Wednesday, January 31, 2007

For posterity

I got out the digital recorder for an language assessment I have to administer in a few days. Since I'm always, apparently, looking for an excuse to not study, I started to listen to what's still on there.

I took the recorder along with us to Italy a couple years ago. At the time, I was really interested in capturing environmental sounds and music, and I got lots of those...mostly dramatic old church bells and street musicians. I also tried to record surf and rain, which didn't work so well. It mostly sounds like noise.

One of the best recordings is of an accordian player in a long tunnel in Manorola in the Cinque Terre. I started recording at the opening of the tunnel, and you can hear the music get clearer as we walk closer to the musician situated in the middle of the tunnel, and then fade and echo again as we get to the end of the tunnel. Another recording is of an accordian duo in a restaurant, with a large table of Germans sitting behind us shouting and singing along.

What I didn't expect was how much I'd appreciate listening to my own descriptions of where we were and what we were up to at the moment. I kept these descriptions to a minimum as I don't like the sound of my recorded voice. Listening to them now, I wish I would've recorded and described a lot more. The sounds combined with the narration really brings me back to the sights and smells and feelings of the trip. It reminds me that I'd like to do a lot more audiophiling. Note to self.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Woe is Roxy

Our next door neighbors, with the yucky chainlink fence and the plastic chicken-in-a-bucket, got a dog last year. Roxy is a small, spastic terrier, and she is not happy. Or that's what we think.

These neighbors bought the dog for a daughter that visits maybe one weekend a month. Apparently she has a dog "at her mom's house" so therefore she needed one at dad's house. I'm not sure the neighbors realize that dogs are pets, not pajamas.

Roxy is fixated on us. She sits in the window watching our house. She runs out into the yard when we walk out the door (luckily she has a dog door), springing up and down until we come to the chainlink fence and wriggle our fingers through and talk to her. After asking permission, we sometimes take her on walks, something she doesn't get often if ever, and she nearly strangles herself with excitement. When we take her home, she pulls back on the leash as soon as she realizes we're walking up her driveway. She doesn't want to go. It breaks my heart.

When the weather was better, we would bring Roxy over to our yard to "play" with Sammy. This means ol' Sam would stand in one place and wag her tail and bark, while Roxy ran maniacally around the yard, looping around and sometimes under Sammy. Good times.

Yesterday, Roxy stood by the back fence and barked for about an hour. It was a consistent kind of bark, at nothing and for no particular reason. I think she saw me come home and was telling me to come get her. She has done this several times before.

Maybe I'm projecting all of this, with my big gooey dog heart...but I don't think so. Ray agrees that if we're ever offered, Roxy can come live with us just like she wants.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Favorite art, part III

H.C. Westermann
Defoliated, 1967

A few years ago, I was in Chicago for a conference. I skipped out on class one day and went to the Museum of Contemporary Art. They were installing a massive exhibit on H.C.Westermann. I peered over the ropes and was intrigued by all these amazing wooden objects and sculptures, put together in whimsical, sometimes mind boggling and often evocative ways. Alas, the exhibition wouldn't open until Friday, the day I was heading home.

I skipped out of class again later in the week and went back to the museum. I noticed a school group was getting an advanced tour of the Westermann show, and I tried to discreetly join them. Nope, said the security guy...not open to the general public. I started walking away, and another museum employee came after me and told me to go ahead and walk through. Wow. Incredible. I lucked out.

Memorial to the Idea of Man If He Was an Idea, 1958

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Favorite Art, part II

Matthew Northridge

New City from "Out of Site: Fictional Architectural Spaces"

I saw this massive piece at a Henry Art Gallery exhibition a few years ago. Northridge created a cityscape out of masonite tiles covered in found print materials like magazines, catalogues and books. The whole thing covered at least a 15' square area (actually, it was probably a lot larger). When I saw it, I wanted to try something similar in my living room. Brilliant, imaginative and fun piece of art.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


The most annoying part of the crazy snow weather we've had in the last two weeks is the delinquent garbage pickup. Our garbage has been curbside for a week now. It has not been picked up in two weeks. It is making me unhappy. It also makes me realize how much waste we produce. We are disappointing consumers...or rather decent consumers and therefore disappointing disposers.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Favorite art

Jan Van Eyk
Giovanni Arnolfini and his Bride, 1434

This has long been one of my favorite paintings. I've never seen it in person. I really like everything that's happening in the scene...their expressions, his upheld hand, her hand over her belly, the little dog and the cast-off shoes at the bottom. My favorite part, however, is the mirror in the background, in which you can see the scene, obviously, from another angle, including possibly the painter. It adds so much depth and dimension!

Apparently this one is at the National Gallery in London. Make a note of that, Jana, for 2009.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Doin' the happy dance

Though maybe it's premature, and though I need to learn more about this man, I can't contain my excitement.

Barack Obama is running for President!

(There are 734 days left of the Bush Presidency. Let them be quick.)

Monday, January 15, 2007


"Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love." (December 11, 1964)

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." (Strength to Love, 1963)

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. " (Strength to Love, 1963)

- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929 - 1968

Friday, January 12, 2007

West Seattle needs

1. A good take-out burger joint like Red Mill or Kidd Valley. As large as W. Seattle is, there isn't really anything that compares to these two Seattle burgerstitutions. When the mood strikes, we've gotten take-out from Luna Park, but it's just not the same.

2. Tutta Bella. We have to go to Wallingford or Columbia City to get Neapolitan pizza, which is no problem as there are other fine establishments to visit in both neighborhoods. Sometimes it'd be nice to have something closer to home, especially since that new Tallarico whatsit on California does NOT cut it. Hard to believe "gourmet" pizza could be that unappealing.

