Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday Waltz

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bay Area Good Times

Well, that was a whirlwind of a weekend! No sooner did our feet touch California cement and we were on the move, covering San Francisco and points south, peaking with a raucous celebration of my sister's birthday. As I recover and hack into my sleeve thanks to a post-trip cold, here are a few sights captured during our fun tour of my homeland.

The weather was idyllic, sunny with a light breeze off SF Bay. We spotted a single lonely cloud hovering over Alcatraz nestled in brilliant blue. There were lots of opportunities to take in local sights as we walked for five hours covering all points of the compass. A wonderful morning in Golden Gate Park offered some of the best sights, like the bust immortal Cervantes. His singular admirers Don Quixote and Sancho Panza appear to be captured from life, so charming is their likeness.

The Japanese Tea Garden was definitely the highlight of our time in the park. Each section is cunningly isolated, creating the illusion that the world has fallen away and you have entered a zen paradise. That might sound like an overstatement, but with so many international tourists milling around and chatting loudly it is nothing short of miraculous.

No visit to the city is complete without Amoeba Music. For any lover of music and film this is a veritable mecca, but be warned that going in without a plan is like going to the desert without water, totally inadvisable unless you want to disappear forever.

Victorian houses are everywhere you turn, each somehow looking nothing like any of the others, architecture's answer to cookie-cutter suburbs.

Cafe International was my favorite place to start the day when I lived in the city. It is owned by the sweetest, most down-to-earth lady you will ever meet. She was there first thing in the morning when I grabbed a cup down the street from our hotel and gave her customary greeting, "Hi, how are you?" It was so much like the last time I came there over a decade ago that I suspected that I had entered a time machine.

The gorgeous mural that gives Cafe International its name.

American short hairs are the cutest, cuddliest cats you've never seen. They are rare as partisanship. This sweetheart likes to sleep on pillows -preferably when you've warmed it with your head!

My sister lives in a lovely Los Altos neighborhood. This bungalow across the street is something straight out of film noir.

Finally, the birthday zone! Nola is a Stanford University hotspot, attracting hordes of grads and Google employees with its funky Louisiana vibe and Outsider decor. The blackened catfish was delightful.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Meander*

*one more post before I bleach the bathtub!

Our neighborhood Quality Food Center is looking spiffy since it got refurbished. (Seattle oldsters will recall that this used to be Food Giant, a fusty independent grocery that went the way of walkmans and acid-wash jeans.)

Looking east over the Interstate-5 into the University District, one of my Seattle haunts.

Tubs, notorious in its day, looks better since they went out of business.

The Comics Dungeon, our city's funnybook HQ.

Molly Moon's and Issian, the best ice cream and sushi in the city are not only ten minutes' walk from my house but conveniently located on the same block.

Heading home through Lower Woodland Park, which means...'s time to clean that dad-blasted tub!

Wild Weekend

Not for me personally but across the US it was a wild weekend. I was hesitant to blog about it since I don't usually touch on political subjects, but this morning I found myself in a weird position of trying to reflect in my Facebook status how I feel about the historic passage of healthcare reform. I couldn't do it, my feelings are too mixed-up to be distilled to a pithy update. Yes, I'm stoked for reform and happy that thirty million more citizens of our fine country will have access to benefits. What an idea. Still, so many more are left out that it's hard to bust out the party hats, you know?

You've seen the headlines. There was a lot going on besides the Congressional vote, all hot buttons that have me torn up six ways about this insane world we live in. I don't share these to stir the shit or lay some heavy vibe down, that's not my mission, but friends it's my philosophy that it is better to know than not. If that just sounds like a crock, give this one a pass, but like I say, this isn't to sway you to my "side" or any such nonsense like that: draw your own conclusions on these wild times.

The healthcare vote was a milestone and a step in the direction of universal coverage for US citizens. Cool, I'm down with that. Too bad it's still a system designed for profit.

Tea Party folks gathered outside Congress and hurled epithets about race and sex at our elected representatives. Yeah, that's effective. It amazes me how much effort people will put into being hateful and, let's face it, totally unproductive. Really, you think this is adding substance to the issue? Just goes to show that taxation really does bring out the worst in people.

