Lucas Weismann

Art Goes Here – Episode 2 – Something New

Art Goes Here Podcast Cover Art
Today’s episode is about trying something new as a means of helping to prime our creative pumps.  If you try something new as a result, we want to hear what it was and if and how it helped you to get better at your main pursuits.
Lucas’s Website – http://www.lucasweismann.com
Art Goes Here is © 2017 Lucas Weismann and may be shared in its entirety for any non-commercial use so long as credit is provided to Lucas, Dexter, and Dolly.  For details, please contact us with the form below.

The Music is Cantina Rag by Jackson F Smith – For more info or for the full track, go to http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Jackson_F_Smith/Jackson_Frederick_Smith/

New project. Picture frames.

When learning a craft, or setting a goal, it can be helpful to break down the process into several repeatable steps.  Practicing scales, arpeggios, chord changes and etc…  This is good, but it’s ultimately unsatisfying for the novice because it lacks the sense of achievement that you get from completing a project.  Say… learning a song.

This is one reason that in addition to the “hard work” portions of the process, many newcomers to the guitar will learn “Blackbird” by the Beatles.  This project will teach the student several skills- chord vocabulary, moving from position to position on the guitar, timing, among others.

As I make my way through down the path of becoming a woodworker (as an artist, not merely a hobbyist), I’ve been working to learn different steps.  Yes, I’ve practiced planing boards to create perfect paper-thin curls of wood, yes, I’ve milled up planks into boards of even thickness.  Here is my list and the order of projects I’ve added to my woodworking setlist.

Sanding and refinishing–  As a child, my grandfather took me and my cousin Rusty out to sand, refinish and black the metal parts of various tools his father left at the cabin.  It wasn’t very exciting at the beginning (we were hand sanding, no powertools needed), but by the end, we had restored some antiques and brought them to a beautiful working condition. *note: if you do this without asking, you may find you’ve reduced the value of someone’s antiques so please ask first if they’re not your own.

I definitely suggest taking something not too valuable, but well loved, sanding it and finishing it with some sort of beautiful finish like danish oil, tung oil or a wipe-on polyurethane (provided that’s appropriate to the intended use of the piece).

Monkey’s Fists–  While not strictly-speaking a woodworking project, my dad taught me to use a pocket knife to whittle a ball to use as a center around which to build the monkey’s fist. This taught me to think about oversizing the initial sculpt and then continuing to remove.  Learning to see what it will be when the not-ball portion is removed has helped in my ability to previsualize.round which

Presentation Boards– These are SO. MUCH. FUN. Not strictly-speaking cutting boards, the boards I make with my dad are made by jointing boards and then planing them to thickness before putting a bevel on the ends to match the feeling of the live edge.  After this point, the boards are sanded down to 220 grit and/or scraped with a furniture scraper before being finished with a food-safe oil coat.

Canoe Restoration– Once in awhile, you attack a project SO freaking out of your league that you have to get outside help.  Then, your outside help needs to get outside help.  This is basically what happened when my dad and I decided to restore our 1970s Tremblay canoe.  We did this with help from the generous guys over at the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum.  Jamie in particular helped us make up techniques and taught us things about respecting the wood that has come in handy in nearly every project I’ve done since 2013.

Scarf Joints
mortise and tenon joints
steaming wood
shaping wood with an angle grinder
bandsaw skills
basic planing and scraping
So much more…

Most recently, in the shop with Dan Gremillion I learned to make picture frames. This was a blast and it’s a perfect outgrowth from what I’ve learned making slab tables (basically large presentation boards).

To make this one sing, we take our plank, joint it, rip it and plane it.  Then when we have nice square stock (a surprising amount of woodworking is about making nice square stock and then making itNOT square….), we rip out a section, miter it and glue it up.

Afterward, we cut grooves in the corners with a table saw jig and glue pieces of either matching or contrasting (I usually like contrasting) wood to create a stronger joint than a simple mitered butt joint (gluing the angled edges together) would provide.

Then we take a VERY sharp chisel and pare away (yes, the same pare as a paring knife, it’s like shaving, but thicker) the excess.

