Archive for November, 2008

Letterpress List No. 62: Floating Above It

November 26, 2008

It’s the most wonderful time of the year … to scramble, screaming, from one crushing deadline to the next. A time when something as simple as a dull drill-press bit can cost you a day of running around and improvising that you really don’t have. A time when you fret over ruining someone else’s holidays at the expense of getting into the spirit yourself.

Been there, right? Typecast Press sure has.

You know, instead of embracing what the holidays mean to our families, our friends and our neighbors, we obsess over what the holidays mean to our customers and businesses.

Rather than look forward to a big Thanksgiving dinner with a group of friends, or to stopping and smelling the evergreens, or to marveling at the beautiful (OK, tacky, Mary says) Christmas light displays, Shop Boy wonders how in the world he’ll help Mary through the holiday rush and still lower the broom on the dust bunnies before our houseguests arrive. How will we make time to keep house and home going when every new day dawns with fears of letting someone down.

And, of course, how will I compile this week’s Letterpress List?

But these are such small things.

First, we should be thankful that we’re healthy enough to do the heavy lifting required of the letterpress printer. We should be thankful that we’re busy, with new business lined up. (Check and check.) We’re thankful that our friendship hums along — that there’s no place Mary and Shop Boy would rather be than flailing about, side by side, in the printshop.

See? It’s all perspective.

Besides …

As they usually do with all things tasteful and entertaining, Carl Schurr and Wil Love, the dear gentlemen up the street from Shop Boy and Mary, have the answer to this particular rush: Enjoy the moment. Decorate irrepressibly. Turn the room lights down low — use candles when possible — and keep the cocktails and charm flowing. Let the dust bunnies stay where they are. No one will notice.

And they won’t eat much.

***

Letterpress List No. 62

How about a little less than an hour’s worth of thanks-filled music — as I said, we’re scrambling a bit — to drown out the poorly rehearsed, teleprompter-fed happy talk that is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade commentary team. Yeesh. And all that phony singing. Humbug! But it’s the spectacle that brings us back year after year. Clowns, Rockettes, corn-fed, middle American marching bands and majorettes who washed cars all year to afford the airfare tooting and tapping and twirling their hearts out. Not to mention the huge cartoon-character balloons and their costumed handlers! Too much fun.

True story: When we lived in New York, Mary and Shop boy used to go out the night before the parade, buy hot praline peanuts from a street vendor and watch the balloons being inflated and then tied down. When we moved away from the city, we’d sneak back every couple of years, eating room service breakfast and peering down from our hotel room toward a far-off street corner, hoping for a glimpse of Garfield’s ear or one of Kermit’s bulging eyes. (I’ll show you my impersonation of the Spider-Man balloon sometime. Brilliant, or … ahem … so I’m told.) We’d watch the TV for clues to what was coming down the street next, though tape delay meant we were mostly wrong. Oh, and there was the time Mary and Shop Boy got to the parade route early for a primo spot — and witnessed the awesome, stupid male fantasy that is the McDonald’s All-Star Cheerleaders, 1,000-strong, screaming down the street toward you. (You should see Mary’s impersonation of Shop Boy’s face at that very moment.) And no “I’m-here-and-smiling-by-contractual-agreement” announcers! Then, of course, we were shoved and shamed toward the back of the pack by pushy parents using their kids to get themselves the spot up front. It’s all so New York. So weird — or so magic, as Mary would say.

Anyway, enjoy the parade, the holiday and the merry month to come.

Most of these tunes should be available in the usual places. Goofy or great videos are from YouTube.

