Archive for April, 2010

It’s Friday…

April 30, 2010

… I ain’t got shit to do… guess I’ll post something!

Except it’s past midnight, so I guess it’s technically Saturday. And I just stopped stuffing envelopes for my job (“Make a Ripple – Make a Difference” – y’all should come, June 10th!), so I guess technically I do have shit to do. And a job. Oh well.

I was at the dog park early this morning, and no less than five people commented on what a cute dog I have. I can’t help it. She’s cute. It’s the ears, and the eyeliner. Anyway, I found myself wondering what the correct response to that is. Normally I say “Thank you,” but that seems kinda silly. “Thanks, she was pretty dog-ugly until I gussied her up. It’s all thanks to me, that cuteness.”

So what is a correct response?

“I know, right?”

“Sure, but wait until you get to know her.”

“Shit, don’t let her hear that. She’s already got a big head.”

“Yep, that’s why she ain’t been et’ yet.”

(by the way, I had a few martinis while I was stuffing envelopes. It makes the time flyyyyyy by.)

Out on a photo walk

April 24, 2010

I still remember most of the lessons my dad and my first photography teacher drilled into me. Rule of thirds, golden hour, fill the frame… and most importantly, COMPOSE! Don’t just snap.

This was from back in the good ol’ days of expensive film and hours spent crouched over in the darkroom. After the advent of digital, things changed a bit. In my opinion, too much. Of course my opinion was formed in the editing room of a publishing house, where I had to select one perfect calendar shot from a photographer that took 100 pictures of a single damn plant. I can’t even tell you what the carnage looked like when he shot a whole green house. He’d come back with several chock-full memory cards, and I’d die a little bit inside.

Naturally I do the same thing, every once in a while. At BYOBW, I’m embarrassed to say that I shot more than 500 pictures. It was so fast, and the pretty costumes, and I was so excited and collapsing with laughter… I couldn’t help myself. But hey, I got this:

taking a tumble at "Bring Your Own Big Wheel" race

That’s what happens when you position yourself at “Big Wheel Death Curve” and hold your finger on the trigger, laughing maniacally.

Luckily, though I play free and loose every once in a while when I get all excited, my stats are still mostly on the other side of the photography sluttiness meter. I just got back from a purposeful photography walk (okay, it was a Boonie-dog walk, but I had my camera and I was determined to use it), and I came home with about 50 pictures, half of which I kept, 1/5th of which I was proud enough to post on Flickr.

an orange ball of lights in a sea of translucent green leaves

I bracket, sure. But I try not to go crazy. The only sight that really made me go a little shutter crazy was a pair of abandoned shoes.

a pair of abandoned shoes near a headstone

I keep running into these. I think I’m going to go start a Flickr group for shoes abandoned with a suggestion of an intriguing backstory.

Edit: Done! Come join my group, and start looking out for Forsworn Shoes!

An Oaklandish response to SFist

April 19, 2010

What’s Your Excuse for not visiting your pals in Oakland?

– I have no car.
Dang. Too bad public transit is disdained by all other cities of the world. I don’t blame them; the urine smells on Muni can get something fierce. But I mean, if there was a ferry, rail, or bus to get you across the bay, well, that could be totally helpful.

– I have no bike, thus too afraid to walk the 2.5 miles from BART to your lovely abode.
Wait… you live in the city and you don’t own a fixie? Something sounds wrong about that… How else do you get down to the beach for Sunday Streets, 5 miles away from the closest BART station?

– Traffic on the bridge.
If you really choose to disdain the clean, fast, beautiful options listed above (perhaps out of deference to your hairdo?) and drive, you’ll find surprisingly light traffic 20 out of the 24 hours of the day. Spend the rest of the time catching up on your favorite web2.0 podcast or latest indie music release. Bring a driver, so you can snap sweet pics of the bridge and bay and run them through the hipstamatic app on your phone.

– I promise to come there in the summer, spring, winter, or fall.
Yes! Seasons! We have actual seasons over here!

Too close to Berkeley.
…. Okay, you got me there. I’ve bemoaned that fact myself. But it’s cool; they stay on their side, we stay on ours, even if there’s no here here.

Oakland Firestorm part II is just a spark away.
Really? You’re going to point that finger? One word for you, or actually, one number: 1906. You’re due. We’re prepared.

I’m afraid of running into my ex.
Because all your exes decided that they had to actually flee the city that you lived in? That’s not a good sign, dude.

There’s no Ikea and/or In-N-Out in Oakland.
Um, A) untrue, and B) those are the only things you leave the city for? What about redwoods? We got ’em. A few lakes and miles of park? Got those too. Madly celebrated eateries and restaurants? Yep. A non-profit foundry and fire arts studio? Haven’t seen one of those in the city. Hell, even the Mythbusters, those SF-loving M5 crazy kids, do pretty much all their coolest stuff out East Bay way.

Too hot.
Whatever, wimp. Buy a fan.

I’m more of an Orinda guy.
*snicker* Yes. Yes, you are. Perhaps you should just stay on your side of the bay.We’ll come to visit you, of course. We’ll flatter your latest masterpiece of impressionist art, and you will, of course, pay for dinner.