3. Trader Joe's. I don't mind driving to Burien or stopping in the U-District on my way home, but does TJ's know that they'd do booming business in this 'hood?

4. Third Place Books/Honey Bear Bakery. This match was made in heaven, and sadly limited to Ravenna and Lake Forest Park. Move south please!

5. Scarecrow Video! Not a chance in hell they're opening up another location, but wouldn't it be divine?!?!

Thankfully, we've got...

1. Great coffee places like Uptown Espresso, Cafe Ladro and Bird on a Wire.

2. Easy Street Records for pancakes, breakfast burritos, cds and really loud music.

3. The taco truck and other authentic Mexican foods. (La Costa makes honorable mention, though it's in Burien.)

4. The Salvadorean Bakery

5. Lee's, the Best Chinese/PanAsian Restaurant In The World. It's like you're eating at Wild Ginger, minus the swank digs and prices. And for like $5-6 bucks, you can get a great lunch.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Obligatory storm post

It has been raining sideways -- again -- all afternoon and supposedly more is on the way, including some of the frozen stuff. I'm anticipating we'll lose power yet again, so I printed out 2 weeks worth of supplemental class readings. Granted, we probably won't lose power for anywhere near that long, but at the rate this winter is going, who knows!

Wow, you should see it blow. If I were Andy K. I'd be peeing my pants with joy.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Uh, reviews

Sweet Land
Yep, Bob, this was a fantastic movie. It was a nice little dream where I forgot I was sitting in a theatre. Such beautiful performances and cinematography and storytelling. Made me yearn for the plains of the midwest in an earlier time. Big sky, big fields, hard work, simple life. (And beautiful people. The two main characters really lucked out, Jana and I noted.)

Seahawks 21, Cowboys 20
Ooooeee, if this wasn't one of the most fun games I've watched in a long time. The 4th quarter itself was just insanely good fun. Ray and I enjoyed fantastic seats (thank you Sooz!) and were on our feet nearly more than off. Yea for Jerramy Stevens, who redeemed all those bobbled balls, and too bad for Dallas QB Romo, who botched a place kick hold at just the right moment. Great game! (Honestly, I think the Cowboys played better, but hey, mistakes are part of sport too.)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

5 more things

Accepting Jana's challenge...5 more things about me that you may not know. How about an entertainment theme:

1. The ultimate Thanksgiving dinner would include Denzel Washington, Al Pacino, and Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan.

2. Though I'm not much of a TV watcher, I can get sucked into really cheesy 80s sitcoms. I once had the theme song to "Charles in Charge" stuck in my head for a week.

3. Entertainment Weekly is my favorite magazine at the moment.

4. Many people know I have a 1970s pop culture void, but don't know I'm pretty familiar with 1950s and 60s television and musicals.

5. My favorite TV shows (the only ones I watch with regularity) are The Office, Battlestar Gallactica, The Sopranos, and when I catch it, the Dog Whisperer.

I tap Miss D, Lloyd, Janie.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Too many movies?


This holiday season I've been very lucky to pack in a bunch of movies, making it pretty close to a perfect winter break.

Casino Royale
Daniel Craig makes Pierce Brosnan look like a pansy. Don't get me wrong, I thought Brosnan made a great Bond, but Craig has the grit to take 007 new places. And he didn't have any silly stunts, such as surfing with all the flair of Tony the Tiger.

Rocky Balboa
I enjoyed this movie, but I have to admit...I've never really seen a Rocky movie before. Yeah, yeah, I should be ashamed of myself, but it just hasn't happened, more than seeing a few clips here and there of the previous installments. I saw this movie with a Rocky fan, and she kept sniffling and nudging me during all the touching parts (which were mostly lost on me). But I like a good sports movie, so it was worth it.

Curse of the Golden Flower
Huh? Beyond the gorgeous costumes and impressive number of extras (not counting CGI effects) wearing matching outfits, this movie was disappointing. Being a big Crouching Tiger fan, I was really excited to see this. Turns out none of the characters are sympathetic, and there's not even many good action sequences. I would've enjoyed it more had they lost the dialogue and replaced it with some good music. And Chow Yung Fat, who is usually fairly nice to look at, er...wasn't.

The Holiday
Despite lackluster reviews, which noted Cameron Diaz and Jude Law's unimpressive (though nice to look at) contributions, I thoroughly enjoyed this flick. Yes, it was predictable and wholly uninventive, but sometimes it's nice eat a big slab of cake even though (and often because) it has no nutritional value. Kate Winslet and Jack Black had surprisingly believable chemistry, and Black indulged in a few Jack Black moments that added to his character, rather than deteriorate into Robin Williams-ness. Fun chick flick best consumed with girlfriends.

The Good German
Cate Blanchett and George Clooney's were well-suited to this 1940s-style picture, since they both transcend present-day movie stardom. Ray and I agreed that Steven Soderbergh was trying to capture the acting styles (not to mention art direction) of movies like Casablanca, and it worked, most of the time. On other occasions, especially the closing scene, we were tempted toward eye-rolling. But all in all, a pretty good WWII-era story. We have higher expectations for the other "Good" movie out right now.

Pursuit of Happyness
Will Smith. He is a great actor, though he hasn't had a role that shows it this well since Six Degrees of Separation (and that was 13 years ago!). This movie was exhausting, mostly because most of Smith's scenes required him to run in frustration at breakneck speed around San Francisco in a suit. But it was a touching, compelling movie. And any actor that can well-up like Will Smith (face still, eyes getting ever redder) is a great actor. Little Jaden Smith was also impressive.

Sweet Land
Due to see this with Jana this week.