WHAT A GREAT WORD! The Haze had meant to say superior, and in flubbing, created a far superior word by amalgamating it with the word imperial. IMPERIOR is much stronger. Severe. Top choice. Sounds like a super-villain. SBX and I cackled and gave The Haze a high-five for innovation. Chalk one up for the kid. As the blue city night turned country road black, we played a round robin of storytelling, wherein somebody starts a tale and ends it on a cliffhanger. The next person picks up the narrative baton and runs with it until they're ready to pass it off. It's a fun game and excellent for road trips. I had never played it before. The SBX clan were experts. The stories leaned towards fantasy and Ola launched my fave, about a girl who knit the night sky like a blanket until compromised by love and betrayal.
We had originally chartered a course to go straight to my mother's house in Canada Hollow [in-between Margaretteville & Andes] and crash there, but we decided to detour, switch nights w/my mom, and crash at Meredith's mother's house where Mere’s birthday bash was being perpetuated for the weekend. Finally, we made it to Mere & Jason's in Fleischmann’s, just in time to scrape the ice from the INSIDE of the car windows. It was THAT freezing cold outside. Immediately, we started drinking margaritas and set the kids up with a movie, BABE. Dinner was being grilled and the table was set as everyone puttered around. Guests included: Pedro & Nan, Grace, & Reuben, and Marios & Stephanie. BABE caught the adult’s attention and some eyes watered as the pig won everyone's hearts. How the same man who was responsible for MAD MAX could pull off this coup, I do not know, but he did and that's why he makes all the money. Ribs, sausage, soup, fish, and salad, passed around as wine lubricated throats. SBX and I blew up the airbed and kids hit the hay. Adults flopped on the living room couch and watched a collection of JACKASS TV shows, which I had never seen. My comic OPPOSABLE THUMBS had been reviewed in The Comics Journal, and the inimitable Tom Spurgeon had unfortunately compared my work/life to that of charming JACKASS jerk, Johnny Knoxville. My eyes were peeled for any similarities. We all cringed and gagged at some of the most harsh and gross acts of stupidity and violence ever recorded. It was hilarious. Admittedly, I could see how Spurgeon could confuse me with Knoxville, what with Knoxville’s savvy and wit for pain, but The Spurge was still dead wrong. I suppose, that's the kind of mistake an obese, 30-year old virgin who wrote a syndicated comic strip about religious, talking furry animals, will make in his criticism of comix. I love the big bear, so the grudge eventually waned and only took a whole damn year to forgive him.
The girls woke up early Sunday morning and SBX set 'em up with cartoons on the TV in the living room where JACKASS had desecrated the leather couches mere hours before. Our room was freezing and we had spent most of the night with our arms embracing each other to keep warm. It's hard for me to sleep like that, but survival instincts kicked in and we were like two ghetto Eskimos in a Catskill igloo. We took advantage of the sleeping house and occupied kids and stole some hot buttered sex on the air mattress, praying I wouldn't pop the rubber bed and send us flying around the room like Ali Baba’s magic carpet. The smell of fresh brewed coffee lit the entire house and SBX toasted and served English muffins while I had an interesting discussion w/Pedro about the inherent promises and problems of "suspension of disbelief" which the success of solely depends on what you assign to be real, unreal, and how far you're willing to allow the fantastic to occur sans challenge.
We split Fleischmann’s and drove over to Belleayre Ski Lodge where SBX and the girls rented equipment, negated the notion to snow board, and locked into their skis. I elected to NOT ski because the mountains were packed and my confidence for negotiating space on snow was near to nil. So, after waving the girls off as they were pulled up the mountain via the lift, I watched masters and novices get wise, enjoying the spectacle from afar rather than create the spectacle, which is what I often do. It was nice to just...stare. It creates a certain sense of Zen for a city slicker. The girls came back pumped up from their trek down the mountain and we got some grub in the lodge. We shared a table with locals and tourists and I made a spot to draw in. The girls went back up the mountain and I started penciling the first page of AIM TO DAZZLE. An hour or so later, Ola shuffled up to me and was crying. Her fingers were frozen and she was blaming SBX for pushing her stamina to ski in the cold. I warmed her hands up and told her it was going to be okay and that "mommy" didn't mean any harm and so on and so forth. There I was, playing uncle daddy and it was kinda working.
The lodge closed @4PM and we drove over to my mom's house in Canada Hollow where she and Cindy were stoking the fire in the wood stove. The house was cozy and it was good to settle in familiar territory. Spaghetti w/pesto and Eric Saul's home made tomato sauce, salad, and garlic bread, were prepared and served as everyone warmed up to each other. This was the first time my mother was hanging out w/SBX's kids and it was going smooth. We made a quick visit to Inverna and Ali’s abode and the girls got to meet a real life Spanish painter and scope out her awesome studio. My mom was worried that Ryder and Zeke [their two dogs], would wreak havoc and scare the kids, but that fear was put to rest when The Haze became infatuated with Zeke, a dog that stands taller than SBX [who is 6-feet tall] when randy, and they got to be friends, quick. The Haze burst into a series of laughter, having a blast with the dogs. Ola was less charmed but held her cool and fell in love with the Charles Schulz PEANUTS book that design guru Chip Kidd culled. Cindy’s daughter Erica was in NYC hanging with her boy-toy Shay-Shay, and the girls were bummed that they couldn’t meet and hang with a teenager 8-years their senior. We watched the GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS and the chicks in the room ranked all the dresses and hairdos. It was appalling. I was chilling in a room full of Joan Rivers wannabes! Kids hit their individual sacks and we finished ogling the silly awards show, eventually joining the girls upstairs bathing in the glow of the moon's full regale.
