Mactac, Mullets, and Manure

Anybody remember the Mactac of the 60s and 70s?  Maybe you knew it by another name, but it was all the same thing:  adhesive-backed vinyl printed with colourful graphics.

I suspect that people with taste avoided Mactac like the plague it was; but out in the sticks where I grew up, the only taste we had was in our mouths.  Every questionable surface in our house got covered with either woodgrain print or sparkly gold paisley on white.

It actually looked okay for a while.  But then the adhesive deteriorated and the vinyl curled up, creating tattered edges that looked as though rodents had been gnawing them and leaving a sticky residue that defied any attempt to clean it off or reglue it.

My love affair with Mactac faded when I realized that it inevitably suffered a slow and ugly demise, and the last time I applied adhesive-backed vinyl to anything was in the late 70s.

Until this week.

We needed a cheap-and-cheerful solution for a kitchen backsplash until our construction budget recovers enough to upgrade our kitchen counters.  So the other day I was walking through the store when some pretty glass tiles caught my eye, for less than half the price I’d expected.

Yep, adhesive-backed vinyl had reared its deceptively attractive head.  It’s even embossed with grout lines like real glass tile, and it’s insanely sticky.

I succumbed.  I’m really hoping it doesn’t curl up and die like the old-school stuff.

Looks like glass… smells like vinyl.

That blast from the past made me think about other oldies that are new again… like the mullet haircut.  If you’re not familiar with the mullet, it was an 80s hairstyle trimmed short around the face and ears, with the rest of the hair left long in back.  The instant the 80s were over everyone restyled their hair and pretended they’d never worn a mullet.  Overnight, it went from a fashion statement to a joke.

I had a mullet haircut back in the 80s, and I even wore it for a while after everybody else started laughing about it.  I loved that haircut.  It was comfortable and practical:  I had the long hair I loved, but it wasn’t in my face.  I still don’t understand why it became so universally despised.

But apparently it’s in style again for young male hipsters and Millenials.  So  I wasn’t unfashionable; I was only a few decades early… and the wrong gender.  Details, pshaw.

On to our next M-word:  Manure.  We got a giant load for our garden so of course I had to share it with you, my beloved readers.

Why, you ask?  (I’m hoping that’s a ‘why?’ of guarded curiosity, not an anguished cry of ‘oh, sweet Lord, why?!?’)

Well, it seemed appropriate since I’m usually full of shit; but ultimately it’s because I couldn’t resist the punchline:

Mactac, mullets, and manure… you don’t want to get any of them on you.

18,000 pounds of horseshit. That’s more than I usually manage to pack into a post.

30 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

30 responses to “Mactac, Mullets, and Manure

  1. MacTac was my mother’s favourite product. I have no idea how many sheets I cut, lay down, pulled up and repeated. I think some of it may still be ion one of the houses we lived in 50 years ago. That stuff also had staying power.

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  2. Has no one on this thread ever visited someplace with rednecks? Good Lord, the mullet isn’t back. Something can’t be BACK if it never left, and trust me, with rednecks, it never left. Find any REALLY small town, deep south states are best but even here in Minnesota I can guarantee we can find a redneck with a mullet.
    And I’ve gone through many a roll of contact paper, lined so many closet shelves with it. I do remember more fun stuff when I was younger too.

    Here is something else that cracks me up…anyone else remember that there was dry shampoo back in the 1970’s? Today’s industry seems to think they’ve discovered it, but I clearly remember dry, spray in shampoo. It was basically scented talcum powder, and if you had darker hair you had to be really careful with it or you would end up looking like you’d powdered your hair a la 15th century French courts!

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    • I never tried that dry shampoo. It always seemed like a good idea, but with my long thick hair it just seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.

      And maybe that’s why the mullets got such a bad rap…?

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  3. That manure pile should make good compost. And your garden will love it. You will need to keep a pile composting every year or two until your soil is a rich black organic several inches deep. You will also attract earthworms by the millions, I suspect.

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    • I hope so! The “soil” is nothing but gravel here, and I haven’t seen a single earthworm. We managed to grow a garden this summer, but it was more like a hydroponic operation: Keep watering and fertilizing, and it grows, but it’s not a good long-term solution.

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  4. I didn’t know mullets were back in style! Fashion seems to suffer the same fate as nutrition (I read a blog from a fellow blogger talking about the insane cycle of what food is good and not good for you).
    That’s a huge garden and lots of manure too!

    And yes, I think I’m back again! Hehe (Shree here).

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  5. Mullets are back in style? Good grief say it isn’t so! Your new and improved Mactac seems a far cry from the old version. I will be interested to here how the application process goes. Hoping you don’t get an arm permanently glued underneath. Oh wait that would be something I would do. 🙂

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    • LOL! I’ve finished most of it, and so far all my limbs are still free. There were a couple of, um… sticky moments… where I feared for my fingers, but it all turned out okay. The only problem is the stench of vinyl – I’ve had a headache for the last couple of days, and of course it’s turned cold now so I can’t open any windows. Hope the smell dissipates soon, or I may have to tear the whole thing out again. Sigh.

