Tags: painting

A little bit about painting, and a movie reviewlet

Yesterday was  my day off from Biltmore, so I went with my brother to one of the sites he's painting and tried to learn a little of the craft. The site is temporarily stalled because of some water-pipe troubles, so work for painters is coming in slowly. Yesterday we had to prep two houses and prime one. Prepping, I learned, consists primarilty of going inside and covering all windows with clear plastic to prevent them from being spattered by paint during priming. We also had to cover the bathtub and fireplace fixtures. This was all simple enough; you staple the plastic right into the bare sheet-rock, and worry about covering the holes and sanding them down later. The only difficulty here arose with the skylights: those fuckers are really high. One house had its skylight situated directly over the staircase, which means we had to place the ladder on the stairs themselves. Not surprisingly, a device is made for just this purpose, effectively extending one stair enough to support a ladder. Still, it seemed pretty precarious work to me. 

Afterwards, we just laid down the prime coat. You just find yourself a neutral color (Relaxed Khaki, in this case) and use a spray gun to go over every room in the house. It doesn't have to be even or even pretty: that all comes later, with the primary coat. So it's easy if tedious work, made bearable by the fact that my brother and I could bullshit throughout the day about story ideas, movies we'd seen, and whether or not Iron Man sold out during the Civil War (he didn't, haters!). 

Later that day I saw 28 Weeks Later, which I had been entirely prepared to skip until I read Lucius Shepard's comments on it, followed by an enthusiastic review from A.O. Scott at The New York Times. It's directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, who made Intacto a few years ago, and it's a pretty damn good flick. It takes place during the early stages of an American-led effort to return the exiled British community to their island, and is set entirely in London. It's not as scary as the first one -- this one derives its scares from abrupt cuts, explosions of noise, and frenetic editing, which usually irritates the piss out of me but was well executed here. (Well, there is a scene with three people stumbling around in the dark, with only one night-vision gun sight between them to see by, which was creepy as hell.) This one's more of a thriller with zombies than a horror movie, but that's hardly a bad thing. What impressed me most about this was its unrelenting pessimism, and its absolute refusal to fall in love with its own characters. Sequels, I think, tend to be smaller and kinder than their progenitors, but in this case the opposite is true. My only real complaint was that one particular zombie kept showing up, which was a complete contrivance culminating in a scene which did not have any of the pathos I think it was meant to have ... but that's a small detail. It's a sweet little zombie flick, with a great ending. You should see it.

B & B Paintworks is up and, uh, idling

Happy birthday to B & B Paintworks, our brand spanking new painting outfit. With a call to the IRS we have a tax ID, and with a trip to an insurance office we have general liability and workman's comp insurance. Just like that, we are officially a small business. Tomorrow and over the next couple of days my brother is going to connect with his contacts and try to score us a contract or two. In the meantime I will continue to die slowly waiting tables.  

In the meantime: this morning I continued work on my latest short story, currently entitled "Another Death." In a few minutes, after Mia is asleep, I'll get back to work on the White Wolf project. 

I'm halfway through McDonald's River of Gods. It's hard to find sustained tracts of time to read, and this book is dense enough that it isn't very forgiving of several days away from it. I'll probably fall asleep with it tonight. I've also been reading The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, edited by Jonathan Strahan and published by Night Shade Books. It's got a lot of good stuff in it, as you might guess. I liked Christopher Rowe's "Another Word For Map is Faith" and "I, Row-Boat" by my old Clarion-mate Cory Doctorow, even though hard sf isn't usually my thing.  I don't always pick up Dozois's Year's Best SF volumes, so I'm reading stuff I might not otherwise have seen this year, which is the chief virtue of these anthologies. I can't help but wonder, though, how much overlap there'll be with the upcoming Year's Best Fantasy & Horror. How many "Best Of" volumes can the market accommodate?  

Big, Scary Career Change

My brother owns a house-painting company here in Asheville. He's asked me to join him in ownership because his partner of the last three years is leaving. I've been thinking about it for a few days, and right now I'm inclined to accept his offer. It is worth mentioning that I've never painted a house in my life. It's also worth mentioning that when he started this business three years ago, neither had he: his partner was the one with the experience and the contacts. But he learned the trade and assures me that I can learn it too. I'm sure that I can; I got my first job as a line cook in a high-volume restaurant which required two years' minimum experience from all new hires. I told the chef I had none, but that in six months' time I'd be one of his go-to guys in the kitchen. It turned out to be true, and I think the same will be true here. What my brother most needs help with, anyway, is the business side of things. The painting crew is good and respected by contractors, but their books are in a mess. I can help him make that right.

It's a scary proposition in many ways. Right now I have job security and an income which, while not guaranteed (I'm a waiter, after all), is at least relatively consistent. My current job offers health insurance, which frankly is its chief appeal. Going into a new venture of this sort has a much higher potential for income and personal satisfaction, but there's always the chance that the bottom could fall out. There's also the reality that I will be learning on the job, and therefore will be more of a hinderance than a help for the first month or  two. 

But the upsides are too attractive to ignore. The company is currently in debt, but not catastrophically so, and a little fiscal responsibility will straighten it out fairly quickly. Once that's done the income will be much more than I'm currently making. Working as a waiter in the place that I am, it's literally impossible to save. The latter half of each month is a sprint to get the rent money in time. It's dispiriting, to say the least. Asheville's population is constantly growing, so the work for painters and related trades is plentiful. The hours are better: most of the painting will be done by a crew. That would leave more time for my daughter and for writing. As it stands now, and has done for a while, time is a rare commodity. 

It may all blow up in my face, but I think I have to take the risk here. Worst case scenario, I go back to waiting tables and back to being broke. Best case scenario, a little financial elbow room and more time to pursue what's most important. 

Yeah. I'm going to do it. God help me!