Macy’s Day Parade —  Green Day (Not quite as joyful.)
When I See You — Macy Gray (It might be across a crowded avenue.)
Thank You — Sly & the Family Stone (No, thank you, Sly, etc.)
Spoon Man — Soundgarden (Pass the gravy.)
Feed Me — from Little Shop of Horrors (Must it be turkey? You betcha. Carl and Wil introduced us recently to the guy who was the first Seymour on Broadway. Mary fell at his feet.)
It’s Not Easy Being GreenKermit the Frog (Not easy being a parade balloon, either. Kermie’s earned a few bandaids through the years. Oh, and Shop Boy will never get over this.)
Jim Henson’s DeadStephen Lynch (Our bad-boy comedian’s a softie after all.)
Thank UAlanis Morissette (Or this one, just for the video.)
The PoliteKatie Todd (Sit there and say, “Thank you,” with a smile and wave.)
You’re Gonna Miss ThisTrace Adkins (This one goes out to the dude in the red-checked pajamas on Adkins’ parade float, just kind of taking in the spectacle, clapping completely out of time, smiling as if there wasn’t a big yellow butter pat on top of his head. Tomorrow, this fellow’s just another Macy’s employee. Today? A star!)
Only 364 More Shopping Days ’til XmasCletus T. Judd (Much like Santa arriving at Herald Square to slap a The End sign on the Macy’s Parade … just ain’t the Christmas season without it, ya hear?)

Not Standing Still

November 20, 2008

Weren’t we just talking about the Cult of Mary?

What a riot!

Now, first off, you must know that Mary, as a former newspaper person, is kind of leery about this interview-and-photograph business. It’s fun to have your moment, but it’s usually fleeting. Shop Boy?

Bouncing down the hallway, reading the story out loud from the rooftop, singing, dancing and carrying on. Irresponsibly giddy.

What, you expected a calm reaction? You must be new around here.

Secondly, we can spell “stationery.”

Sigh. It happens. Shop Boy’s made his share of such gaffes.

True story: I had just begun a tryout with the Boston Herald when my prospective boss, George O’Mullakoupo’suarezenawicz (OK, I’m making that up), called me into his office. He said he had wanted to meet the idiot who misspelled that name on an application for a copy editing position. I mean, who wouldn’t double-check such a thing? Meaning, of course, that the whole reason George had invited me to come was so he could belittle me for a week, privately and publicly.

(I had checked, by the way, calling the newspaper three separate times for the spelling. Even there, no one could spell the dude’s name.)

Well, three days into our belittling session, Shop Boy had, ahem, convinced George that he should hire me anyway. By then, though, I was spelling his name J-E-R-K. No thank you, sir.

But enough about me.

Shop Boy’s a huge fan of Mary. So, onward and upward! I want people to notice her work. I want her to be famous. I want her to be cool. I want her to be president. I want her to finish this holiday-rush stuff so that we can take a weekend off.

First things first, I guess: For the moment, Mary’s famous.

And Shop Boy can’t stop smiling.

See, it’s not just that Shop Boy’s alter ego is a member of the liberal, elitist, muckraking, sensationalist media. I really believe that, for a little business like ours, any press is good press.

Just spell the name right …

Words Cannot Describe …

November 19, 2008

What’s going on up there?

I mean, at the top of this space … looking a little funky. (At least today. Who knows what’ll be there tomorrow?)

See, Mary’s a messer-wither. A tinkerer. Getting her monkey fingers into everything. Thank heavens for the Heidelberg Windmill, her new love. It’s got so many gauges and adjustments that Mary can tweak to her heart’s content and not bring production to a complete halt in doing so.

Me? Crank it out, baby. I’ll be at the C&P if you need me.

Anyway, Mary’s been on Shop Boy about dressing up the blog a bit. You know, like actually learning how to post decipherable images and stuff. A picture’s worth a thousand words — or blog hits — and all that. The blogging equivalent, I guess, of “Tuck in your shirt.” Shop Boy’s tried, but not so hard that it stops the onslaught of spine-tingling new posts.

Ahem.

Well, Mary does have some interesting ideas for that header deal up yonder, so stay tuned.

Meantime, I guess words will just have to do.

Letterpress List No. 61: Surf and Turf

November 17, 2008

Oh, now, this really takes the cake.

It totally frosts my cookies.

Shop Boy’s persona — yes, all of the wonder that is me — has been officially subsumed beneath the Cult of Mary.

True story: Liz Brooke, the supervisor of Shop Boy’s alter ego in Washington, announced that she would be having dinner in Baltimore at Woodberry Kitchen, which — as you probably know — Typecast Press does printing work for. Well, Shop Boy decided to surprise Liz (a really neat lady who might be reading this right now and very likely disapproving of my grammar and sentence structure) and her party with free desserts.

