24 April 2014

[type] The Royal Futura 800 Manual Typewriter

I do, in fact, have a manual typewriter.

It, as near as I can ID, is a Royal Futura 800. Here it is:

It's a lovely machine, stylish, and with the sorts of lines you'd expect something that exulted in the model name Futura to look like if it came out in the late 50s … streamlined corners, a cool wedge-shaped cross section, with the lid section sitting on top like a plugin.

The best feature there is the ROYAL logo … it's clear plastic and if you press on it, it turns out it's the latch that opens the top, which is spring loaded, which is a bit of a plus.

Ribbons being what they are, it's fortunate for us that we have an old-school office-supply store a fifteen-minute walk away from us. They'll sell us a ribbon whose spools will work in this machine, however, you have to install brads at each end of the ribbon or it won't trip the mechanical link that reverses the travel of the ribbon.

Annoying, but fixable. DIY, y'all!

The biggest niftiness about this? The font. Peep:

23 April 2014

[liff] In Which I Post About Food, Becuase Homemade Layered Gelatin Parfait

There seems to be a requirement in intarweb culture to post food pictures. I have kept up my end in the cat picture category, well, at least as far as I'm going to, and in case my intarweb card is in danger of getting revoked, I do have food pictures. Just two. Not going crazy here or anything like that.

Additionally, this is the inauguration of a new 8-gig SD card for the camera, so there's that (happy thing).

This is a layered gelatin parfait. Anyone ever hear of Jell-O* 1-2-3? This was a splendid product which you prepared like regular Jell-O, except that when you chilled it, in the fridge it auto-separated into a gelatin layer, a whipped layer, and a very light mousse. 1, 2, 3. If, of course, was freaking delicious, and it was so pretty when it came out of the fridge that you just wanted to look at it a while.

It was a perfect dessert, therefore, it is no longer being made. There are DIY recipes however (go for it, Portland, you DIYtopia you!).

A couple of nights ago, whilst on the job, The Wife™ called to exult upon an achievement. She had said, she said, that she had made Jell-O 1-2-3. Well, not exactly. But she had figured out how to layer a fairly pretty gelatin parfait. And she told me about the process. My mate does a lot of food experimentation, and she's pretty good; even the failures are good eatin'. But she was in the zone when she was describing how this was done, promised a treat for the eyes when I got home.

My eyes were not disappointed.

I have just finished this confection, and I can swear that it tastes as good as it looks. Dessert for breakfast, because I can, dammit.

And here, to round out your ZehnKatzen food experience, is a photo of our beloved 122nd and Stark Burgerville:

I didn't pict our food because, c'mon, I'm letting plenty hang out as it is. It's Burgerville. We had burgers and fries. And they were excellent. I let you know too much more and all of a sudden I'm all up in your bathroom, usin' your toothbrush. I want to remain friends. 

22 April 2014

[pdx] Come To The River: See the Missoula Floods Without Getting Wet Or Killed

Spend any time looking into Oregon prehistory, you'll find out about the Missoula Floods. They went a long way toward making the Willamette Valley the way it is.

Goes like this: between 13 and 15 kiloyears ago, when the last Ice Age was waning, a glacial dam across the Clark Fork created a great sprawling lake in the mountains of what is today western Montana called Lake Missoula. Sources I've read say it held at least 500 cubic miles worth of water. Glaciers being what they are during a period of melting about twice every century, that dam would give way, and the waters would gush across what is now eastern Washington, scour out the Columbia Gorge, and back up into the Willamette Valley, making great temporary lakes along the way (the filling of the Valley was called Lake Allison).

This happened dozens of times over that 2,000 year span. And, as a result, we have thick, rich, beautiful agricultural soil here in the Willamette, while Washington just gets the channeled scablands. In as much as Washington also gets the hot tech companies and professional baseball, I think it about evens.

Along the esplanade, alongside OMSI, is the above plaque. Embiggening it should give one enough of a view of the graphic to impress. The artist's conception is, of course, of the Missoula flood at its greatest height, if Portland had been there at the time.

The floods rose to a depth of more than 400 feet, it's estimated. How deep is that? Well, a picture is one thing, a bit of reality, another. The above plaque is set into a worderfully-designed kiosk-like object, as seen here:

Those two tubes, on on each side, are sights. The end is specially covered so that, sighting down them, you'll see just what would be left above the waves. And just what is that?

The upper 6 or so floors of the Wells Fargo Tower, and just a few condo units at the KOIN Center.

Oregon … things do look different here.

[pdx] Photos on Sunday: Tilikum and Terrior, Via Ursula K. LeGuin.

If there are discussions about what is the quintessential Portland novel, and, more over, a novel is sine qua non as far as a "Portland literature" is, it would be Ursula K. LeGuin's The Lathe of Heaven.

