Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Southern Repurposing - Free Tools!

I am a tool freak.  I get into the mall, or out on the road and if I see a place that sells tools, I have to stop in.  My daughter used to call me the Tool Zombie.  Like something out of an old 50's movie, I'd see tools and suddenly my eyes would glaze over and I'd moan "tooooooooolzzzzz" and off I'd go, glassy eyed, arms outstretched, lurching stiff legged into the realm of the "tooooooolzzzzz!" 

You really can't fault me then for loving free tools. Yes, FREE Tools! I'm not talking about tools you get as a gift or the tools you find on the side of the road like an old rusty screwdriver or broken hammer (yes, I've found both and I only kept the screwdriver...) I'm talking about those free tools that come inside something else you purchased.  Sort of like those old boxes of cereal we had as kids where you'd be pouring some crunchy sweet goodness into your cereal bowl and suddenly - "Hey, there's a WHISTLE!  WOW, A FREE WHISTLE!"  (You can just imagine the fights that broke out over one whistle between me and my two brothers! - But again, I digress...)

I can't begin to tell you the number of tools I get this way. Not in cereal, but in other important purchases.  Beds, cabinets, bikes and even my new string trimmer all came with free tools.  Usually it's just an Allen wrench, or strange-sized vinyl bolt tightener.  The wrench pictured above is a freebie I got when I purchased... um... something. I can't remember what; but the free tool was/is great! A good southerner doesn't throw away such things, cuz let's face it, it's not like they're one-use...they're a permanent addition to any good Southern Tool box.  

Once I had built whatever it was that needed to be built (maybe it was the new range for the kitchen we put in back in '95) the freebie was not thrown out, but put in the tool box with the other honored gadgets until they are needed. This last weekend I was working on the mower (again) and needed to loosen/tighten a couple of half inch bolts and the nifty Free Wrench-Like Tool came in very handy. It's especially useful as it has a half-inch box wrench on one end.  The half-inch is the one wrench I always seem to need more than any other and of course it is the one size I've lost from my set of store-bought wrenches.

Has anyone ever figured out where lost tools go?  You use a tool, put it in the tool box with the others and then you go to use it again, and it's gone! I mean it's as bad as socks in the wash! Same thing with small screws and bolts.  You take them out, sit them down to continue working and when you reach for them again, gone! Some sort of Southern Gremlin, I expect.  He's got a nice colection of tools, though, I can tell you that. 

I wish I had a great ending to this blog this week, saying something about loving the South and such...but hey, FREE TOOLS!!  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Middle Name Game

We've all seen this picture, haven't we? (Those of us old enough to remember this TV show remember it.  But don't ask, I'm not telling how old I am.)  For those who DON'T know, it's Billy Jo, Betty Jo and Bobby Jo, the girls from Petticoat Junction. Pretty daring picture for the 60's, eh, Bubba?  Ok, stop staring.  No, Seriously, stop staring.  

What Petticoat Junction introduced us all to, other than the idea of nekkid young women skinny dipping in the local water tower, is the habit of southerners to use a person's middle name.  In the case of the aforementioned skinny dippers, all were middle-named after their uncle Joe. Joe Carson, NMI (apparently.)  In addition, Southern young women can somehow get away with a boy's name (like Billy or Bobby) when coupled with another female sounding middle name.  It's amazing. 

Here in the south, using your middle name is just another badge of 'Southern-Ness'.  (Yes, it's a word, I just made it up.  I claim a copy right on it, too!)  The more Southern you are, the more likely you are to be known by  both your First and middle names, but socially as well as professionally.  Names like  Billy Ray, Johnny Jay, William Earl and others like it not only identify you, but it's also a way of identifying someone out of a group.  A young man named after his father may be called  Tony Ray to distinguish him from his father, who is named different like Tony James)  He could also be called Junior, Tony Jr. or even TJ. Thus is the middle name rule exception - which proves the rule.  Sort of.

Maybe it's time for me to change my name to something more Southern, but to tell the truth, nothing I make from my name sounds southern. Being that I was not named by a Southerner, guys like me were never named to be called by their middle name.  With a moniker like Douglas Marvin, you will never hear anyone calling me that (other than my mom when I was really in trouble as a kid) or even Doug Marvin, Douglas Marv, Doug Marv, DM or even Dougie Marvy (I've slapped people for that one!)  So when I hear someone called by their middle name I can recognize their Southern Roots - real or imagined. 

I guess I"m destined to just stay where I am, and not reveal my middle name to anyone.
Such is the life of a transplant.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Yearly Lawn Wars Begin!

