAHAHAHAHA! The Dracunculus finally opened! What you're looking at is a flower in the 24-inch range, atop a hefty 3-ft. tall stalk. YESSSSSS. Just a few short hours later, it looked like this:

If you click on the image to see if full-size, you'll notice that it's surrounded by nasty flies. The stench was so powerful, I could smell "rotting corpse" from our deck, 40 feet away. I just LOVE these things. If you buy them, get 'em from Brecks; all of the ones I bought eventually came up, although a few took a year or two to establish themselves.

Work on the stairway has been progressing, althought I always end the day feeling like I didn't accomplish as much as I'd hoped to. Still, I need to remember that it was only two weeks ago that I first took putty knife to wallpaper, and yesterday I spread around some primer and put the first coat of polyeurethane on the beadboard wall. Here's the wall at the end of stripping:

and, here it is the next day with a coat of finish.

And, HERE is a prime example of why we ALWAYS want to wear safety glasses:

All that smuck on the lenses resulted from an errant piece of stripper-soaked steel wool that went flying out of my hands. Little blobs of Zip-Strip landed on my bare skin, and as I was hurriedly wiping them away I noticed that my vision was fogged. Uh...or, not. Turns out that a couple of blobs *splorped!* onto my glasses...thank the stars I was WEARING glasses! Tess always ribs me about them, referring to them as "Birth Control Glasses", seeing as no one would EVER want to do the nasty with someone wearing these. (All evidence to the contrary...har-har!) But, while an eyepatch might look sexy on Patch (Od's blood, I can't believe I just admitted I watched Days in the late 80s!) or Snake Pliskin (not much better!), in real life I'll take my steely-blues any day. Hey, I haven't almost reached 40 with 20-20 vision just to screw it all up with THIS kind of an accident!

Here's a parting shot which serves as a pretty good summary of my life right now: on the left, you'll see a pile of baby shit. Well...not a LITERAL pile of shit! THAT will come in a few weeks! No, I mean a pile of baby STUFF. Ahem. And, holding center court, is a neat stack of our new oak stairs and risers. Remember a few posts ago, I said that our "stairs" really weren't at all, they're just 1x slabs of pine? Well, THESE babies are the real deal! Hey, maybe we'll manage to eliminate all the sqeaks! THAT would be a nice added bonus! Enjoy.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Remodeling Woes & Wins

5 Things I Hate About Renovation

1) Rough wiring. I've done plenty of this, both at my home and my mother's. Finish wiring is easy: it's clean, neat, and logical: strip wires, hook 'em up (to a switch, or an outlet, or each other to carry power onward...), and let 'er go. Electricity, baby! Rough wiring, though, is usually done in a cramped location, where there might be spiders (like crawl spaces) or it's a million fucking degrees AND there might be spiders (like the attic). Rough wiring means having to hammer little wire staples where there isn't enough room, resulting in smashed thumbs and uttered curses. It means thinking REALLY CAREFULLY about where the power comes from, and how to carry it on to whatever comes next down the line. Cheaper than hiring an electrician? Most certainly. Fun? Not by any sense of the word.

2) Cleaning up. I'm good at making messes, but I despise cleaning up. Whether this means washing down, or vacuuming up, or scraping off...cleanup sucks.

3) The several-hour "one last thing" project. We had nearly completed wiring for the day (See #1 above), it was getting dark and I was tired & crabby. We just had to replace the ancient wires to the medicine cabinet and we were good to go. Or...not. We discovered we had to take the entire fucking cabinet off the wall, creating a mess where there WASN'T one before (See #2 above), only to find an absolute cluster-fuck of wiring behind the cabinet, with a huge glop of wires held together with (I kid you not) Scotch tape. D'oh! What SHOULD have taken maybe a half-hour ended up taking another two solid hours, working by trouble-light because - you guessed it! - there WASN'T any other light! Shit. Beware the words "Oh, I'll just do this one more thing!" You've sold your soul, baby.

4) Wearing a dust mask. When I first took hammer to plaster in my mom's house, neither of us wore a dust mask. Didn't know we SHOULD! I blew black snot for days. Now I wear one pretty much all the time, especially since I have a habit of holding my mouth wide open when working over my head. Saving my lungs? Hopefully. Breathing my own stale breath while fogging up my safety glasses? Definitely.