A bit of an introduction if one has not been. The Lathe of Heaven is set in a fictionalized Portland and Oregon of the year 2002 (it now qualifies as an alternative history). It concerns George Orr, a man whose dreams can literally alter reality, and Dr. William Haber, a sleep and dream researcher … an onierologist … who discovers the quality of this power and tries to use it to recreate the world in a better version … sans war, sans hunger. Each dream is incarnated in unpredictable ways, causing eventual chaos, a kaleidoscope world and, unwittingly, revealing Dr. Haber as a megalomaniac, if a tender, loving one.

The novel got its hooks into me (and has permanently done so … laying next to this computer at this time is a paperback copy I got at Powell's on Sunday evening for $2.95, making this possibly the most Portland thing I could physically accomplish) with its fictionalized vision of Portland of the year 2002. Writing in the late 60s and early 70s as she did, I presumably assume that at least a part of her found it somewhat inevitable that Portland might expand, toxically, and ruin its own character.

The Portland at the beginning of Lathe massed 3,000,000 … as many people as are in the whole of Oregon today, less about 800,000 … and the New Cities of the then not-so-dry Oregon Outback had populations of approaching 7 million each. 

The Portland portrayed in the novel had a few geographical inconsistencies, but none worth noticing overmuch. Something about the narrative … the easy way she wrote of local geography, the familiar timbre to the words … made it plain to me that she knew this area intimately. She had a sense-of-place. The writing had a particular terrior… it simply couldn't have been written by anyone else, or anywhere else.

It was Oregon, fictionalized by an Oregonian, who loved Oregon. It felt good to read, and still does, to this day. I read Lathe to wallow in the descriptions of Portland, the free and casual way words like Willamette, Linnton, Zigzag and Rhodoendron are used. And if a few details are off … mentioning a place as 209 SW Burnside St … then the tender loving care with the place that is otherwise taken more than makes up for that.

Of course, the story is about a man whose dreams change the nature of reality. There's probably a little editing going on there as well.

Wandering up and down the Eastbank Esplanade, near OMSI, to get a good look at the Tilikum Crossing, the Bridge of the People. Not for the first time, looking along the river where, at many angles, you can at once take in automobile bridges and an aerial tram but also, now a bridge for trains, bikes and people only, did a feeling grasp me … and then I had it.

Passages from The Lathe of Heaven, meditations on getting around in the overpopulated, overpolluted, overmoist Portland of the fictional year 2002 invaded my consciousness and did not let go. I had to get a copy of the book to read again, you see. I had no choice.

We join George Orr as he travels from Vancouver to Portland on a subway (can you imagine?):
To go under a river: there's a strange thing to do, a really weird idea.

To cross a river, ford it, wade it, swim it, use boat, ferry, bridge, airplane, to go upriver, to go downriver in the ceaseless renewal and beginning of current: all that makes sense. But in going under a river, something is involved which is, in the central meaning of the word, perverse. There are roads in the mind and outside it the mere elaborateness of which shows plainly that, to have got into this, a wrong turning must have been taken way back.
 There were nine train and truck tunnels under the Willamette, sixteen bridges across it, and concrete banks along it for twenty-seven miles. Flood control on both it and its great confluent the Columbia, a few miles downstream from central Portland, was so highly developed that neither river could rise more than five inches even after the most prolonged torrential rains. 
 The Willamette was a useful element of the environment, like a very large, docile draft animal harnessed with straps, chains, shafts, saddles, bits, girths, hobbles. If it hadn't been useful, of course, it would have been concreted over, like the hundreds of little creeks and streams that ran in darkness down from the hills of the city under the streets and buildings.
 But without it, Portland wouldn't have been a port; the ships, the long strings of barges, the big rafts of lumber still came up and down it. So the trucks and the trains and the few private cars had to go over the river or under it. 
 Above the heads of those now riding the GPRT train in the Broadway Tunnel were tons of rock and gravel, tons of water running, the piles of wharves and the keels of ocean-going ships, the huge concrete supports of elevated freeway bridges and approaches, a convoy of steamer trunks laden with frozen battery-produced chickens, one jet plane at 34,000 feet, the stars at 4.3+ light years.

Later, very near the end of the book, Orr travels across a Portland that was, in some ways, a crazy quilt of all the possible Portlands that he had, at one time, dreamed:
Orr returned to downtown Portland by boat. Transportation was still rather confused; pieces, remnants, and commencements of about six different public transportation systems cluttered up the city. Reed College had a subway station, but no subway; the funicular to Washington Park ended at the entrance to a tunnel which went halfway under the Willamette and then stopped. Meanwhile, enterprising fellow had refitted a couple of boasts that used to run tours up and down the Willamette and Columbia, and was using them as ferries on regular runs between Linnton, Vancouver, Portland, and Oregon City. It made a pleasant trip.

