Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My Dating Profile

I followed a link from Ed Ward's blog and took a funny dating test. The results are... varied. It is definitely NOT true that I would never date anyone dumber than myself. That happens all the time. Just ask my friends.

I most definitely do not have lots of female friends and I am not at all good with babies. I probably have many more male friends, a byproduct of spending a few decades in the comic book industry.

Here's what someone's server had to say about me. The questionaire was not really geared toward me. There wasn't, for example, a box to tick for "Do you roam the world for months on end every few years," though there was a question about long-distance relationships. I have to admit that the bit at the end about The False Messiah pegged a certain individual in my not-too-distant past.

The Sonnet
Deliberate Gentle Love Dreamer

Romantic, hopeful, and composed. You are the Sonnet. Get it? Composed?

Sonnets want Love and have high ideals about it. They're conscientious people, caring & careful. You yourself have deep convictions, and you devote a lot of thought to romance and what it should be. This will frighten away most potential mates, but that's okay, because you're very choosy with your affections anyway. You'd absolutely refuse to date someone dumber than you, for instance.

Lovers who share your idealized perspective, or who are at least willing to totally throw themselves into a relationship, will be very, very happy with you. And you with them. You're already selfless and compassionate, and with the right partner, there's no doubt you can be sensual, even adventurously so.

You probably have lots of female friends, and they have a special soft spot for you. Babies do, too, at the tippy-top of their baby skulls.

ALWAYS AVOID: The 5-Night Stand, The False Messiah, The Hornivore, The Last Man on Earth

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Talk to the Animals

All right, listen up.

I just stumbled over Very Important Information on Wikipedia (while researching the capybara, or actually the Amazon).

Seems you can tell what a guinea pig is trying to say simply by paying attention. Wikipedia has the Rosetta Stone of guinea pig-dom, reproduced here for those of you that have guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs are very vocal animals. Some sounds are:

Wheek - A loud noise that sounds about the same as its written form. An expression of general excitement, it can mean "feed me", "pay attention", or possibly "I'm hurt". It is sometimes used to find other guinea pigs if they are in a run. If a guinea pig is lost, it may "wheek" for assistance.
Rumbling - This sound is related to Guinea pig dominance or in response to an unfamiliar sound. It can also come as a response to comfort or content. Whilst courting, a male usually purrs deeply, while swaying from side to side, nearly lifting the rear feet.
Chattering - This sound is made by rapidly gnashing the teeth together—it is a warning to others to keep away. Guinea pigs tend to raise their heads when making this sound so as to look more dangerous.
Bubbling, or Purring - This rather pleasant sound is made when the guinea pig is enjoying itself, when being petted or held. They may also make this sound when grooming, crawling around to investigate a new place, or when given an unexpected food treat, like lettuce or carrots.

Happy (Early) Holidays

The unwritten code of the block I live on is that 1) Every house must be decorated for every major holiday and some minor holidays and 2) One must decorate promptly and with enthusiasm.

Newcomers get some slack but there comes a point when it is assumed that you are a snob—or worse, a snotty transplant from Manhattan—if you do not follow the code.

The residents of my building always attempted to decorate with restraint. We were neither old-timers nor newcomers. We were in-betweeners, going along with the joke but unable to ignore the natural inclination towards a bit of taste. The rest of the block would be decked out in life-size scarecrows and spray-on cobwebs for Halloween. We'd have a bale of hay and a pumpkin.

I'm the only one of the in-betweeners left, and the newcomers can't be bothered. Yesterday I tossed out the two pumpkins, gourd, and dried corn that I'd had out for Halloween and Thanksgiving, and went to find the plug-in Christmas candles. One goes in each bay window, on a timer from 6 to 11.

The horror! The Christmas candles are missing.

But I just saw them last week. I'd put them somewhere special... but where?

Uh-oh. I must have packed them deep in a box and put them in my garage. Well, that's not very useful.

I went over to ShopRite and got a few 18-foot fake garlands and wrapped them around the outside railings. It's pretty lame. I need something with lights.

But Ax says I get a pass since I'm moving in two weeks.

I hope I find the candles anyway.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Istanbul Not Constantinople

I'm on crushing deadlines for a few days so no long blog posts.

Here's a few photos of the Hermitage--the Winter Palace--instead.

