08 July 2014

[liff] No Message Other Than This Sunset

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Have had little in the way of words to share latterly, but much pictures.

So be it.

This is the sunset tonight over Home Base, with the salmon color I've seen so much of latterly. There seems to be a different quality to it. Or maybe I've just not noticed it before.


Sailors' delight, so they say.


07 July 2014

[liff] Buttermilk Sky Over Outer East Portlandia

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Inspiration's been hard to come by the last week or so, but all one has to do in this glorious, not-to-be-duplicated Oregon environment, is … well, look up.


This is what I call a buttermilk sky, not so much because it looks like buttermilk, but the texture leaves an impression upon the psyche that my latent synesthetic sense converts into a the feeling that I had drinking buttermilk. I get a palimpsest-like impression in the mouth.

Funny thing is, I never liked buttermilk much. Wife™ loves the stuff. Never got that, never will, but then, I can't comprehend why some people are so avid about crustless sandwiches.


I don't know if the clotted cloud cover specifically heralds any sort of weather, but it will be noted, in the record, that the weather was quite warm and very fair and pleasant (well, if you're a sunpuppy, maybe. Along with buttermilk, one thing I'm not terribly fond of is hot humid weather over about 85F, which is our lot these June and July weeks).


While they weren't dramatic, the textural experience of looking in the clotted blue was impossible to resist. It was also impossible not to make fantasy geographies out of them, something I used to do all the time.

Earthsea? Here's skysea for you.


The Pig'n'Pancake … long time landmark at NE 122nd and Glisan. An old-school breakfast-and-lunch place, open in Outer East Portlandia until the mid-afternoon only … but breakfasts and lunches there are to die for.

They have a Mexican-style omelette that contains black beans. Along with buttermilk, too-hot too-humid days, and crustless sandwiches, black beans are something I don't understand not neither … but they can get me to eat them. So there's that.


Also under the buttermilk sky is what was Jody's Bar and Grill. it is, as the sign says CLOSED FOR NOW, only how now is defined is left open to interpretation. It's a Portland strip club, of which we are terminally over-endowed, so, maybe, oh, I don't know … more naked ladies in the near future? Who knows? Really, who cares? For now, PDX is down one strip club. I think the city will sustain itself on the more-than-50-less-one clubs that are here now compared to the more-than-50 we had then.

I mean you could go out to the Spearmint Rhino and tell us all if you actually spot one.


The character of the clouds, illuminated differently as you looked east, made them less ethereal if not loss dramatic. The above is looking east on Glisan from 122nd; that grove of trees in the distance is the approximate location of the Glendoveer Golf Course.

And another sunset; lately I've noticed a preponderance of this ruddy, salmon hue. Again, not sure if it presages anything at all, but it is impressive, and delicately beautiful.


Keep looking up.

02 July 2014

[pdx] Lava Lite Sunrise, Industrial NE Portland

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Now that we're out of the Easy Bake Oven (103F in our back yard? OUCH) the sunrises from my part of the world look lovely.


I'm not 100 per cent pleased with that one above. I had only a few seconds, a few minutes, to get the shot, and I wasn't able to get the skill I needed together to make it happen. That clipped ziggurat on the horizon is Mt. St. Helens, and the sunlight reflecting on the clouds made it look positively Infernal. There were wisps and curlicues in the clouds that are lost. Sad.


The electric neon color's a winner, though, sure enough.

24 June 2014

[liff_in_OR] Newberg's Classic Dairy Queen Sign

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Newberg is the first town you get into after leaving the Portland Metroplex going south on Oregon State Hwy 99W. It's the vanguard of wine country, the sentinel admitting you to that charming area known as Yamhill County.

At the entrance to the center of town, the highway splits into a couplet made up of First Street and Hancock, and this continues for about ten or twelve city blocks. At the west end, the two streets snap back together, cross the railroad tracks, and head on southwest to the land of the eternal traffic jam, Dundee. And, if you didn't look quickly, you'll have missed it.


404 West First Street. It's a DQ that looks quite a bit like just about every other DQ you're likely to see; cream-colored walls, red mansard roof.  But there's something that might catch the eye a little more than other things, especially if you have an eye for the classics.

