29 July 2006

Trip Prep

She handed my membership card back after punching my number into the computer. "I see you have a list," she said, picking it up off the counter and heading to the file cabinets. She returned with a stack of maps and placed them on the counter with a sense of finality.

"I'd like tour books for them too."

"All of them?" she asked incredulously.


Why is it that people who work at AAA are so baffled when you want tour books for all of the states you want maps for? I may not spend a lot of time in most, but I'm still gonna need places to stay. It's becoming my increasingly informed opinion that people who work at AAA don't actually take road trips, at least none that involve more than a day's drive.

"Looks like you're taking 70," she stated authoritatively. Actually, I hadn't decided on 70 or 80 and that's why I was getting all the books: to see what there is to do or see along the possible routes.

She turned a corner of the L-shaped counter and beckoned me to follow. "I'm not lugging them all over there." In my early life of professional filmmaking, much emphasis was placed on completing tasks with minimal effort to conserve energy; this was something I could appreciate, so I stepped over.

"And you're packing them up," she continued, dumping a stack of little plastic AAA bags on the counter. OK. No need to get snotty, I see your wrist brace. I didn't mind even though I believed her attitude had less to do with the brace and more to do with what she considered an absurd request.

I started putting them in bags but stopped so I could check them against my list, so I wouldn't have to come back. She had missed three or four states, and I sent her back to get some maps she'd missed as well. The missing maps were a little surprising to me since she'd had the list in hand when she got those but whatever.

"Is that it?" she asked wearily.

I finished going through my list. "Yes, thanks."


tags: , ,

A beginning is a very delicate time

As I ponder how to start my travelogue- the first story is already scrawled out to fair completion somewhere- I find myself wondering what background is necessary for it to make sense. Every beginning has a precursor, but in this case that precursor could easily lead back a year or even several, more than I care to contend with at the moment.

I should go find what I've already written. Maybe I already set it up well.

Ok, I'm back, and let me just say that I'm amazed it was in the first notebook I pulled out of the stack as a possibility. I think I can make it work within the confines of that tale though I could reveal the pertinent background as part of events that preceded that. Hmm, where to begin.

UPDATE: Taking advantage of pieces I've already written seems like a good thing to do, so here we go.

One year ago at TTaT: Where is my big, blonde Swede?

28 July 2006

In mind

Maybe it's lame to write about what I'm thinking about writing about, but I'm hoping it'll make me feel a bit more committed to undertaking the project. So... if I can get a bit sparked up, I'm going to retrace one of my cross-country trips.

I've driven it a few times, and it's during these trips that I've most wished I had a laptop. During the courses of the trips, I often feel like writing, jot down notes for later thinking I'll write it up post-trip, but I never get to it. It's like I missed a window of inspiration specific to those experiences. Nonetheless, I want to take a crack at it.

The hardest part will be deciphering all the notes I took while driving; since I kept my eyes on the road, they're even messier than my usual handwriting. Anyway, if all the writing falls apart, at least there are copious pictures to make up the difference.

If this is something you'd like to read/see, don't let me off the hook.

One year ago at TTaT: Exhaust
tags: ,

26 July 2006

This could've been my first post

I wrote this piece not long before I started TTaT, but it wasn't the tone I wanted to set and I wasn't ready to share it then. There have been other times I considered posting it, but the desire to do so was prompted by anger seeking a convenient passive-aggressive outlet. Today, I just feel like posting some substantive writing.

Today, it almost feels like fiction.

"Don't end your sentence with a preposition," she sniped.


"Your grandmother would say it's between the A and the T."

I was still confused. I'd just walked through the kitchen and poked my head into the dining room to see if there were dishes and utensils on the table; this was the longest interchange we'd had in a week. I tried again: "I was just seeing where we're at with dinner." Immediately I recognized my faux-pas: Mom was making dinner, I was breezing in at the last minute. "Where you're at with dinner," I backtracked. It still didn't sound right, using the word "at." I inhaled deeply and gave it a final attempt, "I was just seeing how dinner's progressing." Mom kept stirring something on the stove, her back to me. She must be feeling better, I thought to myself.

At first she felt cold at night, not quite sick, just very cold. Customarily, we ate dinner and conversed together; now as soon as she was done, she cleared her plate and left, a deliberate leaving, not wanting our company. I leaned my warm teacup against my cheek as Dad finished eating, and then the two of us cleared the dishes.

