Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wow, how'd this week get so busy?

Partly it’s this split-shift business, which takes some getting used to every time it comes up, but partly I think it’s just an extreme case of quarter-start raggedness. I have been spending more time than I thought I would be managing my lesson plans and determining the course of the course, as it were. Time to get this horse under control!

Yesterday, in addition to teaching and personal bidness and house stuff, I did take time for another reunion of sorts. Ritt and Bill C had come to town for a Mariner’s game, so I met up with them in Pioneer Square for get-together after far too long. For a time, we were the three musketeers of campus security, representing Big State, Private Liberal Arts, and Community colleges. Now, we’re all out of security or on our way. Bill has retired and Ritt has moved into general administration and may soon have no responsibility for public safety anymore. And let me tell ya, we all look a lot more relaxed. It was good to see them, if only for a short visit.

Today there’s more teaching, of course, and getting set to head to Portland for my class in the graphic novel. Off I go!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tryin to get traction

Well, I got into town just fine Sunday night, and I have been chasing my tail since then! I was pretty tired when I got back, so not much happened before I was asleep Sunday night, and then I had to get up for a nine ay-em class on Monday. I got through class fine, but the hour-and-a-half seemed awfully long. The rest of the day was spent having lunch with Kris-10, catching up, running errands, and prepping for class, although we did go out to dinner on the Ridge, which was nice.

Today is my first split-shift day; I taught this morning at nine and will teach again tonight at six. I'm trying to figure out how to work the in-betweens. I'm sure I'll have enough time, it's just managing it that will present a bit of a challenge. I need to do some more prep for tomorrow, for example; and don't know if I should play first and then work or vice versa. Ah, decisions.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Finally lucky

As the result of an unfortunate concatenation of circumstances, I am already at the airport in Vegas although my flight does not leave until 6:20 pm.

On the plus side, I have found a seat in a quiet corner that has easy access to a power outlet, and McCarren has free wi-fi!

So, I can do this:

Slot machines display all different themes to attract attention; this one would catch the eye of anyone of a certain age.

Dolan, Esquire

Hopkins, relating publicly

Hollywood Santi

The gang of four

Walaka's index

Casinos we've visited: Mandalay, Luxor, Excalibur, NYNY, Tropicana, MGM Grand, Monte Carlo, Paris, Bally's.

Number of times we've been videotaped: a gajillion

Amount I've lost gambling: $0.00
Amount I've won: $0.00
Amount I've played: $0.00

Number of degrees it was "cooler" yesterday than the day before: 2 (107 v. 109)

Number of times we've eaten since I got here: 10
Number of times we've discussed eating: 50

Number of escort service flyers fingered, snapped, and offered to us: 147 (approximate)
Number we have taken: 0 (exact)

Number of fights between two people speaking Brazilian Portuguese that we saw almost break out: 1

Percentage of packed t-shirts that I have worn: 100
Percentage of packed aloha shirts that I have worn: 0

Number of times we've seen George Clooney: 0

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ocean's four

So, Joe and I are walking from the elevator into the casino when a woman calls to me. "Excuse me, do you have eyes?"

I turn to find out what she wants and she clarifies. "I mean, can you read this?" she says, holding a business card and a drink in one hand and a house phone in the other.

I turn back and walk toward her, a bleached blonde a little older than I am, wearing clubbing clothes even though it's 11:00 am, but hey, it's Vegas. She proffers the card to me a little unsteadily and I can tell by the vapors that she's had more than just the one mixed drink she's now working on. I look at the card, for one Ami Barnheimer, a rep for the casino we are in, New York, New York. "Can you read the last name on this card?" she asks.

"Barnheimer," I say.

She repeats this information into the phone with the precise enunciation of the slightly tipsy. "Barnheimer. Ami's last name is Barnheimer... What?" She hands the phone to me. "She wants you to spell it for her."

I take the receiver and without preamble begin "B-A-R-N..." The voice on the other end, which sounds to my teacher's ear like a non-native English speaker's, repeats "B-A-R-M..." I correct her, and we go through our little pronunciation dance for a few moments. At one stage my partner has it B-A-R-M-H-V-I-N-B-R. We eventually get it straight and I give the phone back to the blonde who thanks me profusely and goes back to working whatever angle she's trying to make happen. Joe and I continue on.