The first I took in 1982 with a 110 instamatic, in Leningrad.

The second I snapped in 2001 with an Olympus Stylus point-and-shoot, in St. Petersburg.

In 1983, I was an exchange student to Finland. I lived with Heidi (who reads this blog) and her parents in Karis (Karjaa), about 40 miles southwest of Helsinki. The exchange organization, Youth for Understanding, took us students to the Soviet Union on a field trip. Heidi didn't get to go. It was only the exchange students, not the host sisters and brothers.

Heidi and I both had the same camera. I'm sure she too has a much better one now.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Recycle or Donate?

What am I supposed to do with a perfectly good, working old Powerbook Duo 230 laptop circa 1992?

It was an incredible computer in its time. It had no floppy drive--radical in 1992--but came with a cable to hook it into any other Mac or system. At four pounds, it was truly portable. The Duo was meant to be docked--that is, slipped into a desktop model--but I never owned the dock.

At some point, I bought a connector that gave it SCSI capabilities, and I have the external floppy as well. One day in the late 90s, it struggled, so I bought a cheap working Duo off eBay and cannibalized it for parts.

The Duo went on a few freighter voyages with me in 2001. Why not? It was so old, it didn't matter if it broke when I sent it home by post.

It's a little slow.

Now I'm moving. Out go all kinds of thing. Used books go to the church down the street, since they have a used book sale every Sunday. Records will go to the Princeton Record Exchange when I get around to it. The super-8 projecter goes--where the hell does the super-8 projector go?

And the old computers, they go too. But to where?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Rats Killed Easter!

The problem with writing the copy for the 3D children's atlas that I am working on is that I am petrified of making factual errors.

When I started this project, I bought four children's atlases. As I've steadily dug through them, I've come across dozens of mistakes. Some of them are mind-boggling, like the one with text claiming that the Equator is in Central America. Others have less conspicuous flaws, such as overlooking the existence of Qatar.

Anyway, being a compulsive fact-checker while learning every minute detail about a region adds up to one thing and one thing only.

Missing deadlines.

But there's not much I can do about that, so let's talk about something more interesting. Like Easter Island.

And rats.

The big mystery of Easter Island is not where the big heads came from or why they were carved. Every continent has their mysterious architectural masterpieces. Did aliens make the Great Pyramids? How did the stelae get to Axum? Oh, surely aliens. I'm good with that.

But why didn't the aliens whisk those poor Easter Islanders off to Chile when all their trees died?

I'd always believed the catastrophic deforestation theories about Easter Island, and the study I just read by Terry L. Hunt doesn't argue the deforestation point.

But it places the blame somewhere unexpected. Previously, blame had been placed on the common criminal: Mankind. But not Hunt. He blames something else.

Rats. Rats came in by ship from Europe, ate the vegetation and tree seeds, and caused deforestation. Erosion of soil, no farming, no veggies, no canoes, no way off the island. Cannibalism. Rat-eating. Dog-eating. No wonder they tipped their big stone heads over. I'd have been pissed too.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

More Ro Art

Roberta had a piece in a show at the Bronx River Arts Center a few weeks ago. It was a temporary installation that lasted only one day. The idea behind it is "conceptual and temporal brevity." Which I think in plain English might mean "quick and dirty."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Not On the Move

It's the night before Thanksgiving, and all across the USA, people are on the move.

Not me. I'm sitting this one out. I'm packing to move, selling a condo, writing an atlas, helping run a comic book company and probably some other things I've forgotten. There's no time to get myself to Virginia and back.

I'm still thankful, though. Mostly thankful that I'm not sitting in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike, but that counts too.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Camel's a Wonderful Thing

Last night, during my research for the children's atlas I'm writing, I learned the following camel facts:

-Camels have gorgeous long eyelashes not to flirt with other camels, but to keep the sand out of their eyes.

-Camels ARE flirting when they blow that ugly pink bubble out of their mouths.

-Camels have super-kidneys that produce dry camel poo.

-Camels are useful for meat, milk, transportation, hauling, and camel hide in the Sahara.

-Camels have special fat feet, which act like camel snowshoes for sand.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Eliza Goes Home to Iceland

I've been following the adventures of writer Eliza Reid as she travels through West Africa.

