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local holidays

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Sunday, August 31, 2008
rodeo/ county fair

If I lived in Ellensburg, Washington I would have my weekend choice of the World Famous Rodeo or Kittitas County Fair. (or both! Why would I have to choose only one? Cotton candy poisoning is the only reason I can think of.)

BUT, since I live in Portland not Ellensburg, I'm going to the State Fair instead! Things I hope to see: livestock (goats and sheep are so cute I could just die), some kind of butter sculpture, prize winning doily collection (or likewise), the booth where they make lime rickeys and other gatsby-inspired-monty-burns-approved old fashioned libations, the ferris wheel, champion zinnias and so on! Maybe there will be a fight amongst the chutney judges!! I'm hoping for a brawl that ranges all over the exhibition and winds up near the Potato Board booth so someone can start chucking those sweet starchy missiles and launch a full-fledged food fight. It is my fondest wish that this fight erupt over the use of pineapple. Clipboards smashing down, lines being drawn, pineapple partisans and the pineapple opposition finally have it out, State Fair Style.
"It's an overly sweet chutney cliche."
"It is a CLASSIC, you son of a whore!"
A profane blur of plaid shirts and bolo ties -- grandmothers covering children's ears, gum falling out of bystander's mouths. I can hardly wait. I'm going to the preserve judging tent first, unless I get distracted by the World's Largest anything on my way over.

Anyway, I love the combination of wholesome old-fashioned agrarian celebration with the seedy itinerant charms of the carnival. Not the kind of thing I want to do every day, but every few years the urge must be satisfied.

preliminary DNC thoughts

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Thursday, August 28, 2008
on the street where you live


in the pink


parking lot fortune

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008
by Brian Selznick

I found this Caldecott Award winning illustrated children's novel to be delightful. The book is over 500 pages and heavy as a brick, but it's quality weight! Contained within its pages are orphans and automatons, magicians and mechanics, secrets and dreams -- also cinematic mysteries, a hungry boy, a curious girl and a cranky old man. A library! Monsieur, Madame, Méliès, the moon. (AUTOMATONS!)

The story is set in 1931 Paris; a city typed up and drawn out, replete with rooftops, clockworks, museums, attics, train stations, transitions, small mechanical parts and moments of truth. Flames, fire, films. The long arm of the law. Eyepatch! excitement, escape. Pickpocket lockpickers. Mouse, motivation, well meaning meddling minors.

Selznick combines text and drawings with a few photographs here and there. The drawings don't so much illustrate text as operate as legitimate storytelling all on their own. Like a song in a well done musical, the drawings are trusted to move the story forward without merely rehashing what's been already said. I think this is especially effective with the action scenes. (in fact, I think there could have been a little less text, but I'm significantly older than the target audience, so maybe I'm just old and crazy.) There's a real cinematic quality of motion in the drawings -- lots of detail to get lost in if you chose to take your time or go back and look, but compelling action right up front to keep those pages turning. There's a fictional story here -- some mystery, adventure and bravery in the face of adversity -- but also a lot of historical information on some of the very earliest films ever made. (and a nice "credits" section in the back with places for further research and information.) I don't doubt that this book has inspired the imagination of many children (and adults!) -- is there anything better? In this age of YouTube it's especially easy to search out related footage.

Here are a couple that I found:

Méliès famous "Voyage to the Moon" -- this version has a soundtrack that includes narration (which I found helpful) -- some of them don't, some of them have other music (Kraftwerk?!) or other narration. There are a bazillion versions on youtube, as well as many other very charming Méliès short films.

Part one (getting ready to go to the moon):

Part two (actually getting to the moon and meeting those who live there):

and here's a FANTASTIC Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris Méliès homage -- it's a video for the Smashing Pumpkins' song Tonight, Tonight. (I especially like it because there is a Victorian lady adventurer who thwaps things with her parasol.)

if only we had a wheelbarrow

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Sunday, August 24, 2008
Hello again. It seems to me that it has been a huge yawning chasm of time since I last posted -- echoing canyons of LONG TIME GONE. However, the calendar informs me it has been less than a week, so there's that. Thank god for calendars. (I guess.) You know what? Scratch that. I'm not going to thank god for a calendar. Thank god for seasonal stone fruit! YEAH! That's one I can get behind. I ate the most delicious peach today, a black apricot yesterday, and the plums are really good right now.

