Tuesday, July 31, 2007

George's Birthday/American Splendor

Happy Birthday to George! He’s this guy I used to know. He’s super-kind, generous, good-natured, clever, and thoughtful. Unfortunately for me, I just didn’t live up to his expectations and he stopped wanting to have anything to do with me. He finally realized I was like Harvey Pekar without the charm or air of success.

Speaking of Harvey Pekar, I re-watched a movie about him last night. I first saw “American Splendor” in theaters when it first came out a couple of years ago. Last night after it was over I told Kim, “I feel just like I did after the first time I watched it: I don’t know exactly all the reasons I like this movie, but I really, really like it.” In fact, it’s one of the 15-20 movies that are on my top 10 list (yeah, the list is pretty loosey-goosey.) Although the film focuses largely on negative emotions, depression, and loneliness, it’s really very positive and very funny. I highly recommend it. Funny and uplifting. And remember not to get it mixed up with that Kevin Spacey movie; they are not at all the same. That one was called “American Beauty,” and it was a downer.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Today Erin and I hauled in a watermelon. I suspected it was ripe, and I was eager for the first one, and I hated the thought of one being ripe and then getting over-ripe or rotting because I hadn't been on the ball.

So we brought in the bowling ball-sized fruit and I cut into it. Disappointment dripped and oozed across the cutting board, for the inside was still mostly white. There were, however, rows of seedy pinkness, which I dug out with a spoon melon-ball style. Enough to fill a large plastic cereal bowl. We ate it, and it was pretty good. The worst part was the seediness, which will pose a bit more difficulty for my two small children than for me. I spit out most of them like an old pro, and crunched up the rest. They were very crunchy, like watermelon grapenuts.

Erin and I also picked two bowls of blackberries. This evening I ran them (about 5 cups) through the food processor, then pressed the pureƩ through a colander and added a little sugar. This we spooned over vanilla ice cream, and it was quite good.


Here is a German (I presume) 20 Wert-Marke token. I don't know yet what a Wert-Marke token is, so I'm about to make some inquiries. The reverse is featureless save for the dots circling the perimeter.7-29-07, 9:00 PM: Various private manufacturers minted these in Germany, I'm told. This one may have been minted between 1900 and 1940. Many examples are countermarked, because the token manufacturer would sell these to businesses to be given to customers for later redemption. The private businesses would countermark (stamp) some letter or symbol to signify which business was using it. There are many tokens that look like this, so tracing its exact origin may be impossible.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A little Googling on Ethiopia...

There are numerous languages spoken in Ethiopia, but one of the main ones is Amharic. That’s the language featured on the coin below. It is the second-most widely used semitic language in the world, after Arabic, according to Wikipedia. The letters are from the Ge’ez alphabet, also a semitic language.

The numerals used to write the date on the obverse are Ethiopic (I think: I hope I’m not mixing up the various languages and number systems). From what I’ve read, the typical Ethiopian can read the date about as well as you or I, which is to say, probably not at all. They generally use Arabic numerals, like us, and the Ethiopic numerals are a traditional holdover.

Haile Selassie I became increasingly unpopular in 1973 and ’74, as parts of the country fell into drought, famine, and political unrest. A communist military junta seized power, imprisoning him and later killing him. The famine and brutality, however, continued. Things seem to be improving a little since the 1980s, though the country is still one of the world’s poorest.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


12:44 a.m. 7-21-07: I don't know this one yet. I will add to this post later with more information. It's a pretty coin, about the diameter of a dime, but thicker. I don't know the language, I don't know the dude. This means lots of page flipping. It probably dates to the 1950s, since it's my Uncle Mark's, and most of the world coins he has are ones he was given in the '50s. Fun! If I can't identify it in the next few minutes, I'm going to bed.

12:15 PM 7-21/07: Found it this morning. Ethiopia, one cent. The dude is Haile Selassie I, last of the Solomonic emperors, who ruled for a couple of thousand years, until the military booted him out in the 1970s. This is dated EE (Ethiopian Era) 1936, but coins with this date were minted 1944-1975 for Ethiopia in several other countries, including the U.S. The catalog I have give an approximate value of 30 cents, but it lists total mintage as 20,000, which is very low. I'm guessing that figure is a mistake.
7/30/07: Yeah, it's an error. The actual mintage is 2 million. That makes more sense.