I have been in Vegas for over 22 hours now, have had about five hours sleep, and haven't gambled a dime.

But that's okay, because I'm not here to gamble. I'm here to have little adventures like the one described above, and to meet up with these guys.

Santi, Dolan, and Hopkins - not to be confused with Zeppo, Gummo, and Beppo

This is The Year We Turn Fifty, "we" being the gang from high school. We are met in here in Las Vegas, America's post-modern mecca, in a one-third-scale imitation of the city of our youth, to commemorate this inherently unimportant occasion and imbue it with some significance.

And while it comes as no surprise that we are no longer the same fresh-faced, callow youth out to take on the world, armed only with a fine Jesuit education and a strong sense of our own self-worth, I am pleased and proud to declare that these old pals are still men I would choose to associate myself with: a little tired, with a few more creaks, but with wit and humor and intelligence not only intact and undimmed, but rather improved by experience and perspective.

In some ways, we meet all the casting criteria for a TV movie of the week; from our common start in NYC, we have moved out to Chicago, Ohio, Los Angeles, and Seattle; we find in our group a high-powered lawyer, a PR man, a show business guy, and an English teacher. Three are family men, each with one, two, or three children, some at or nearing the age we were when we met and were together for the first time; the third followed a windier path. I am sure our religion and politics would provide the same sorts of spread; even our clothes could be used to shorthand our types to the audience.

But we are not in a TV movie and these are not players from central casting; these are old friends, and seeing them again has made me realize in a very particular way what things we give up and leave them behind when we embrace the new. The rich conversation that flowed and the threads of connection that were so easy to pick up after so many years are gratifying beyond just a sense of pleasure. I count my friends as my greatest treasures, and I feel like I have discovered a small cache of jewels, wrapped in a handkerchief and tucked in the back of a seldom-used drawer. I hope I can remember where it is and take it out more often in the future than I have done in the past.

Thanks to J-Force for coming by Thursday night for a bon voyage dinner and walk to B&R for cones! What a swell send-off.
Yesterday, I got up at 4:15 am, and at 5:45 am, I was sitting in the terminal, already having purchased a coffee and bagel. Ninety minutes from bed to gate isn't bad. The flight was fine and the Southwest chief flight attendant was exceptionally funny.
We walked a bit of the strip after lunch yesterday, when it was about 109 degrees. It was a dry heat, but it was still frakking hot. We made it from NYNY to Paris before heading back into the casinos. Today it should only hit 104; maybe we'll go for a run. (A cabbie told us it's supposed to hit 120 next week.)
We took "The Deuce," the bus that runs on the strip, up to the ballpark for the game last night. It crawls northbound into old downtown; it took us more than an hour to get to the terminal, and then there was about a mile hike to the stadium (including the huge parking lot). It was... fun.
The game (Las Vegas 51s v. the Colorado Springs Sky Sox) was fun in the way that all minor league events are fun: the food, the gags, the home-town boosterism. As an athletic event, it was pretty lame: we left in the eighth with the score 10-3, Sox.
After the game, we hung out in the faux neighborhood in the casino, shooting the breeze until we could go to bed without feeling too damn old.
How odd is it that we had a conversation of some moment about Young Frankenstein during lunch, and that when we were in the rooms getting ready for the game, we found the movie was playing on TV?
NYNY is not a non-smoking casino - I couldn't even sleep in my t-shirt last night, because the cigarette smell was so strong.
Hi, Otis!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A post before flying

So, last night was a swell impromptu movie night! First, Dingo came by after work; then, we were joined for dinner by Stella and Sairey, and we all enjoyed some of Otis's delicious yellow pea soup. Dingo had to leave, but the rest of us watch 13 Conversations about One Thing, one of those interweaving narrative movies. It was pretty good, actually, with a great cast that included Matthew McConaughey, Alan Arkin, and John Turturro. Check it out when you can.

Today was another glorious day in the neighborhood, and Otis and I took a nice walk through the ravine until her knees hurt. I packed, Otis worked, and then J-Force joined for dinner and a walk to the B&R for ice cream cones. This is pretty splendid vacation, i have to day.

