Retail Excitement

Work today was…an experience.

I was putting up sale signs and minding my own business when a gentleman strolls in. Being a well-trained retail monkey, I turn, smile, and say “Can I help you find anything?”

“You’re very pretty,” he says. “Like an English doughgirl.”

Now, I’m closing in on thirty, but this was a new one on me. (I know what the British doughboys were, but…well, anyway.) Still, I’ve done furry conventions, I am a master of smiling and nodding.  “Ahh…thanks…?”

He pulls out one of our flyers and asks about our big canvas sale, which ended today. I explain that what’s left of it is behind him–the sale’s been goin’ on for a month, so we’re really down to the dregs.

This annoys him.

“Bait and switch,” he growls. “Isn’t that just like the jews?”

My ears reported this. My brain sent back for a second opinion. My mouth hung open, awaiting orders.

“Seriously,” he said, “this place is run by a bunch of jews. This is totally how they get your money.”

My ears insisted that this was indeed what was being said. My brain went into panic mode and went blundering around my skull looking for the box that says “In Case Of Racism, Break Glass.” My mouth said “Uh….”

At this point, O Angel of Mercy, our manager Tom descends. Now, our manager is large and blond and not my type, but a decent guy. Furthermore, he has quaaludes for blood. He is the customer service guru. He will sit on the phone while someone screams abuse, and he will take it patiently and offer them a discount.* Either he overheard something, or saw me gaping like an injured flounder, and came to rescue me.

“Can I help you?”

The guy turns around and says, to his face, “Oh, yeah, the jews always hire some big fair-haired Anglo-Saxon type as a front man.”

I counted Tom’s blinks and got to three before he finally said “….excuse me?”

The man repeated himself.

I retreated behind a stack of canvases.

“Is there a problem, sir?”

“This is a bait and switch! You had this sale, and this is all you’ve got…”

I went back to work, listening to Tom patiently explain that stock is usually depleted by the end of a month-long sale and waited for–

“It’s the damn jews’ fault.”

Tom’s voice achieved a chilliness usually measured in Kelvin.

“Do…you…have…a…problem…sir?”

“I’m anti-semitic,” he said. (Oh, well, thank god he cleared that up…) “And I’m in a bad mood today.”

“And you’re bringing it in here,” said Tom stiffly. “We don’t appreciate that.”

“I can say that!” the man insisted. “I married a jew!” He turned and went down an aisle, which unfortunately was the aisle I was working on. The hairs on the back of my neck formed a conga line.

Please don’t talk to me again, please don’t talk to me again, please don’t…

“Sorry if I got you in trouble,” the man muttered at me. “You are very pretty. Are you English?”

“Ah–uh–no–uh–“

Tom appeared again. Whatever else might have been said was lost as I fled the scene, dove into the frame shop, and said “HIDE ME!”

Once I had explained the unutterably bizarre situation to my cohorts, and we had all gone into the muffled peals of horrified laughter that are the only possible response, I crept back out in time to watch as Tom refused to take the man’s money and threw him out of the store.

I came up while our poor manager was opening and closing his mouth and running his hands through his hair and obviously contemplating screaming.

“If I helps,” I said, patting him on the shoulder, “I’ve never seen anyone take being accused of being a front for the Jewish art supply conspiracy with more dignity.”

He shook his head, pumped a fist in the air, and shouted “ZION!”

Which was probably about the only thing to say, under the circumstances.

*This is occasionally annoying when they’re deeply wrong, but eh, that’s customer service for ya.

Interrogative Wombat Auction

I sorta want to try a two-color reduction print, but apparently I’d need something called a “matrix” to make it work, so that the paper goes down on the print at the correct space. I could make one, but I have no power tools. I’m begging my stepfather, printmaker extraordinaire, to throw something together for me though.

And my mother keeps telling me I should get a tabletop press, but since this is still in the “mad lark” stage, I’m not biting. Yet.

See, this is the problem with new media. It’s like swimming. You can dip your toe in, and it’s cheap, and cool. You can put your foot in, and it’s still cheap, and cool. You can swim around, and sure, it’s fine. But if you want to go diving and see the REALLY cool stuff, you gotta lay out a wad of cash on scuba gear.

Or, err, something like that.

The Wombat Has Landed

Okay, guys!

The Interrogative Wombat is an edition of 50. I’ll be offering 45 of ’em to the people on the waiting list, 1/50 will be on e-bay, and the rest I’ll hang onto for various reasons.

People who had earlier approached me about a waiting list for the prints got first pick, followed by a random selection by blindfolded mousewheel spinning from those who signed up at the Wombat List post. (And if you ever wondered if I love you guys–thirty-eight random blind mousewheel spins, evenly (or pretty close) divided between five pages of comments. I was gibbering by the end.)

I’ve posted the names below the cut.

If your name is below the cut, you may (and you are under no obligation!) get an Interrogative Wombat print for $5 in the US, or $9 overseas. Please e-mail me at ursulav (at) metalandmagic.com to claim your wombat. Wombats left unclaimed in one week will go back in the pot, since demand way exceeds supply. When you e-mail me, please include your LJ handle so that I can check you off the list–there’s a huge amount of list juggling that is goin’ on here, and I’m trying to do this correctly, butorganization is not my strong suit. (Alternately, you can just Paypal the amount to that e-mail addy, and include your LJ handle in the note, if you want to skip a step. Also perfectly acceptable.)

