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the mad scramble

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Thursday, December 31, 2009
guest pass
This whole year has felt like I've done it with one shoe off, hopping toward the door trying to put it on, late and ill-prepared. But that's okay - some years are just like that. Here's the main thing I've taken away from it : (mind you, it's hanging half way out of my bag and dragging on the ground a little bit, but it's there)

+ if you think of even one little thing to do that gets you a tiny bit closer to a goal (large or small, frivolous or serious), DO THAT THING. It helps! and later on when you (if you're me) are boo hooing about how you're not there yet, (wherever there might be), you'll notice when you stop being dramatic that you're probably closer than you thought. Or at least closer than when you started.

More on the new year TOMORROW. I want to finish uploading 2009 pictures before 2010 gets too far underway. (2010 may be a scramble too, but I hope for a more mindful scramble.)

Happy New Year!

minor wondering

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Sunday, December 27, 2009
This afternoon a woman about my mom's age came up to the desk to check out some books and said "I love your top! It looks very Peter Max." (it's black with bright crazy paisleys - I love it and wear it probably too often.) I told her thanks and that I loved it too for that very reason. "But it's not Peter Max." her face fell and I felt bad and was thinking that this was one of the times where I should have just stuck to THANKS. Why am I such a ruiner?! It was bugging me because her expression was so familiar. Then I figured it out! It was the exact same expression as the woman at the hippie shoe store (birkenstock outlet that also sells danskos, which is what I was buying) - I paid with visa, she asked to see my driver's license and commented on my extreme hippie middle name. She asked if my parents were fans of the thing they were obviously fans of to give their first born a name like this, and I said "uh, yeah." She said that it was a very beautiful name; I said that I liked it now, but it was a great burden to me when I was a kid. (I treated it like a terrible secret, which of course manufactured even more trouble.) The lady's face fell and I felt like a jerk, but now that it has happened again (maybe even the same woman), I wonder where this keeps going wrong. Am I fated to keep having semi-awkward encounters with an original recipe hippie until I get it right? Is this a Groundhog Day lesson I have to learn? Or maybe this poor woman just has a face that falls after 2 minutes of conversation, no matter what the topic. Or maybe it's nothing of the sort and what's really going on is that my eyeballs are tiny projectors inventing problems where none exist.

merry christmas

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Friday, December 25, 2009
twinkle twinkle

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

I've had a lovely day and a fun but frantic couple of weeks leading up to it. I made a lot of the gifts I gave this year, which was sometimes hectic (when I ran out of bobbin thread in the middle of a visible seam, couldn't find the white thread, etc. etc.), but mostly was a reminder of how much I like making things. This experiment will definitely inform how I approach the new year!

all the best to you and yours. I hope to be back here soon.
christmas lights

small victories

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Sunday, December 20, 2009
I’m back from BEND OREGON, and it was even better than I remembered. Most of the mountains (there are a lot of mountains) were socked in with fog, but even so it was arrestingly beautiful both coming and going. (Different routes.)

BUT, the tiny victory I’m here to report is that I have successfully created a ringtone for my phone! This is hilarious for a number of reasons, mainly because a) I almost always keep my phone on vibrate and b) I don’t really like talking on the phone. But I love this ringtone so much, all that may change. I might become that person, the one who gets a second phone just to call the first one and hear it ring! (It’s possible I have Car Travel Delirium.) My magic ringtone is about 15 seconds from the song Fallait pas ecraser la queue du chat by Clothilde from the Swinging Mademoiselles Deux collection. (If you click on the amazon link, you can hear it in the sample.) It’s a sort of psychedelic yé-yé instrumental bit so perfect that when I heard in the car I announced, "I must learn how to do ringtones so I can have this!" I love it - it sounds very ringtone-like, but also like a groovy French sixties pop song - ringtone perfection if you ask me!

I'm so tired from all the driving in car/ riding in car that I am about to fall asleep at the keyboard. (it would not be the first time.)


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Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm going for a quick trip this weekend to BEND OREGON. Bend is known for its beautiful high desert setting - it is attractive to sporty-type people due to the mountains and rivers and whatnot, but that’s not why I’m going. (I am not sporty. Relatives, puppies, impulsive road trip - the usual.) I always think of it as capital BEND OREGON, thanks to Twin Peaks and that weirdo FBI dude played by David Lynch who was stationed in some office in BEND OREGON. (He was hard of hearing, always shouting, and always letting you know that he’s not talking about BEND IOWA or wherever. BEND OREGON.)

In other news, the orange jacket in the photo above makes me ridiculously happy. There was an orange one and a black one at the store. They were both half off, but I bought the orange. I suppose the black one would have been more versatile or more practical but I sincerely doubt it would make me as glad as the orange. (Gladness has a value that cannot be measured in conventional, practical units.)

IN YET OTHER NEWS, I have finally signed up for netflix and it is so great! The library is fantastic for a lot of things, but the one weak spot is getting new movies in a timely manner - too much competition. This solves that problem - now I want to get one of those box thingies so I can watch streaming content on the TV. SO COOL! And easy. I know, I know. "Welcome to the 21st century, Jen!"

Anyway, I’ve been watching a lot of movies. More on that soon.