As usual, our final steps involve sanding to an appropriate silky smoothness and finishing with something like Tung Oil, Boiled Linseed Oil, or something similar.

The really cool thing once you get to this point in woodworking you can make a lot of things you’d want to.  A chair, that’s presentation boards with legs stuck on.  A tray?  That’s a picture frame with an extra groove to hold a panel of wood instead of glass.  A box, that’s a tray with a lid.

A dresser?  That’s a complicated picture frame with legs on, that has trays that hold your stuff built in.  See where I’m going?

In addition to loving the time you spend doing your art- if you’re not having fun being bad at it, you probably won’t have fun being good at it- you are building up a repertoire of things you can do.  Little successes that will build up confidence so that when you want to take on a scary task, you can look at it, see what it’s made of and realize you’re made of what it takes to accomplish your task.

What “songs” or “projects” should a beginner use if they want to learn your art?  What things can make them feel successful as they learn the riffs of the craft?

Whew so much going on in the woodshop.

Hey everyone!  It looks like I’m going to be busy for the next few weeks.  I have a lot of projects in the hopper and can’t wait to get to them.

Just finished with a nice little mini-tour in Europe, and I’m glad to be back.  The UK was oddly balmy this march and didn’t really rain much until the day I left.

This weekend I’ll be meeting with a local carpenter and framemaker Dan Gremillion about plans to make some Roubo workbenches, check out the link to see some beautiful examples.  If you want one for your own shop, we’ll be able to give out exact quotes once we have this preliminary round done and will even have options for custom wood selection and some modification.

For those who don’t know the bench is named after the 18th-century French joiner Andre Jacob Roubo and the design, while customizeable, has been considered the pinnacle of workbench design for the past 200 hundred or so years!  Here’s a link to a quick overview for those who want to know more.

In addition, there are some other smaller projects I’ll be working on that raging from boxes to personal items.  This has gotten me inspired to think about what kinds of tables and benches would I use for various interests and hobbies.  My needs for leatherworking are different than my needs as a woodworker and any all-in-one solution will probably be not-so-good at anything specific.

An interesting idea of building based on proportions rather than specific prescribed measurements is addressed by Jim Tolpin in his book “Design by Hand and Eye” and no, this isn’t a golden mean treatise, though many of the whole number ratios we find appealing do approximate the golden mean as the numbers increase.  For those who are familiar with the fibonacci sequence, you already know what I’m writing about.

One of the interesting ideas in that was thinking of visual harmonies the way that one thinks about audible harmonies.  I have an idea swirling around my head about making a series of furniture whose proportions are designed based on a set measurement with each piece acting as a chord in the progression of a famous song.  In this way, the space would act as the beats apart and the whole room would become literally and figuratively harmonious.  Synesthesiacs beware!

Anyway, at the moment, It’s just a rough idea.  But there may be more later.

If you have something you’d like to make out of wood, or would like me to make out of wood for you, please contact me through this website, or check out our etsy store.

Action to Motivation

Sometimes motivation breeds action, but just as often action breeds motivation.

This is one of our pre-release black walnut presentation boards being used as a serving tray/centerpiece for dinner at a friend’s house.

Yesterday (Sunday), I spent the evening with my dad Jake; cutting and sanding some boards that should become our next batch presentation boards for our soon-to-drop online store.  They’ll become slab furniture and presentation boards.  A piece that should last at least four generations if treated well (more on four generations later soon, I promise…)

Afterward, I performed some minor repairs on some leather items in the house and worked on a design for a sheath for one of my knives.

I should probably be exhausted, but for some reason, my stupid mind brimmed with ideas of what I can do next week and the week after! This is especially true given that I’ll be flying to the Tucson Gem Show this weekend and won’t have all of my tools with me.  I could barely sleep.
Today, I spent the day working on the final phase of an ash entertainment center for work. Assisting the designers in the basic skill-related aspects of it and keeping an eye out for questions I have about design.

Afterward, I went home and practiced using a plunge router for the first time to cut a Mortise into some scrap I brought home from work.

Finished up the day playing with West System Epoxy and Waterlox Poly Finish on some walnut. Things are moving and that movement is helps to build inertia.  What kinds of things do you do to build inertia?