So one day, as Shop Boy delivered menus and other paper products to Woodberry, I approached owner Amy Gjerde about setting up the freebies. She said she’d put a note on the reservation. Now, Amy’s fairly unforgettable. In fact, the first time he saw her, at a little breakfast outpost she and hubby-to-be and co-owner Spike had set up in our neighborhood, Shop Boy could no longer remember how to say the word “pumpkin.” When I returned home with a very odd order, Mary just laughed and said, “Oh, you must mean Amy.”

And if you’ve ever met Mary … well, just let every single person at Woodberry tell you: “Hi, Mary! Great to see you!” “Mary! Staying for dinner?” “Ma-reeeee!” Etc., etc. It’s kind of gross, actually.

Shop Boy? Not quite so memorable. The note put on the reservation apparently read something like: “Free desserts courtesy of the cheery but awkward fellow who delivers stuff from Typecast Press and can’t pronounce easy words … Mr. Mashburn.”

What am I, chopped liver, brick-oven roasted in a cider glaze; sauvignon-marinated, carmelized onions; pickled local beet and endive garni; and buckwheat polenta in a corn emulsion, or what?

Sigh.

Loudspeaker: “Paging Steve Mashburn, Mr. Steve Mashburn.”

Oh, he’s unavailable. Probably hanging 10 someplace.

I mean, Steve Mashburn: total surfer dude name, right?

Cowabunga.

***

Letterpress List No. 61

OK, I’m not really upset. Liz Brooke got a kick out of it. And besides, maybe Shop Boy should have changed his name when he and Mary were hitched. One day, my sister Rosemary brought home free pens that advertised her place of employment and asked if I’d like one. Sure, I said, proceeding to sign my name on a little notepad. “That is how you sign your name?” my mom shrieked. “We gave you that beautiful name and that’s how you sign it?”

Anyway, how about an hour’s worth of music to practice your penmanship — and maybe your pronunciation skills — by? Most of these tunes should be available in the usual places. Goofy or great video links courtesy of YouTube.

My Name Is Eminem (Oh, dear.)
I Make the Dough, You Get the GloryKathleen Edwards ( ;-) )
You Don’t Know MeWillie Nelson (Sad about it.)
U Don’t Know MeT.I. (Mad about it.)
Scarborough FairSimon & Garfunkel (Parsley, sage, Rosemary … and a scolding from Mom.)
Last Ride InGreen Day (Great, laid-back surfing or, OK, skateboarding song.)
Mr. IncognitoA Tribe Called Quest (Don’t know where this Q-Tip guy got that voice. He could read the phone book and it’d be hip-hop cool. Just ask the Beastie Boys. Oh, and bonus Shop Boy points: If you listen to that “Get It Together” clip and substitute the name Don Ho when you hear John Holmes, you’ll have the lyrics Mary sang one day at the printshop. I nearly wet my pants.)
Mystery ManGnarls Barkley (And where did Cee-Lo Green get that voice?)
Mistachuck Chuck D (That’s “Mr.” to you.)
Catch a WaveBeach Boys ( “Get away from the shady turf and, baby, go catch some rays on the sunny surf.” Steve Mashburn is so there.)
Come as You Are
Nirvana (Can’t remember you anyway.)
Brian WilsonBarenaked Ladies (He didn’t know his own name for a while.)
The Delivery ManElvis Costello ( “In a certain light, he looked like Elvis” … um, mature version.)
You Ain’t Seen Nothing YetBachman Turner Overdrive (Have a little fun at a stutterer’s expense, create a classic.)
Wipeoutthe Surfaris (Also has held up surprisingly well.)
Looking for a StrangerPat Benatar (For Eleanor Lewis, who has let it be known she is furious that her girl was shunned by Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. OK, you can’t win when you put one of these lists together, but please. Iggy Pop and Tom Waits — ! — are there, but Tori Amos is not? )
Smells Like Teen SpiritTori Amos (So there.)

Artificial Intelligence

November 13, 2008

All his life, Shop Boy’s been the coffee guy.

When I was 10, it was my job to boil water and make instant coffee, with milk and sugar, walk it upstairs and wake my dad for work. Five days a week. Not until I left for college was it somebody else’s turn. All those mornings, I never complained — and also never spilled a drop on the carpeted stairs.