Weaving UKL's words (with due apologies) amongst the pictures creates a trip of its own. SF doesn't predict, it guesses and wonders; we should not be surprised that TriMet didn't take on LeGuin as a long-range planning consultant (though I figure it would be better off if it had). Still, contrasting the dystopian future of Portland in prose with the significantly cheerier (if still flawed) present, it's hard not to see the resonance. They regard each other as brothers by different mothers. They, oddly, mesh … the one being the flip side of the other.

In an ineffable way, the terrior that made Lathe possible wells up, unseen. The book beatifies and explores its setting without wallowing in it, by dwelling on what is, and the voice you hear whispering the details is the real-world surroundings … at least, those in the year it was written.

The quintessential Portland novel. There can be none other. 

21 April 2014

[pdx] The Marquam Bridge, All Instagrammy

As a taste of things to come, me and The Wife™ did, as a matter of fact, have another Sunday walk, and another Photos On Sunday collection has resulted. The Canon S-100 features nifty ways to make effects happen, such as this one, which simulates the effect an old toy camera, such as a Holga, would do:


[design] Breaking News: The New Look of KOIN Channel 6

The KOIN Local 6 identity for The House That Mike Donahue Helped Build is no more. Welcome to the new KOIN 6:

Pretty spiff and shiny, no?

I'm glad they were finally able to pull it all together and give it a nice rollout. That said, I'm going to mourn the passing of the KOIN Local 6 approach. It was an admirable attempt and ought to be lauded. Boasting about being local, in a media environment that seems, in markets like Portland, driven from somewhere else, is a good thing and can work if brought off right. The obstacle there, of course, is figuring out how to sell it, which is a simple thing … well, not much more difficult than trying to solve Rubik's Cube with gloves on and a blindfold, I suppose.

In Portland, Local sells. Oddly, nobody was buying. No, I can't figure it out either.

The new logo is a modern treatment on what is actually an old approach … the classic callsign-channel number presentation. It recalls the classic look of the 6 … usually designed into a containing frame, for 6 this was a circle, until the Local 6 branding happened. The modern fashion is the quadrilateral, with the clipped corner an interesting filip. The other big substantive change is the introduction of a new tagling, Watching Out For You, which reflects the kind of advocacy investigative journalism that KOIN has latterly been working very hard to own locally.

Over the past few weeks, KOIN 6's morning report, which was called Right Now, was delivered by Chad Carter and Elishah Oesch in front of a rather cozy-looking brick backdrop while the old set was being remodeled. Today was the big reveal. KOIN has a video that gives some behind-the-scenes time-lapses which is most fun to watch, and you should go there to do this thing because the embed code just won't work here.

However, a video hosted at YouTube gives a clear idea of the new approach of the new look:

The opening (which is not yet available, so you'll have to tune in to see it) features an aerial view of the KOIN Tower, which is perfect. When your headquarters is housed in one of the most recognizable buildings (that just so happens to be named for you) in a widely-admired major American city, you're a stone fool if you don't hype that.

So, welcome KOIN 6. You're looking mighty fine. 

19 April 2014

[design] Dept Of Rose Valley Butter Corrections Dept.

I might have gotten my last post's subject bass-ackwards.

When I blogged about the new-look RVB package, I did so because the familiar, homey, farmey, yellow package had suddenly been replaced on the WinCo shelves by the buff-colored package with the single red rose.

This page (h/t, +Ben Rippel ) suggests I somehow have it all backwards. It speaks of the yellow package as the new design, and the one with the single red rose as the old one. While that doesn't explain why a bunch of the old design boxes showed up in the dairy case last week, it does make the equally-sudden mix of majority-yellow packaging on those same shelves make a bit of sense, maybe.

Commerce is a funny thing.

The yellow box (see the screenshot illustration) is designed, apparently, to harmonize with boxes with red and blue backgrounds (which see), which is their variety of rBGH-free butter, and form a coherent brand 'look', which is important in a product family like this.

I'm also told, by various correspondents, that Rose Valley Butter is indeed available in unsalted, although the nearest seller I can identify is Roth's … but the nearest Roth's to our house is in Canby, nothing wrong with Canby, but our carbon footprint's big enough as it is. And gas at such prices. And the FLAVENS. 

So, there's that.

Rose Valley's product page is at http://www.rose-valley.org/our-products/.

17 April 2014

[design] Rose Valley Butter's New Package Design

There's lot of good local to be bought in the stores of Oregon. A lot of it is provided by producer-based coöperatives; Darigold is one, and Tillamook's cheeses is another. There's one that I find many people haven't heard of perhaps: it's the Farmers' Cooperative Creamery, based in McMinnville, Wine Country's capital city.

Their brand, which one can find in the dairy case as WinCo, is Rose Valley Butter. Here is how it, until recently, was packaged:

… and, as of about 2 weeks ago, here's how we started seeing it:

Quite a change. Let's give it a little look-see…

Old package, left: New Package, right.
The original illustration is the real star of the old package. The color yellow is perhaps expected but really makes it a cheerful, sunshiny thing. The choice of illustration does play a little havoc with the choices the typographer had to make and therefore affects the hierarchy a bit: you see the word BUTTER big and proud but the brand name, ROSE VALLEY, kind of takes a supporting role. Not ideal, but understandable.