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  6. Dunno from Mactac; we just lumped everything under the term ‘contact paper.’ The cheap stuff was crap, the expensive stuff was almost bulletproof. Found out about the former the hard way, of course.

    Mullets? Never was a fan. Had some relatives who wore them, though, and muttonchops, too. I think their husbands finally put a stop to all that, but I’ve managed to lose track of *that* branch of the family…so far.

    Manure? Tons upon endless tons of the stuff. All day, every day, and in endless succession. Well, back when I had to attend staff meetings, production planning sessions, and design reviews, that is. Loved the work, hated the steaming piles of, er, productivity enhancement and positive workplace encouragement. Yeah, we’ll call it that. I know you can relate…

    Also learned the hard way about the relationship between ‘fresh fertilizer’ and ‘compost.’

    Compost good. Poop bad.

    Farm-fresh poop is a great way to guarantee that your place is not only ‘verdant’ but buried to the sky under an impenetrably luxuriant stand of every single variety of weed that every contributing critter has EVER eaten. And fast growing is an understatement of Biblical proportions. Further, the roots grow faster than the plants themselves, and even the most delicate and finicky annuals become carnivorous, man-eating perennials. Raised on a farm, I was. I know whence I speak.

    Just remembered something you might find interesting. Back around 1980 or so when alternative energy was gaining traction quickly, guy I knew started experimenting with heating his home with water that was circulated (closed loop) through long “coils” of pipe (actually a “grid” of standard plumbing grade galvanized pipe and hardware store fittings, but the literature still calls such a heat exchanger a coil) under a couple of truckloads of cotton burrs.

    Trivia: Cotton does not come from the mall. Cotton fiber grows all wadded up around the seed of the cotton plant inside the cotton boll. When the plant matures sufficiently, it actually dies (cotton is an annual), whereupon the boll cracks open and pretty much turns wrong side out so the fiber can dry out and expand into fluffy white puffs of cotton fiber. After harvesting, the cotton gin separates the fiber–called lint at that point–from the boll and removes the seeds at the same time. The seeds either go to an oil mill for further processing into oil and a whole bunch of other stuff or to a different sort of processing plant to be converted into planting seed for the next crop year. The remaining part of the boll-empty now-is called the burr. Typically, burrs are either ground and mixed with other ingredients for cattle feed or spread back onto the farmer’s land to be plowed into the soil for enrichment over the winter. But I digress. I *said* it was trivia… 🙂

    Anyway, the guy said he got great results, and the neighbors didn’t complain. He lived out in the country, and he didn’t actually define “great”…just sayin’. But the heat from decomposition warmed the circulated water sufficiently that he called the project a success. His home heating system and hot water heater burned propane, and he said he was able to switch the furnace to standby and leave it that way for the whole winter. It did require some effort, though, and it wasn’t something that could be used in, shall we say, *every* neighborhood in town. But the composting/heating reaction lasted all winter and well into spring. And he had a KILLER garden the next summer!

    And theventeen perthent? Theriouthly? That’th thwell! You tho rock! But I altho notithe that you haven’t lithted an exthpected complethion date… 🙂

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    • Nope, I’ve dethided to thtop making promitheth I may or may not be able to keep. Too shameful for me; too disappointing for everybody else. My new strategy is to post my progress, and when I get to a point where I have a reasonable degree of certainty (like, maybe around 80% – 90% draft, and a commitment from my beta readers and proofreaders), I’ll announce a release date.

      Your fearsome weed story is making me shudder! We’re hoping we’ll get a nice hot heap this winter (not to be confused with the steaming heaps generated in those deadly business meetings), but even if we do we’ll probably solarize the pile in the spring just to be sure: Water it well, seal it in with clear plastic, and let it bake in the sun for a week or two.

      I love your buddy’s passive heating system – what a great idea! We got a outdoor wood-burning furnace, which uses a similar heating system via a non-pressurized water jacket. We haven’t gotten the system installed yet, although it would have been nice yesterday when we had a freak snowstorm and the power was out for several hours at a time all afternoon and through the night. Dang it, we moved here because it isn’t SUPPOSED to snow! We got hosed… 😉

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  7. I’m sure I had a mullet, Diane. Or – no, I had the flat top; my brother had the mullet. I shouldn’t really worry about my hair nowadays.
    And that sticky back vinyl… I think we used that to cover our school books. Late seventies early eighties.
    Not had a lot of manure, though…

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  8. jono51

    I was a little slow and stopped using adhesive backed vinyl in the early 80s. My hair fell out before mullets were the latest rage, but I have always been able to grow my face out. One of my personal favorites was mutton chop sideburns, but I’m too lazy for serious maintenance and just usually have a full beard.
    I have manure because of the horses and living in poor soil it is a valuable commodity. I don’t like taking money for it, but love to trade. I usually accept produce, canned and baked goods, homemade maple syrup, snow plowing, fish, and anything else with real value. It is more fun that way. I have enough jam to get through winter this year!

