Monday, October 29, 2007

I got nothin'

Since my life is so boring today, here's a guest vlog from Otis.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Something is amiss

So, if I am spending all this time on campus now, why was I at Tully's at eight this morning, and why was I reading papers there until noon, and why did I have to do some more this afternoon? And in 24 hours, I will have fifty more papers to read, on top of the fifty reading journals I have barely made a dent in, and when will I do those, since I have four meetings in my off-hours this week? I need to adjust my calculations, I think.

Nonetheless, we did have time today to do a little running around and complete the grocery shopping trip that was aborted when I left my wallet on the bus last Thursday. And Otis made four soups - soup all week! - red lentil coconut, yellow split pea, creamy roasted vegetable, and corn chowder. Mm, mm, good!

And we watched the first installment of Heat of the Sun, a British miniseries that aired as a part of Mystery on PBS back in 1999. Set in 1931, it concerns a Scotland Yard Superintendent, fallen from grace, who finds himself assigned to the Criminal Investigations Unit for the Nairobi Police in Kenya, then a British colony. It has a pretty good mystery and lots of tough-guy action, layered over with examinations of colonialism and all the other -isms that ran so freely with it. It's a fascinating period piece with a sympathetic protagonist (and a Beryl Markham stand-in).


Photo credit: Tony Nutley

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Not really sticks in mud

Looks like the gang (or elements thereof) is heading out to Cinerama to see Blade Runner tonight. Otis and I giving it a pass, just cuz the timing is off. I gots blogging and schoolwork and other stuff to do, and while I might have done all that and dragged myself out to a midnight show (which is what we thought it was), I can't do some, go out to an 8:40 show, and then come back to do more. So, looks like it’s another Saturday night I spend five hours with Amanda Wilde and a keyboard. (Otis has her own stuff to do.)

Last night was a different story. Otis and I joined Dingo, Eryk, Sylvio, D-man, and Court2 up at Johnbai and O’s to watch 28 Days Later, which turned out to be even better than a mere zombies-on-crack apocalyptic thriller. Although it was great monster movie that drew more than one scream out of certain members of the audience, it was also an artfully made, intelligent film that offered some commentary on modern life and our feelings about violence (although it might have been a little heavy-handed about it at times).

Oh, and here’s a bit of info from IMDB that might shed some light on the post-movie discussion last night: The exteriors of the streets of London were shot in the early hours of the morning on weekdays. The crew only had a couple of minutes each day, and crew members had to politely ask clubbers not to walk onto the streets. And another: Police allowed a stretch of the M1 motorway to be closed for a few minutes at a time for the scene where you see a long desolate stretch of road. And another: Most of the film was made using digital cameras to give it the really real look (the final scenes in the cottage were shot on 35mm film). An added benefit of the digital filming was that the London shots could be set up and executed much quicker than otherwise possible which helped the filmmakers exploit very tight time windows to complete the scenes of an empty London. And another: The filmmakers had the co-operation of councils and help from the police to clear streets (and a motorway), but only for short periods which would have been useless if not for the flexibility and speed provided by digital video cameras which were used to shoot the entire film. And another: The first scene of an empty London was filmed early on a weekday morning. The director Danny Boyle organized for good-looking women to stop the traffic from entering the empty streets as he rightly reckoned the drivers would be more co-operative with good-looking girls.

That addresses the ‘empty streets” issue pretty completely. Of course, the bits about the digital cameras just add more questions to the discussion about film quality. Anyway, good film, good company, good times.


The cat-pictures:
Cat Ballou.
Grumman Hellcat
Patsy Walker, Hellcat
T.H.E. Cat
Omaha, the Cat Dancer
Felix the Cat


Another one bites the dust department: Third Place Books Ravenna now turns its wi-fi off on weekends to clear out table space. First Ladro, and now this. Backlash? Suddenly, this shirt starts to make sense.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

More cat pictures!

Since the cat pictures went over so well the other day, here are some more!















