Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bubble failure

Whitey is befuddled by bubbles

My latest effort to entertain the quats was a dismal failure. I ordered a book called Boredom Busters for Cats: 40 Whisker-Twitching Games and Adventures. Here I learned about a new thing.

Did you know that they make catnip-scented bubbles that are safe and non-toxic for pussycats? When I read that, I said "I gotta get me some of those!" I immediately hopped online and found some being sold through Amazon. Once the postage was tacked on, it was kind of expensive (about $7.50 for the one little bottle!), but my thinking was, "The quats are gonna love this!" and anything that could help cheer them up was worth it.

I felt like a schoolkid again waiting for the bubbles to arrive. And last night, arrive they did.

So many layers of packaging I had to rip through!

Once I got the bottle open, I put it down in front of Pandy Bear's nose to give him a hit. He sniffed with mild interest.

I started blowin' bubbles!

Pandy bear watched -- then got up and walked away.

I blew bubbles at Pooky sitting in the doorway.

She looked really irritated.

Whitey came along and I blew bubbles at him.

He turned and ran!

Next I tried Honey. I could tell that her first instinct was to run, but she was intrigued enough to watch as the bubbles floated down at her. One of them lighted right in front of her and sat there wobbling. As she put her nose to it, it burst -- and that was it. ZOOOOM! Scratch one cat.

I followed after her saying "Honey, it's supposed to be fun!" -- but every time I raised the wand to my mouth she got a terrified look on her face and ran away from me.

Patchy almost was into it. But somehow Whitey's and Honey's fear transmitted itself to her, and she started retreating, too.

I tried Pandy Bear again. He got up and walked away.

I tried Pooky again. She gave me a look that said, "Cut it out with the damn bubbles or I'll poop on your chair."

*Sigh* So much for catnip-scented bubbles. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. . .

-- Freder

The Sneetches

Yes, I know it's childish. But it's fun.

They say it's all about restoring honor, as if people who disagree with them have none. They wave their flags and thump their bibles, as if people who disagree with them are not as patriotic or god-fearing as they are.

There's nothing more American than dissent, so I support their right to disagree with me, or the president, or anyone, and to voice that disagreement to their heart's content; just as I had the right to voice my disagreement with the policies of George W. Shrub.

But when you question my honor, question my patriotism, tell me I'm somehow less American than you, them's fightin' words, buster!

Whenever they're losing an argument, they fall back on "Why do you hate America?"

It's so cynical. The people who use this tactic know what they are doing: fanning the flames of unreason and prejudice, trying to steer the argument away from real issues and towards finger pointing. It is much akin to McCarthyism. It stinks.

Let's keep the argument about real things. We're all Sneetches. Does it really matter if we all have a star on our bellies?

-- Freder

Monday, August 30, 2010

In my father's house

On Saturday afternoon I made the trek out to R__________ (stopping along the way to redeem EIGHT big garbage bags filled with almost a year's worth of bottles) to have lunch with my father and his wife

It's a little bit sad, but also a little bit good, that three hours spent in their company left me with so little of substance to say.

I was dreading this so much that my hands trembled throughout much of the encounter. I could see that my father was noticing this, which made me tremble all the more. I wondered what he would say if I told him that I still drink at night.

When he opened the door, he said what an "honor" it was that I had come. My father always expresses himself in ways that seem false to me.

Then the ritual of hugging these two people that I have seen so little of and had so little to do with and feel deeply disassociated from. As if now that my mother is gone, all of a sudden the last thirty five years never happened.

He began by saying that he'd thought I would bring one of my "friends" along. I could actually hear the quotation marks but could not understand his meaning. We'd never discussed my bringing anyone. The invitation, not to say command appearance, was for me alone.

He looked at me cheerfully. He said, "Aren't any of them housebroken enough to bring along?"

I stared dumbly at him, feeling somewhat as if I'd landed in a play by Antonin Artaud. At last he told me that by "friends," he meant the cats.

