Monday, January 31

 

snow - Jan 30, originally uploaded by ExLionTamer.


Sunday, January 30

 

Asking for it.

Conventional wisdom dictates when expecting children, people should get out and do activities now that they will be unable to do once their bundle of joy arrives. On that advice, we trekked out to an early afternoon showing of In Good Company at our nearest cineplex.

Before I speak about the movie, I need to say the change of scenery was fine. It was the other people in the landscape that worked a nerve. Haggard moms, NASCAR dads, spoiled children, and a whole bunch of badly pierced teenagers biding their time to be on MTV. Perhaps in a few years the manners pendulum will swing back to where folks respect personal space, cease acting vulgar, and just remember how to act when other people are around. Hmmm. Perhaps not.

Anyhow, I knew this movie was not going to be a phenomenal cinematic tour de force. But, I liked a previous film by the director, and I like all the lead actors in it. Fine for a matinee. And the cast did their thing. Topher Grace was his neurotic nerd, Dennis Quaid smirked and was a loveable curmudegeon. Scarlett was cute and smart. Marg, well, was just sort of there. It was a little different from her dayjob as "Sexy Quincy".

Naturally, at one point in the plot there's a conflict, then a confrontation, then (wait for it....) hugging and learning. It stopped just shy of the "perfect Hollywood ending". Actually, the resolution was about as logical as possible. You want a number? Okay, here's your number: 6. Wait for video or HBO, unless you need your Topher fix.

To further the torture, we stopped in at Blockbuster on the way home. We needed some DVD's pronto for the rest of our weekend.

More crowds, more rudeness. Ugh! Let's go. I really like my living room.

Friday, January 28

 

Let's lunch.

I've been busy at lunchtime of late.

Wednesday, good pal Steve droppd-in with his little man, Ian. After the nickel tour, we treated ourselves to a fresh and hot Parsa Kabob (garlic!).

At just over nine months, Ian nibbled at tiny pieces of fresh pita bread and cheese his dad was feeding him. Since I ordered mine with rice, I offered him a pinch. He grabbed with his hand only to have it break apart and scatter on the floor. The next attempt, he got the picture, and nibbled off my finger like a baby bird. Aw, shucks.

Yesterday, I caught up with Seth. Recently, he'd sold the building which housed Read Street Tattoo and bought the place around the corner. Here, he's planning a gallery in addition to the tatoo business. Over sushi, we discussed logo concepts and general ideas for promotional posters.

If all things go as planned, the potential cooperation between us could result in greater exposure for my artwork and success for both of us. We'll see.

Wednesday, January 26

 

Hey Everybody!


self-portrait I, originally uploaded by ExLionTamer.

How ya doin'?


 

Let me stand next to your fire.

It always seems, when it comes to cool, I'm slightly left of it.

The persuit of cool began, for me, in junior high. That was the year I left my disco and pop music affinity at the door and began studying the Classics: Black Sabbath, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and The Who. But, I still maintained a healthy dose of pure dork. I still had a bad haircut, I was overweight with braces, had cheep jeans from Bradlees and an affinity for Dungeons and Dragons.

It didn't help my band of choice was Rush. *sigh.* Canadian dorkiness. Self-important lyrical dorkiness. Chick repellent, to boot. I wore this badge into high school where I congregated with other dorks in study hall. At this point in my life, I began the pattern that I followed later. Hey I know I'm not cool, but I stand next to the guy that's cool.

Even at MICA, I had a core of dorky friends.* We mostly stuck to creating naturalistic artwork, staying away from psychedelic drugs, working security and maybe hitting The Tavern twice a week. I had a few acquiantences that had a certain brand of cool that later became known as 'indie cred', but I mostly stuck with my crew of dorks.

By today's standards, you could say we were 'Emo'. But, 'Emo' wasn't coined yet, and there was nothing to really be ironic about. I mean it was the Eightes. We didn't need to pretend it was.

Even after college, I maintained the dork aesthetic. I took a career path in computer games. This was pre-Doom era, so, yeah, it was a dorky industry across the board, people. I worked hard on WWII cockpits and strategy icons. However, I still maintained my mode of getting next to cool. In fact, at one point I lived with three entirely cool roommates. Then, I later realized they were dorks undercover.