Well, tomorrow I head out for Vegas at oh-dark-thirty. I plan to blog from the the free wi-fi zone at the Krispy Kreme in the food court in the Excelsior, but the transmission might not get out - after all, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right?

One of my favorite jokes, told by Shecky Green: "Frank Sinatra saved my life once. These two guys were beating me up and he said, "Okay, boys, that's enough.'"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It's finally hot

What a day! The weather-box says 76, but it sure feels warmer than that. Summer stuff, for sure!

So, my blogger interface is still running slow, and now my Sitemeter widget has disappeared. And a little ad just appeared on my third-party recent comments widget. What is up with all this?

In addition to playing a lot, I actually got the last of my quarter work finished yesterday, so I am well and truly free. Well, tomorrow, I'll have to make sure my ducks are in a row for my Monday morning class, but that's about it. Piece o' cake.

Otis had an appointment up north today, so I rode my bike up to LFP to meet her when she was done, and we came back down together. It felt good to get back on the Burke-Gilman trail, and I moved my mileage up from horrifically miserable to infinitesimally-less horrifically miserable. No, really: 11.5 weeks into the season, I have completed 11 rides averaging 5.4 miles each. At this rate, I will complete an embarrassing 137 miles this season; if I get back on pace, I can manage 1181 miles. Look on it:

The blue line is what I should do to make 2K miles; the pink line is what I did last year to make 1500 miles; the yellow line is the best case for this year. Sheesh. Wotta revoltin' development this is!

Before taking my ride, I tried out my geek-fu on Dingo's old iMac Blueberry this morning, before she passes it on to New York Alex. I was not strong enough: I could not accomplish any of the neat things I was planning to do. Granted, it was because I didn't have the stuff rather than not having The Stuff, but it was still disappointing.

On the other hand, my geekishness ran high this afternoon, as I prepared for my Vegas trip by downloading and printing mass transit maps and schedules. Boy howdy, we're having some fun now! The weather forecast for Vegas has moderated a bit: they are no longer predicting 110 degrees on Friday - just a balmy 108. Heh. Maybe today was my practice day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Interweek continues

I must say, that as much as I enjoy teaching, I am enjoying not-teaching this week very much.

On Sunday, Otis and I managed a nice long walk down to University Village for some errands and then through the UW campus to come back home. I know that I haven't been biking much at all this year so far, but I have been doing a lot of walking, so it's not like I have been a total slug. Or at least that's what I keep saying...

Sunday afternoon included some Dad's Day activities up at the Putnam Compound, with one old-time father and one first-time father. Fun times.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time on the internets, but I was actually doing work for a change. I needed to make travel arrangements for the trip to Connecticut for my sister's wedding later this summer. I love the control that internet ticketing gives us, but in many ways I long for the days of going to a travel agent who would do all this work for me and then just hand me an envelope with tickets in it. I managed to hack my way through the travel websites and my own indecision and come up with a plan. I think we are going to try an east coast visit without a car - it looks doable and it might even be fun (and cheaper).

Soapy came over yesterday for spaghetti dinner. It was good to catch up with him after a long stretch of no-see, and now we can track his doings without having to enter the MySpace universe: he has a regular blog, Low Coolant.

Last night, Otis and I watched The Prestige; we are perhaps the last to see it. We were impressed by the puzzle construction, although we had each figured out most pieces before the final denouement. I was less impressed by the the movie as a narrative: I didn't really care about any of the characters enough to be really engaged. (I also thought that David Bowie way underplayed Tesla - I always imagine him the human equivalent of one of his coils, all crackling energy.) I'd have to put this film in the same box with Memento - clever, but that's about all.

Well, there is some work awaiting me today - the last assessments of the quarter want filing. Off I go.

Mini Link Farm:

The Brass Goggles website has cool steampunk gear.

This version of a crossword puzzle is deceptively simple.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Weekend Collage

First of all, is anyone else having Blogger issues? I’m getting a delay between my typing and the letters showing up on the screen, and it’s so annoying that I am composing in Word instead and pasting over when I’m done. Is this happening to anyone else?

I had bought these totally geeky-cool sunglasses at the start of biking season – ones that fit over my regular glasses, so I don't have to swap glasses when getting on the bike or the scooter. They really streamline getting on and off the bike. I wore them home from the Crest on Wednesday evening, and when I went to put them on Thursday, one lens was missing. I have no idea where it went, and can't find it in the house. I think polterguys took it, and it’s a bummer, man.

