30 March 2009

In Lieu of a Burning Man

fire branch 1
fire branch 2 fire branch 3
fire branch 4 fire branch 5
fire branch 6 fire branch 7

fire branch 8
I had it in mind to construct a Burning Man effigy to place on the pyre. I'd considered notching a slot for stick arms in a log with a hatchet and cutting another notch to indicate two legs. Mom pointed out that it might look like I was burning a cross on the lawn, so it's probably just as well I didn't get around to it.

2 years ago on TTaT: Talking 'bout the car wash

27 March 2009

Tempted Fate

The other day while burning brush, I used the side of my work boot to kick some errant twigs into the fire as I had at least fifty times before in the life of these boots without incident. I nudged a log further in with the toe of my boot and said, "I'm kind of waiting for my boot to catch on fire one of these days."

"Ooh, don't do that," Mom said.

"Well, I'm not trying to do that, but if it does happen I've got it covered: Stop, drop, and roll." I looked down at the tan leather uppers and realized if anything was going to catch fire, it would probably be the laces. "Hunh. My laces are probably the part most likely to catch fire, and it'd be hard to get those flat to the ground with stop, drop, and roll."

"The hose is right over there. Just flip the white lever to turn it on."

"Yeah, I know. Failing that I'd probably be better off patting out the flames with my gloves."

The laces never did catch fire, so today when we were burning, I proceeded as usual, kicking bits of wood in that were too hot to pick up. By four o'clock--the end of a burning day where I live--all but a few logs were reduced to charcoal and ash. We'd burned a lot so the diameter of the burn pile had expanded to about four feet.

Mom and I both hated to put out the smoldering logs before they were incinerated, so we moved the logs to the center of the pile and covered them with an upended metal fire pit, so the logs could continue to burn while we dowsed the surrounding foot and a half of ash and charcoal with the hose. One log was sticking out, so I grabbed the shovel to push it under the metal cylinder. A knob on the log made it impossible to accomplish without lifting the now smoking fire pit. I knew Mom would try to lift it with just her gloves, but I was sure the metal was already too hot. I handed her the shovel and got one of the pokey sticks so that I could lift it without touching it.

I slid the long stick through two of the fire pit's legs, stepped forward for leverage, and started to lift. Mom pushed with the shovel, not quite getting the log all the way underneath, and suddenly said, "Get your boot out of the coals."

I quickly moved my left boot out of the ring of ash and charcoal. I reached over to lift the fire pit again and the pokey stick snapped in two. I managed to lift it up enough for her to give the stray log a final shove inside.

"Stamp your boot out," she said.

I looked down and the sole of it was indeed smoking. I stamped it out and then lifted my foot so that I could see the bottom of the boot. The lug sole was full of black charcoal pieces. Mom started soaking the outer ring of ash after I gave my soles a spritz. Digging out the charcoal pieces was too hard to do standing up, so I found a dry patch of grass and sat down to do it.

"I guess you really wanted a new pair," Mom said.

"No, not really. Looks like I shouldn't have thought about them catching on fire the other day though."

"Well, those can be your burning boots. We'll get you a new pair since those were lost in the line of duty."

"You know, the guy I got these from said they'd last a year."

"Hmm?" Mom moved towards me so she could hear me better over the hose.

"When I got these the guy said they'd last a year. That most of the guys who bought them came back for a new pair in a year."

"That was a long time ago if you got those on North Street."

"Yeah, I got 'em at Jim's. When I was still working in film. So that was 2000, no, ten years ago. Not bad for a pair of work boots."

charred boot toecharred boot heel

A year ago on TTaT: Enough with the Christmas decorations!

24 March 2009

Stop me

I could really use a haircut. During winter, I usually leave it alone as I entertain the notion of growing it out--for real this time?-- as opposed to just letting it keep my neck from freezing until it gets warm out; then I get a few inches hacked off.

This year, however, with adjusted strategies there have been days when my curls behaved (in as much as my curls ever behave) which makes me think the longer, luxurious hair might not just be a pipe dream. The front is really too long though and needs some weight taken off. I just want to snip a bit for what I suppose would be characterized as "side-swept bangs" in the styling world. They'd be really really long bangs though, if that name still applied.

As I pull this frizzy curly mess before my eyes, I can tell that it'd be easy to go wrong with the snipping. Still...the scissors are calling to me...

Must refuse their siren call.

A year ago on TTaT: If I knew I wouldn't fail...

23 March 2009

An excellent film

An excellent sci-fi film, actually, but also very much a romantic comedy if that's more your thing. It does both brilliantly.


Remember the year when Beauty and the Beast was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award? There's a reason animated features have their own category now: to take them out of the main competition.

The visual scope of WALL•E is grand; I really should have seen it in the theater. However, I am consoled by the excellent companion piece, the short film BURN•E, that was only released on the DVD. The short follows the adventures of a peripheral character from the feature. If you haven't seen either, watch WALL•E first, and then BURN•E. If you've seen the feature (and liked it), it's definitely worth checking the DVD out from your library to see the short.