I love that illustration, seriously. It's charming and a little corny, but well-executed for all that. It fits the image of a country creamery. The arranging of the letters inside the scroll ORIGINAL almost give it a hand-layed-out feeling.

On the back panel of the package you'd find this charming bit of history:

This brand is the most Oregon thing you'll look at today, seriously. Hits all the positive notes, family, local, purity … it doesn't say sustainable, but it doesn't have to. Passionate? You bet. The Wife™'s world would be complete if only they marketed an unsalted version.

Please do this, FCC. Make my The Wife™a happy woman. She'd buy that stuff so hard, man.

The new package is rather subdued, though. Here's a close up look.

The new design is a more dialled-back, quiet presentation. The sunny yellow is gone, replaced with a rustic buff tone; the charming farmscape banished in favor of a simple illustration of a generic rose; the omission of rBGH (as well as a note which I understand is Federally mandated about boasting about omitting rBGH) are both much more prominent. All four panels of the box now look like this.

The hierarchical problem is well-solved here, however, the solution of putting the brand name in Chancery script does not satisfy. Each majuscule letter of ROSE VALLEY here is fine as a drop cap or some similar application on their own. With each individual glyph having such a broad-shouldered personality, though, they all want to be the star. The ultimate visual effect is uncomfortable, optically discordant. Not only is a proper kerning between the initial V and the A in VALLEY impossible, the swash on the top of the A suggests that it's foolish to try (and an apt demonstration as to why headline type in this style is pretty much a bad idea).

The big improvement is the FCC logo there. I enjoy it. It's a cool, simple logo, type with a graphic fillip, that is a bit rustic and proud of it. Letting the logo flag fly is definitely a positive development.

I'm reluctant to bag on a brand I genuinely like. But I've come to the definite conclusion that the new-look Rose Valley Butter package is kind of a step back. If the brand needed to be refreshed (and I'd debate that), I think they should have tried a few more ideas.

But we're not going to quit you over this, FCC. Far from it. You have fans in this household.

But get on that unsalted butter, okay. We're so there for that. 

16 April 2014

[pdx] Jon Hiner: Now You See 'Im …

A while ago we wondered where the ex-Mr. Mattress World, Jon Hiner, had gotten off to. Locals will remember the buzz when he'd suddenly disappeared, rumors of a contentious divorce, and suddenly Sherri Hiner was helming the Mattress World starship until, for a brief time in PDX, it was suddenly too late to sleep like a baby.

Mattress World, it will be recalled, collapsed when the state of Washington came after it for $1.7 Megabucks in sales taxes that Washington said it should have been collecting but didn't. All but two MW stores (which happened to be franchises) closed, a bunch of people were out of work and late-night and daytime Portland TV was devoid of the chirpy "if you find it at a better price somewhere else, the mattress is free!" reminder.

Still, in this day and age, to really be a celebrity in Portland, it takes an earnest business sense and charmingly cheesy commercials. Come to that, Mattress World is back in a way … Sherri's visage once again graces the commercials of Mattress World Northwest

More power to her, we say.

Since Jon wasn't with the company (we presume) when it folded, probably out of the market due to some non-compete agreement, he (also presumably) was spared the debris shroud of that blowup. We found that, indeed, in 2012, he had reëestablished himself as Sleep World, in the mattress store ghetto near SE 82nd Ave and King Road, in what we now call Happy Valley for some reason, occupying a building that was formerly not only a Schucks Auto Supply but also a Parker Paint store. He'd even started his own house brand and all.

In the interim, he'd removed from that area and settled into digs in the L-shaped building in the acute angle of SE Holgate Blvd and Foster Rd, which was a Videoland (remember video-rental stores? Hah?) and now hosts a 7 Eleven store.

Latterly, though, we've been by that intersection … and now Sleep World is gone. And it's website's address is up for grabs. Not quite sure when this happened, but Jon Hiner has dropped from Portland's commercial landscape once again.

For a while, too, also, the website WhereIsJonHiner.com was still active, though.

No longer.

Sic transit gloria mattress seller. 

Good night, Jon Hiner … where ever you are.

[pdx] Tri Met Bridge, We Christen Thee … Tilikum Crossing

… and that's the new name.

The word Tilikum (or Tillicum or, if you want to be really correct about it, TilixƏm) is from the Chinuk Wawa, the inter-tribal trade argot spoken by the people of Cascadia before us white folks got here, and, for a time, by many of the white people who got here. Elements of this jargon are still with us today, as I've pointed out before: if you look up the high mucketymuck or if you buy anything from this surf sports company or wondered about the sasquatch, you're speaking Chinuk, pilgrim. A skookum thing, to be sure.