Speaking of nature's calendar -- I can tell that summer is starting to get restless. I always try to turn a blind eye, but after a certain point it's just embarrassing for both of us. I'm all hopeful in flip flops and a sleeveless top and she's all distracted and raining or blowing unusually cold wind. First it was the tiny half-formed acorns falling from the trees: half-formed, so I could talk my way around it --obviously some delinquent squirrel teenagers are vandalizing the tree! But now there are early trees getting yellow leaves (nooooo!!), larger acorns, the squirrels getting fat and sassy, spiders EVERYWHERE (don't ask), and of course the days getting shorter (sigh), and the moon has shifted. Let's face it -- summer's still here and having a pretty good time (although raining at the moment), but she's dreaming of Australia. I've tried begging, but it doesn't work. You get that stink of desperation and not only will summer stay away, but autumn will be saying "oh, god! do I have to?" and what you end up with is 5 months of nothing but rain.

so fun
this photo is of the actual screen with my actual camera.

BUT, speaking of summer and fun things to do -- Saturday night Bec, Martina and I went to Lents park to watch The Princess Bride as part of the Movies in the Park program the city is doing. I had to work during the day, but Martina arranged everything -- my sister and I just rolled up to a convenient parking spot and sat down on a provided lawn chair and blanket and ate a provided picnic. (Provisions by: Martina picnic provisions.) WOO! Not only did I get to visit a park I'd never been to before, but I also learned that Woody Guthrie lived in the Lents neighborhood when he was in the area writing songs for the Bonneville Power Administration. (26 songs in 30 days! so I doubt he was doing a lot of wandering around the neighborhood, but EVEN SO it's interesting.)

The Princess Bride holds up. It was very popular with the crowd (which ranged from pirates to republicans to stoners to goths to hippies to those dudes who work in offices, to families with very small children to teenaged boys covered in axe body spray (why, god, WHY?) to fencers to vegan strippers to the typical granola liberal. and their dogs) -- lots of people were quoting dialogue (I'll admit I found this moderately annoying, especially when they were ahead or behind the movie) -- the kids behind us were very concerned about the "monsters!" (R.O.U.S.'s), the biggest cheer came from "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die." (I suspect the pirates as they looked sort of bleary and bloodthirsty.) (not really bleary. They were mostly respectable suburban pirates, a confounding subspecies that deserves a post of its own.)

The weather was perfect. It's such a satisfying movie, but it's hard going, really hard going for everyone in the whole damned thing. I noticed especially quotes like "get used to disappointment," and "life is pain, Princess" and of course the glorious offhand lunacy of "if only we had a wheelbarrow." It's all just so perfect. P.S. I love Wallace Shawn as Vizzini.

The truth serum I took earlier today compels me to admit that I did fall asleep for about two minutes during the wedding, but woke up in time for lots of sword fights and running down castle corridors and inspired insults. It was a lovely venue and a fine way to revisit an old movie favorite.

make way for Yodalor

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008
On Sunday my sister and I drove out to Pacific City (home of the dory fleet!) to meet up with an old friend and her husband and kids visiting from Texas. They are having an All Our In-Laws Camping Trip. Good times!!

My one day visit was perfect (Bec went back again today) -- I had all the fun of camping with none of the fuss. Well, there was a little self-generated fuss as we tried to not be completely horrible examples to the small children present. I think we did pretty well in the limited swearing department, but completely fell down in the area of responsible fire behavior.

One of my favorite moments came when the shy 5.5 year old middle child (and only boy) warmed to our presence enough to climb up in a tree and say "hey, I'm that guy! I'm THAT GUY, everyone!!" (That Guy, I soon found out = The Lorax.) This was topped many hours later when he was in another tree, but this time he was "YODALOR!" (who, as it happens, is a hybrid of Yoda and the Lorax.)

pacific city

it was 80+ degrees and humid in portland when we left to go to the beach. It was 60 degrees and WINDY with lots of random huge flashes of lightning when we arrived in Pacific City. This did not seem to bother many (if any) of the surfers out enjoying the waves. They were all in wetsuits -- perhaps they are insulated against lightning? Or maybe they just think they are! Or maybe the lightning insulates against sharks, which seems like a safer bet than surfing without lightning? I have no idea. All I can say is that I was cold and there was a whole gaggle of surfers to the left of this photo. I love the Oregon coast in any weather, and that's the truth. My hair gets crazy curly under these wet air circumstances. (also the truth. Coiffure Confessionals!)

the sun!