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants took to the streets to march for reform. This is no less important than healthcare but is still buried in rhetoric and intransigence.

This weekend marked the seventh anniversary of the Iraq invasion. Amazing. We're still going strong over there with no sign of leaving any time soon. The sign of international power is most visible in occupying forces, as has been the case for the entire history of civilization. The more things change, etc, and speaking of which...

I get it that if a deity promises a place to live that there is nothing that will prevent you from occupying that land. What boils my blood and breaks my heart (which is super-uncomfortable, take my word for it) is when righteous-minded folks feel justified displacing and killing to fulfill that promise. Billions of US taxpayer money goes annually to support this kind of activity, and what kind of thanks do we get? This weekend the Israeli government (which shouldn't be confused with its populace) continued thumbing its nose at... well, everybody.

Yet another cheery subject: homelessness. It's up thirty-four percent in New York, as was reported yesterday. That's a big leap, and taken amongst the numbers of jobless and uninsured nationwide, these are not happy days for tens of millions of citizens.

Here ends the depressing post. Tidings of joy and sunshine will resume when next we meet. Until then my friends, take care.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Saturday

What makes you happy?
This simple question can make a difference in your day. I know it does for mine, though I don't ask nearly as often as I should. Taking a cue from Secret Forest, I want to share a list of 10 non-hierarchical happinesses in my life (say that ten times fast), and also take the opportunity to recognize 10 Happy Blogs!

1. My family

2. Writing

3. My friends and my gal

4. Musics

5. Games and movies

6. Reading

7. Used Bookshops

8. Travel

9. Sushi and whiskey (though not always together)

10. Battlestar Galactica (what can I say, it's true!)

And how about the aforementioned Happy Blogs? Here's a selection, again in no particular order, of folks who make the interwebs a happier place:

1. Fullet, at Secret Forest (thanks for the inspiration!)

2. Lidian, at Kitchen Retro and The Virtual Dime Museum

3. The Third Uncle

4. Mr Wolcott, at The New Psalmanazar

5. Lauren, at Think Spin

6. Lin, at Duck and Wheel with String

7. Tracy, at The Crazy Suburban Mom

8. cap NEWS

9. Patrick, at Toronto City Life

10. Sparkle the Designer Cat

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Celebrate National 'Stache Day

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Funnies

I once dreamed of being a cartoonist. It's true. I would lug pencil and paper everywhere and doodle away. Even at church on Sunday morning I pursued this wish, as adults modeled their hands for me or some new notion for a superhero struck and I had to draw the uniform. On family vacations I'd park at a desk and hash out pages upon pages of illustrated tales of alien mutants and phantom skulls and fisticuffs galore.

Right around high school a shift took place when I realized I didn't have the patience to write and draw my stories. By the time I went to college the drawing had all but stopped. There were occasions of rekindled desire to draw, to continue an old, unfinished series or create a birthday gift, few and far between but a fun hobby to revisit.

Here are some examples culled from a gigantic pile. One of these days (or weeks, as the case may be) I'll have to scan a complete story and post it here. There are many to select from, done mostly in a humorous vein, illustrations mixed in with collage and framed by attempts at typography. Never a dull moment, right?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gone Writing

This week I'm focusing on the book and haven't had time for new posts, a temporary deal until the first few chapters are hammered into place. The opening of the novel has proven so difficult it's a wonder I haven't thrown myself off the Space Needle! Practical considerations win out and since I cannot write if I'm dead the work must go on.

See you soon!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Speechless TRONday

The trailer is here -and it is magnificent.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Saturday at the Cinema


I didn't see the new Alice in Wonderland just to watch the TRON LEGACY trailer... but it was tempting!

No, instead we saw the new Sherlock Holmes. (Everything old is new again, have you noticed?) If there is justice in the world, Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law will grow old together playing Holmes and Watson.

Buckaroo Banzai is an 80's anomaly. It's got all the weird lo-fi neon-lit trashiness you could hope for. The dialogue is genuinely funny. What hero can you recall who wears red-rimmed glasses and responds to bad news with, "The deuce you say." He's a nuclear physicist/brain surgeon/rock star. He's nattily dressed and has a zinger for every ocassion. "Do you think I'm beautiful?" asks Penny Priddy, the twin sister of his dead wife. "I think,"
says Buckaroo, "you're the queen of the Netherlands."