This was venturing even further into the realms of the surreal. Why would I do that? Why would I traumatize one of my kitties by tossing her or him into the car, driving for an hour along back roads to a strange house where any cat would, at best, be tolerated? Even if this had ever been discussed with me, I would have said no.

I was given a nice lunch of fried haddock, baked potatoes with cheese and a HUGE bowl of raspberries and ice cream for desert (when I saw it, I never dreamed that it was all intended for me!).

Dad talked at great length, as he always does. I've come to realize that he fancies himself a raconteur, but his method of storytelling is to spare no detail, however small. Once in a while he would ask about me, only to pick up on something that I'd said and start all over again.

From time to time, his wife would enter the monologue, often to take issue with what he was saying. She is a kind enough woman, but her English is not the best, and her speech is heavily accented, so I often have a hard time understanding her..

At one point dad announced to the room that he had to go to the bathroom, and disappeared upstairs. My father's wife used this time to lecture me about my sister. She told about her father going underground during the Vietnam war and how angry she was at him for leaving her, as the oldest, to take care of the family. One day her grandmother scolded her, saying that no matter what he had done, he was her father and she could never make another one. My father's wife wanted to apply this to me and my sister. She said, "It not matter what she say or do, she your sister, she your family, you cannot make another."

She repeated this over and over again, to the point where I wanted to say "I GET it already!"

But I do not agree. In fact, most of my favorite books and films are about new families that create themselves in the absence of a blood family. Even THE WIZARD OF OZ is all about the creation of a family. People are creating their own families all the time, especially when blood families become intolerable or dysfunctional, as mine has been all of my life.

It's in my own work, too, in nearly all of my stories. The novel that I ended up posting online (you can find it here) is clearly about the creation of a family.

It went on. Around quarter to three I got up and carried in the four bags of things that I'd brought with me. One of the bags was VHS that I thought would interest them. The rest were all things from the kitchen, food that I will never eat, spices that I will never use. There was bramble jam from England, bottles of mustard and ketchup, jars of pickles that had never been opened, several bottles of salad dressing, peanut butter, canned pineapple, pesto, and something called "artichoke appetizer."

My father's wife has a thing about not throwing away food, stemming from her struggles as a young woman in Vietnam. We shall see if any of that lot challenges her resolve!

Before I left they arranged for another visit. My father wants me to buy a new (used) car. He wants to go car shopping with me.

I can't afford a new car, and anyway, I would almost rather go to Afghanistan.

I broke all speed records driving home, not understanding why. It isn't until now, typing this, that I realize how relieved I was to have the lunch at my father's house behind me.

Pop Culture Blather

Another busy weekend of VHS duplicating to help trim down my shelves. This time I started with a 1939 Republic serial called ZORRO¹S FIGHTING LEGION, with Reed Hadley behind the mask. You can tell that Disney watched this interpretation of the character, as there are many close similarities to his later TV series starring Guy Williams as Don Diego; still, Disney opted for far less flamboyant and bombastic villains than Don Del Oro, a kind of Mexican Dr. Doom who lumbers about in a suit of golden armor while spouting off in truly stentorian tones.

I watched only parts of it, to make sure the VCR was still working properly, but was reminded in nearly every scene that 1937 to 1942 were the golden years of Republic serials, and ZORRO'S FIGHTING LEGION may be their very best one of a Western theme.

From there it was on to CRUSADER RABBIT, a very early effort from the creator of Rocket J. Squirrel, Mr. Jay Ward. These are more like TV Comics than cartoons; the animation is way beyond "limited," with nothing more than extreme poses switched out every few seconds. Unlike ROCKY & BULLWINKLE, there is relatively little for adults to pick up on, and the emphasis is on cute and whimsical rather than linguistics. But the episodes are short (just four minutes each) so, as long as you don¹t watch them in a marathon, CRUSADER never outstays his welcome.

However, the video did run significantly longer than what it said on the box. With two CRUSADER episodes sitting alone on a disk, I was forced to change my plans. A tape full of Max Fliesher KOKO THE CLOWN shorts followed, and I filled out the disk with the only three SPACE GOOFS cartoons that I own. This is nothing more than a cross between REN & STIMPY and REAL MONSTERS, but it's cute: pop-art space aliens living in an attic until they can find a way to repair their spaceship. Interesting the Gaumont, a French company, was behind it.