Some ten-fifteen years back, the DQ wasn't the commodious sit-in place it was, it was a traditional drive-up. Anyone familiar with the adorbs little DQ drive-up and sit-out at SE 56th and Division here in Portland will be able to picture this. It was quite a bit the same. Well, about ten or fifteen years back, the Newberg DQ decided to give its patrons the inside-dining experience. I was sad, a little. It's nice to sit inside with your burger, but the old-fashioned burger driveups have a charm that can't be denied or resisted.

But they kept the old sign. Standing fifteen or twenty feet up, on a stout pole that shows a bit of rust, the stylized ice-cream cone keeps happy watch on the western entry to Newberg, taking in the equipment rental place, a Dutch Bros, a trailer court across the way, and a 100% Hispanic tire-seller across the street.


Whether or not you'd ever live in Newberg, there's a definite American-small-townness that recalls the rosy memories of prim little farming towns. The past wasn't perfect, but certain facets were adorable.

In Newberg, some of it can be found under the sign of DQ. Roadside neon, the way it used to be … and still is.

23 June 2014

[liff] The Scrub Jays Of McMinnville

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There is a bit of property down in McMinnville that we are obliged to maintain, for reasons which are not germane to the following discussion. Suffice to say that we have to do a couple of very hard jobs down that way at least once a year. Money is expended, Gatorade is consumed. It's typically hot work, though this iteration, while it happened on the official first day of summer, happened during weather that was fine yet temperate – occasional clouds, some overcast holding off the heat of the day 'til the mid-afternoon. Best for landscaping a tough job.

Over the past several years, we've had bird visitation. Typically after the long grass gets cut down and before the creatures who exist on the dirt surface had a chance to get underground, the jays came.

California Scrub Jays, they call them. Here's a handsome fellow scouting the just-cut grass for nommage:


We've noticed that they happen each time. It's not a visit unless we see some jays, really. They're like friends, in a way. This time, we had a few moments to look and observe … and we saw some family behavior there that was quite delightful.


A couple of jays were visible at most times in the sweetgum maple that exists at the front of the property. At first we thought it was simply a mom and dad bird protecting the nest.



But it became evident when we saw the fluffy down on some bird butts that what we probably had was at least two adolescent fledgelings taking some first flights. There was at least one adult that seemed to be keeping tabs on the kids, who perched on the wires and yelled at us to get out of their yard.

I always wondered about birds and wires. They take to them so naturally. I always thought that birds like this had a cosmology, and just as some of us monkeys think that since the Universe made us possible that the Universe evolved for us, I figured birds knew that us humans existed so that wires would develop for their perching.


But we figure we have occupants on the place that take care of it for us, at least, in that birdy way. 

[pdx] Photos On Sunday: SE 122nd And Division - Distressed Neighborhood Central

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They call my area of town 'distressed'.

It sounds like a sort of concern, and I'm sure it's well-intentioned. I'm wiling to give it that much of the benefit of the doubt. I'm a pretty big fool, however, I'm not that big of a fool, and I've noticed that the dubbing of a Portland neighborhood as being distressed is usually something of a prelude to it being shined and polished up and made 'livable', but, somehow, not affordable to the people that, at one time, had been the heart and soul of the neighborhood.

So, 122nd and Division - heart of an area evolving the name Midway, called by some of us Democrats Bedrock, and thought of by many Portlanders west of 82nd Avenue as Gresham, is 'distressed'.

There is 'concern'. And, while it's true that the area east of I-205 tends to get less of the public weal than the more fashionable areas of town, it seems when the attention is finally paid, it always seems to end in tears for the people who have always been out here. We do notice, with some satisfaction, that the densities called for in the 1996 Outer Southeast Community plan are being toned down a bit, with an eye toward leaving the single-family-home character of areas around SE 122nd Avenue and SE 136th Avenue alone, though the damage has already been done along SE 136th, which is having to grow up fast in the wake of the death of Morgan Maynard-Cook last February.

