Monday, August 31, 2009

Weekend at The Burrow

Here's what I did this weekend. Dumped the Yolas for an outing with family, including ex, only to have ex bail at the last minute, followed by number two child. That left me and number one, who was happy to go see District 9, making it the first movie I've seen since HP Last. And what a fine little parable it was too. Really liked the aliens and the dude, and they both started out so unlikeable. I went home clutching my skull because there was so much I'd never seen before. I watched Johnny Mnemmmowwinc (sic) the night before and was hypersensitive to how much useless junk I've stuffed in the old mental closet over the years. Some of it is leaking. Anyway District 9. Of course it's too much. I love too much. Cloverfield—I loved that too.

Next, a pound of beeswax for $10. This, you non-wax people, is a good deal. The craft store I frequent to my great shame gives out a 40% off coupon with each purchase. It keeps me going back every week for another pound of wax. Also bought a Krupps thermos at Value Village (next to the Sausage Kitchen, home of the best, the only, the driest, the least sweet pepperoni in the world, bar none) for number two child who (accidentally) exploded my Melitta divorce settlement ceramic coffee pot that I loved almost more than life itself. I forgive because I'm the one who broke a Fiestaware chocolate pot from the 1940's. Knocked it right off the counter, the radioactive glaze breaking into a thousand guilty pieces. The thing was worth more than the current value of my car.

Sunday I prepped boards and wrote Madison and watched Angel. Yes, it's not over. Netflix has had to ship disks to me from Hawaii because some other middle aged woman in Oregon is sitting on Season Five. I'm administering the last episodes like laudanum, one drop at a time. After a load of really inferior episodes early in the season, these final five are worth the wait. I blanked on what the bad episodes were about and the only one that came to mind was a reprise of the stupid werewolf. I don't know why werewolves have to exist in the same universe as vampires. Is it in the contract?

A fabulous weekend, with time at the end to sweep the floor, run a load of wash and have a glass of wine while R grilled.

Oh, I just got an update from the MFA program where I got my entirely useless terminal degree, so I'll try to blog later about the shivers of ickiness I feel when one of these drops into my inbox. Brrr.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Passionate and Dangerous

Whaddaweekend here at Madison World. First, I'm going to pass over Saturday completely, except to say I had a glass of wine at the Big Pond with R and that made everything all right again. Finally finished book two in the wasted space trilogy. It's a blessing I can't remember dude's name or where he lives because oh my god, one volume would have been enough already! How many trees, dude? How many hours will I never get back—at my age, they are numbered and I have to be careful with them. But that's Saturday again and I said I wasn't going to talk about Saturday. Started an encyclopedic compendium of vampire literature wherein I learn that Madame Blavatsky was a better writer than John Polidori. Despite this injustice, one might wish that Madame had died at age twenty-six and John gone on to an illustrious career of table-rapping. I have a little thing for the passionate deaths of the tumble-locked boys of the Romantic pen. Check out the death section of Shelley's bio in Wikipedia. They say John offed himself with prussic acid, which Wiki tells me is the shmancy name for hydrogen cyanide. That would have looked good on Madame.

So I don't know if I'm going to get through the vampire bookie thingie. I used to love the undead creatures of the night, back in the day when they were the maligned and forgotten denizens of late night television, i.e. The Night Stalker. They are just too too everywhere you want to be right now, and little girls want to play with them, and we're back to dangerous and forbidden sex—what is this, the 1950's? As a mom, I am all about dangerous sex. As a lady of mature years (and by mature, I mean fit, nowhere near fifty, and popping with new ideas) I am even more all about dangerous sex. That is, one might say (by one I mean I) the motto of my life. But still, guys, you think the glittery-skinned, vegetarian saltpeter Tweelight is actually going to tamp those unruly passions? See death of Shelley above.