And I wound up the weekend with KING OF THE ROCKET MEN. This 1949 Republic serial (inspiration for THE ROCKETEER) would be strictly ho-hum stuff if not for the colorful title character, perhaps the most iconic original design to come out of serials. The flying scenes engineered by the Lydecker Brothers are pretty convincing, too.

That makes SIX chunky VHS tapes reduced to four DVD-R's. . . There¹s a lot to like in that picture. A friend of mine calls it "Addition by subtraction."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Neat and Pretty. . . well, neat-ish anyway. . .

My kitchen project is coming along nicely. I may have mentioned in a previous post that the only way to wind the kitchen clock was to climb over the back of the chair I sit in. That has changed. The picture above is the "after" picture. Imagine it with piles of magazines, books, boxes of tax records going back to 1996, cereal boxes, dolls, old bags of potato chips and heaven knows what all else stuffed under, around and behind that bar stool. Under the kitchen table was the same way. I threw out four garbage bags of magazines and newspapers this past Sunday, in addition to the eight bags I threw out last week.

The day after I cleared this space, the clock ran down. I moved the bar stool to one side, walked right in, stepped up onto the stool and wound that thing -- without ever having to do acrobatics. It was a real pleasure.

There's still work to do in there, of course -- I may take out a rocking chair that is simply one piece of furnature too many for that room. And I've started on the kitchen table, just getting all the notebooks and papers, the stacks of greeting cards out,

But the main goal has been reached. People can walk where no one has walked in years. You should see the cats. They walk under the table and between the legs of the stool into that back space, and stand there looking around in astonishment, as if to say "Where did this space come from? I'm going to sit here and give myself a bath!"

This coming weekend I'm going to return to clearing up my own end of the house. I've made a lot of progress in that area, but there are a couple of closets I want to hit. . .

-- Freder.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pussycat's Progress

Pandy Bear

Pandy Bear seems finally to be coming out of his depression. For months after my mother died, he would lay on the hall rug, on his side, staring off into space with the saddest, emptiest look on his face. On the rare occasions when he moved (mostly to eat) he would look up at me with the most forlorn expression.

I tried to draw him out. The other cats will play with string or catnip toys, but Pandy doesn't seem to know what to do with string (he would stare at it morosely no matter how much I wiggled it) and the most a catnip toy could get out of him was for him to draw it up to his chin and use it for a pillow.

Petting or brushing him would perk him up a lot, but it was just a temporary fix. That and food. Already a fat old football of a cat, I think he got even bigger after mom died.

The only thing that seemed to do anything for him was to call his name and get him to follow me around to my end of the house, either when I was going to be working at the computer or at bedtime. Then he would get the happiest look on his face as he followed along. He realized that he liked the view from the front door. He ran up the stairs and jumped into my bathroom window. He's jumping up onto the counter now where the second food dish is kept.

When I'm at the computer or watching telly, he comes lumping along and sits on my feet.

And for the past two nights he's actually slept with me. This is unheard of. I wake up in the morning and he's at the foot of the bed looking up at me happily. (Honey doesn't seem to mind, even though she believes that the owns the upstairs).

Now if I could just get him to go on a diet!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Venus and Mars are all right

Desperately needing a break from Woody Allen's self-serving period, last Friday night I put on ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS. Not Bud and Lou's finest hour, I'm afraid. So far from that is it that I nodded off about 15 minutes in and had to finish it up Saturday morning. Even then it had me fighting off the Sandman.

I only have it because I wanted to replace a copy of A & C MEET FRANKENSTEIN that I taped off the air when our local PBS station ran it. Per usual, they got the reels out of order (this station was notorious for that. Can you imagine watching CITIZEN KANE for the first time with the reels out of order? They managed to do it!) -- so that's the only way I've ever seen Bud and Lou's best venture into scare comedy. I thought it was about time to trade up.