Here is some kohlrabi from my little garden. Uncooked, the skin is quite purple. Pictured here after a half-hour in the steamer, it has developed a creepy translucency to its peel, making it seem to me not so much food-like as Roswell-artifact-like.
But hey, peeled, heavily buttered, and lightly salted, it provided delight. I gave Erin and Jill a little each; both asked for more! It reminded me of boiled, buttered, and salted cabbage, and also made me think a little of well-cooked broccoli.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I am having trouble posting.
This is a test.
Outside, I'd be roasting
Like a spitted chicken breast.

Dream, Crumb

Last night’s dream...

... involved me visiting the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a friend of mine. The identity of the friend kept changing. Sometimes I think it was Travis, and other times I think it was David or Aaron and we were looking for Travis, and other times it might have been Kim.

Anyway, the most vivid part of the dream involved me entering this huge, huge auditorium where a professor was lecturing. This hall was amazing. I entered on the balcony level, and the professor was giving a Powerpoint presentation (accompanied by Christian Rock). There were thousands of desks for students, and everything was paneled in stained wood. And the really amazing thing: There was no lower level over which the balcony level “hovered.” Instead, there was a wood-paneled “cliff” over the balcony’s edge, dropping down 200 feet to the floor of the auditorium. Affixed to this cliff were rows and rows of swiveling desks. The chairs were bolted to the vertical wall, but were angled so that the students who sat in them were facing outward, as one would be in a normal chair.

We were trying to get to the bottom of the auditorium and we had to climb down the wall, from one desk to another. After finally climbing all the way to the floor, I looked up and was impressed by how far we had descended.

One of Travis’s friends came over to me, happy to see me. I suspected that he was thinking that I had converted, or that at least there was hope for me. We all went together looking for Travis, and climbed up these stairs to a hall that was under construction. There was an unfinished door, unattached to the wall, which I had to slide out of the way. That’s all I can remember.


A couple of nights ago I finished watching the documentary “Crumb.” I had seen a little bit of it a few years ago. What a great movie. It’s a series of interviews with artist/illustrator Robert Crumb, his two brothers, and others (critics, ex-girlfriends, etc.). Totally weird, quite humorous, dark and sad, and thoroughly engrossing. This is one of those documentaries that go into the category of “wow, this is how great a documentary can be.”

Next, I want to re-watch “American Splendor,” which is an almost-documentary about the writer of American Splendor comics ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Splendor ), and in which the character of Robert Crumb appears.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wow, I just realized that last Wednesday was the 16th anniversary of my attendance of the Boiled In Lead / Mekons concert at Uncle Pleasant's. I sure wish I could remember that, because I bet it was utterly cool.
I’ll see your “Lost” Geek bid and raise you one RPG nerd:

Sometime several years ago, I think in late Spring 2004, the Dungeons & Dragons game that I was running went on hiatus. The impending birth of my first child, along with a few other factors, provoked my announcement that I would be taking a break from dungeon-mastering the game. DMing generally takes quite a bit of preparatory work. In the meantime, we played D&D in someone else’s game for a while, then Shadowrun, then Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and a few other little things mixed in. There were long periods of not playing at all.

After years of promises, we finally picked up my game again on Friday night. I feel pretty rusty with my DMing skills, especially the rules. I’ve forgotten many details. Despite that, I feel like the game went smoothly, and I had fun. The adventuring party had someone cast “raise dead” on a fallen member, in return for which they were sent to wipe out a band of evil cultists. Good, clean fun!

Garden News:

Erin and I ate the summer’s first ripe cherry tomatoes yesterday. The one I ate was a bit tough-skinned, which I hope is not a quality shared by its sisters-on-the-vine. It might have been just a tiny bit under-ripe; Erin at the ones that looked reddest. She is a real tomato-hound.

My gourd vines have taken off, and their per-day growth rate seems easier to measure in feet than in inches. OK, that’s exaggeration, but I do think they are growing at least six inches per day.


I attended the monthly coin club meeting on Sunday afternoon. There was discussion about the Annual Fall Coin Show, Sept. 27-29 at the Best Western Brownsboro Road. Should be good. I’ll probably volunteer to work at the front table for a few hours, or I might help with setup or takedown.

One guy I spoke with a couple of months ago brought in two boxes of Lincoln cents in 2x2s so I could flip through and look for ones I needed. I bought a couple from him for a dollar each: A 1921-S and a 1924-S, both around G-8, I suppose. Two more I can cross off my list. He said he would bring some more next time.