Eliza writes for the in-flight Icelandair magazine. Peter Moore pointed her my way. Or me her way. I'm not sure anymore, but I've read every entry she's posted during her West Africa trip.

She's gotten a lot of marriage proposals. I haven't gotten many of those, ever. Maybe I should focus on getting to West Africa on the double. (I think Daniel Johnston made a few on the phone over the years, but I always managed to change the subject to Captain America.)

Anyway, Eliza is heading home to Iceland tomorrow. I'm sure she's happy to be going home, but I have enjoyed reading about her grumpiness in Accra, her adventures on public transport, and her bouts of malaria. I selfishly wish it wouldn't end.

Something Comes Up

Just the other day, I was worried about having nowhere to go once I sell my condo on December 13.

Well, I still have nowhere to go on December 13. But it doesn't matter as much now, because I have somewhere to go a week later.

I've rented a studio for a month. It is not cheap, but compared to everything else I saw, it is a bargain, and clean and lovely to boot. It belongs to a 38-year-old composer who is going to a residency in Argentina for a month.

The studio is a few blocks from my old place on Avenue B, and a few blocks from Babcock's. Weirdly, it's directly across the street from my friends Polly and Al. Roberta pointed out that
New York City and Jersey City are large places, and that it's strange that I got a place across the street from my friends, and that in JC, Yancey, Ro, and I all live on the same street. Ro only lives five doors away from me.

What she doesn't know is that in the late 80s and early 90s, everyone in my life lived either in my buiding, across the street, or next door to my building. Except for a few people who lived two blocks away. I gravitate towards creating mini-communities. Maybe that's why I'm so waffly and dazed when friends move on.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Stalking the Wild Pudu

Honest, I didn't mean to steal the nice man's title.

Bob Harris, no relation to my former boss at Marvel whose name is spelled Harras, likes to call his prospective South American travel book Stalking the Wild Pudu. He likes to read and write about pudu, tiny deer that kind of remind me of dik-diks.

Wikipedia reports that: The pudú has been popularized as the mascot of the weblog maintained by stand-up comedian and Jeopardy! champion Bob Harris, who often accompanies pictures of the pudú and other small animals with whimsical stories.

Well, now Bob mentioned dik-diks too on his blog, just the other day. And not to nitpick, but according to Bob's own book and site, he does have a long relationship with Jeopardy! but to call him a champion might be slightly inaccurate. His book, Prisoner of Trebekistan, is about making it onto Jeopardy! but his own website describes it as: This is what it's like to lose on Jeopardy! -- five times, not winning over $3.1 million dollars.

Somehow, that makes me want to check it out more than winning $3.1 million dollars on Jeopardy! would.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Now What?

I lose my place on December 13. I go to Secret New Location (requiring a passport and Arabic phrasebook) on February 1. In between, I got nothing.

So far, I've chased down the real estate agent from the vacant place down the street to see if he would sublet. He said no. I followed up on some Craigslist sublet ads, but typically flaky Craigslisters can't be bothered to respond to my inquiries. I called Candlewood Suites to see if I could bargain them to a reasonable price, but they didn't call back yet. I checked into corporate furnished housing by the PATH. Their idea of a bargain is $3,800 a month.

I saw a small, renovated rental for $875 a month last week. I didn't take it because it required a lease, and I thought it would be a waste to pay for it for the months I'm out of the country. Now I'm regretting that decision.

I realized yesterday that I could spend the balance of December in Barcelona and come out ahead financially. Great! Well, great aside from those pesky inconvenient holidays, which require family time and a tricky commute from El Raval.

Anyway, supposing I have an early Christmas with my family and can stomach the idea of holidays alone in Spain, I'd then only be looking for a New York place for the month of January.

My options seem to be:

-Look into a "women only" place like on Bosom Buddies. There are two in Manhattan and one in Jersey City. I'm a litttle worried someone might try to make me sing with them or be social if I stayed in one of these. Though maybe I'm meet someone like a young Tom Hanks. Maybe he'd loan me some dresses for the singing circle.

-Go through a sublet agency. has offered me one for $2100. Plus their fee and $2100 security deposit. (Yow, it sure adds up.) It's a block from my PO Box, a block from my old Avenue B digs, and about ten feet from hipster infestation.