The first few mornings, I asked with concern how she was feeling, but after a few dismissive "all rights," I was reluctant to ask. When a few days had passed, I received a vehement "fine" and wondered if my presence bothered her.

She took to fixing herself oatmeal, taking her cup of tea without its saucer, and sitting in her recliner in the living room while Dad and I ate in the dining room. We passed dishes and exchanged a few quiet comments while she sat a few feet away watching the tv on mute or low volume: there was no doorway, just a wide opening of wall between the two rooms; she was watching The Weather Channel.

Days passed with different meals, but the same dining configuration. Nothing we could say was right so we didn't say much at all. She seemed best pleased by our absence, so Dad came with me to Target almost an hour away. We made a day of it catching a matinee and then eating out. On the ride over, we talked about her, he and I; it was seasonal, he said. I told him that I hoped it wasn't because I was still at home; it had been some months and I'd yet to find a job that would pay enough so I could move out. Don't ever think that, he said, I went through the same thing last year at this time, and you weren't living with us then.

The same thing was depression, and I recognized the symptoms well; it was the triggers that continued to baffle me; they bore no resemblance to mine that I could see. No deaths that I knew of near these dates, no tragic family events, but then those weren't triggers for me either. An imbalance of body chemistry most likely. A simple equation should suffice: add x, y, z to counteract a, b, c; but of course science is far from absolute when it comes to the mind, and mental illness sounds far too much like a defect instead of a health issue for her to be willing to seek treatment.

When I was little, my mom told me a story from her childhood about boys throwing snakes on girls to make them cry. She didn't. She let the snake slither off her, and the boys didn't bother her anymore. The lesson I was probably supposed to learn was about dealing with boys, but what I always think of is that she didn't cry, she was tough. Even more probably, it was just a story she told to pass some time, but I think of it now when she bursts into tears unexpectedly, shooing my gaze away from her face with her hand saying, "Ignore this."

A couple of weeks ago the tears were always near the surface. On a few separate occasions (too many my fault), unintentionally insensitive comments led her to turn and walk away in an attempt to hide her welling tears; she was as frustrated as we were that she was taking everything so personally.

Her erratic behavior strikes me deeply, an awful premonition of my genetic future: depression-prone body chemistry short-circuiting my self control, my reason, my self-esteem. Quick to emotional hurt, tears, and blame, responses I despise in myself magnified by her into the self I dread most becoming.

Another week passed and then there she was again, sitting through all of dinner with us. Dad and I carefully avoided the addictive narcotic of being right: we endeavored to show interest without provoking debate of any kind. The next day, she skipped dinner (her sinuses were bothering her and she didn't feel like going out), but when Dad and I returned home, she called my name, told me to change the channel to 37, to CNN, to look at shots of the Basilica while they covered the viewing of the deceased pope. After a while, I joined her downstairs, told her what I'd seen, and watched some more coverage with her while she discussed columns, floor patterns, fabrics, and designs with an enthusiasm I hadn't heard in weeks. I was careful not to contradict her, to seem sufficiently interested, and to curb my unrelated yawns. The emotional lurches subsided and balance returned to our house dynamic.

One year ago at TTaT: Daiquiri lost
tags: , ,

22 July 2006

Two no's

It hardly seems fair. Yesterday, in addition to the wedding invite I received a couple days earlier, I received another for a party the night before and brunch the day after that requires another RSVP, this time by phone or email.

As I've said before, you shouldn't have to attend the wedding of someone to whom you were once engaged. Especially when your invite doesn't include a "plus one" option, and the only people you'll know at the wedding are the bride and groom and your ex's parents. That's just not a recipe for good times.

tags: ,

Summer of birthdays

Over the course of 9 weeks this summer, I know seven people whose birthdays all fall on the same day of the week. I think I only noticed this year because they're all on Friday. Weird.

Knowing this will, however, make it easier to remember a couple of them.

tags: ,

21 July 2006

Paradise lost

Elegant buildings lie in ruins. The heady scent of gardenias gives way to the acrid stench of bombed-out oil installations. And everywhere terrified people are scrambling to get out of a city that seems tragically doomed to chaos and destruction. As Beirut - 'the Paris of the East' - is defiled yet again, Robert Fisk, a resident for 30 years, asks: how much more punishment can it take?

Paradise Lost, it's an elegy for Beirut written by Robert Fisk. A beautiful piece of writing.

Also check out the site where the article's posted in full: Lebanon Rising if you're interested in the perspectives of some Lebanese on what's going on there now.

Upyernoz regularly follows events in the Middle East and has had some very good posts of late. This one, in particular, includes a letter from people about to leave Lebanon that I think is well worth reading.

One year ago at TTaT: Casuistry, a word for our times (as much today as a year ago)
tags: , ,

20 July 2006

Dude, something lighter

And now some miscellaneous from this week:
    •The nearby Burger King that burned down last year has finally reopened well over a year later. Well, not even burned down so much as some kind of arson kitchen fire. No doubt that held up their insurance money. In any case, Huzzah!
    •I haven't gotten any great endorphin rushes since I last mentioned it, but I've kept to working out at least 3 times a week this month. I've already surpassed my total workout days from June by 4. \m/
    •Do I need a backpack? Not technically so much, but I do want one. I've been an L.L. Bean backpack devotee since the late 80s; they're durable (I've only gone through 2 since then) and the straps and the back are padded. I still have the second, but things were spilled, it didn't take machine washing that well, and after months in a damp basement, the zippers are stuck.

    The fact that they call the styles I had/have "classic" now does make me feel a bit old, but the new ones are just so cool. Water bottle holders? Audio cord port? Ergonomic cushioned lumbar pad? Yeah, baby. On the one hand, I have no daily need for one right now, but on the other, I always take my backpack when I travel. Not that I'm traveling much these days. Perhaps it's something to put on my birthday list in a couple months then...
    •The dreaded invite arrived yesterday. "Black tie optional" indeed. I think not, although I may postpone my no for a while to delay the likely inevitable, "Why aren't you coming?" inquisition. ARgh.
tags: , ,

19 July 2006

A little love

"At the end of the day, President Bush's veto of stem-cell research doesn't really matter."

I kind of love this article by Patti Davis (daughter of Nancy and Ronald Reagan). She soundly thrashes the argument that Bush vetoed this bill because he cares about human life in way that brings me a bit of joy.

tags: ,

I, the Divine

30. I, the Divine by Rabih Alameddine (3.5/5)
Imagine trying to write your memoir, wanting to start with the sharpest point of your life, then only coming up with a few rough edges. This novel is about such a struggle. Shaped by a fragile world, a Lebanese-American woman escapes and reinvents herself over and again. Donna Kane, Powells.com
A book's impact for me is often affected integrally by timing: just when I happen to read it. I have a knack, a subconscious flair perhaps or a streak of luck, for choosing to read certain books at the right times in my life. In the best cases, there is an unexpected discovery, a pertinence, to things I'm experiencing at the time I'm reading it.

A dear friend sent me this book a couple weeks ago. A long-awaited book requested from the library arrived just before it; and since the library book was new and couldn't be renewed, I felt compelled to finish it first. I started reading I, the Divine last week, just a bit before I heard Israel was bombing Beirut. It seemed fitting that I was reading about the struggles of a Lebanese-American woman, even her experience with bombings in Beirut, as she tries to find her place in the world.

The book calls itself a "novel in first chapters," and it is in a literal way, so I recommend using a sturdy bookmark. The main character, Sarah, begins her memoirs from different times and points of view in her life never quite finishing any of them, yet by the end the reader has a strong sense of who she is and what's she been through. A compelling and enlightening read.

One year ago at TTaT: A day late, dollars short, and my frustration in ample supply; The book doth murder sleep, the innocent sleep
tags: ; ,

18 July 2006


Before being evacuated on U.S.-chartered ships, Americans are being asked to sign promissory notes to repay the U.S. government for the journey.
"A nation that can provide more than $300 billion for a war in Iraq can provide the money to get its people out of Lebanon," the California Democrat [House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi] said in a statement.
You'd think so, wouldn't you? Wtf?


I didn't mean to, but I started a book

Late Sunday night, or early Monday depending on how you look at it, I was trying to write a post that covered my feelings about the bombings in Beirut and a book I'm currently reading, but really it was about one of my dearest friends in all the world who happens to be from Lebanon. For the past few months he's been talking about moving back; it wasn't something I felt was due to happen imminently, but I know his desire to be closer to his family is genuine, not a fleeting bout of homesickness.

To make sense of my thoughts, I started from the beginning, when we first met over 10 years ago. I kept writing, but the points I'd hoped to make were still far off indeed. After 2 AM, I stopped and realized that what I was writing wasn't a blog post but the beginning of a book, a biography: his.

Reading I, the Divine which he recently sent me has made me want to know more about his life growing up. It's a part of his life I'm only now starting to grasp.

Anyway, it's not a book I expect to finish writing, because I want him to write it.

One year ago at TTaT: tip of the week- savings account with $25 opening bonus
tags: , ,

15 July 2006

Bring on da meme

Meme-ology from Kevin


* What is your salad dressing of choice?
None, honey mustard, or sometimes a vinaigrette
* What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
Probably Burger King
* What is your favorite sit down restaurant?
I don't really have one at present. My favorite changed hands last year and just isn't the same anymore.
* On average, what size tip do you leave at a restaurant?
15-20% unless the service is horrible
* What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of?
Chocolate or saltines would probably do.
* Name three foods you detest above all others.
I can't even stand the smell of lamb and liver. One more...has to be vienna sausages
* What is your favorite dish to order in a Chinese restaurant?
It really depends on the restaurant. Lately I've been getting vegetable lo-mein, but it's from more of a Polynesian place.
* What are your pizza toppings of choice?
Pepperoni or the veggie pizza (just like Ms. Sizzle)- I've even gotten pepperoni on the veggie pizza...that was tasty.
* What do you like to put on your toast?
Mustard, cheese, and a griller or veggie chicken fingers
* What is your favorite type of gum?
I haven't chewed gum in ages, but I used to chew Juicy Fruit. (Don't care for their new ads with the big ant, btw)


* Number of contacts in your cell phone?
Just 13
* Number of contacts in your e-mail address book?
* What is your wallpaper on your computer?
Solid dark grey at the moment because it makes it easier to watch some videos my bro put up for me lately. Before that, it was the Dr. Voyeur poster for Dr. Venture (available at adultswim.com)
* What is your screensaver on your computer?
Standard beach shots from apple's options. 'bout time I changed it since I initially switched it to that when there was still snow on the ground.
* Are there naked pictures saved on your computer?
I don't think so.
* How many land line phones do you have in your house?
* How many televisions are in your house?
4, but only 3 are plugged in, and only 1 is mine.
* What kitchen appliance do you use the least?
The toaster oven because it's stored under the counter. Ironically, if it weren't, it'd be the one I'd use most. Mostly I don't need to cook, so it's generally a non-issue.
* What is the format of the radio station you listen to the most?
Alternative rock.
* How many sex toys do you own that require batteries?
How's that plausible deniability work now?


* What do you consider to be your best physical attribute?
Arms, I guess.
* Are you right handed or left handed?
* Do you like your smile?
* Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
Wisdom teeth and an odontoma (a sort of extra tooth)
* Would you like to?
* Do you prefer to read when you go to the bathroom?
* Which of your five senses do you think is keenest?
I'd have to say my eyesight, but unfortunately it makes me aware of the smallest flaws in most anything.
* When was the last time you had a cavity?
I have one right now, but the last two times I went to have it filled, the novocaine didn't work for me and my dentist wimped out. Next time it's getting done no matter what!
* What is the heaviest item you lift regularly?
Technically myself, right? I've been moving some furniture lately too.
* Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
Not that I'm aware of.


* If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
If we're assuming pre-destination wherein knowing won't affect the date even though it may seem to me like I change my behavior due to the knowledge, then yeah. I think that'd be cool, sort of a license for fearlessness.
* If you could change your first name, what would you change it to?
Most of us could, right? It's just a matter of legal paperwork and maybe a court appearance. I have no great desire to change my name, but if I did, I'd probably go for something unusual. Phoenix maybe.
* How do you express your artistic side?
I feel a bit subdued in this regard of late, but I have in the past spent much time on all of the following: Writing, photography, sculpture, drawing, painting, designing and building things of wood (like lamps and a coatrack), playing guitar/piano/saxophone, writing songs, adjusting my blog template
* What color do you think you look best in?
I like deep reds, but light blue is definitely a contender.
* How long do you think you could last in a medium security prison?
Right now, not long. My brain just wouldn't take it well at all.
* Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake?
Probably. A bug that flew into my mouth no doubt.
* If we werenÂ’t bound by societyÂ’s conventions, do you have a relative you would make a pass at?
Not a one I can think of.
* How often do you go to church?
As often as I attend weddings and funerals. In SF, I'd sometimes go to enjoy the architecture and quiet of Grace Cathedral, even walk the labyrinth, but with no religious agenda.
* Have you ever saved someoneÂ’s life?
Not in an immediate danger way, but indirectly, yes. Two. Imminent danger might be easier, I'm still concerned about those two.
* Has someone ever saved yours?
Possibly. I've been prevented from walking in front of moving cars a couple of times at any rate.

For this last section, if you would do it for less or more money, indicate how much.

* Would you walk naked for a half mile down a public street for $100,000?
If there's no photography or video allowed, most probably yeah.
* Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $100?
Depending on who it is, sure. For the right person, nothing.
* Would you have sex with a member of the same sex for $10,000?
Not just anyone, but yeah. For the right person, nothing, but who couldn't use 10 grand?.
* Would you allow one of your little fingers to be cut off for $200,000?
Not for any amount.
* Would you never blog again for $50,000?
I'd want to know how they defined blogging. Could I have a website if it was more formal to show/sell photography or to put up short stories (even if they were based on my life but were more literary)? For more money, I could probably work this out. To make it worthwhile for the rest of my life, and thinking of taxes, I think it'd need to be over a million. I could still comment on other people's blogs, right? I don't know, if I got a legit offer for $500,000 right now, I might take it.
* Would you pose naked in a magazine for $250,000?
Depends. Naked like Annie Leibowitz does naked, sure. Naked like Playboy and the like...not so much. Oh who knows, maybe. Definitely more likely if I have final say over what can be used.
* Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?
Do I still get the money if I throw up immediately afterwards?
* Would you, without fear of punishment, take a human life for $1,000,000?
No is my gut reaction, but if I knew taking one life would improve the lives of millions of others, I'd have to consider it.
* Would you shave your head and get your entire body waxed for $5,000?
Ouch. I have a feeling that even if I said yes, I wouldn't make it through all the waxing. Make it $35,000 and I'll manage somehow.
* Would you give up watching television for a year for $25,000?
I'm a little ashamed to admit how difficult that would be for me. I would though, and it might well turn out to be the best year ever.

Steal if you wish.

One year ago at TTaT: Question mark, jerk
tags: ,

14 July 2006

Chair hazard

Recently, I dusted my desktop, going to the extra effort of actually moving stuff on top of it. Today I rue my thoroughness.

To protect the floor, my rolling chair rests on a low-pile rug. A couple of weeks ago, my dad rearranged the office so my chair is now on a different rug that has a wee bit more give to it. This means that sometimes my chair is reluctant to roll.

This afternoon was such a time. I grabbed the edge of my desk for a bit of leverage and pulled myself forward, slamming my right knee into the desk just missing the recess. I had shifted my monitor and keyboard a bit to the right, skewing my alignment with the opening underneath.


I didn't yelp or exclaim but rather muttered breathlessly at the pain. Why must it always be my right knee? It's no wonder it's reluctant to heal. Ggggrrrr. Time for more ice.

One year ago at TTaT: Sing along

12 July 2006

Exercise, Discipline, Affection: in that order!

29. Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding & Correcting Common Dog Problems by Cesar Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier (3.5/5)

The first time I saw Cesar Millan, he walked into an apartment with a jumping, barking dog; within seconds of his arrival, the dog sat down and became quiet. It was a segment on Oprah, and I was immediately intrigued.

I don't have a dog, but I've encountered them often throughout my life, frequently off-leash with no owner in sight. I've been bitten, chased up trees, charged and lunged at. Despite all this, I'm still greatly fond of puppies, some larger furry beasts, and I even became friends with Kody, an old white Samoyed I still miss since his passing.

What intrigued me most about Cesar was his calming effect on dogs he'd just met. I wondered if any of his techniques could be applied in my inevitable encounters with off-leash dogs. As expected, the book's target audience is dog owners or people looking to get dogs, so there wasn't much specifically about how non-owners should act around dogs. Even so, I found it a compelling read.

He starts by describing his childhood exposure to dogs in Mexico and how that developed into his dream to go to Hollywood and become the greatest dog trainer in the world. I've read a lot of autobiographies, but this is possibly the first aspiration someone described that really struck me as an "American Dream" in a very specific way.

His dream has shifted to rehabilitation for dogs rather than training them, but making dogs an integral part of his life is still the core of his work. His experience, bolstered by quite a bit of research, is that people cause most of the behavioral problems dogs have by humanizing their pets, giving affection at the wrong time, and not providing enough exercise or boundaries for their dogs.

Calm-assertive energy, that's key to being a good pack leader. For a long time, the only advice I was ever given regarding dogs was: Show no fear. Calm-assertive energy is the answer to what one should show instead. Since humans live in packs as well, it's interesting to regard interactions through a lens of emotional energies. It makes it easy to see who's in charge at any given moment.

Given his approach to life with dogs, it's easy to see that I'm not cut out for having a dog right now, but it's also clear to me that most people don't live up to the minimum commitment he prescribes, mainly: walking your dog twice a day for at least an hour and a half total and projecting calm-assertive pack leader energy 100% of the time you're with your dog. Of the two, being a mentally stable, calm, confident pack leader for your dog no matter what kind of day you've had sounds like the more difficult commitment to make. However, it also seems like a very worthwhile goal, one I intend to pursue for my own benefit.

If you have a dog or are thinking about getting one, Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding & Correcting Common Dog Problems is definitely worth checking out.

One year ago at TTaT: What do you want from me?!, I miss Michael Hutchence, Audioblog #6
tags: , , , ,

09 July 2006

I know that ass

A day from July 2002:

So there I was in Vinyl Fever. I've well avoided music stores for a long time now as they're suckers of money, but under the guise of looking for a gift, I felt justified. Besides, Vinyl Fever is the type of local business you want to see drown its mass chain competitors.

No matter that I drifted towards the CDs I wanted first.

Pleasant music, not too loud. High ceilings. Incense I cruised quickly past near the door. Band posters all over and up the walls. New CDs, used CDs, economy CDs, albums, DVDs, rows upon rows.

After choosing one I wanted, I settled into browsing mode. Clearly there were regulars present. Along the used aisle my pace did not compete with their rapid click, click, click while they flipped through CDs. I found the sound reassuring.

Back at the rock/pop CDs by the front wall, I noticed a sign stating that all the posters were for sale. I looked at a few and then headed over to the new jazz. They didn't have the one I had really intended to buy, so I wandered a bit and then went back to the used soundtracks.

That's when I looked up at the wall again. And that's when I laughed out loud: I know that ass. There 3'x5', bigger than life, was TB's ass - a.k.a. the cover for The Strokes' album, "Is this it."

TB and I had gone to the same college, shared a class or two, and had worked on some films together with mutual friends. I heard about the cover from a friend who was teaching at my alma mater when TB was brought in as a guest speaker. I'd seen the image online before, but it was nothing like the impact of seeing her ass as a 5 foot tall poster.

One year ago at TTaT: enter deluge
tags: , , ,

07 July 2006

What is my life coming to?

I feel like some shift has occurred in my life, in the space-time continuum... somewhere significant at any rate.

Yesterday, I bought a pair of sunglasses designed by former MTV VJ Daisy Fuentes. I'm not sure, but it might be mandatory that I move to Miami now. What could I do though? They were on sale, I have a notoriously difficult time finding sunglasses that are comfortable for driving, and the pair I have are in rough shape. These sunglasses have good coverage, curve around the sides, are lightweight, and look decent on me. (I got a 'gunsmoke' colored pair.)

One year ago at TTaT: blink
tags: ,

05 July 2006

Fireworks over the moon

Literally. Fireworks exploding in front of a bright half moon - I'd never seen that before, and it made it seem like the rockets were reaching space. Totally cool.

I hope everybody had a happy 4th yesterday.

tags: ,

Unique? Not so much

A couple days ago, I went to an art fair. Having been to several, I recognized many of the works, but this show had a good crop of new artists and craftspeople as well; the quality throughout was high.

My dad gravitated towards some pottery with imprints of ferns and other plants. As the artist described her unique process using actual plants, it started to sound familiar to me. For a good stretch, I watched Crafters Coast to Coast (annoyingly renamed That's Clever!), a show where artisans demonstrate how they make their stuff. I blanked on the show's name, so I just asked, "Have you been on tv before?"

"No, not that I know of," she said, somewhat surprised and possibly a bit flattered. I'd seen someone else use the process she described on the show with very similar results, but I opted not to tell her that. No one wants to hear that their unique thing or process isn't.

At the end of the row, my first glimpse of the framed images in the final booth made me say, "Wow," under my breath. I just instinctually liked what I was seeing. A woman approached and asked, "Did you see the demonstration?"

"No," I replied.

"Ah, then you don't know what you're looking at. My husband, the artist," she pointed to a man a few feet away talking to some other people, "takes paper, sometimes applying watercolors, and holds it over fire to achieve the effect. He also uses gunpowder on some." She pointed to some images further down the display. "You won't see anything like this anywhere else," she concluded.

Gunpowder triggered recognition for me. Within the past year, I'd seen a larger scale image made with ignited gunpowder at a contemporary art museum. Wondering if it was his, I asked, "Has he exhibited in the area?"

"No, this is our first time exhibiting here. We're from Pennsylvania."

"Oh," I nodded. 0 for 2, I thought to myself.

Doesn't seem like there's much of anything that's unique anymore. It may have just been part of their sales pitches, but I think they really believe that they are doing something no one else is, and when it comes to their individual execution of their techniques, they are. Sometimes, often even, that has to be good enough.

One year ago at TTaT: Audioblog #5
tags: , , ,

03 July 2006

Endorphins, O my!

It's day seven of the sporadic workout initiative started in June here at TTaT. Today at last I was blessed with that workout motivator, the endorphin rush. I'm still feeling pretty good which bodes well for my efforts to exercise more frequently this month.

Six days for all of June is pretty pitiful, I know, but it's a start and that's the important thing.

One year ago at TTaT: something I love
tags: ,

02 July 2006

Part of the family

The disheartening news this week that Magazine Man's faithful dog Blaze has apparently been dogknapped (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) has had me feeling hope, concern, dismay and growing apprehension for Blaze's safety, a dog (and his family) for whom I have much affection even though we've never met. I've offered every suggestion, scenario, and lead I could think of, as well as what emotional support I could convey via email and comments. Given MM's anonymity and the fact I'm reasonably certain he doesn't live anywhere near me, that's all I can really do. Now there's just waiting and hoping.

In his latest update, MM wrote something that has me contemplative today. In a survey he'd recently seen, more than 75% of the people surveyed considered their pet a member of the family. He goes on to wonder how people define "family," and offers his own definition:
For me, it means simply this: If you are part of my family, there is nothing I will not do for you, there are NO lengths to which I will not go to help or comfort or support you. If you are in trouble, I will be there for you. If you are lost, I will come for you. If you are in mortal danger, I will use every resource at my disposal--including my own life--to save you.

I wonder how many of the people in that survey shared the same definition of "part of the family." And if that definition of "part of the family" was articulated to them, I wonder how many of those survey respondents would still have said yes, their pet was part of their family.

What about you? How would you answer?
I'm not sure how I would answer as the query raises more questions for me. Does the lengths to which you will go for "family" include all relations, all blood relatives, just one's immediate family (of which people can have 2)? Does it just apply to the people and animals you live with? I imagine there's always some prioritization that occurs. Or is it something one can even rationally decide in the moment?

I admire MM's commitment to doing everything he can to find Blaze, but I would hope that he wouldn't give his life for him. His wife and kids might respect the effort, but ultimately, I think they're better off with MM around.

I suppose I wonder how many people would actually go to the lengths he describes even for human family members. I'm sure most people would say they would, but I also suspect that MM's boy detective days, his journalism background and his connections as a magazine man yield possibilities that many people would never even think to try. Blaze is lucky to have him on his side.

One year ago at TTaT: Midnight confessions
tags: , , , ,

01 July 2006

Just like Pinocchio...sort of

Yesterday the futon I've been sleeping on for ages-- in a progressively more shoulder-agonizing fashion -- turned into a real bed. Ok, not so much turned into as replaced by, but I'm stoked nonetheless.

Also beat because to get it into my room, I had to move half the room's contents out and then later back in again. At least I did not have to muscle it up the stairs. In a most ridiculous bit of architectural design, the stairs are to the left of the front door, so that when the door is open, it blocks the stairs. It gets better though because the stairs make a sharp 90 degree turn at its base.

The delivery guys had to take off the front door and even then still left a small dent in the ceiling where they had to shove the box frame around the corner.

I'd forgotten what a hassle putting fitted sheets on could be, but it's well worth it for a non-dented sleeping surface that's also long enough my feet don't hit the end of it if I stretch out.

One year ago at TTaT: Think it, and it shall be so
tags: , ,