November 2019

Just when you think he can’t bring any more shame to the office of the President of the United States, Trump tweets a photoshopped image of his head air-brushed onto Sylvester Stallone/Rocky Balboa’s body:

So let’s see how that went over.

And then there’s this for the mic drop:

I won’t blog today because we had a big Thanksgiving holiday here in the USA and Top Cat and I had people over and I am all talked out. But I’ve been saving stuff for you.

Enjoy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dog it up this weekend, Dear Readers. See you next week.

 

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I’m so glad that so may of you Dear Readers liked the watercolor post I did a few weeks back.

This is also a painting post, but not that kind of painting post.

The story is, that with just a few days to go before Thanksgiving, I decided now was a dandy time to re-do our horrible, 100-year old staircase.

Random BEFORE and AFTER photo of someone else’s staircase. I am too embarrassed to show you how bad our stairs looked BEFORE.

Thirty-fiveyears ago, when Top Cat bought the house here on the north shore of Long Island, he ripped up old olive green carpeting that was there and slapped a coat of white paint on the steps. What I’ve come to discover, from wear and tear and exploratory chipping away at the landing, is this:

Historically, there are four coats of paint on this 100-year old staircase. From bottom to top, the archeology of these stairs is: brown paint, yellow paint, white paint, carpet, white paint.

The fine people on YouTube made it look so easy. Just buy “green” (organic) paint remover, go watch an episode of Property Brothers, and voila: your stairs are ready to be televised.

I have 12 stairs in my staircase that I need to strip down to wood. The first 4 stairs took me two days (two full work days) to do.

Then a voice, the mellifluous intonation of the Angel of Duh, spoke to me and yea, it said: Yo, Stupid, Let The Paint Stripper Do The Work.

So here’s how the next four stairs took me two hours to do:

First, squish a lot of Soy Gel, “green” paint remover made from 100% Aerican-grown soy beans so they say, onto the hideous 100-year old tread:

Soy Gel is not cheap but O-boy, is it effective if– you have patience. It’s organic, so you can use it indoors in Winter and you don’t have to rig up ventilation.

Then you take a “chip” brush that you will throw away when this adventure is over, and you spread the Soy Gel evenly over the despicable surface:

This is a trick I learned on the Advanced YouTube tutorial about not being dumb about removing paint:

You lay down a layer of cling wrap on top of the Soy Gel. You do this because you are going to let the Soy Gel do its thing for the next seven hours.

Meanwhile, if it’s OK with the Boss, you can put away the sander and clean up the mess that you made on the first four steps because you won’t need any of it (now that you know the trick with the Saran Wrap).

You can believe your eyes. Lickety took a nap on top of sand paper, sandy-side UP.

And, if it’s OK with the Boss, you can use brown paper to cover the previously stripped stairs so to keep them clean from the crud you will be excavating soon:

It’s 3 o’clock.  Time to have fun!

This is SO COOL!

The Saran Wrap does all the work!

The remaining bits of paint can be scraped up with a minimum of cursing, and still provide you with a fine work-out for your trapezius and latissimus muscles:

Next comes the horrible part. What is left on your stairs now is a thickish layer of persistently clingy goo that has the consistency of  the insides of a marshmallow.

So you need to buy the strongest “de-greaser” you can find. You spray it onto the stair, you let sit for a minute:

And then you get your wire brush and you warn your back and leg muscles that there’s some hurt coming soon. You crouch for leverage, and you put all your might into scouring away at the goo:

At this point, the “goo” becomes a finer texture, more like very sticky “crud”.

The crud wedges good and hard into the teeth of the wire brush every minute or so, so keep a bucket of water handy so you can dip the brush into it and take another instrument to gouge between the rows of wire and pry out the impacted crud. This, too, will require “effort”.

Repeat at least twice; three times if you’re really into punishing yourself for ever having started this stupid project in the first place, and then let dry.

This weekend I will be painting the stairs Espresso, because I read that dark-chocolate-colored treads are the hottest trend in staircases. I’ll be painting the trim and risers white, but I won’t strip them first since I don’t want to.

I did all this work all by myself because I got no help at all from The Rock, who was off gallivanting, as it’s been doing for over a month now, and now has made it all the way to the Great North Great West.

The Rock, from Stromness, Orkney, Scotland, is now in Washington (state).

This for Australian readers who don’t want to have to drag out an atlas.

In olden days, the Oregon Territory took up the whole huge NW corner of the continental United States. Nobody knows why it was called “Oregon”, but when that top northern bit broke away and its residents applied for statehood in the 1880s, they petitioned Congress to give them the name, “Washington, Not That Washington, The Other One.”