From the TriMet email
Tilikum, which is the closest we can come in the 26-character common Latinate alphabet to writing the word, is a work in the Wawa meaning person or people or family, depending on the context. It survives, perhaps in a deplacé way, as the name of a neighborhood bar in Beaverton along the BHH; the name is rather appropriate, since the greater family in these modern times still, in this area of the world, is as likely to meet in an Oregon dive bar as anyplace else, perhaps, from my experience, more so.

The use of the stereotypical Indian war bonnet seems awkward but I am, at best, an armchair historian. I'll leave the more thoroughgoing analysis to those who put the word anal in analysis. 

Chinuk Wawa shorthand system
date unclear. Based on Duployan
shorthand. Source.
The name entire seems to read Tilikum Crossing: Bridge of the People. The ultimate clause of that sentence can be seen as a translation, and also a tagline, which makes it sound somewhat more appropriate to an adventure movie poster. It's not my choice, nor is it the preference of many others; many of us, including me, hoped it would be named for Kirk Reeves … indeed, it was the popular choice, as The Oregonian's Joseph Rose reported. In his missive to us in the proletariat, sent under the aegis of TriMet, historian Chet Orloff says:
But ok, I know some of you are disappointed and may be thinking of the new name in terms of winning and losing. However, please be reminded the process was not a competition or popularity contest. It was not about lobbying and who has the most clout.
The naming process was very deliberate. Our committee of 10 citizens asked fellow citizens (you) for input -- first, to provide possible names then, second, to comment on the four most meaningful names the committee believed best met the criteria we had established early in the process.  
The criteria (which can be seen in this TriMet blog posting by Mary Fetsch) were, of nature, subjective (history being what it is, I can't really see how it could be anything but), and can, I think it not untoward to point out, argue for anyone's case as it can be against. I know more than a few people who were holding out for Abigail Scott Duniway, whose name also would have been most worthy.

But it is what it is; if there's any salve to the fact that a name was chosen that I may or may not agree with it is that the search and decision was apparently done in good faith – the committee came up with a set of criteria and have appeared to stick to it as close as they could possibly do.

In that, Tilikum Crossing, in that it is a 'bridge of the people' (certainly any gorgeous cable-stayed bridge in the Transit Capital of the World that carries only foot, rail, and bike traffic and no cars reflects an ideal a lot of us Portlanders hope for) is a goodly name, and one I can make a certain sort of peace with.

The version TilixƏm needs some explaining perhaps: See this Soylent News™ article, also by The Rose, which explains the notation. Sadly, he does not call the upside-down e what it is, which is the schwa, but the article is a solid one nevertheless.

15 April 2014

[liff] Meanwhile, Down On The Farm.

At this remove, we are veggie-enabled. Tomatoes, of course. Three plants; Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, always a dependable favorite, and two new tries: a variety promising to be big and producing, "Tony's Tomato", and a cherry variety called "Juliet".

There will be sweet pepper - the easy-to-love California Wonder.

We were thinking of not trying for a jalapeño, since it required a lot of attention and didn't yield much. Wife™, after seeing the cost of jalapeõs in the store, is reconsidering this decision.

Tony's Garden Center on SE Holgate is our pusher. Nice little place.

[design] This NBC News Graphic Explains Something About Race In America, Somehow.

But just what, we're not entirely certain …
From this NBCNews tweet

We can see what the problem here is … the graphic is just plain working too hard, and the message is confused and bewildering. Signifying the changing percentages with color bands is taking a risky step to begin with. But when you frame it with the outline of the coterminous 48 and include the state lines, it looks less like a continuum of change and more like, by the year 2060 there's going to be a shift in the national Asian reservation from the northwest corner of Washington to the middle third of Maine.

Seriously, mixing it up this way leaves me bemused. It's like one of those sentences that's so loosely constructed that you have to step back from it, you get to the end and you say 'oh, I get it', then glance back at the beginning of the thought to see if you started off from a solid assumption and just have to reparse the whole thing all over again because you lost the thread.

Vox has a much clearer bar graph where I got turned on to this at http://www.vox.com/2014/4/14/5612970/how-not-to-visualize-americas-changing-demographics

It's a good thing they didn't have a pie chart. God only knows how that would have turned out. There might have been casualties. 

In the meantime, here's Brian Williams rapping.

14 April 2014

[pdx] 30 Minutes of PDX Sunset in 15 Seconds

3057.Another attempt at time-lapse animation. I'm not all that happy with the quality, to be honest. Not nearly as sharp as I wanted. Was done with a series of snaps, one every two minutes, taken over a thirty-minute period from the Pittock Mansion viewpoint.

But you can make out the moon rising over Mount Hood, and the hill's shadow creeping over the east side of town, and the sense of mood was very meditative there, and a palimpsest of that is there.

Tools were the Canon Powershot S-100, and Photoshop was used to create the animation.

