Matting and martial arts

There’s an interesting intersection between two points in my life, which occurred to me today, as I was working my first shift at the art supply store.

Wasn’t bad. I was doing an inventory of matboard, so for the first time, my ability to distinguish between five hundred different shades of white came in handy. (“You call that eggshell? That’s antique cream! Bah! And this isn’t Fossil, it’s Tusk!”) And, as always happens when you handle matboard, I sliced my hands in a few dozen spots, because the papercuts you get from matboard are somethin’ else again. Happened when I cut mats in college, happens again now, will probably continue to happen as long as I work in the frame department.

This intersected, in my memory, with my days of taking martial arts, of aikido and iaido, owing to one phrase that echoes down the corridors of my brain.

Don’t bleed on the mat.

Heh heh heh. Tatami is hard to clean. Ragboard is impossible. So the cardinal rule of both matting and martial arts is the same. If you get hurt–and you will get hurt, all the arts are dangerous business–you jam your injured appendage into either your mouth or your elbow or your armpit so that you don’t drip.

Ironically, I hurt myself a lot less playing with swords in iaido. You work with a mogito, which looks like a sword and hefts like a sword but has a blade made primarily of zinc and a blunt edge. (Still pointy, though.) You could still hurt yourself with it pretty good, but you have to work at it–the web of skin between thumb and left hand takes the brunt of injury, since you’re always catching it in the sheath on the final click, or if you’re really unlucky, sliding the edge of the sword through it. If you do this, it is fine to curse and scream and leap about, we will think no less of you, but get off the mat.

It was an odd intersection of two utterly seperate parts of my life. I was amused.

As is so often the case, there was some kind of life in the black and white sketch that did not make the transition to the final painting.

Ah, well. They say no painting is ever finished, just abandoned.

The sketch:

(See what I mean? Maybe it just didn’t want to be in color. I don’t know.)

Edit: I keep going back to the sketch and muttering to myself. I’ll fool with the eyes in the original, but I suspect that ultimately I may have to make a digital painting out of this, right over top of the sketch, and see if I keep whatever it is…

Let me just remind everybody that Wednesday is the last day to order Blackbeard’s Rugged Tampon T-shirts!

Get ’em now, while the scurvy’s fresh!

I dreamed last night that I was back in high school (a nightmare that haunts many of us, I know.) I still had my tattoo, though. It was career day, or something like it–according to our assembly, (which I skipped, because I was cleaning out my desk, which was inexplicably full of George Orwell books) we had to sign up/apply for three seperate career seminars/tests/things.

Thing was, when I finished clearing out all the old copies of 1984 and other lesser known works* and went out to see this career fair, it was made up entirely of martial arts schools, old kung-fu movie style. “You, too, can have a rewarding career in the Flying Blade Wushu Clan!” “Have you considered what being a Shao-lin monk could do for your future?”

I wound up talking to some very nice monks from the Red Lotus Order, who were all built like sumo wrestlers and told me proudly that their order had suffered the lightest casualties of any clan in the Iraq war, owing to their ability to heal people. (“That’s nice…”) They informed me, rather regretfully, that I would have to gain at least two hundred pounds and take a vow of celibacy to join. I wandered off to greener pastures.

My friend Meuy from high school (most left-brained person I’ve ever known, painfully ethical, went on to become a lawyer, and is probably very, very good at it) was talking to some peculiar fisherman who was setting everyone the test of catching a fish with a human face, using bait and a pair of tongs. I looked at the fish, who had white skin and bulging pink eyes, and wispy orange hair, and went off again.

Eventually I wound up talking to an Irish woman who represented an all female order that fell somewhere between cavaliers and ninjas, who handed me an oddly stumpy sword and we fought briefly. “Okay,” she said, “if you can help me think of a couple of bogles, you’ve passed the first test.” I was confident of my ability to come up with bogles, but she vanished into the women’s restroom with a male friend of mine and I woke up while I was waiting for them to finish screwing in the handicapped stall.

I dunno, I kinda like the idea of a kung fu career fair, really….

*Swear to god I saw “Rebecca of Animal Farm” in there…

It Can Smell Solvency…

So part of the arrangement James and I made was that we’d pay off my car. There’s not much left on it, like a thousand bucks, and it’s one more bill I don’t need.

The car apparently got wind of this somehow, and activated the self destruct, because today, as I was coming down an off-ramp enroute to the farmer’s market,* the engine suddenly roared like an injured bear.

“Oh, dear,” I thought, “my vehicle is malfunctioning. How inconvenient,” which came out “SHITSHITSONOFABITCHDon’tdothistomecarnotNOWshitshitSHIT.”

I pulled over and rebooted. This did nothing, and since that’s the extent of my troubleshooting with all mechanical devices, I drove home, listening to the car roar whenever I accelerated. My vague knowledge of cars said “You know, that could be a muffler thing,” but hell, what do I know?

James looked at it, and said “Yeah, your muffler’s shot.”