By my late twenties, I'd realized my days of achieving cool were numbered. Instead, I decided to play grownup. I moved out of my rental**, bought a house on the Eastside, and settled down with someone who never played the cool game. (At least not when I was looking.)

I'm not cool. And that's alright. 'Cause you aren't either.

And that's cool.

*We even has she-nerd girlfriends, so it wasn't too lonely.
** ...in the neighborhod that now is cool, not then when I lived there. Figures.


Monday, January 24

 

This old house.

It finally feels like some progress is being made with our contracting needs around the homestead.

I'd been making contacts where I can between the NOGLI site, references from friends and, most specifically, professional middleman Bill S. of BTM fame. Actually, the extra hand he brought for Bamboopalooza last Fall recently began a contracting business. So, after a few cancellations, I arrived home to Chris and Steve in our basement discussing projects with Heather.

We moved upstairs to the future nursery, site of the saggy ceiling, cause of much consternation. Almost immediately, they assessed the situation as the plaster dropping off the lath. To make sure, Steve mounted the spare office chair and gave a good push, causing the plaster to undulate like a wave. Okay. A little freaky seeing that. But, in their estimation, the fix would require a new layer of wallboard without the dusty (and frighteningly costly) teardown.

They also troubleshot the cracked plaster in our bath and the potential for an exhaust fan, too. Right now, the only ventilation is the window. That's fine for the Spring and Summer. However, this time of year, it becomes our own little petri dish for cultivating various molds and fungus (among us).

We're expecting an itemized estimate by weeks' end.


Saturday, January 22

 

Weather report

All that panic paid off; it's actally snowing today.

We had a quick and dirty dusting on Tuesday. Maybe about four inches in some spots, but powdery, so it was easy to sweep away. But starting Wednesday the bulletins began: OH MY GOD! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! THE SNOW IS COMING!

So, Thursday night we joined the masses at the Super Fresh buying our milk and bread.* For teh few straggling items, we shopped at lunch yesterday at the S.F. near work. That sure worked a nerve.

F0r the past month, this particular store had been geting a facelift, so findng things in their usual spot was shot to hell. Add to that the panicked meanderings senior citizens of the Greater Cockeysville area, plus lunch-hour traffic, that totalled to one stressed-out me.

Nothing a Parsa Kabob couldn't fix. Mmmmm. Garlicy.

All that annoyance and paranoia paid off. It's really snowing, we're well-stocked. Let the cabin fever begin.

*for the record, we're fine on T.P., the third necessity for a Baltimore snow-in.

Monday, January 17

 

bridges.

We met my folks for lunch yesterday as they were on their way to Florida.

As some of you know, I hadn't any face-to-face contact with my parents since December of 2003. More recently, I'd begun e-mail correspondence with my mom since mid-Summer. As Heather's multiple pregnancy has become more and more pressing, she'd broken the radio silence just after Thanksgiving. My wife and Mom brokered a deal where we'd meet at a neutral spot. So, we found ourselves at the White Marsh T.G.I. Friday's for a small reunion with them. There to be, as Mom put it, "talking about the future, not the past".

It went about as well as possible. Mostly we spoke about our expected children. Things we'd need, things they could help us with.

No raised voices, a few snarky asides, but, I'd say a good encounter.


Saturday, January 15

 

Brrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Last week I did a search for 'freezer' on craigslist.com. Strangely, the first ad I ran into was this:

I'm looking for an old Scrabble board with the little plastic dividers that hold the pieces in place and the spinny lazy susan-type thing on the bottom. I bought the newer version of the lazy-susan divider board...and it's just not as good as the original. I guess the pieces are incidental - I could probably use the set I already have.

Would be much 'bliged and willing to trade for games or other things that I have (freezer, utility shelves, etc.)

Lemme get this straight: I get a fullsized deepfreeze for an old game board? Now, one week later, it's whirring away in the basement.

Of course, I couldn't do it alone. I need to give a big shout-out to my men. Thomas, the man with the van and Steve, the steadfast muscle. Between the three of us, we negotiated it out of one basement in Bel Air, onto a handtruck, into the van, here to Tyndale and down to my utility room. Yowza!