Then New York Congressman and general busy-body David Dudley Field went around bitching that the country already had a “Washington” (that “Washington, of D. C.”), and that a duplicate “Washington” was going to make life very difficult, especially for the U. S. Post Office. He wanted the new state to have a Native American name, and he suggested “Tacoma”.

David Dudley Field, 1805 – 1894. I wonder if he was disappointed about not living long enough to see 1900?

I’m all for having a state called “Tacoma”. Is it too late?

Well, the residents of “Washington, Not That Washington, The Other One”, argued that the dunces at the U. S. Post Office should be able to deliver mail to the correct Washington by paying attention to context and they took advantage of the fact that nobody else in Congress gave a crap about having two Washington’s so they shortened their state name and their application for statehood as  “Washington” was approved in 1889.

So, now you know where we are today.

We are in that Washington. Specifically, we are with Dear Reader Alexandra, in the fair city of Richland, located at the confluence of the Yakima and the Columbia Rivers. Richland is in the southeastern part of the state where, being on the dry side of the Cascade Mountains, the climate is desert-like. The area gets 7 inches of rain yearly (Seattle gets 39 inches) and there are dust storms in Summer.

Dust storms. In THE DESERT.

So, naturally, that’s where you can find The Rock hanging around the USS Triton Submarine Memorial Park:

In THE DESERT.

All that is left of the historic USS Triton is its con-tower, sticking up out of the ground. Much like the history of the nomenclature of Washington the state, the sub is here in Richland because shut up, we want the damn submarine and Congress doesn’t care either way, so shut up.

They notified the U. S. Post Office  that the sub’s new address is in THE DESERT, in that Washington.

Fun Fact: The USS Triton submarine was the first to circumnavigate around the world underwater, on its maiden voyage Feb 16 – May 11 1960, following  Ferdinand Magellan’s first circumnavigation of 1519 – 1522. The con-tower stands tall at 26 feet high and 67 feet long. The sub has no logical connection to Washington, the state, but that has never stopped Washington, the state, from getting what it wants.

Here we are at the splendid used book store of the beautiful and gleaming Richland Public Library, where The Rock is trying to see if anyone will mistake him for a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone  and try to read him, and they can’t because he doesn’t have any pages because he’s a rock, and then he’ll laugh and laugh and make them feel stupid.

The Rock can be a little bit of an asshole sometimes.

Lunch time, and The Rock heads for The Emerald of Siam, Richland’s oldest Thai restaurant, located in the groovy Uptown Shopping Center:

FunFact: The Upland Shopping Center was designed in 1948 and its architecture epitomizes that brief but glorious style known as Atomic Age Aqua Everywhere.

Funner Fact: The shopping center was designed by by the Atomic Energy Commission of the United States.

Why?

Because it’s Washington, the state. Shit like that happens here.

And next The Rock went bowling. Because it’s a rolling stone. Get it?

The Rock wrongly thinks this is hilarious.

Most people call this next tourist attraction The Ginnko Petrified Forest State Park in Vantage, Wa. But The Rock calls it “Meeting the American Cousins.”

The rock drawings that are reserved here date from prehistoric (pre-white people, that is, because pre-white people there was  no history) times. Carved by the Wanapum people, who lived along the Columbia River and welcomed Lewis and Clark to the neighborhood. The Wanapum lived here in peace until 1953, when newly-built dams on the river flooded the ancestral home.

Petrified wood was discovered here in the 1930s, which led to the creation of this 7,124-acre park.

The Rock ponders, “Is this petrified cottonwood, or redwood?”

There are over 50 species of trees that are petrified here. One of those species is the ginkgo. The forest dates from the Miocene Period, 5 – 12 million years ago.

You should know that dinosaur fossils have not been found in Washington, the state. The park’s velociraptor, small brontosaurus, and pterodactyl statues came from Arizona, where there are dinosaur fossils. So, in the end, it’s completely legit.

The Rock is at it again, trying to pass itself as something’s not, in this case, a gem:

You know what else moves rocks? Tourists fromLong Island, Aer Lingus, the U. S. Post Office, and the lovely volunteer tour guides who have given The Rock memories of a lifetime.

It’s a fossil, yes, but it’s a mammoth, still not a dinosaur:

Fun Fact: Columbian mammoths (mammuthus columbi) once roamed from Alaska to Mexico and are the most common species of mammoth fossil found in this part of Washington state—so common, in fact, that the Columbian mammoth is the Washington state fossil.