 

Why Leather, Wood, and Steel?

The best tools I’ve had are made of wood and steel, my favorite goods have been made of leather.  More so when the items in question have been made by hands that designed them with a purpose, custom-suited to its task or with someone specific in mind.

There is an honesty and a value to shaping materials you love with your hands, your heart and your mind.  There is a manic joy that comes from taking unrefined or raw materials and shaping them into something that can last for generations.

A joy of taking care of your tools, making sure they don’t become pitted, rusted or dull and knowing
that in return… they will take care of you and be great partners.

 

A joy in the frustration that comes from failing at something, when the short-term failure isn’t as bad as the idea of NOT learning that thing we want to know how to make.

There is a magic in learning to exercise your will in such a way that you are able to shape your world, or at least come small objects in it, in a such a way that when you finish your work you look upon what you have wrought and you can say that it is good.

If you’ve never experienced the joy of making something that then exists in the real three-dimensional world, an artifact to explain to future archaeologists who and what you were, I would love to encourage you to do so.

Maybe if you do, you’ll end up with an excitement that looks just a *little* bit frightening behind your dust mask and safety goggles.

If getting your hands cracked and dirty, and your lungs full of sawdust (despite proper precautions)  isn’t for you, I sincerely hope you enjoy the crafts and objects I share with you on the blog.

Six Words

Ernest Hemmingway was apocryphally said to have written the following as a response to a challenge from an acquaintance.  “For Sale.  Baby Shoes.  Never Worn.”  Whether it’s true or not, we’ve had the six-word story as a style and plaything of the english language ever since. Today’s post is the result of playing with this idea.

Wanted: Man who leaves seat down.
Snow.  Shit.  Better grab the shovel.
Flowers blossom, trees bloom.  Allergy season.
Key turns.  Engine revs. Vegas baby!
He should have looked both ways.
The Queen, my Lord, is dead.  <— (not actually mine…)
Against reason, I’ve become my mother.
Murdered darlings. Good writing. Bad parenting.

Not technically a story, but a fun picture:
Hyperflorid loquacious verbosity is for chumps.

A Death, A Walk in the Park, Running From Zombies (nearly)

This is not the world that was promised to us, I thought as, I looked around the fetid mess left behind by my loser of a roommate- scratch that, former roommate.  The EMT crew had just removed his body, bloated and stinking from his room.  Never a small man in life, the last several years of Cheetos, Mountain Dew and a life spent in various virtual simulations had not helped matters- waking dreams that reminded me of the enchanted groves in fantasy novels with soft pine needle beds that lured adventurers to their death via sweet dreams.  I made a move to leave the apartment, but when I made a right turn at the kitchen, my stomach mutinied and lurched left.  I leaned on the counter for support and took a few breaths, trying to stop my organs from rearranging themselves by sheer force of will.

A moment or two later, I realized someone was speaking to me.  My brain sent an urgent request to my ears for any information I might have missed.

“…Somewhere you can stay?  Sir?”  It was the police detective, a short bla- african america- person of color?  What was she saying?  Something about my house?  “Sir.”  She reached her arms to steady me and I looked into her green eyes.  They were nice.  Odd but- another lurch from my stomach. “Sir, we can have the paramedics take a look at you, but you’re going to have to vacate the premises until CSI and a cleanup crew get here.”

I shook my head.  Where would I go?  I couldn’t afford a hotel until the 15th and that was at least a week away.  The homeless shelters wouldn’t take me, since I wasn’t ‘technically’ homeless, and my parents (well my dad and Cheryl) lived halfway across the country.

As I was searching for options, the vision of my roommate’s corpse in a coroner’s bag- VR kit still on, geez, they didn’t even bother to take it off him, reared its ugly head, and my stomach defended me by emptying its contents… right onto the helpful detectivewoman.  Crap.

“I am SO sorry,” I said, and turned to heave into the sink.  Nothing came out of course, I hadn’t eaten much other than protein shakes with peanut butter for flavor in several weeks, and that decorating the now struggling-to-remain-professional police detective.  I offered her a dishtowel from the fluff-and-fold service I’d hired when it because clear that my roommate would not be helping with any of the household chores, or even leaving his room most days.

