Archive for May, 2008

AN ADDITIONAL, FAR LESS COMPELLING YARD SALE EXCURSION

Posted in Food Where's My Car, Mundane Events on May 18, 2008 by butthorn

We pretty well failed at this weekend’s yard saling extravaganza.

It’s not like we didn’t prepare in advance (or Annie did, anyway, while I yakked on the phone with an old pal for upwards of three hours). She had a fancy route all Googlemapped up and ready to go, incorporating destinations both nearby and exotic. Then we slept in until 9:30, somehow forgot to drink any coffee, and found that we had only six dollars in cash and that it was looking like rain outside. Damp clothing, snippiness, headaches, and pre-ravaged arrays of bric-a-brac was the inevitable result. Too bad, so sad, hopefully the entire world catches on fire and everyone but us dies a horrible death.

But it wasn’t all frowning and tense muttering and squinting unhopefully at boxes of Nora Roberts novels. We still got to stop at a few places, and the morning ended on an unexpectedly high note thanks to a risky visit which we’ll go into in a minute. First, here are the few yard sales that we did stop at, and our scant, resultant booty.

We managed to stop at the first destination on our list (I’m not even gonna bother with designating any of them with letters this time around), and there were a few tables with this and that on them. Nothing really jumped out at us. It was one of those yard sales that had too much Christmas stuff for sale. I hate that. It’s summertime. Nobody wants your embroidered Santa napkin holders. You’re disappointing everyone, even the old ladies. Behind your back, elderly women are scornfully grasping their crotches and hawking mustard-hued loogies onto your pine-scented votives and ceramic snowmen. Put ’em in the basement or chuck ’em. We’re here for your outmoded appliances, retro-chic flatware, dog-eared paperbacks, ridiculous tee-shirts…that type of thing. The minute I see Santa Claus at a yard sale, I want to leave. But I can’t, because sooner or later he turns up at ALL of them. I long for the days when the idea of Santa inspired thrilling wonderment as opposed to fantasies of chaining him to his sleigh and forcing him to watch me soldering elves to reindeer, but what can you do, opinions are like assholes: everyone has one, and they allow nutrient-sapped food to pass through the body into a complex underground waste management system.

Again, they didn’t have much, but it was for some charity thing, so we tried hard to find something to buy, however insignificant, and eventually we came across a table covered in old Dell Yearling paperbacks for kids and preteens. Didn’t find any Beverly Cleary that we wanted, but I managed to come across a couple of classics of that era of kids literature that I felt I should own.

Not in pristine shape, but it feels more comfy to buy books that you know were well-loved. I distinctly remember reading “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” more than once, and I’m glad to know I wasn’t alone in my appreciation for this book, which genuinely helped me to put my own pain-in-the-ass Fudge of a brother in perspective, and you can never read those James Howe books enough times. There are a number of beloved examples of young adult literature that I would love to add to my current library, but I only want them if they’re the actual version that I grew up with. I don’t want the new jazzed-up covers. It’s Dell Yearling and Avon or nothing. By the way, I think that guy in the pickup there thought I was taking a picture of him. It got weird for a second.

PURCHASED: Two kids books: “The Celery Stalks at Midnight” and “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” (.50)

We needed more money, or so we thought, so it was necessary to hit an out-of-the-way ATM. In the future, we will have our cash situation well in hand before embarking. There should be neither dillying nor dallying when you arise to hit the yard sale circuit. Up at 7, shower, coffee, and go. We’ve learned our lesson. En route to the ATM, we happened upon an unscheduled sale, and those are usually the ones where we end up finding the best stuff, so we stopped and checked it out.

Pretty furniture intensive, which made sense as this turned out to be a moving sale. We’re not big on buying large things at yard sales, so this one wasn’t really for us. A lot of chairs, Danielle Steele novels, and religious-themed hangings, but we did find a silly mug that we liked, and we never pass up a silly mug.

Ha ha ha! The cook goes to stir his soup, and what should he find but an improperly euthanized duck! “The World’s Greatest Cook”, indeed! How embarrassing that must be for a chef of his stature! Ha ha ha! Classic! And very reasonably priced!

