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.

Date posted: May 1, 2022 | Filed under books, greenhouse | Leave a Comment »

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.

Date posted: January 20, 2022 | Filed under books, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I loved reading The Martian, Andy Weir’s science-tastic thriller about an astronaut trapped on Mars, and the movie adaptation was equally excellent. So I’m definitely looking forward to his new book, Project Hail Mary, which is written in much the same format but sounds like it’s got a lot more going on.

Date posted: May 19, 2021 | Filed under books, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Aw, man. Norton Juster, the author of the Phantom Tollbooth, died Tuesday at age 91. The Phantom Tollbooth was a seminal book for me; this was the first young adult book I read that didn’t just tell a story. Instead, Juster made me stop and think about what I was reading and what it meant and go back and marvel at how he’d written it and how clever it was. And the fact that it featured Jules Pfeiffer illustrations was the icing on the cake. I’m going to go pull my hardback copy off the shelf and re-read it tonight. And then maybe leave it on Finn’s desk and chain her to the chair so that she reads it too. (previously)

Date posted: March 9, 2021 | Filed under art/design, books, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Rowling fashioned herself an untouchable goddess at the exact moment untouchable goddesses became obsolete.

The Cut digs into J.K. Rowling’s journey from a universally respected creator of an inclusive fantasy world to a trans-exclusionary radical feminist.

Date posted: December 22, 2020 | Filed under books, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I’ve been binging this for the past week: All kinds of awesome people from the Harry Potter world are reading chapters of The Philosopher’s Stone (book 1). I started listening to Stephen Fry’s series but I’ve found that I enjoy Jim Dale’s version much better.

Date posted: December 11, 2020 | Filed under books, entertainment, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

This is one of the most well-written obituaries of an incredible life ever published. Rick Rescorla was English by birth, fought in the Vietnam War for the U.S. Army in a pivotal early battle, and later became a writer and lawyer. He was the chief of security for Morgan Stanley at the World Trade Center on September 11, and died getting his personnel out of the building. Recommended reading: We Were Soldiers Once…And Young.

Date posted: September 12, 2020 | Filed under books, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I’ve been reading a book on the train to work since the middle of last week, and it was fitting that I finished it in New York: Meet Me In The Bathroom is an oral history of the NYC rock scene at the turn of the century when the Strokes, Interpol, TV On the Radio and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs all blew up. I was reading the first music blogs at this point and sort of liked the Strokes but Interpol resonated more with me at that time; it was unlike anything I’d heard before. The book paints a picture of New York that sounds dirty and glamorous and goes a long way to explain where these artists had come from and who they were. Much like fine art, I appreciate music more with context and personal experience, so I started digging back into these and other affiliated bands on Spotify today and found a new appreciation for some bands and some songs that I didn’t have before.

Another book the family just finished this evening: The Mysterious Benedict Society, a young adult book that was recommended for kids who enjoyed the Harry Potter series. It’s a big one that begins slowly, and is written in a way that is challenging to read out loud. But the ending paid off and Finn wants to move on to the next book in the series, so I’ll be placing an order on Amazon tonight.

At the event yesterday, I was using a new Canon 5D MkIV, which is the fancy new update of the MkII I inherited when I came to WRI. It’s a fantastic camera in all respects–focus, speed, ISO depth, a touchscreen interface, 4K video, and wireless connectivity. But the wireless fell flat on its face yesterday as several people asked me to send them photos directly from the event; I’d followed Canon’s instructions and paired the camera with my app at the hotel the night before the gig (it’s where I got this shot of NYC from) like a good little monkey. But try as I might between photo ops yesterday, the fucking camera forgot how to work and wouldn’t broadcast WiFi for shit, and I didn’t have the proper cable to pull them onto my laptop at the venue–nor did I really want to. My Fuji does this in three steps, and it’s worked flawlessly. I wonder why Canon couldn’t get this right? I’ll have to do some more digging to figure that out. I got some good shots, though, and even set up a timelapse with my GoPro perched on an exit sign for giggles.

Date posted: September 26, 2018 | Filed under books, photography, WRI | Leave a Comment »

I’m officially signed up to teach a class this fall at UMBC, which makes me happy. It’s not one of the senior-level courses I had the last two semesters but it’s one I’ve taught before and should be pretty easy to pick up. At one point I was interested in updating the syllabus for this class but given that it starts at the end of August and I’m otherwise occupied with getting healthy I think I’ll just roll with the 10-year-old syllabus they’ve been using.

* * *

I stopped in to a new Harbor Freight store here in town to look over the merchandise and immediately felt overwhelmed. It’s a bigger store than the one I used to go to in Glen Burnie, and the people working there were all friendly and helpful. The shelves were neat and tidy and the place was clean as a whistle. In other words, I didn’t recognize it. I’m looking at sandblasting equipment to start working on my car parts, and after looking over all of the available options I decided I needed to do a lot more research before I made a purchase. Not that I can carry the equipment, or a 50-lb. bag of blasting media right now anyway.

* * *

In the initial days of our vacation I started reading Barbarian Days, a memoir written by William Finnegan, a staff reporter for the New Yorker. It’s a book about surfing, how the author started early when his family moved to Hawaii, and how it shaped the course of his life as he followed waves from California across the ocean to Fiji and Australia. What sets it apart from an average column in Surfer magazine is his prose, which earned the book a Pulitzer in 2016. It’s the kind of writing that reads effortlessly but is obviously the product of decades of craft, and it was a pleasure to finally finish the book this morning.

Date posted: August 5, 2018 | Filed under books, teaching | Leave a Comment »

This week’s reading: Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock’s Darkest Day. It tells the story of how a bunch of hippies and hustlers convinced the Stones to hire the Hell’s Angels to provide security for a free concert in the middle of nowhere.

For further consideration: Albert and David Maysles’ documentary Gimme Shelter, which begins with their Madison Square Garden show and ends with footage shot from the stage and in the crowd.

Date posted: October 12, 2017 | Filed under books, music | Leave a Comment »