Below is a video that I’ve watched 4 times today, even though it’s 7 minutes long. It blows my mind! If you are alarmed by the notion that we are just tiny specks in the universe, skip it. I find the video strangely soothing and very beautiful. I’m sure it’s the kind of thing they will play in planetariums (AS THEY SHOULD), but I sort of love that it’s also the sort of thing they show on youtube.

And here’s Becky Stark in the WKE video Califunya on the subject of space travel and TIME. I watched this video and the American Museum of Natural History video for the first time on the same day (TODAY) and it made me Orange Coat happy that it happened that way.

Now I must pack for BEND OREGON. Happy weekend!


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Tuesday, December 15, 2009
library sticker

1. If you get jelly or coffee or whatever on an item that belongs to the library, it’s okay to wipe it off before you return it. Really.

2. Library fines are not a moral failing. Things happen! I have library fines right now, as do many of my co-workers. Don’t be embarrassed - I can only speak for myself, but I promise I’m not doing any inward finger wagging or tut-tutting. Quick facts for Portland: you can still check things out as long as your balance is under $20; you can pay online; you can put an email address on your account and get a reminder 3 days before things are due, which will hopefully help alleviate future fines. If you’re in a dire situation, talk to someone - we’ll do our best to help you!

I feel bad that so many people come to the counter ashamed and stressed out over something that 99% of the time is really not a big deal. I feel worse about the people who are so stressed out and ashamed that they avoid the library all together.

3. I currently have 77 things checked out. CRAZY! (Although totally within legal limits.) I need to get it back down to at or around 60 items for my own peace of mind. The problem comes from cookbooks and poetry books, both if which I just want to keep forever. I guess my point is that most people who work at the library also USE the library a lot, so we understand crazy obsessions and armloads of books. In addition to paying fines, we’re also subject to the same check out periods and the same hold procedures as everyone else. I feel your pain at being #423 on the waiting list. I feel it even more keenly when I am #424.

4. The library has a deep DVD collection - Criterion Collection to TV from the 80s to documentaries to musicals to Vietnamese soap operas. Program yourself a film festival! I think I’m about to embark on Ginger Rogers without Fred. It’s fun, and you can keep DVDs out for the same period as books - 3 weeks. If nobody else has a hold on your DVD, you can renew it up to 49 times. FORTY NINE! Don’t be stingy with renewals if it will help you avoid late fees.

still in the dark

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009
ponderous gnome

Today I realized that it's possible in blogger to schedule posts to appear in the future! (I am sometimes a very slow realizer.) I don’t know why I find this so intriguing, but I do.

However, this post is written in the As It Happens moment of right now (11:56 pm.) As it happens, I’m getting ready to go to bed (work early tomorrow) and I’m listening to the song Still in the Dark by Big Joe Turner, which I heard earlier today and made a note to listen again (and again). I got the song from the Blowing The Fuse: 26 R&B Classics That Rocked The Jukebox In 1950 compilation. (I have thoroughly enjoyed any of these collections that I’ve heard.) The iTunes store doesn't have this version - which is more 2AM than the ones they do have - but you can hear 30 seconds of it at Amazon. It's absolutely not a Christmas song, but something about it puts me there. Maybe because it’s almost Christmas now? Maybe because it sounds like something my parents would have listened to when I was a kid, even though I’m pretty sure they didn’t listen to this particular song? Vague family times nostalgia? Anyway. It’s a warm, sad song that suits a cold day - it works in the daytime and the nighttime, but I think its natural habitat is (as the title indicates) in the dark. If there’s light, it’s definitely not a fluorescent bulb. Maybe Christmas tree lights, although I don’t have a Christmas tree yet. SOON!

thirteen degrees

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009
christmas train

It’s only 13 degrees here in Portland! THIRTEEN!!! All the evergreen rhododendron leaves have curled in on themselves, like they’ve been mummified or preserved in a bog or something leathery like that - Local Garden Beset by Bog Mummy Rhodies! I guess it’s more of a flash freeze, but it looks similar and the other sounds more like a campy horror movie. Now I’m going to get paranoid that they’re creeping ever closer to the house with their reaching, twiggy hands. (Please don’t kill me, Bog Mummy Rhodies.) At least the knifepoint east wind isn’t blowing; it’s just sunny and still, clear and &^%$# COLD.

This boozy Christmas train photo doesn’t really have anything to do with my new (beginning and ending with this blog post) horror movie project, but maybe it should! Unsuspecting teenagers could ride the christmas train to a grove of frozen evergreen shrubs - they would THINK they were going to the haunted amusement park for teenaged shenanigans, but the evil, sentient train whistle (in league with the frost-bitten denizens of TERROR GROVE) has other plans. (It turns out that these other plans are all part of a rhododendron/train whistle communication problem - the Evil Shrubs, who are actually merely frozen, require the chlorophyl of the young to survive, the Train Whistle is a little foggy on biology and thinks teenaged humans would fit the bill.) Blah blah, screaming, scary shadows, don’t pick up that hatchet, nooooooo, it was all a dream… or was it? Wiggly camera! Wiggly camera! Blah blah, everyone’s fine apart from that one chopped off arm, but it doesn’t look so good for that train car full of hothouse poinsettias chugging around the bend. THE END.