The Haze woke up early Monday morning and SBX suggested she read so that everyone else in the house could keep shut-eye sans jumping jacks. We tried to snooze for another half hour, but once your eyes open and you realize you have to pee, sleep becomes a wish. SBX got up first and I stumbled out of bed after her. Sand cleared from my eyes and I saw that The Haze was reading Dan Clowes' CARICATURE, which is a swell collection of comix, but for the adult in question, NOT the child in fact. SBX pulled it quickly from The Haze's mitts and I hid it among my mom's cheap pulps. After breakfast and SBX's delicious home baked raspberry/pumpkin/walnut bread, my mother chaperoned the girls as they sled down the hill and built a snow fort while SBX and I drove back over to Mere & Jay's to grab our bags and drink a cup of Joe. An hour later, we arrived back at my mom's to take showers and do our own bit of sledding. SBX drove my mom to Kicking Stones, her antique shop in Margaretteville, while Cindy gave me a 1/2 hour spiritual healing.
Cindy placed her special hands over the injured parts of my body [right knee, left ankle, hands, and lower back] and I felt the warm "chi" bubble down my legs and through my toes. I often wonder if this is some sort of hocus-pocus or is it that any fool can focus their energies into a body if they want to? I suppose the answer is: yes. Cindy talked to me about perfection and I stalled her by declaring my credo, which years ago was charged to me by my pal Chris Oarr, that I should never seek perfection because it only ever gets in the way of the good, and the ideology of perfection is what messes most people up from ever striving for a satisfactory conclusion. Compromise is what allowed resolution. There is no such thing as perfection. Name something perfect. Go ahead. You can't. Cindy agreed but sought a personal place where material needs, guilt, and anxiety, was zero to none.
We talked about primal fears and my mother, who is one of my favorite and most cherished people in the world yet runs the house like a local mayor and is somebody who can only get really real when push comes to shove. It takes more than a nudge just to get her to reveal them deep dark secrets. She plays a good poker game. When I visit [which is much more less than I'd like to], we'd rather have fun and spark smiles than uncover old stones and visit skeletons. So, I often feel that there is stuff left unsaid because we're making the best of the time we spend. Which, in a way, is a swell policy. I just want my mother to hip me when it's time to knock blocks and bust out the brass knuckles in case we have to throw speed knots at whatever decides to wage war instead of coping. I've seen what coping does to a body, especially to SBX, and I can't stand to see it chip away at her soul like slow stomach cancer -- eating, chewing, picking, gnawing. I have no beefs with mom and I doubt she has any hidden bones to pick with me. We know life is a struggle and my mother never shares the tough stuff with her son because she thinks it’s better to shrug than stress. I could take a page from her book. I just hope it doesn’t stifle her.
SBX and I packed the red rental and drove to Margaretteville to visit my mom at Kicking Stones and browse about. SBX forgot her purse at Canada Hollow and so I took the girls around the modest shopping center while they picked out their favorite fashions to vogue in. We said our goodbyes and took 28 to Kingston and turned onto 87 to NYC. We listened to more Abba, Marley, Beatles, Earth, Wind & fire, and some Ruben Gonzalez. SBX gave me an aisle-by-aisle, breakdown of the Food Co-op as I wrote an extensive shopping list on a paper napkin. Once we hit Brooklyn, I was going to shop for food with The Haze and SBX was going to take Ola back home, unpack the car, order chinky-winky, pick us up at the Food Co-op, and get us back to unpack food and eat dinner. Fully briefed, Plan A was set in motion.
Conversation somehow turned into talk of entertainment and why I like to be scared by horror and suspense. If I'm going to devote 2-hours of my precious time to suspend disbelief, I want more bang for my buck. The Haze couldn't get why anybody would want to feel rattled and SBX had her back. I waxed that it was a taste thing and that, although laughing is important, so is its antithesis, or you'd have no contrast. This got us talking about the philosophy of labels, rating systems, and the proposed intents of censorship. SBX gave a quick history lesson by illustrating the affects of Communism in the 1950s with its “red scare” to explain how censorship is mostly a corrupt government device and not the cleanest tool in the socio-political shed. Me being a lowly artist, I understand the lazy concept behind a proposed ratings system yet disdain the savage sickle of censorship. It made me sick to know that these rating systems were created to sell a certain methodology of appropriate knowledge and behavior for a staggered range of ages, keeping the more radical ideas and stories buried in a ditch of political red tape and financial quicksand. The Haze was hella intrigued by all this intellectual stimulation and weighed in with some keen observations, trying to make sense of such unholy practices.
SBX dropped The Haze and I off at the Food Co-op and signed us in before splitting back home to achieve her half of Plan A. We rampaged the aisles and checked the paper napkin list off one item at a time. A few cell phone calls and last minute shopping additions and we were on line paying for the organic grub in no time. SBX picked us up and we swung by the Red Hot Chinese place and grabbed the Asian fare. Hit home and quickly refrigerated the expendables before sitting down to some bean curd Szechwan style. Lava Lamp was in full effect and we all got to relax after a full weekend in the snow.
SBX put the girls to bed so we could get our groove on under the covers when I did a really stupid thing. I checked my answering machine and received a cryptic message from my Marvel editor. It being late, I called him at home and queried the skinny. Seems that the editor-in-chief, the big honcho, the man that claims final ‘yay or nay’, read the first issue of NIGHT FALLS ON YANCY STREET and "hated it." Hated it? What do you mean he hated it? He. Hated. It.