The funniest thing about the SFist list is that it implies SFers need an excuse. The one I hear the most often? “But… it’s Oakland!” And that’s all right. We’re used to it. And honestly, it’s better this way. We will be happy to hop on BART and come on in for the night, enjoying the awesomeness that SF has to offer, then return to our large, light-filled apartments with hardwood floors and pets waiting for us and Bakesale Betty scones warming in the oven, all while you hunker on your precious little island, completely oblivious to the outside world.

And yes, I’m protesting a bit too much. I was born in Oakland, and I love it, it’s fabulous, with cool spots, miles more diverse than the city … but it’s just not quite as fabulous. Probably won’t ever be. But really, is that any reason to stay away? Ever once in a while doesn’t fabulousness get old? You can only eat petit filet mignon for so long; after a while, you’re going to need some barbecue ribs.

Can’t we both just get along and hate on Berkeley?

Of Gigantic Flies and Cement Cathedrals

April 18, 2010

I meant to start this before my 3rd glass of wine. But oh well.

This morning, I tried to take a bath. I got a nice little breakfast of toast and vegemite, a cup of tea, and set myself up in the bath. The frighteningly huge fly that had been buzzing around was lying dead in the drain; I said a little thank you to who/whatever ended his annoying existence, cleaned him up, and set to.

But. He had a friend.

Less than 2 minutes into my bath (and tea and toast) his buddy (slightly larger than the first one’s gargantuan mass) decided to poke his head out. There’s a crack that runs the length of the tub. He peered out of it, turned straight towards me, then (rather purposefully, I thought) turned around and disappeared.

Minutes later he appeared again, a good bit closer to me. He then proceeded to advance. Bit by bit, through the rest of that uneasy bath, he took slow steps towards me. He didn’t fly; oh no, that would be expected. No, he stalked me.

Perhaps I should say another something about his size. I’m not necessarily against insect death. But swatting this… beast, that would be tantamount to killing a kitten. And I can’t kill kittens.

So. I decided to let him have the bathroom. But he wouldn’t let it go. He ran up the wall, and followed me as I was towelling off. He inched closer to me, even as I was running for the door. Even now, I believe he’s slowly coming toward my bedroom door, the dogs and cats both having failed to bite or swat him out of the air.

I want to scream, “I didn’t kill your buddy! I swear! He was dead when I started my bath! For pete’s sake, I’m sorry I didn’t give him a Christian burial, but I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG!”

Speaking of a Christian burial…

I visited the new Cathedral of Christ the Light for the first time today. Seriously underwhelmed. Where is the grandeur of yore? If I want austere, I’ll visit a Jesuit or Lutheran church. I want Catholicism, I want over-the-top, or if it’s not over-the-top, I want a damn guitar-playing hippie priest. There are certain things I’ve come to expect…

The microphones and acoustics could have worked, if they had really thought that everyone in the place, and within 30 feet of the door, was going to be completely quiet the whole time. As it was, the echoes from people passing by were massively distracting. Cement and the higher wood panelling did not absorb well.

And yet. I kind of liked it. It was light, and airy, and austere. It just felt disingenuous. Like the church was saying, “Hey, I know we’ve got a bad rap. Let’s do the exact opposite of what you expect. Instead of a phallic tower, here’s a yonic (that means visually like a vagina, btw) edifice. Instead of stained glass, here’s an economically efficient digital projection. Instead of mosaics of tile, cement. Instead of flickering candlelight, natural light. See, we’re cool! We’re saving money (you know, your money), and being modern!”

Hey, but the crypt was pretty nice. Except… When precisely did the Catholic church get cool with cremation? I thought that they still expected bodies to rise up during the rapture? Or is this just another part of their, “Hey, we’re cool, we’re modern and hip,” thing?

It feels COMPLETELY wrong to be writing this 10 hours later, after 3 glasses of wine and 2 Die Hard movies, but, hey, whatever. That seems to be the way I roll.

In a lonely graveyard

April 7, 2010

I was walking through Mountain View cemetery yesterday, wishing there was some kind of camera that I could use to take a snapshot of a sound.

Oh. Wait. I guess a voice recorder does that.

Okay, I wish that I had quick and easy access to it, like the phone on my camera.

Oh. Wait. I think there’s something like a memo recorder on my iPod, and on my phone.

Okay, I wish there was a place and a community that encouraged the sharing and appreciation of sounds, the way that Flickr does for photographs…

Oh. Wait.

Okay, scratch all that. Starting again.

I was walking through the Mountain View cemetery yesterday, just before sunset, appreciating the silence. I had headed off to one of the lesser maintained corners. That place has stunning private mausoleums, and amazing historic sections, and beautifully maintained grounds, but there are a few corners that are… different.

Last week I found the corner that was reserved for “Homes” back in the 1800s. They must have donated the space, since they certainly don’t do a thing to keep it up. It’s covered with pine needles instead of grass, and most of the stone is broken or missing. There are a slew of identical cement-framed rectangles, with a step at the front proclaiming them for use of the Oakland Orphanage, or for a Home for Unfortunate Ladies, or a dozen other fascinating charity names. No personal names inside the plot (except for a few prominent Sisters), just the place name at the front, and a big communal square of anonymity.

