Thursday, August 30, 2007

And More..

wow.. the BKF looks so... so regal!

Lard of All I Survey?

I'm not sure why I find this so amusing (perhaps because my Jug-headedness means that to fit my actual face in the program has to crop out my double chin), but I do find it amusing.

And anyone can do it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Smoke Em if you Got Em

As of 9:57 this morning there is one more little Korean-American floating around in Salinas (bringing the total to, three, in all).

JAE went to the hospital at around 6:30 last night and was delivered in just over 12 hours. "About 47 minutes of hard pushing" says BKF.

As usual, JAE was quick, efficient and without drama. Why, after all, have a three day labor? ;-)

There was an amusing moment yesterday as the BKF asked JAE's parents if I was allowed to visit in the week after the birth (there is a rule that only nuke-famblys can come in the house) and I will be allowed to "pass the rope" that keeps strangers (and disease) out.

There goes THAT plan to get out of the translation business!

Anyway, congrats and smoke em if you got em.

Pictures soon...

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Occidentalist

I spend much of the day today with the BKF working on issues of translation. Although he had marked yesterday and today out for translation he did nothing yesterday. He explains that 'translation is more efficient' when it is the two of us.

So we grind through the remainder of the text - pretty easy actually.. perhaps 10 pages or so in 3 hours. Primarily him reading, scrunching up his lips, and then translating aloud. I type and correct the obvious Koreanisms and suggest "real English" versions of what he is saying on the rare occasions he doesn't come up with them (e.g., He still says "10's of" something when he knows gawdamn well it's "dozens" in English). Sometimes we struggle around issues of word meaning between cultures and how to translate folks wisdom (the old, "beating around the bush" versus "licking the outside of the watermelon" thing).

We also go over the translations from "prose" to "poetry" in the poems. I tell him my LS has contributed one stanza and he is amused. She calls and leaves me a message about a couplet during our translation session, but in this case I like my version better.

It's mine.

That's why! Yeah sure.. but watch me leave a troublesome verse here before this is all over! ;-)

I read my versions of the poetry and it reveals a few misunderstandings which we clear up pretty quickly. In addition we have translated a few new poems (most of which I have got rough poetic translations on already).

Then, bastid that he is, he reveals we "only" have 10 pages of footnotes left to translate.

Degree of difficulty?

We need Hangeul, Chinese character, and English phonetic versions of each bit of text we are discussing. Then we can get about to translating the interpretive bit. It is an epic clusterfuck.

I nearly have all the breath out of the bastard's lungs, and my thumbs completely through his trachea when JAE wanders in and calmly announces that her water has broken.

She is unaturally calm. The BAG, who has been out getting her oil changed (yeah .. in the car wiseguys!) returns and she has also bought presents for all of us while she was waiting.
  • BAG dispenses gifts
  • JAE continues to leak
  • JAE gets BAG some delicious Key Lime Cheesecake which BAG settles in on.
  • JAE drinks milk and has an apple because "I should eat light food since I'm just going to throw it up anyway"
  • BKF collects things
  • Korean Nuclear Family (in town for the birth) inexplicably is not going to the hospital and invites me to stay with them for "drinks and beef" (that is probably an exact translation). I demure, just because I am that way.
  • After the car is loaded BKF remembers a two-page business proposal (a friend's) that he would like me to look at. We leave JAE outside and go in and fire up the laptop and work on it as JAE waits outside.
  • All suddenly realize that with BKF and JAE leaving, the visiting dad will need to be in charge of driving the family, so there is an ad hoc, "this is the car and this is how you drive it" lesson.
  • BKF and JAE drive into street and then decide to check vehicle for necessities (primarily camera, and all I'm saying is it's a freaking birth and if I wanted to see that obvious and easy 'miracle' I'd be on Animal Channel) and block traffic for about 5 minutes.
To say the seen was surreal would be.. well, so real it would belong to Sir Real.

And I still have a few problematic verses (though new problems will be revealed if BKF and I have any time to get together before the Friday deadline - and we'd better) including the following that I leave for my LPS (there... Lovely Political Sister.. she is now yclept). This is one where I don't have all the words yet, so questions of beat and rhyme are premature.

Still, most of the others are not only done, but now in some kind of "ameter."

This shit better get me paid! ;-)

On the lotus curtain fragrant incense spreads

Outside light rain wakes apricot blossoms

Under a pavilion awning the bell before dawn wakes a dream

Forsythia next to a pond a thrush calls out.