5) Underappreciation. This is definitely an ego-trip thing, but I wilt inside every time someone takes in all my hard work in a disinterested glance and tosses off a casual "Looks great! Um...where's the wine?" I know that the only folks who can REALLY appreciate my renovation skillz are people who have DONE similar work themselves, and from them I get a good ego stroke. But, people who live in relatively new houses and don't have the first clue what I mean when I say "I'm gonna re-do the stairway!" are killin' me.

5 Things I Love About Renovation

1) Ordering fancy shit. I tend not to be much of a "decorator" in the Martha Stewart sense. I don't do fancy paint jobs, like using sponges or textures or whatever. My decorating sense comes from the little extras, like cast pewter switch plates and cool light fixtures. I love placing an order from Van Dyke's or Rejuvenation Lighting and having that package show up a few weeks later...looking at what's inside, and imagining the item(s) gracing a newly-recovered room.

2) Painting. This is usually the last thing that gets done on a room, so there's that. But, I'm a pretty good painter, and I enjoy the challenge of cutting in around trim without using that blue tape. Don't use the tape. It just leaves a ragged edge when you peel it away...or, if you're really unlucky, the paint has seeped under it despite your best intentions.. Buy yourself a quality 2" angled brush and learn how to cut accurately.

3) Making really good inside corners. This relates to using my beloved Dap Patching Plaster, or, if you're doing new construction, drywall compound. I'm a bitch on straight seams and vertical walls, but corners I hate. I wonder if ANYONE does inside corners really well? Anyway, after multiple times of swiping that corner tool down the corner, I love the look of a relatively decent and smooth finished product. I have to remember to walk away, though, and NOT give in to the temptation to try to iron out every microscopic imperfection. (See #5 above as to why this isn't necessary.)

4) Being sore & exhausted at the end of the day. Sometimes - and here I'm thinking of my current project! - you don't really feel like you accomplished much. You KNOW you worked from the mid-morning until well after supper, but you look back and think "Geez, I didn't do much today!" Well, when I settle in for the night's movie and notice that the only way to get rid of my aches & pains is to wash down a couple of Motrin with my second glass of wine, and I fall asleep during a movie I haven't seen before...THEN I know that I did in fact put in a worthwhile day's work.

5) Living in the new room. Sure, the renovation is a challenge, but it's not one I need a "fix" for all the time. I'm not very competitive by nature, so for me it's not the CHALLENGE so much as the COMPLETION of the task. Granted, there does always seem to be another room to do, but for me the big thrill is just gettin' the damn thing done and then kind of forgetting that I ever did it. I might look around our kitchen and be occasionally surprised that it's no longer glossy yellow (visitors to our home know what I'm talking about!), but I don't look at it now and think "Oh, I'd like to do it AGAIN, and this time I'd do this and this and this differently." Nope. I like to walk in like it's always been that way, cook, and get the fuck outta there. Back to the couch. Where I can fall asleep during my movie!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Eye Candy

Here are a few photos from our recent baby shower:

My brother-in-law, Mr. Joel., found a bitchin' Cheap Trick onsie for Roslyn. Awesome!

Butt paste AND a nipple brush?? What kinda shower IS this, anyway?!?

Tess and the lovely Marie have a battle o' the baby bellies. Marie wins. (She's due any day.)

Then, we have some recent renovation shots:

One light, successfully moved. Now, how to plug that stinkin' hole...

One light, successfully added. To YOU it's a bare ME, it's an hour's work in the 100˚ attic.

Mom, helping with electricity & Zip-Strip, while I flit around taking pictures.

And, finally, here's a little tribute to my always-beautiful spouse, as well as my penchant for utterly bizarre flowers:

It's latin name is Dracunculus vulgaris, and you can probably guess why. That big...penisy-looking thing becomes a dark red flower that smells like death. All hail the godz of metal!!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Comic Book Guy

Renovation work is proceeding well, although I'm a little tired of spreading patching plaster. I'm DEFINITELY ready to move on to something new! Luckily, my mom is showing up tomorrow to help with some electrical work (moving the existing hallway light and adding a new one over the stairs) and then working on stripping the beadboard wall. I'll be glad to have more light over the dim stairs; right now I'm patching in...well, it's not total darkness, but it's close.

Anyway. Since Miss Tessmacher is temporarily gone, I've been reading through my backlog of comic books, and I remembered that there had been some comments a few posts ago about my comics obsession. I thought I'd take a break from photos of the renovation stuff and vamp on comics for awhile.