After a quick but delicious chana masala dinner at home, Otis and I transported carless Johnbai up to the Oak Tree so we could meet Stella and all experience the banality that was Fantastic Four 2. Dingo was right (and let us know about it when she met us for afters): the movie was awful. But we had expected it, so the shock was not as great. Jessica Alba had transformed into some hideous Barbie-monster, but the rest of the flick was stunning in its mediocrity: acting, effects, everything. As a matter of fact, even writing about it is boring.

Here's a deliberately messy flash game. It's poetry. It's art. Try it.

Kudos to A-Wo and Kay-Kay: they were not as optimistic as I was about sidewalk space on the Solstice Parade route and showed up early; it was only through their offices that we got a good spot staked out. Stella and Sairey carpooled with us, and the group grew to include Sachet & her buddy, Dingo and New York Alex, Sylvio and his bro, and Kris-10 and Rye-N, so we needed the space, too. The parade seemed a little low-energy compared to last year: it was fine, but there was less music and political street drama than last year’s parade. There was no dearth of naked bikers and bared boobies, but some élan or brio was missing, and the delays seemed especially long. Maybe we were just tired.

Some of us walked after the parade to Wallingford for lunch and happened to meet up with JagGirl and Dvd lunching at Ma’s with a pal. There's always time for some tasty Thai.

The parade was exhausting. How can sitting and watching other people walk make you tired? Afternoon naps were the order of the day.

Last evening, we went over to Cal and Merry’s to join them and their pal Canuck for the premiere Big Time Screening ™. We saw Duma, a sweet movie about a boy and his cheetah cub. It was full of good will and struggle and triumph and all that (as well as a motorcycle with a sidecar!), and we had a great time watching from the big seats in the little theater, and having some great conversation afterwards as well.

We rode the scooter home in the rain last night. Chilly!

I think this is my favorite political cartoon evar:

Friday, June 15, 2007

It's the day after the first day off

So, Wednesday was the last day of school. Yay! I celebrated by joining Yojimbo at the Crest for a Very Special Screening of Star Wars (yeah, the original movie). What made this screening special was that the entire sound track – dialogue, music, sound effects, all of it – had been stripped from the movie and replaced by students from sound design classes at Shoreline Community College (this is a class Yojimbo has taught in the past, although he was an adjunct emeritus this quarter).

First of all, I have to say what a splendid job the students did. Particularly with the dialogue, the technical excellence of the overdubbing and post-production (I’m sure Yojimbo is wincing at my bad terminology) was great – everything was timed correctly and synched up perfectly. There were some great choices on incidental effects and music; I would have like a more unified conceit or theme to the sound design, but Yojimbo explained that the students work in several teams and there’s not always an overarching plan. In any case, it was great fun, and the audience of students and their supporters had a positive energy that it was good to be part of.

Oh, yeah – the evening also reminded me of what a cheese-fest that original movie is. I guess the dialogue has always been bad in these movies.

Yesterday was my first day without classroom responsibilities, so I did nothing productive all day, except help Otis get ready for her evening art show. The event came off nicely: about 35 – 40 people came by to see Otis’s new pieces and the Raku pottery created by her partner-in-art, K. In addition to the art-walkers and sundry associates, gang support came from Dingo, J-Force, Stella, Merry, JagGirl, and Dvd.

The artists

The calm before the storm

The storm

The prettiest girl at the show: Stella-2

The community art project, of which more later

The artist-in-residence, displaying appropriate seriousness of purpose

Bonus pic: I obviously know it all, and am not unwilling to set J-Force and K (and anyone else) straight.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Totems of a sort

I have noticed that as the years have gone by, there have been some concepts or images that have maintained a consistent appeal for me. These are the things that an author can put in a story (or a marketer in an advertisement) that are guaranteed to get my attention and make me predisposed toward the text.

First of all, as goes without saying, there are kilts of all sorts:

Of course, there are dirigible balloons – zeppelins, airships, blimps – of all types.

(I even wrote a history paper in high school on airships and Nazis.)

And then there are autogyros:

And motorcycles with sidecars:

(Does anyone remember that I owned one of these for about five minutes a few summers ago?)