PURCHASED: “World’s Greatest Cook” mug (.05)

So we went and got twenty bucks out of the machine and then drove back to the Old Town YMCA, where we’d heard tell of a supposedly mammoth yard sale going on. I’m scared of the Y, so this was the first time I’d ever been. Outside on the sidewalk there were a lot of suspiciously new-looking (and, again, holiday-themed, grrrrrrrr…) items in boxes, but thankfully inside there was a roomful of the old musty weird crap we enjoy so much. Closer inspection revealed a greater abundance of golf-oriented merchandise than we ideally would have liked, and the room itself was a bit too cramped and populated to really examine the wares with any thoroughness, but perseverance won out in the end, and we found something to our liking.

A pastel turquoise electric hand mixer from the late 50’s/early 60’s. It has a crack in it, and we had no way of testing it to see if it works (still haven’t done that, actually), but whatever, we like it just the way it is.

PURCHASED: Possibly broken vintage hand mixer (1.00)

Before we take leave of the YMCA for even browner pastures, I have to share with you a picture of the car that we parked beside:

This wasn’t a situation where a demolished car was abandoned in the parking lot. Somebody actually drove this car to the YMCA yard sale, duct-taping the back window (or possibly the door itself) to the car to prevent it from falling off. Safety first! This is actually a fairly flattering shot of this car. There were less forgiving angles that common courtesy (in the form of my exasperated wife) prevented me from capturing on film. I have a feeling that car isn’t going to pass inspection this year, but if it does (or already has), I want the number of that mechanic, if only to get the sticker without hassle. I’m not altogether sure I’d want him working on my car in any capacity, although I can’t help but admire his low-tech spirit.

Next we traveled to the rarely-considered community of Bradley. By this time, a moderate rainfall had fully engaged, enough to ensure that tarpless sellers would be dragging their unsold items back into the house. The yard sale we’d marked on the Google map was still in effect, but there wasn’t a whole lot there, other than a friendly old basset hound (he wasn’t for sale) and a standee of Tom Brady that we didn’t feel inclined to bring into our life. And that was about it for that.

Across the street, what appeared to be a potential yard sale turned out to be just a bunch of shit on a lawn. It happens.

TOTAL EXPENDITURE: $1.55

It was raining and nearly noon, so any hope that we’d manage to squeeze in a few more sales was swiftly dashed. We kept on driving through Bradley, as lately we’ve taken to cruising through unfamiliar townships, and kept on through Eddington, Brewer, and then Bangor. Hungry and desperate for coffee, we almost chose to go to a perfectly good diner that we’ve been to many times in the past, but something compelled us to try Judy’s on State Street in Bangor.

We’ve long known of Judy’s, and we had it on good faith from some friends of ours that it’s a good place to get a bite to eat, but we’d never gone inside. Dingy-looking greasy spoons are one of the many shared interests that firmly seal our passionate bond of love and tenderness, but that being said, Judy’s is a hole, and it scared us. Well, no longer. Actually, that’s not true. We’re still totally scared of it. But that’s okay.

I’m afraid I don’t have any pictures of the interior or the food. There’s not a lot of mood-lighting in Judy’s, and the flash would have attracted attention. I didn’t want them to think I was documenting anything for the Department of Health or anything like that. I just wanted to enjoy my breakfast.

And enjoy it I did. The instant we entered the establishment, we were cheerfully greeted by an older lady who was the perfect embodiment of what a waitress at a rundown dive should be. Efficient, upbeat, able to dish out both blue plate specials and sass with equal aplomb. The booths were comfy and well-worn, the tables were formica, the decor wood-paneling and various signs featuring beer advertisements (it soon became clear that there’s generally more drinking than eating at Judy’s) and mildly-upsetting quips (“Shirts and shoes mandatory. Bras and panties optional.”) The menu had plenty of the usual offerings, along with some less typical fare, including a quarter-pounder fried bologna sandwich that I fully intend to tackle in the hopefully near future, but whenever I find myself fortunate enough to be eating in a “breakfast served all day” type of place, it’s well nigh impossible for me not to take advantage of that. You can’t beat breakfast. It’s as simple as that. Bacon, eggs, and toast are cherished pals of mine, and that’s just what I ordered for myself (the very house special advertised on their wonderful sign above). I normally don’t like home fries very much (I’m a hash browns kinda guy), but I guess I just haven’t been eating the right ones, because Judy’s were top notch. I also ordered a blueberry muffin for myself, a move I initially felt might have been overkill, but once I learned they were going to grill it, I became immensely proud of my gluttony.