I got into comic book collecting around the same time I got into Kiss: say, the mid-1970s. This was a GREAT time for both things, as they each had an important fantasy element that really appealed to this boy nearing 10. The 70s was a great time to start collecting comics, because not only were the racks at the local drugstore FILLED with cool titles to read (there really weren't a whole lot of "specialty shops" that dealt only with least not in my little corner of Auburn), but Silver Age books were popping up at garage sales all over the place.

First things first: comics are generally broken into a few more-or-less well-defined eras. First was the Golden Age, nominally begun with the first appearance of Superman in Action Comics #1, followed closely by Batman's start in Detective Comics #27. DC ("Detective Comics"...get it?) ruled the comic-book world during this time, but Timely (the forerunner of Marvel) and a host of others played well too. Following this era was the Silver Age, a resurgence of superheroes following a long dry period during the late 40s and most of the 50s. Lots of folks look to the first appearance of the modern Flash (Showcase #4) in 1956 as the start of the Silver Age, but there's also a strong argument to be made for Fantastic Four #1 (Marvel's first superhero team) in 1961. The Bronze Age followed, with some folks saying it began right in 1970. Others point to the price-raise to 15¢ a little into the 70s, while OTHERS point to the drug issues of both Spider-Man and Green Arrow as the beginning. Whatever. Finally we have the Modern Age, but this is as problematic for comics as it is for everything else: simply, we're too close to it to really know how to make a definitive breaking point between Bronze and Modern.

I was always more of a Marvel guy than a DC reader. I like Batman, Superman, et. al., but the early Marvel "superheroes with problems" pastiche played really well with me. Superman was an invincible alien; Batman a super-rich businessman. These characters rarely encountered life difficulties, and most of the action was of the "Blammo!" knock-'em, sock-'em good guy/bad guy type. On the other hand, Peter Parker (Spider-Man's alter ego) was a confused teenager who constantly had problems with love & money, and the books focused equally on that aspect. Similarly, the Fantastic Four were a loose-knit "family" that bickered & fought just like REAL families do. I liked that stuff; it somehow made the fantasy more "real."

I began my collection from the aforementioned garage sales. This was my first comic book:

It's a doozy place to start a collection, too: in near-mint condition this book retails for nearly a thousand bucks! I paid 10¢ for my first copy, and read it until the cover was literally falling off (I've since replaced it with a better copy). This is the beginning of a 3-part saga, and the Silver Surfer is introduced in this issue (you'll see lots of him this summer in the FF sequel). The scope and epic storytelling of Marvel stalwarts Stan Lee and Jack Kirby...well, they just made a spectacular team, and I don't think you'll find a finer example of that than this issue. I got a few other books that same day...

both cut of the same cloth. That top issue, #46, introduces the FF to the Inhumans, and is a lead-in to the 3-part Galactus saga. #55 there is the 2nd appearance of the Silver Surfer, who quickly became a popular character throughout the Marvel Universe. I liked the art stylings of Kirby, but really it was the over-the-top storytelling of Lee that pulled me in. I quickly began reading the current issues of the FF (probably in the #170-range at that point), and that book has stayed my favorite right up until the present time.

I moved into the other "classic" Marvel superheroes that debuted around the same fertile time as the FF: Spider-Man, Hulk, the Avengers (and solo titles like Iron Man, Captain America, etc.), and those books form the basis of my considerable collection. I also occasionally bought DC books through the years, but those have always been hit-or-miss with me. I quite like the revamped Brave & The Bold title, and I'll pick up occasional mini-series, but my monthly purchases are basically Marvel books. The only regular character I'll buy that's outside the Marvel stream is Plastic Man, a stretchy hero written from a standpoint of absolute bizarre comedy.

Comics have had ups & downs, just like any business; the late-80s/early-90s was a particularly stagnant period, with storytelling taking a back seat to catchy gimmicks like die-cut or "chromium" covers. Luckily the "Big Two" (Marvel & DC) were pressured by the rising sales of independent companies like Image, Top Cow, and the like, and storytelling has improved considerably since then. Some pretty big names are involved in comic writing: Kevin Smith wrote some stories for Daredevil, Green Arrow, and Spider-Man. J. Michael Straczynski has been the regular writer on Amazing Spider-Man for years, and Joss Whedon (of Buffy fame) has not only worked on Wonder Woman, he's moved his TV goldmine over to comics exclusively.