-Force the friend splitting up from his wife to put up with me at Babcock's. That would make three of us. Chippy, Pond Scum, and me. And Chippy's dog. A sordid bunch, but they probably wouldn't make me join a singing circle. Babcock's place cannot officially be sublet, but we're just his dirty, transient friends. I don't think the co-op can make rules about the type of friends one can keep.

Something will come up. But I am starting to get nervous.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fifteen Years Back

Who is that young woman with the short brown hair?

Why, it's me! I think it's from some time between 1990 and 1992. My mother took this photo when she used to have a part-time job in the Sears photo studio. She can probably isolate the date better than I can. All I remember is not being able to maintain short hair because I was too cheap/lazy to get it cut frequently.

Collect 'Em All

I am extremely pleased to announce that I am the very first, numero uno, collectible friend of Comicraft!

What that means for the uninitiated (which is everyone but me, Richard Starkings, John "JG" Roshell, and the Bucce who saw this yesterday) is that Comicraft has featured me on a stamp--which admittedly few will cut out, because it would ruin their copy of Elephantmen #5 (shipping next month).

Richard is the person that I hunted down that wooden hippo in Kenya for. Well, I think he's got it a little backwards, because anyone who would plug Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik for an entire page in his comic book is actually a friend to me, not vice versa.

The image above is a little teaser. I don't have the finished graphic yet but I'll post it in December when Elephantmen #5 ships.

Yes, I realize it's the infamous socks-in-sandals shot on that stamp...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Supermarket Ethics

My ridiculous conundrum of the day (so far):

When purchasing eggs at the supermarket, which of these is a more responsible purchase?

1) Cage-free organic eggs sold in a plastic carton.

2) Regular eggs sold in cardboard.

It isn't easy being green. Or trying guiltily to be greenish when I remember to be.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Quick Plumbing Update

Ax tells me that Hatboy likes the plumbing blogs, though she prefers the more personal posts.

So here's a quick plumbing update for Hatboy.


The condo inspector came and went. A few days later, my lawyer sent me an email.

"They'd like you to install new windows in the airshaft, and to get a cover plate for the boiler in the hot water heater. What is your response?"

I'd already ordered the windows, but the cover for the little space where the flames are in the hot water heater? I didn't even know it was supposed to have a cover.

"I'm not sure I can do that. I'll get back to you."

The guys at Modern Plumbing Supply on Communipaw Avenue helped me out, as they always do. I love going to them because I can say "I need the white thingymabob that hooks into the U that goes into an S and it's about this big and screws on." And they give me exactly the right part, and tell me how to install it.

"You can't buy that separately," was the bad news. "But you don't need it. The heater works fine without it. Why do you want it?"

"I'm selling. The buyers want it."

Ah. They nodded. One of them took some keys from a nail and told me to follow him.

We walked outside of the store and down the sidewalk, stopping in front of a padlocked gate. Mr. Modern unlocked it and in we went.

"We keep the old water heaters here after we install new ones in homes." He poked around on the ground. He found me two old cover plates.

"One of these should work. If not, you can probably bend it to fit. Don't cut yourself. No charge."

One fit perfectly. The other was exactly right for the boiler that feeds the basement washing machine. Mission accomplished.

If Wishes Were Fishes

I have over a dozen photos of distant whale fins, because whales are seriously uncooperative animals when it come to holding a pose.

They don't even say Cheese. They like to surprise you.

"Hey, bet you can't get your camera ready fast enough! Bye!"

Whales like me only slightly more than hippos do. They flee at the sight of me. No whale ever tried to kill me, but at least a hippo can hold still long enough for a shutter to click.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I was pulling stuff out of the top shelf of a closet, packing for my move, when an Australian flag and beer holder fell on top of me. Turbo had brought them along on his first visit to Jersey City. He'd brought enough beer holders for him, Yancey, and Kraiger to consume Budweiser while watching American football on TV, with the Aussie flag hanging in the background.

The flaw in his plan was that Yancey and Kraiger won't drink Budweiser. But they went along with the basic premise.

Turbo renovated my apartment. Not single-handedly, but he did the lion's share of the work. I don't really have much use for an Australian flag in my day-to-day life. I was thinking that maybe I'll write a note and attach it to the flag. This apartment renovated by an Australian school teacher 2004-2005. And then I"ll put the flag somewhere that it won't be found for a long time.

