Saturday, March 26, 2011

David Cassidy #1

Yesterday, after work, Elizabeth, Kristin, and I went to an estate sale that Elizabeth had read about online. They had a lot of pictures and, when we got there, a lot of stuff, but none of us left with what we wanted. The tray that Elizabeth wanted was overpriced, and the Mego figures that I wanted to look at were long gone, but the three of us found some assorted other items of interest.

Elizabeth got an old board game, a book, and some Troll dolls (I think to resell), Kristin found some nice shirts, and I found a nice vintage Pyrex baking dish, a book, a candleholder, and, tucked away among some old Archie comics and Little Lulu comics, this:

david cassidy cover

"David Cassidy" #1. That was too good to pass up, especially after I started looking at it. See, I've seen comics about people before, but they're usually biographical comics. The cover of "David Cassidy", on the other hand, promises "All NEW Stories", and for a dollar I just had to know what those new stories about David Cassidy were.

Story 1 opens with David driving home, late at night, to feed the family dog:

driving home

The lights are on because David has been burgled! And the burglar stole all his food!


Except that there seems to be a lot of food left in the kitchen, for some reason. Anyway David and Simone, the Partridge Family's dog (I guess?), track the thief to the old abandoned mine above David's house, where David discovers that the thief is a sexy tousled blonde:

tousled blonde thief

Not only is she terribly polite, addressing him repeatedly as "Mr. Cassidy", but it turns out that she's just trying to help her brother, who was injured by a gang of tough guys while defending his sister's honor:

injured brother

Yeah, not only is David Cassidy not going to call the police, but Rita's brother has already realized, with a possible whimper of disappointment, that David is totally heterosexual.

Wait, what?

"Straight" meant something else back in 1972? Nevermind, then.

David wants to take Andy to the hospital, but they can't go to a hospital. Rita explains:

lettuce picking

"We're going to go pick lettuce." I can't wait to use that as a comeback next time I get into an argument.

"Oh yeah? Well what are you gonna do about it? Huh? Go pick lettuce this summer?"

Anyway, David and Rita get Andy back to David's house, but none of them realize that they've been followed, by the guys who beat up Andy in the first place!

tough 1970's robbers

Those are the most hilariously dressed "tough guys" I've ever seen. Not only that, but I'm pretty sure that they're part of the gang of space pirates that Ultra Boy joined when he had amnesia and forgot that he was in the Legion of Superheroes:

space pirate and ultra boy

(Ultra Boy caught amnesia while he was on the run after Brainiac 5, his teammate, framed him for murder. Brainiac 5 did this one of the times that he was insane, not to be confused with the time that his insanity caused him to build a Supergirl love robot:

supergirl love robot

in his sleep and then forget that he did it:

building the supergirl love robot

while wearing pajamas that he apparently stole from the guys who are robbing David Cassidy.)

Getting back to the trouble at Chez Cassidy, it turns out that David is a lover AND a fighter:

fighting the robbers (1)

Not that he needs to be, because Rita, for some reason that is never explained in the story, suddenly has a gun:

fighting the robbers (2)

She holds the robbers at bay until the cops arrive, and then everything works out for the best:

"We're at David Cassidy's house..."

The second story is shorter, but no less bizarre. It opens with David and his friends at the beach:

beach threesome

David looks kind of sad in that picture, but I can't decide if it's because

a) he was really hoping that "There's something else I'd rather try first, David..." was sexual innuendo, or

b) he realized that he drove all the way out to the beach but forgot his nipples at home.

It isn't long before Eve gets into trouble:

eve, in trouble

and David rescues her while his friend holds a shark at bay by stabbing it to death with a pocket knife:

shark rescue

because that's totally what would happen, rather than that guy getting maybe one good shot in before that thing bites off his arm in one gulp and David Cassidy's flowing locks in the next. Instead of that happening, they get away from the shark, the girl falls in love with David, and we move on to the last story:

david and shirley jones

which apparently opens just after someone sprayed Shirley Jones in the face with Joker venom on the set of "The Partridge Family". After a long day of filming, David drives away, unaware that the president of his fan club is hiding in the back seat of his car:

david's (other?) house

No, miss, that's not where he lives. David Cassidy lives in a house in the mountains near an abandoned mine filled with lettuce-picking teenaged runaways. We just saw it a dozen pages ago. I suppose it's possible that he moved some time in the last dozen pages, but even if he did, he's still got the same problems. Returning home after a long walk on the beach:

robbed again!

he discovers that he's being robbed. Again.

Did this happen to him all the time or something? David Cassidy, get a burglar alarm. Or move to one of those gated communities. At least borrow that rifle that Rita had in the first story.

Fortunately for David, the stalker hidden in his back seat saw the robbers escaping, so she and David followed by motorcycle and called the cops. Then David beat the robbers into submission:

fighting the robbers (3)

and it all worked out for the best:

so strong and brave

And all then all the people who bought this sent away for Super Luv Stickers:

super luv stickers

for their letters, lockers, mirrors, and walls, because that's just how it was when you were David Cassidy, star of "The Partridge Family".

