I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Monday, July 04, 2005

I actually found a picture of the very engine I saw through the window of the mall, when I was trying to figure out whether it was spelled Mount Clair or Mt. Clare. I stumbled upon this picture and this little blurb about it. I do remember the engine was pretty big...apparently my memory was correct. It was much shinier then, and not so streaky and dirty looking.

"The NS did a cosmetic overhaul on 1604 at the Roanoke Shops before for it was sent (around 1987) to Baltimore to be displayed as the centerpiece of the Mt. Clare Junction shopping center which was adjacent to the B&O Museum. The shopping center was literally built around 1604. In 1989, the failing shopping center decided that 1604 was too big and decided to donate her to the B&O Museum. 1604 was moved from the mall onto B&O Museum property in early 1990 by SW-1 Pere Marquette 11. During the early 1990s, there was a rumor going around that the CSXT was considering starting their own steam excursion program. They reportedly sent some mechanics to check the condition of 1604 to see if it was feasible to restore it to operating condition! Today, the cab has been cosmetically restored and lighting has been placed in the firebox so that it can be viewed."

I remember this one time I cried when I was like 7...

I was just reading the Baltimore Sun online, because I'm bored out of my MIND in Bar-Bri class...I've been here ALL FUCKING DAY. (Note: This was started on July 2nd.)

And I was reading this article about Pigtown in Baltimore, and they mentioned Mt. Clare Junction, near the B&O Railroad.

They turned the junction into a shopping mall in 1987. At that time, (1987) I had a slight infatuation with trains. Yeah, it's embarrassing. Probably one of my last vestiges of dorky heterosexuality. But, if you think about it, there's something sort of awe inspiring about watching a steam locomotive... I think I really liked the fact that it was very visually busy - smoke belching from the smokestack, steam coming out of valves on top, the pistons working in intricate, repetitive harmony, noise from steam and wheels and bells and whistles. Anyhoo...

To promote the opening of this new mall, the Mt. Clare Junction Mall, the television ads showed a steam train roaring through an open field, with passenger cars in tow. Being seven, and retarded, I decided that this meant that the mall was giving away free steam train rides on their mall steam train. Because, you know, what mall doesn't stable a 1941 Allegheny Ironworks Locomotive, parked in the middle of the main concourse, that then pulls out of the mall, with cheering shoppers waving from the windows?

God, I was dumb as a sack of rocks.

I implored, IMPLORED my parents to take me to this new and magical mall with its train rides and attractive Children's Place apparel. They both eyed me quizzically and I remember both of them telling me that there wasn't a train that ran through the mall, giving rides, that it was only in the advertisement. But I was steadfast. I had seen that they were giving away rides on their train and we had. to. go. Had to go. I insisted and begged and pleaded, certain that my parents were absolutely wrong, and that on a regular schedule, a train departed the mall on joyrides, thundering through the golden fields of...Baltimore City?

So we went. And I was about to be taught a very valuable lesson in disappointment.

See, because Mt. Clare Junction on the B&O was where the first chartered common-carrier was founded in 1827 blah blah blah, and this mall was built adjacent to this. Therefore, the good people at the Rouse Company (that's probably who built the mall...they seem to have built every mall in Maryland...) decided that it would be cool to have a locomotive as the centerpiece of the mall.

Centerpiece. Not moving attraction.

My heart was in my throat as we drove up to the mall...which, incidentally, happened to be closed, anyway, as it was a summer Sunday evening. I was a very spoiled child, I guess, if my parents were willing to drive from Towson into Baltimore on some child's folly errand... But they did it to make me happy. Ultimately, it crushed me.

I was shattered as we approached the mall and I saw a ginormous locomotive sitting on tracks that went to nowhere, inside the mall. The locomotive hulked behind a locomotive-sized window...a window without hinges, meaning that it really was a window and not a door. And meaning that little me would not have my train ride.

The excitement of riding on this train was what had kept my tiny heart beating for the last week. This was more than I could bear! As my father puttered past the mall in our 1984 chocolate brown Toyota Corolla with brown plaid upholstery, I buried my little face in my little mitts and wept.

I'm pretty sure after that we went and got Ice Cream from Lee's in Harborplace. I probably got bubblegum flavored, which was pink and had gumballs in it. And I'm sure I was adorable eating ice cream with a tear-stained face, pouting about the train ride that never happened.

But it was a very valuable lesson: Advertisements are always lies, and my parents were always right about everything.

I can't sleep, so I'll pepper you with insomnia-induced posts!

Okay. So, I just wrote that post about Tom. I want to put some of his work up here, but I'm not going to do that because I don't think that would be a good thing to do for a variety of reasons. Go to his site. See below.

I can't sleep for some reason. I used to have an Ambien prescription, and that shit is off the motherfucking hook. I'm going to have to take a pill... Okay, I just did. It wasn't Ambien 10, though... I ran out of that a while ago. My latest obsession is Tylenol "Simply Sleep." It's okay. It doesn't give me a sleeping pill hangover like Excedrin PM did. I still blame those evil little blue pills for the fact that my LSAT score blew, and I had to go to Miami for law school... NEVER TAKE ONE OF THOSE when you have to function in any capacity the next day...

Still, as my blood pressure steadily climbs and it becomes harder and harder for me to fall asleep, I might have to see the good people at the University of Miami Health Center for an Ambien refill. I cannot get to sleep before 1:30 EVER, and waking up at 7:30 every day starts to wear on one when one doesn't get sleep.

I'm groggy and foggy, and that sort of sucks.

So, back to this post... I like the poem "The Insect God." Although, I call it "Millicent Frastley," because 1) I like that name and 2) she's the main character. It was written by Edward Gorey. Here it is:

O what has become of Millicent Frastley?
Is there any hope that she's still alive?
Why haven't they found her? It's rather ghastly
To think that the child was not yet five.