With the rain moving off to other areas, the sun came out this last weekend  and I knew it was time.  Time for the Yearly Lawn Wars to begin.  I put on my lawn outfit - Pith Helmet, old tee shirt, jeans and a pair of old tennis shoes covered in duck tape. (Duck Tape, the wonder material!) and threw open the doors to the storage shed!

The first thing I had to do was move a lot of the junk which had accumulated over the winter.  So after I chased out a few bees, I started moving boxes, buckets and accumulated junk off the mower and out of the way so I had a clear path to roll the mower out into the sun.  While I was doing that, I heard a noise behind me. No big deal, as we have a cat which lives in our backyard and spends a lot of time in the shed.  Please, no letters about how much better she would be inside, she just enjoys her outdoors.  She's got a house which is kept warm and she's got her own food and water.  So, I fully expected to find her climbing out from behind the boxes, headed for the upper shelf where i have a bed for her. What I came face to face with scared the crap out of me.

It was a raccoon. A big Raccoon. Bigger than any raccoon I had ever come face to face with (and that means none.) My mind, of course screamed "Mutant Raccoon!"  I reacted like I had sat on a live electric wire and in less than a second I was already moving out the shed's double doors my feet barely touching the ground.  (Another good reason to have moved all that junk!)

Raccoons can be quite dangerous.  They've got sharp teeth and claws on the end of their paws that are so dexterous they can pick a lock. And they're fast, crazy mad-cat fast.  They can rip you up in no time flat. I have to admit as soon as I had begun to run, I laughed loud and long at my own reaction.  Most Southern Men would have looked at that critter and thought LUNCH!  Me, I was scared. At least I didn't scream. (One of my daughters suggested that I DID scream like a little girl, but to be honest, my throat seized up and I didn't do much but run!)

Once I was out in the open and safe, I could see the raccoon had fled, up and out the vent in the back of the shed. That's not really him in the picture above, but an incredible life-like simulation!  The real one didn't seem near as cuddly as my computer enhanced effort.  If you look toward the top, you can also see that the raccoon had taken out the vent cover and now there is just a big square hole in the side of the shed; to which, of course I said many words I cannot repeat here.  Well, I could repeat them, but I choose not to. 

The anticlimax to it all: the mower started on the second pull of the rope.  I did the whole yard front and back on easily the coolest of days for mowing.  I knew it was going to rain this week and am glad I got in a day of mowing if for no other reason than to keep the neighbors from scowling at my yard as they pass.  

The day ended with me putting up some hardware cloth to keep out the forest rodents.  
Life in the south is never dull, that is for sure.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Things NOT To Do In Nashville - Full Moon Tattoo & Horror Festival

In the past, I've taken the time to tell you, my faithful (yet sparse) readers of the wonderful and myriad events which you should attend here in the South. Today, unfortunately, my offerings are of the opposite nature... An Annual Event to Avoid. I refer to the above poster of the Full Moon Tattoo and Horror Festival. Well, not the poster, but the actual event. One my lovely wife and I have been looking forward to for some time.

This may be one of my more lengthier posts, so grab yourself a cold beverage and get comfy. 

On the one side, Horror Fans who attended this show got to see a lot of Stars (and Almost Stars) from Horror Movies. From Norman Reedus (Darryl on Walking Dead) to Glen Hetrick (Star of the SyFy Series Face Off) and Linda Blair (Star of The Exorcist) fans got a chance to meet, greet and photo-op with a bunch of the best. And before I get to the problems, let me say that when you add this incredible collection of stars and Horror related merchandise (personal horror paraphernalia, statuary, and even a booth to get yourself 'zombiefied' on the spot) it was easily the greatest place for horror fans (such as myself) to go and spend the weekend - especially on Easter Weekend. I've been a horror fan since I first hid behind my mother's sofa peeking at the Frankenstein Movies on afternoon TV. I had a great time in this part of the event. 

Then there is the other hand. The Tattoo part of the Festival. 

Let me state for the record, I do not personally have any tattoos, but I am not against them. No, not at all. In fact, the lovely Mrs. has a tattoo and, in fact, more than one. Tattoos are merely a personal form of expression and lots of great and respectable folks, both above and below the Mason-Dixon, have them. So, after a few longing looks at the zombie make-up and the booth with the huge library of old horror movies, we headed to the more artistic part of the show where she went 'under the needle' yet again.