Crap.  How the heck was I supposed to rent this apartment now?

“Wanted: Roommate, please no VR-addicted fatties, my last one died in your bedroom” just didn’t seem very likely to attract anyone.

That night I wandered the parks looking for a place to go.  Apparently there was a backlog and the cleanup crew wouldn’t be there until the next day.  Or the one after. Thanks Obama.  Okay, wait.  Before you go flying off the handle and calling me names- I voted for the guy.  Twice.  I like him.  This is just me- engaging with a meme- from that time.  Lighten up.  As I was saying, Thanks Obama.  After the streetlights came on and illuminated the change in the parks from day to night, I realized just what a tactical error my choice had been.

I can’t afford to live in some gated community, so the public parks near my bus stop are really, REALLY public.  I remember reading the sign on the statue of liberty when I was a little kid.  Remember that quote?

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

I remembered it that night and it struck me that no only did all of that wretched refuse seem to congregate in the park half a block from my house, just because she was lifting her lamp beside the door didn’t mean she was inviting them in.

Seems to me, when you put a sign on the door asking to be sent the homeless and dispossessed, that there should be some addendum added like “And I’ll totes make sure they have a place to crash, no worries.”  Just at that moment, when I was feeling like I should do something and try to help, a terrible apparition came at me from the darkness, like the ghost of Jacob Marley.  He was covered in rags and sores and possibly mold.  His hands stuck out one finger pointed at the palm of the other and he lurched at me, mouth gaping like a zombie bull seeing a matador made of money.

I’m not proud of what happened next.  I panicked.  When I say I panicked, I mean, I PANICKED.  When he got close, I stepped aside and pulled him past me, thankfully into a bush.  Unfortunately the bush was love nest of two other homeless people of indeterminate age and gender.  They jumped up and advanced toward me, righteous in their fury and pants around their ankles.

Great, there’s a homeless zombie apocalypse and I’m the one who got the horde moving. I thought, as I turned and ran.  I ran and I didn’t stop running until I got to my friend James’s house about a mile away.  Banging on the door, I screamed for him to let me in.  The lights came on and I heard his footsteps on the stairs.  It was taking forever, surely the huddled masses would be here any minute, yearning to tear me limb from limb.  It wasn’t my proudest hour, but that moment I was too scared to be embarrassed.

Embarrassment came shortly after James opened the door in his underwear.  Not yet…

“Paul.  What are you doing here?”

“Let me in, they’re going to kill me.”

He crossed his arms.

“Who?”

“The zombies man! I mean, the homeless.”

He looked at me.

“Just let me in, I can explain.”

He looked at me, still as a statue.  Silent as the grave.  I froze, sure that any second there would be- silence?  There were no sounds now that my hysterics seemed to be over.

“Can I come in?”

“What’s going on? Why are you banging on my door in the middle of the night like you’re in some shitty B-movie?  Are you on drugs?”

“I’m sorry.  Look, Dylan killed himself, well died.  I can’t go back to my apartment to sleep and so I was walking in the park.”

“At night?  No wonder you’re freaked out.  That place is weird.”

“No, I was fine.  At least, I was as fine as you can be after someone kills themselves by cheese doodle and you get kicked out of your apartment.”

“What?  They can’t kick you out!  You pay your rent!  Call the tenant association, I’m sure they can sue.  Get ‘em for everything they-“

“Look I’m not going to sue Mrs. Esterbocker, she’s a nice old lady.”

“That’s how they get you!  They act all nice, fixing your plumbing, making sure the heat works, until one day- *wham* they kick you out because you’re too-“

“Dude.  Let it go, this isn’t college and the noodle incident was your fault.  They were well within their rights to make you leave student housing, after they expelled you-“

“What?  I can’t believe you’re taking their side even after all this.  You know what fu-“

“Dude chill!  Mrs. Esterbocker didn’t kick me out.  She made us cookies last week, remember?  She is literally the best landlord I’ve ever had, plus… she’s like a million years old and she was friends with my mom.”

“Then who kicked you out?”

“The police.”

“What? Fuck the police!”

“Dude. Chill.  Neighbors, remember?”

