Compost Bin / CompostI built a compost bin finally, partly to help the garden, partly to cut down on trash, partly just to have a special area where things rot and worms party. I say "build" but really that means I got a trashcan with a lid and drilled holes in it. We don't have a big backyard and we share it with everyone else in the building, so having a declared Thing in the yard seemed better then making a Pile, which could be read as neglect. We put all the coffee grounds in there, it's my understanding that worms can get zooted too. I started shredding paper trash and putting it in there too, that feels good, shredding up some nonsense and saying "bon appetit" to a worm.
Laundry Line / Clothespins
I mentioned the laundry a few weeks ago but I didn't mention the line I built that stretches across the living room windows (on the inside). The string is tied to a shelf on one side and then to a tiny grey plastic astronaut on the other side, and when the string is pulled taught it reaches just to a slit I cut in an adjacent shelf, where the astronaut slides right in. I tried to sell my bag of astronauts on eBay a few months ago, in one of those weird "I should put things on eBay" waves. No one bid at all, which is a relief, because after I wrote the description I was like "damn, I love these little guys".
Plywood, speaker wire, zip ties. I even sanded them!
MasksJung was spearheading a mask-making initiative, by people who sew and for people who need personal protection equipment. So me and Mori got the pattern and got to work with scrap fabric. Then I got my mom on board and she's a quilter with a fabric-hoarding problem, she was delighted. The bottleneck is that the elastic is harder to get than the fabric. And the quagmires are many. Spending all day making 15 of something that should be, what, $5 for a box of 100? Feels like a bad move. But this isn't a regular moment-- I'm not drafting a business plan here. I'm sticking my finger in a hole in the dam, hoping someone's doing the real work of getting supply lines going. On a lighter note I'm happy to engage in the Providence noisers mask legacy. Used to be every show you went to there'd be someone in a mask humping a table, let's see if we can get some of that energy back.
Drum MachineThe mask thing is stressful so I took a Saturday and made a drum machine for my little synthesizer. I don't think I've talked about this much but I've been building a dirt style synthesizer for a while now, as my pivot-to-abstraction relaxation project with a confirmed zero utility. The drum machine add-on module I made replicates a Korg Minipops 7, a late 60s rhythm box with a cool dinky sound, featured on Jean Michel Jarre's "Oxygène". I took the time to make it look cute, because the dollhouse aspect of this project is a big part of it. The big dial with the fish on it chooses between 16 preset patterns. Feels kind of dopey to post about this without putting up sound samples but I just don't have the time right now, sorry! Big synthesizer post at a later date [if / unless].
M.U.S.C.L.E. quiltA few months ago I devised a new method of displaying my M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. Do you know these guys? It's a toy from the 1980s that were sold in blind assortments, little pink wrestlers with monstruous features. I was really into these dudes as a kid and something I loved about them was that there was basically no information available to me-- no names, no backstories, I didn't know how many of them there were, nothing. Of course I wanted to know all I could, but in the absense of that information I really flourished. It was on me to determine what everyone's alignment was, and who was the baddest dude. Later I learned that this was a Japanese toy imported to America, and that there were cartoons and comic books and rich backstories. I was a little disappointed but it didn't ruin my childhood or anything, and in fact I was delighted to learn that the guy I thought of as "urinal with poop hat" was in fact a urinal with a poop hat, really and truly.
Anyways over the years my collection got bigger and bigger, people kept giving me doubles, but they just sat in a box in my room. It was sad. Most of them can stand up but they don't really stand too well-- I couldn't figure out a display schema until I realized I could just hot glue them all to a quilt and hang the quilt in the kitchen! Beautiful. The glue can easily be peeled off, which is good, in that displaying them in this way doesn't damage them (I think). But over time the glue gives out and one by one they fall, starting with the heavier guys and the guys with the smoothest backs (the guys with capes).