[pdx] Moon Over Downtown Portland, or, Sunset Over America's Most Photogenic City

I wonder, when Henry Pittock built Portland's most famous residence, now a museum and grounds held in trust for all the citizens of the city he helped build, I wonder if he knew, somehow, just what a view would eventually obtain from that perch?

As The Wife™ pointed out aptly, it was undoubtedly a gorgeous view back in 1913. It's built on a geographical prominence that obviously affords a spectacular view naturally. But Portland's a very very photogenic city. It's almost as though she grew with the idea that she'd be seen from this viewpoint.

How did he know?

Adorably miniaturized Portland. Built of tilt-shift simulation settings, not of LEGOs.
To see that sort of thing, yo, go here.
I'm a native Oregonian, as I've smugly said ad nauseam. Silvertonian by birth, Portlander by choice. At this point, though, I've lived in Portland for longer than I've lived anywhere else in my life. While I've made my peace with a rather unhappy childhood in Silverton, and am in fact a little proud to be able to say I was born there, if I had my life to design over, I'd change my place of birth to Portland.

I love Portland that much. It's because I respond so intensely to the visual, I suppose. The cityscape here has always stirred me.

We all have our favorite places, and that's cool too, of course. But our hearts know what home is. For me, there could never be any other place.

13 April 2014

[art] LineworkNW … The First Issue

In the middle of the day, yesterday, we took the time to visit LineworkNW … the premiere issue. It was dropped at Norse Hall, at the corner of NW 11th and Couch here in Portland, and my word, it was of a brilliance.

Comic and Illustration conventions have become huge business and überfashionable. As such they are usually located a)in places I can't usually get to and, even if I can get there, b)I can't afford 'em. Last year, Stumptown Comics Fest folded itself into the Rose City Comic Con, leaving a big hole for what makes Portland comic art so special and unique: heavily indie, madly and fiercely passionate, and intimate and approachable.

Enter LineworkNW: a 1-day festival, free to go to, easy to exhibit at, all about creators and the things they create and how they connect to the people who love the work they do … all the good things about Indiewood's culture, the stuff that made Portland popular to begin with.

We must never forget our roots.

Brief abashed confession here: I nearly didn't go. A moment to sing the Third Shift Blues: If I want to do anything nifty on Saturday, I wind up staying up more than 24 hours. This sort of schedule distortion has played havoc on many things, from my creative inspiration to some thought processes, I've become convinced; as The Wife™ and myself browsed the copies of Soylent News™in the Midland library, I was leaning toward going home and chilling out. But, in the A-and/or-E section mentioned LineworkNW, and The Wife™saw it, and insisted.

This is why my The Wife™ is awesome. When I run out of gumption, she gives me the kick.

So we decamped from the library, made an errand-stop on our way overtown, and, just before 5:00 PM, on an inordinately-pleasant Oregon spring afternoon, we came to the Norse Hall. Any doubts that LineworkNW was going to go over well were, if not dispelled by the news of the immense response, completely cast away by the traffic around that corner.

For a small festival, it was huge.

Parking our battered steed a full block and a half away (in a space that had opened up just a moment or two before), we walked over and entered.

Here I can tell you what the beauty of a one-day con is: if you get there half way through the day, and can only stay a little while, you don't feel like you're missing out. Every slice you take from this cake is good. Because, cake.

The exhibition floor was thronging, as you can see in these photos. So many people, you can scarcely see the merchandise for the crowd. Intimate doesn't begin to describe.

I was, as stated before, on the latter half of a very long day, so I can't give a complete rundown of all the awesomeness I saw there. But it was awesome. Creators were on hand to comment on all their work. There was Fantagraphics, there was Reading Frenzy (I think that's Chloe Eudaly there on the right of the photo, at the RF table), there was DarkHorse; there was Know Your City and their wonderful Oregon History Comics zine series (we got 3 more of them, my favorite was the Dead Freeways volume), Fantom Forest (I got the wonderful PDX/100 by Matt Sundstrom).

We had at $20 budget and still we found nifty stuff. We'd have bought most of that room if we could.

We could attend one panel as well. The title was Line/Work, and it was about creators and their creating.

From right; one of The Little Freinds of Printmaking, Bwana Spoons, The other of The Little Friends of Printmaking, moderator Jason Sturgill
It was a general talk on everyone's creative process, what they did to do what they did, which even touched on such things as why Portland instead of Los Angeles, and whether they preferred working out of the home versus a studio (my question. Surprisingly, the studio crowd outvoted the work-at-home crowd. It helps, apparently, to sharpen one against one's tribal fellows on a daily basis).

From right: Meg Hunt, BT Livermore, Kinoko
Sitting back absorbing this with the assistance of indulging in a Bitsburger Pils was a privation I was perfectly willing to bear up under.

Word is that they're going to do this yearly, and keep it small. Damn fine idea, I say. One of the things I have a problem with, in reclaiming my inner artist, is thinking that people who do this on a regular basis are some sort of elevated being, and I am not that being. Well, they are sensational people, but they aren't supernatural … they just do what they do and it's awesome. And they share what they know. And that's aspirational.