“Right.  Well, fuck ‘em anyway.”

“I don’t know man, I mean it’s just bad luck.  They said he’d been dead almost a week by the time I noticed and I had to leave until a hazmat crew gets there.  Apparently there was a mess and he was starting to decompose.”

“Plus, he probably shit himself.” The bastard actually snorted when he said this.

“And that.”  I pinched the bridge of my nose, desperately hoping it would work like some sort of mental delete key.  No such luck.  “Look, can I come in?”

“Sure man. But you can’t stay more than just tonight- And I have family coming in to town tomorrow so you’re on the couch.”

“Fine, fine.”

I followed James into the house and shut the door behind me.  Paul turned on the door alarms, and turned to back.

“So how did you manage to run into the an army of the homeless undead?  And was it Sam Rami zombies or like 28 days later zombies?”

“Sort of both.  I mean, one was a shambler and the other two were fast, or well- they jumped up fast, but I think they tripped on their pants.”

“What? Why did they attack you?”

“Well…”  and that’s when the embarrassment hit.  A yawning anti-black hole of empty shame dropping my insides into nowhere, “I sort-of judo-flipped the shambler into the bushes and ran.”

“Did he attack you?”

“Actually, I think he was panhandling, but I sort-of freaked out and went on auto-pilot.”

“And his buddies wanted to help him after you attacked their friend, oh brave warrior?”

“Well, they were in the bushes.  I think they were having an intimate moment.”

He failed to suppress a smile. “Hence tripping over the pants.  So let me get this straight, your roommate ate himself to death, so you got kicked out of your apartment till… whenever.  So your best idea is to attack a homeless person by throwing him into a bush full of other homeless people trying to get down?  Okay, you can stay for the weekend.”

“Why?”

“Because then when my dad tells me I’m a loser, or my mom starts telling me I’m a bad person, you get to tell them this story.”  He laughed and went upstairs and threw some bedding and pillows downstairs.

“Thanks James.”

“Yeah, whatever.”

Kiev Part 1 – Arrival

Traveling from Den Bosch to Riga was more of an ordeal than I expected.  Because the plan left at 10:20AM, this necessitated arriving by 8am in Amsterdam, which in turn meant that it was imperative that the 6:20am bus not be missed.  As a result, I ended up with a 5am wakeup call in order to properly be ready, with sandwiches provided in part by Katja- due to her incredible skill with the bread machine.

Some day I really need to get the recipe for Katjabroodje (Katja Bread).

I was thinking slowly, being cold and having been on the road for about 16 hours at that point, my thinking was hazy like the fog our twin-prop plane landed in.

Customs was easy as our US passports got us barely an blink before we were stamped and on our way. Not so for the college-age couple who were evening denied entry even as we spoke.

The little red haired girl kept complaining that “we have no monies” as her boyfriend talked via a helpful local, trying to explain heir situation to the unsympathetic guard.

Flew into Kiev from Riga in pea-soup thick fog and was greeted by the driver like you always see in movies. The only other time I remember experiencing something like this was when I first arrived to teach in the Netherlands at the first Crash: The Delft Blues Festival.

At that time, Daire Mac An Bhaird was waiting with a 5 foot-long banner printed on the airport’s banner machine (yes, apparently Schiphol Airport has a banner printing machine.  I was surprised to learn this too).  Of course, part of the wonderful weirdness that made the situation complete was not only the fact that at practically 6’7” tall Daire would tower over any crowd in a manner that is immediately recognizable.  No, the best part was that he was standing proudly displaying his sign holding it over a crowd that did not exist.  Really, there might have been another few people waiting, but in my mind, it was a desolate nobody-but-daire-and-me situation as if there was some other 7-foot blond, bearded giant he might be mistaken for.

I felt like a celebrity.

This was a bit different.  Not only in the quality of the sign- sharpie on notebook, but in the demeanor of the driver as well.  He was short man in his 60s who spoke a little english and was helpful and seemed like might be about to curse in impatience at any moment. This, I would later notice, seemed to be an almost congenital feature of Kievian people I would do business with, from the people at the market, to the entire hotel staff at the Yaroslav hostel, to the street merchant selling berries outside the markets.