I was going to sew them back on but it's kind of an arduous task and furthermore it doesn't look good, all that string going everywhere. Then last week I realized I could wrap the dudes around the waist in pink thread, THEN hot glue them to the quilt. The hot glue sticks great to fiber, so when it comes loose from the plastic it'll stay affixed to the thread. I put the guys that fell right back on the quilt, and added the new ones I got in the past couple months from Colin, Jonathan, and Tumblecat. The whole process took me 10 minutes. Unfortunately I discovered that one of the ones that fell off disappeared completely, I think it fell off and went right into the recycling! So now I gotta get that guy again somewhere. I don't even know which one it was, I just counted my haves plus my needs and compared it to a total number, and came up one short.
Oatmeal CookiesI had a tough day a few days ago so I made oatmeal raisin cookies as a special treat. As I was making them I started to feel like I was using too much of the butter, a guilt enabled by a newfound difficulty in grocery shopping. Then I got worried about what if the cookies came out bad? I had set my hopes on the cookies cheering me up, and I knew from experience that if they didn't do the job, that could be worse than if I had never made cookies at all! Well it was too late to turn back so I soldiered on, and the cookies came out not great-- just good enough that I didn't feel bad for making them and wasting ingredients, but not good enough or bad enough to affect emotional change. The recipe makes a lot of dough, so I only made a few cookies initially, and froze the rest of the dough in a long log wrapped in parchment paper. A couple days later I cut off a few chunks of dough and made more cookies, and this time even though they came out the same, I felt like I already "paid" for the aggravation involved, and it wasn't a lot of new work, so it was a net positive. That was like two weeks ago. A few days ago I baked more and this time they were perfect, an ideal cookie. I was positively elated! I think I'm going to try and have homemade cookie dough in the freezer as a staple food element from now on.
Here's my recipe, which I got from the 1st search response to "oatmeal cookie recipe":
- 1 cup (1/2 pound or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, OR 1 cup shortening
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I used 2 tablespoons of whiskey)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups raisins
- 3 cups rolled oats
2 Mix flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in medium bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture. Stir in the raisins. Stir in the oats. I'm pretty sure I didn't pre-mix the dry ingredients, seems like you're getting a dish dirty for no reason.
3. Put the cookies on a greased sheet, bake at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes. You're supposed to cook them just until the edges turn golden brown, then you take them out and they finish cooking as they cool on the countertop. Like I said though, they didn't come out good for me until I froze them and baked them later. With frozen batter I still cooked them only unto the golden brown edge, then waited. They were in the oven 16 minutes. It seems wrong to take them out when they're still so goopy, wrong enough that you'll probably leave them in too long and have stupid little shitcakes that won't help anyone. Don't be like me, from before! Be like the now me!
Soap HippoThe bottle of Dr Bronner's by the sink kept clogging at the nozzle so I made a stopper for it out of a piece of a take-out chopstick hotglued to a hippopotumus pencil-topper. Probably a lot of people don't have this problem but we do because we started buying Dr B's in bulk and refilling our old smaller bottles from the bigger bottle. There's more time per bottle for the soap to gel up around the apeture. If you enjoy the exuberant vibe of religious soapmaker Bronner I recommend committing to the big bottle, and using that to refill your smaller bottle. Or better yet, half refill the small bottle and fill the rest with water. As it says right there on the bottle: "Dilute! Dilute! OK!". I can't think of a nationally-distributed product I like more than Dr Bronner's soap-- other soap makers want you to lather, rinse, then repeat. Dr B wants you to put three drops on a warm wet washcloth and save the rest for later. And the bottle is covered by a sort of ecstatic prose that is like, actually uplifting. You think it's going to be psycho Christianity but it's like, so purehearted. ALL ONE OR NONE!
I selected a hippopotamus for this particular feature because I love hippopotamuses and like to be reminded of them, out there in whatever river or lake. I didn't consider any other animal and I didn't hesitate one moment. I wouldn't swim with a hippopotamus, not on your life, but thinking about them, and being inspired by them, that's fair game.
PantsI was always shocked by those punks with their raggedy black jeans held together by hundreds of patches, because for years all I wore was work pants, which last forever, and I couldn't figure out how these 17 year olds had pants that were already like mummy rags. I finally bought some tight pants a few years ago and then it all made sense because these pants are really not made to last! This week I took some time to shore up a pair of black jeans that had torn at the knee. My patch doesn't say TOM AND BOOT BOYS though, it's just black fabric.