And rounding out the top five would have to be what I have always called “deep-sea divers” but which are also known as hard-hat divers or just divers:

Given this last, it is a wonder that it has taken me so long to watch Men of Honor, the Robert DeNiro/Cuba Gooding movie about the first black Navy diver. We saw it on DVD last night, and it had everything I expected – overcoming adversity of all sorts, antagonists who become allies, displays of physical courage, swelling music, and looks of grim determination from the protagonists. It also managed to imbue the slow, ponderous divers with a sense of action and movement. As hokey and hackneyed as the film was, I loved it, even if there were no blimps in it.

So, what does it for you? What elements spark your responsometer and ensure your interest in a narrative? What is on the cover of the paperback you'll juts have to pick up and leaf through? Women with crossbows? Rusty metal artifacts? Muscle cars? Unicorns? Diners?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Homework sucks and I slept until noon today

Just kidding, of course. Go read An Unpublished Life and wish Yojimbo a happy blogoversary.

I may not have slept until noon yesterday, but I might as well have, for all the "productive" work I got done. It was weekend without papers to grade, and I reveled in doing nothing. I have three more classes left this quarter, and one more stack of papers to read (which I will collect today), and then we're done. Here's to the last sprint toward the finish line and a lap around the infield!

Part of the doing nothing included watching The Patriot, the Mel Gibson vehicle about the American Revolution from a few years back. The characterizations were pretty flat and the acting pedestrian, and the art direction reminded me too much of a Disney version of Johnny Tremaine, and yet the movie was trying to grapple with some important and interesting themes: the pull of duty versus the responsibilities of family, the conflicting impulses of justice and mercy and vengeance, the possibility of honor and the brutal reality of war, the hope of redemption. Much of the investigation of these themes was undercut by cliched plot points and character development, but it' was there under the the surface. I was left with the feeling that this might have been a much better movie than it was.

I got my first Utilikilt, a khaki neotraditional, right at the beginning of this millennium; I wore it that first weekend that I picked it up, to the Folklife festival and to a party. Even then, it didn't get too much notice or too many remarks here in Seattle.

I was living in Vancouver, Washington at the time, and I didn't wear it much down there. I did wear it to my graduation from a community leadership program in June of '02, and as part of my dress uniform in my last days as head of college security the following September. I picked up another neotrad before I moved to Spokane for grad school, but didn't wear them at all over there.

When I returned to live in Seattle in 2003, I didn't wear the kilts at work, either at the writing center or then teaching, but I often wore them at home or when going out. I remember in particular New Year's Eve '03 -'04, when it was pretty darn cold wandering around Cap Hill.

In the summer of '05, I decided to start wearing a kilt to work while teaching at Cascadia, because it was hot summer and they were comfortable. I continued the practice into the fall, at all the schools I taught at, and all of a sudden all I was wearing was kilts all the time. It became my trademark, in a way. Students knew me as "the teacher who wears a kilt"; I met people and made friends who wound up never seen me in anything else. I never had a really bad experience in Seattle or Portland wearing the kilt, and the many positive remarks and compliments overshadowed the few nasty remarks that I ran into. (Most women loved the kilt.)

It got to the point that I didn't even think about it much anymore; I still liked the gender-bending response it could evoke, particularly in children, and the signal hipness it carried in certain circles, but mostly it became just what I wore, like my Chuck Taylors or hooded sweatshirts. I knew it was still unusual and atypical, but really didn't think about it much. I picked up a heavier "workman" kilt for winter and a nylon "Spartan" sport kilt for summer, as well as more formal gray twill. I wore kilts grocery shopping and at weddings, playing badminton and hosting parties - pretty much all the time.

Now this year, I have picked up some three-quarter length pants - knickers, if you will. One thing that kilts aren't quite suited for is bike-riding, and since I want to do a lot of riding to school from here on in, and because I don't like teaching in shorts, I thought that knickers would be a nice alternative. But here's the funny thing: people seem disappointed that I am not wearing a kilt. I have gotten more remarks lately about my lack of a kilt than I think I got when I first started wearing one, from friends, casual acquaintances, students, and colleagues.