My attempts to ask his name were rebuffed and he laughed as I gave him mine, saying “yes, I know… internet'” as he waved away my attempt at a question like some bothersome fly.

Not sure what I expected on the way into the City from the airport, but the stretch of car dealerships like those on 494 in Minneapolis certainly wouldn’t be in the top 100 sights I’d envisioned.

Birches lined the highway on either side and served to accent the fog with their gray bark and autumn yellows. Once more, I’m reminded of home. I guess something in me was hoping the vegetation would be somehow alien as we arrived. As if somehow it’s disappointing that the spectating isn’t so obviously different than where I grew up.

It’s not really of course, and if anything, it makes me feel more at home.

Every time we pass a sign in the Ukraine, this feeling is shattered. The Cyrillic alphabet is the preferred one for official things, though the Roman alphabet seems to be in use for advertisements and logos and well… there are enough of those to make any red-blooded american feel at home.

I’m not sure if it’s the fewer billboards on This stretch of highway than in used to, or possibly the fact that they aren’t lit at this time of night seems to make the road a bit more desolate. Or maybe… private is a better word.

After checking in to the Hostel and being given broken instructions on how to do things it seemed the instructions for any given thing were:

  1. (Old man) Do this thing.
  2. (Me) Pause to understand
  3. (Old man) never mind. Do it tomorrow.

This was applied to

1: filling out our passports info per legal requirements.

2: dropping off keys upon leaving (a common custom at most hostels I’ve been to)

3: paying for the hotel

Basically everything was:

Here’s the rule. Never don’t do it. Screw it, do it tomorrow.

I think I like this place.

After settling into our double room (two twins, not a double room…. common in former soviet bloc hostels) we headed down to ask his wife- whose english, he assured us, was far better than his own- for directions to food.

After taking 3 attempts to mime food, which apparently is not as universal as I thought to sign, she gave us a rapid-fire explanation of how to get to either a place with a lot of food options, or an impressive fireworks display. I’m not entirely sure which based on her gestures.

Oh and as we left to find food, I tried to give the keys to the woman at reception, per the instructions painstakingly given to us multiple times by her husband who seemed to alternate between hoarding his words and making it rain… she mimed that we should just keep them until tomorrow.

Fair enough.  IMG 9135

Art Goes Here – Episode 1 – Vision

Art Goes Here Podcast Cover Art
In this episode, we meet our hosts Dexter, Dolly and Lucas as they discuss their vision for what they want out of the creative life and why they want to reach it.  It’s short and sweet and to the point.
Dexter’s Youtube Channel  – http://www.puffyfluffl.com
Dolly’s Website – http://www.dollyheart.com
Lucas’s Website – http://www.lucasweismann.com
Art Goes Here is © 2016 Lucas Weismann and may be shared in its entirety for any non-commercial use so long as credit is provided to Lucas, Dexter, and Dolly.  For details, please contact lucas@lucasweismann.com

The Music is Cantina Rag by Jackson F Smith – For more info or for the full track, go to http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Jackson_F_Smith/Jackson_Frederick_Smith/

Hell: A primer pt. 3 – The Devil’s Troubles

I closed the door behind me, as the Devil took his seat.

“Okay Nick, what’s going on?” As I took in my surroundings, I was surprised.  The room was tastefully appointed, oak paneling, overstuffed leather couches and a surprising collection of books, DVDs and game consoles that hadn’t been released yet.

“Cheese?” he offered.  I declined.  I remembered too many stories about food in the underworld to take my chances.  He shrugged and popped a mouthwatering bit of prosciutto ham into his mouth, chewed it and swallowed before continuing.  “The problem is overpopulation,” he said.

“Is this one of those ‘As above, so below’ problems?” I asked, not quite sure what he was getting at.

“I suppose, you could look at it that way.” he shrugged, “but mostly, because those above… overwhelmingly end up below.”

“Ahh.” I didn’t quite get it, but didn’t want to appear too ignorant in front of my host.

“So what, this overpopulation is causing stress on your system?” I asked, as he withdrew a pink bottle from his upper right desk drawer and chugged the contents.  Wow.  Shotgunning Pepto-Bismol.  Gross.