LineworkNW was brilliance, and I'm glad as hell someone did this. Thank you. I'm grateful.

[pdx] "Franz Bread, The Good Bread …"

Overlooking the inner east side, from a side of one of the buildings at the Franz Bakery (actually, the United States Baking Company), is a bit of charming outdoor advertising that completes the famous commercial jingle, the first half of which is this entry's title:

A bit of historical context provided by a YouTuber with obviously discerning tastes …

11 April 2014

[maps] A Country By Any Other Name … Or What It's Name Really Means

The maps in the series The Atlas of True Names sound fantasy-novel-ly.

Heart's Farm and Place By The Meadow are major cities in the Land of Friends whose capital is The Illustrious One. This fabled land is found as a part of The United States of the Home Ruler, which is one of the main nations in this fantasy-tinged land.

Actually, it's a land not far from here. If you know the root meanings, you might have guessed that I mentioned, in order,  Houston and Dallas, which are the biggest towns in Texas which has Austin as the capital city. By now, one has probably deduced that the cartographers have made an effort to locate the root meanings of the words we casually use for our world's place names and brought those meanings forward into English. Thus, Canada becomes Land of Villages (one interpretation of the First Nations word kanata being village) and Mexico being Navel of the Moon (the modern nation takes its name from the Valley of Mexico (present day Distrito Federál), which took its name from the Mexica, the 'People of the Moon').

How the USA became the United States of the Home Ruler is kind of fuzzy to figure, but we know that the word America was drawn, as many readers will know, from Amerigo, as in the explorer and mapmaker Amerigo Vespucci, courtesy of Waldsemüller. The name Amerigo, as this site notes, is a medieval Italian version of the German Emmerich; it speculates that the forepart of that comes from a word meaning home, and the aft part, a word meaning power, so the reasoning normalized that into home ruler.

But, you may wonder, what of our beloved Oregon? Here you are, from the zoomable version that can be seen at http://twentytwowords.com/united-states-map-with-place-names-replaced-by-original-meanings/:

There's not much, but what's there is amusingly interesting. Portland obviously has no other meaning. our capital city, Salem, is an Anglicized version of the hebrew shalom, meaning peace; Well-born is an obvious rootation of Eu-gene. Mishap Lake for mal heure is a good translation of the southeastern Oregon place name essentially meaning bad luck or misfortune. I don't know what exactly the Realm of the God of the Underworld is supposed to be: Madras was named after the cloth, Redmond was named after its founder, whose name is an Anglicization of an Irish name which is a Celticization of the name Raymond, whose meaning has nothing whatsoever to do with Hades.

Although, it does get intolerably hot in the Oregon desert in the summer months,  it ain't that bad.

The most intriguing rendering is that of Oregon into Beautiful Land. That contradicts every guess as to where the word Oregon came from, and that's something that nobody can say for certain. There are many good guesses that make sense, but the best explanation that I can logic out from it all is that we call this place Oregon because that's what we thought the people who were here before us called it.

Beautiful Land is something I can't figure where they got.

Maybe they vacationed here once. Because it's correct enough …

As mentioned, a zoomable version of the map is located at the article at Twenty-Two Words: http://twentytwowords.com/united-states-map-with-place-names-replaced-by-original-meanings/, and the home page of the Atlas is http://www.kalimedia.com/Atlas_of_True_Names.html.  Read and enjoy, and keep with you this proviso:
Not all translations are definitive.
The reader may be offered a number of possible alternatives,
or the translation may be prefixed by ‘possibly’ or ‘probably’.
Please accept the Atlas of True Names
just as an invitation to the world as a strange, romantic continent.
In other words, explore … and just have fun with it. It's not hard to.  

10 April 2014

[liff in OR] The 2013-2014 Oregon Blue Book Cover Winner … And How You Can Enter The Contest For The Next

Its a beautiful shot of the Pacific at Yachats at sunset

Each biennium, the Oregon Secretary of State produces a volume called the Oregon Blue Book. It's an almanac full of facts and figures about the best state ever, and every 2 years, the Secretary of State chooses a new, beautiful Oregon photo to grace the cover.

This edition's winner is a photo by Beaverton's John Pederson, Strawberry Hill Sunset. A slice of this is
featured right, click here to go to a big version. It's a gorgeous shot, rich in color, taken of the Oregon beach at sunset from Strawberry Hill, which is south of Yachats. It's just the kind of scenery you get used to here, and it's beautifully done.

The full announcement can be seen at http://bluebook.state.or.us/misc/cover/front.htm. But did you know that if you have a hand with the camera you, too, might achieve a measure of State Archival immortality? The contest to select the photo that is to be the cover of the 2015-2016 Blue Book is open, and any Oregon resident can enter. There are requirements, of course; go to http://bluebook.state.or.us/misc/contest/guidelines.htm to see them. A link to the PDF entry form can be found thereunto.