Look at all that distress
Areas like Powellhurst-Gilbert, Hazelwood, and Mill Park are studies in contrasts.  Highly-travelled neighborhood collectors with the uncurbed character of country roads serve thickly-populated residential areas. Intersections have beautifully-designed corners with modern curb-cuts that lead to no sidewalks at all. Infill housing sets cheek-by-jowl with homes that have existed for 40 or 50 years, if not more, all laced through by thronging boulevards such as SE Divsion Street and SE Stark Street, lined with businesses ranging from the swanky to the shabby. But, mere blocks off any of these arterials, and it's as quiet and prim as any upscale westside back street.


It is also very diverse in my area of town. Several businesses catering to the Latino population operate near SE Stark and 122nd and SE Market and 122nd. The tienda next to the 7-Eleven at 122nd and Market is a glory to visit, and if you want pan dulce, my friend, this is your place. The Mingala Halal market in the shopping center at Division has every packaged noodle soup you could ever want (and some you'd not be entirely sure about but you just have to try, to say you've done it).

I see people who dress differently than me and speak differently than me and I'm in love with this. This is Oregon; if I wanted to be surrounded by white people and never challenged by a single thing, it's not hard to go to a place to find People Like Me. But who needs that? Besides, our travel budget rarely supports a jaunt outside the city limits these days. Home is like travelling around the world without having to leave my back yard.


The skies are just as blue out here, the trees, just as green. Maybe they're using some definition of the word distressed that makes sense to someone who sees a ton of money to be made amongst the aging apartment complexes, scattered vacant lots, and wide pounded boulevards of Outer East Portlandia.


Oh, I don't refuse to see that this area of town has its problems, and a misguided city planning policy 
has exacerbated them to a degree. But where some fret, I find a certain sort of ragged beauty. Sure, a few places could use a bit of spruce. But to be condescending in concern is to continue to treat this area as Portland's red-headed stepkid, which has been the problem all along.

This area is just as much Portland as the fashionable parts are.

This is the idea that Those Who Wish To Reinvent Us must proceed from. No Portland City Commissioner comes from anywhere east of César E Chávez Blvd, and sometimes, though I like most of them very much, boy, does it show sometimes.

Yes, it's another snap of Mt Hood as seen through telephone
poles. Deal, people, deal.



19 June 2014

[#liff] Meanwhile, In The Triffid Patch, a/k/a Our Back Yard

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Got plants? We do. Our back yard is a little cultured and a little wild; thanks to an off-hand remark The Wife™made last night, I now call it the Triffid Patch.

It's appropriate.


We're ah, casual gardeners. We have a few vegetable plants in containers, the yard is kinda overrun with dandelions, and in the decade-plus we've lived here, we've had roses.

In as much as the container plants go, I'm working my way up. First two tomato plants and a green bell pepper. Then two tomato plants and 2 peppers - the green bell and a jalapeño. This year, three tomatoes, a green pepper, and a Yummy mix sweet pepper plant.

The jalapeños didn't fare so well. And one of the pepper plants got savaged in the night by … something. We know not what, nor are we sure we wish to. Chupacabra? Zanti misifits? Republicans? I don't know. We'll let the night maintain its secrets. We shall not, as they say, go there.

The roses were a bequest from the previous owners, who apparently cultivated them for show. We were nowhere near that hep on it, and had intended to have them taken out and rehomed at people so inclined to keep them. We still may. But for now, we've watched them go through some interesting evolution. It would seem that grafts have been placed onto other rosebush stocks; they would exhibit some different blossoms, but that seems to be breeding out as time goes on.



The blossoms that have survived have been quirky and beautiful, in a wild way. Deep rich color, as in the above … or attenuated, delicate shadings, as this one below.


A couple of bushes along the north fence, however, have this deep, deep, deep, red color. The eye looks upon this ultra saturated thing, and thinks velvet. That must feel like velvet if touched. 


As it is, the eye cannot look at it without the vibrant red pushing some of the eye's own receptors into near-overload. I can almost sense it as a palpable physical sensation myself.


It's a bit like frozen flame.