So now I gotta go get that fixed. Inconvenient, but at least it happened before I moved out.

*All these cookbooks I buy tell me to check farmer’s markets for produce, because it’s cheaper, better, and doesn’t contribute to destroying the planet nearly so much. I figure I’ll try it. I only anticipate cooking a dinner or two a week, and I can probably plan that in advance. I hope. God willing.

Of course, the nice thing about living alone is that you can eat corn-on-the-cob for dinner, and nobody will be around to judge you.

Gearworld Auction

Man, with a title like that, I feel like I’m selling real estate. “And here we have a lovely underground bunker, six acres of concrete and water, in Early Industrial Chic. Perfect for studio, playroom, den. Contact your real estate golem today!”

However, it is, in fact, Ze Auction! (I take credit cards at Paypal, and looking’s always free…)

The unknown Gearworld painting!

This has been on my wall for ages, and only now that I’m sending it off to a show do I get the urge to scan it…

Bowing to the advice of friends who are acting really, really noble about the whole thing,* this painting will be on e-bay in the near future, with a starting bid of 2K. I will post here and over at DA when it goes up, in case anybody’s interested.

*Heck, I need money, I woulda sold it cheap, but they were just determined to be decent about it!

Frantically prepping for a show over at Mr. Toad’s Coffee House–my buddy Carlota had mentioned that I was up at the end of January, and of course with recent stresses, I didn’t exactly retain that knowledge. Then Wednesday Carlota said “Uh…that needs to go up Friday…” and so I’ve been in minor lunacy for the last coupla days.

It’ll be a little over half prints, just because I can’t do that many originals in two days, and I couldn’t get mats cut for the existing backlog. But that’s okay. Prints will probably sell a lot better anyway–people will drop $25 on art when they wouldn’t drop $400+.

In desperation, the one existing Gearworld painting that I haven’t ever photographed, scanned, or sold, will be hauled down off the wall and given pride of place. Heh. I really gotta get a photo of that some time…

Anyway, if you’re in Cary, NC any time in the next month, swing by Mr. Toad’s Coffee House on the corner of High House and Cary Parkway, and check out the art!

Last night’s D&D session went swimmingly, as our characters settle a bit more into the situation they find themselves. Tarab, our gruff cleric and Fiatal, our charming rogue, are teamed up with Rook, my paladin, snooping around places they probably should not, in good conscience, be snooping.

I love being a paladin, but it does require some fancy mental footwork, particularly when working with rogues. Of course, that’s half the fun. Possibly two-thirds.

“I cannot in good conscience condone snooping around on other people’s property, so I’m just going to turn my back here and trust that you’ll do the right thing.”

Paladin: “I will assume, of course, that you acquired such skills in a legitimate field such as locksmithing or being in the circus.”
Cleric: “You really are naive, good paladin.”
Rogue: “I sure was in the circus!”
Paladin: “I suspected as much.”
Cleric: mutters something unintelligible.

Rogue: “A paladin with a sense of humor? I’m astonished.”
Paladin: “They only recently started allowing us to take orders, under the Paladins With Disabilities Act.”

Our rogue doesn’t make it easy on me, insisting on using words like “trespassing” and whatnot. On the other hand, she also provides a convenient loophole, since a paladin who wouldn’t dream of trespassing into a dark passage in someone else’s warehouse also wouldn’t dream of allowing a lady to go unescorted into possible danger in (for example) a dark passage in someone else’s warehouse. Chivalry would never stand for it!

Definitely the best moment of the night, however, goes to a brilliant typo by our cleric. Tarab attempted to peer over Rook’s shoulder, but…somehow an R was omitted. The resulting crude jokes kept us going for half the night.

So I go in today to get my Birkenstocks repaired.

Now, I am not good to shoes. I do not love shoes as many women do. Having left Minnesota, I now wear hiking sandals year-round, often with offensively bright and fluffy socks, because…well…I can. I do not oil or waterproof or fireproof or polish or cuddle or do any of the other things that one is supposed to do to one’s shoes to make them happy. I just wear them until they disintegrate off my feet.

But Birks are pretty spendy, and they’re very repairable, so I went in to the shoe repair place locally, sandals in hand.

The gentleman roaming the aisles came up to me, opened his mouth to say something, spotted my shoes, and said, in deeply Southern tones of horror, “Honey, did you take them shoes off a daid person?”


He took the shoes away–I had obviously proved myself untrustworthy with footwear–and flipped them over to eye what had once, long ago, been tread, and gasped. “One who walked themself to dayth?”

I actually looked at the shoes. Hmm, yeah, in retrospect, they did look pretty beat up…

“Were you in prison and these was the only shoes they gave you?”

“Yes,” I said wearily, resigning myself, “I’ve been doin’ time. In Birkenstocks.”

He shook his head, charged me a lot of money, and handed me a ticket. I left, feeling partly as if I had walked into a cathedral carrying a cruicifed hamster, but mostly just amused.

There’s more wrong with the South than I could enumerate in a month of Sundays, but it does have its moments.

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