I could have bought the movie separately, but for a lower price I could also get this set with seven other A & C movies included. I thought that was a no-brainer.

If MARS is any indication, I might be wrong. This pure studio comedy is not without some chuckles (and some of those Venusian women are certainly out of this world). But any two comedians could have starred in this SF-mock-up. There's too much of spaceships running wild and not enough of Bud and Lou doing what they do best.

I hate Bud's mustache, too!

In its favor, there is a great Mardis Gras sequence with nifty costumes and masks galore. Really cute, and worth the price of admission by itself. I kind of live in that scene, in a house full of masks and parade animals and carnival toys and more. My mother would have gotten a kick out of it.

-- Freder

Can you imitate me, Betty Boop?

My follow-up visit to the doctor was eminently successful. I've lost five pounds in the last month -- the first time in a decade, I think, that I've tipped the scales at under 200 pounds. Blood pressure way down, 139/80 vs. 168/whatever last month. Pulse rate down. Cholesterol just 6 over what it should be, and bad cholesterol way low.

Pending what the blood test tells him about how my liver is faring, I may not have to go back at all.

I posted on my Facebook page: "I'm gonna click my heels and jump for joy | Got a clean bill of health from Dr. McCoy!"

Not to say that weekends here at the Duck House don't contain a particular air of sadness, But that's another story.

But my project of duping VHS to DVD has taken a happy turn: my eight-volume set of Betty Boop cartoons turns out not to be copy-protected, and as most of this is unavailable in any form today, I'm getting it down on disk at a fast rate.

What a joy the best of Boop is! And what a crashing disappointment the
post-code cartoons are! And -- isn't Mae Questal the greatest female voice
artist in all of cartoon history? (Sorry, June Foray -- you're close, though!)

While I'm duping I'm doing other things: writing letters to friends, blogging, and entering some of those 115 cartoons into my database. Is this a help to me, or merely a distraction? Probably a little of both.

At the very least, when the time comes to move (which will be a heady day, given that it involves nothing less than ending one life and beginning a new one), I will be able to say to myself, as I'm lugging the heavy boxes of books and vinyl and DVDs, "It could have been worse!"

This afternoon, I¹ll mow the lawn. Then tomorrow, the kitchen project moves on. Hopefully to completion.


-- Freder

Loose Lips Sink Ships

I keep on biting my tongue. No, I mean really! It hurts and everything! It's been going on for two weeks now. My tongue has a welt on it and eating crunchy foods hurts like crazy.

I suppose if I had learned to bite my tongue in the metaphorical sense much earlier in life, at least some things might have turned out for the better. At the very least, I would have a more appealing job than I do know, and would be better off financially.

But just as many good jobs have disappeared out from under me through no fault of my own as have the ones that I ruined by opening my damn fool mouth over one thing or another.

Y'know that godawful thing they do at company meetings of going around the room and making everybody say their name and title? I just hate that. There was a day when I would (and did) give a fake name or a title like "Dogsbody"or tell a one-line joke (a deliberately bad one).

But if you say something out of the ordinary at one of these functions (it doesn't matter what it is) no one ever laughs. They just look at you funny, and you are forever marked as a troublemaker, when all you were really
trying to do is relieve the boredom.

Maybe I should have bitten my tongue a lot more often in those days. I'd give just about anything to make it stop now. OUWWW!! It just happened again!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Moon's a Balloon

Rather a less tranquil moon than the one I watched last night.

The moon is waxing. I love these bright, cool nights when a body can sit out in the yard and see almost as clearly as if it were daylight. I like to sit on the bench under the lilac tree, and have the yard and the barn and the house and the trees in shadow all around me. I like to look at the house, and see the lights still burning inside.

I want to implant my memory with these things.

I have determined to enjoy my home for as long as I can. Sooner rather than later, it will all be pulled apart, and I will have to move on.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Let's Get Small

Photo thanks to the Kuklapolitan website, http://kukla.tv/

With a move most likely in my future, I am "slimming down" the things on my shelves and in my closets: books and VHS especially. The books were relatively easy to get through, but harder to part with. Despite donating two big boxes of books that I know I will never read to Goodwill (and a third one ready to go), I still have shelves overflowing with them and stacks of them against the walls of my rooms. Not to mention all of my mother's books, some of which I will want to keep.

