In two recent messages here, I said that The Simpsons Movie was covered by a Writers Guild contract. I said that because I'd been told as much by a couple of folks who should have known. I am now informed by one of the Simpsons writers that is not so.
On the other hand, I have it directly from Neil Gaiman, who co-wrote the recent Beowulf animated film that it was covered by the WGA. And I'll bet he's right.
2008 will mark seventy (70) years since Superman first appeared in Action Comics. Michael Sangiacomo, who writes for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, is challenging locals to do something about it. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who created one of the great figures in American popular fiction, hailed from Cleveland...and yet the city has no official recognition of this. No Siegel and Shuster Street, no statues, no plaques, nothing. Thanks to Jef Peckham for the link...and thanks to Mike Sangiacomo who at the Mid-Ohio Con last month, gave me copies of his fine graphic novel, Tales of the Starlight Drive-In.
My latest excuse for being behind in answering your e-mails is a good one: I seem to have a Toxic Waste Dump in my kitchen.
Remember that trip I took to New York, Indiana and Ohio a few weeks ago? The last Saturday night of it, I was in Ohio, leading a group of folks from the comic convention out to dinner, when I got one of those phone calls you never want to get when you're outta town: The lady who was house-sitting for me was calling to say that water was dripping out of my dining room and kitchen ceilings. As we soon discovered, the supply line carrying H2O to an upstairs toilet had burst. Fixing the toilet cost about thirty bucks. Fixing the water damage will be a little costlier...to me (a $1000 deductible) and to my insurance company (a lot more than that).
My dining room is usually lined with bookcases and piled high with boxes of "to be sorted" books. About a third of the room was seriously damaged...although, miraculously, only one box of books. Perhaps fittingly, it was a box of books that I wrote and they're easily replaceable. It was almost like the leak knew which things not to get wet.
In the kitchen...well, I now have about half a kitchen. The wall oven was destroyed, along with several cabinets and their contents. The wall behind the sink was soaked and in order to fix it, they started by ripping the walls open and leaving some huge dehumidifiers in there, running 24/7 for a week to dry things out. Then they came and ripped out almost everything in there — the cabinets, the counter, the sink, the dishwasher, the garbage disposal, etc. Before they did any of this, they put up floor-to-ceiling plastic walls to create what they call a "containment area." It contains half my kitchen and a third of my dining room. To get into it, you need to go through a little airlock, which is what you're looking at in the above photo. The black thing at right is my refrigerator. To the immediate left of it is the access into the containment area, carefully posted with warning signs in English and Spanish. The Spanish is there, I guess, for when Sergio Aragonés comes to visit me.
Monday and Tuesday, three men were in there all day, wearing respirators and full-body protective gear. They finished opening all the walls and removed all the lath and plaster. Then they carefully washed and vacuumed everything else. The enemy here is mold and it sure looks like they got all of it out. This morning, a man from another company came to by to take samplings. If the analysis shows that all the biological no-nos are gone, reconstruction work can begin. The firm that's doing it says six weeks so I figure I'll be lucky if it's done in ten. If I decide to do some remodelling in the process, as I probably will, it could run longer than an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.
'Til then, I'll be washing dishes in the downstairs bathroom and living out of the boxes we packed of all the food and utensils that could be saved from the ailing half of the kitchen. There won't be a lot of cooking, which is fine. Even under normal conditions, my cooking leads to other kinds of biological hazards.
Still, it's a bit disconcerting, when I walk in there to get a tomato juice or a sandwich, to see health warnings posted next to my icebox. After it's all done, I may leave the signs up. Just in case my new oven looks so neat that I get the urge to bake.
Here's a short trailer for a reissue of The Music Man, which features Robert Preston doing some special lyrics just for the trailer. The longer, original version of this trailer (which I can't find) had more of this and didn't have the bad edits in it. But for now, you'll have to settle for this...