Name 'em all for bragging rights!

Real-life excitement: I left my wallet on the bus after coming home today. Luckily, Otis had picked me up at the bus stop so we could go grocery shopping; instead, we chased the bus down in the U-district and I retrieved it from the driver. Lucky day!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Here came the rain again

What is up with this? Yesterday the sun comes out and we get within one degree of the record high temperature for the date, and today I'm getting soggy sneakers and chilly legs because it's so wet and cold. Oh, yeah - we're in Seattle.

So, after a day of teaching high school community college English, I let Otis have the house for some evening appointments and went out ramblin' around straight from campus. I stopped by Zanadu in the U-district and found some pretty cool comics, and then grabbed a burrito at Chipotle's for a quick dinner before heading up to Cap Hill. I had sent out the Walaka-signal to Johnbai, Dingo, and J-Force, but J-Force had her break too early and Johnbai didn't call back until too late, so it was just Dingo and me up at Victrola, watching the rain, drinking coffee, and munching biscotti. We each brought stuff to do, but wound up just chatting the evening away instead - and we even had a surprise run-in with Sylvio (on his way to volleyball, of course).

The next two days are light, class-wise, but look like they are going to be chock-full, both responding-wise and meeting-wise, so looks like I am going to be busy, work-wise. I'm still trying to keep my evenings and weekends free; I think I've been 75% successful.

Now, for our out-of-town audience, here's what Seattle in the rain looks like from the window seat of a coffee shop (the best place to view it from):

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Vroom, vroom, skooter-kat!

The sunshine must have inspired Selkie to some grand daydreams...









...while Mountie was left wondering when it was going to be his turn.



(Yes, I know catblogging is reprehensible -- but, c'mon, it's cute.)

(Besides, I haven't done much since Sunday besides work and clean the house, and y'all are tired of hearing about those.)

(Oh yeah - we did watch Shangai Knights. It pretty much sucked.)

(Feel free to lolcat-ize any of these.)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Work 'n' geek

Well, push came to shove this morning, or the rubber met the road, or [insert metaphor of finality here], and I went to the Wallingford Tully's early to finish off a stack of responding that I have been delaying action on. I ripped through them in jig time; I am usually pretty darn productive at Tully's. Now, if I could only remember to bring that swell gift card that I got for my birthday...

After work, I returned home to have lunch with Otis between her appointments today. I made the mistake of cracking open a nice Russian lager to enjoy with my bread and cheese; it knocked me for a loop and I spent a half-hour napping on the couch, and I swear there were little birdies or planets circling my head, and that my eyes had turned into little eckses. Thanks A-Wo and KayKay!

After recovery, I made myself scarce again so Otis could do a special. I stopped at the Mac Store and checked out the iTouch - have you heard of this? It's basically an iPhone without phone - but it has the same slick interface and built-in wi-fi for internet connectivity. It has a strange display - rather than re-structuring web pages to fit a small screen, like mobile phones do, it shrinks down the pages to shows them complete on a 3.5 inch screen. But you can tap the screen to zoom in, or do this sweet two-finger scissoring to expand a section. It's very weird and not very intuitive, sort of a mini-version of the moves Tom Cruise made to view his holographic display in Minority Report, so I'm not sure how effective it would be for anything other than casual browsing. It does have a thumb-type keyboard that magically appears on screen if you tap anyplace that accepts text, but I'm not sure I'd want to blog with it.

It also has all the iPod stuff, and iTunes for direct downloading, and video, and all that. So, one more product for me to feel torn about. No wonder I'm still trying to spend the money I got from selling the sidecar two years ago.

After not-buying any iToy, I wandered off the Zanadu, where I did wind up buying the Fletcher Hanks collection, I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets. It's a weird book with weird work - Hanks is sort of the Hieronymous Bosch of comics' golden age - and more of an intellectual curiosity than a "good read," but it looks like fun.

