The Evidence Is Strong

Yesterday, Panky turned one.

This is the first time I see Miss Sasha’s face in Panky’s. I have a picture of her as a two-year-old modeling purple pajamas with a face covered in chocolate that looks a lot like this little guy. Maybe if he did a little more food-based comedy I’d have seen resemblance sooner.

A Need For Each Other Anytime

Tonight, Pete and I had dinner with Pete’s friend Angela who lives in Los Angeles and takes care of a blind friend in Allentown. Angela’s so stressed she may snap like a twig underfoot if something doesn’t change. By the time we were finished eating, I said, “Pookie, you are too nice. What you need is a club. When people steal $10,000 from your blind friend, you club them. Bonk! Discipline is crucial at this age.” Still being too nice, Angela said, “You have to understand they’re genuinely stupid. They’re not malicious.” I said, “I don’t have to understand anything about thieving relatives. If they steal again, will you call the cops?” I mention this because one day I was avoiding doing something about something really important when I found this gorgeous image of Russ Tamblyn sailing through the air. See, I remember Russ Tamblyn most vividly as the odd doctor on Twin Peaks, and despite my early fixation on Hollywood musicals, I had forgotten Tamblyn in West Side Story. That brought me up short. Sometimes, you remember how things turned out and not so much where they started.

Her birthday’s coming up. Can you get a club monogrammed?

A Pickup Truck And the Devil’s Eyes

I’ve been thinking a lot about compost. Though the Solstice is behind us the dead of winter lies ahead. Our composter feels very full and I wonder how much decomposition takes place inside the barrel on these cold days. Even so: it’s easy to find other places to put coffee grounds and asparagus stems, so I don’t really worry. Thus, I am thinking now about paper, especially paper that comes through the mail, now that seed catalogs have begun to arrive. I heard a rumor weeks ago that recycling was unprofitable in the current economy but today we see proof.

People are still putting their bins of recyclables out on curbs. But the recyclable materials market, which was booming only a few months ago, has dropped sharply, along with the worldwide economy, creating a backlog of materials at processing plants.

Reduced demand for used paper, plastic bottles, glass, and metal cans has caused prices to plummet, surprising even those who have followed the ups and downs of the recycling market.

“We have seen drastic changes in market values, faster than I’ve seen since I’ve been in industry back to the 1980s,” said Foster, who said the value of recyclables was about 70 percent less on average than two months ago. “A lot of it, you can’t move right now.”

Foster said the recycling plant is still sorting and bundling about 400 tons of paper per day, but it’s more difficult to sell.

Now is the time then to insist on products from recycled materials. I have a game I play now: How Can I Reuse This? Sometimes I win, like when I buy eggs in recycled cardboard containers, then pulverize eggshells and cardboard for compost. Sometimes I lose, like when I buy something in that plastic packaging that might actually prevent me from using what I purchased. You know what I’m talking about. On late night commercials, hucksters hawk gadgets to get you into that plastic packaging, creating an odd circle-of-life that ends with you doubling the stuff in your whatsit drawer. Anyway, if I wash and reuse Ziploc bags once each, I cut my use of bags in half. I’m still adding stuff to the landfill at an impressive rate. So what about all this paper that comes to the house, if recycling is going nowhere? Can I compost it? Some of it, yes.

Shredding and composting documents is a great way to ensure they don’t fall into the wrong hands and it can help soak up excess water if the compost heap is too wet.

Shredding paper that has been used for bedding for small pets such as hamsters is ok to compost too.

Avoid shiny paper or shiny coloured prints though.

It had never occurred to me until today to buy a shredder, mostly because I don’t own much of anything and thought municipal recycling would take care of paper. Now I see that envelopes and notices could be useful in our attempts to fertilize the soil in which we’re growing our vegetables and herbs. Hmm.

Everybody’s Got A Little Light Under the Sun

Why does this manicotti look different from all other manicottis? Because I made half the crepes with whole wheat flour. The stuffing for the whole wheat crepes includes sausage and wild mushrooms, to capitalize on the nuttier flavor. I liked the image of the manicotti on the stove in the apple-green kitchen. It’s kind of pretty, which strikes me as a very funny thought.