But the VHS tapes are a process, and a productive one -- I'm duping everything I can to DVD and getting rid of the bulkier tapes. Already there is much more elbow room where the tapes are stored. My Laurel and Hardy collection is saved for posterity, and it takes up about a half-inch on the shelf instead of two feet!

As a part of the process, this week I got to revisit some old friends: Kukla the Clown, Oliver J. Dragon, Fran Allison and all of the Kulapolitan players.

How would a kid react to this today? No special effects, no CGI, very little in the way of sets -- but also no preaching. no condescension, no potty jokes. Just one man standing behind a screen, talking and singing with one women through the cast of dozens that he wore on his hands.

Most of the characters don't even have articulated mouths or eyes. Like the Punch and Judy shows from which Kukla, Fran and Ollie derives, this is street performance -- in a studio.

It's hard to find anything so charming on the airwaves today. And it was good to revisit these kind-hearted friends from my childhood. I'm glad that I've finally got them in a permanent format, though I will miss the colorful box.

-- Freder.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ein Pome

I think that I shall never see | A G.O.P. who'll hug a tree

i like poetry best when garrison keillor reads it aloud
charles kurault was no slouch either
he could make a burma shave sign sound like bleedin' ozymandias
but mr kurault is dead now
and mr keillor is no spring chicken
so i can see the day coming when poetry will have no place in my life at all

my own brain does not read poetry nearly so well as they
i see only words incorrectly capitalized
and sentences without punctuation
and wonder where in hell the proofreader was when this thing got published

in consequence my own efforts at poetry are strictly pathetic
it would be nice one day to write something good enough
that mr keillor would read it aloud
but i don't hold my breath

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Am Self-Programming -- Like my Hero, here:

I have to agree with Wayne Pygram, the actor who portrayed him, that Scorpius was somewhat emasculated in the fourth and final season of Farscape. This observation brought to you  by the fact that I watch almost no broadcast TV, and am my own CEO for Programming in the Duck House, and Farscape is my Monday night fare.After three seasons engaging in the kind of villainy that makes Dracula look like a piker, Scorpy was ousted from his job and, like Lani Tupu's Crais before him, joined the crew of Moya. Presumably this was to give him closer proximity to work his deviltry -- instead it had the unwelcome effect of making him seem, well, domesticated. Even chummy. A very sad fate for any villain with a sense of pride in himself.

Scorpy is the very model of a self-made man, a half-breed at war with his own body. There's something poetic in the way that he defeats his inner villain on a daily basis just so that he can act like his own brand of Nasty Business. Villains are always best when they have a little bit of hero in them that they choose to ignore. Scorpius doesn't have Doctor Doom's sense of nobless oblige, and he certainly wouldn't visit hell once a year to wrestle the Devil for his mother's soul -- but there's something to admire in his battle of bloodlines.

Coming Clean. . .

I've referenced alcohol at least twice in previous posts, so perhaps that is the story I need to tell.

I did not start drinking until I was in my forties, and then it was in moderation, to relax at night. It didn't start to get ugly until after my mother's operation in 2005 to have her right leg amputated due to vascular disease brought on by diabetes. While she was in the hospital I began drinking in the mornings.

I soon became my mother's sole "caregiver," and sole caretaker of her house filled with antiques and cats. I began "self-medicating" my depression on a growing basis.

I went from being the guy who got drunk on one beer to the guy who could drink anyone in the room under the table and still function pretty well, thank you.

So, you could say that I was a heavy drinker before my mother's death this past May. After that event, it went wildly out of control. The only time I was sober was while I was at work. As soon as I walked through the door of my home, out came the bottle and the glass and the ice cubes, and I repeated as necessary, up to fifteen times (or perhaps more) every day. On weekends, consuming two thirds of a bottle of vodka a day was not uncommon.