Tomorrow, it gets a proper scrub-down and a leveling. Also, I'll drop about three bucks for a replacement freezer key. I don't want the chicken to escape when I'm not looking.

Wednesday, January 12

 

No, I'm not making this up.

Two items.

First, WHFS switched formats today. I used to be a regular listener way back when. It certainly transitioned me from Classic rock to a wider variety of artists back in the Eighties. I even made it to a few 'HFStivals, just before I realized I was too old for that shit. Personally, I stopped listening on the regular right around when 'Nu-Metal' made it big.* Also, the 'progressive/alternative' torch was passed to WRNR years ago. Too bad their signal is a little weak.

Second, a co-worker sent me a link to this blog yesterday. Some of this shit is priceless.

*I heard 'Nookie' so many times a day I started singing it like a Korean grocer: "You take cookie and stick up ass! Stick UP ASS!"


Tuesday, January 11

 

Fig. A: Your ass. Fig. B: A hole in the ground. Please take note.

With the clock ticking , I'm doing my best to wrangle some home improvement contacts for several things we need done sooner rather than later.

- bedroom ceiling: When I moved in, it was there and it didn't bother me. Now, it's excruciating to look at. A large crack with a decent amount of sag is in the plaster. The quick-and-dirty: re-drywall the whole ceiling, tape it, mud it, paint it. However, deep down I feel I need to consult a professional. What if I go through all that and the solution cracks and sags. So far I made two calls to plasterers, but I fear I may be lost in voicemail hell.

- kitchen floor: It's old, constantly dirty, and asbestos. We need something new and kid-friendly for our galley. Home Depot gave us our wake-up call to potential cost for installed solid vinyl tiles; to sub-floor or not to subfloor. Lowe's is coming Thursday afternoon to try their best crack at it. In the meantime, I called an installer to get his opinion on the situation. He sang the praises of laminate flooring over vinyl. I just want a straight answer from somebody somewhere who can do the job the way we want it.

- bathroom walls: Currently, my solution of beadboard to cover the plaster cracks is on hiatus. Maybe an attempt to patch what's there will work? Maybe replace the whole shebang with sheetrock? Maybe just Kilz and paint the damn thing and table the aesthetics for later?? Were back into re-writes for this little drama.

ADDENDUM: Tuesday night I got two call backs from plasterers. One's coming Saturday, the other, sometime next week. Also, 27 e-mailed me assurances that these things can be done DIY; he speaks from experience.


Monday, January 10

 

Fresh Hell.

Well, we're here in the new digs. I'm in areement with his Billness. It looks like an office, as opposed to a borrowed, third-hand, double-wide trailer. However, it's not the rose garden I was promised.

Oh, wait. I wasn't.

The first thing I noticed when I got here was my monitor wasn't working. And, on top of that, it's now scratched on the screen, too. Luckily, the I.T. boys handled the video card issue lickety split. I'm told I'll get a new monitor sometime between next week and the Apocolypse.

Another issue is I'm parked here on the second level with most of the producers and programmers. Every ten minutes or so, someone will poke their nose in with a quizzical look and remind us were artists. Yeah. No shit. Thanks. Everybody loves a welcome wagon with four flat tires.

Also, here we have enough room to use the razor scooter Bill's had in storage for a couple of years. Trucking into the kitchen, I was stopped by one of the New Development executives*. He reminded me using the scooter was perhaps unsafe, especially around corners.

I couldn't argue with him. (Even though I wanted to.) I saw his point clearly, so I dismounted my noble steed and walked back to my cube.

Later on, that same exec poked his nose in my cube and commented that, indeed, we were artists here on the upper level. I assured him we would fit in and that I most certainly would do nothing creative around here.

I promise.

*also the father-in-law to the CEO.

Saturday, January 8

 

Back to basics.

With my recent news about coming triplets, I've received several offers of help from old friends that, admittedly, I'd not kept in close contact with for the past few years. Well, I thought if I'm going to take the offers, I felt the best way to reacquaint ourselves was to return to the scene of the crime: an evening at the Mount Royal Tavern.

