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


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   comedy in the Rondout
Saturday, August 25 2018
It was a glorious sunny Saturday morning for Gretchen and me when we had out weekly coffee out on the east deck. We also ate Trader Joe's house-brand crumpets, onto which I applied some savory Everything Bagel-flavored "Creamy Cashew Spread" from a previously-unknown nut cheese company discovered by Gretchen's father called Red Lotus Foods. That was some good eating!
After that, I installed what I could of the edging on the roof of the screened-in porch, though I couldn't complete it (or even complete a whole side) because I am waiting for the missing pieces from the original order. This meant I couldn't proceed with installing any of the actual roofing panels. To keep everything relatively waterproof should be get a rain before the roofing is installed, I applied some Gorilla-brand duct tape to the parts of the underlayment not covered by edging. Though self-adhesive, these edges were curling up and things like blowing leaves and insects had started getting stuck on the adhesive surface like ground sloths in the La Brea Tar Pits.
I also did some painting of the dimensional lumber that defines the edges of its roof. I did most of this from above, though at some point I set up a set ladder and worked from below so I could also paint the outside of the girder holding up the east side. There are mosquitoes on the roof, but they're not too bad. Down below, within step-ladder range of the ground, it's a different story. They're everywhere and you just have to accept that you are going to be bitten multiple times. I could've sprayed myself with insect repellant, but I don't like that stuff much more than the mosquitoes do. Also, it contaminates everything, including things I touch. When, for example, I got back into the house and began eating cold plums straight out of the refrigerator, it was nice not to have the smell of insect repellant in the air.
Meanwhile Gretchen was out in the front mowing the grass. That was just one of many chores she undertook today, attributing her energy to the speedlike effects of the coffee we'd drunk. Other thing she did included doing at least one load of laundry, weeding the garden (much of which included tearing back the pumpkin vines that threaten the entire enterprise), and harvesting the bok choy, now in the process of bolting. There was so much of it that she was forced to cook it all down in an enormous pot and freeze several containers of it. Later she also made some of it into an Asian-style noodle thing, which we ate as our first dinner of the evening.
When I finally do have all the things necessary to commence with the roof panel installation, I'm a bit daunted by the prospect of cutting and folding so much sheet metal with the modest tools I have on hand. I have metal shears, but I've never really figured out how to cut pre-folded metal across the folds. I can do it, sort of, but I always end up coming in from both sides (tearing open my knuckles along the way) and bending that little isthmus of metal back and forth until it breaks. So today I drove to Uptown Kingston to see what sort of sheet metal tools they have at Herzog's. As already reported, there are no such tools for sale at the local big box stores. Happily, Herzog's does carry metal seamers. But a small one (one with a bite narrower than my Harbor Freight seamers) cost nearly $60. And the nice big one with the nine inch wide bite didn't even have a price stickers. That's always a bad sign. So I figured I'd make do with what I have. As for cutting the metal, I looked into perhaps buying a motorized pair of metal shears. It turns out Herzog's has one, but it was an expensive Dewalt model intended for some sort of masonry board. Instead I bought an expensive ($40) 7.25 inch circle saw blade specifically designed for cutting mild steel. The roof installation instructions specifically say not to cut the roofing this way, but I am not using those damn shears.
While at that Uptown plaza, I also got some groceries at the nearby Ghettoford: soy milk, organic baby spinach, half-ripe organic bananas, organic hearts of romaine, three pints of Ben & Jerries non-dairy icecream, three packages of bacon-flavored tempeh, a 48 ounce glass bottle of kombucha (about $9), two quarts of Naked brand mango smoothie, several cans of Amy's soup, several cans of beans, a couple cans of pickled jalapeños, a box of 15 stand & stuff taco shells, a bag of lime-flavored Late July corn chips (not my favorite brand), and a small bag of rosemary-flavored naan chips. I ate that last item on the drive home, handing chips alternately to Neville (in the passenger seat) and Ramona (in the back) as I drove. I've trained them to be terrible beggars, but only when I'm eating and driving.

Later this afternoon, I finally got around to the messy business of installing screen beneath the floor of the screened-in porch. I wanted to prevent insects (which, these days, are mostly grasshoppers) from creeping up through the gaps between the flooring planks. As I worked, the mosquitoes treated me like an open bar (though admittedly one in a war zone, since the chance for them of getting killed was not trivial). It actually helped that I was wearing headphones and listening to something broadcast from my computer. I knew they were going to be biting me, so not hearing their annoying wings wining near my ears was nice.
Later I dragged all the tarps up from below, folded them neatly, and put them away in the garage. I also gathered up all the bungee cords and ropes I'd used to secure them, along with a fair amount of incidental trash and constuctrion debris. When I was done, it was no longer obvious that the screened-in porch was a recently-constructed addition to the house.