I lost all appetite for food and stopped eating. Although I was never drunk at work, by the end of the workday my hands were shaking so badly that I could barely open the safe or count out the cash register.

One day I got into a terrible row with my boss and another person who shall be nameless. I was so upset that I could feel my stomach knotted like a clenched fist all the way home. I began heaving the minute I got out of the car, even though there was nothing in my stomach. I went inside and started drinking.

The next morning I went straight to the bathroom sink and vomited about a half cup of blood.

I drove myself to the hospital.

This was four days of hell and embarrassment. They ran a camera down my gullet and told me that there were no ulcers or other major damage, but the lining of my stomach looked like a skinned knee.

The doctor (and everyone else) told me that I could never drink again: not even a glass of wine or a single beer in a social setting.

I looked them in the eye and thought to myself, "Fuck you."

On my return home I had two days to myself, and it was pretty much a return to the level of intake that I was at before Mom's death. But then a funny thing happened. The Prozac they prescribed me at the hospital finally kicked in. At the same time, I went back to work. After about a week I stopped drinking in the middle of the night and early morning. I stopped drinking the minute I walked through the door. On the weekends, I stopped drinking during the day. I had work to do, and didn't want to feel like that anymore. The Prozac had taken away that which I had been drinking to drown.

I still have not gone cold turkey, and I continue to believe that to have done so after coming out of the hospital would have been an experiment doomed to failure, even disaster. I'd tried it before, and it always ended the same way.

Now -- I drink only at night, in front of the telly, slowly, just enough to relax me, just about at the same level as when I first started. I still feel depression and anxiety, especially in the mornings, but it isn't the bottomless pit of despair that I had fallen into. I've lost weight (four pant sizes!), am focused and calm during the day, can feel my body healing -- and no blood from either end! If it's not a complete success the way the doctors would want it, still it's a success from my point of view.

In my first post I implied (at least to myself) that I was going to use this blog to help repair my life. If that's going to happen, this was an unpleasant entry that had to be made.

-- Freder.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Horton at last

Working my way through the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION, vol. 5, at the rate of one cartoon a week, Friday nights. I always start with disk four, because that's where the non-character 'toons are dumped. Sometimes I can't believe how ordinary and dull these one-off cartoons are. Without Bugs or Daffy or the others, it's just pretty much the same old jokes with different and notably unmemorable faces on them. It's Hummer Time is a perfect example: the same exact shtick as a Tweety and Sylvester cartoon with a generic cat and a generic bulldog and an insouciant hummingbird sitting in for Tweety.

BUT -- it's all worth it to finally get to see Chuck Jones's adaptation of Horton Hatches the Egg, something I've known about for years and never had the chance to see until now. One of the last cartoonish "Holy Grails" on my quest (still eluding me is Coal Black an' de Sebben Dwarfs -- yes, it's reputedly just as racist as it sounds).

Horton is just as much of a delight as I imagined it would be. Chuck's first collaboration with Geisel is even better than How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Warner artists really get the good Doctor's style down, the voice work is hysterical, and although some liberties are taken to make the thing feel more like a Warner Brothers cartoon, that kind of silliness works well with Seuss.

So glad Mom got to see this before she died. Horton was a favorite of hers since its original publication.

"I thaid what I mey-ant and I mey-ant what I thaid: An Elephant'th faithful, one hundred perthent!"

Maybe Dr. Seuss is why I've always liked elephants.

He really just wanted to snog Charlotte Rampling. . .

For this week's movie, I finally settled on STARDUST MEMORIES, hot on the heels of INTERIORS last week. In both films, you can see Woody really developing his craftmanship and skills, and there are perfect moments all through STARDUST. And yet, this may be the Woodman's most self-indulgent movie. His most cruel and people-hating movie. His most distasteful movie.

Getting Around

I spent much of the weekend trying to make the kitchen navigable. Didn't quite make it, but I can see the breakthough from where I am. It used to be that the only way to wind the kitchen clock was to climb over the back of the easy chair I sit in every night. Soon I will be able to walk in and do it.

