08 February 2016

[funnay] I Can Hear You Better if You Increase The Font Size

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An ad recently espied in Soylent News™:


YES, I'M HARD OF HEARING BUT FORTUNATELY YOU UPPED THE FONT SIZE SO I CAN HEAR YOU VERY WELL NOW THANK YOU!

[comics] Fanaticon Is Coming in Four Days' Time

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The age of the microcon is upon us, and we love it enough to help out even though nobody asks us to. Because this stuff is worthy, especially in a world where big-name comicons charge arms and legs just to breathe the air in the lobby (or, at, least, it's starting to seem that way).

There's one we got excited about and we're doing a little unauthorized word-spreading of our own, because we love passion, and just about anything Jake Richmond causes to happen makes us happy. It's called Fanaticon, and it's happening from 10 AM to 2 PM this Saturday, at the East Portland Community Center, 740 SE 106th Avenue, between SE Washington St and SE Cherry Blossom Drive.

Admission is Free. That's the ultimate discount.

What you'll see there is a group of teenaged comickers who are showing off work we expect to be much pleased with, and a remarkably wide group of creators tabling their own works (there'll be Barry Deutsch there, along with Jake, which is more than enough reason to show up on its own.

For our part, we noted there was no posting on the Upcoming Events board of the Midland Branch library.


The Wife™ took care to correct this.


With the library's permission, of course, the promotional posting is embedded within the science fiction shelves. Which is appropriate, as it's also very close to the graphic novels, manga, and comics shelves.


The postcard-sized ones on the top the manga shelves were there when we got there.

All the info you need to know about our local, teen-organized and run comicon can be found at the Fanaticon Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/140596066317163/ . We'll be there.

04 February 2016

[logo] When You Know The Rebranding Was A Swing and A Miss

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In the last two days, I found myself compelled to comment on two rebrandings; that of Uber, and that of the Toronto Maple Leafs. And I have to confess, I found myself only, at best, whelmed. I mean, the rebrandings worked on the basic level, and they were successful in as much as they resulted in a revised image that could be used, but were they good? Were they called for?

Ultimately, whether or not a rebranding works starts on a personal level. Anyone with a pair of eyes is a critic. On some level, the critic will write a critique, and maybe poke a little well-intentioned fun, on a slightly read blog. Most levels will be the eyeballs in the public; people like new things, and a lot of people will come look regardless of whether or not a 'please look at me', mildly-self-deprecating (Uber's mild poking fun at itself and its "90's haircut" was just so pitifully dear) toned press release or online newsroom post happens.

The mere observation that logos are everywhere and the most memorable ones become touchstones of pop culture (you know who Paul Rand and Saul Bass are, even if you don't know who Paul Rand and Saul Bass are), to me, hints at how we all care that things look, if not good, at least in a way that makes sense. It also hints as to why companies put a premium on image and why some spend so much energy on, hopefully, hitting it out of the park with a timeless logo or logotype.

So, what is is about the rebranding of the Leafs and Uber that leave me cold? I can't distill it down into just a pithy phrase or two (actually, I'm working on it; experience tells me that I can distill anything down into a pithy phrase or two; some things just take more time to bake than others), but I do know that the reaction to those rebrands left me more scratching my head in mild bemusement* than being all that impressed.

In the case of Uber, they got rid of the U-in-the-box, updated the type and beefed it up a bit. Okay, I guess. But what made it newsworthy was that it was deemed newsworthy at all. It didn't communicate any change of focus or message; it's just … well nice effort, I suppose. At least you showed up. You can beef up the type and put in little chisel terminals and fillets in the corners … but all you still have is a four-letter German loanword. I'm still not sure what change in company wit and wisdom really called for it.

Well, if it works for you. Those new app icons … well, if it suits you. It just confuses me.

The Leafs' redesign at least seems called-for. It's the centennial of the club, and they want to reach back into the glory days for visual inspiration and motivation. The neatness of the type works very well. But all the parts of the design each sending a message just seems to work too hard at being a logo. Look at it this way; if every nook and cranny of the design is intended to communicate something, to mean something, would the logo be any less rich and interesting if you didn't know that the 31 points and the total number of veins in the leaf as well as the number of veins above the type were supposed to tell you something? It's kind of like someone over-explaining a pun.

Trust me, I know from over-explaining a pun.

Keep it simple. And if you find yourself hearing the question 'is this trip necessary' asked out loud by the people you were hoping to impress … then maybe it wasn't. 

Logo redesign and rebranding can seem like a natural evolution, or a pitiable plea for attention. Sometimes, it's best to leave well-enough alone, or at least, don't overexplain it.

* bemusement is a synonym for bewilderment … not mild amusement. You'd be surprised how many people don't know this.