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Biltmore Tourist Court

Five days a week, for the 5 years that I've worked here, I drive past a large metal sign for the Biltmore Tourist Court twice a day:


The tourist court itself is long-closed, and completely fenced off. From what I've glimpsed through the fence over the years, it's a collection of small cottages/bungalows, but it has fallen well into ruin. Regardless of that, the sign is an iconic feature on one of the major roads through the city of Knoxville, so much so that the local paper included it in their gallery of iconic signs last year.

It's a fixture, at least to me, even if the condition made me put it in my Sad Signs Collection back when my friend Justin suggested that I make such a collection, so I was caught completely off guard on my way home yesterday when I drove past and the sign was gone!

biltmore sign frame

It was there in the morning, but in the afternoon all that was left was the frame. I'm not having an existential moment about it or anything, like, "Oh my God, I have mortality! Someday someone will drive past on their way to work and I won't be here, either!" but it is a little bit of a loss when the familiar becomes less so, and when your drive to and from work becomes a shade less interesting.

On the other hand, thinking about the bare frame reminded me of that photography project I tried last February with the old pictures laid on top of the newer ones. The frame suggested an outline of the past, and I had a pretty good picture of the sign, so today on the way home I decided that I would stop and see what I came up with:

former biltmore tourist court

I'm pretty happy with that. The sign may have been ripped apart and sold for scrap metal, but it left me with a pretty decent photograph, and I think that's ok.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I Refuse to Include Indigo in my Spectrum

I had two goals for the weekend: try this curried chicken recipe that I found in the slow cooker cookbook (there are 1400 recipes in that book; I'll be finding recipes in it for the next several years) and go on a few photo walks.

The curried chicken turned out really well and was really easy, and since I told my friends Pam and Liz that I would share, here's the recipe:

2 pounds chicken, cut into chunks
3 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 apple, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced (or processed down to paste)
14 oz can of chicken stock
2 tablespoons curry powder

1) Dump the first four ingredients into the slow cooker. The recipe didn't say to peel the apple, but the apple is going to break down while it cooks, so if you don't peel it, you'll end up with little scraps of apple peel mixed in with everything. It still tastes ok, but the texture of soft chicken, soft potato, and apple peel is a little weird.

2) Mix the curry powder into the chicken stock, pour it into the slow cooker, and then stir everything until you decide it's coated enough. It will look something like this:

curried chicken with potatoes (1)

3) Cook on low for eight to ten hours. Stir a few times, and then serve. After nine hours, mine looked like this:

curried chicken with potatoes (2)

The recipe said to serve it over rice, but I figured the potatoes were enough starch all by themselves, so I just ate mine right out of the cooker. When I make it again, I will probably use another spoon of curry powder, because this comes out sort of mildly curried, like, "Oh, there's a hint of curry in here. How delightful," and I like my curried chicken to be a little more assertive, like, "HEY... CURRY. IN YOUR MOUTH. PUNCHING YOU IN THE TONGUE."

The curried chicken was the only unqualified success of the weekend, though. I went on three different photo walks, in three different parts of town, and am pretty unhappy with most of the pictures that I took. The weather was beautiful and the light was great, but nothing really sings to me. I guess I just wasn't feeling it this weekend. I do like these pictures I took at the University Gardens:

petal pathway

fuzzy buds

pink flower center (1)

chipped saucer

but four pictures for over three hours of walking around makes me feel a little disappointed in myself.

Disheartened and hungry, I noticed a box of white cake mix in my cabinet, which I think I'd been intending to make cookies out of. (My mom has this recipe for making cookies out of boxed cake mix that we've used since I was a little, little kid. Eating them makes me think of home, so I usually keep a random box of cake mix in my pantry in case the mood to make them strikes me.) I thought about making cookies, but then I remembered a discussion I was having with my friend Febi a few weeks ago about rainbow cupcakes, and I decided to take a stab at baking them. I had white cake mix, and I had food coloring, so really, how hard could it be?

You think you already know the answer to this question, right?

Well, yeah, if you thought the answer was, "Harder than it looks," you'd be right, but I ended up at least partially successful.

First I made the white cake batter, which only uses egg whites instead of whole eggs like regular cake, so I had to whip out the egg separator:

egg separator

It's gross, but easier than using your fingers or doing that thing where you slosh the yolk back and forth between the halves of shell. That, to me, just seems like a good way to get shell into your cake.

Once the batter was done, I split it into six bowls and started coloring them:

6 colors of batter

Red (a little pinkish), orange, yellow, blue, green, and violet (which looked a little gray). Since this isn't a "Green Lantern" comic I didn't trouble myself with indigo, since I learned in high school physics that it's not really part of ROY G BIV. With my batter dyed, I started carefully spooning color into my cups:

red (or pink)

I used to have some nice reusable silicone baking cups, but Jeannie borrowed them a couple of years ago to make cupcakes for her staff and I never saw them again. Sorry, trees, but we're back to paper.