I grabbed Thomas at his place and we met Steve at the bar, already cursing his luck on the pinball machine. We grabbed a round and soon were joined by fellow former "House of Men" alumnus, Rik.

Our evening continued with a few more rounds, and lots more angry pinball, punctuated with advice from Steve and Tom about parenting.

"Just you wait until..."
"You won't believe it when..."
"Don't get one of those, get one of these..."

Needless to say, Rik, who is unmarried and childless, took all the husband/daddy banter rather well.

As far as the Tavern, it's very much the same, despite the differences. Still dark and nicotine stained, still has John behind the bar, and still chock-full of a newer crop of young "art chix". We stayed until about midnight, but not before we had a Hallmark card moment.

Yes, friends, there was hugging and learning. Yeah, yeah, I know. But, don't tell anybody, okay?

Thursday, January 6

 

Out of the office.

It's about half an hour at my last day here at the old offices. About a mile down the road, a newly configured and freshly painted two-level cube farm awaits us on Monday.

Goodbye, grey cloth cube walls. I'll think of you often when I'm feeling glum and uninspired.

Goodbye, leaky roof. Many a morning I would come to find a musty smell and a spare wastebasket catching the welling bounty above our beloved CPU's.

Goodbye coffee stain. Goodbye too-small kitchen. Goodbye crowded meeting room. Goodbye, cloggy toilets.

Enough said.


Wednesday, January 5

 

roots.

Sometime last week, our Doulas Fir gave up the ghost. Last night I finally put it to rest on the front curb.

Taking down the ornaments was a cinch this time around. I'm glad Heather talked me into that new sleek storage box we scored for eight bucks. Everything nestled double-and-tripled-up in each little compartment on each tray on each level. It was like my own Cornell construction.

As the lights were coming down, the cats were running the circuit all over the ground floor; living room to dining room, dining room to media room, media room to living room. I guess the holiday was over for them as well. Thier totem to the outdoors was being sacrificed to the metal monster the next morning. It was appropriate to have a powwow, however small or feral.


Monday, January 3

 

!Ay Caramba!

I forgot to mention the worst burrito I ever had.

It happenned last week. I unknowingly took Bill down with me on the sinking ship. So, we rearranged deck chairs at Moe's.

You see, for the past several years I've been making the rounds at all the Mexican joints near work.* First, I was all about some Baja Fresh. Unfortunately, I grew weary of wrong orders and waitng twenty minutes for cold food. It was fun while it lasted, 'cause the food was decent when they got it right. Then last year I was introduced by a co-worker to my new yardstick to which all burritos are now measured.

Qdoba is the shit. Lots of options, a good amount of toppings and an honest-to-Dio mole in a pinch.** But, I'd burned my tastebuds out eating it at least once a week. So, the new kid on the block enticed me one lunchtime.

Bleeaaaghhh!!! The most gringo turd of a burrito I had since a frozen Patio from the Ghetto Fresh near school. Salty, uninspired and it's just crap! Besides, the joint has too many kitschy in-joke names for menu items. If I think they've overdone the corniness, something is terribly wrong. If fact it's so wrong, it's 'rong'.

On Bills recommendation, we hit the Starbucks at the other end of the stripmall just to get rid of the taste.

*I'm not counting Taco Bell; that's about as Mexican as...um.... Canada? And Frisco Burrito is too far away.
**that's pronounced 'mo-lay'. Nobody wants a small ground-dwelling rodent on their burrito, trust me.


Sunday, January 2

 

All is (realtively) quiet on New Year's Day

It's not like we set the town on fire New Years Eve, but damn, we were dragging ass on January 1.

New Years Eve was terribly calm. We had our neighbors Mike, Meg and (not-so-very-much) baby Cate over for some latkes. And I really didn't tie one on; I split three Hoegaarden with Mike.

Even so, my eyes were heavy with sleep by ten. I took a nap in the middle of the living room. By eleven thirty, we said our good nights and, at midnight I rolled over in bed, kissed my wife in the new year and turned off the television.

Next week: skydiving and alligator wrestling. This week: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...


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