I've been blogging here at Coffee & Comics, but the coffee is getting cold - maybe I'll try to get a few errands in before I head home.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Work 'n' play

We did a little of both today; Otis had reading to do and I had some grading as well. But we had some fun, too: a great Thai lunch down the street after a nice walk and some other playing. And tonight we joined Stella and Della at the Crest to see Once, the Irish film that Stella had originally suggested for last night.

I just have to tell you, this was one of the best films I have seen in a long time, if not ever. It is a real and touching and beautiful story of two people who find each other and connect in a way that we all wish we could. I guess you would call it a musical, but all the music in it occurs in the world of the story; both principals are musicians, and the music they write and play is part of the narrative. Glen Hansard is all broken-hearted emotion as the Guy, and Marketa Irglova is exquisite in her direct and unconditional affection as the Girl. Don't read reviews, don't check out IMDB, just see the movie and be prepared for a complex, engaging, and well-made story about real people.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Two fans and a swat

Sorry to have missed two whole days - I'm still here, but wok and play just squeezed out blogging for a bit.

Tuesday was the Long Day ™, so I cut myself some slack, especially since the LOLCAT went over so well. Classes were fine, blah-blah-blah.

(While I was teaching late, Otis and Kris-10 were carving jacks-o-lantern. Here's Otis's; nice design, eh?)


Wednesday was filled with lots of teaching ‘n’ stuff, except for the evening, which Otis and I spent supping with Nat-dog and Tom-tom, two new sterling pals. Nat is a new colleague, fresh to Washington from the Shallow South, and Tom-tom is her sidekick. We had a great dinner at Taste of India (after some triangulation challenges getting there) and then a nice long evening of conversation over tea back at the house. Look forward to new faces at the next ‘do!

Thursday played itself out to a cancelled faculty meeting – the best kind! – allowing Otis and I to head down to Tacoma fairly early in an (ultimately futile) attempt to beat the rush hour. We were helping out Putnam Mater (in her role as president of the Western Literature Association) as she coordinated the annual conference; to wit, we were ticket-takers at the Sherman Alexie award ceremony/speech. The crowd was easily manageable (although I did wish I had some orange cones, just for old time’s sake) and then we got to attend the event. Dr. Putnam did a heckuva job with her welcome and introduction, with just the right mix of personal, professional, and academic tone. Native American singers and dancers performed, and Alexie’s mentor gave an introduction, and then Alexie spoke. The essence of his speech can be summed up in this paraphrase from about two-thirds in: “So in receiving this award, I am touched and appreciate your love and respect and the honor, and at the same time, part of me just wants to say ‘fuck you!’.” He was talking about creating and controlling his own identity, as a writer and as a person, and not wanting to be categorized or defined by anyone or anything else. Throughout the evening, he was personally warm and gracious and funny, and constantly intellectually challenging. I thought it was great speech.

I came home eventually but Otis is still in Tacoma, helping out with the conference; I expect she’ll be home sometime tonight. House and cats and all survived the Great First Storm of ’07 intact, and I went into campus today to get some work done and watch the torrential rain and hail.

On the way home, I stopped for a minor errand. Remember the Entirely Too Expensive Glasses I got about a year ago? Well, while we were over in the Spoke, they deteriorated from pretty-beat-up-and-I-should-get-them-adjusted to just plain broken. (One of the nosepieces broke off.) So, I stopped into the See Center to look for replacements. I had a $150 benefit to “spend” and it turned out the best value was to take the current lenses and have them put in a new chassis, similar to the old one; that cost me only $80. I had wanted to change frames, but since I would have needed new lenses to go with them, it would have cost something like $200 to do that. At least I can see now.

I rounded off my day with a surprise visit from Yojimbo (although I should start expecting it come Fridays). We had a nice chat while he killed time before the boat.

Now, I think The Thunderbolt Kid is waiting for me...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Self-defense blogging

video

So, last night Otis happened upon some other art blogs, and decided that hers needed updating. Tonight, she decided to address that need. The short movie above could be extended from a minute or so to two hours, and would still be an accurate representation of her activities tonight. Check out the Quiet Girl Gallery later and see what-all she has been working on.