The comic book medium isn't for everyone; I think, like most healthy obsessions, you either "get it" or you don't. I do believe that there IS a comic book out there for EVERYONE, but if you're not into "graphic storytelling" then it won't matter. Bill Watterson, famed for his hilarious Calvin & Hobbes strip, was always a pooh-pooher of comics; Calvin read them, but then dissed them as being frivolous & unbelievable. (This, coming from a perpetually 6-year old cartoon boy!) And, far from being "just for kids," comic companies are having the OPPOSITE problem: so many older fans (like myself) have stayed true to their collections, it can sometimes be hard to convince younger buyers to pick up an issue...hell, who wants to start collecting a title that well into its 600th issue?

I could obviously go on & on, but who wants to read that? This was just supposed to be my break, after all! So, I need to get back to work. And YOU need to hoof it to your local comic shop & buy a few issues...either for yourself, or your kids! Not only will you have bought hours worth of entertainment and quality'll end up making MY collection worth more!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Plaster Caster

Back in the "bad old days," when I was helping my mom renovate HER house, we'd take a smoke break every now and then. Breaks are important when you're working; I can remember my grampa coming over to help us hang drywall (or whatever), and mom & I would take a smoke break and he'd sort of sassily complain "What?! You two need a break AGAIN?!?" Heh. Good times. Anyway, now that I'm only a "social smoker" I find that I have a hard time remembering to take breaks, until I'm sweaty and exhausted and pretty much no good to anybody. Blogging is a perfect excuse to cool off for an afternoon is having a beer. I picked up a mixed 6-pack of beer yesterday at Dusty's Cellar, a botique little booze & food store. Today's brew is Bell's Double Cream Stout. Good. Stuff. You wouldn't want to drink, say, four of these in a row (at least I wouldn't!) but as an afternoon refresher, it hits the spot.

Anyway! Miss Tessmacher, having done some research online about the possible harmful effects resulting from a pregnant lady's exposure to lead paint, has decided to stay at her folks' place longer than (I think) either one of us anticipated. This has made ME that much more focused on getting the DAMN JOB DONE, so that my family can come home! Sheesh. I mean, baching it with the cat is nice & all, but there are only so many movies to rent that Tess doesn't want to see also, y'know? So, I'm hustling to get this job done.

Thankfully, my fave fixer-upper product (Dap Patching Plaster) is fairly cheap, because I see myself going through many cartons of it. I've nearly killed one off already, and I'm basically only filling in obvious large cracks & holes, and patching those unfortunate "fixes" from previous owners.

Area of nasty old drywall patch to the left of kneewall door,
now covered in the first of many coats of patching plaster.

My stairway "gangplank," with large cracks
patched in the distance. Good times.

While I was out on my gangplank I heard the close cracking of thunder, and I ventured downstairs (not wanting to be caught over the stairway during the possible occurrence of a blackout) and saw that dime- and quarter-sized hail was spitting from the sky:

Not too impressive here, but click on the photo to
see it full-sized and you'll get a sense of the hail.

Power was thankfully retained, and now the sun is out again, roasting the now-wet leaves of plants that were already too dry to begin with. Damn.

While I'm doing this work, I've been using my lovely USB turntable to burn my extensive collection of comedy albums onto CD. I love comedy albums: I developed this fascination during junior high, and I still maintain it, although I think I'm more focused on those folks I discovered during that time period. Personal faves were always Steve Martin, Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart and George Carlin. (Personal aside: those of you who want to know how often the U.S. gets caught in some fucked-up war need to hear Side 2 of George Carlin's Class Clown LP; his insights into the then-current Vietnam conflict will sadly ring all-too appropriate for today's events.) I found Richard Pryor to be hit-or-miss, depending on how stoned he was, and Robin Williams is simply not that funny on album. I had a thing for "shock comics" in my youth, notably Andrew Dice Clay and Sam Kinison, although my adult self finds the racist and over-the-top "fag" jokes of these two rather unsettling nowadays. Eddie Murphy walks a fine line; he too can play into ugly homosexual stereotypes of the early-80s, but some of his shit is damn funny. Any comedy connesieurs out there should seek a little-known record by Jeff Altman called I'll Flip You Like A Cheese Omelet. I think that's the only record he released, and it's drop-dead, laught-out-loud-by-yourself hilarious. And, if you don't already know who Jeff Altman is, I suspect it'll do me no good at all to remind you that he played Boss Hogg's nephew Hughie, will it? Nope. Didn't think so.

Well, I've had the box fan tipped and aimed up the stairway for the past 20 minutes or so, trying to cool off a closed-in area that is quickly becoming a humid heat-trap thanks to 1) my sweat, and 2) drying patching plaster. Time to get back to work; more as I progress.