Annie had a better view of the kitchen area than I did, but evidently our meals were prepared by the toughest-looking men in the greater Bangor area. I myself got to watch a rather desperate looking pair of characters tremblingly negotiate their way through two servings of wiggly yellow pie of some sort. The rest of the clientele were equally colorful. A pair of crusty fellas who went by Rickle and Dick sat at the far end of the bar, getting an early (11:45 AM, to be exact) start on their bender and complaining about this and that. Rickle was taking issue with an outlandishly outfitted clerk he’d encountered at a neighborhood video store, who apparently had holes in his ears “that a poodle coulda jumped through”. He spent a good amount of time on this subject, quite effectively hammering his point home thusly: “You think that’s cool now, but whaddaya do when you’re 65 and they look like your grandmother’s tits?”. Then another crusty guy walked in, looked at Rickle and Dick, and said “Hey look, it’s Mutt and Jeff” to which Rickle replied “Well, now it’s Huey, Dewey, and Louie”. This sort of gruff ribbing seems to be the norm at Judy’s. We were most pleased.

As for the food, it was very good. Diner food, no more no less. Filling, tasty, and cheap. Annie got a steak and cheese omelet that got better with every bite she forced me to eat (she liked it a lot, but was getting full, and didn’t want them to confront her about not cleaning her plate, which I understood). My breakfast was just about perfect, and the grilled muffin made me want to perform cartwheels while singing selections from “The Music Man”. I opted to resign myself to silent rapture. I could have eaten eight of them, no problem.

So if you’re ever in one of the seedier areas of Bangor and you’re wanting to dump some grease down your gullet, Judy’s is the place. It ain’t much to look at, and my Dad informs me that somebody got stabbed there once, but try not to think about that too much. Despite the fact that we obviously didn’t resemble their typical patron, not once were we made to feel uncomfortable or unwanted. The food was brought out in less than five minutes and was immensely satisfying, the service was the best we’ve had in months, and the grimy uncertainty of the atmosphere was precisely what made it so great. We brought our bill up to the front counter when we were done, catching our waitress, who was back to and in the middle of enjoying a platter of chicken fingers, completely off guard. “Oh shit!” she cried when she saw us standing there, and proceeded to complete the transaction.

Needless to say, from now on whenever anyone visits us, we’re going to force them to accompany us to Judy’s. Consider your hands officially tied. After the initial five minutes of panic subside, you’ll be glad you’re there. Trust us.

In closing, here’s a big disgusting pile of cigarette butts we found by our car outside of Judy’s. Enjoy your day!

COMMODORE COMMODORE BO BOMMODORE BANANA FANA FO FOMMODORE MI MI MO MOMMODORE! COMMODORE!

Posted in Antiquated Technology, Uncategorized on May 11, 2008 by butthorn

Figured I’d bust out another one of these, if for no other reason than I can’t think of anything more entertaining to write about. It’s either this or wipe up whatever that burnt sienna substance is on the bathroom wall by the closet, or watch the critically reviled Nicholas Cage remake of “The Wicker Man” that I DVR’ed off Cinemax because I heard there’s a scene where he’s running around in a bear suit, screaming and punching random women in the face. I’m a little afraid to watch that scene because I fear it will render everything I watch thereafter completely uninteresting by comparison.

Anyway, join me as I cling desperately to the last remaining shreds of my listless childhood.