It's a bit odd. If my wearing a kilt was a statement of anything, it was that clothing choices should not be as restrictive as we (as a culture) have made them, but actually I wasn't really trying to make any statement at all - I just like kilts. Switching to knickers doesn't really matter, does it? I don't mind being associated with a trademark article of clothing - heck, the blog is named for three - but at the same time, I certainly hope it's not the only thing that defines me.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Soggy, with a shot of paprika

Here comes the rain again... falling on my head like a memory...

Who did that? Eurythmics? Anyway, it was appropriate yesterday, wasn't it? Luckily, Otis was swept up in an art fever, so she turned the kitchen into an encaustic and framing studio and passed her time away in a creative spree. I did some creative work of my own, but mostly on lesson plans and syllabi for the summer and fall and cleaning up my office.

We did take an afternoon break to meet Johnbai, fresh(?) from an in-the-rain softball game, for a showing of Paprika downtown. This anime about psychotherapists entering the dreams of patients (which, of course, Goes All Wrong) had some wonderful visuals, both clever and disturbing, but did not have the character development or narrative depth of Tokyo Godfathers, writer/director Satoshi Kon's previous offering. Too many threads were left unfollowed for the movie to be ultimately satisfying, although it was a pleasant enough way to spend an hour and a half. Put it on your Netflix queue for a double feature with this and wait for The Golden Compass.

After the movie, we stopped by at Cal and Merry's for a brief visit to the open house for their splendid new in-city digs. We may see moovie nights move to a whole new level! And then it was back to work. Maybe the sunnier skies will raw us outside more today.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Wrapping up the week (and putting a bow on it)

Shortly after the last transmission, J-Force dropped a hat and came out to the Tully's to meet Otis and I for an impromptu evening, and we closed the joint down, as they say. Nice flourish on which to end night, it was.

Friday was a floaty sort of day. I had that noon teaching business that keeps us from any big projects, but there were all sorts of little stuffs going, like weeding and things. I did stop by to lunch with Dingo at her work, which is about three blocks from NSCC. Otis has also been attending to her art - framing and prepping her pieces for the Art Walk next week - so we are doing a little of the ol' embracing chaos around the house for a while.

The evening held a soup-tasting event at Johnbai and O's; also in attendance were Sachet, Dingo, Eryk, and Sylvio. If the butter bean and zucchini pesto soups are any measure, those Full Belly diners this summer are going to be leaving Cap Hill mighty satisfied. (Note to O - why not add some Full Belly Lunches - a bit of your soup could raise a lot of money!)

Since I haven't publicly celebrated the fact - Hooray! Wheylona is coming back for visit!

Hey, didja hear the even bigger news, or am I the only one who knows? Here's a hint: Neds and marriage!

And I know I just had a link farm, but this one was too good to pass by, even if it came in late. here's you go, Johnbai.

(click through the image for more)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Catch-up and link-farming

This is Walaka Hopsack, coming to you live from the Wallingford Tully's with this round-up of tit-bits and whatnot.

Teaching is winding down, blah-blah-blah. Oddly enough, I have no end-of-quarter crush this year; I have spaced out the assignments better and the final responding / grading / posting process is actually pretty light. I had the pleasure of lunching with O on Tuesday and having a little mutual work session at 3PB-R - it was an excellent diversion, and I got some papers done. Wednesday was the last day of the quarter at Cascadia and Antioch - it's all over but the shouting.

Other work-related stuff: the bad news is that even though my full-time contract doesn't start until September 14, I am required to attend some training and orientation sessions beginning September 6, so my "vacation" after summer quarter will be negligible. The good news is that since it is all pre-contract, I will get paid the community service rate ($34/hr) for all the sessions.

We did squeeze in a viewing of The Life and Death of Peter Sellers on Tuesday night. It was an interestingly-made biopic, but Sellers actually became a less sympathetic character as he moved through life - or at least through this movie - and there never seemed to be a point of redemption or enlightenment to cap off the narrative. John Lithgow turns in a bravura performance as Blake Edwards, and Emily Watson, who I had never heard of two weeks ago, and who I have now seen in three consecutive movies, was as enigmatically appealing as ever as the first Mrs. Sellers.