Now I’ve got to finish my Christmas cards.

calendar acceptance

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Sunday, December 06, 2009
I CANNOT believe it is December already. But the calendar tells me DECEMBER, so December it must be. I had a minor advance warning system holiday freakout - the kind where something shorts out in my head (I picture a red wire and a green wire, a small flare of flame, then blackened copper, smoke, and melted plastic somewhere deep in the meat of my brain), usually triggered by ads for department stores, diamond stores, or excessive jingle bells. But since I had my advance warning freakout, I can hopefully avoid future freakouts. It’s a tricky thing, but doable if I keep my wits about me - avoidance largely involves the mute button on the remote control.

Anyway, in the spirit of soothing frazzled brains, here are some ocean pictures from some time in November.

It was around 2pm here. Afternoon, anyway. The clouds and overcast sky made it seem much later, but it was so pretty I wasn’t complaining.

Puddle picture in the parking lot of Whale Cove - I didn’t see any whales, but I've seen them here before. (in the ocean! not in the puddle.)

crested wave
This looks kind of Japanese to me -I think it’s because I actually managed to get a picture of the wave cresting rather than just before or just after (like usual). I love, love, love the weird yellowy green color of the ocean here. The light kept changing, like one of those rotating party lights, only in slow motion loaded with green, blue, grey, pink, silver, yellow, gold.

gulls like it
Mirror ball ocean! Each of those seagulls had a disco whistle. I challenge any doubters to disprove me.

sky at the beach
At the D River Wayside in Lincoln City proper. I hardly ever go here because it’s usually so crowded, but it really is a lovely stretch of beach. The D River is the shortest river in the world according to itself, although apparently the Guinness Book of Records doesn’t care about shortest rivers. It flows from Devil’s Lake to the Pacific ocean, but not for long!

ten of hearts

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009
ten of hearts

Hello, December!
This is just a quick photo post - the sun is shining and I can't help myself. CAN'T HELP MYSELF! That phrase sounds like maybe I need some professional help. Perhaps it's true, but right now it doesn't seem like a problem. Not necessarily an asset, but not necessarily a problem.

Last week (I think? the week before? November is a blur) I took a walk down to the library to do the usual picking up and dropping off and hi how are you-ing that goes on. Satisfying and civilized. As I was walking along I saw the ten of hearts in the grass. I don't know that laying eyes on it means anything, except seeing it made me think "alright!" which is always all right with me. (I suppose it's actually litter, but I left it there anyway in case someone else needed a ten of hearts in the arm.)

hello little yellow leaf
this was near the top of the STEEP HILL. I had to squat down to take the photo and I almost tipped over, which made me laugh.

yellow leaf takes a bow
I can't decide if I like it better close up or far away, so I'm including both.

thank you thank you

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Thursday, November 26, 2009
park bouquet

I'm not going to make a long post or even a list, but I just wanted to take a minute to give thanks for all the wonderful people I know, and thanks also to all the wonderful people I don't know. It is an honor to be your family, your friend, your invisible audience. I want to mark my gratitude here on this digital page to reflect what's already marked in my heart. (THANK YOU.)

Also, dinner was fantastic.

that tree in the middle
I'm thankful for this tree, but this is not a list!

that round thing is the SUN
and for moments like this where the sun is shining behind thick clouds and it seems like some kind of apocalyptic afternoon, but really it's just a Wednesday and the sun will shine in its regular way soon enough.

grab bag of awesome

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

in no particular order:

ONE. Eric, The Foreign Exchange Student by Shaun Tan. This story is so flipping cute yet weird and I love it. Watch the slide show at the link above, but remember it's also viewable on paper pages in his book Tales from Outer Suburbia, which would probably make a lovely gift for someone you know. (via Neil Gaiman)

TWO. Catherine and Heathcliff audition for Twilight

THREE. Jenny Crusie's RomCom Rant: it's provocative and awesome in its scorched earth honesty. It's her opinion and I don't agree 100%, but I love that she calls it like she sees it. I've only seen the first movie in question (The Proposal) - the second (The Ugly Truth) looked so toxic from the ads I've no desire to ever see it. The comment thread is great too, although I don't know why Love, Actually is on so many people's favorite movie list. I hated that movie and left the theater wishing it ended with instantaneous death by lightning to all. Maybe I should watch it again. I'm very fond of Four Weddings and a Funeral and large parts of Notting Hill, so it's not like the mere thought of Richard Curtis makes me want to stab pens in my eyes or throw ensemble casts into volcanos. (unlike, say, You've Got Mail. Relatedly, I rewatched Sleepless in Seattle recently and realized that Nora E. is 2/3 of her way to a stalker romance trilogy!)

FOUR. I cannot stop listening to: BiRd-BrAiNs by tUnE-yArDs. I've been reading about it here and there (okay, Fluxblog and various links from Fluxtumblr), liked what I heard and bought the whole thing. IT IS AWESOME! This record makes me feel good from the inside out - it contains such creative spark that just listening to it lights fires elsewhere. It's got a wild private swagger - not that she isn't in control, but that she didn't worry about what anyone else might want and made it exactly her way, which as it turns out is just what I wanted to hear.

FIVE. Parks and Rec: I'm usually watching Fringe when this is on so I've missed it till now. (Yes, I started watching because Meg Cabot mentioned that there was a library feud episode and the library dept. was called a bunch of "punk-ass book jockeys." Ha! I've since watched all the other episodes that were available on demand.) POEHLER! I've missed you! "in case something bad goes down, I wore my sharpest rings. This one will tear you up." hee hee.