I've got the Dennis Lehane historical going on the cd player. (Almost said "toaster" but that term is dead to me now.) The reader does good accents, but he has a kind of happy, storybook voice that makes the book sound like a bible story. Note to Lehane: don't DO that. Speaking of audio, what about that Jonathan Davis? He read Snowcrash and mmmm, I like to visit the audiobook once a year or so just to hear him say "Hiro Protagonist". He may also have done the voice mail system for DHL. What would you call a woman who sent all her old toner cartridges back to Xerox via DHL just to hear that guy's voice? Target audience.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

OC Arch Bridge etc

Yola is blogging this week, which sucks the will to live from her love slaves. No postie from me here at Madison world, but then I decided to drop in to mention that five or six pieces sold out of the show. I arrive at Winestock with my hand over my eyes—"the light, the light!" It's so weird. I still think all the pieces are too dark, except for the new one above the bar which is too colorful. But the lovely small one with heavy wax texture sold. Think I know who bought it, John.

What am I reading? Book Two in the whatsit trilogy by what's his name. Honestly, people, do you want me to talk about why trilogies AGAIN? That's five names I can't remember: The trilogy's name, the names of each separate volume and because I'm pissed, the author's.

I finished The City and The City. Liked it a lot, though not for the reasons China Mieville probably expected. He's done a fine job of world building. It was absolutely fascinating, dreamlike, believable. Where he lost me was the plot, though it's one of those rare books that finished better than it started. But I read the whole thing and here I am, still wondering if it's possible to have two interlaced cities existing in the same location. It reminded me of Toni Morrison—her description of a black city and a white city, both recognizable to their inhabitants but invisible to the others. And he did this very well.

A photo of the lovely Oregon City Arch Bridge that I ride my bike over once or twice a day depending on, well, stuff, okay? Sometimes it's cold in the morning. The Oregon Department of Transportation is considering closing the bridge for repairs for two years. It's enough to make a rational woman come to blows with one of those non-biking, tie-wearing government bureaucrats. Riding this bridge is the best part of my day. Some very good people including OC mayor Alice Norris and our own bike-riding commissioner Lynn Peterson are working toward a compromise.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Art Update

How weird is this, people? Or person, since I'm pretty sure no one is reading this blog but me (and that's my fault, okay? I'm shy). In six days, I made twenty times more money off art than I ever have off writing. Two pieces have sold out of my show. All right, yes, my dad bought one—but it was real small and he was going to buy something anyway. The other one sold to—I think—friends, though they haven't 'fessed up.

On the one hand, I'm completely charmed. It's like magic. Melt some wax and smear it on a board and I've discovered this thing called encaustic. Who knew there was an actual name for it? And that it was 2000 years old? Though I worked hard and addressed a ton of technical issues in my rush to hang a show in a month, I never lost my sense of joyful disaster. It was not fun exactly, but it was completely absorbing. I still think about it all the time.

On the other hand, I have an MFA in writing, I've published several short stories. I have a novel I'm in the middle of rewriting. I write, that's my identity. So WTF? Let me repeat that: WTF?

Here's the thing. My brother, Jason and I, were constantly drawing, sculpting in clay and sometimes steel, and making vitrified porcelain enamel panels and tiles. Other projects as needed, though not so much painting. Jason was two years younger and his work always looked so precise and contained. To my eye, it looked really good. My work was wobbly and all over. I drew a lot of castles and horses. Our parents seemed to praise his work more than mine, and I eventually stopped doing art stuff. So years later, my brother is gone (a long story, for another time) and I'm having a glass of wine with the parents. By then I've been to Reed and pretty much set myself on the path that will eventually lead to my making $25 per story (whoo). One of the parents asks, inevitably, "why writing?" I reply, "Jason was so gifted visually. He was the one who had the talent." Their mouths drop open in unison. After stuttering, one of them says, "No, K, you were the one with the talent."

Note to other parents out there: Tell your kid before they become English majors at rigorous private colleges.

As I write the above story, I realize that I am still a kid, living in the world where if one kid has something it automatically means the other kid doesn't. Why couldn't both artists' kids have talent? As a child I couldn't fathom such a thing. It was an either/or. So I chose writing, which meant never doing visual art again.

Is everyone like this? Or have I been wrong-headed all my life?