Otis is still feeling her cold - it has hit her harder than it did me. She was feeling so poorly that she ac canceled some appointments because of it; she did not, however, cancel Wednesday night out at the Tractor Tavern with Dingo, Johnbai, O and Soapy to celebrate Soapy's Birthday and to watch / listen to The Handsome Family (highly recommended by Dingo and Johnbai) and Rosyvelt (fronted by a pal of Johnbai and Soapy) and The Maldives (um, completely unknown to us). It was a swell, multivalent evening: we celebrated Soapy, we hung with pals, we heard good music, and we helped raise money for a good cause though Noise for the Needy. I have to admit that we didn't make it to the end of the show; Otis and I left shortly before midnight, but not because we weren't having a good time.
Today's highlight was huge grocery shopping, which we haven't done in weeks and weeks, after which we had leftovers for dinner, feeling all kinds of frugal. Otis even put together a menu for the week, not that we'll be any competition for the Full Belly project:

Le Menu d'Otis

L’Italian Vegetariana
You’ll never return to cow flesh again with Walaka’s savory tomato“veatball” ragu! Served on a tangled bed of whole-wheat linguini noodles. Enjoy a crisp garden salad with fresh tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers, and a rustic vegetarian antipasto.

Down-to-Earth Split Pea Soup
Yellow split peas, russet potatoes, and carrots form the hearty base for this robust and creamy vegan soup. This soup is accompanied by an anchovy-free Caesar salad with home-style garlic-pepper croûtons.

“I’m So Sari” Supreme
Make up with your sweetheart with this semi-spicy northern-style chana masala made with the finest chickpeas, potatoes, and Indian spices. Served with herbed basmati rice and a side of sautéed peppery green beans and slivered almonds.

Middle Eastern Picnic
Take your falafel on the road with this summertime meal! Fill your whole-wheat pita pockets with savory falafel patties, sweet Vidalia onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes for a healthy sandwich in a flash. A side of cool quinoa salad with fresh cucumber and tomato provides a tasty flourish to your picnic.

Auntie Otie’s Peanutty Asian Bowlies
Pearly brown rice, steamed to perfection, serves as the base for these Asian peanutty bowls. Stir-fried tofu, carrots, pea pods, ginger, and secret spices are drizzled with Auntie Otie’s award-winning peanut sauce. Served with supple vegetarian pot stickers and soy-sesame dipping sauce.

Finger-Lickin’ Dogs
Vegetarian hot-dog-stand-style frankfurters are served with organic, humanely-treated tomato catsup and caramelized onion topping. Served with Boston-style vegetarian baked beans and Rising Sun Farms yellow corn on the cob. Kosher dill pickles garnish this finger lickin' meal.

Now, some links:

I think this little French stop-action animation is just captivating.

Maybe if I followed these butterfly color schemes for my blog, I wouldn't get complaints. Dingo should use one when she re-activates Myrna. (I'm partial to the Mr. Green.)

Okay, I have only seen six of these movies - how about you?

For his birthday, I would like to get Soapy a turn on this, because someone has clearly seen into his soul.

For Yojimbo: It was 32 years ago today.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A rose by any other name

Otis has been sicky lately, but I've still been busy, it seems. More on that later, but now this:

I had occasion to type my name in an email the other day. The automatic spell-checker didn't like it, but kindly made some suggestions as to what might be better choices for my cognomen. What do you think? Vote in the sidebar.

Monday, June 04, 2007


What up, man!

Saturday included a little do at Johnbai and O's in the evening. I thought I was just heading over to talk with O about some secret-squirrel stuff, but lo, it turned into an event, with appearances by Dingo, Cal and Merry, and we all had a good time, even though three of the seven had sniffles.

On Sunday I went to a little comic book convention. I don't often cross-post with the comics blog, but I think this entry might be of a little more general interest.

Sunday afternoon was spent with Otis up at the Putnam Compound in LFP, enjoying what turned out to be the last of the super-summer weather for a while, at RobbFest '07, a going-back-to-school party for Otis's brother. Many comestibles were consumed and much conviviality was spread. We had scootered up and made it back to within ten blocks of home before the rain started up last night.

This morning I received an email from Pierce College asking if I was still interested in competing for the faculty position there that I had applied for in March. I got to tell them no. Yay me!

I taught today, but this quarter is already so over for many of the students.

And here I am blogging at a coffee shop, across the table from Otis, who is also blogging and stuff.