I haven't minded Otis's being focused and ignoring me tonight. I was a little tired, so I took care of some business and then settled in to read - a proper book, with pages and everything. I have been working my way through Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, a birthday gift from J-Force. Bryson is one of my favorite writers, and this book does not disappoint. Maybe it's because we are near enough in age to have a significant overlap of experience, but Bryson's memoir of growing up is both familiar and fantastically funny. I swear to god, I have been laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my face, my sides ached, and I felt like I might puke. At times, I couldn't even make it through a sentence at one go, collapsing into paroxysms of laughter at his choice of a word, then barely recovering and trying to continue reading, merely to fall apart again at the next word. It's really that funny. Thanks, J!


I forgot mention that we watched an Eddie Izzard video - a recording of a performance at Albert Hall from 1994. It was fairly mainstream - he only talked a little about TV stuff, and the big finale was a Star Trek piece - but he was clever and engaging. Odd observation: During the show, I thought and was about mention, only to be pre-empted by Otis's actual mention, that Eddie Izzard puts one strongly in mind of Wheylona. He has the same mannerisms and cadence of speech, including the low-volume/high-pitched voice used for internal dialogue made audible. Seriously, man, it was spooky.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Addendum

A while ago, Yojimbo asked* for suggestions for the name of his soon-to-be-unveiled** (we hope) all-movie blog. Instead of posting our suggestions to his blog, where he can edit them***, Otis and I present you the (mostly) unexpurgated**** results of our brainstorming session, which was held at 70 mph***** on I-90 westbound****** between Ritzville and Moses Lake.

Screen gems
Rushes
The Reel deal
The Projection Booth
Now, That’s a Movie!
Sprocket Holes
The Concession Stand
CineMaven
Red Curtains
Please Extinguish Your cell Phones
Screen Slut
Talking Pictures
Venting my Screen
Reel to Real
Real to Reel
Reel, Too Real!
Bjork’s Swan Dress
Cinema Archipelago
The Lean, Mean, Screenin’ Machine
Film Farts
The Academy of Motion Picture Farts and Sciences
The Celluloid Closet

*Well, begged is more like it, but I’m polite.

**But you know that verbal promises aren't worth the paper they are written on.

***And does anyone else feel slightly put out by that barely-polite notice from Blogger when you post over there?

****The word expurgate is often used interchangeably with bowdlerize and censor, but I think each one actually has a different connotation, although the denotations are admittedly similar.

*****And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

******Although technically a vehicle on this roadway is traveling more southward than westward for long stretches

A rip in the fabric of space-time...

...seems to have let a balmy spring day slide through and land in the middle of October. No complaints from me - today has been filled with fussing around, walking around, running errands, having lunch, playing with cats, and responding papers, and it all seems a little brighter and lighter with the sun out and the warm zephyrs playing. Of course, I can't decide whether to wear a just a t-shirt or a hoodie too, so I keep switching back and forth: small price to pay. I guess we should all enjoy it, since with the morrow come the rains.

Just before we drove off Friday on the road trip to the Spoke, I looked down our block and saw Ruby Scooter lying on her side. It seems someone, perhaps pulling into the parking lot, had clipped her nose and knocked up onto the curb and over. I stopped, righted her, and moved her into the back lot before we took off. There was a significant bit of fiberglass damage to the front wheel well/fairing and some cracks to the lefthand side of the handlebar fairing, but all in all no serious damage: the blinkers work and the mirrors are fine. I made a closer inspection today, and with a bit of drilling and some screws and washers, I should be able to stabilize everything, re-attach the black nosepiece, and generally add a bit of a Mad Max vibe to the whole affair. Viva Ruby!