BUBBLE GHOST:

Replay Value: Medium

“Bubble Ghost” is actually a pretty good game all around, from most every aspect. The graphics were good for the system and era, the gameplay was diverting if frustrating, and the premise lent itself to odd rumination: You’re a ghost, blowing a bubble through a series of rooms occupied by various pointy and hot and generally bubble-intolerant objects, trying not to pop the thing. So you’re dealing with two concepts that lie on either side of, say, a rock, on the unstable seesaw of tangibility, if you will. You’ve got a bubble, which just barely exists, and a ghost, which just barely doesn’t. For these two things to depend on one another (well, the bubble certainly depends on the ghost…not really sure what the ghost is getting out of all this. I imagine the life of a ghost largely consists of farting around, doing increasingly inexplicable things to pass the time) is kind of beautiful in a tip-toeing, whispering way.

Despite the dippy, needlessly prosaic appreciation I’ve just paid “Bubble Ghost”, I didn’t really play it all that often, and when I did load it up I generally only played for a few minutes. Maybe it just weirded me out too much, or it frustrated me too easily, but I think in general it just wasn’t my thing. I actually think I might like it better if I played it now.

BURGER TIME:

Replay Value: Low

That’s the box for the Atari 2600 one, but regardless of which version of “Burger Time” you played, one thing remained constant:

The graphics sucked shit. Bloody, puked-on, pus-infused, stinking week-old shit. Which is really too bad, because the game itself is creative and fun and exciting to think about. You’re a chef who has to run around on some scaffolding, tromping over giant hamburger buns and meat patties, thus dropping them onto huge plates below, all the while avoiding the person-sized living frankfurters and fried eggs that for whatever reason don’t want you to make these giant hamburgers and are willing to take your life to make sure you don’t carry out your already surreal plans. I think a prequel to “Burger Time” would have been even more eye-opening. I wanna know what led up to these events. How does one find themselves in this situation? But when that situation looks like the above, why bother? I bet the arcade console itself was a lot better, but the Atari and Commodore versions were prime examples of what happened when home game developers wanted to cash in on popular arcade hits as quickly as possible. If I ever happen upon my old copy of this game, I’m going to fart on it and throw it in a lake.

BOP ‘N RUMBLE

Replay Value: Medium

Since as a rule we were piss broke, my family didn’t take too many vacations, and on the rare occasions that we did embark on a trip of some sort, it was usually to a somewhat depressing destination. In our case, Portland (Maine) tended to serve as our most frequent tropical getaway. Living in the heart of the Maine woods, Portland seemed like the ultimate in urban sprawl as far as we were concerned, and the idea of shopping at the Maine Mall was to our minds the very pinnacle of limitless commercial opportunities. So every now and then, we’d pick a weekend during the summer, pack a few bags, book a hotel, and spend a couple days wandering around the Maine Mall, thrusting wrinkly dollars in the faces of unimpressed cashiers in exchange for shiny, colorful products we’d grasped at random.

One year in particular (’91, if I’m not mistaken) we chose to take our Portland trip in tandem with my 15th birthday. 15 was not a great age for me. I was awkward, as many tend to be at that age, sporting a jaw-droppingly poor hair-do cannily meant to fuse two unfortunate styles (the spike and the mullet) into one mind-blowingly hip mass of greasy follicles, and instead jutting out at unruly angles, unattractively sucking on my enormous head, a terrible idea in hair format. An eyeless, palsied barber could have produced a more attractive haircut by haphazardly shearing away at my head with a fresh sheet of oaktag. I was routinely being picked on by burly welders at school, gaping in vain at scowling girls in unfairly snug stone-washed jeans, and just in general an emotional wreck, a sheer burden to spend any time with. My brother was in fifth grade, and no more or less obnoxious than he ever was.

Anyway, I’d received fifty bucks as my birthday present that year, and having no concept of the value of money, I assumed I’d handily be able to purchase 75% of the mall’s inventory, maybe even 76% if I kept my eyes peeled for bargains. Sadly, after purchasing cassingles of “Room at the Top” by Adam Ant, “Love Is” by Allanah Myles, and “Coming of Age” by Damn Yankees (apparently I was closing my eyes and blindly groping at the vast Musicland cassingle wall), as well as a snazzy Faith No More tee-shirt (which my parents eventually allowed me to purchase after I, yes, cried in the middle of the Maine Mall by way of protest. I guess you could say I “cared a lot”!!! Fnar fnar fnar!), I found myself down to my last three bucks. Meanwhile, my brother, to his credit, had actually put some real thought into his purchases, sticking to reasonably priced sale items as opposed to pricey garments and cost-ineffective cassettes containing only two songs, one of which generally being an instrumental version of the song on side A. So he had a nice armload of stuff, fun-looking stuff, and I had three chintzy tapes and a tee-shirt that ended up not really fitting. Needlessly to say, I wept bitterly in protest.