Mostly overcast all day, with about 20 minutes total where the sun would peek out long enough to fool us all into thinking that the clouds were blowing over. I keep falling for it!

bad influence

My hair still smells like campfire 24 hours and a shampoo later.

Campfire Cuisine -- Pink marshmallows taste like you'd expect: an unholy yet strangely appealing mix of regular marshmallows and strawberry qwik. I think the urge to sample them came from the same dark, perverse place that urges me to try dubious Chinese restaurants in places like La Grande, Yakima and Milton Freewater. (one day I will have to type up the recipe for Yakima Chinese Almond Chicken. It can be assembled straight out of any gas station deli, as long as that deli has properly aged brown gravy.)

In summary, I love the beach all at once and one day at a time -- Yodalor sightings, strawberry marshmallows, foggy lightning sharks and all.

portent or merely weather?

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Sunday, August 17, 2008
There's a full moon surrounded by clouds and huge flashes of lightning out my window. At first I thought it was some jackass on the next street with a floodlight (because THAT'S so sensible), but no -- it's honest to god lightning.

It's not the jagged heavy metal tattoo kind of lightning, but rather the big flash sheet of horror movie lightning, where suddenly you can see that the zombies are almost upon you. Very exciting! (but I might have just scared myself out of sleep. Way to go, Jen!) Oh, great! now here comes the thunder and the moon has gone half way behind a black cloud like we're in Transylvania looking up at the castle. All that's required now is for the alleged neighborhood coyotes to start howling and I'll never sleep again!

I get it moon, you're versatile (and kind of a drama queen) -- last month show tunes, this month horror films. I'm almost (but not quite) afraid to see what September brings.

the kind of problem to have

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Friday, August 15, 2008
the BEST!

So much to read! This is a wonderful feeling, but at the same time I'm having some what-to-read-when issues. I've been partially directed by the capricious collective desires of other patrons in the library system; as long as nobody else wants to read what I've got checked out (or few enough other people), I'm fine. I can shuffle things around and renew and read according to what sounds good -- but occasionally there's that OTHER PERSON(S) who insists on wanting the book that I've got. (This is the true downfall of sharing books with an entire metropolitan area.)

Well, ha ha! my hold list nemesis/nemeses! I've got a new plan!! (definitely insane but slightly evil laughter here.) I am going to read some books I've been meaning to read forever but keep passing up because I have others that must be read now; books out of reach of your barcode bullying because they are mine, mine, MINE. (more D.I.B.S.E.L here.) So, what should I read first? The Time Traveler's Wife (I really loved both of her illustrated books a lot)? Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (super-heart Wonder Boys and regular plus-heart Yiddish Policeman's Union)? Everything is Illuminated or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close? (I don't actually own either of the Foer books, but I know that the library has a LOT of copies and I'm very attracted to the cover art on the latter one.)

(in fairness I feel I should point out that the pressure of reading RIGHT NOW is probably a good one for the perpetual procrastinator, but I want to mix it up a little.)

Any suggestions? Are you reading anything wonderful right now? Read anything wonderful either recently or ages ago that you don't think gets enough attention? (I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith = so good! which reminds me of another I just read, which, etc. etc. etc. ) I've read a lot of really good books lately -- I'm hoping to have a little more about those soon. (I know! I'm all talk. I'm going with the theory that tentative steps in the right direction are better than no steps at all.)