In other funny thoughts: people have different philosophies about gifts. Some folks say gifts should be things you wouldn’t buy for yourself. My favorite gifts are the ones that I use in everyday life. My brother Todd gave me an insulated jacket I’ve worn for twenty years now and it’s got one frayed corner. That’s a good gift. Pete feels pretty much the way I do, and for Christmas, he wanted a wheelbarrow. Last Sunday, he picked out the component parts at Home Depot. As we went through checkout, I said, “Shhh! That’s his present and it’s A SECRET!” The cashier lit up.

So, yeah. I gift-wrapped a wheelbarrow. Thought I wouldn’t? I had to call Daria and tell her: “Dude, I totally gift-wrapped a wheelbarrow.” Daria said, “You…Tyler! Domenica gift-wrapped a wheelbarrow! How’d you do it?” “I am a geeeeenius,” I said. “That is how.”

I figured I should take a picture of this pretty quickly because the cats were very interested in helping me by eating the ribbons and subduing the paper and will probably help us unwrap the moment we leave the house. Happy Christmas Eve, if you celebrate this. Happy Hanukkah, if you celebrate that. Happy Wednesday, if you don’t. I mean, who can live without those?

Too Much Heaven On Their Minds

Johnny, our Southwest Bureau Chief, reports from the house of his father-in-law’s swift decline.

Jesus! You’ve started to believe. The things they say of you. You really do believe. This talk of God is true!

We were sitting around, deafened, going through motions. I sat in his chair to keep it from sitting empty and becoming the ghost at the feast. We turned on the teevee, just to do something, and what was on OnDemand but Jesus Christ Superstar. Because it had Jesus in it, that’s what she wanted to watch. The Crucifixion was a bit much, under the circumstances, but it comforted her to know that he was in the arms of Jesus. It struck me as it never did, of course, when I was a child and still somewhat Jesus-centric in my thinking, that the show was about Jesus only peripherally, that Jesus here is spoiled and given to tantrums, that Judas is the star and by far the more interesting character, that Christ’s agony in the garden was as nothing next to his, that Judas was crucified as surely as Jesus was. It also struck me what a parody the seventies were of themselves. The show is set in the modern day of its time, but even then it seems like they’re spoofing some earlier generation’s excesses, like sychronized swimming movies.

What then to do about this Jesusmania? How do we deal with a carpenter king? Where do we start with a man who is bigger than John was when John did his baptism thing?

I can’t get the songs out of my head now, of course. I’m going to have to get the record on half.com and listen to it two hundred times in a row to get it out of my head, like I do with ABBA and Tony Orlando and Dawn when I fixate on them.

Did your family get into Superstar? In mine it was dynamite. We played the record and acted out the parts by the hour, wrapping a towel around our shoulders to play Pontius Pilate, whose name always confused me when I was a kid because I didn’t think they had airplanes then. My mom was in love with Ted Neely. My cousin Bubba’s high school put on a production, lip-synching to the record. I’ll bet they couldn’t believe their good luck that they had a black dude to play Judas! I didn’t of course put two and two together all at once that, as the song goes, He’s just a man (and I’ve had so many men before, in very many ways!), but it struck me even as a child that until then all the nuns and the priests ever told us about Judas was that he got up one day and sold Jesus for thirty pieces of eight. I can’t claim I was so wise that I figured out then I was being had. But the bomb started to tick in the back of my brain that the greatest story ever told wasn’t the whole story.

When I was in seventh or eighth grade, a few seasons before Johnny and I met, a traveling theater group did Superstar at my school and we were invited to be the crowd. During the crucifixion scene, my feet grew roots and I forgot myself, there in the aisle of the auditorium. I suddenly understood why people prayed, even if I couldn’t buy the to whom. Someone put arms around my shoulders and walked me through a door, which I could not have done myself. Sometimes, the light shines through me, but I don’t know from where.

Ted Neely? Ian Gillan. Yes, that Ian Gillan. All other Jesuses just don’t do it for me.

The play has its faults, but its treatment of Judas is what makes me love Jesus Christ Superstar. He’s human and heartbroken, loved and betrayed himself. The stakes are unbelievably high for Judas; it is truly important to observe and understand: Jesus is not Jesus without Judas. Judas must love Jesus more than life itself. There can be no Christianity without Judas.

In all the commotion Johnny has forgotten I have this tattooed across my back.