SIX. Double Feature: First Daughter (2004, starring Katie Holmes and Marc Blucas)/ THE APPLE (1980, starring a bunch of people in itchy looking gold lame with hologram stickers on their foreheads) - First Daughter started promisingly enough, but it tanked after First Daughter did her drunken bewigged cowboy hoochie dance. I was kind of hoping for a good old fashioned Teen Movie (which would have only gotten better after a drunken bewigged cowboy hoochie dance), but this was not that. (Do great teen movies really only come around every 10 years? Am I missing some recent great teen movies? All I can think of is the High School Musical franchise and the Saw movies, neither of which scratch my Teen Movie itch.) (not that I've watched Saw because I would have nightmares for 100 years.) Is it Harry Potter and Twilight? No prom scene unless it's for Vampire Prom or Wizard Prom?

The Apple was insane. I'd heard of it, but never seen it... UNTIL NOW. It's like the singing, dancing, running, nonsensical, evil-goatee, budget-glam love child of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Logan's Run. Everyone (except the cave hippies) wears stickers on their forehead. There's singing, there's dancing, there are hallucinations (OR ARE THERE?)! I kept saying "they should sing this one on Glee" or "They should do this for a group dance number on So You Think You Can Dance." I was surprisingly vindicated when the credits rolled (after... well, you really have to see it to believe it) and saw that Nigel Lythgoe (aka: Mr. SYTYCD) was the choreographer! ha ha ha! I'm sure that there are clips on youtube, but I recommend just watching it without further warning if it sounds like your cup of crazy, possibly drugged tea. If you need a little more information, I think the trailer tells you everything you need to know to help you come to a reasoned decision.


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Thursday, November 19, 2009
Found in the book drop. (click picture to enlarge.)

1.) Work out 3 times a week.
2.) Do good in school, no F's!
3.) 450 texts a day.
4.) Skip only 1 time a week!
5.) minimize flirting, maximize friendliness.
6.) Try something new.
7.) Gain interest in pool.
8.) Eat healthy (only organics)
9.) NO FAST FOOD! (Don't lie)
10.) Spend 10 mins less on appearence!
11.) No pop, or soft drinks, only 1 a week.
12.) If we lie, 1000 sit-ups!
13.) Jog 2,3 times a week.

There are so many things I love about the list - the alternating marker colors, the maxim of 5 leading to the general idea of 6 to the specifics of 7, the ambiguity of 3 (is that minimum or maximum? I'm guessing maximum), trying to keep herself honest. I wish she (I'm assuming she) wasn't so hard on herself, but I like how she's attacking things she perceives to be a problem while also allowing permission to 6.) try something new. NO GIVING UP!

Wordstock 2009: saturday

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009
PART ONE: (I split this in half because it was long. Part two soon.)

Wordstock! Unlike years past, there wasn't really anybody that I was dying to see. I did a tiny bit of research beforehand, but I was pretty much willing to see where the day took me - here's where the first half of Day 1 went:

10/10 SAT 12:00: SCOTT WESTERFELD/ Powell's Books stage. I didn't know about Scott Westerfeld, but Bec wanted to see him - she'd read about his book on Boing Boing and was intrigued. Westerfeld is best known for his YA series Uglies/Pretties. They've sold lots of copies and made lots of money - he knew that his pull with the publisher was at its apex, so he determined to use his "Uglies power for good." He wanted to do an old-style Boys Own Adventure novel, and he wanted it to be illustrated. By this point he'd won me over, not just because he was funny and enthusiastic, but because I love the old-style illustrated novel (Oz books, hello!) and this particular Boys Own Adventure has an adventuresome kick ass girl in it. (although she has to disguise herself as a boy...)

He did a brief history of the illustrated novel (with slides) and pointed out how illustration used to be such a huge part of the culture at large: Catalogs, newspapers, adult novels, kid's books, everything! Illustrators were in demand and influential. Did you know Sherlock Holmes' famous deerstalker cap was actually an invention of the illustrator? Neither did I! Westerfeld wanted his new book to be an adventure, he wanted it to be illustrated on heavy paper, and he wanted it to be Steampunk because he likes the aesthetic of "just because you have a raygun on Mars doesn't mean you don't dress for dinner." The result is his novel Leviathan, a steampunk alternate history beginning right at the crack of WW1 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie - this Youtube book trailer gives you the particulars of this alternate world and a nice look at the art.

Since Wordstock I've read Leviathan and enjoyed it, particularly Keith Thompson's very fine illustrations. The Clanker/Darwinist (Central Powers/Allies) divide is well imagined and I like that I was vaguely creeped out by the Darwinist "beasties." The cooperative, whole ecosystem nature of the idea is appealing, but it still has a mad science/ Island of Dr. Moreau/this could go terribly wrong vibe. Shades of grey!

That said, this book seems to be on the younger end of the YA spectrum - more Hugo Cabret than King Dork. (I love both of those so it's not a criticism, just an observation.) I was a little put out that the novel ended on a cliffhanger - it's obvious NOW that it's meant to be part of a larger series, but I would have liked to have known that when I started. (So I'm telling you - it's just part one of an eventual three! Behemoth comes out next year.) All in all, this was an excellent way to kick off Wordstock. I learned a lot. Read Leviathan if you like that sort of thing, or even if you think you might like that sort of thing.