I threw out eight big, heavy garbage bags full of newspapers, newspaper clippings, catalogs, Martha Stewart magazines, Mary Englebreit magazines, Country Living magazines and more. At first I was looking through them and keeping the ones that had articles that interested me. But the volume of what my mother had packed away under the kitchen table turned out to be such that, by Sunday, I was just pitching stuff, filling one bag after another and moving on. She had file folders behind the table with tax returns dating back to 1996. I wasn't interested in her financial affairs back then and I'm not now -- they went. She had folders of lease agreements on the shop in Wisxcassett, defunct now many years -- they went. She had saved the advertisements I designed for the shop. I kept a couple of representative examples -- the rest went.

The books were another matter. There were stacks of books on collecting this and that, toys and Quimper and Disneyana and Folk Art and black Americana. Price guides. These I kept, and will have to go through them later to see if there's anything I want to hang onto. They went upstairs to the spare room where all of her other books are stored. One heavy load after another. I had to take two garbage bags of magazines out of that room in order to free up space for what I was bringing in.

There were baskets of paints that I don't know what to do with, and a bag of material, mostly felt, that she used to make her jack-in-the-boxes, but which had been behind the table, inaccessible, for too long and were to foul to keep.

'Way back, some of the magazines had been "found" by a couple of generations of cats, and shredded, and used as a makeshift cat tray.

Once in a while, something neat would come to light: a book or a toy; my favorite was a decorative metal Halloween lantern that had been buried in the corner for who knows how long. I kept it, it's really cute, it's hanging in my bathroom now.

I cleared out so much that I am now able to walk around the end of the kitchen table. This hasn't been possible in years. Next weekend I finish the job, and in the words of Jim Morrison, finally break on through to the other side.

Mom couldn't do this kind of work and cleaning in the last five years of her life, and I didn't have the time. Now it seems that time is all I have, and I'm frankly doing this work that I hate just to keep busy and make the day go by. Even with five very demanding cats to keep me company, the loneliness is starting to sink in.

A word about the kitchen table. It is a long wooden picnic table that my mother hand-carved and painted, with place settings for the whole family, a centerpiece and even a cat. It may be her magnum opus. I can't show you a picture of it, because it can't be seen for all of the toys and dolls and folk art.

The other rooms aren't so bad -- they weren't used as storage for magazines! Still this is just the beginning. . .

-- Freder

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Evening Escape

Some folks drink and drive. I drink and watch telly. Last night it was an episode from the first season of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN. Even the Robot was lame. The only good thing was seeing a young Russell Johnson (The Professor on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND) in a pre-professor role as a gangster. He put on a heavy gangsterish accent and tried to put the screws to Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane. Can't say that I blame him.

Tonight being Friday, it is Movie Night. I haven't decided on the feature yet, but I always lead in with a cartoon, a comedy short, and a serial. Currently slotting Laurel and Hardy and Republic's 1941 THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL into those latter two spots. Tom Tyler looks perfect in the costume, but the poor guy -- his speaking part is pretty much limited to "SHAZAM!"

"It's th' SUSPENSE that GETS you!"

Recovered! A Toy Horse

The week after my mother's death, while I was stumbling through Wonderland in a drunken stupor, my sister began entering the house when I was away and stealing from the collection. Warning to antique dealers or wholesalers: do not do business with Claudia Takacs, my sister. She does not represent the estate. This past weekend, some of the missing items were recovered. Now it is in the hands of the State Police and the D.A. But justice is slow, and sometimes it never appears at all.

Is this Something?

It's been a year of big changes and big challenges for me.

Much like a rank scandal sheet: Devastating Events! Shocking Revelations! Drunken Behavior! Lawyers Run Amok! Demons from Hell Invade!

And I find myself at a crossroads, having to completely remake my life, with many obstacles ahead.

I have no clear plans for this blog. Maybe something will take shape, and maybe that shape will point me in some direction.

So -- hello, this is me. I hope you like my posts.


This used to be me: my poor dead website, Duck Soup Productions 
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