In unrelated news (except that it happened library-adjascent), when I went to work the other day there was a subaru station wagon full of early-twenties hippies playing BONGOS in the parking lot! They had the back hatch open. There were a lot of them, it was almost like a hippie clown car -- they were everywhere! Most of them were wearing those crocheted caps that people only ever wear in the middle of summer if they have had insufficient access to a little thing I like to call THE SHOWER. There were bongos, at least one dog, a unicycle (!), Creedence coming out of some muffled speaker somewhere, and all these hippie boys goofing off in the parking lot next to the library at least an hour before we opened. Thankfully, we did not have to discover how long it took to go from charming ha ha bizarre yet delightful Coen Brother's comedy to rageful I am going to smash that bongo over your head if you hit it one more time, naked Matthew McBongo drama. As soon as the library opened they came in and all asked for guest passes to use the internet. They were just passing through -- a crazy band of itinerant bongo playing crocheted hat wearing shower eschewing unicycle riders with email to check.

something new every day

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Monday, August 11, 2008
One of my favorite things about working for the library is that so many interesting things pass through my hands. I'm always learning something new, although the persistent lesson is that I will never know all the interesting things there are to know! (Strangely, I find this a comfort.)

A few months ago I was filing books onto the hold shelf while someone else was checking them in at the desk. A children's book with a striking collage cover came through and my coworker said "doesn't this reminded you of that guy? You know, THAT GUY." (I did not know "that guy" in this instance. A lot of times I can figure it out, but she had me stumped.) Finally the lightbulb went off over her head and she asked me if I was familiar with the work of Romare Bearden.

I was not! She looked up the name to make sure she had it right and wrote it down for me. (I put it in my pocket.) I recently had some spots available on my hold list, so I went through my stack of pocket-notes, found "Romare Bearden" written in handwriting not my own and decided it was time to find out more. I put this book featuring his Caribbean work on hold. The cover is so beautiful; this tiny jpeg does not come close to doing it justice. (All of the images I found for it seem really muddy in color.)

I know more about him than I did, but there's so much more to discover. Here are a few images I found online which showcase the variety of his work. These are collage, although he did paintings and large-scale public works as well. I'm really intrigued by the images that incorporate photography into the collage. I think what I'm responding to is the extra depth/layers this adds to the picture -- he's using the specific to illustrate the universal. (I like this in stories, too.)

He did a fantastic series based on The Odyssey.

Many images of the rural south. I love this garden picture a lot -- it's called Maudell Sleet's Magic Garden.

I love the expression on the guitar player in this one.

This appears to be the same piece as the one above, only reversed and with stronger color. I wonder which way is correct? It's great either way. Hmmm. I like the richness of the blue on the second one, but like the fuzzier, sort of blown-out quality of the first. (My guess is that the stronger color is correct.)

Wallflower at the Orgy

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Sunday, August 10, 2008
70's cover
by Nora Ephron

Wallflower at the Orgy was chosen as my second foray into Summer Eprhonathon for two reasons. First, the title is so great -- it just is! although she explains it away as a metaphor for journalism. It's a nice metaphor, but I always like them better when I'm allowed to connect the dots myself. Second -- it was next book of hers I could get the quickest from the library. We just have one copy, but I only had to wait out the person who had it, then it was all mine. (although someone has done the same thing to me, and I'm now writing this on top of a late fine.)

I love the original cover! I love everything about it -- the purple, the bright green orgy with stripes, the black and white author photo on the back. Compare with the 2007 trade paperback, which, with its bashful naked legs, makes it look like a contemporary chick lit novel filled with lovingly described shopping sprees and also some part about a guy who pledges his troth to pay for future shopping sprees. No wonder so many people at Goodreads seemed disappointed with it; maybe they were expecting a novel or more recent essays, or at least essays about orgies, but got instead a collection of magazine articles from 40 years ago.

These essays were mostly written for women's magazines (Cosmopolitan) in the late 60's. Here's a quote from the introduction to give some context: "I should say that almost everything in this book was written in 1968 and 1969, and almost everything in it is about what I like to think of as frivolous things. Fashion, trashy books, show business, food. I could call these subjects Popular Culture, but I like writing about them so much that I hate to think they have to be justified in this way--or at least I'm sorry if they do." She gives it the old non-justification justification (sort of like the explanation of the title). It's at once bold and apologetic -- is that how it was to be a smart, ambitious woman in that era? Rock the boat, but don't tip it over? Or is it nothing to do with that and merely an artifact of being a smart woman taking on subjects considered by The Establishment to be trivial? (I've been watching Mad Men, so this is on my mind.)