A spring day, swallows fattens and I shut myself in

Lethargic hands, the golden needle stopped its work

Butterflies in pairs waft off from flowers

And competes to follow the withering flowers in garden shades

Shivery cold permeates into the green skirt

Spring breeze cuts through the longing heart

Who can understand the emptiness inside?

Lovebirds dance in myriad of flowers.

The color of spring deepens in Hwangsayang's villa

Red and green shimmers on silken window screen

The fragrant grass distresses (creates uneasiness)

On the lotus curtain fragrant incense spreads

Light rain wakes apricot blossoms in their beds

Under a pavilion awning a dream is broken by the pre-dawn bell

Forsythia next to a pond, a thrush lets out a trill.

A spring day, I shut myself in as swallows gorge

Lethargic hands, the golden needle halts its course

Butterflies in pairs waft off from blossoms

And race withering flowers in shade in the garden

Shivery cold permeates into the green skirt

Spring breeze slices through the longing heart

Who can understand when the inside is empty

Lovebirds dance together in flowers aplenty.

In Hwangsayang's villa the color of spring is deepening

Red and green shimmers on silken window screening

The fragrant grass is strange and somehow distressing.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Fine Art of Translatio..

So me and the BKF are trying to translate some unread Korean classic into English...

Well, sort of.. apparently it has first been translated from Chinese to Korean. Now BKF and I are asked to translate this thing...

First from Korean to English (Him with a bit of me - I'll explain this process later)

and then

From prose to something resembling rhyme (Me with a bit of him)

Oh - and we have to do a literal translation.

Which is ridiculous, since this whole process is already something like the game "telephone" that we played in elementary school, except there are three languages involved. What we have is probably the remotest relation to the original text - we have the ashes of a chicken who was once injected with homeopathic medicine, boiled in a stew and the remnants tossed into the fire. We are asked to maintain the essence of the medicine at the heart of the art.

Consequently we both drink...

I do something like this:

Have I entered the enchanted peach garden? The flowers bloom everywhere.

The love I bear is difficult to put to words.

Have I entered the enchanted peach garden? The flowers bloom everywhere.

It is difficult to put into words the love I bear.

That's simple enough as the rhyme was actually in the words and not much violence is done to literality.

It gets more complicated.

The power of stroke overflowed

And drawn a thousand peaks at the center of a river

How magnificent the thirty thousand yard Mountain Bangho is!

Mysterious, half of it soars amidst clouds.

Several hundreds leagues of terrains stretches vaguely ahead

And the blue conch shell of the summit is anchored right before the eyes.

Waves of blue ocean hovers above

Setting sun returns the memory of the hometown.

Melancholic one becomes watching the drawing

Like a lone boat on Sosang River Bay in wind and rain.

The power of brushstroke overflowed

And drew a thousand peaks at a river's core

How magnificent the thirty thousand yard Mountain Bangho

Mysterious, half of it soars above the clouds below.

Several hundreds leagues of land stretches off to the skies

The blue conch shell of the summit is anchored before the eyes.

Waves of blue ocean spread like a crown

Setting sun returns the memory of the hometown.

One becomes melancholic watching the drawing

Like a boat on stormy Sosang River Bay, pitching and yawing.

Now the rhymes are beginning to get sketchy although I think the idea is still there..
Oddly (probably not), the biggest problem comes with simple, short sentences full of concrete example.

One of the last verses I am puzzling over is one of the simplest:

Picking up a green apricot and throwing it at a nightingale
In the southern pavilion the wind passes and the passing sun is slow

The lotus leaf spreads fragrance and the pond is filled to the brim with water

In the deep of the blue waves a cormorant bathes.

Of course I'll re-open the Word document and some bit of hideous doggerel will spring to my mind.
think we need to turn in two versions, one rhyming and one not. At this precise moment I have little confidence in what I'm cranking out. And imagine my surprise to find the deadline for initial submission is next Friday, not late September as the website indicates.

BKF and Soju will put paid to that sort of defeatism, I imagine!

Next - Why a "Library Book" is like a gravesite... Or, a "Semi-Occidental Incident of Translation"

More Phrases Not Found (til now) on Google

"Global War on Buddhism" has no instances, but

"Global War on Christianity" has 1,540.