As far as fashion goes, everyone's different, everyone has different needs and requirements. For me, at this time, I can't be wearing baggy clothes all the time or I'll just melt. I want to be dressing more and more elaborate each day. Right now I'm at tight jeans, collared shirts, occasional medallion. I'm headed towards wigs, fangs, rings. I'm at home not going nowhere so why not?
Plant ShelfI'm trying to grow greens on the windowsill, as an experiment into growing food at home, like inside the home (probably a lot of people are having this or a similar experiment right now). It's cool and futuristic-- you get these pellets and expose them to a process that turns them into realistic food. But to even get started I needed to make more room on the plant shelf, which meant building a new shelf.
When I lived at punk houses and weird fucked up warehouse zones I really liked building out the room, and then when I started living in an apartment again I got suddenly worried that I was like, hanging up too many posters. I don't want to say that now I'm back to not caring, but I'm back to something around not caring, maybe what I'm talking about is "realizing that it's fine", matched with "just trying to live my life". Plant shelving is two boards screwed into the vertical sides of the windowsill, then crossbars coming off them, then a board across those. This way I can put up as many shelves as I want, with only putting a few holes in the sill itself.
My cordless drill shit the bed during the building process, or the batteries did anyway, and instead of getting replacement batteries I got a new, corded drill. It was much cheaper, there's less parts that might break, and what do I need cordless for, I'm not going camping with the damn thing.
OscilloscopeI didn't "build" this per se but I installed a cute little oscilloscope in the synthesizer. Which is to say, I screwed it to a plywood panel and connected the wires. I couldn't figure out a way to put it "inside", under a clear plexiglass panel or something, so I just screwed it to the outside, and put a little roof over it so dust doesn't get in. The oscilloscope is a DSO 138, which I bought for $25 two years ago and hasn't seen much use up until now because until now it lacked a fun and lively form factor.
Building your own instrument is really fun and it's interesting to see what about the instrument inspires you, what calls you to play it, what's rewarding. For me, I've come to realize that blinking lights are not only inspiring but essential, in that they help communicate the synthesizer's interior state and also give it just a touch of that "I'm alive" feeling. I was hesitant to add the oscilloscope, which is essentially a tiny single-use computer, but having this little readout is not only helpful from a diagnostic point of view but also very cute.
Here's a clip from a Suzanne Ciani interview, about her beloved Buchla synth, and the importance of instrument animism:
Other BuildsI have other builds in the works but they're not built yet, they're still being built. One among them is that I decided to re-do this website (already) and get rid of this WordPress install in favor of just writing pure html in a text editor, which is my native format. WordPress works ok but it's just too many moving parts at the moment (drill lesson), it's less fun to interact with (blinking lights lesson), and it's harder to do css tricks and dollhouse shit (hippopotamus). When my task is complete it may seem to the casual observer as though nothing is changed, so I'll put in this marker:
I would like to maintain some sort of guestbook, if anyone has any ideas drop a note in the it-still-works-but-for-how-long guestbook.
- I did a guest post on Dan Wars' button blog / Instagram account! [instagram]
- I forgot when I wrote about Bone Zone last week to link to their legendary appearance on the Snow Ghost Community Show. For their appearance they played a show in their apartment and had free beer and pizza so there'd be tons of people. Believe it or not (I mean this is truly easy to believe) there were still people just hanging on the couch in the other room the entire time. Luckily they did not live into eternity like everyone else, who left the couch at the word go. [youtube].
- for mask resources, or to figure out how to get involved, Jung recommends contacting getusPPE.org/ or projectmaskri.com. Other resources include linktr.ee/masks4medicine and masksforheroes.com/make-masks
- Minipops demo: [youtube]. One of the cutest drum machines? Or THE cutest?
- Jean Michel Jarre "Oxygene" [youtube]
- M.U.S.C.L.E. figures- my list of guys I need / guys to trade is online here: [link] if you have any of the guys I need please reach out but NB: I will not pay money for them! They aren't like "valuable", and I'm not in a rush.
- Tom and Boot Boys "Old Punk Generation EP" [youtube]
- Suzanne Cianni on 3-2-1 contact [youtube]