Good luck there, all you amateur Ray Atkesons you!

09 April 2014

[liff] Odds and Sods, Tax Time Edition

Some neato stuff I want to write about but can't because they speak just fine for themselves:

[liff] A Dude Plays ABBA's "Mamma Mia" Bass Line

Because I don't have anything else for the moment, and this guy nails it, and it's fun to watch, and BASSLINE, YO!

08 April 2014

[font] Comic Neue … The Aesthete's Comic Sans

So. MS Comic Sans.

Insert Whitmanesque YAWP here.

I firmly believe that Comic Sans isn't bad; it's just drawn that way. Vincent Connaré had no idea that when he composed that font for use in Microsoft BOB that it would become the most levelling influence in the visual arts since Helvetica.

No insult meant to either, there.

But since then the world seems betimes swimming in inappropriate uses of Comic Sans. I'm sure, on some nuclear reactor nearing EOL somewhere, there's a sign reading EMERGENCY REACTOR SCRAM written in Comic Sans - either through irony or simply lack-of-awareness, who can say … and really, does it matter?

No. No, it does not.

Anywho, in the occasional quixotic drive to create a cultural counterpoint to CS, the Japan-based designer Craig Rozynski has hammered out the weird and visually-discordant bendy bits, engineered some kerning and other things, and created Comic Neue*. Here's what it looks like, with screenshots from its site:

The designer tried to draw the line between the casual 'honesty' of Comic Sans and the lack of good design. He's pretty much succeeded; it's like CS only not terrible, and doesn't feel like daggers of evil piercing your eyes. So, in as much as addressing the flaws of CS, it's a success.

The deeper philosophical question of necessity is an exercise I leave to the sojourner. And, as far as Mr Connaré hisself?
I guess there's just no pleasing some people.

The designer, in a gesture of generosity to the greater good, has released the font as public domain. Get your copy here, if you must: http://comicneue.com/

[pdx] Photos on Sunday 3: The Ankeny Arcade, With Added MAX

For a last segment in this edition of 'Photos on Sunday', the part of SW 1st Avenue nearest to but not north of the Skidmore Fountain. The cobbles on the part of 1st here and the reservation of it to MAX trains only make of it a sort of world unto itself, bounded, cozy, and close. And the fact that Portland, for all its growth, is a city that rolls up the sidewalks early on Sunday evenings, means it feels most deserted down there. Very few people, as though everyone's evacuated.

SW 1st looking south from the Skidmore Fountain … a somewhat wider view than the photo in the previous entry. The New Market Theater building is on the right there, and the Ankeny Arcade just out of shot.

SW 1st Avenue at SW Pine Street, looking north toward Skidmore Fountain. Great atmosphere here.

It is a modern, working city after all. Here comes MAX, shattering the fragile mood. Not necessarily a bad thing, tho.

07 April 2014

[pdx] Photos on Sunday 2: Downtown PDX at Dusk

On Sunday evening, during the crepuscule, The Wife™ and your esteemed correspondent decided what we really needed was a walk about on the first really fine day of the year.

Downtown was our subject. These photo entries I've tended to be posting latterly are harder to assemble than one would think. They require a level of curating that a simple wordy-post doesn't; I always have the words I need, but photos do tend to say so much that when I want to tell a story of a moment with some, choosing is the hardest part.

Fortunately, Portland is so photogenic, it tends to speak volumes for me. I do persist in insisting that my words are an important part of it; it's a conceit, and I realize this. It is, however, a conceit I freely indulge; luxury I can afford, a character flaw I am most fond of. Long story short (too late!), it stays.

But, to be brief (my schedule for today has just evinced a tectonic shift and time is short), my hometown gives me:

Great vintage signage …

NW 2nd and Couch
…the old and the new both looking ancient…

NW 1st Avenue at Couch, Looking South
 … old bridges …
Steel Bridge from Japanese-American Historical Plaza
 … funky 20th Century skylines …

The burgeoning Lloyd Center Skyscraper District
 … more old bridges …

The Burnside Bridge, which should need no introduction
 … urban history …

It is what it is.
 … modern urban prospects …

SW Naito Parkway looking south from the light at SW Pine Street

… over 100 years of bridging the river in one angle …

A view upriver including the Morrison, Hawthorne, New Transit Bridge, and Marquam (and a teensy bit of the Ross Island Bridge, as Wife™ says).
… more modern urbanity …

Downtown from Salmon Street Springs, at SW Salmon and Naito, featuring the KOIN tower.

… a view down the river wall that seems more European than American …

This angle I've seen photographed before. In a certain light, it makes me think of what I always pictured a scene along the Seine in Paris would be like. 
 … and a sunset fairyland with train tracks running down it. …

SW 1st Avenue looking south, the Skidmore Fountain at our backs.

… that's my hometown.

Must go. Life calls.