This evening Gretchen and I went to a stand up comedy show on the Rondout in Kingston. Gretchen had been invited by one of the comedians, a guy we'd met at a backyard party last summer. We hadn't been to the Rondout together in a very long time, so we were curious how much it had changed in the years since we began investing in Kingston real estate. The venue was a place called the Arts Society of Kingston, up a long flight of stairs from the street to a surprisingly large space with a stage. To have such a big unbroken space, the roof was supported by a pair of long heavy ibeams that appeared to be some sort of recent retrofit.
We took a seat at a table near the corner of the stage. There were drinks available, though (possibly because of the absence of a liquor license), paying for them was a $4 "donation" and, when it came to wine, we could pour our own glass. I had the pinot noir and Gretchen got a bottle of Yuengling that she quickly regretted. She regretted it even more when I informed her that Yuengling is the official beer of making America great again. So she went and got a Miller Lite, and I had to drink both the wine and the nazi beer. Before the show, the venue played music from a very narrow range of 1980s hard rock, including songs by Billy Squier, Judas Priest, ZZ Top, and a few others.
As for the show, it was surprisingly good, especially given the size and status of the venue. (I should mention that this was, I think, the first time I'd ever been to show dedicated exclusively to stand-up comedy, though I have seen stand-up comedians live in other contexts, such as at Bonnaroo and at live recordings of television shows and podcasts.) The MC was a comedian named John Goldpaugh, and he did what he could to revv up the audience and make introductions between performances, and he was good at it. The first comedian was the guy we'd come to see: Kevin A. Smith, who was responsible for bringing a fair number of other people in the audience. He's African American, and he found humor mostly in the sublimated racism of strangers, such as a white woman in an elevator moving her handback away from from Kevin when he walks in. Kevin's response: to put his hands over his genitals to protect them from her rapacious lips. He also had a whole bit on mosquitoes and their malevolent tendency to never attack during a commercial break. (Is sitting passively through commercials still a thing?)
Next up was Heather Candella, a white woman who looked like she'd been animated fully-formed from a whimsical sketch. Her thing was to gross us out and stomp on any thought we might have of her sexuality, though we didn't seem to be a particularly easy-to-gross-out crowd.
Next was Josh Kincade, and he was amazing. His comedy seemed to come effortlessly, and he had an easy rapport with the crowd, weaving shouted comments into his routine. Being a white man, Josh's humor was about working shitty jobs and eating too much. He especially delighted Gretchen when he made a joke that started with a reference to vegans and how they cannot eat animal products once finding out how miserable modern farming operations are for animals. He then said that meat wasn't his vice: carbs were, and that he wished somehow there were stories of young danishes being torn from their mothers. That might be what it would take for him to stop eating so many fucking carbs.
The closer of the night was Jennifer McMullen, who wove her apple-on-a-stick physique into most of her material. A lot of it concerned dating "little" guys, though she wasn't referring to dwarfism. Coming after Josh Kincade, it seemed a bit weak, and perhaps also a little mean.

After the show, Gretchen and I walked down to the end of Broadway and back, marveling at all the fancy new stores of "new" (that is, gentrified) Kingston. Mole Mole was still there, though perhaps it represents one of the first settlers of New Kingston trend. Other places included high-end wine drinking establishments, fancy antique stores, and clothiers without all that many clothes on display. This was all on the west side of Broadway, where old buildings created sufficient architectural diversity to allow a range of businesses to thrive. Fifty years ago, the east side of Broadway was razed and replaced by monotonous brick-faced buildings as some sort of ill-considered urban renewal plan and likely has less gentrification. But we didn't bother to go over there.
The shape of the tables at the comedy venue had made me think of pizza, and Gretchen had suggested perhaps going out for pizza after the show. That suggestion represented the sort of gluttony I don't usually associate with Gretchen; we'd already had dinner! But sure, I was up for it. At first we thought we'd get a seat at Savona's Trattoria, but we arrived just as a group of African Americans were being told that they no longer seat after 9:30pm (the place closes at 10:00pm). That was either true or racism (you can never tell in this againly great America), but in any case it would've given away the game had we then been seated, so we gave up on that place in the car and drove to a pizza place on Lucas Avenue we'd never patronized before: Di Bella. On the way there, Gretchen phoned in an order for a deep-dish Chicago-style pizza with mushrooms and vegan cheese (though, alarmingly, the vegan cheese option cost an extra $6).
When we arrived, there were six or eight people who looked like regulars sitting at the bar, and they all turned their heads to see who'd walked in. We were looking like a nice youngish couple in the murky light of 10:00pm. While waiting for the pizza to finish cooking, Gretchen thought she should also see how good Di Bella's spaghetti is, so she added that to the order. It all came to about $45.
Back at the house, we watched the second episode of the fourth season of Better Call Saul while eating our second dinner of the evening. The pizza was great, though it needed a little salt. The spaghetti, though, was a disappointment, and that was ignoring the real cheese it had been sprinkled with. The best place to get spaghetti in the Hudson Valley remains the New Paltz Diner.

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