Maybe I'll glue it under the floorboards. Maybe I'll push it through the non-working fireplace grate, inch by inch, until it falls into the fireplace.

Because this condo, though it's in JC, really is part Australian, and once I leave, that's going to be forgotten except in block lore, mentioned occasionally by the old men on the street.

"Remember that time the guy with the funny accent rebuilt this sidewalk? We all stood and watched. That was more fun than watching paint dry, because for a change, it was concrete."

Monday, November 13, 2006

Red States

Pernille's blog pointed the way to this cool online tool that makes a map of countries you've visited.

Here's my map. The large gaps seems daunting, but perhaps I can do something about El Salvador, Ireland, Korea, Portugal, and Denmark.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Arabic Lessons Over

My Arabic lessons are over, the eight sessions completed as of yesterday.

Like most languages, it went from making sense to "I know nothing." They always work that way. You plow along at a rapid clip, following drills and answering questions correctly because it's so easy to spot patterns in the listen-and-repeat method, though you have no clue what you're doing or why you're responding the way you do.

Then we got into the meat and potatoes. The falafel and fuul. The alphabet. The damn thing offers no shortcuts, no tricks of memorization. No way around it, have to slog through it.

The next session begins December 2. I want to keep it up, but I'll miss a few lessons. I want a vacation after the atlas is complete, before I start working full-time making comic books again. I'll miss the end because I have a secret (non-sinister) mission coming up in Feb-March, and won't be needing to find a new place to live in the New York area for a while. But I sure will learn a lot of Arabic on this secret mission.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Anniversary of Hope

It's been a year now since Herr Marlboro left me at Uganda's Entebbe airport. I'd lived in Uganda for three months, partially in Murchison Falls with him, and partially in Kampala, sometimes with him and sometimes by myself. I'd moved to Namibia for a few months fter we had some problems, and was only back in Uganda for a week.

I was full of hope for redemption then. We seemed perfectly matched. Things had a way of working out, a perfect serendipity in which life handed over nice surprises on a regular basis. I'd been lucky so far.

Also, a good man—a taxi driver I'd met—had prayed for me after asking about my estrangement. I was a bit superstitious about this, the last time anyone having prayed for me having been when I walked out of a terrible accident in Ethiopia. I'd been in a great mood after H.M. and I had met earlier that day at the new coffee spot in Garden City shopping mall. I was as enthralled as the first time we'd met in Sudan, immortalized in Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik. He'd nearly—but not quite—apologized for one of two incidents of appalling behavior.

But the only redemption that was attempted was in my sagging fantasies. The good-bye at the airport was good-bye forever. Hope is what keeps us going but it also blinds us to reality.

I've been blinded plenty of times by hope. Roberta tells me that it's okay to hope but not to expect. I've never managed to find a balance. I'm not even sure I can isolate the distinction between the two.

So today is the anniversary of when I still had faith in serendipity. There's been no evidence that it's returning. Since the alternative is bitterness, I'm hoping it grows back. Which means that it will, in time.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Moving On

The first thing I did after moving into my apartment in November, 2002, was to move out of it.

Well, no, the first thing I did was saw up the plywood over the pine floor. Then I sublet. THEN I moved out.

I was gone for for three months, the maximum time I could stay in Oz.

When I returned in spring of 2003, I was home for a long stretch. My next major absence was for three months at the end of 2004, when I had a flat in Barcelona. Marc Siry stayed in my place, a little bit house-sitter, a little bit renter.

I was home for six months after that, then went to Africa for six months. Then home for six weeks, then off to Kuwait for three months.

Given that I was away from my place almost as much as I was in it, you'd think I'd be less sentimental about leaving it again.

It's just... this time it's permanent. And I've been looking around the neighborhood. Few things--well, nothing--in my price range are as nice. Taxes on other places are higher. I'm already on the best block in the area.

Yesterday, a home inspector checked out my place for the buyer. He nitpicked, found some things "wrong" that aren't wrong, missed some things, and turned the stove on wrong, allowing gas to escape to the kitchen for several minutes. But he didn't find anything so wrong that the buyer wants to back out.