And that's what up, man.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Visiting the Rock

In January of 1982, new to Seattle, my then-wife and I invited one of my co-workers and her then-husband over to dinner at our rental house in Bellevue. A long evening of talk was the source of a web of long-lived friendships. Shortly after that first meeting, Yojimbo gave me a stack of old Justice League of America comics in a gesture of unbounded generosity. Twenty-five years later, I have only one of his comics left, but I still have his friendship.

Here's to the Bard of the Rock!

And here, in SuperFlickerVision, is the budding of a new friendship: Otis and Smokey:

You can see the day through Yojimbo's lens here.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Arts and crafts

First, full disclosure: Dingo's causal mention in a recent email of her biking plans forces from me this shameful admission: I have only completed 6% of my to-date projected miles this season. I don't know what's up; Otis and I have been doing a lot of walking, but I just can seem to get the cycling habit started this year. Maybe it's my school schedule and with the end of the quarter I'll find a rhythm. (I was lucky last year in being able to bike to classes in Bothell for Spring quarter; my schedule hasn't allowed that this year.) At any rate, I can still easily make 1000 miles, but 2K seems out of the question at this point. I'm toying with changing the theme to reflect this, or maybe we'll just let it slide by. What do you think?

Otis was feeling artsy yesterday and di some work on her upcoming show, so while she was busy, I did some stuff, too, such as re-design the site. I think some folks will like the new colors, anyway.

I'm still pondering the new tat, but I found this cool graphic on just how a Golden Traingle can be calculated. Maybe it will help reduce the creepification that Johnbai feels.

When MaryBee departed for the wilds of the Florida panhandle, she left behind in my care, custody, and control a set of vintage Lincoln Logs. Since it was a pleasant day yesterday, Otis and I decided to construct something, and came up with this little edifice, which vaguely resembles the Ballard library:

of course, in the Seattle market, it has already listed for $100,000.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Bustin' out all over

Yesterday was splendid, an almost perfect summer day, which included a long walk through the park, a bike ride, a tasty student-sponsored barbecue on campus, an easy class, a scooter ride to Volunteer Park, (where we watched a soccer-playing dog) a nice dinner with Soapy and Johnbai, a nice evening working at a coffee shop, and a late night movie. Just swell!

Of course, no silver lining is without its cloud, so as I went to bed, my allergies / hat fever / whatever kicked in and Otis's back started aching, so it wasn't a very restful night. And the radio just told me a little while ago that a "Pacific Cold Front" is coming in at the beginning of the week, so we'd better make hay while the sun shines!

The presidential candidate was asked if he had had premarital sex. His reply:

"My God. Let's see, did I?" he asked himself, then paused. "Oh, yeah, I had some. And you know something? It wasn't bad."

The candidate whose refreshing honesty came in stark contrast to Republican Mitt Romney's "family values" response to the same question is 76-year-old former Democratic senator from Alaska Mike Gravel. Although he is a fringe candidate, he's got some strong positions against the war and for universal health care and responses to global warming, as well as some more problematical proposals for the "Fair Tax" (a kind of VAT) and federal ballot initiatives. In any case, he's mixing it up pretty good in the early Democratic debates and might have a positive influence on the discourse. Go, Mike! Article, campaign website.

Free-gratis giveaway!

If you've got T-Mobile service and want a new phone, here you go:

I have wound up with these two perfectly functional candy bar phones above and beyond the working phones in this house. The blue one on the left is an old school standard Nokia and has never been used and the shiny one on the right is two generations later and was used for about a year. The don't take pictures or surf the intartubes or anything, but if your buttons are sticky, they may be an easy solution for you.

Otis and I have seen two movies this week, courtesy of the Red Envelopes. Who Killed the Electric Car? was an interesting documentary that imparted some not-so-surprising information but which did not have the weight to be a really substantial movie; it seemed more like an episode of Nova than anything else. The Luzhin Defence was a quirky but ultimately unsatisfying adaption of a Nabokov story about the romance of an eccentric chess master with a free-spirited young woman in the nineteen-thirties. While John Turtorro and Emily Watson did the best to sell their characters, and the plot did provide a few surprises, the film felt like an enactment of the Cliff Notes version of the book and the flashbacks to a troubled childhood felt formulaic and were more distracting than illuminating.