10/10 SAT 1:00: JOYCE MAYNARD/Columbia Sportswear stage. I'm not sure how we ended up here, other than I remember reading Maynard's column way back when it ran in the Oregonian. She started off saying that she never understood the advice that you should write what you know - she thinks you should write about what you want to know, or what you want to know better. This is how she came to write a book from the p.o.v. of a 13 year old son of a single mother.

She finished writing the book in ten (TEN) days. She talked about how publishing has changed so much in recent years - she had to find an agent again since she was primarily known for her non-fiction, sales of which had dropped like a stone. When she did find an agent, s/he promptly suggested that they submit her book with no name attached since at this point being Joyce Maynard might hurt more than it helped. This was hard to hear, but it turned out to be a very shrewd decision. The mystery generated gossip column buzz that the book was written by James Franco. (!) There was a bidding war and she got a very good price for her novel. (is there anything James Franco can't do?)

Then my notes say "do you want to get lunch?" because once the specter of Franco had been raised I wished it was him at the podium reading this story from the p.o.v. of a 13 year old son of a single mother instead of Ms. Maynard. Sorry, Joyce! Bec and I walked up the street to Burgerville and beat the crowd. My cheeseburger was excellent as always.

part 2 to follow.

balloon cure

| On
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I am vaguely bummed out and headachy and creatively flat for reasons I do not comprehend. Antsy, too. (Maybe there is no reason! maybe it's just my turn.) Anyway, I thought to counteract that, I would embark upon the balloon cure.

chandelier w/balloons
Tonight's balloon cure (for me) consists of posting pictures of balloons. (I'm aware that the balloon cure for others may relate to hot-air balloons, or swimming pools full of balloons, or rubbing balloons on your hair to make them stick to the wall. Ooh, or water balloons. I'm sure there are others, but I've run out of easy ones and I'm ready to start typing under the next picture.)

I heart these chandeliers
These pictures are from my sister's birthday. We went to the Pink Martini CD release party at the Crystal Ballroom -Martina came with us (I have typed Pink Martina twice already in this post, only once on purpose), and we ran into some other friends there.

The Ballroom part of the Crystal Ballroom is on the third floor. There's an elevator, but most people take the stairs if they're able. (I should mention that the stairs are moodily lit and decoratively painted. I always feel like I'm climbing to an adventure, and I'm always right.) We tromped up to the second floor and crossed a lobby to get to the final flight of stairs. Stationed at the base of the stairs were people giving away flowers - so charming and unexpected. A woman asked me if I wanted a flower and handed me a beautiful red gerbera daisy. It had a broken stem, which I was fine with because I wasn't expecting a flower in the first place, but the guy on the other side of the stairs saw that it was broken and gave me another flower. Sweet! We walked the final set of stairs and turned the corner only to see thousands of balloons with long mylar streamers glinting in the light of the two fancy chandeliers. Everybody had flowers in their hands. It was so lovely but humble at the same time; it felt like a birthday party or prom, which was just exactly perfect.

Pink Martini always make me think that they should be The Band in one of the big Hollywood musicals from the 30s, particularly one set in South America where there's a big dance scene in a glamorous hotel somewhere with mistaken identity hijinx of one sort or another. "You're heir to an Argentine cattle empire and not a stowaway? That's funny, because I'm not an heiress! I'm a plucky nurse from Kansas taking a fancy vacation on a dare/bequest from an eccentric/rich aunt.") Anyway - Pink Martini would be playing during the big number where Betty Grable and Don Ameche dance the rhumba (the dance of love!) while Carmen Miranda and China Forbes take turns singing and shaking maracas.

floating spotlight balloons
The show was fun and laid back. I've only ever seen Pink Martini in big venues or outside (maybe only outside: the biggest venue of all) - this was a very small stage and they have a lot of members, a lot of guests, and a lot of equipment (harp!). At one point it was jokingly said that they had half of the Oregon Symphony with them, except it didn't look like a joke to me - there were lots of bows flying. The performers were having fun, we were having fun and the balloons were hanging in there.

glowing balloons

thumbs aloft

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Monday, November 09, 2009
serrated yellow

1. I took this leaf picture a couple of weeks ago, but I think it's still seasonally appropriate

2. Peter Ames Carlin has a blog again. From his website I have gleaned that a) he has written a new book about Paul McCartney* b) he's still writing about TV, which c) includes Mad Men. Hooray!

3. This space is reserved for cursing and complaining! I had a lot of both here, but it was boring to write let alone read so I decided on a placeholder instead. This is that placeholder. I feel like my brain has gone on vacation without me. It better come back rested is all I'm saying.

4. The picture below was taken with the photo booth thingy on my computer + the poladroid.

* In one of my recent bouts of opening old boxes I came across some issues of Star Hits magazine, which I used to obsessively buy at my local Swampwater (aka: Punta Gorda), Florida Shop & Go when I was a kid. They always captioned their seemingly endless collection of thumbs up McCartney pictures with Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft. It made me laugh then and it makes me laugh now! It always seemed like affectionate, good natured ribbing, although I expect it might grow wearying if you happen to be a Beatle with sproingy thumb syndrome.

the end of my alaskan headache

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Thursday, November 05, 2009
hello. it's late and it's raining and I am so tired, but my head doesn't hurt anymore, for which I am grateful. (there was, apparently, according to the exited man standing in front of a green screen, some kind of SYSTEM in Alaska that was causing PRESSURE in the atmosphere and I guess because I'm so freaking delicate, Alaskan pressure gives me headaches. I know it sounds like there's a dirty joke somewhere in there, but I promise you it's just meteorology. that's what she said!)