My analysis is that Christians are more paranoid than Buddhists. Which seems pretty obvious since another argument is most Buddhists are so laid back they just don't care that much

"let's make out or die"
which I got from the lovely "Everything is Wrong With Me" blog by Jason Mulgrew.

I'm not going to get into a "my dick is shorter than your dick" (one of his consistent themes and also a phrase that has not, til now, shown up on Google) contest with the guy, but his phrase "Let’s Make Out or Something" did make me think of how to escalate the issue. And thus I discover another phrase "Not Found (til now) On Google."

Yer gawdam right that's my trademark thingie!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Better Living Through Attempted Manslaughter..

Over on the always amusing and thought-provoking Dr. Helen blog, some guy named Danny opens an entirely new avenue of self-improvement - Shooting people!
Danny said...

NavyVet- when I was 14, I had to shoot my uncle when he attacked my dad and declared hisintention to kill both my dad and I. he did not die, but was crippled.
And unlike your assertion, I did not bring any serious psychological trauma upon myself. In fact, it turned me from an introverted, shy, geeky, easily frightened kid into a self-confident person.

There you go. And you don't even have to kill the swine, just cripple them! It leads to self-actualization, but not the ability to write proper English. A tradeoff, I suppose? Is the Danmeister really claiming that NavyVet's "assertion" caused the Danimal more "serious psychological trauma" than all that shooting bother? How can that be? Dan is now a self-confident maniac.

I don't think he's thought the thing entirely through.

I might also note that Danny, while proud to tout the advantages one might attain by attempted homicide, is also too much of a pussy to have his Blogger ID point to his blog....


another unidentified shooter...

Lyrics that are perfect as they are...

Close one there
Choking in clean underwear
Bleeding tongue
Eight ball pounding in my lungs
Ship to shore
I can't see the coastline anymore
I shouldn't be here
I thought I made that loud and clear


China town
Chasing that old dragon down
Madam Wong's
We play the blues with the curtains drawn
Sidewalks of white
While the LA sun beat out the night
Pounding brain
My last transmission down the drain


There's a debt I owe
I'll never pay before I go
So I sing the blues
Hand me down my walking shoes
You're in my heart
Though we may be miles apart
There's my point
I'll see you in another joint

John Hiatt (who has an enviable facility with a lyric) in his "Master of Disaster" which, if you like kinda old white blues stuff (infinitely superior to any of the shit that Eric Clapton has been pawning off -- some people just shouldn't give up heroin. Keith Richards, I'm looking at YOU!) is also a pretty cool sounding song.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Korean Marketing Fails Again

While I was in the lovely town of Colfax I saw something that bugged the marketer in me. I’ve repetitively blogged about how shitty Korea is at promoting itself, but in a small (and new) restaurant in Colfax I saw more living proof.

The lovely BAG and I sat down for dinner. On the table was a two-sided menu of drinks. All of which featured something I might never have heard of before, “Han Asian Vodka.”

But I had heard of it before at a joint down in Big City. A Thai place (Hint: not Korean) where they served a lovely drink called a “Han Solo.” Lo and behold, on this small-town menu, I saw the same drink. And a whole host more, which you can see on the graphics Terrifying Teefs and Dangerous Digits courtesy of the BAG).

I saw that this whole setup had to be engineered by the “Han Asian Vodka” Company. Once is a coincidence, twice is an attempt at branding.

…… and for christ’s sake I can’t even type that shit… “Han Asian Vodka” is Soju. Good old Korean Soju and yet here it was.. starting to creep into a niche, but without its real name.. So I went and talked to the bartender, who also turned out to be the owner.

I asked her if she was ‘featuring’ the whole “asian vodka” thing because it allowed her to, without a hard-liquor license, make mixed drinks (like a “hangarita”) without having to resort to wine. I knew the answer was “yes” but I wanted to find out how she had come to do this thing. After some chitchat she me that the whole thing had been presented to her as a marketing package by the folks at “Han.”

I asked, “well you know that it’s just soju, but it’s not even from Korea?”

She told me I was wrong and pulled out the bottle, “see, it is soju from Korea, but it is bottled and distributed in Taiwan.”

And I just about had a stroke, because once again I was face to face with a massive, hideous, total, and moronic, failure of Korean marketing.