You will be happy to know that The Rock barely moved the needle of this geiger counter:

Why is there a geiger counter at The Ginko Petrified Forest State Park?

Nobody’s telling.

Least of all these guys:

This is Truman and Pippin. Can you tell from his hang-dog look which one is most disappointed that The Rock is not edible?

Thank you for stopping by today and hanging out with me and The Rock.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. And if you check back later, I will have a slew of stuff to make your celebrations of the House Impeachment Hearings’ total indictment of Trump, Giuliani, and the Republicans just a little more fun. I have a lot to show you.

Oh, lordy, it was a good week to be an American, for once.

 

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Dear Reader Jeanie was in charge of The Rock from Stromness (Orkney, Scotland) last month. GUESS WHERE Jeanie took our beloved rolling stone?

From its secret hiding place at The Orkney Fisherman’s Association last Summer, you Dear Readers have hosted The Rock through Massachusetts and Pennsylvania and, now, Ta-Da:

The Rock is in Michigan, The Great Lake State, the base from which the United States launched an invasion of Canada in 1813 which, sadly, we did not quite pull off. But that is why everyone agrees that Michigan is our most Canadian state, as reflected in its almost absurdly polite state motto: “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you”.

The Rock, being Scottish, needed refreshments of a liquid nature so Jeanie took it, first, to a cider mill/Tiki Bar:

And then to a wine tasting:

And then, because drinking makes the Rock very thirsty, they went to the famous Miller Brewery in Milwaukee:

Quick: What’s the capitol of Michigan?

It’s Lansing, where Jeanie gave The Rock to a group of very Michigan protestors gathered around the capitol building. They get together every Wednesday afternoon for a little political activism and then they go to Marge’s house for cherry pie. Because they are CanadiaMichiganders. And none of their signs say, Fuck Trump.

Michigan’s unofficial state food is cherry pie. Michigan would make cherry pie its official state food, but Michiganders don’t want to hurt the feelings of the state’s official state flower, the apple blossom.

Apple Blossom be all like,  So, I’m good enough for the state flower but not good enough for the state food?? Apple pie, ever heard of it??? WTF?

No, CanadaMichiganders don’t want any hard feelings.

Since The Rock was in Lansing, it moseyed east, over to Michigan State University campus so take a wander through its 4-H Garden:

MSU is the nation’s pioneer land-grant university and has 50,000 students, known as Spartans. It is the biggest of The Big Ten universities, an athletic conference founded in 1895 which actually comprises 14 schools, mostly in the Mid-West. If you don’t like snowy winters or if you need an urban vibe for your college experience, do not go to a Big Ten university.

But if you like to be around people who know how to earn an A+ rating for their parties and academics, then you should put Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI at the top of your list.

Next, let’s go visit Lansing’s most famous native son:

Ransome Eli Olds was the son of a blacksmith and a dress-maker whose Curved Dash Oldsmobile (1901 – 1904) became the first mass-produced, low-priced American motor vehicle so take that, Henry Ford.

Fun Fact: Ransom Eli’s father was Pliny Fiske Olds; his his wife was Metta Ursula Woodward Olds. People had fabulous names back then. His gorgeous mansion, which had a turntable garage which allowed Mr. Olds to pull in at night and leave again the next morning without driving in reverse, was demolished in 1966 to make way for an interstate hi way. People had shit for brains in the 1960s.

R. E. Olds is dead, which is why The Rock is in a cemetery.

Oh, I forgot: while in Milwaukee, The Rock got to take a selfie with The Bronze Fonz:

Taking a selfie with the Bronz Fonz statue on the Milwaukee RiverWalk is practically a rite of passage for any visitor. As is a visit to the Harley Davidson HQ:

Motorcycling is very popular in Scotland and The Rock felt right at home in the gift shop:

And, lastly, The Rock had the good fortune to meet one of Michigan’s grandest dames, the lady Lizzie Cosette of the blog, The Marmalade Gypsy:

And that was Michigan.

Next stop for The Rock: Wisconsin.

Otherwise known as The State of Deja Vu:

Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of WISCONSIN. I can’t say that I had known that for sure before I got Dear Readers Susie and Tony’s photos, but I know now that I will always remember that MILWAUKEE is in WISCONSIN. Not Michigan. It’s never even been to Michigan.

Milwaukee is known for being the setting of the popular 1970s sit-com Happy Days. This explains why there’s a Bronze Fonz in MILWAUKEE, in WISCONSIN. Which is not Michigan.