There were four long isles of tattoo artists from across the country, including Amy Nicoletto from the TV show LA Ink. Though I didn't take the time to count them, I'd guesstimate about 50 booths. As my lovely other half sat with her favorite artist (the very talented and award winning Ty Latiolais of Big Easy Tattoos in Wentzville, MO), I wandered (for 6 hours I might add) and watched some great artists apply some incredible designs (and visited the aforementioned horror library to drool a bit.) Tattooed people wandered about the entire event like wounded soldiers sporting huge bandages on arms, legs and 'other' body parts.

But the problem of the weekend lay not with the artists nor with the participants like the lovely Mrs. The problem lay with whoever was backing or organizing this event. Let's start with the fact that the convention center in Nashville is big enough to hold several conventions at once. So, in addition to the show we were attending, there was also the incredibly large Middle Tennessee Anime festival in the same building. That's right, thousands of teenagers (and older folks, too) in full Cosplay filled the halls of the Nashville Convention Center while we endeavored to find our way around. Why is this a problem, you ask? (It was not the Cosplayers, as they were the most respectful of those attending the Horror/Tattoo Fest as we were of them.)

The organizers put the ticket booth for the Tattoo/Horror show on a whole separate level than the show itself. This made absolutely no sense to me. Why not put the ticket booth right outside the room where the event was being held? Not only did this confuse us, it was also problematic for those who were entering the tattoo judging contests later that night. They had to leave the show (where the judging was to take place), brave the hallways full of Cosplayers, climb up one level, sign up and then return to the lower level to be judged! All that moving around for what? It was obvious at the outset that the people running this show were more interested in the money than in the experience enjoyed by the attendees.

Let's move on to the 'judging' of the day's tattoos, if you can call it that. First, the man who was Emceeing is a mysoginist and supposed comedian who felt it necessary to insult everyone (men AND women) both on the stage and in the audience. Top that off with the fact that he couldn't seem to function unless he was drunk. He proceeded to refer to my wife as a heroine addict simply because she was shaking a bit. (People involved in the world of tattoos understand that the body may shake from the actual trauma of having a tattoo applied. My wife is not the type to get up in front of a crowd, and only did it because a) it was a great - award worthy - tattoo, and b) she was doing it as a favor for her artist. And this jerk calls her an 'addict.')

Then there were the Judges, who were also drunk or hungover. These were people they rounded up from Lord Knows Where who had no business judging tattoos (one of them even admitted to someone within earshot that he knew nothing at all about applying or creating tattoos!.) This was wildly evident when you saw the winning designs. On Saturday,. the winning tattoo was poorly drawn, poorly colored and poorly inked.

Here, perhaps this visual will help:

Why did it win, you ask? You do ask a good question. AND, I have an answer:

Boobs. That's right, Boobs. Skin. T&A.

I know, I know, a true Southern Gentleman wouldn't really call them Boobs, but in this case the woman with the winning tattoo had her tattoo right between her boobs and was happily flaunting them for the judges.   When someone gives a show like that, you just got to call them boobs. (The entrant or the Judges? In this case, both!) In fact, the winning tattoos for the weekend were those where the women (and yes, some of the men) showed some skin, flirted with the judges or gave lap dances to the Emcee. Every time a man got up to show off some great artwork, the Emcee referred to a homosexual orgy - but with less vocabulary as you can imagine. (If I had a dollar for every time he used the term "Sausage Fest"...) The best tattoos were summarily ignored because the people presenting those tattoos didn't play this ridiculous game. (One of the judges later admitted that for him, "It's all about the boobs!")

More than the joke of the judging, one must consider the time and labor involved in creating these works of art. Yes, works of ART. A tattoo artist sometimes draws and redraws a design for weeks to create just the right original design - one that pleases both the tattooer and the recipient. Then there is the time it takes to apply this design, the better ones taking hours of concentration while sitting in one position, many times skipping meals to get the design applied properly. The pain involved to the recipient is a given. What many fail to appreciate is the total heart and soul that is also put into these one-of-a-kind original designs by both tattooer and recipient. And then to treat these finished designs with derision and indifference in favor of the prurient is a travesty!

Because of all these problems, we didn't attend on Sunday but heard that a fist fight broke out backstage during the tattoo judging. Yeah, in my favorite part of the world, the South. (Now, that's class!) Now, please don't get me wrong.  I still love the South, and there are many great people who live here and treat their neighbors (tattooed or not) with the respect becoming of a true Southerner. I point out this entire fiasco as it is a glaring example of what NOT to do, and of course, what YOU should NOT to attend. 

So, you've been warned and informed. I'm sure there are other, larger or smaller yet better run shows of this nature in the South, and I for one plan on finding them.