Soju is “vodka” in the sense it is fermented and prepared that way. But its alcohol content is slightly above that of wine, and thus just fits in with the “soft” alcohol category of the ABC in California. Therefore, with it’s vodka-like taste (it reminds me of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Soju is “a beverage not completely unlike vodka.” Look it up, pointdexter!) it is the perfect “soft” booze to make drinks that “hard” drinkers like to order. At the very least, it can tart up a drinks menu that could previously only feature beer and wine.

But it took a TAIWANESE company to figure this out and to prepare an entire marketing campaign, with drink names and recipes included, for bars in the United States. They not only bothered to figure out what the US wanted (A thing Korean marketers are constitutionally incapable of) but the found the solution (heh, that’s a soju joke!) in Korea and created an integrated marketing plan around it.

Of course the Taiwanese didn’t call their product “Soju,” instead they renamed it “Han Asian Vodka” and thus the essential Korean nature of the drink is erased from it. Korea will never reap an iota of benefit from this.

The name, BTW, is clever, for Koreans will read the “han” and believe it is in reference to the Korean people. They will believe this, of course, because they know nothing about the United States and would never think that 19 our of 20 US citizens would identify the word “Han” as having to do with China and would never once think about Korea as part of “asia.”

But when the news of this gets back to Korea? Somewhere, in some obstructed bowel of some governmental building in Seoul, some guy in a tailored suit and snappy tie will exchange congratulations with other similar factoti, about how the “Korean Wave” continues to cover the world.

In reality? A brilliant marketing opportunity (similar to how Korean BBQs in the US don’t pump their .. well… their BARBEQUE!) was lost to Taiwan.

Stupid Korean marketers!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thursday Comicallness...

Oh man.. after two so-so weeks "Get Fuzzy" has developed a plan for My Angry Friend. It combines the mysteries of the East, and the Anger within..

Tantrum Meditation... beautiful, man, beautiful!

It's clearly a process thing...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Death Needs Editing

Some nutty wackjobs, or wacky jobnuts (perhaps jobwhacks? Oooh.. oooh.. I like "nutwhacks!"), have decided death is a hot chick.

I find this religiously unlikely, but accurate when applied to hot chicks - they are death, or, perhaps, death is preferable.

Anyway, they need a better reporter on the job... he reports that the reason there is a "new" death (really? The old one wasn't performing well enough? Oh, heck, there would have to be a slump after Kosovo, wouldn't there?) is:
in 2005, the government withdrew its permit after an excommunicated member accused it of forcing followers to worship death and failing to stick to its bylaws
er.. death has bylaws? Or the church equated not worshipping death with not following bylaws?

As usual, I'm confused by the language I speak...

I also like that the woman in front of the statue is posing like the new goddess of death, has a waist wrap-around colostomy bag, and has already been blinded by Satan.

Baby - you reppin death now... represent!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Writing is on the Wall...

More delicious scrawlings on the bathroom walls of Swamp Valley College. This time in the form of questions..

1st -- "How Can I be Gay?"

I was halfway through a list of qualifying appalling sexual practices and darling grooming tips before I realized the question was more philosophical than practical.

2nd -- "Denali - Where dyslexics go to hide from their alcoholism."

That took me a second to figure out.

Below that someone had written, "Is that you? Daniel?"

which took me even longer to figure out (hint: think anagram)

3rd - Why is Islam the only religion that wants suicide in this life and the virgins in the next one?

I can't say I know the answer to that.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Frank Zappa on Crossfire

wow.. As an artist I thought Zappa was a self-indulgent sack of shit..

but as a theorist and provocateur, he ruled!

(long ass clip!)

The Mighty Power of Branding.. Apples by McDonalds Taste Better

so this here link.. leads to a study in the Houston Chronicle which points out that "carrots, milk and apple juice tasted better to the kids if it was wrapped in the familiar packaging of the Golden Arches."

So there you go, the mighty and untrammeled power of branding is actually changing how things taste to the kiddies.