It became a game: How many stairs could I take at once without spilling? How quickly and quietly could I run the stairs without losing a drop?

Dad was a nut about being present and being punctual as an employee. He never missed a day of school in his life, and very rarely missed a day of work. I’m sure this kind of thing really sat well with his co-workers. Four days out of five was not close enough for my dad’s kind of government work. Maybe it was that he knew staying home meant facing seven hungry, constantly warring kids. But we’re not here to judge, folks. He just needed to be awake and at work. So, without fail, little Shop Boy brought the coffee.

My own favorite memories of morning coffee are from Mary and Shop Boy’s first year in Denver. East 11th Street. One block away was a fancy pants gourmet supermarket. One block the other way was a lithium house whose porch was always populated by drooling zombies. Our first week there, as I left for work, a wet, completely naked young woman came running up the alley toward me. I asked if she was OK, if she’d like my jacket to cover up with. She said thanks, but she needed to go kill somebody — the guy I’d seen tucking money into his sock a moment or two earlier, apparently. She grabbed a few things off a nearby clothesline and never looked back. Poor guy. We moved shortly after the white supremacists rented the house across the way. That was an interesting neighborhood.

Back then we had a coffee pot that you could set like an alarm clock to automatically turn on in the morning. Tell you what: There aren’t many things better than waking up to the smell of chocolate-raspberry coffee. And so it was. Shop Boy would get up, pour himself some chocolate-raspberry coffee, add cream and sugar — candy bar in a cup, that was! Then I’d clean the coffee pot with soap and water, get the other coffee bean grinder and make a stiff pot for Mary, untouched by any of that fruit-flavored nonsense. Mary drinks her coffee black.

“Would you like something in your coffee, miss?”

“Yeah, how about a little more bitterness?”

Once, at a Colombian restaurant in New York, Mary asked for coffee. The proprietor said, essentially, that the brew was a bit too rough for non-natives of Colombia. That was it: Mary was having that coffee. The dude brought a teeny cup over, suggesting that Mary add cream and sugar and warning again of the substance’s dark nature. Whereupon Mary slugged it down, declared it delicious and informed the flabbergasted proprietor that she’d like another.

Same deal in Miami’s Little Havana, where the sign above one of the little coffee vendors read, if Shop Boy remembers his Spanish: “Attention, Gringos! If you drink this, you will die in agony!”

Mary grabbed Shop Boy’s hand and in we went.

Me? “Light and sweet.” Most mornings Shop Boy is neither, but my coffee’s got to be. So I get up at 6, mumble and stumble toward the shower, dress and put on a pot of strong coffee for Mary. Depending upon how quickly — or whether — I emerge from the a.m. fog, I’ll carry a cup to Mary and let the rich smell wake her up. She drinks the whole pot.

True story: Shop Boy was on a two-week tryout at a big newspaper in New Jersey, hopeful of landing a job a bit closer to Mary, who had moved to New York City. My shift started at 4 p.m. or so. The first night, my supervisor walked in carrying two jumbo Dunkin’ Donuts thermoses full of coffee. He finished them before 6 p.m., then went to the vending machine for two more cups of that filth. At break time, around 9:30, he went to Dunkin’ Donuts for refills. By 11 p.m., it was like The Exorcist.

Better yet, think Beavis, Butt-head and … “Cornholio.”

Shop Boy was offered, but did not take, that job.

Around the corner from the Brooklyn apartment we ended up in was a little bakery/coffee shop called Faith’s. The bagels were dynamite — Eyyyyy, it’s New Yawk, fella. Try to find a bad one — and the coffee was so rich that a little oil slick formed on its surface. Every morning, Mary would poke me in the ribs and ask, “Where’s my coffee?” Shop Boy would drag himself the 100 paces or so there and back, set breakfast on the table and — now wide awake from two sips — bounce into the bedroom, pronouncing in my most rubust superhero voice: “I am Coffee Man! Defender of the Faiths!”

OK, weirdo. (But I still do it sometimes.)