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    • That’s awesome! We did some trades, too – we’re trading fresh carrots from our garden to one of our manure suppliers, and a few drinks to the other (he’s moving and needed his whole place cleaned out, so he was just happy to have it gone). I love living in the country where manure is readily available AND we have lots of space to store it until it’s well-aged without the neighbours complaining.

      If I was a guy, I’d definitely wear a full beard. Shaving every day? What a pain! (But I do like the idea of the mutton-chops.) 🙂

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  9. jenny_o

    The best thing about the mullet is the definition: business in the front, party in the back. heh

    And . . . I THOUGHT I could smell something, er . . . outdoorsy . . . lately . . . 18,000 pounds of horse poo is a lot of poo . . .

    Finally, Mactac. I still love it. I just don’t use it as much. Because why? I don’t know. I have four brand new rolls from the 1990’s in my pantry. I’d better get right on it.

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    • Hey, good news: If you’ve had it since the 90s it means that “get right on it” is a relative timeframe that could mean anytime between tomorrow and ten years from now. Considering how lengthy your to-do list seems, that flexible timing might work out well. 😉

      And yes, our yard has that, um… ‘natural’ smell. We covered the pile with plastic tarps today so the pungency has faded a bit, and hopefully by next spring it’ll be nice odorless compost. Fingers crossed!

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  10. drae

    I remember when I purchased a home and had the yard leveled and flower beds put along the side of the house (where most people grew flowers — my plans were for a garden). Well, it looked so nice (and clean) Another friend told me he would bring me some horse “poop” as he was cleaning out his stable. I told him great. Soon my veggies started coming up along with every weed that his horses had eaten during the past year. Needless to say, I’ve never put any more fresh “poop” from my 3 horses in my gardens again. It needs to “age” first — after the steaming. A lawyer I worked for many years ago went running out of his office one morning. Said someone had called to tell him his wife’s horse barn was on fire (she was out of town). When he came back in the office we found out that the “fire” had been the pile of “poop” that had been cleaned from the horses stalls and piled outside behind the barn over a period of time. Between it and the shavings combined they were going thru their heating process.

    I personally like contact paper (in certain places). I had an old 2 drawer filing cabinet that needed “updating”. I covered the top & sides with a black marble contact and painted the front of the drawers black. It still looks good (15 years later). I also covered the top of my computer desk with a cork pattern when the original finish starting showing wear. I also keep some on the top of my dryer in the laundry room as It keeps the top from getting scratched (it’s a great place to put things when there isn’t really another place to put them — such as cans holding cat and dog food, and other miscellaneous containers that seem to find a home there before they make their final resting place out in the barn. It comes up fairly easily and can be replaced as needed.

    As far as mullets — I’ve always heard, there is really nothing new, just remakes of what has been here before. Perfect example is all this new furniture that is coming out that looks exactly like what I grew up with in the 50’s and 60’s. Love how houses built during that period of time are now being called “mid century homes”. When I first heard that, I thought they were talking about homes built like in 1850+/-. Oh my, I am really getting old.

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    • “Mid-century homes”. Good Lord, I’m getting old, too. We called them “almost-new homes”. 😉

      It’s encouraging to hear that you’ve used Mactac (or another brand of the same product) so successfully! I was hoping it would be better now than it was when I last tried it 40 years ago, and it sounds as though it is.

      And the horse manure story is hilarious! I’d heard that horse manure can cause weed problems if not properly composted, so I’m hoping ours heats up nicely this winter – we just tarped it today so it’s all tucked in. If we see “smoke” rising, we’ll be happy!

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  11. The mullet is making a comeback? Noooooooo!

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  12. Elnora Thayer

    I agree about the sticky contact paper being a big pain in the neck and can’t be removed. I, like you, found the same tiling at our local home improvement store and purchased it too! My husband and I put it in our main bathroom and it looks very good. It’s been up for about 8 months now and we haven’t had any peeling edges. I’m not sure how it will work in the kitchen, which is our next project, but I know that I will use the same tile in a different color for my back splash as well!! Good Luck! (try not to get the corners wet) :o)

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    • What a relief that you’ve installed it and it’s holding up okay so far! I was afraid I might have been a sucker taken in by shiny pretty colours. Thanks for the advice about avoiding moisture – I never would have thought of that! So far my installation has gone well, so fingers crossed. Good luck with your backsplash, too! 🙂

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  13. Random thoughts: In the 70s we thought vinyl was an “upgrade.” I’ve had the same hair style since I was seven years-old. I see no reason to change a good thing.

    and I’ve read bloggers who can shove 18,000 pounds of horseshit into a post. Two thoughts on that: You could do it if you really tried and please don’t try, others are doing that job for you.

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