And now I’m going to go fall over…

Okay! The Red Wombat print wound up being an edition of seven, because it just wouldn’t do mass printing. I’m giving ’em as gifts, mostly, but I will offer 1/7 on E-bay for anybody who really, really wants one.

Red Wombat Print

Because I couldn’t get very many off this design, I’m offering the Interrogative Wombat instead for those who signed up earlier–you don’t need to sign up again or anything. I’m hoping to pull an edition of 50 off that one, so that a lot of people can get the print this time. They’ll still be $5, and hopefully I’ll get the rest of the edition pulled this week so I can get the ball rolling on that one.

Red Wombat Auction

So James is currently in Shanghai.

His company shipped him out there for three weeks to work at the Shanghai office and try to get some project back on track or something. I was desperately envious and wanted to go too, but alas, to push a visa through with that little notice, you have to have a major company  and their wallet backing you.  Next time!

So he’s in Shanghai, suffering extreme dislocation–he’s never been out of the country in his life, I don’t think he even went to Canada or Mexico. (Nothin’ like jumping in the deep end…) His biggest problem, of course, is that he doesn’t speak Mandarin, and the famed bilinguality of Shanghai is apparently something of a legend. No one on earth could learn Mandarin in three weeks, naturally, but I’m looking for suggestions for him–have you ever been dumped in a foreign country, and what little tips and tricks did you do to get by?

A few things already suggested–I suggested he concentrate on learning one word a day, starting with the yes/no, please/thank you, excuse me/I don’t understand kind of words, and he’s printed out the name and location of his hotel and office, in the Chinese characters, on dozens of slips of paper to hand to taxi drivers. But other little things like that I could pass along would be great!

China blocks my blog–probably all of LJ, I suspect–but I’ll e-mail him any highlights.

Living as I do in this miniscule apartment, the most important work space is a chunk of kitchen counter about two feet by eighteen inches.

Yes, I have a perfectly good work table in my studio/bedroom, but I use it mostly for painting and storing crap. Printmaking and fooling around with leprous ponies occurs in the kitchen, because A) the lighting is better and B) water is right at hand for ease of cleanup.

Plus…well…you know how it is. It’s a rare studio that has the…the…something…that a kitchen has.

In a desperate attempt to retain organization–vital when your workspace is smaller than some art books–I’ve put my stuff into bins, to separate it from the mail, which also ends up on that counter, and the cooking, which is also done in and around that counter. I have the printmaking bin and the pony bin.

Today I’m addressing chicken prints–the last set should go out tomorrow, by the way–and I hear “Thump. Thump. Lick. Lick. Lick. Thump. Lick. Lick. Lick. Crinkle. Lick. Thump.”

I peer over, and discover Ben, face first in the pony bin, determinedly grooming the mane on what will hopefully become Botfly Pony. The crinkling was the tape (I’d taped the mane back, since I’m doing a repaint, but not a re-root on this one.) and the thump was the sound of the bin being physically lifted off the ground with each particularly enthusiastic lick.

“Ben!”

He looked up guiltily–what? Oh, this. Errr. He was….um…taste testing to make sure it wasn’t a ninja. Yeah. That’s it. He’s a big brawny male cat. He’s macho. He doesn’t play with My Little Ponies or anything. That would be…err…well, he doesn’t. Really. It could have been a small pink ninja. Ninjas wear pink sometimes. Those are the really dangerous ones.

My cat is weird.

Frustrated with today’s lack of productivity–I was working, and thus felt that I accomplished nothing of consequence–I stayed up late running off prints of the Interrogative Wombat. And watching, for some reason, “Inherit the Wind.” It was a little surreal.

I pulled off the last print for the evening, watched Matthew Brady drop dead in the courtroom, eyed the wombats draped over every available surface, and wondered if anyone else on the planet was spending the evening in quite the same fashion.

All those billion people, probably. Although most of ’em don’t get cable, so maybe not.

So, as many of you know, my newly single lifestyle means that I’m having to fend for myself in the kitchen.

I learned to cook a few basic dishes, all in the Mexican theme for some reason–quesadillas, enchiladas, nachos, etc. Easy enough to do.

Lately, however, I’ve been busy as hell and uninclined to cook, so I’ve been living on various frozen foods, mostly from the newly-opened Trader Joe’s, which is cheap and interesting food. The fridge is empty, but the freezer is stuffed.

One of the nice things about being single is that you can experiment with all kinds of foods, something that for some reason you don’t do when you’re cooking for two.*  So I’ve been having blintzes and perogies for breakfast and a variety of random stirfries and odd food-in-a-bag for dinner.  (Yes, I know, probably not as healthy as fresh veggies and whatnot, but it’s the best I’m gonna manage, particularly nights when I work. And at least it’s a step up from TV dinners.)

Tonight, I had something called gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce.

I still don’t know what the hell it was, but it was awesome.

Suggestions of other great frozen food cheerfully welcomed.

*Probably the same reason that a single person can treat a can of beer and a jar of salsa as dinner, but you can’t if someone else might watch you. Possibly there is a research paper in this somewhere.

Leperlot Auction

Starting at $25, because I have no idea what the market will bear on these things. Since I’m hearing that Hasbro gets antsy about the packaging thing, this is likely to be the only pony I do with modified packaging, although I haven’t quite given up the notion of completely redesigning the packaging, if I get into this as more than a two-or-three pony gig. *grin*