Anyway, I still want to sell my book. I thought of this cool way to up-tension the whole thing. More about that later. In the meantime, someone I know just sold to Ellery Queen. No cheap rag there!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Revision/Rewritten image

Here's a scan of a draft work on paper, where I was testing the materials and playing with my handwriting. There is only a small amount of wax on this. Mostly it is chalk and oil-based pencil, written, erased, rewritten and erased. The paint is black board paint. It has a velvety texture and very quickly isn't black anymore if you use chalk on it.

The text itself is a section from a short story called Lucky .003. During the course of the project, I tried all kinds of text. E-mails from friends and my replies, pieces of the current novel. Casual writing wasn't nearly as interesting as it was when I first opened the e-mail. The novel was way too stressful to play with. But the short stories had very condensed sentences with many nouns, and that worked best. This piece, for instance, is a list of stuff the story's protagonist finds in the desert sand. The word cat jumps out at me right now, which is much too specific.

I couldn't use dialogue, especially dialogue that was supposed to be funny. It all became a sad jumble of botched intentions. My favorite text was something I found on the last day, an unfinished description of my grandmother's house and neighborhood. I only did one piece with that text but I learned that using what I had visually rather than textually may solve some of the problems I had with the story idea.

This scan probably looks like a hot mess to most people. To me, it's a process piece and looks okay.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Returning to the true gen

I've been busy this last three weeks trying to avoid my public profile. Why?

  • Ringworm—my daughter has it. Imagine a bi-polar artistic type on a 108 degree day with a spot of ringworm on her posterior—Welcome to Hell.
  • The heat—I like it and I don't like it. I only rode the bike twice last week. I'll ride today, and hope the vehicular insanity sharing the road with me has cooled down. Car drivers are nuts in the heat. Last night I saw a guy in a Suburban towing a boat (I don't know for boats, but this looked like the kind that eight people could have cocktails on comfortably) driving up and down our country road, making U-turns whenever and going really fast. I'm sure inside his a/c splendor he couldn't smell his frying brake pads. Garth Brooks was probably involved.
  • Art. The show opened on Saturday, another really hot day. I've been using beeswax on the panels which has the melting point of a friendly kiss. I'm concerned the panels will melt, run down the walls and become, if possible, even uglier than they are in their pristine state. I'm probably not the best judge of this work. To anyone who asks I declare that I'm not an artist. But my parents are/were both artists, which is like getting a jump start on what's cool, especially if you happen to like abstract art. Which I do. So there are some formal conventions that I can manage. Think monkey playing dress-up. But color is a complete mystery. I kept reaching for the tube of dark, dark blue because it was so dang pretty. Anyways, the show is up and live. Demonstrating yet again that I've wasted my life tilting at windmills, I spent Sunday reworking two more panels only to have R tell me he liked the original versions better. After that I took my paints and gave them to my daughter. No mo' visuals. One of the pieces I worked on Sunday was "Boat" which is based on e-mails between John F and Cheryl M. And I really do like it better now, so take that.
  • Met with the Yolas on Saturday and I'm happy to report they are all well, despite the fact that we haven't met as a group in about 500 years. The domain name has to be renewed--big $7. Is it worth it? No one seems to have the time to maintain a web presence (other than Dave who is so fiendish it really is like making a devil's pact—doubt me, check out the Yola Blog). The week I blog is different, of course.
  • Angel Season 5—have pity on me. I don't have television, right? I'm sure I've mentioned this. Years after Buffy finished I decided to watch. Now Angel. I've endured two dismal seasons, two pretty good seasons and here I am, finally, season 5. Spike. Need I say more? And Netflix, bless their little cotton socks, has a long wait notice on Disk 2. Started Dollhouse Season 1. I'm finally liking Eliza Dushku. She's older, her round face looks vulnerable, maybe a little worn.
  • What else? I got scammed by a fourteen year old wanker from the UK through my Paypal account. I haven't come up with suitable retribution yet. Maybe he'll be struck by lightening while I think of something.
  • Not writing. It isn't just blog silence for the last three weeks. It's been a complete blackout for all the literary arts. I didn't realize until this week that my twitchy, jumpy, skin crawlies was not-writing-related. Visual art doesn't sub for writing, though it has some trance-like qualities. The good drugs come from the keyboard.