Which is kind of a bummer, because I'm having seller's remorse, and I wouldn't mind at all if the buyer backed out.

My apartment has so much of my last several years' personal history built into it. Turbo's fingerprints are everywhere. I feel terribly guilty at leaving his hard work to someone who doesn't know or appreciate his efforts. And my friends are here too--Yancey tearing up the carpet and breaking down boxes, Lynne brushing dust out of every radiator fin, Al Huckabee beating the hell out of the plaster to cut holes in it, Roberta carrying insulation bales, and Michael Kraiger pulling down plaster to expose the bricks underneath.

But these are people. And a home is just a house. The people will come into my next place (well, some of them will). If there ever is a next place. Given the cost of buying, it probably doesn't make sense to own right now.

I'm poor. I clean up well, but under that upper-middle-class-white-gal-exterior is someone who easily would qualify for food stamps and free medical care. I've been faking it since I left my decent salary at Marvel for a life of barely paying freelance writing. I seldom get the opportunity to walk out of a lawyer's office with a check for a hundred and fifty grand. I should shut up and quit feeling guilty.

But then there's this.

Where the hell am I gonna live?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Reference Materials

When real estate agents were bringing prospective buyers into my apartment, the first thing they always did was comment on the "tin" ceiling.

It's not really tin, because it's new. Tin isn't legal anymore. It's some other metal, designed to look like tin, which is a fire hazard. (I got it here.)

The second thing they'd do is turn right and look at the bathroom. Which is why I installed a new vanity and re-caulked the tub. The bathroom was the least appealing room in the house.

Then they'd head into the living room and notice the bookcase.

"Wow. You must travel a lot."

I never knew how to answer that without getting into a long conversation that was way too chit-chatty with someone I could end up sparring with (via lawyers).

"Yes. I do. And over here is a faux gaslamp. Did you notice these original Eastlake-style hinges?"

Monday, November 06, 2006

African Comics in Harlem

Starting November 15, the Studio Museum in Harlem is hosting an exhibit of African comics.

On view: November 15, 2006 - March 18, 2007
Africa Comics
The first-ever exhibition of comic art from Africa comes to The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Africa Comics includes 32 artists or 2-person artists’ teams from all over the continent of Africa, including Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Togo.

I am definitely going to check this out.

Capturing the Castle

When I took my Amtrak trip to Montreal, it rained all day. This and whizzing through the countryside at 60 miles an hour made it tough to get decent photos of the foliage I was supposed to be covering for the Amtrak site.

I've been completely overwhelmed with work (Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be freelancers) and unable to get upstate to take clear photos... until yesterday.

It's overcast at 7 a.m. on a Sunday but I have got to get this done before all the leaves drop.

I took a chance, loaded up on cameras, and Henry the Ford Taurus and I drove through the Holland Tunnel to the Westside Highway. We cruised north through Riverdale, Yonkers, and into the Hudson Valley.

The sun came out and the views were spectacular. Just north of Cold Spring, New York, I pull over beside the road, reassured Henry that I'd be right back, and hiked a short distance to a railroad footbridge overpass.

And that's where I got a shot of Bannerman Castle, ruins a thousand feet offshore on a deserted island.

Was this mysterious castle occupied by ousted European royalty? Was it built as a monument to love, like the Taj Mahal? Nah. Just one man's munitions business. But it's still cool.

And when I got back home, I went by the pie-baking contest (which also hosts a used book sale every Sunday). I dropped off some old books, and in return got a free slice of pie! Several free slices, actually. But I missed out on the contest. Not only did I not get a chance to enter it, I didn't even get a winning slice. Still, free pie is free pie. I'd call that a good Sunday.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Fun with Adhesives

Once upon a time—before she went to work for Velcro® in Barcelona, and then moved to China for her MBA—my friend Lynne worked for the company that makes Blu-Tack.

Blu-Tack isn't well-known in the US, but it's a putty-like substance that people in Europe sometimes use to stick things on walls. The idea is that it (in theory) leaves no mark on the wall.

It is also good for sculpting!

One year, back when I did things like this (1997 on Avenue B), I had a New Year's party. Some people came by and somehow we all ended up sculpting Lynne's Blu-Tack instead of doing party things.