The rain is so nice right now in a comfortable for sleeping way. (I am so tired, which I believe I have mentioned.) If I could bottle the temperature and sound and general good-for-sleepingness vibe happening out my window and give it away to insomniacs, I would.

I think I'm also tired due to an unexpected bonanza of work hours. I'm glad to have them, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't putting a crimp in my nano domination plans. The world's noisiest eater of carrot sticks - he could win a PRIZE - took his breaks at the same time as me today, so anything other than writing carrot, carrot, carrot, CARROT, jabbed to death by carrots, carrot, orange mayhem, carrot crossbow, 20 carat orange diamond lost in gaping maw of crunching carrot beast, etc. was right out. I read the tomato essay from Charles Simic's The Unemployed Fortune Teller instead, and that was just right.

also just right when you're tired and it's late and it's raining and the sound of crunching carrots has mercifully ended: this video of St. Vincent and Andrew Bird (via smut to-go). I'll admit that I might have lost patience with it if I first heard it in in the busy daytime, but it's aces for rainy nighttime.

hey, november

| On
Monday, November 02, 2009
pink, purple, green, leafy

things I forgot but quickly remembered:

1. TIME CHANGE. But that got sorted as soon as I opened my computer yesterday. Thank you, extra hour, for making me seem less slothful in the mornings. BOO TO YOU, however, for making it dark by 4:30. (boooooo! I am booing like the old lady in The Princess Bride movie. I mean it. This is not a tee hee, boo hoo boo, but a Caesar says thumbs down, release the lions boo. HARD CORE BOO.)

2. NANOWRIMO. I'm in! it's not too late to catch up. I was having my usual dither on the subject and decided that this year I'm doing it, dither be damned. Yeah! I had this romantic notion that the next time I did nano I would come to it all organized with an outline and a PLAN, but I realize that's not really part of my modus operandi. (see? I'm in the swing already: modus operandi = TWO WORDS! M.O. = one word.) I'm still working out some of the get started stuff (I don't have to know everything, but I have to know some things or I will cry), but I'm using an idea I had a few years ago and I'm liking it even though it's still somewhat amorphous and I keep backing away from the coolest part. Anyway. I'm on the job! it's only a month, and I need the deadline if for no other reason than I always think of great other things I want to do when I don't have time to do them. (I will make a list!, and possibly include the list in my nano project if I get really desperate for word count, which is a distinct possibility.)

other things:

1.Teesha Moore has put up a series of tutorials on making/collaging/lettering art journals on her blog. So inspiring! I love her sense of color (which is: MORE, PLEASE). Anyway, she's a great explainer and I can't wait to try it out.

2. Wordstock post coming soon!

happy halloween!

| On
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Happy Halloween! These jack o'lanterns are from last year.

I didn't make any this year and I missed it more than I thought I would. There's something about setting the candle in and watching the face flicker to life that is very satisfying - especially after dark when I can no longer see the sharpie marker lines I missed with the knife.

chalk pumpkin
This is also from last year - I found it on the sidewalk near where I get my hair cut. This pumpkin head was on the top of a crazy long snake monster body.

Next year, I want to go to this. I also want to think about what would be a good wear-all-day sort of costume. I've worn costumes to work before, but usually I'd regret it by lunch. One year it was a great ghostly gown made out of scrim fabric and cheesecloth. It was appropriately drapey and tattered with a belt made of chain, but it kept getting stuck on things or getting closed in doors after I'd gone through them, which was only hilarious the first 9 times it happened. By the end of the day my wig itched and I'd left parts of the gown all over the building. Another year I had trouble with the super tall witch hat I'd made out of paper, spray paint and netting. It's AWESOME and I still have it, but unfortunately the hat is so tall I couldn't go through regular doors without knocking it back. These costumes were both for an old, more office-type job. I'd have to really think about what would work for a day in the library. Hmmmm. (I didn't work today, so it wasn't an issue this year.)

Here are a couple of spooky-ish videos. One from the beginning of a movie, one from the end.

This is Halloween from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I am the Who in the call 'Who's there?'

End credits from the Lemony Snicket movie - I love this atmospheric and sinister paper animation!

around town

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Thursday, October 29, 2009
pearl pony
Monday was my sister's birthday. Due to procrastinating and my cold, I had to make a last minute run down to Powell's that morning to pick up one more thing. This pony was cabled to one of the metal horse rings which are still found on many portland curbsides. Location: across the street from the Pearl Bakery. (ALSO DELICIOUS. I used to eat lunch there often when I worked in the neighborhood.)

tiny hexagon tiles
Historic Crystal ballroom. Historic hexagon tiles by the ticket booth. (I don't really know if they're historic or not, but they look historic to me.)

under the canopy
looking over and out from under the canopy at the Crystal. I'm usually never there in the daytime! I love the yellow trees, the little patch of blue sky, the curve of the canopy. I take that freeway exit all the time.

interesting printing links:

Stumptown Printers video, via Carson Ellis. I love the sound of a letterpress, and I didn't even know it! I also love watching machinery like this in action; the combination of that clacking sound and watching the paper feed through is very soothing. I've seen many of their CD cases in person - they do good work!