[SJKPDX] Travel Portland Features My Mt Hood Sunrise Pic

3253.
Yesterday, of course, amongst other postings, I shared my picture of that amazing sunrise where the sun was throwing a shadow of Mount Hood on the bottom of clouds over Portland.

I wasn't the only one, of course, but I think I hit it pretty well.
 
Naturally I shared it on Twitter and Facebook, it's what you do.


One of the accounts which follow me on Twitter is that of Travel Portland's (@travelportland), which noticed it, liked it, and did me the incredible compliment of featuring it on their page of nifty, Portland is happening Now. Click on that link there to go to the recent pictures, http://www.travelportland.com/pdxnow/#/a/8-tw-694949240309583872-3 should be a direct link to the picture embedded within the page, and they let me know with the friendliest of pats on the back:



So, it helps to get around. And we get by with a little help from our friends.

03 February 2016

[logo] Toronto Turns Over The Old Leafs … for a New Old Leaf.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs are (is?) one of the oldest, most legendary teams in major league hockey in North America, with a history stretching back a century (as of next year). It's hard to argue with 13 Stanley Cups.

But the last Cup win was back in the 1960s; the dynasty days are far back in the rear view. And the logo is a hallmark of 70s design (reminds me of the uniform of the Houston Astros of about that time). It wasn't badly designed, but the simplified maple leaf outline seems to recall avocado kitchens and AMC cars more than a historically beloved hockey team (see above right).

The organization has met the challenge with that evergreen of solutions, a logo redesign. To summon up the glory days, they've reached back in that past, and come up with a new logo that looks more or less like the old one. Which isn't a bad thing, really; with an updated typeface and more attention to type layout, it's a well-done homage.

If if it suffers from anything, it's a bit too much leaning on everything having to mean something. According to this article on the CBC's website, there are 31 points for 1931, the day their original arena opened; 17 veins total, for the year the club was founded (1917), and 13 veins above the letterforms, for the 13 Cup wins. Give it credit for trying very very hard.

It may have tried a little too hard, though; the style of the veins in the bottom of the leaf has invited comparisons to the derriere. Well, if that's true, at least it's a logo you can get behind, so to say.

Game on?

[logo] Uber's New Look Is Very Nice, Thank You.

3251.
Contrary to what you may have heard, Uber hasn't changed its logo. It's changed its logotype. The old icon, with the U in the square, has been ashcanned; but in an attempt to portray it as the serious, grown up company it sees itself as, the wordmark has been beefified.

Basically, they've tightened the tracking, eliminated the curly bits, and put some fillets into the joints while making some of the terminals more like a chisel. You know, so as to generate some disruption, or excitement, or something. Does it move you? Make your own decision; a graphic comparing the old (top) to the new (bottom) can be seen at right. EXCITEMENT! I'm feelin' it.

The U-icon has been eliminated from the app. You'll see one of two things if you use Uber; users will see a circle with a square in the center and a line connecting the square to the edge of the circle; the drivers ("partners") will see a square in the middle of a hexagon with lines extending up and down to the perimeter of the hex. Each one of these is on a background with a fine tracery of lines whose colors are drawn from a palette inspired by each city in which Uber uberates … er, operates. The center square is called the 'bit', and the outer shape is called the 'atom', because Uber is a place where bits and atoms come together, or maybe they just meet kind of awkwardly.

The entire whale-song and joss stick sonata can be seen in Uber's newsroom, if one is so inclined, but for sheer commentary value, my favorite remark so far is at the end of this article at The Next Web:
Again, this all comes via an update, and is a rebranding effort; nothing about your Uber experience has changed, which may be the biggest oversight.
Oh, snap, you.

[pdx] Mount Hood, Piercing the Clouds

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There are, I've said (I think I have), benefits to working graveyard. You're going home when everyone else is going in to work. You see things most other people can't afford the time to pay attention to. Today was a … peak, you might say … experience there.

I've rhapsodized about Rossi Farms before. I've never attended an event or done much more than drive by the place, but it's this small working farm, embedded like a jewel in a part of Portland that was once suburban, hemmed in on all sized by housing, shopping, and Parkrose High School, with NE Sandy Blvd running just a few blocks north and I-84 and NE Fremont Street just a block or two south. They're always growing produce. And, by keeping the area for about 10 blocks to the east of NE 122nd Avenue a clear sight-line, have given me some of the most wonderful views of my favorite mountain, Oregon's tallest … and thereupon created a public service that's not mine alone. Bless 'em.

When I began the sally home, I saw Mount Hood, mighty Wy'East, backlit by clouds that were starting to be that sort of moltenl-lava warm red and orange mix that sometimes happens. As I passed through downtown Parkrose heading east 102nd and Sandy, though, I saw the shadow beaming out over the buildings, and I knew where my next stop was.