I'm not sure if this is good or bad, it does seem to border on stupid, but it certainly shows why even a community college might want to develop a solid brand. Suppose you are McDonald's University and a student can't get in your class? Well, duh, that's because everyone wants to sit in those McDonald's classes. If you can't get into the same class at good old Swamp Valley College? The idiots at SVC didn't schedule enough sections. Gee, I wish I could go to McDonald's University - even the apples taste better there. ;-)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Phrases that do not show up on Google

Here are four phrases that Google could not find on August 5th, 2007. I introduce these first four because they are part of little pieces I am writing.
  • "most hated virgin"
  • "rainbow through a renaissance"
  • "aesthetics of bullshit"
  • "see the unusual, appreciate the everyday"
This next one was the BAG's contribution. She first proposed "books on books," which was ludicrous, but she quickly adapted to the game and won with....
  • "books on book owners"
Just to demonstrate how this kind of thing is addictive, I tried to work between "books" and "owners" and came up blank on "readers" as well
  • "books on book readers"
If any of the three people (including myself) who read this blog have other contributions, I'd like to hear them... Points given if you don't adapt one phrase 8-million times..

And just remember...
  • "phrases not found on google"
is not a phrase that can be found on Google.....

NOTE: A different kind of "not found on Google" thing can be found here which is a list of actual things (not phrases so much) that can't be found on Google.

I found this page by googling "can't be found on Google."

The meta-ness now threatens to engulf us all....


As I was walking to work the other day it suddenly occurred to me how many damned signs there are on the way, and the wide range of styles they represent. There are signs which date from the 50's to just yesterday and as I wandered along I took pictures of them and wondered if there was any conscious effort to their design. Obviously someone designed them, but how much of that design was just drawing shit and knowing material specifications and how much was what I would call "bullshit?" That is, how much was a designers way of actually making something work - attempting to signify things? Did the odd and mismatched shapes of some signs represent "futurism" or "consumerism" or something else that I can't see as I try to peer back in time?

The signs are very different and use space very differently. The earlier ones, for instance, seem very cavalier about "wasting" space. That is to say that they don't utilize all the space they take up. This particular sign is one of that kind. I'd date it to the 1950s, but that is the rankest speculation. The first thing I noticed is that it really tosses space away - each 'signlet' is surrounded by space, no two are shaped the same, and even the signlets themselves don't use all the space they might have - Look at that second one from the top - it bows in on itself on the top and the bottom. This looks like a very 50's sign to me and you can attribute the lack of concern about space to optimism (there will always be more signs and more space), to waste (after all, there was no reason not to waste things, space included. In the 50's we had it all, from the A-bomb on down). Anyway, as the blanked out contents indicate, this sign is probably not long for the world and there's not much I can say about the use of fonts on it. ;-)

You can compare that use of space to what I think is a more modern, but odd and transitional, sign. This is a sign at a small strip mall by my house. At the top it has the same disregard for conservation of space that the previous sign does, but at the bottom it begins to become more "traditional" in that it is tightly gridded and filled (perhaps the epitome of this "efficient" approach is the realtors sign tacked on the bottom of the blanked out sign. Colliers isn't about wasting space!).

The same shift occurs in font as the top has two fonts for a mere two words, one script and one print, and the leding on the word "center" is ludicrous. In the bottom section the fonts are unified, easy to read, and fill the space without stretching.

The other weird thing about this sign is its remarkably religious appearance. The sign is in the shape of a cross and the top resembles a sacristy arch. Even the dark adobe-like color of the thing lends to its religious/missionary look. Too bad the shopping mall has dive food, liquor stores, pool, and bars. ;-)

The end of this transition is to the purely "functional" sign. It maximizes its space and probably cost per square inch as well. It is the most formal gridded approach - rectangular. Here is an example of a relatively maximized/functional "monument" style sign:

Somewhere between the Woodhams sign and the purely "functional" sign, is the Safeway sign. The Safeway sign is also a very formal call to the grid, but also wastes a great deal of "see-through" space. At least, in traditional ways, it bounds the space it wastes. That is to say that even the "see-through" sections of the sign are clearly of it and function something like "white space" in a print advertisement. This also looks like it was probably one of the more expensive signs to design and build, so I'm sure there was a lot of "bullshit" behind it's design - I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall when the architect proposed and sold this design.

This isign s also interesting because one element of that grid is the logo itself, pulled out of the rest of the sign, signifying on its own. Safeway, in this way, is on the way to another sign tactic, the logo as the sign (or the sign as the logo, whichever works better), which I'm sure I'll get to someday soon after I go out and find more of those 50's flying V type signs.

Cause they rock!