Check out this making of the Pictorial Websters video at We Love You So. The printing at the beginning is interesting and awesome, but it's worth watching all the way through so you get to the sewing, binding, and finishing touches. They're right: it did blow my mind!

michael chabon: october 14

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Note: I intended to post this over the weekend, but I got sick (again! but it's just a cold this time) and then it was my sister's birthday, which meant hours were spent laughing at how poorly I frosted the cake. (in my defense, the cake was still warm and nobody told me to turn the bottom layer upside down so the flat side was up. It was destined to slide all over the place! I had to use 400 skewers to hold it together. It tasted really good, but I can't take any credit for that since my only job was to apply frosting.) In other extremely relevant news, as I was heading to the cupboard that holds things like tylenol, I was thinking, "oh, I feel lousy" and the song Oh Sheila got stuck in my head. You're welcome.

And now back to the previously scheduled program already in progress:


And so it came to pass that sister Bec and I met up with Anonymous T in the Pearl Room at Powell's, waiting for Michael Chabon to read from his new book: Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son. It was so crowded. It was crowded last time, but this time was even worse. I didn't even get to lean against my favorite shelves of architecture books and had to stand in the middle of the room off to the side, which is better described as in the middle of the mob. There were two tall bald guys standing in front of me (like twins, except one was sloppy sporty guy with wraparound skull stubble, and the other was a gleamingly bald pointily shod metrosexual) and 4 little hipster girls so weak from the burden of their lace tights and flapper pearl necklaces they had to SIT ON THE FLOOR behind me, which meant they were always in danger of being trampled by people who thought there was an empty spot, which meant I kept paying more attention to hoping no one trampled them than I would have if they had managed to prop themselves up somehow. (maybe they could have formed a little teepee with their backs together! I will draw up some diagrams and make a zine.)

Anyway! it was crowded. We had a nice time chatting while the room got hotter and louder and more and more full. I had a strange moment where I realized that at least half the crowd looked familiar, which I lay at the feet of general delirium, or to working all over for the library in a book nerd town.

The Powell's guy with the ponytail wended his way through the crowd to give an introduction from the podium. There were surprised people popping out of the elevator every few minutes. They would step out expecting to see the Pearl Room as they know it, and instead were met by hundreds of eyes. (Now I wish it were eyes in a jar which would be even more disturbing, but it was just plain old eyeballs in eyesockets attached to mostly regular, alive, non-zombie human beings.) Another surprised person, this one bearded, in good humor, and being Michael Chabon stepped out of the elevator or appeared from a trapdoor in the floor and made his way to the front.

He started with a couple of jokes about the temperature and the crowd. Someone shouted out a question right away. I don't remember and my notes don't say whether or not he did his whole F.A.Q. session before he read or after, but I'm going to pretend that it was at least partly before. So, YES, the Coen brothers are adapting the Yiddish Policeman's Union, although he doesn't know exactly where they are in the process since they keep coming out with new movies. (Josie and the Pussycats 2 joke here!) As for the F. of the A.Q., no kidding! So many of the questions were almost verbatim from the last time I saw him read two years ago. (Yes, he liked the Wonder Boys movie. No, he doesn't know what's going on with a Kavalier and Clay movie except that they were just on the verge of filming until suddenly they weren't. This was years ago. subtext: it would be nice but don't hold your breath.)

He read two pieces from his new collection. The first one was about escaping "the cruel code of the wallet" by adapting the Man Purse (aka: Murse). It was funny, sharp, and self-depricating. The second was about The Future as he experienced it in his childhood and how he regrets that his kids can't experience it in the same way. They were both good; I look forward to reading them in the context of the rest of the book.

After the reading, there were more questions. Do you still read comics? (yes.) He views novel writing as a "legal excuse" to do stuff he's interested in. (like reading comics.) Someone asked him for a murse critique by holding up a bag, which Chabon slagged with good humor: "what is that? an NPR tote? I don't think you're even trying.") There were questions about his recently ended column for Details Magazine (I didn't know it existed) and questions about Fountain City, which was the novel he abandoned before writing Wonder Boys. (I liked the essay in Maps and Legends about that particular process.)

Speaking of charity (he's done a lot of work for the 826 organization), he asked, "why no 826 pdx? it seems like a natural fit. All you have to do is call them up and tell them you want one, they'd do it!" Someone from the crowd shouted out something about Write Around Portland, to which Chabon replied "ahh, it's hostile territory!" (the true story, as Dave Eggers explained it in wordstock year 1, is that there's already a similar program in Community of Writers and they don't want to step on any toes.)