The conference in Spokane played out just fine, by the way. The sessions were generally very substantial, although I still can't shake the feeling that a lot of the changes to approach that we try are doomed to failure because the very institutions of education in this country are dysfunctional and need to be completely overhauled. Whatever little bits of technique I develop or acquire to increase student involvement, engagement, and learning must be applied in a environment that is inauthentic and ineffective - my professional development ought to be more than learning to make the best out of a bad situation, shouldn't it? Ah, maybe I've just been listening to Stella too much...

I think I could do this. Maybe I should. (I know. Shut up.)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

In the Spoke, posting on Safari

So, the drive over was fun (although I initially went to the wrong college) and the opening of the conference was fine (as fine a conference gets, I guess) but the real deal for the day was the dinner arranged by Gweekers and Mikey at a downtown tavern/eatery. We wound up being eleven and a half, including the new baby who came along (and charmed everyone, of course). In addition to new baby, old friends brought news of new jobs, new homes, and new projects, as well as new gossip to share over good grub and good beer. It was great to be with so many pals from my Year of Living Chenyously, and merely by foregoing sleep and staying up too late, we even got in a private visit with our dear hosts.

And I walked away with yet another T-shirt that totally rawks!

Today is get-down-to-business time; Otis will be hanging about here, grading and working, and I'll be conferencing and all that. We're going to head right back at the close of day, and might even make Isaaquah by sunset.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's Tully-time

Another day of class and academic meetings, a prelude to a weekend academic conference. What else do I expect in the academy, eh?

Since we'll be gone for most of the weekend, we had a delightful dinner last night to acknowledge and celebrate the next two Octoberites: Dingo and Johnbai. We carpooled to a new discovery of Johnbai's, the In the Bowl Vegetarian Noodle Bistro, a hole-in-the-wall Thai place on west Cap Hill. We had a longish wait for a table, since the place is so small, but the food was great and the atmosphere warm, and we lingered over spicy concoctions (with baby stars for the weak) and thoughtful conversation for a good long time. Happy birthday!

Today began very early, as Otis had to rise for a pre-dawn airport run to drop off her brother & co., and I got up with her (since it was not really all that much earlier than I usually get up). I did some housework and turned out that I was wrong about the dishwasher working fine: it does indeed once again get the dishes wet; it's just not getting them at all clean. I'll dink with it a bit more before I give up.

Lots more stuff simmering in my head than is coming out here. Maybe the drive to the east side will clarify some things.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Flash

I don't know yet what to do with these fifteen or so minutes I have at this time of the day. I’m done with all my morning business – I’m all showered and shaved and my bookbag is packed – but if I leave now I will be early for the bus. I could leave in a few minutes and catch a different, earlier bus, but that’s the one that makes me stand in Lake City for a half-hour waiting for a transfer. So I wait an additional ten minutes, walk an additional ten minutes, and get to school a few minutes earlier. Go figure.

So that leaves this now-ten minutes or so to just dink around. In a way, it’s cool – anything that’s not a rush is cool, right? Maybe I’ll come up with some little ritual that fits right in here and sets my day off well. Maybe I’ll do my juggling practice now. Or maybe I’ll blog.

That might work, since it seems harder to find free time these days. Classes, meetings, responding, prep – what is up with this? I am teaching leas than I have the prior two fall quarters, yet I feel busier. Neepers. Maybe I should just take this time as a gift and not worry about it at all.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Surfing in place

It's a quiet night on the ol' homestead. Otis was watching a documentary upstairs but has come downstairs for some old Superman episodes. We thought the dishwasher wasn't working, so I did a whole load the old-fashioned way, and then we managed to get it going - it's humming along now and seems to be working normally.

We spent much of the evening over at 3PB/R. I was trying to research some stuff (for projects yet unmentioned here) and managed to generate a non-zero but essentially negligible amount of data. Sometimes the internets tell you too much, sometimes they don't tell you enough.

Maybe I was just tired. It was a pretty high wattage day in class. I need to figure out some way to drive my lessons forward besides force of personality - it can take a lot out of me. Luckily, Otis made a yummy couscous soup for dinner that was highly restorative.