18 June 2014

[#art] All Over Coffee with Paul Madonna

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Add this man to the list of artists without which I cannot do.

Paul Madonna is a SF-based artist who does one of the most singular comics out there. All Over Coffee is a impressionistic masterpiece, with moody, visually-delicious drawings of San Francisco street scenes with bits of text strewn within. The text itself is, at best, tangentially referential to the picture; the text seems to provide a sound track to what is happening within the picture, kinda. 


It's very subjective. You can imagine the text as someone thinking to themselves about something that something in the picture referenced; a snatch of a distant conversation heard by the person at the POV; or just text living in the picture.

It's the perfect blend of word and picture, forming a poetry and music of its own. Sometimes the words live within the picture, forming a grim, yet funny existential punchline.

Ultimately what a person sees within an All Over Coffee strip is what they find there; you will probably see what you bring to the experience. And, to be sure, the idea of putting only-vaguely-sequitur words with images is hardly something new or unusual. The way Madonna does it, though, is unique … though it defies embodiment in something as surly as mere words, it certainly is there. There's something approaching vulnerability there, the artist's vulnerability, his love of his hometown, and the pure liberating passion of drawing that make the series absolutely beguiling, and once seen, never to be forgotten.

I've lusted for Madonna's  first eponymously-named collection for quite some time, drawn in by the beguilement that cannot be quite expressed in print. Some weeks ago, I found a copy at Powell's, only to be disappointed that someone had razored-out a single page. Bad human! but at our last visit, last Sunday evening, there was a copy, at a price.

All Over Coffee is now mine to leaf through whenever I want. They have a copy at +Multnomah County Library, and I encourage any of you all to check it out when you can. There's a second volume of AOC collected, Everything Is Its Own Reward, which I shall lust over perforce.


17 June 2014

[#logo] The Vincent Price Legacy Logo - Best Thing I've Seen Today

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Or maybe I'm in a macabre mood, maybe that's it.

To anyone with a horror-movie bent (or maybe hunch-back, if you prefer), Vincent Price is an icon amongst icons. I remember growing up during the latter half of his career, just after he'd made is greats and was doing more television work than film. Funny thing about Vincent, though … he could star in the most throwaway piece of TV tripe but just having him there made the whole thing watchable. He was rocking the idea of being an past-one's-peak actor long before William Shatner even started to make it fashionable.

He did it by being a compleat personality. There was Vincent the aesthete, Vincent the intellectual, Vincent the style maven, and - most notably - Victor the gourmet cook and author, doing his small and stylish part to make the world safe for the modern foodie.

It's a bit unfair, though not inappropriate, to think of him as merely a horror film icon.

Toward the latter period of his life, he lent his considerable mind toward art. There is a museum of art and his legacy that exist in his name. The Vincent Price Legacy, http://vincentprice.com, is where you connect to all that awesomeness. But what's got me enthused today is that I stumbled on this pitch-perfect logo, which encapsulates all the sophistication, charm, wit, and style of the great man:


This is the first  time I've seen it and it is sooooo perfect.  Understated and urbane …

What I usually say?

Wish I'd of thought of it.

[#design] The Official "Portland In 2016" Westercon Bid Ad

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I'm kind of the junior partner in this arrangement, but I'm thrilled just to be along for the ride. Far too infrequently do I get to look at awesome up close.

What you see, here, is the official ad for the "Portland in 2016" bid effort to land Westercon 69 for the Rose City, which will appear in the program book for at Westercon 67:


Quite the thing, neh? And I get to say that I contributed.

A precis:

The design suprema here is Meredith Cook. She has the sharpest design mind I've come across lately and I've found her incredibly inspiring. She's guided the the design effort so far and planted the seed (and did the hard beginning work) that grew into the goodness that is, and is sure to come. The general artistic appearance of that logo comes from her. I contributed a few ideas that serve to give it a little more character; it may or may not be what it is because of the bits I suggested, but it wouldn't have been at all if it weren't for her.