End of the In Person Chabon Experience for 2009. (final judgement: as always, he seems like a really decent guy. Smart, funny, confident, questioning, kind.) We didn't stay to get anything signed, but we weren't ready to leave yet either. Thus began the wandering. If you ever find yourself at Powells, I really recommend putting the map away and just having yourself a nice wander.

green books in latin
JOSEPHUS X has sold out!!!

yellow and blue
Oh teen detectives, how I love your cover art. Speaking of teen detectives, have you seen Kate Beaton's recurring Mystery Solving Teens? They crack me up! (Mystery Solving Teens and Mystery Solving Teens Mystery)

Nancy Drew solves mysteries, uncovers secrets, finds staircases
Nancy Drew solves mysteries, uncovers secrets, finds staircases.

so tell me, what happened?
WHAT HAPPENED, JOE HARDY???? Is the peg-legged sailor wielding that anchor trying to steal your Murse?

time delayed

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Friday, October 23, 2009
OLD BUSINESS: I want to be more timely when posting about books/movies. Sometimes I need to think about things for a while to get my head around them - that's how this habit of delay started. But then it morphed into taking forever with everything! It's because I'm either too lazy to sit down and do the work, or (embarrassingly) scared to be wrong. Me! Wrong! Like that would happen. However, it's not like no one has ever been wrong on the internet before and it's also not like I can't have one opinion now and have a different opinion later. So basically, I'm calling bullshit on my whole avoidance scheme.

But before I get to my new way of doing things, here are some Old Business matters I'd like to address:

OB1. My judgement on the US version of Life on Mars (What? it's been less than a year.): I really loved that show and would have liked to see it unspool over a couple of seasons. The ending was insane, but I did grudgingly admire the pure audacity of making it THAT INSANE. I mean, there was no way they could have convincingly tied anything up in the number of episodes they had left, so why not? I'm also somewhat forgiving because the finale aired on April 1, which gave it an air of "we know this shit is bananas!"

OB2. The funniest book I read this summer was called How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely. It made me laugh out loud (the kind where it's actually embarrassing, but rather than look away with shame I'd brazen it out and insist on reading the funny parts aloud to anyone foolish enough to make eye contact). It's a sendup of blockbuster best sellers, the writers who write them, the publishers who publish them, the people who read them -- the fact that no one is spared makes it less mean spirited than it sounds. Nobody gets it as bad as our narrator, Pete Tarslaw. I put this on hold at the library after John August wrote about it -- I didn't have to wait, there were available copies. When I took it back, there were 7 holds, last time I looked 17, and when I just checked now there were 33 holds. Word of mouth, people!

Here's a quote -- I had to grab this in a hurry as I was taking it back to the library (IN JULY!), so maybe it's not the most apt, but I flipped it open and there it was and it made me laugh so here it is. At this point in the book, Pete is trying to decide what sort of book he will write in order to become famous and make his ex-girlfriend sorry. (Tim Drew is the bestselling author of The Darwin Enigma):

Writing a thriller, a Hawaii beach-house personal-helicopter-level blockbuster, is damn near impossible. That's why Tim Drew can give away his secrets for free.

It's easy at first, describing your hero's monumental chin and iron-core integrity and so forth. But slowly you discover it's like a complicated math problem, or assembling a bookshelf. You have to keep track of dozens of tiny parts, which good guys turn out to be bad guys, and which cars will get blown up by which helicopters. And you know your readers will have no patience. They're demanding entertainment, so every page has to be interesting and full of guns and veiled threats and snappy retorts. It's exhausting.

With literary fiction, on the other hand, you can just cover everything up with a coat of wordy spackle. those readers are searching for wisdom, so they're easier to trick.

sons and daughters
OB3: here's a picture from the Andrew Bird/Decemberists concert at Edgefield (also from JULY!) The concert lawn at Edgefield has it all over the concert lawn at the Zoo, I have to say. Much roomier! We were sitting pretty far back, but it was lovely nevertheless. I loved that from where I was sitting the stage got an extra leafy frame, which just added to the Evil Forest Ambience, which played right into thier full performance of The Hazards of Love. This (blurry, zoomed in the dark) picture is from the very end (Sons & Daughters).

...and here are 20 random seconds of video from that song! (Maximum clapping, minimal singing, although you can hear the tail end of the excellent word 'dirigible.' I don't know why this is what I chose to record, other than random slaphappy button pushing.)

secret message (arboreal)

| On
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I was working on writing up some of the book stuff of the last week (Chabon, Wordstock, etcetera), but I need to think/write on it a little longer, so I decided I would photo spam instead. Trust me, it's better this way.

I took these on Friday -- I was back at the park today and it's already very different.

red leaves
I started off taking one of these tree pictures for old times sake. I still want to take them ALL THE TIME, but since I have 100s already, I try to limit myself. I hadn't been to the park in a while, hadn't been taking these kinds of daily photos. It's a good way to ease back in -- especially since putting my head all the way back like this almost always makes me a little dizzy -- the dizziness makes me look at things slightly differently.

tree frame
Which is how I started seeing all these little shapes on the fringes of the leaves. (this one is a heart.)

tree frame
This is just a few steps down from the heart! I looked up and saw how it almost fit together like a puzzle. I'm pretty sure I got in the way of a couple of runners while I waltzed around with my camera in the air to find the spot I liked best. (too bad!)

tree frame
I like the big empty space in the middle here. Perfect for framing a cloud shaped like a dragon (absent), or a tiny airplane full of competitive bunko players (absent), or a giant flying bunny that bounds the earth in 5 hops (present but invisible).

tree frame
SSSS Maybe this is Slytherin street. Or sassafras, sarsaparilla, salmonella, sprigs of twigs, sibilance street. Something snakey is going on, is all I'm saying.

No air space here, I just thought it was pretty. I literally (for reals) stopped in my tracks! (I am the stop start bane of joggers.) Now that I look at it again, I think I was maybe chasing a frame of branches here, but mostly it's the color.

bright spot