Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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Like my brownhouse:
   200 gays in Kerhonkson
Sunday, December 5 2004
There was a benefit concert for Planned Parenthood today down in Kerhonkson today, a performance by the New York City Gay Men's Chorus. Of the the three proper nouns just mentioned, one is most decidedly not like the others: Kerhonkson is about as anti-the-planning-of-parenthood and anti-the-singing-of-gay-men as a region within a blue state can get. Though Ulster County is a blue county in a blue state, the Town of Rochester in which it resides is fire engine red. It's regarded by the other towns in Ulster County much the way the city of Staunton regards Craigsville. Gretchen thought it might be a hoot to go. Who knew, maybe we'd have to cross a picket line of Christian fundamentalists holding signs reading "God hates fags but loves babies with gill slits." Until we were actually driving down 209, she'd neglected to consider the high likelihood that the program would consist entirely of Christmas music, especially given that the Kerhonkson performance was officially a rehearsal for a grander show later this month in Carnegie Hall.
The venue was the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa, a massive series of ugly 60s-style rectangular blocks set against the beautiful Catskill horizon. It looked more like a hospital than a place you'd want to go to do something fun.
We arrived at the concert a little after it began and found our way to our seats without ever being asked to pay anything. As we now expected, the program consisted entirely of Christmas music, and much of that was the kind fetishizing baby Jesus and his purportedly virgin mother. I whispered into Gretchen's ear at one point, "I think you're the only Jew here."
The New York City Gay Men's Chorus consists of about 200 men who had dressed for this rehearsal in matching blue jeans and dark shirts. 200 is a lot of voices for an arranger to work with, and the pieces seemed to use them like instruments in an orchestra. From my childhood I have fond memories of Christmas music, and it's possible for me to consider even the cheesiest arrangements moving at times, particularly when they reference the standards of religious Christmas music. Gretchen, on the other hand, is able to judge all this music objectively and it had her completely cheesed out. She only like classical Christian music, preferably sung in foreign languages she doesn't understand.
During the intermission, just before we left, Gretchen saw all those hundreds of gay gentlemen and their various friends milling around the Resort lobby and observed, "There must be a lot of drama. It's probably nothing but drama." You have to figure that a large group of gay men getting together socially to sing will inevitably lead to a complex weather pattern of social and sexual front lines, pressure systems, and cyclones.
As we were driving away from the resort, we passed an antique shop and I wondered allowed if the folks running the place had any explanation for the flood of business they must have gotten today.
Since this event had been sort of a bust, we salvaged the afternoon by eating a lunch of veggie burgers at the 209 Diner down in Ellenville. The motor that rotates the pie display in the 209 Diner has been broken for years, and according to something I heard on This American Life, a broken pie rotator leads to a 50% drop in pie sales. But the pies in the 209 Diner pie display are nothing special; they're from the Hannford Supermarket bakery and still contain all their Hannaford labels and packaging.

This evening Gretchen and I watched a DVD containing five episodes of the British comedy series The Office. Oh sweet Jesus it was funny, but it was a creeping sort of funniness that required a little character development to get off the ground. For this reason we only found ourselves chuckling quietly at the first episode, laughing at the second, and physically addicted by the fifth. The chief conceit of the show is that a boss thinks he's a comic genius, and that his comedy is what puts him in the topmost tier of middle managers. In truth, though, he's a "sad little man" whose jokes can be relied upon to induce cringes, not laughter. It's this meta-humor that makes the show so uniquely entertaining, delightfully reaping crop after crop of laughter from humor muscles that might otherwise lie fallow.
Like other recent shows (Reno 911 for example), the style and pacing of The Office is heavily influenced by reality television. It's interesting how "reality" programming has injected a formulaic view of "reality" back into drama and comedy, and now, after many failed and half-assed attempts by postmodernists, we finally can accept the cameramen (and ourselves) as just more characters, just so long as the actors playing real people act as if they have become so familiar with the camera that its presence isn't distorting their behavior all that much.

pictures related to my recent heat shield project:

A reminder of how the heat shield used to look, November 2002.

The new stone-covered heat shield. The metal rooster was bought in South Africa and the copper mennorah was the first one I ever made. I applied a coat of stone finisher to it today.

My childhood friend Nathan bought that kite a day or so before I was married back in May, 2003.

The triangular rocks that support the topmost shelf rock. Each is pierced by a seven inch gutter screw anchored in a wall stud.

Me on the floor in the dining room.

Clarence today. He had some facial wounds that have recently healed.

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