This should be a "normal" week (no birthdays or quarter starts), so I'll get a better idea of how my workload and schedule will play out. I should say no my-birthdays; two others are fast approaching, although Otis and I will be in Spokane and unable to join the celebratory festivities in person.

Still no pix or movies. Pfui.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Where the heck did the weekend go?

Was it really Friday that I last posted? What's going on? I thought I was staying on campus all week to make sure I didn't have to bring work home, and it seems like all I have done all weekend is respond papers. Of course, that's not technically true.

Friday night, we watched The Red Violin before going to bed. It was pretty cool, except that we never really did totally dig Samuel L.'s character's motivation - and that seemed pretty important.

Saturday, we TCB in the morning and ran some errands, winding up at Than Bros. Pho for lunch. Then we camped in the Ballard Tully's and graded for several hours. We came home, had dinner, and graded again, for almost the entire broadcast of The Swing Years.

This morning, we had an early breakfast with the Putnams - the last of the Half-century Celebrations - came home, and - say it with me - graded all day. Seriously, Otis just finished a minute ago. We didn't even break for lunch, although we did pick up dinner from Whole Foods. I finished a little earlier, but had to do prep for class tomorrow and complete *cough* a couple of job applications *cough* too.

So now I think we will relax with another movie.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Man, where did the time go?

Yesterday was just a blur of teaching-grading-meetings -- I got home a little before eight, and Otis got out of a late appointment just before eight-thirty, and I don't think either one of us did anything productive before falling asleep a couple of hours later.

Today I went into campus to get more work done, stymied a bit by being unable to log into my computer. Oh, and then I had to go to two meetings, too. But I made a nice pasta dinner tonight, and we had a little visit from ferry-bound Yojimbo before that, so that put a nice finish to the day.

The evening has included a walk to return videos, one of which, Enlightenment Guaranteed, we watched sometime this week (I forget when) and found utterly charming. It was all done with digital video and has an almost cinema verite feel to it, but it's a wonderful story with characters that the viewer grows to care about. Coffee and emails almost done, and we'll likely watch The Red Violin later. We need to enjoy tonight, because I have 75 papers and additional paperwork to deal with this weekend, and Otis has to finish off a reading assignment for Northshore as well.

No pics or links. I'm a bad blogger.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Half-a-century, Part three: the day itself

Yojimbo's tribute on the heels of Jon's.

E-cards from the few at work that I let know.

Lunch with Stella (her treat): a walk, soup, quiche, and reinventing education from the ground up, all in forty-five minutes.



Dinner at Perche'No with Otis, complete with complimentary sgroppino.


The drinks are made with lemon gelato, prosecca (sparkling wine), and vodka.

Home for chillaxin' and suchlike.

Phone messages from friends and family.

Totally. Cool.


Actual conversation with the hostess as we were being seated tonight:

Otis: It's his birthday.
Hostess: Oh, how old are you?
Me: Fifty.
Hostess: No! Really?
Me: Yep.
Hostess: (looking at Otis) How old are you?!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Ack!

Man, it seems like it's been life-a-go-go since the Shinto ceremony. This week at Cascadia has been very busy so far, with classes and responding and prep and meetings all running together, and Antioch has started up as well. I closed out my fiscal year spreadsheet (and started a new one, of course). I just this evening sold the Little Black Car to O and Johnbai.

And in between all these bouts of business I have been reading and reveling in the cards and emails and blogs and comments that have been coming my way to wish me birthday goodness. I am actually 20 or so minutes into my 51st year right now, if you adjust for the time difference (hiya, birth-twin K! Happy to you, too!) between here and Long Island College Hospital; the celebration seems to have been going on for days, and it will continue with dinners and get-togethers yet to come. Thanks again, everyone - it's really great.

Oh - and here's a version of what Jon of Monmouth was getting at - I've had it for a while: