Saturday, February 26, 2011

Odds and ends


I snagged a second View-Master to revamp like the one I sent out at Christmas. You can also see the $2 lace curtain panel I draped over one of my tables. I think I like how it adds a little something to the table. :-)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Zero

I can be pretty opinionated (please...pretending to be shocked does not become you). However, there are plenty of times when I experience or read something that I just don't know what to think. The Zero by Jess Walter is just such a novel.

My friends will all attest to the fact that I tend to read darker novels. Rarely will you find me settling in with a light comedy or romance novel. In fact, I was embarrassed* when folks discovered I had read Twilight. Well, The Zero, which is set in the days and months following 9/11, is a dark, twisted maze that serves to indict many of the political leaders of that time.

The story is told from the perspective of Brian Remy, a New York cop who was at the scene when the World Trade Center went down. Remy seems to suffer some kind of post-traumatic break that causes huge gaps in his memory. As such, you experience mere blips of Remy's depressing life by jumping from scene to scene as his condition deteriorates. As he transitions from what is essentially a glorified tour guide leading celebrities through the post-tragedy carnage to an operative at some secretive government agency that seems hell bent on magnifying the terrorist threat (even if it has to manufacture it), there is very little that bonds me to Remy and makes me want him to succeed.

I didn't like the book, but I can't dismiss it outright either. Though confusing and depressing at the best of times, Walter manages to get across at least a couple of poignant messages in all of that jumping around, one of which is levied by the character that might actually be the only real terrorist in the book. “That’s what happens when a nation becomes a public relations firm. Everything is the Alamo. You claim victory in every loss, life in every death.”

If you need resolution at the end of a book or some semblance of a happy ending, you may want to leave this one on the shelf.

*Allow me a small amount of book snobbery, and I'll readily admit to my low brow taste in movies (raise the roof for the Step Up series, ya'll). Of course, wait 'til I try to convince you I saw Gnomeo & Juliet simply because it was a riff on Shakespeare. Snort.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cozy thrift finds

This past weekend I took a quick trip to Unique Thrift. I'm always envious of other people's afghan collections on cold winter nights, so I was excited to score this brightly colored afghan for $4. How great are these granny squares though?! I couldn't really resist the hidden potential I saw peeping through the plastic of the $5 bag. Once everything had been washed, I was thrilled to lay everything out on my bed and see what I had. All I need to do is whip up a few more granny squares and sew this bad boy together.

What a sweet find for the lazy knitter in me!

rows of grannies

treasure found

thrifted afghan

rainbow brite

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It was the worst of times

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Alright, I allowed myself to be positive yesterday, but let me be frank. There is a lot of negativity happening out in this vast world of ours.

"...winter of despair..."

                                                   "...season of darkness..."

It's almost as if Dickens met Representative Cantor and the whole host of Tea Party flunkies we are having to deal with. Honestly, I get so mad at what they are attempting to do that I can't move. Can't even breathe. I begin to ponder boxing classes to channel the anger they ignite in me. Coping mechanisms are a must.

Do they hate women?
  • Take H.R. 3, for example, which was said to be an attempt to redefine "forcible rape".
  • What about the House vote to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that focuses on women's health and sex education?
Clearly they think the environment can take care of itself.
I'm also curious what logic there is to their tactics in Wisconsin after all the grandstanding we heard about job creation.  Oh...right...logic isn't really a requirement to hold political office.

I could go on, but really, I need to focus on happier topics for a while. My only goal is that hopefully I have made you angry enough to do something.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It was the best of times

Bugout Show 4

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

What a great time to be alive. To be surrounded by such creativity and opportunity is truly a blessing. The world seems full of people fighting for change, lifting others up and creating beauty in places where hope is sometimes absent.

Two recent reports from Good magazine got me pumped. The intersection of street art and education at Manual Arts High School is a good example of what can happen when people are willing to step outside their comfort zone. In a school where gang activity and lockdowns are not unfamiliar, some teachers chose not to bury their heads in the sand. Instead, they sought creative ways to reach kids likely labeled at-risk.

While reading Dickens is a valiant exercise, I feel like it's clear how forcing everyone into the same box won't work. Bringing street artists into the school and supporting the arts program gives kids the option to explore other strengths and, judging from the article, inadvertently learn collaboration and respect. It gives the students another way to be special. Anyway, I think it's cool. I'm supportive of any teacher doing what they can to inspire and educate.

Want to know what else is cool? It's the collaboration between Google and Red Bull that allows you to peruse Google maps and view street art around the world. I'm going to have to forget I know about this site, or I'll waste hours on the hunt.

Girl picking mushroom in Norway? Why, yes, it does exist! think I'm a little Pollyanna? I thought I should throw a little positivity out there before my political rant tomorrow.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Can coffee show us the way?

I keep waiting for the perfect time and the right words to come to me about a few hours spent doing some research in the nether regions of Virginia. However, as so often is the case, waiting for these things can be infinite. So, I'm just going to leave you with a few images of that weekend morning and a couple of short thoughts.

Demolition Coffee provided a solid cup of coffee served up in a place with spot on ambiance.

Given the right chair, some scuffed up old wood and caffeine, great ideas can start to flow.

Demolition Coffee Co

working weekend


that amazing wallpaper spotted in the wild

your the bomb

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Painting the roadtrip

Modern art doesn't have to be scary. I love modern art (and I really do think I mean love). It's part of that inspiration addiction I keep talking about. I sometimes feel like there's a growing trend in 'shock' art*, people creating the weird or disturbing simply to be weird and disturbing. I realize this is actually nothing new and that plenty of artists we (i.e., me) now embrace that were considered disturbing back in their day. I like more than my fair share of offbeat artists. Still, there is something sublime in an artist who can paint what your eyes see and your heart feels in such a realistic way.