The base photo, that of that night-time Portland skyline, is my own work (as I detailed here). By making the bid effort logo circular, Meredith's design has enabled it to be used in the cleverest way …  the moon-over-town, lighting and illuminating a sky full of things that we love about Portland, and that sell Portland as the place for the envisioned Westercon 69. the whole effect is pure visual poetry to me, because as a place for fandom, Portland needs not too much more selling (at least in my personal, fairly smug opinion).

Westercon 67 is taking place in Salt Lake City this next month. That is where the vote will happen; anyone who wants to support our effort is welcome to do so (there's even a Pre-opposing contribution option, for those sufficiently perverse).

Portland in 2016 has Facebook and Twitter presences for those of you so inclined:

So, go support. Who knows … you might win a date with a unicorn!*

*Maybe, I guess. I don't know from who, but anything's possible … if you believe!

14 June 2014

[#art] A Change of Carrier

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I've decided to join the messenger-bag generation.

It's cool. I'm usually a few years late to just about any party, anyway.

If you don't know if I'm hangin' around or not, you can usually tell that I'm here if you see my backpack. It's a habit I picked up never-you-mind how many years ago and I've probably kept too long, but in an unfriendly world that don't love you back no matter how hard you love it, you have to have your security blanket.

We all do, I think. I fancy I'm just a bit more honest about it than some. Then, I care less and less what anyone thinks about what I do as I move through this part of my life; I'll do what I can to cope.

My backpack has been part of my identity for a long time. It holds a lot of things that are important to me that I want to keep near; the sketchbook I'm not drawing in; the book on creativity I'm not reading or using, the art supplies I'm apparently hoarding up against the apocalypse. But backpacks encourage a sort-of hermit crabbish-ness, in which I carry my notional studio on my back. As long as my right shoulder isn't killing me (how I've avoided tendonitis all these years, I can't tell you) I figure I can carry anything. Or everything.

Whether or not I can kickstart my own engine, a touch of parsimony is called for, I think. Will it improve my creativity at all if I don't figure I have everything I need and inspiration will spontaneously combust from inside the recesses of the thing?

I don't know.  Anything's worth trying once.

I also have a taijtu (see illo) patch that will simply look stunning on the flap.

And so it goes.

13 June 2014

[#design] 600-Or-So Portland-in-2016 Bookmarks For Westercon 67

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The Wife™ had a little busytime project.

You see, we're involved on the edge of a little group that's trying to bring Westercon 69, in 2016, two years hence, to Portland. The bid will be voted on at Westercon 67, being held this next month in Salt Lake City, and we have been promoting.

And, by we, I mean a rather divers group of passionate individuals doing what they can, when they can, and making it count. The sun our planets revolve around is the inimitable Lea Rush; entropy fears her, scattered card decks stack themselves at her mere approach. I am essentially a graphic design support grunt at this point, and provide support to Meredith Cook when and as she needs it. The Wife™, she handles the office we've called "Mailroom".

In case you ever needed to know
what more than 600 bookmarks
looked like, here you go.
How to Support
the Bid
(click to embiggen)
At this point, it is as such: a call came a day or so ago from Lea wondering how many bookmarks were left. We had started a stock of 5000; less than 2500 are left (we may have a handful or two left over before this is done, and this is no sin … we own lots of books which require marking), and the mission; send 600-or-so of them to Westercon 67's ComCon. Mailroom snaps into action: The Wife™ counts out the required number, packages them up, and gets them ready to go.

They're in a box, right now, ready to be shipped. Inspired by the example of those around us, the proper amount of energy is leveraged for the maximum effect. USPS Media Rate is our faithful friend, and Westercon 67 will have the bookmarks.

Which are sweet, by the way. Featuring the logo designed by Meredith with assistance by myself, they feature a picture of a night-time Portland skyline snapped by the ViviCam 3705, the Plastic Fantastic, back in 2009. 'Tis a picture I'm most proud of, and I'm equally proud that it may help, in a small way, win a very significant moment in time for the fandom of the Rose City. This is the bookmark:


Like I said, sweet! The night-time scene has a little bit of Tron and Matrix-y stuff going on there. Great mood setting. The round patch is the offiical Portland In 2016 logo, done by Meredith with help from myself. This is the photo it was based on:


 And that was in January, 2009. Photos are forever …



And they make, I'll say again, sweet bookmarks.