Another time, Mary was walking through a park in New York carrying her scone and a Faith’s coffee. A woman approached, clearly a heroin addict, and asked Mary for money. As the woman was shivering, Mary offered her the hot coffee. “Does it have sugar in it?” the woman asked. No, Mary answered. “Well, do you have any sugar to put in it?” the lady asked. Mary did not have any sugar. “No thanks,” the woman said. “What have you got in the bag? Something sweet?”

Nope.

“It’s a scone,” Mary said.

The lady harrumphed and continued along in her search for money and a sugar fix.

Mary: “It was a perfect scone, too. Light and delicious and …”

Shop Boy: “… dry as a bone. It’s the breakfast treat refused by more heroin addicts than any other.”

Now Mary harrumphed.

Anyway, we don’t have a coffee pot at Typecast Press. Heck, we didn’t even have potable water for a good long while. (You drink that stuff that comes out of the factory tap.) But now that we get water delivered, we’ve been thinking about what we could hook up to save us the additional two bucks we usually spend on a cup of takeout java.

Mary uses a french press sometimes, but the stuff that thing creates is too chewy for Shop Boy. And most of the modern brewing machines that seem really cool require that water be piped directly into them. Again … ewwwww. Since most of the stuff we do at the printshop is old-timey, my vote is to stay simple: two separate coffee makers and coffee grinders, segregated bean supplies (harsh for her, wussy and flavored for me), probably two different filter sizes, bags of artificial sweeteners (sugar just doesn’t quite get me there sometimes, you know?), half & half in the fridge, favorite coffee cups that never shall be shared or touch one another … and maybe a moisture-tight lockbox for the scones. I won’t need the key.

Does all that seem like too much of a bother just for a cup of joe?

Don’t worry. I’ll make it.

Letterpress List No. 60: Leftovers Again?

November 11, 2008

We’re nothing if not scrappy here at Typecast Press.

I mean, scraps of this paper and that paper, and that paper and this. It’s all those little bits left over in the cutting of cards, menus or whatever. And we hate to throw it away. (Much of the paper we use is made from cotton, so it’s not like killing trees. But the stuff’s expensive.) So, if it’s thin and long — and cool — enough, it becomes a type of ribbon for prettily wrapping an order for delivery. If it’s pieces of, say, two inches by four inches, we cut two squares, pull out a plate with our logo, use whatever ink color we’ve got on one of the presses and they become little tags for such packages.

Fun, right?

Except that, since it’s rare to find time between jobs to actually create something from the assorted strips, all those bits of paper pile up. And, yeah, sometimes Shop Boy is taking a backwards step or reaching across a machine and knocks a whole pile onto the oily floor. And, yeah, after a while the place looks more like a junkyard than a printshop. The piles sit there, taunting us.

Danny Laorenza, Shop Boy’s brother-in-law, suggested that we simply take like-sized pieces, stack them up, apply padding compound and bingo. Notepads. Mary thought this such a wonderful idea that she instantly ordered a big tub of the goo that forms the little pinkish backing holding the pad together.

This is awesome, Shop Boy thought. Line ’em up, hit ’em with our logo and website address and give ’em away. From our piles to yours. Then Shop Boy thought again.

And could just hear it …

Mary: “But it’s so plain. We can make them so much prettier. Let’s look through or old copper and magnesium plates … ooh, look at this one! We could make this a second color. Oh, and this bookplate would make such a cool border. Maybe if we used the hole punch and threaded ribbon for a cover. Oh, come on. It won’t take that much time.”

Ahem.

So last night, while Mary set up a run of business cards — checking and checking and checking … and then re-checking the straightness (it was straight … she’s pretty good at this stuff) — Shop Boy volunteered to organize the strips and squares into boxes just to, you know, get them out of the way for right now.

And while her back was turned, I put stack after stack — very neatly and carefully — into big boxes marked clearly, if in tiny letters. These Shop Boy gingerly placed at the back of a high shelf in a different room … to await the other odd lots of paper that we’ve had to keep just in case. (Was the lettering turned toward the front or the back? I really can’t recall.)

Out of sight …

Out of her mind.