When I picked up the latest copy of BLUECANVAS magazine and saw the pieces by Brian Martin, I found an artist who does just that.

some good bread

He paints what my eyes see in the world around me and that I can't seem to make my camera capture.


I see and feel in his paintings that same thing I get when I cock my head a certain way and gaze at the horizon or that random row of houses.




All images are from Brian Martin and The Broadstreetstudio.

*Think of them as the shock jocks of the art world.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Go forth and do!

bathroom at Demolition Coffee Co

I have been crazy inspired by people and places this weekend. I've alluded to this before, but inspiration really is like a drug. It takes you where you feel invincible. Ideas come at a record pace only to be surpassed by the next idea. The weekend so far has been spent trying to consume these thoughts, feeding off of them in gluttonous abandon.

One of these finds is the Dear Sugar column over at the The Rumpus, specifically, Write Like a Motherfucker. Seriously. It's brilliant, uplifting and much better than Nike's Just Do It. Get over your aversion to a little colorful language and absorb the message.

"I didn’t know if people would think my book was good or bad or horrible or beautiful and I didn’t care. I only knew I no longer had two hearts beating in my chest. I’d pulled one out with my own bare hands. I’d suffered. I’d given it everything I had.

I’d finally been able to give it because I’d let go of all the grandiose ideas I’d once had about myself and my writing—so talented! so young! I’d stopped being grandiose. I’d lowered myself to the notion that the absolute only thing that mattered was getting that extra beating heart out of my chest. Which meant I had to write my book. My very possibly mediocre book."

"Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig."

"So write... Not like a girl. Not like a boy. Write like a motherfucker."

Honestly, I just wanted to copy and paste the whole thing. So many of my friends have stories inside of them, and this, my friends, you should read. 

*I snapped this photo in the bathroom because I thought the light was lovely.
**Happy belated birthday, Abe. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Herb & Dorothy and the Case for Collectors

After allowing it to linger on my "must watch" list, I finally managed to see Herb and Dorothy.


I had seen bits and pieces about it floating around the internet and but was completely oblivious to the Herb & Dorothy phenomenon prior to that. The documentary did not disappoint. I loved watching this doddering couple age. In addition to the passion they bring to art collecting, they also demonstrated some wicked savvy when acquiring pieces. I'm not talking about their forward thinking and ability to get in at the forefront of several major art movements. These folks are people savvy. I believe the film, at one point, talks about how they didn't just collect art but also collected artists. They took time to form relationships and that, in the end, benefited them greatly. To me, that just seemed so sharp.

About halfway through the movie, I started to get a little worried about Herb and Dorothy. They were so obsessive about collecting that I began to wonder if they might be well suited for an episode of Hoarders. Stored art filled so much of their living space that there wasn't room to live. I changed my mind knowing that they were prepared to donate their collection so that future generations could enjoy and learn from it.

That was actually my favorite part...the fact that they so selflessly gave most of their collection away to the National Gallery of Art and museums around the country (50X50).

Such an interesting film that, of course, got me thinking about collections. I think most everyone has experience collecting something at some point in your life. I started out with stamps...and Elvis memorabilia. My collections now include metal robots and the letter 's' in movable type. Some of my favorite collections belong to other folks...
Are there collections that find their way into your life?

Monday, February 07, 2011

Sophie's Choice

There are way too many online courses calling to me right. While I can't do them all (or probably even two), I'm wooed by the shiny colors and promise of new inspiration and skills.

Sidebar: This totally just reminded me of that episode of Gilmore Girls where Lorelai and  Sookie take the seminar on opening your own inn and how Sookie refers Jackson as a seeker for once taking a course on journaling.

Help me decide which one I should do!

Indie 3.0

I don't plan on taking over the world immediately, but this could be mighty helpful when I do.

I love to paint and consider it such a relaxing hobby. Plus, I have a lot of respect for the creativity of these two artists. This course has already started, but I'm hoping if I decide to give it a go, I can still join in.

Now Available

I received a new sewing machine for Christmas, so I'm thinking this e-course would be an excellent way to flex some creative muscle. Shouldn't registering for this course be a no brainer?

e-course workbook PDF pages
Discovering Y.O.U. {art marketing e-course}

Someone sent me a link to this last course earlier today. I'm thinking it might be a little flashy for me, but on the flip side, there doesn't seem to be a lack of materials provided. I tend to be cocky when it comes to media and marketing, but maybe this could provide some new ideas for various aspects of my life where this matters.

I'm indecisive in most areas of my life, so a few opinions are much appreciated.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Give 'em hell

Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for.

Earl Warren, former Supreme Court Chief Justice

give 'em hell, harry

I spotted this quote tacked to the wall in a state government office today and found it incredibly inspiring.

Lately I have found myself struggling to find the time to accomplish all of the grand goals I have swimming around in my head. Creative goals. Education goals. Professional goals. Political/Activist goals. I almost used a Harry Potter metaphor about splitting myself into multiple people but thought better of it.

Instead, I focus so much energy on just trying to make a difference in one these areas and keep putting others off. There are days when I feel like I spend so much time arguing, stupidly trying to use reason and logic against emotion and stubbornness. It's hard to leave behind to pursue other things. Issue-driven work can leave you as drained as if you spent the day building houses. The emotions, ideas and worries follow you into night and become the dragons you must slay as you sleep. It isn't always this way (but sometimes). On the days that get a little heavy, I hope I can continue to take inspiration from the quote above and keep giving 'em hell. :-)