By the time I hit yellow, I'd worked out an easy way of slowly drooling the color off of the end of the spoon so that it spread evenly and didn't disturb the layer beneath it, but I also realized that I had a problem:

half done

My cups were already half full, and that's how full you're supposed to make cupcakes. I wasn't just making ROY cupcakes, though, so I shrugged and kept filling until I ran into my next problem:

done filling the cups

I ran out of purple, but had plenty of blue left. I guess when I was scooping out the batter in the beginning I dropped a scoop meant for the purple bowl into the blue bowl instead, because I had the exact same amount of all the other colors, too much blue, and not enough purple. I sighed, blamed it on math instead of on me, and popped them into the oven.

They did not come out quite right:

baked cupcakes

They look kind of scary, actually, like moldy rocks. Undaunted, I popped one out, hoping for a miracle:


There are layers! Sure, they're not even, and the top is a mess, but I see definite layers there. I peeled off the paper and sliced, to see a cross section:

rainbow cupcake interior

Not a total success, but not a total failure.

Thoughts for future attempts:

1) Use two cake mixes. Then you'll have plenty for each color, and you can just make mixed or mono-color cupcakes out of the leftover batter.

2) The bottom layers need to be really thin so they don't bubble up through the top layers as they cook. Actually, all of the layers need to be really thin.

3) Use a pastry bag with a flat tip to layer in the color. Sure, it will take a while, but will keep the layers more even.

Sure, they're not the most attractive cupcakes, but they taste fine.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gummi Lunch

The other day, I was in the candy section of Mast General (because why would you go to Mast General and not go to the candy section?), and I noticed gummi hamburgers and hot dogs:

gummi burger and hot dog (1)

I like candy, and I like gummi candy, but somewhere in the back of my mind I had a vague memory of not liking these particular gummi candies. I tried to remember why, but couldn't come up with anything. Did they actually taste like hamburgers? Chewy hamburgers? Because that would be disgusting, and might explain it. I think I'd remember if I'd eaten that, though. Maybe I had some deap-seated psychological reason for not liking them? Like a long-buried memory of some guy that I thought was really hot but wouldn't give me the time of day as he sat eating hamburger gummi candies and I wallowed in misery and loneliness and swore in my cold, black heart that I would never, ever eat gummi hamburgers as long as I lived? No, I'd probably remember that, too.

There must be some reason I remember not liking them, though. In the interests of science, I decided to try to figure it out. I bought one of each, and then today I decided to eat them.

The first step, of course, would be unwrapping them:

gummi burger and hot dog (2)

They're pretty tiny. The top bun of the burger is somewhere between the size of a dime and a penny. They felt, like most gummies that haven't been in your pocket getting nice and warm, a little firm and rubbery, and they smelled vaguely fruity. Not like any specific fruit, but that random smell of fruit flavoring that gummies always have.

I dissected the burger first:

gummi burger, in pieces

I was impressed with the level of detail. The patty has little grill marks, and the lettuce leaf really does look leafy. The fruit smell was maybe cherry? Like cough drop cherry?

So far nothing seemed offensive, so I reassembled the burger and bit:

gummi burger, half eaten

Now I remember why I don't like gummi hamburgers.

They taste like nothing. Rubbery, slightly tough, flavorless nothing. They're not even sweet. It's just a little lump that you chew up and swallow as quickly as possible.

Given the letdown of the burger, I had pretty low expectations for the hot dog, which breaks down into two unimpressive pieces:

gummi hot dog, disassembled

I guess there's not a lot of creativity you can do with something that's pretty bland to begin with, design-wise. It looks like a hot dog. Like the burger, it smelled vaguely fruity and seemed a little rubbery. I put it back together, took a deep breath, and bit down:

gummi hot dog, half eaten

That has to be the least appetizing photo of food that I have ever taken, but a picture really is worth a thousand words, especially if those words include things like, "flavorless", "rubbery", or "kind of gross".

I think I'll stick to the gummi candies that I like from now on.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A quiet walk around campus

After a delicious brunch of biscuits and gravy with eggs, cheese, and chorizo sausage:


with Bryan's family, who are in town for a few days, I took a short walk around campus to clear my head. It's nice to see them, but also sad, and I needed some alone time to process a little.

Fortunately, spring break started on Friday, so walking around campus is pretty solitary:

Ayres Hall, renovated

Not a student in sight.

I wasn't really looking for anything in particular, just walking, thinking, and snapping random images:

bike horn

fire stairs

doorframe stonework

In addition to working on my black and white some more:

ayres hall, black and white

I also did a little bit of playing with color:

bright window

I'm not sure I like that, but I took it with the intention of coming home and tweaking the hell out of the saturation, so yay for deliberate photography over point and click, I guess.

I also took about five versions of this one, which I think is the best picture I took today:

flag in windows

I like that photo a lot, and also, I feel better.