It's so interesting, not just because I also like the "Popular Culture," but to look at it from 40 years later. I realize that this kind of thing may not be for everyone, but I found it fascinating. It was like being in a time machine! a feminist time machine!! Some things seem dated and old fashioned (referring to herself as Mrs. Dan Greenburg, for one) but on the other hand, extreme political correctness was not yet the order of the day so there is a quality of unselfconscious plainspokenness sometimes missing from modern journalism. It's written at a fluid time in feminist history -- things had changed a lot and were about to change a lot more, but it was recent change so the Old Way hovers over everything. Plus, she's so funny -- but in her particular sly, dry fashion that's always waiting for you to catch up, rather than in obvious nose-honking ways.

some of my favorites:

The Food Establishement -- This is about the great Time-Life Cookbook wars. My grandfather was a huge Time-Life fan and I grew up with various collections all around. (I think maybe because he used to sell Encyclopedia Britannica, so he was naturally kindly disposed to a subscription book series.) ANYWAY. I had no idea there was this big Foodie culture war around them; as much as I enjoyed reading about the bitchy kitchen gossip, it's also an interesting view on how we ate then, which allows for rumination on how we eat now.

Women's Wear Daily Unclothed -- oh, this is such a crazy fun article. It's historical (how did a trade magazine that featured "news of latex futures, new trends in sewing machines, and indiscriminate reports on every collection from shoes to hatpins" evolve to become a Must Read for the most fashionable?) and contemporary (how do they know what Jackie O. is going to wear?). Mostly, I loved it for tidbits like this: "It is catty, breathless, and loaded with shorthand expressions and non sequiturs. SENTENCES ARE CAPITALIZED FOR NO APPARENT REASON AND SEEM TO SNAP AND CRACKLE RIGHT OUT OF THE PAGE."

I really liked her two pieces on Mike Nichols -- one is a straight up profile/interview (December 1968) and one is a piece from on location with Catch 22 (May 1969). I think Mike Nichols is interesting (read Mark Harris's Pictures at a Revolution -- SO GOOD!) so I enjoyed reading the interview, but it wasn't just about him. Considering what she went on to do (and does now), this exchange in particular caught my attention:

Q: This is a naive question, but film is a very mysterious thing to me, and I don't understand how you just went out there and made a movie. How did you find out about all those mysterious sound devices and mysterious words like "looping"?
NICHOLS: I just held my nose and jumped in.
Q: But did you feel like an imbecile?
NICHOLS: I still do.
Q: You do?
NICHOLS: Oh, of course. All the time. Don't you?
Q: Oh, no, because I'm not doing anything terribly hard. It's just me and a typewriter. It's not me and a million technicians and budgets and deadlines.

I wish to cook with sewing tomatoes

| On
Monday, August 04, 2008
I love this so much!

Western Spaghetti by PES, via d.Sharp

color spam

| On
Sunday, August 03, 2008
My new camera was waiting for me in the mailbox Saturday evening. Pretty great since I only (finally) ordered it on Thursday night! Woo hoo!

Anyway, in lieu of wordier content, here are some pictures I took today. I'm still figuring out how it works since it's a completely different brand than I'm used to. I got the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS5, and am very pleased so far. I haven't even begun to explore all the options, but that didn't stop me from pushing a lot of buttons.

As I was saying -- here's some color:

ribbons at ikea.

coneflower vortex
coneflower in the garden. I love that these are purple and orange together. Together! You hear me, people who say they "don't match"?? Mother Nature says otherwise, and I agree! The orange parts look like little tiny missiles. Missiles aimed at orange/purple naysayers...

wrapping paper at ikea. If I had noticed that bit of ceiling while I was taking it, I would have tried to reframe it without. But even so -- yay paper! It looks sort of willy wonka to me. I wonder if Ikea has considered Oompa Loompa concierge allen wrench service? They should think about it.

back to the garden. This isn't exactly focused, but I think it very pretty anyway. It's like I took it with the Elizabeth Taylor Violet Eyes Vaseline Filter, which I believe is one of the preset modes on my camera!