***

Letterpress List No. 60

Hey, a few of you might have bumped into a little missive in this space last week and now wonder where it has gone. Censorship? Nah. Just felt like it might not fit the tone here. Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea that repeat visitors to “Impressions of …” might be surprised to find something odd or different. But there’s nothing more boring than Shop Boy’s personal take on politics. As brilliantly written as it may be … ;-)

Instead, Veterans Day or not, how about an hour’s worth of music to support our troops … and remember all those who’ve given everything for this nation … by. Whether you hate this war or believe it to be just (most of the best war-related tunes are, of course, anti), any man or woman who volunteers to lay down his or her life for you is not your enemy. (Oops, there I go again.) Most of these tunes should be clearly labeled and stored in the usual places. Goofy or great videos are courtesy of YouTube.

RoosterAlice in Chains (A son’s tribute to a brave, very human Vietnam vet.)
Give It AwayRed Hot Chili Peppers (Free pads. Get them while they’re good and plain.)
If I Had a Rocket LauncherBruce Cockburn (Bad things would happen.)
Big MachineGoo Goo Dolls (On top of which many of the paper scraps are stacked on any given day.)
Bom Bom BomLiving Things (Mary says this song reminds her of the type of tune they play while hockey players warm up, bent at the waist, both hands on the stick, rotating their torsos in an exaggerated windmill motion. She’s right.)
Pretty Pink RibbonCake (Just the right touch.)
Wrap It UpSam & Dave (Mary’s got the knack.)
The Hard Waythe Knack (By the way, Shop Boy wonders whether this band would have been around longer had its smash hit, “My Sharona,” not made it sound a bit like a Devo knockoff. In more recent years, the Knack would have been celebrated for its scrappy “garage” sound, I’m thinking. Like the Hives or the Strokes.)
Complicated — Avril Lavigne (What-EVER.)
Sleep Now in the FireRage Against the Machine (For-EVER.)
Hot for TeacherVan Halen ( “Gimme something to write on, man.”)
Save It for Laterthe English Beat (We’ll get to it.)
The Battle of New OrleansLonnie Donegan (Old Glory.)
Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town Kenny Rogers and the First Edition (Saddest vet song ever?)
Oops! … I Did It AgainBritney Spears (Now that’s different. Probably not a surprise, though. Shop Boy’s got a soft spot. I know … that’s reeeeaaaallllly sad.)

Druid Hill Foxtrot

November 7, 2008

Shop Boy was like a deer in the headlights.

Which was sort of odd, since I was the one inside the car.

We’d come to Druid Hill Park in Baltimore — some of the locals call it “Droodle” — to set free yet another mouse unfortunate enough to have taken a spin inside our keep-’em-alive trap. (‘Tis the season.) It was about 1 a.m., and the place was deserted, save for something that Mary swore was moving out there in the gloom.

“I think it’s a fox!” Mary yelled.

Well, she shouldn’t have done that, knowing old nature boy’s, um, leanings.

Yep. I stopped short, mesmerized by our wildlife moment, shifting the truck back and forth until it was parallel on the deserted street, the vehicle’s lights illuminating what was apparently a very well-fed red fox.

“You sure we should let the mouse off here?” Mary asked.

Shop Boy was speechless, simply turning the truck as the fox moved, keeping him in the lights.

All of which looked a bit fishy to Baltimore’s finest.

“Get out of the road,” Mary scolded. “Oh, great, now the cops are coming.”

Sure enough, just as Shop Boy got his vehicle headed in the correct direction, the blue and red lights turned on. And we had some explaining to do.

“License and registration,” Cop 1 ordered, as Nos. 2 and 3 approached Mary’s door. Shop Boy complied. No. 1 pointed his flashlight at Mary in the passenger seat. “Is that Mrs. Mashburn?”

Well who else would it … oh … he thought Shop Boy was out, um, chasing, uh, professional-type foxes.

“We’re here to release a mouse!” Mary chirped. “But we saw a fox!” At this point, I giggled and motioned toward the bed of the truck. Cop 1 shined his flashlight back there, saw our little beastie in his prison cell, rolled his eyes and said sternly, “You know, the park is technically closed,” and trudged off toward the police cruiser.

The other two seemed a bit more amused. “Can we set him free?” Mary pleaded. (God, she’s such a little girl sometimes.)

They were putty. “Aw, feel free, but I don’t give him 24 hours around here,” the big one said.

