Our friend Dr. Ty Matejowsky is a cultural anthropologist at the University of Central Florida. Years ago, when we visited with he and his wife Lorie, they showed us a pair of fascinating documentaries, one about the Dancing Outlaw and the other about a contest to win a pickup, called Hands on a Hardbody. I didn’t really pick up on it then, but he’s super fascinated with human behavior (duh, Bill). He’s written a new book about the American instutution known as Waffle House, and it’s getting good reviews! I’m adding this to our Amazon list for post-Christmas reading. And in related news, Hands on a Hardbody is available again for streaming!
I absolutely loved everything about this book as a kid: The New Yorker reviews Norton Juster’s “The Phantom Tollbooth” at 50. I have the hardback set aside downstairs in my boxes, waiting to be read to my children. I especially related to this:
The other shaping experience was listening to the radio. As both artists stress, having a pure stream of sound as your major source of entertainment meant that your mind was already working imaginatively, without your necessarily realizing it.
I finished reading Heat 2 last week, and I have to say, after a bit of a slow start, I did enjoy it. There’s an obligatory catch-you-up at the beginning that could have been left out; it reads like a fanboy reading bits of the script to another fanboy, and it’s all cringe. Once past that stumble, the story picks up right where the movie ended, following the only surviving member of the criminals and the detective chasing him. The novel is split into sections, a what-came-before story and a what-came-after, and of the two I think I enjoyed the former more than the latter. Michael Mann’s screenplays often feature a driven male who falls in love with a powerful female—OK, fine—but the second half of the story here reminds me a bit too much of his remake of Miami Vice. The story is meticulously researched and tightly plotted, and I enjoyed how he wrapped up the action on both threads, as well as how we get to see some familiar characters return. Overall I’d love to see this adapted into a movie or series, though I have no idea who they’d get to play these roles.
I fell down a Paper Girls rabbit hole this week and rewatched the series; SO GOOD. Fuck Amazon for canceling it before it even aired (that’s pretty much the gossip online; apparently they cut the approved budget before filming started, so it was a scrappy production to begin with). I then went back and reread the comic series. Looking at Cliff Chiang’s artwork in this book is inspiring. He’s an incredible draftsman, and the usage of color is exquisite as second and third layer information. Characters look different from each other, and his command of facial expressions is perfect for a story that requires a lot of subtle detail not included in the dialogue. I’ve been reading a lot of comics online lately, and it’s pretty amazing how lousy some artists can be at everything but drawing identical spandex weightlifters.
Finley was ambivalent about reading it early this year, even after I’d reserved the first two books from the library. I put the trade paperback in my Amazon cart to be purchased with our next order; I’ll wear her down.
And speaking of the library, I got an email that notified me my hold on the ebook of Heat 2 was available. Heat is one of my favorite movies—it was probably the second or third DVD I bought, back when they were $40—so I was very excited to hear Michael Mann was writing a prequel to the movie. By all accounts it’s a good read, so I’m anxious to dive in and see where it goes.
We are home for the first full weekend in a month and a half, and I enjoyed a day of puttering around the house doing small things. Saturday morning I took Finley over to school for a catch-up in Math and Spanish, and when I got home I took Hazel on her 2-mile coffee walk. I spent most of the walk obsessing over a cheap local Scout on Marketplace that I convinced myself I could afford.
When I got back home I figured I’d get my mind off it completely by reading the second half of the comic run of Paper Girls, a title written by Brian K. Vaughn (of Saga and Y: the Last Man fame) and drawn by Cliff Chiang. It’s a bit hard to describe, but I found it completely engrossing and absolutely riveting storytelling. Back in the Before Times, when I was going to the library, I read a couple of issues but found it hard to follow out of order. I’m nervous because Amazon is making it into a series—I hope to got they don’t fuck it up.
My mind sufficiently clear, I got to work fixing the steering wheel on the Scout and then taking Finn out thrifting. While she browsed in one corner of the store, I found a 4-gallon pot and a couple of cheap shirts but not much else. We did some other shopping and then came home with dinner for Mama. When we’d cleaned up the kitchen, I brought the beer stove outside, filled the new pot with water, and boiled the deer skull for about two hours. As the light faded I used a stick to scrape off the loosened skin and hair and set it out to dry. On Sunday I’ll dump it in with some hydrogen peroxide and let it sit for a day to whiten up. Then it’ll be ready to hang.
There are three tomato plants in the greenhouse, but not much else right now. I bought seedlings from the store and threw them in some new dirt, but I’m not planning on filling every inch of the greenhouse like I did last year; I just got too discouraged at the end of the season with how things went. I’ll probably buy five or six more and focus on keeping them watered and happy, and see if I can get some different results with fertilizer and watering schedules.
Today will be more puttering. The dog needs a bath, the bathrooms need a cleaning, and I have a list of things that need attention around the house.
Heat has long been one of my favorite movies, for several reasons; I think it may have been the third or fourth DVD I ever bought, back when DVDs were a $40 extravagance. News has hit the wire that Michael Mann is releasing a prequel novel to Heat which will explore the lives of the characters before the movie’s timeline and after (at least, for those who are still alive). I haven’t read much this past year—I still have to get a copy of Project Hail Mary—but this one I will purchase.
© 2022 Bill Dugan