The Lawrence of Arabia Blu-Tack sculpture is by Mark Powers. Jenn (of Babc0ck and Jenn) did one of these, but I don't remember which. The other is a mystery.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Wall of Cows

Between 1988 and 1995, I had an office wall covered in comic book cows.

Mark Chiarello drew the first one. I'm not sure who drew the last one—maybe Alex Ross in 1999 or 2000—but the cows continued after the wall had turned into a web. The John Paul Leon one was definitely from 1999, right after I went to Egypt. He drew the cow by a pyramid. The Jim Lee one is really great. So is the Jon J Muth one. Actually, nearly all of them are unique so it's hard to choose a favorite.

The amazon links are all out of date, the counter has turned over once, and the site moos, which is kind of annoying. I think I made this site for a class I was taking in web design, and we were on the chapter about "Frames."

Check it out.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Plumb Finished

I realize that no one else cares—except maybe Turbo if he ever reads this—but I am so pleased with my newfound skills at plumbing!

After buying the vent I mentioned earlier, I had to make several trips to the plumbing supply store to get the right PVC pipes. And I had to use my hacksaw on pipes too, because they only come in super-long pieces.

I found the purple primer and PVC cement that Turbo left in the bottom of my tool closet, and it was a stinky operation, but in the end I have an island sink drain that works like a charm and doesn't go glub, glub, glub.

I love when things go as planned.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

They Do

72 hours after I said I'd never be in another wedding, I was in another wedding.

It was kind of an accident.

Babc0ck and Jenn had opted out of having a big ceremony. They'd actually been planning it for weeks, but sprang it on everyone else suddenly to avoid potential wedding hijackers—you know, well-intentioned friends and relatives who just want to help them out in ways they don't want to be helped.

They'd wanted Pond Scum to be their witness, but that didn't work out when it was discovered that he had no legal identification. No driver's license, no passport, no state ID. He'd once had an official card issued by his reservation (he's Native American) but no one is sure where it went.

You need ID to get into City Hall, and in theory to be a witness. Plus, I think he had to work.

I wanted to see the ceremony, and I arrived while Jenn's sister and mother were in the restroom. Jenn and Babc0ck went to wait in line at the info desk. I followed, curious to see bureaucracy in action.

The information officer did not look up as we approached her desk. She held her hand out.

"Money order."

Babc0ck handed it over. She made a few marks. She still didn't look up. Her hand went out again.


He handed over a form. She marked a few blanks. She finally looked up.

"Groom? You the groom?"

"That's me."

"Sign here."

Babc0ck signed by the X.


Jenn signed.

"You the witness?" She was looking at me.

"Guess so," Jenn said, laughing. Her family was still MIA.

"Sign here." I signed. No one asked me for ID. I was suddenly Best Man again. The officer handed all the papers to Babc0ck.

"Go stand in that line."

The next line was the money line. We gave the money order to a friendly woman who was behind a thick wall of glass, like a bank teller. She handed Jenn a receipt.

"Go to Window 7."

At Window 7, Babc0ck handed over the license and got a certified document in exchange.

"Now wait in the hall for them to call your name."

The three-line process had taken about one-and-a-half minutes, involved a lot of stamping, and no showing of identification.

"I'll go find your mother and sister." Babc0ck headed to the restrooms.

Thirty seconds later, a string of names was called. The last names were Jonathan and Jennifer.

Jenn's eyes got big.

"I'll go into the waiting room--you go find Jonathan!"

I got as far as the elevator when I remember the magic of cell phones. I dialed him, and he strolled up a second later.

"I couldn't find them."

"Well, then they'll miss it. C'mon! They called your name. Do you want Jenn to marry herself?"

We went into the waiting room. The line got smaller and smaller, as each couple disappeared into the chapel.

Only one other couple was left, when Jenn's family finally showed.

The officiant was a gregarious and sensible woman, who efficiently married Babc0ck and Jenn in under two minutes. They exchanged a few rings they'd bought earlier on St. Mark's Place, from a man who'd given them a discount when he learned they were wedding rings. Or maybe it was because they didn't have the right change.

Mr. and Mrs. Whatever-Names-They're-Using walked out of New York's municipal buillding only minutes after entering it. It was easier than getting a driver's license. The security check lasted longer than the ceremony.

And for me, always the Best Man and never the Bride, it was painless and even, fun.