“Poor guy must be under a lot of stress,” I thought, sympathetically before realizing it could be an act.

“you have no idea how it used to be,” he complained and I realized his widow’s peak was just a *bit* more pronounced than it had been when we met on the road.  I even fancied I could see some gray in his roots.  “we used to provide a service, Customized Eternal Punishment for the Damned Soul.  We prided ourselves on the creativity and uniqueness of our work.  ‘Our punishments fit your crimes!’ wasn’t just a motto, it was our passion.  But now…” he trailed off and slumped back into his chair.

“You sound like someone who wanted to be a chef, but ended up running a McDonald’s.” I said.

“It’s worse than that.  I use to arrange the music of the spheres, remember?  Back in the old days, it was Lucifer this, Lucifer that.  I mean, angels don’t have groupies… but if they did?  I’d have been up to my tits in pussy.”

“Jesus,” I said with disgust.  Then softened as I saw him wince and look up as if he was a dog about to be hit.  “Sorry, I said.  But come on Nick, that was pretty crass.”

“I know.” he said, “It’s just that I was THE man when it came to music.  I was literally the first rockstar.  Jagger, Tyler, Elvis?  They’re all pretenders to a throne I had, before the firmament was separated into the sea and sky.”

“So you’re a washed up rockstar who found a new career as a chef and ended up running McDonald’s instead of a high-end restaurant?  That’s rough,” I agreed.

“I don’t know.  I just feel like… ….I feel like I’m just out of ideas.  Nothing new under the sun, you know?”

I did know.  I’d felt similar things myself and it was usually no good people trying to cheer you up.  if anything, their cheer makes you feel more alone and like more of a loser.

“Okay,” I said, “I get why you need someone.  I really do, you get a bad rap, you work hard and no on appreciates what you do.  Now, you’re burnt out and you feel trapped in a dead-end job.  Is that right?”

“Yeah,” he said, “That’s pretty close.”

“so, why me?” I asked, “Like, why me specifically?”

“Because in the last thousand years, since my brother locked me in that God’s Damned bottomless pit after my brother beat me up and stole my key to hell.”

“Brother?  You mean Michael?”

“No.  Half-brother.  Joshua. Of course, dad loves him best, so he doesn’t acknowledge me.  Anyway,” he said straightening up a bit and shaking off the bad memory, “I’m back and I find that humans have started procreating like rabbits and there’s a backlog centuries long.”

“I suppose that was inevitable.” I said.

“Yeah, immortal souls, in reproducing mortal bodies was a problem from the get-go.” he said.  “Dad was usually better at math than this, well at least the concrete stuff.  For the really weird ideas, like imaginary numbers, you need humans.  After all, anything he imagines… is.  We had to get a petition together to prevent him watching the Star Wars prequels.  Can you imagine if he’d bought into that stupid midichlorians idea?  It’d be like magic all over again.  Stupid space wizards.  At least with Star Trek, there’s a chance he’d get the idea that having a chosen “special” people wasn’t so sensible and maybe letting women do something other than incubate babies and mine sandwiches or whatever might be useful.”

“Are you telling me that you, the devil, are a feminist?” I asked.

“whose idea do you think it was?” he asked.  “Do you have any idea how depressing it is, the number of women who come here and find out that their own personal hell is the life they’ve been living… the only difference being that they *could* have done something else if they’d spoken up?”

“Wow,” I said, “that’s cruel.”

He nodded, “sometimes poetic justice is neither poetic, nor just.  I had to do something, if only so that their punishments would vary from their lives… So, will you do it?  Can you fix hell for me?” he asked.

I thought for a minute.  “I suppose so, what’s the pay?” I asked.

“The knowledge of a job well done?” he said.  I thought about it, that was pretty interesting.  And really, I mean… it’s probably safer than accepting anything material from satan himself.

“What assets do I have at my disposal?” I asked.

“whatever you need,” he said, “just let me know what it is and I’ll have it sent.  Anything else?” he asked.

“What is the cost to me?” I asked.  I’m not interested in selling my soul or anything.

Nick looked at me and his voice flattened as he said, “The knowledge of a job well done.”

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