The dear little thing was last seen playing
Alone by herself at the edge of the park;
There was no one with her to keep her from straying
Away in the shadows and oncoming dark.

Before she could do so, a silent and glittering
Black motor drew up where she sat nibbling grass;
From within came a nearly inaudible twittering,
A tiny green face peered out through the glass.

She was ready to flee, when the figure beckoned;
An arm with two elbows held out a tin
Full of cinnamon balls; she paused; a second
Reached out as she took one, and lifted her in.

The nurse was discovered collapsed in some shrubbery,
But her reappearance was not much use;
Her eyes were askew, he extremities rubbery,
Her clothing was stained with a brownish juice.

She was questioned in hopes of her answers revealing
What had happened; she merely repeatedly said
'I hear them all walking about on the ceiling.'
She had gone irretrievably out of her head.

O feelings of horror, resentment, and pity
For things, which so seldom turn out for the best;
The car, unobserved, sped away from the city
As the last of the light died out in the west.

The Frastleys grew sick with apprehension,
Which a heavy tea only served to increase;
Though they felt it was scarcely genteel to mention
The loss of their child, they called in the police.

Through unvisited hamlets the car went creeping,
With its head lamps unlit and its curtains drawn;
Those natives who happened not to be sleeping
Heard it pass, and lay awake until dawn.

The police with their torches and notebooks descended
On the haunts of the underworld, looking for clues;
In spite of their praiseworthy efforts, they ended
With nothing at all in the way of news.

The car, after hours and hours of travel,
Arrived at a gate in an endless wall;
It rolled up a drive and stopped on the gravel
At the foot of a vast and crumbling hall.

As the night wore away, hope started to languish
And soon was replaced by all manner of fears;
The family twisted their fingers in anguish,
Or got them all damp from the flow of their tears.

They removed the child to the ball-room, whose hangings
And mirrors were streaked with a luminous slime;
They leapt through the air with buzzings and twangings
To work themselves up to a ritual crime.

They stunned her, and stripped off her garments, and lastly
They stuffed her inside a kind of a pod;
And then it was that Millicent Frastley
Was sacrificed to The Insect God.

Yeah, it's long. Yeah, it's morbid, maudlin and Edwardian. But I've never read a narrative poem that has painted such a vivid picture of its story in my mind. And now, hopefully my sleeping pill has kicked in and I can go to bed...

My friend Tom.

When I was in 10th grade, this new guy, who was a year older than me, enrolled in my high school. His name is Tom. We became friends. I see him quite infrequently now, because he has moved to NYC, and I never get to go anywhere, because becoming a lawyer is like having a ball and chain attached to one's leg, and I can never leave this hellhole called "Florida."

Anyhoo, Tom has attained God-like stature in my eyes. He's also real nice.

Tom has his own website now. Tom also has a new comic coming out. Like... a real comic. A book that you'll be able to buy in stores.

Here's the link to his site.

I highly recommend that you go. I don't even LIKE comics, but I've always loved Tom's illustrations, and if I like them, they have to be good, because everyone knows I don't like anything. Tom once drew me in cartoon form. It was fucking awesome. I scanned it, and if I can find it anywhere, I'll post it someday.

On his site, the stuff I particularly love are his Edward Gorey-esque drawings under the "Illustrations" heading, "Black and White." They seem to be from a comic called, "Really Rather Not Nice Things." I detect hints of "The Hapless Child," and "Gashlycrumb Tinies" in the works. And then I think of Tom, as one of the characters in "Gorey Stories," which I stage managed in 11th grade, saying, "My dear little Charlotte Sophia!" and then getting killed in Africa. About three people reading this blog will know what I'm talking about. That's okay. I will never understand how Tom is able to draw...such straight lines and such organized, detailed clutter. But then again, I'll also never understand math. I like Tom's work WAY better than math, though.

Below is an email that Tom sent us letting us know how and where to find his stuff. I'm not entirely sure what it means, because I can't really comprehend anything anymore if it doesn't fall within some area of the law, but that's okay. I'm immensely proud of Tom, and wanted to kvell the news of his talent and his increasing success to everyone who reads this blog.

"I've just finished illustrating the final issue of a comic book miniseries
from Viper Comics that comes out July 20th. The comic is three issues
(available at your local comic shops), and it's monthly, so the final issue
will be out in September, followed shortly thereafter by a trade paperback
collection of the entire miniseries. You can find information on
pre-ordering the issues at www.karmaincorporated.com. Pre-ordering is our
best gauge for interest, so your support is appreciated, but if you can't
pre-order try to pick up the individual issues or just wait until November
and pick up the TPB which will be available in comic shops, the Viper
Comics online store (www.vipercomics.com), and both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble
sites. Check out the Karma and Viper sites for news, interviews, and
teasers, or stop by the forums for a visit. While you're at it I've got a
new website, showcasing my illustration work, that you can wander around --
www.tomkurzanski.com -- created with the help of fellow FSU film alumnus
Justin Downing.

I'll be at the San Diego Comic Con in July and Wizard World Chicago in
August to promote the book with signings in NYC throughout the run, so if
you're in the area, stop by and say hi. Thanks for your support, guys -- I
appreciate it."

So, that's our Tom. Signing books. Giving autographs. Probably being entirely too self-effacing and modest despite the fact that anyone who's ever met him, walks away in awe of his talent and humor, knowing that they've just met someone who is absolutely destined for great things.

But don't ask him for his piece of cornbread if you're out at dinner. Tom won't give it to you. No matter how hard you beg and plead.