But I digress. That was last week. Yesterday I was in my other favorite corner, just as old, also bereft of fertilized green grass, but slightly more maintained, with several intact personal headstones. It’s actually my favorite spot, with eucalyptus trees covering the gentle hills, and there’s always the sound of a breeze coming through the trees there.

Yesterday there was another noise. The rain from the weekend was still coming down from the many hills above this spot, and about 50 feet from the bottom of the path, the old gutters had split, and were clogged with leaves and debris. The water could not get any further, and it clearly had made its own path. Straight down. I could hear a muted waterfall, diving into god-knows-what space below the graves.

Are there catacombs in California? If not, there may soon be.

Ex-cuuse me, hip knitters?

April 1, 2010

Okay, the prosecco is kicking in. I felt bubbly and happy, and I was cruising through Twist Collective’s new issue, drooling over several patterns (Timpani, I’m coming for you, I swear).

Then I ran into this.

Are they serious? There’s no tongue-in-cheek thing going on here? I know Twist is not Bust or anything, but I thought it was a little hipper than to put in a big ol’ side panel of generalizations. Almost all of which I fail, making me feel like maybe I shouldn’t be reading them, if I am, apparently, such a piss-poor knitter (who am I kidding, I haven’t finished a scarf in a year, I’m not finishing that gorgeous jacket) AND a piss-poor female.

Women love to impress, stand out in a crowd.

Um… no. I don’t even blog for notoriety;  my best friends have called me screaming because I hid this blog from them for many, many months.

Women love to shop and are looking for what’s in style today.

Again, that doesn’t put me in with these “women.” I have been known to suffer “shopper’s overload,” a syndrome that basically means I leave full carts in the middle of aisles as I run screaming for the exit, in malls, Ikeas, K-Marts, whatever. I have a critical breaking point in regards to shopping. As for what’s in style today… I still bemoan the fact that the PERFECT pair of jeans that fit me like they used my hips for the model went out of production eight years ago. I’d sure as s*#t buy them today if they were still out there.

A woman will dress up for any occasion.

I realized last week that the jeans I wore to work, and for cocktails afterwards, were so old that they had a hole in the crotch. I could be wrong, since I’m apparently from a different planet as this author, but I don’t think that’s dressing up.

Women wear socks below their ankles with fuzzy balls on them.

This is the one that truly enraged me. Anyone that knows me well, knows that I have a THING about socks. It’s kind of an obsession. In fact, it’s the single shopping obsession that I can cop to. I have one full dresser drawer, overflowing with socks, broken into 4 sections: Halloween themed socks, knee and thigh-high socks (many of which have Halloween themes as well), hand-knit socks, and boring white athletic socks. I’ll let you guess which section is smallest.

Needless to say, not a single pair of those socks falls below the ankles or has fuzzy balls on them.

I’m not sure how that assumption offends me on a feminist level… More like on a sock connoisseur level.

Women know what colors go well together.

Well, okay. Maybe. Except for a certain seagull-ish lady I know who chooses to wear perfectly matching outfits every day rather than put together colors. We call her the the Monotone Queen.

Women will skip lunch to afford a new outfit.

I think my thighs are all the rebuttal (hey, and my butt too!) that I need to offer here.

Women like clothing to look cute.

Well, yeah. But I don’t stress if instead of “cute” I get “disturbing.” Or just “nondescript.”

So I got 1 1/2 out of 7. If anyone’s counting, that’s approximately 21%. Pretty firmly in the F area. Twist, what are you telling me? Am I not woman enough to read your magazine?

Edit April 2nd
In the cold, sober light of day, I should probably mention that I was giggling last night when I wrote all that, and that the article itself was a cute little bit talking about a book that I in no way mean to pan. I just resented the sidebar. In a giggly way.

Party Down

April 1, 2010

I’m celebrating today. I cracked open some prosecco, and I’m celebrating.

I don’t actually have much to celebrate; I was monumentally lazy today, doing none of the fun ditching work things I planned, missing the St. Stupid’s Day Parade, and, even more heartbreaking, the “bring a can, get in free” day at ACT that I always truly love. I actually worked from home – how devoid of celebration-earning is that?

But. There was a bottle of prosecco in the fridge, and it needed cracking.

So… ta daa! I have a new website! Or a new business. Or something.

I’ve never fooled myself into thinking I’m a graphic designer, and I still don’t think that, but I do know my way around photoshop. A little bit. Enough that I apparently delighted my sister, and I started wondering if there were other new authors that might be delighted by a very cheap designer of promo materials.

We’ll see. It’s out there. I might even promote it a bit. But for now, it’s enough that it’s out there. I think it was one big procrastination device, but maybe it’ll make me a little money, and now I can go back to not-writing for free. Or maybe I’ll actually finish that story about the end of the world…

We’ll see. In the meantime, more prosecco, please.