And then, being that The Rock is a bit of a booze hound, it went back to the Miller Brewery, in MILWAUKEE, which is in WISCONSIN, a city that is famous for its many breweries.

Overlooking the Menomonee River, the Harley-Davidson Museum displays classic motorcycles, including one of Elvis Presley’s. The Rock also went back to the Harley Davidson museum, which I don’t have a picture of but I do have one of the stills — I mean brew kettles — at the Miller Brewery:

Yeah, The Rock is looking a little worse for wear, but that’s what happens when you drink your way through Michigan and WISCONSIN.

Fun Fact about MILWAUKEE: the city boasts a statue legendary Scots poet Robert Burns. As far as anyone knows, Burns never visited Milwaukee, mainly because Milwaukee didn’t exist in his lifetime.

But you know how it is when you’re in a foreign country and you come across a countryman and you’re all, “Hi an sin seann friend! Och, gabhamaid deoch! ” And then you’re stuck with your new best friend for the rest of the bus tour.

Fun Fact about the Saint Andrews Society of Milwaukee:

Every September they hold a Kilt Raffle.

Now, when I think of men in kilts, I think of this:

Actually, The Saint Andrews Society in Milwaukee is like this:

But let’s think a little bit longer about men in kilts, because that’s where The Rock has taken us (Thank you, Rock) :

 

 

Now, while The Rock did not don a kilt while it was in Milwaukee, it DID get to try on the famous WISCONSIN Cheese head:

WISCONSIN is known as The Cheese State because they make a lot of fondue there and because fans of its football team, the Green Bay Packers, wear bits of cheese on their heads. I think it’s because football is a dangerous game that causes concussion. Also, because of the long, hard Winters in WISCONSIN.  People go a little crazy from concussion and the cold and nothing says “crazy” more than an inordinate love of cheese.

The capitol of WISCONSIN, America’s Dairyland, is Madison, where apparently The Rock got an Uber and hit the singles’ scene:

Fun Fact: I have no idea where The Rock is (below), but then, I don’t track The Rock’s every move and if it hooked up in Madison and woke up the next day in a strange town hey, it’s not for me to judge:

Good Going, Rock.

But The Rock isn’t as young as it used to be (it’s actually from the Devonian Age, about 400 million years ago) and hop boy, the Rock needed a bucket of coffee and lots of low light when it woke up the next day.

They say nature is the best cure for a hot night out in Madison WI and there is plenty of nature in the woods around Lake Michigan:

TREES. On Orkney, The Rock never sees trees because it’s treeless environment, being too cold and windy for them to grow there. So you can imagine how spectacular this landscape was, how overcome The Rock was to see such abundance of those little things, in the billions, those things called Leaves. So, so many leaves.

Majestic Lake Michigan, from a rock’s point of view:

Fun Fact: Lake Michigan gets its name from the Ojibwe native peoples’ word michi-gami, meaning “great water”. It is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume, and is 2/3 the size of Scotland. Scotland’s largest lake (or loch) is Loch Lomand, which is about the size of a Great Lake sneeze if Lake Michigan had a nose and a cold. (Loch Lomand is 71 square miles and Lake Michigan is 22,393 sq miles.)

So. Where is The Rock now?

For that, you’ll have to meet me here next week. Spoiler: The Rock turns out to be a real stoner.

Thank you Dear Jeanie, and Dears Susie and Tony, for showing us and The Rock such a great time.

And, oh yeah, Fuck trump.

 

 

 

 

 

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As you know, my blog is not a place where I write about what I had for lunch. Lunch is a topic too mundane for my blog. No lunch here. Because my blog is all about the larger issues and the deep thoughts concerning art and life; it’s about the interpolation between fast-breaking trends in high fashion and low popular culture; it’s about being on the cutting — nay, the bleeding — edge of nuclear science and phenomenological philosophy.

Having said all that, I’m going to show you what I had for lunch last week:

This is bibimbap, a traditional Korean dish made with rice and kimchee and whatever else the chef wants to throw in there, topped with a fried egg and served with with a bowl of soy sauce and side dishes (in this case, potatoes, a veggie thing that looked suspiciously like a small slab of fish, and more kimchee). It is served sizzling hot, except for the side dishes, which are cold.

I didn’t much care for the bibimbap (sorry — I’m a very picky eater) but I was thrilled to have had Korean food for the first and probably last time in my life (sorry, kimchee) because of where I had my Korean lunch.

I was in thrilling Koreatown, in Los Angeles (California), at the thrillingly famous Koreatown Plaza’s thrilling Food Court.