The Cost Plus sign puzzles me. The sign is modernish in use of space in that the text fills it and is dead easy to read (other than that mysterious "+" in the "C" which is, I think, supposed to indicate that pharmaceuticals are sold inside), but the shape of the sign is 'wasteful' in a purely functional sense, and the fact that the pediment is as impressive and featured as the sign bothers me. It's like building the base of the Statue of Liberty and then tacking a Garden Gnome on it. Proportion is somehow lost.

Finally, at the end of my walk, is the mighty Winchester sign, which calls to an entirely different time. It completely 'wastes' space - the higher you go on it the more it fades into the sky and has design elements which make no formal sense (what is with that descending "V"?) The font is also a bit weird, particularly the "Winchester" script, which is difficult to read. The picture doesn't show it, but this sign is not only old by design, but by material as well - the text is outlined in neon, and approach that is almost never used now that LCD and other lighting is cheaper and easier to use.

So, this one wins the coveted "coolest sign of them alls for today" award. ;-)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Phrases that inexplicably DO show up on Google

"Your short story has both too many dinosaurs and too much sodomy"

"hold, hold their feeble fibrils tight as nostrils flow till tear ducts dry"

"I've buffed this butt so much, that guys must pack some extra size just to go past my muscled meat mounds."

well.. this is sort of cheating, since these are obviously just odd quotes from websites, but still. And I DID find them in various Google searches for other things.

Fixed That For You

Some professor over here says in his course outline, "The Strunk and White dictum to “omit needless words” will guide our work on writing. Students interested in crafting streamlined, energetic prose and prepared to rewrite may find this class especially congenial. Along with prose composition, students will also receive instruction and practice in researching topics in the humanities."

And then goes on to his course descprition:

The literature and film we will read and view in this course all share the theme of deception. As we encounter narrators who both flaunt and conceal their unreliability as well as those in the act of discovery, we will examine the pressure this theme exerts upon narrative form. How do works about or narrated by liars lend themselves to ever less determinate modernist and postmodernist innovations? We will consider how would-be deceivers’ inventions inevitably reveal as much as they conceal; how social norms motivate deception; why and in what way lies can be said to victimize; and to what degree deception is a necessary component of human life. We will also investigate the way artistic invention and other types of fabrication overlap. For instance, is the liar a figure for the author? Is there an aesthetics of lying? And to what degree is the tendency to lie the same as the impulse to experiment? From the other side, how does readerly credulity mirror the participation of the deceived in their own deception?
Which is 173 words. I give him a C- because in about two minutes I dropped that chunk to 142 words.. That's about a 20% reduction.

Mr. Strunk and White would be proud.

The literature and film in this course focus on deception. We will encounter narrators who flaunt and conceal their unreliability, those in the act of discovery, and examine the pressure this exerts on narrative. How do works about or narrated by liars lend themselves to ever less determinate modernist and postmodernist innovations? We will consider how would-be deceivers’ inventions inevitably reveal and conceal; how social norms motivate deception; why and how lies victimize; and to what degree deception is necessary. We will also investigate the way artistic invention and other types of fabrication overlap. For instance, is the liar a figure for the author? Is there an aesthetics of lying? And to what degree is the tendency to lie the same as the impulse to experiment? Alternately, how does readerly credulity mirror the participation of the deceived in their own deception?
Of course a real re-writing could do much more, but I can't be arsed...

And I suppose the real question is why do I care/bother? ;-)

Friday, August 03, 2007

And the Universe Piles the Disappointments on...

I am also not the oldest person to ever receive a Master's Degree as the spring-chicken to the left proves.

What's next, male-pattern baldness?

Stupid Universe!

I felt kind of let down...

When the rather promising "Medium size Cat o"

Turned into this:

And not the S&M implement I had been hoping for


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Korean Embassy Redux

Perhaps the biggest nightmare in the BKFs house was the wall of horror and its transition into the horrible wall of blood. The old woman who had lived in the house was in the habit of slapping up new wallpaper when the old wallpaper no longer suited her. Because of this you could tell which room had been the children's room. In that room, as you unveiled each layer of wallpaper you revealed a different developmental state. At the bottom the wallpaper was bright colorful figures of bells and things (suitable for an infant), above it was patriot/historical events wallpaper (suitable for a school-child), above that was a wallpaper with abstract figures (suitable for a teen) and on top was the wallpaper (stupid geometric patterns) that the old lady slapped on to re-establish her control of the room. Each room (including bathrooms, which were otherwise decked out like they belonged in bordellos) had one "accent" wall covered in wallpaper. In most of the rooms this wallpaper came off fairly easily - you scored the wallpaper and slapped on an "enzyme-based" wallpaper remover which was just about as effective as prayer would have been. The only difference is that once we were done we didn't feel any closer to God.