Anyway, one of the many things my brother bought on that trip was “Bop N’Rumble”, an odd scrolling beat-’em-up that turned out to be a decent little game. C64 was pretty well past its prime by this point in time, so its games were going for three or four bucks at most. I think Justin shelled out like two bucks for this, a bargain at thrice the price.

You’re that curly-haired gentleman in the Hulk Hogan trunks. Basically all you do is galumph around, beating up elderly women who try to hit you with purses…

…stupid blind people who get in your way….

and occasionally gorillas.

The very inappropriateness of your opponents is a big part of what made the game such a dumb good time, and once it was in our home, with the various tragedies of the Portland trip long behind us, we spent a good many afternoons giving the elderly, the handicapped, and the animal kingdom the sound thrashing they all richly deserved.

A couple more sad things that happened on that trip: At one point, my mom tripped on her shoelaces and fell flat on her face in the middle of the mall, which was crowded and busy, and my brother, father, and I, rather than help her up, briskly walked away in shame. That night in the hotel, we decided to relax and enjoy a movie together to salvage the day, and we unwisely allowed my brother to make the selection. We rounded out the evening by watching the Martin Scorsese remake of “Cape Fear”, grimacing together as a family as Robert De Niro bit off part of a woman’s face while raping her from behind. Precious memories, how they linger.

On the plus side, we went out to eat at a Chinese restaurant, and a Chinese man came out and loudly sang “Happy Birthday” to a girl named Courtney who was having a birthday party at a neighboring table, and instead of “Courtney” it sounded like he said “Codfish”, which provided the four of us no small amount of hilarity. When all attempts at amusement fail us, at least we can always openly mock the ridiculous accents of foreigners, and in the end that’s all that matters.

That’s it for tonight. I start my new job tomorrow. Please don’t ask me any questions about it, as I have no clue what tasks the job entails. I verified that money would periodically changed hands, and accepted the position. Have an enjoyable evening. Here’s Debbie Harry.

FEATURE FILM DEBUT: TERRIBLE!

Posted in Marvy Movies, Uncle Nutsy! on May 5, 2008 by butthorn

Please try to enjoy my first film, entitled “Terrible”. It’s about how occasionally I turn on the MacBook camera and tape myself doing senseless and unappealing things. Sequels to follow.

As you watch, try to keep to following in mind: this is my first attempt at moviemaking, I don’t really know how to use the editing software, I live in a very poorly lit home, and I have only the vaguest sense of what constitutes “entertainment” for the general populace. Also, in the past I’ve had bad luck posting homemade videos, so let me know if this doesn’t work. Now go get some popcorn! Or Sour Patch Kids! Or those chocolate circles with the crunchy white things on them that I don’t remember what they’re called! Or maybe some Swiss chard! That’s in season, isn’t it?

OLD NOTEBOOK TREASURES # 5 OR 3 OR WHATEVER

Posted in Old Notebook Treasures, Upsetting Cartoons on May 4, 2008 by butthorn

I’ve been going through some old things and unearthed many a fine drawing for you to reflect upon. I apologize that the images aren’t all that clear but the idea of tweaking them makes me tired and impatient and angry and sad and bored. Click on the little picture to get a big picture!

We’ll start with this wistful scene of a boy and his dog:

New cereals are always exciting:

Lots of various things going on here, with a very fortunate carrot taking center stage:

God knows what I’m blabbing about in that unreadable cursive text, but I definitely see a promising career as a caricaturist for myself:

And finally, I don’t like to toot my own horn or nothin’, but I could probably put this on a coffee mug and do all right:

I’m afraid there are many, many more where these came from.