Then there's the heavies.

Lectroids from Planet 10 by way of the eighth dimension (got that?) are having a civil war and Buckaroo Banzai and his Hong Cavaliers are caught in the middle. Lord John Whorfin, John Small Berries, John Many Jars, and John Big Bootey ("Boo-TAY!") will stop at nothing to win -or make us laugh. These guys are the funniest villains ever. For real, I wouldn't lie.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Scan Arcana No 2

Continuing the runup to our fifth anniversary by looking back at offline pages from my journals...

2005 was the Year of the Green Lantern in case you were wondering. Every year should be named after a superhero, don't you think?

The orange revolution in Kiev unseated a Kremlin puppet from office and following a long period of unrest at the Ukrainian capitol, secured a new election for the presidency. Viktor Yuschenko made a startling figure with his ruined face and promises of liberation from Russian meddling.

Lech Walesa, the Polish union leader (and later president) whose name is synonymous with solidarity and bucking Russian rule, came out as one of Yuschenko's boosters. Seeing what a mess Ukraine continues to be, I wonder how he feels now?

My favorite column in local weekly The Stranger is "I, Anonymous" where the level of honesty is devastating and sometimes hilarious.

Mrs Incredible AKA "Elasti Girl" from yet another of Pixar's brilliant animated films has killer thighs. That and the fact that she is voiced by the always incredible Holly Hunter pretty much guarantees she kicks ass.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Scan Arcana No 1

A bolt of lightning kerplow!ed me the other day when I realized that this year marks my little blog's fifth. Damnation, how stolen time can disappear just like... that. In some ways I'm grateful, so much has changed since then, including the whole posting regularly online thang. My approach to blogging was nothing then like it is now, more of an adjunct to keeping a handwritten journal, and you can see in early entries quick little thoughts and gripes, nothing like the masterpieces of composition and wit that grace zeitheist now. Yeah, right, but you know what I mean. Things change, and not always for the worst.

In recognition of a half decade of web logging... actually, that isn't entirely accurate. It's been longer than that. Back in the days of LiveJournal I was doing approximately the same kind of thing, and that was 2002-ish. Then there was posting to Myspace and a subsequent, abortive effort at fledgling site (bless their souls) that tried and died and fertilized the screen for what has become... zeitheist!

So for the purposes of marking a neat point of entry, and out of an innate fondness for the number, we're going to say it's been five years and leave it at that. The stuff prior was prelude, a rehearsal, apprenticeship, or whatever you want to call it.

Yeah, okay, way cool and all that, but weren't we talking about handmade journals?

Full disclosure: I am a nut for journaling. I've been doing it regularly, with varying degrees of failure, since the wee days of junior high. And before you get your lather up, fear not, none of those pages will appear here. I'm not that masochistic.

Anyhow, the point is that five years back I'd been at this idea for a good while of spilling ink in as miniscule a fashion as possible; the collage aspect came later, after I was out of school and living in Europe.

It was a boredom thing to start, or maybe plain old laziness. Rather than write out descriptions of things, I started finding images and taping them onto the page and writing around them. This developed as time went on and progressively more involved -to the point where I was doing equal parts collage and microscopic writing.

A school counselor once laid it on me that I'm a visual learner. All those drawings and font types I was doodling in my class notes were not the result of a wandering mind but of a learning style that takes in and retains information visually. Says her. Still, there must have been some truth to it. My "note-taking" has only grown the more elaborate, if not any more effective, since then.

What surprises me the most going back over these pages from 2005 is how obsessed with politics they are. Even my girlfriend of the time doesn't get as much attention as political events. I didn't have any love for the Bush administration or for most of the subjects being addressed, and my journal was a torrent of outrage and discontent at that mid-point of the naughties. Well, just another thing that's no longer the same -because you know I'm all about flowers and puppies now!

We've got some time yet until June marks the official anniversary, so expect more scannables from the venerable archive to show up here. You've been warned!