I know...old news... there were a lot of reserves on the DVD in my library network, so it took a good while to get. In any case, seeing WALL•E rekindled the idea for me that sci-fi can appeal to anyone and that it can still contain commentary on present-day life without sacrificing entertainment.

2 years ago on TTaT: A follow-up of sorts

20 March 2009

Near bust

almost busting the shot
Summer 1998, I snagged the Polaroid for a souvenir.

A year ago on TTaT: BearWatch '08!

18 March 2009

Set your DVR/VCR/TiVo

If you haven't seen This Film Is Not Yet Rated yet, make a point of doing so. It's airing on IFC on March 19 from 12:00 AM to 1:45 AM (so that'd be Wednesday night/Thursday morning).

It's a documentary that came out a couple years ago about how the MPAA rates films in the US. The biases against independent films and films with homosexual rather than heterosexual content are pretty outrageous. The bias is to give those films NC-17 ratings while studio pictures with insane amounts of violence or much more graphic depictions of heterosexual sex regularly receive R ratings. (NC-17 films get little to no advertising and distribution, so the rating is a film's death sentence.)

Also, the raters receive no training and are kept anonymous. They're just supposed to be "average" American parents with kids between the ages of 5 and 17. Um, not so much.

Many directors are interviewed about their experiences with the MPAA. This Film Is Not Yet Rated is a fascinating look at censorship. See it. (But not with anyone you'd be embarrassed to see clips of sex scenes with. ;)

Check out the trailer.

A year ago on TTaT: Round two

17 March 2009

A mood stuck in my throat

you had time

how can i go home
with nothing to say
i know you're going to look at me that way
and say what did you do out there
and what did you decide
you said you needed time
and you had time

you are a china shop and i am a bull
you are really good food and i am full
i guess everything is timing
i guess everything's been said
so i am coming home with an empty head

you'll say did they love you or what
and i'll say they love what i do
the only one who really loves me is you
and you'll say girl did you kick some butt
and i'll say i don't really remember
but my fingers are sore
and my voice is too

you'll say it's really good to see you
you'll say i missed you horribly
you'll say let me carry that
give that to me
and you will take the heavy stuff
and you will drive the car
and i'll look out the window and make jokes
about the way things are

how can i go home
with nothing to say
i know you're going to look at me that way
and say what did you do out there
what did you decide
you said you needed time
and you had time

© 1994 ani difranco / righteous babe music

A year ago on TTaT: I aim to misbehave.*

16 March 2009

Who now?

"Going through that stack of photos last night, I found an Olan Mills family portrait of us," Mom said. She was speaking to Dad and me, and because she uses pronouns liberally--I would argue excessively--I asked, "Of who?" (Yes, I should've said 'whom.')

"Of our family." I scanned my memory and couldn't recall having had that portrait taken. Mom continued, referring to me, "I must've been about your age in that photo."

Now it really didn't make sense. How could she have been my age with me also in the photo? I pictured her as fifteen with her immediate family. "Who was in the photo?" I asked.

"You, your father, brother, and me," she said.

"How could I have been in the photo then?"

"You were sitting on my lap."

And then it dawned on me: I'm 35 and my mom had me when she was 34. "I was a baby."

"Well, not that little. You had a flowery dress on."

I grimaced and thought, Little enough I wasn't protesting wearing dresses. "A toddler."

Mom said, "No, I don't think you were two yet."

I started doing the math. "15 months. No, it's March, a year and half." That would explain why I didn't recall sitting for the portrait.

"Why didn't you think you'd be in the photo?"

"I was thinking you'd be 15."

"But I said I was your age."

"I know." At the time, I thought, I must subconsciously think of myself as fifteen. And I can see how that's totally possible right now, but it's also kind of depressing, so I think I've got it figured out today.

I knew I didn't remember any such photo having been taken or even having seen it. For me to have forgotten, it would've had to have been taken a really long time ago. While pondering the possibility, I thought of a candid group shot of my brother and two of my cousins that was taken when I was about 15--well, more like 13 since my bro and one cousin would still have had to have been in high school, probably no older than 14. Ok, I'm derailing my own logic.

Well, Mom really does overuse pronouns. I didn't have much faith that I'd understood correctly to begin with. True, but weak. On the upside, even if I do feel like I'm only 15, I am, in fact, light years more self-assured than I was when I was actually 15. So that's something.

Reminds me of an old episode of Roseanne in which Roseanne says she feels like she's 16. When she asks her sister how old she feels inside, Jackie says, "12." Which makes me laugh, because I get it. Vestiges of awkwardness, uncertainty, and other aspects of self-doubt.

How old do you feel most days?

A year ago on TTaT: Ten for ten of thirty

15 March 2009

...for BearWatch '09

BearWatch '09
'Bout time to keep those eyes peeled.

If you weren't around for BearWatch '08, here are the highlights:
Claire's Bears
Bears in motion, sort of

2 years ago on TTaT: When Irish road workers have spare time

13 March 2009

And now for a quick read...

3. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher (4/5)

Made me laugh. This among other things:
When I was little--about seven, I guess--I remember getting in the car with my mother when she picked me up from school and telling her I'd seen the word "fuck" written on the handball court at the playground and I wanted to know what it meant.

And she said, "I'll have to tell you later, dear--when I can draw you diagrams." Well, needless to say "later" never came and neither did--I'm sorry to report--those promised diagrams. Which is a shame, really, because I think they would've come in pretty handy from time to time.
I knew some of her family history: daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, parents divorced when Eddie left for Elizabeth Taylor, but it's so much crazier than that, as are many events in her life. Much of it could be seen as tragic, but Carrie finds the humor in it all, even drug addiction and electroconvulsive therapy for bipolar disorder.

She writes in a breezy conversational tone, not surprising as the book is based on her one-woman show, Wishful Drinking--a show I'd love to see. I read nearly all of the book in one day because the second time I picked it up, I just couldn't put it down. Lots of photos as well.

Definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of hers, humorous crazy anecdotes, famous Hollywood families, celebrity memoirs, Star Wars trivia; or if you're interested in first person accounts of manic-depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and their treatments. It hit for me on multiple counts, so I really enjoyed it.

P.S. She blogs, what more could you want?

2 years ago on TTaT: The add-on

12 March 2009

Have you been watching Angel of Death?

If not, you should be.

Angel of Death is a great, high production value, web series on crackle.com about an assassin.
Nobody looks for the Beretta, when all they see is a slinky chick in a cocktail dress. Noir comic book legend Ed Brubaker cuts deep with the story of Eve, a hot woman with a heart of ice. Zoe Bell steps in as an assassin haunted by visions after a bloody encounter with a very big knife. In this, the most ambitious web series ever created, Zoe makes bare knuckle boxing a thing of beauty, and a head wound as sexy as sin. Lucy Lawless, Doug Jones, and Ted Raimi all show up for the ride... If the sight of blood bothers you, just keep your eyes on her other assets, and remember she can grab your heart with her looks or her hand, your choice.
Zoe Bell's stunt background makes the action scenes amazing. The violence is strong and bloody, but they don't dwell on it excessively (imo), and it serves the story. For me, it's just below the borderline of too much. Enough to make me say Ah, Uf, or Ew about once an episode, but also think many a Wow.

Each episode is about 7-9 minutes long, and I think there are going to be ten in total, which would make tomorrow the culmination of the story. Not to worry, when you go to Angel of Death, it starts with the first episode and will automatically bring up the next episodes as each completes. If you don't want to watch them all at once, you can always go back and then scroll down to the 'Playlists" for all the individual episodes.

It's some stunning filmmaking. I'm not sure how long they will leave it up, particularly ad-free, so you might want to check it out sooner rather than later. Enjoy!

2 years ago on TTaT: Not light reading

09 March 2009

Grande due

2. The Great Book of Archaeology by Editors: Valeria Manferto De Fabianis, Fabio Bourbon (4/5)

I bought this 8 pound coffee table book for its photos--twenty bucks at Costco over a year ago, such a great deal--but I was also determined to read it. After about fifty pages, I stalled for about a year. The text is written by several different people, so the quality varies, but most of it is dense with unfamiliar names and places, and lots of archaeological and architectural terms. Also, all but a handful of the hundreds of photos have captions which slows down the reading.

Starting in mid-January of this year, I took a new approach: read one chapter a day. Each chapter is a different archaeological site and they average about ten pages each with lots of photos. Reading in this manner let me soak in a lot more of the details in the text and photographs. Also, it felt like traveling somewhere new each day, a pleasant way to spend winter.

Overall, the photos are great and cover archaeological sites all over the world. The text contains a lot of typos and inconsistent spellings, but I attribute that mainly to my suspicion that the book was written in Italian and then translated to English. I do wish they'd indented with the start of new paragraphs or skipped a line to make it easier to read. Without those technical errors, I might've given the book 4.5/5.

Reading it made me think of Dave2 when he writes about deciding where to travel next. If I was at a point where I couldn't decide where to go next, this is the book I would flip open to a random page to decide.

As some of you may know, ancient Egypt has long been a passion of mine. It's well represented in The Great Book of Archaeology which drew me to it initially, but I also learned about a bunch of spectacular sites I'd never heard of. I suspect I'll be tracking down some follow-up books on those, particularly, Pagan in Myanmar.

3 years ago on TTaT: Cleaning up

05 March 2009

Is it hubris if I want to show off my Greek goddess?


Nah, I'm proud--but not excessively so--of her, particularly the play of light on her sword.

A year ago on TTaT: The cyborg with the thigh-highs

04 March 2009