I auctioned off one of the 2001-P mint-wrapped rolls of half-dollars that I found. I put a reserve of ten dollars on it, which is face value; this seemed to amaze the auctioneer, but he of course didn’t realize that I had got it at face value to begin with. Light lightning, it bid up to eleven dollars! And stopped, because the eleven-dollar bidder was The Kid (see my post about the kid at the coin club a couple of months ago.) No one wants to bid against The Kid, and even the auctioneer was actively discouraging it. I wish I had put a higher reserve on it. I might have got fifteen dollars.

There are attendance prize drawings each month, and I won a 1947-D Walking Liberty half dollar. My grading skills aren’t the best in the world, and I’m not particularly familiar with these halves, but I think it might barely rate a VF. Not an exceptional coin, but a great free prize. That other club member who is interested in world coins, Mike, won a prize, too: A Liberian-minted John F. Kennedy, Jr. commemorative ten-dollar piece. (Liberia is one of those places that has a huge commemorative coin industry.) Kind of a funny piece of junk, but hey, for free, who’s complaining?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

World coins/Neko Case/Cucurbitae

My Uncle Mark has a bunch of world coins that were given to him as a child suffering from polio by his uncle. He’s had them just sitting around in a bag, and when I was talking about coins (as is my wont) one day, he mentioned them to me. I told him that I’d like to see them, and eventually he did. I am now looking through them. They are very cool, and I want to give him an idea of what he has.

I’ve only just begun researching them, but it looks like there is nothing of great value. There are three large, worn silver coins from the first half of the 19th Century; all three were apparently once glued to something.

Almost everything else is from the 1940s and 50s, with book-prices of under a dollar (most worth less than 50 cents). They are, however, interesting. Quite a few are from colonial Africa. I’ll be posting some photos later.

My parents also bought for me a few little plastic baggies of world coins at a yard sale a month ago. Again, all very low-value stuff, but there are things I don’t have, and it’s interesting to look through.


For my birthday I got the Neko Case CD “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.” It’s like an invasion: First, take over the radio stations. Then, force your conquered populace to blog about it. My brain is the conquered populace. Since Monday, I have had one song or another running through my head AT ALL TIMES, NIGHT AND DAY. The songs are great, but my mental machinery has been 90% co-opted by this music and my ability to function normally at work and home, questionable under normal circumstances, is terribly diminished.


I now have in my garden at least two watermelons that are larger than softballs. I don’t know how big they are supposed to get. They are icebox watermelons, which means they don’t get too big, but I don’t know how big that is. Chihuahua-size, maybe?

My birdhouse gourd vines are growing six inches or more per day. They also smell funny.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I worked a little more on the saw last night. I think a couple more hours of work might do the trick.

I have several pieces of panel primed and sanded for painting. After reading a bit of commentary about mechanical adhesion problems of oil painted over acrylic underpaintings, I’ve decided to use only light acrylic sketches on my canvases. I’ll probably make an attempt to forgo that altogether.

The reason this is an art/coin/gardening/& more blog is because I don’t have enough of any single subject to post about more than once a week.

There are watermelons on my vines. The largest one I’ve seen is an inch-and-a-half; they are very cute and look like little striped green eggs.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Better said by someone else

This is not a political blog at all...but, oh, what the hell.

Source: http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8Q57VP00&show_article=1

The prosecutor in the case "went after somebody even when he knew no crime
had been committed," Romney said. "Given that fact, isn't it reasonable for a
commutation of a portion of the sentence to be made?"


As governor, Romney twice rejected a pardon for Anthony
Circosta, who at age
was convicted of assault for shooting another boy in the arm with a BB
—a shot that didn't break the skin. Circosta worked his way through
college, joined the Army
National Guard
and led a platoon of 20 soldiers in Iraq's deadly Sunni
In 2005, as he was serving in Iraq, he sought a pardon to fulfill
his dream of becoming a police officer.

In his presidential bid, Romney often proudly points out that he was the first governor in modern Massachusetts history to deny every request for a pardon or commutation during his four years in office. He says he refused pardons because he didn't want to overturn a jury.

What should I post about when I haven't painted, and I don't have any coins to talk about, and the most exciting thing I can say about my garden is that I ate a blackberry from it this morning? Other people have crazy stories about attempting to teach music classes at VBS or making cute aprons or children who throw unholy fits or about how many miles they plan to run barefoot or expressing deep and considered opinions about Who's Hot in the Beltway.

I ate a blackberry. I found no silver in two rolls of half dollars I looked at. Anything I'd care to say about politics is always sounds better coming from someone else.