Backstory: A few months ago, when my dear Top Cat told me that we were going to LA, I was not thrilled. I called up Delta Airlines to inquire what I needed to get a refund on my non-refundable plane ticket to LA and was told that either a Death Certificate or a note from a doctor on hospice letterhead would do. I was five minutes away from asking my mother to fake her own death for me.

I was ten minutes away from asking her to actually die for me. My mother is in her 80s and hasn’t been feeling all that well lately anyway.

I really did not want to go to LA.

But everything that I hated about going to LA changed when I became a pervert.

In a word, I became a K-Pop fan. Specifically (because K-Pop is weird this way) I became a Shawol. And from there it gets weirder: There are five sub-sets of Shawol and I’m the one that makes me a Blinger. I am not proud that I know this, and to me it sounds like coded language for something dirty, but I do give myself credit for finding a new hobby that isn’t about sticking pins into Republican voodoo dolls or self-harming by diving into a vat of white wine (because of Republicans).

K-Pop inspires me. I now take my iPad to the gym with me so I can watch Youtube videos while I’m on the treadmill and K-Pop makes me run 1/3 faster and 80% longer. That’s because K-Pop is has been intricately engineered to be extremely catchy and very pretty to look at. You can look it up. This stuff is made in laboratories. It is addictive. And plus, lagniappe, the boys are extraordinarily cute.

Then I found out that Los Angeles has the largest Korean population in America and that its hub is an happening place that is imaginatively called Koreatown, and I ditched all my thoughts of matricide and packed my bags.

(I also made a blog post and rescheduled it for Friday November 1, but it failed to publish on time. In case you missed it, it’s right behind this one, and it’s called As If These Were Normal Times.)

On our second day in LA I made my way to the Koreatown Plaza for lunch and a visit to one of the country’s best K-Pop music stores, where I bought authentic, imported from Korea, K-Pop CDs of my favorite group.

K-Pop boys know their way around eyeliner. South Korea is the world’s largest market for men’s beauty products (also known as make up).

The CD came with a book about the group that, upon perusal, turns out to be lots of soft-focus photos of the boys laying atop rumpled sheets and lounging across velvet armchairs while shirtless. This was c. 2010, when one of these kids was only 16 years old and the oldest two were only 20. The vibe is definitely soft-core porn.

Indignant, I showed the book to Top Cat and yes, I actually said: Is this appropriate?? Would you want your teenage daughter or son looking at this?!?  (Or, even worse, your wife???)

There are 370 K-Pop groups (someone actually counted them) and you are a knowledgable K-Pop fan if you can name 30 of them. I can name 5 and I have trouble keeping these 5 straight. K-Pop is complicated.  And I just ordered another CD off amazon. I can’t quit it.

So, OK, I admit that it’s pervvy to workout to videos of 20-year old boy groups  but in my defense two of my books were translated into Korean…

…so I think that mitigates my pervviness. Somewhat. Somehow. Because my esthetic is Korean-cute? I hope.

I was able to do a lot of other unusual things on my own in LA, including riding the subway:

I went for a 4-second ride on a glass slide on the outside of the tallest building in LA(the U. S. Bank tower), 1,00o feet up, from the 70th floor to the 69th floor:

Afterwards I admired the 360 degree views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills:

I went to a satellite version of Burning Man on Venice Beach:

Ah, Venice. Where things are always groovy:

And I witnessed virga…when rain falls from the sky but the surrounding air is so dry that it evaporates before it hits the ground.

We were not bothered by the fires burning a mere few miles north of us because for the most part the winds were blowing out to sea. All we got were spectacular sunsets:

There is so much to catch up on so be prepared for nest week, when the blog will be long-form re: The Stromness Rock’s visits with Dear Readers in Michigan and Wisconsin.

I will close now because my heart is a little sad these days. My 19-year old cat, Coco, two days after I got back from LA, and I am still seeing her shadows in every corner of the house. You know how it is.

Coco was never a “nice’ cat. She was, as Top Cat rightly said, “a pain in the ass.” She was aloof, mean to all the other cats, cranky, demanding, and had a way about her that took up a lot of room whenever she was around. I’ve had her since she was a kitten, trapped by me in a neighbor’s yard on November 3, 2000. She died on November 6, 2019.

In her honor, let’s do this:

Lickety is still with us, and he takes his daily sun bath in the back yard, bless his heart:

Have a great weekend, everyone. Thank you being here.

Lagniappe:

Big Bang/Fantastic Baby.

 

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