As a youth, I was privileged to have a slumlord as a father and we owned some ratty apartment buildings in Redwood City. We had to remove the wallpaper there, but in those good old days you could use a remarkably caustic remover which was based on some kind of highly poisonous poly-styrene-toluene-killuall type of chemical that is no longer available to the average consumer.

So when we got to the wall of horror, stinking enviro-nazi hippies had left us without the tools we needed. The old lady had slapped three or four layers of wallpaper on this thing. The first layer came off with deceptive ease... Jae could strip entire columns of the stuff from the wall. It fell off like soccer players pretending to be fouled. But below that, the thing might as well have been concrete. BKF and I scraped until our arms nearly fell off, but we achieved little. You can see the picture of transcontinental pain that we finally achieved.

As we scraped away on the wallpaper the hombres BKF had hired worked on pulling up the linoleum. They pretty much got the entire job done in one day, but there was an amusing side-note. I drove down on a Thursday afternoon and when I got there BKF hissed to me, "I told them that you were the owner." I was a bit bemused by that. BFK did say that the hombres stopped talking as much once I got there. Later, BFK noted what my arrival must have looked like to the hombres. BFK had been working on his computer all morning, and once I landed he joined me in scraping the wall. To the hombres it must have looked like BFK had been loafing until I arrived, and then snapped to attention.

In any case, the hombres stopped talking and laughing and began taking their breaks outside.

I'm the man!

During our ample beer breaks (the hombres got agua) I took the camera around and just looked at the place. One thing that popped out was how.. well... eclectic the previous owner had been. The backyard looked like some kind of Zen OK Corral. But the inside was worse. I noticed that the electrical fittings looked as though they had been picked up at garage sales and at some point it hit me that there were no two fittings even remotely alike. If you click on that photo to see the larger version you will also note that each one was covered in grime.

Several days later, as BFK and I spoke to the next door neighbor, he told us that the old owner had been the bric-a-brac queen (we took down about three linear miles of bizarre little shelves) and that once she retired she spent her entire life haunting garage sales and antique stores. And if something was truly tasteless and gaudy she snapped it up.

The same was largely true of her approach to lighting. No two lights were the same and none seemed to match in any way.

In any case, on the next day BKF set the hombres to working on the wallpaper problem and by noon that day it had been rendered semi-gone. After that all three turned to getting the walls ready for painting and by the end of the day that was also done.

Painting was boring and predictable, but as noted above, it turned the wall of horror into the wall of blood, which you see over there on the left. BKF says that the first night he slept in the house, with only external lighting and his mighty Korean Hunting Dog to scared to enter the house, it looked like he was in some kind of horrorshow. The wall looks a bit saturated and heavy, but it looks good from the living room and once things are placed upon it I think it will look fine.

We just have to remove that fat waygookun from in front of it and everything should be just fine!

The next weekend I also came down and it was mainly about moving from the old apartment to the new house. The BKFs had an innovative system for moving which featured four evenly balanced tiers:
  1. Complete lack of planning
  2. Glad Bags
  3. More hombres
  4. U-Haul truck

While Jae struggled manfully to put breakable things into boxes, the remainder of the move was accomplished by putting big pieces of furniture into the truck and 'packing' them in with boxes full of junk. Since the "junk" that was supposed to be moved and the "junk" that was just "junk" was more or less indistinguishable, both the hombres and I packed plenty of stuff that was supposed to end up in a dumpster.

In due time this was moved to the new house and hastily stuffed into the garage, which quickly became impassable. This was inconvenient as it was the only way into the house and also contained the composite flooring and padding which we were going to install the very next day.

Intrepidly (is that a word) we hacked a path through the mess and kept it open from then on.

The BKF and I began on the flooring, but only had about 9 strips down before the BAG came into town, we all had dinner, and then went separate ways. The BAG and I headed to a motel (practically via King City, since as soon as my gas warning light came on I found a miles long frontage road with no access to the highway - we just kept tooling along as I watched my gas level dwindle) where we had some lovely Hotel Medicine, BKF slept in the new house, and his lovely wife (and mother of his child!) went to stay at a friend's house.

On the morrow? The floor, oh!