Friday, March 19, 2010

SXSW kicks my butt

Ooof. What can I say? I had too much fun yesterday. It's a damn good thing I got as much exercise as I did, or I'd really be hurting! 

It's SXSW here in Austin, the huge music/film/web fest that's been going on for almost 30 years. It started out as a way to promote local bands, but now they bring bands in from all over and have big concerts of well-known acts. If you like music or film, it's a heck of a lot of fun.

My neigborhood, SoCo, is chock-a-block with alternative venues. They're not part of the official SXSW, and do tend to feature local bands. The San Jose Motel, Güerro's and a bunch of little shops have music. The vendors that usually only appear on weekends are set up, but best of all the streets are filled with people. Cool people. People wearing wonderful clothing! People with foreign accents! I swear I saw Xeni Jardin at an event yesterday! I even drew a picture of her in my journal because her outfit was so cool. I bought drinks for a singer. I talked to a journalist in a bar. OK, it was really a restaurant that serves drinks. (OK, OK, it was Manuel's!)

It's something like $495 to get a badge to get into all the featured things, but you can troll the streets for places that don't require badges and there are a lot of outdoor concerts to keep the natives from getting too restless. They get restless because they're stuck in the fucking traffic. Half the streets downtown are closed off for this event, and the other half seem to have one lane closed for road construction. Now whose brilliant idea was that? (The construction, I mean.)

So. The cats are getting fed late. My feet hurt from all that walking. My head feels strangely OK, considering.

And I still have another two days to go!

I will survive.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Post-Babylonian Pediment

Post-Babylonian Artifact is a term my friend Brad Massengill came up with years and years and years ago. I have, in my 'collection,' a couple of Brad's PBAs, and am now happily making my own.

After eleven years of living in this lovely little house, I am finally getting around to putting up the trim. Why, you may wonder, has it taken me eleven years to get around to doing this? The truth is that I have paid for this to be done twice, and it never got done. Other things got done instead; there were some misunderstandings about what could be done for how much, and, well, it came down to me having to do it myself... Which meant I needed the tools to do it... And then I cut my hand off with the table saw... (No, no, not quite... It just seemed that way.) (There's a post about that somewhere here.)

So, finally, having overcome my reluctance to use the table saw again, I finished the floor, which meant I could do the trim. Then I decided I wanted to do the beadboard, which meant more trim, and then I had a vision... A vision of things sitting on top of the doors. Carved things. Suns. Moons. Stars. Hearts. Hands. All sorts of visions filled my head. Unfortunately, I don't carve and I'm not about to start trying. I do, however, have a jig saw, and thought perhaps I could create the thing I had seen with it.

It's a pediment. I'm not sure why something that goes on top of something is called a 'pediment.' It seems to me that a pediment should be at the foot of something,  but what do I know?

Somehow the whole Post-Babylonian thing is much in my mind these days. I have been reading with sheer and utter delight the Thursday Next series by Jason Fforde. It's a series of alternate reality detective novels set in a England in the mid-eighties where literature is much, much more important than it is in the generally accepted reality of 02010. (This blog is and always will be Y10K compliant.) (Unless I forget.) Don't bother if you're not into books or alternate reality or silliness. The books are sort of a cross between Philip K Dick and Brazil but in a literary vein. I loved PK in college, especially Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Ubik.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The sport of my mad mother...

Michael Nunley and me...

Looking through an old photo album today, I came across photos from my high school play, the one I 'acted' in. The one I helped with, Henry V, was a much better play, but I only helped with makeup and costumes on that one. I can remember speeches from Henry V - the ones my friend, Nancy Lee, as Chorus had - but none from TSOMMM. I don't think I did a very good job of remembering them at the time, come to think of it. As I recall, it wasn't the best play in the world, but I love these costumes... And the make up!
Wendy, John Samford, Phyllis Wheeler (at bottom), Joyce Fischer at left.

Don't we all look like vicious thugs? The costumes were made out of fake fur and were very hot, as I remember. As I recall there was a lot of snarling in the play. And here is one of my favorite photos from the play. It wasn't at the time, but somehow the image is oddly reminiscent of a more recent one. At least I didn't have to stand on a box and worry about electrodes being attached to my genitals...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Last night I went to the visitation of an old friend of mine. Let's call him George. He was in the Optimist Club with me, and was my mentor, so there was no way I could get out of going.

I'm not big on visitations, you know, where you view the deceased. I don't think it's a Unitarian thing, at least I never remember one as a kid. We're more the 'burn 'em and urn 'em' types.

There were a lot of other folks from our club there and we stood around and told stories about George and the things he had done. He was the resident pessimist in the club, and as such, will be sorely missed. At a certain point I went over to one of George's sons to offer my condolences. He's a nice man, and we chatted briefly, and then I guess he assumed I would want to view his dad, and so he sort of shooed me into the viewing room. I didn't want to duck out, so I walked up to the casket and looked.

George looked very, umm, well, dead, which was to be expected, I suppose. Normally the people in coffins look a bit more like waxed fruit and I guess that's what I was expecting, so it was a bit of a shock. There was another man also viewing George just to my left. He turned to me, stuck out his hand and said "Hullo, I'm Alan H. How did you know George?" (The names here have been changed a bit... Perhaps.) I said that we were in the same club. He told me that he and his parents had rented some property from George over on 6th Street. "My parents were So and So H. and Such and Such H. Did you know them?" he asked. I allowed as how the names sounded familiar. His father, he told me, was a famous physicist. "Ahh," I said, having no idea why the name was familiar but that wasn't it.

He said that, in their decline, his parents had lived in a nursing home. They had died in 2000 within five months of one another! George used to come visit them. There was a 95-year-old woman in the nursing home named Laverne, which is only odd because George's wife is/was named Laverne. One day Alan asked George if he wanted to meet 95-year-old Laverne. "There's only one Laverne in my life," George told him.

The whole time we were having this long and somewhat bizarre conversation I pretty much had to stare at George. The very dead George in his coffin. It was either that or stare at Alan, and, frankly, I didn't want to encourage him. I wanted to run. Finally I had the brains to look to the other side and saw a long line of people waiting for their chance to view George. A very long line of polite people, people unwilling to interrupt the tete a tete that Alan and I were earnestly having in front of the coffin. And I knew one of the people in the line, another Optimist, and could turn to Alan and say "Dear me, I see a friend I must go say "Hullo!" to, " and dash off.

It was only when I'd entirely escaped the funeral home and was driving home that it occurred to me that the reason the name 'H.' sounded familiar was that this very same man had buttonholed me at Laverne's funeral five years ago, where we'd had a very similar conversation.

Friday, March 5, 2010

dream images

Pages 92-93, Through a Glass Darkly

Sometimes images come to me in dreams, as both of these did this week. The one on the right came first, and the one at the lower left, second. They're both mixed media: watercolor crayons (Caran d'Ache Neocolor II), watercolors, including metallic ones, gloss medium, and varnish. 

There's some marginalia, too. The bindery got in a lovely little book of hours, written out and illuminated in Paris in the 1470s. The calligraphy is gorgeous. The illuminations are gorgeous. The marginalia is gorgeous. The page size is about 5x7", and the text area is really tiny, maybe 3x4," so there are BIG margins. The illustration on this page is about double the size of the one in the text. I'm using cheesy gold pens; the book's pages are, of course, gilded. Oh, it is a thing of beauty!