He doesn’t know our mice. This one had been in the trap a full day already. Mary’d had our roommate, Chris Hartlove, toss the trap into my truck bed, then Mary had piled leaves and sticks atop it to protect the mouse from exposure — awwww! — till Shop Boy arrived to deal with it. “I think he looks an awful lot like the last one. Could it be the same mouse?” Mary asked.

“Nah,” Shop Boy answered, “this one’s way too big to be that little fellow from last time.”

Somehow, she didn’t find this reassuring.

Anyway, Shop Boy put on his rubber gloves, picked up the trap and set it on the grass about 15 feet from the pickup as the coppers drove away. Now let me tell you, this dude must have been stretching his little rodent hammies as he anticipated that trap door opening, because — zoom! — he was on Mary’s feet. She jumped, squealed and almost stomped him. We’re still not sure whether the little bugger simply hopped back into the truck with us. We were laughing too hard to follow him.

A pair of hyenas, scaring the foxes off the mouse’s trail.

Letterpress List No. 59: Vote Yes on No

November 3, 2008

“Free” is a tricky concept. It’s sort of like a “part-time” job: 50 hours later, you’re wondering where all that free time went.

Still, when Mary decided it’d be fun and cute to donate a couple of hundred coasters for an election-night party at Woodberry Kitchen (one color, no sweat), Shop Boy was in. Mary had designed the clever little invite for the event. Ahem, check it out:

And the old-time, copper, Donkey vs. Elephant plate that inspired it is really pretty fab.

Shop Boy nailed the set-up in a jiffy — oh, thank you … you’re too kind — and quicker than you can say, um, the Declaration of Independence, we had a stack of 200 coasters. Elephant boxing Donkey on the front, Typecast Press credit on the back. (We’re trying to be less shy about that.) Next!

Earlier, Shop Boy had suggested that maybe a border above and below the image might finish it out a touch, but Mary said no. Too tight an image for that. And too quick a turnaround to get complementary polymer plates made. In brief, just go with the boxers.

Except now Mary was looking at the the things sorta sideways.

Mary: “Do these look too plain?”

Shop Boy: “No. What do you mean?”

Mary: “Look right here …”

(The Donkey is, ahem, taller than the Elephant — it’s kind of eerie, you know?)

Mary: “We could put some different-color stars there. I mean, we can’t do all blue or all red, but maybe gold … what’s wrong? It’s only one color change.”

Shop Boy (placing his foot in his mouth): “What? Why would we do that? Ink up and then clean the press an extra time for stars. Junking up the design? That’s crazy. Jeez!”

Now, what Shop Boy should have said (and later — after the apparent Halloween-candy sugar rage wore off — did say): “These are so cool just the way they are. Woodberry loves its menus and coasters simple. Old school. These are awesome! We nailed it.”

Mary put a check mark in the “OK: Forgiven” box. Whew.

Mary: “That’s all I wanted you to say in the first place.”

Shop Boy: “Actually, I’m thinking of becoming a mute.”

She told me to simply stop talking like an idiot.

Fair enough.

***

Letterpress List No. 59

OK, here we go. Shop Boy’s not going to tell you how to vote … just get your fanny out there. Meanwhile, how about an hour’s worth of music to turn from “undecided” to “decided” — OK, 45 minutes, but it really shouldn’t take that long, eh? — or just wait in line to pull the lever or push the button by? Most of these tunes should be available in the usual places. Goofy or great video links are to YouTube.

Moneythe Flying Lizards/Beatles (The best things in life are free. Hah.)
Freedom Isn’t Freefrom the movie Team America: World Police (Blowing sacred cows, donkeys and elephants to smithereens. )
The Politics of DancingRe-Flex (Flashback!)
Too ShyKajagoogoo (Ditto.)
Say What You SayEminem (Don’t spray it.)
Power to the PeopleJohn Lennon (Get out there.)
Bulls on ParadeRage Against the Machine (Might want to switch to decaf.)
SugarSystem of a Down (Insane.)
NovocaineGreen Day (Drop the Halloween candy … or else.)
Elected Alice Cooper (Vote for me!)
American Boy Juliette and the Licks (Ms. Lewis ain’t no politician.)
Add It Upthe Violent Femmes (Long day of counting ahead.)
Fight the Power Public Enemy (And every single vote counts.)