Presupport is still available. Clicky to embiggen the back of the bookmark, on the left above (there's even a QR code for your enjoyment) for terms, or go to http://portlandin2016.org to find out more.

Yeah. This is something that should happen. 

09 June 2014

[#pdx] Photos on Sunday: Mr Plywood and Mount Hood From Downtown Montavilla

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Not too many photos on this edition of Photos on Sunday, because we had a real day of downtime. And, noting the way I feel right now, it was needed. 
But that's as may be. Today, The Wife™ needed a bit of board for a little thing she was trying to do to organize the closet, so we do what we usually do in these cases: we went to Mr. Plywood, in downtown Montavilla, at 76th and SE Stark. It's been in Portland a long, long time … I don't know what year it was founded in, but I remember the dryly-narrated commercials that Mike Falconer used to do back in the 70s. Since there are fewer and fewer of the good old local retailers that exist around here that did when I was a kid, we put a high importance on patronizing them. We do, after all, want to help them stay in business for as long as they can.

Mr Plywood's store is hard to miss. 7609 SE Stark Street, that's on Stark Street, on the north side, filling the whole block between 76th and 77th. You won't miss it, if only because it's big sign, made of the mascot, draws your attention.

Inside, it's your local lumber store … with an accent on the finished plywood sort of thing. Because, name.

Me and The Wife™ love it because the prices are good, the service is knowledgable, and if you stop in as a regular, they treat you like a friend. The Wife™ loves the access to materials. I love the free popcorn.

I've gone on in other venues about free popcorn at hardware and building supply stores. To this day, wife says I need some dowling or a cedar board, and my mouth starts watering.

The store's in two main sections; the upper part, where the cashier is, the aisles with building and wooodworking supplies, and the finished plywood. Rougher stuff is in the other half of the building, which is reached through the large door with these delightful signs over:


They love DIYers and I love those signs. And observing the proceedings in the upper room is the store's eponymous mascot … "Mr" Plywood.


In all his precise geometrical glory, he beams warmly to all who patronize.


But there something about him … those eyes …


Do you see they way they look? The way they seem to follow you across the room? The way they look not only at you … but into you? (cue theremin at this point. You may not want to, but you have to)


They bore into you in searing honesty … they are the abyss of building materials, and as you look into them, THEY LOOK INTO YOU!!!!! AAAAAAAUGH!!!!!!

Okay, now that I've turned a perfectly charming store logo into something you're afraid will meet you on the other side and chase you after death, let's move on! Mr Plywood is located in what I think of as 'downtown Montavilla'. Montavilla is the neighborhood on the east side of Mount Tabor from the rest of Portland, and begins pretty much at the toe of the mountain. It's main east-west axis is the one-way couplet of SE Stark and Washington Streets, from 76th to 82nd Avenues, where there are a flock of shops, a really nifty coffeehouse called the Bipartisan Cafe, and the best movie theatre on earth … The Academy.

For those who know me well, I'm about to go into another couple of photos where I further if possible, fetishize Mount Hood. I am what I am.

The mountain is visible from downtown Montavilla, and the best view is from the upper end, near SE 76th, in front of the Mr Plywood store. Taking the lessons in creating telephoto-style pictures a couple of missives ago, it quickly occurred to me that this was a chance to juxtapose the distant mountain with the human habiliment in the foreground. I remember seeing similar pictures taken of Mount Rainier from the Seattle suburbs when I was a kid, and they really had impact … impressions of them stayed with me to this day, and are playing across my mind as I write this. Here's what I came up with, and the result really pleases my aesthetic sense.


The real coup, I think, is the tall facade to The Academy, even though it blocks the view of a shoulder of the mountain, its intrusion into the scene makes it kind of a valuable statement. The above is cropping a zoomed-in photo, and this …


… is at a few levels of digital zoom, which I'm finding, the Canon S-100 handles with deftness.

And it's Mount Hood, Wy'east, which is its own justification.