This is going slower than I had planned, but I am about to start the first row of bricks after the soldiers. I am having trouble uploading my pics from iPhoto, get "file failed to upload" message. Any suggestions?

Two questions:

With the indispensable tool determining the brick angle from the horizontal, and using a radius string to determine the trim on the sides of the bricks, I can easily taper the brick sides so as to get a clean vertical joint with no gap (and no mortar). This means I would have only a ring of mortar wedge with thickness 0 on the inside and about 1/2" on the outside, and no vertical "glue" whatsoever. I just want to avoid mortar showing on the inside, not tapering all sides to get a mortarless dome. Is this reasonable? Will the oven stand with essentially alternating horizontal rings of brick and mortar and no mortar on the brick sides?

How do you clean mortar stains from the face of the bricks? I am a rather messy mason.

Also, how do I get smilies in the text? When I try, the show up "translated" into regular typed words or emoticons.