I cleaned out some kitchen cupboards on Saturday afternoon. I know what you’re thinking: boy, hope your insurance is paid up. You’re living hard. On the edge. Flirtin’ with disaster, as Molly Hatchet put it.    Flirtin’ with Disaster! Wasn’t that a Molly Hatchet album? Weren’t they a southern-flavor hard-rock band with Frank-Frazetta covers, for no discernible reason? Probably so. Flirtin’ with Disaster! The album gave a motto to all those guys in the dorm my second year, the straight-ahead / good-time / dual-lead-guitar / Allman et al guys who lived in the triple room catty-whompus from ours, and would have kicked our assses on general principle for not being like them, and also for using the term catty-whompus. They loved that stuff. Played it all the time. It sounded like music to hear two hours before you truly and seriously get down the business of throwing up, hunched over the bowl making gargoyle faces. College. The enlightenment just rained down from the skies. No, that was the guy in the room above whizzing out the window. 

Anyway. Yes, I cleaned out the cleaning-supplies cupboard. I had six flavors of Windex. Each had its own attribute. I cannot possibly imagine there was a whit of difference between them. I also got rid of some ineffective marble polish, because I don’t have any ineffective marbles anymore, but also because the stuff we have is granite. Got rid of some Pledge. I used to Pledge more than I Pledge now. It’s an odd word. Pledge. The more you say it, the more it sounds like something moist and meaty, and why they chose the word for a product that put a temporary shine on wood I don’t know. Maybe “Troth” was already taken. After half an hour I moved on to the cereal drawer, and bade farewell to several unsuccessful additions to the family morning repertoire. I’m partial to Fiber One Clusters, which really is truth in advertising; it also has yogurt nodules and raisins that have not been subjected to the pitiless desiccation you often find in such cereals. My wife has a variety of oatmeals which insist they are good for the heart, and I suppose they are, but I have a suspicion that when someone comes into the emergency room with a balky ticker they don’t call for a Quaker Oat Plaster, stat.

Then I moved on to some other cupboards, but edited little. A few years ago I had everything all set up nicely, but within a month my wife had ruined the arrangement by actually using the stuff, and also by adding things I would normally put in the back of the cupboard. We have nine kinds of vinegar, for example. But I’m as guilty as she is; I have a fondness for salts. Sea Salts, popcorn salts, Lawry’s seasoned salts. They came up with two added varieties; one had black pepper added, because God Knows how we’re all taxed having to make two separate efforts to shake flavor-flattening agents onto the meal; the other contained granulated Tabasco, which overwhelmed everything else in the usual Lawry palette. It’s like those “Five Pepper Blends” – I don’t quite know how that’s supposed to work. If all the peppers are equally strong, they will form one united pepper singing a single note; if one pepper is stronger than the others, it will drown out and rule over the weak and inferior. It’s all so German. 

Then I moved to the Storage Closet of Shame, about which we will not speak, except to say that I decided to put the HO gauge model train cars on a shelf upstairs in my studio, thereby freeing up one-half-cubic foot of space, but more importantly reducing the possibility that my wife will ask “What’s this doing here, and why are you keeping it?’ Those questions cannot be asked in my studio. I could have a dead hooker in the closet and those questions could not be asked.

Other notable accomplishments of the weekend: a replacement submersible pump for the Oak Island Water Feature was secured, and said OIWF was duly drained. A stomach ache of the uber-acid variety was procured on Sunday afternoon, and is still in effect. He said, tersely. While waiting for (G)Nat to get out of Sunday school I spent some time in the Church Library, paging through a volume on the religious treasures of the Louvre. I have studied a lot of peculiar Western religious imagery in my day, but for all my study of Giotto, how did I miss this?  It’s St. Francis receiving the stigmata from a winged Jesus who shoots rays out of his wounds, and corrects for the position of the target’s feet:

I understand the need to explain these things for the congregations, who were often simple and required direct unambiguous representational art, but modern eyes find it a bit unnerving. If we saw this apparition hanging over a church parking lot, zapping people as they headed to their cars, I wonder how people would react. The wings might be the confusing part.

I watched a movie, “The Tunnel,” story of brave East Germans who escaped before the wall went up then built a tunnel to get out their friends and relatives. It took a year to build the tunnel, and the movie, I think, takes place in real time. It’s long with a saggy middle, and East Germany seems oddly benign – ominous and threatening by implication, but nearly indistinguishable from its counterpart. It’s interesting: there are American filmmakers who would make contemporary America seem darker and more oppressive than the Germans are inclined to make East Germany appear. Well, spirit of healing, bygone be bygones, et cetera. Anyway: it’s a remarkable story anyway, and it’s true. (Also been made before, but never mind.) Bonus decadent capitalist-west angle: the guys who built the tunnel struck a deal with NBC, and let them film the construction. 

It’s late and I have to get to buzz.mn, so that’s it. New matchbook, of course.


Still here? Buy the book! Thank you very much.