When I shoot Hood from 122nd, I usually park just south of NE Skidmore Street. There's a convenient place to pull over and park for just a short time, right by the Rossi Farms sign. And I expected something awesome today when I saw that shadow, and boy …


… was I ever not disappointed.


Mount Hood's offical summit elevation is 11,249 feet ASL, or 3,429 metres. It's not the most massive Cascade volcano, but where it doesn't look Shasta or Rainier in the eye, it much more than makes up for in style and poise.

And when that tipped peak is just above the cloud deck, which is maybe at 11,000 feet, then you get this. And it's awesome.


I stayed out there for about twenty minutes, firing off shots.  And when I left there I felt electrified, like I was lucky, very lucky, to be in this place and time …


… specifically, out 122nd way. Home.

01 February 2016

[PBN] One Of The Next Paint-By-Number Masterpieces

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Just came in over the transom … The next Paint by Numbers work to emerge, eventually, from the studio …




I figure I've been working natural subjects. Time for a technological thing'o'war. I guess. Well, it looks interesting anyway.

[liff] Multnomah County Library Love: The Feeling's Mutual.

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Really quite gratifying things happen when you pay your library a compliment. Here's what happened when I did to mine.

Mine is, of course, the mighty and rightfully-legendary Multnomah County Library. It's good for reasons, and reasons too numerous to relate right now. As a lifelong library user and book lover, it's a nice place to be. Its reputation can hardly be gainsaid: according to the Wikipedia article on same:
According to the Public Library Association, it ranks second among U.S. libraries, based on circulation of books and materials, and ranks first among libraries serving fewer than one million residents. In this respect, it is the busiest in the nation.
The proof is self-evident; you just don't get that way by accident. MCL is good.

Our branch is the Midland Regional, at SE 122nd Avenue and Morrison Street. Being a regional library means it's one of the larger branches; this particular branch would suffice as the main public library in many mid-size American towns. Big and well-supplied, it has enough stock on the shelves that I nearly always find something even if I'm not particularly looking for anything. On Saturdays, it's our home-from-home, as we spend many happy hours finding nifty stuff. It's made me a The New Yorker habitue´. Wife catches up on the news and checks out many, many more books than she really needs to have. It's an adult advenure.

Recently, the chance presented itself to make a comment. Funny thing about things you love; you don't often stop to think to compliment these days; it's so much more energizing to have a complaint. When something works the way you think it should work, we take it for granted, and YT is just as much an addict to that sort of thinking as any other modern. But the chance to give props presented itself and I took it. Here's what I wrote (from MultCoLib's edit …)
“We make our library day the centerpiece of our week. I use the creative atmosphere to try to inspire art; my wife uses it to explore things she's interested in — and there's very little she's not interested in. She catches up on the local papers, I stay current with The New Yorker. I find out about art I want to do. She culls recipes from the newspapers. She learns about Oregon history; I discover the literature and fiction that I should have been reading when I was in high school (Proust! Pynchon!).
Above all it's the staff of this particular branch [Midland] that make it such a welcoming home.… we feel blessed of good fortune to have such warm, satisfying and smart relationships with such committed and passionate staff. We love them, not only the ones you have here now, but the ones who have moved on.
As homeowners and taxpayers thereupon we, as most local citizens, are keen on where that money goes. We know of no better value than the tax money we send out to support the County Library system — it gives back much, much more in intellectual and recreational value than we pay in. Great stock, Great people — we're proud of our Library, and feel extremely fortunate that we get to have one that is so very good.”
Not too long ago, we got a reply. Here it is:


Director of Libraries? Sweet! Thanks for the reply, Vailie. This is totally going into the scrapbook.

But that isn't all. They got a picture of our beatific countenances and posted all this to FB. You can see the post here: https://www.facebook.com/multcolib/photos/a.95676234880.76523.90704854880/10154462169439881. It's about as gratifying to see that MultCoLib's followers liked it 283 times …

But the feedback doesn't end there. Yesterday night, at the end of our Sunday Powell's City'o'Books visit, one of the clerks mentioned that she'd recognized us from the post. ***CELEBRITY!!!***

I mean, we got that goin' for us. Which is nice.

Not only is Portland the sort of place were you love books, but the books (and the purveyors thereupon) tend to love you back. And that's part of the reason why Portland's still home to me after all these years.

And so it goes.
 

14 December 2015

[pdx] The ZehnKatzen Portland 2016 Calendar On Sale Now

3247.So, last year I created a calendar with all-original images created by me. It didn't sell too well … perhaps because I waited until the latter part of January to get going to it.

I've learnt my lesson. Here, for everyone's delectation, edification, and, hopefully, interior decoration, is the 2016 version, available before the year in question actually starts! This is an innovation in calendar technology that took up to 8 to 10 seconds to work out. The results, of course, are stellar.

Seriously, though, here's my beloved home town through my own eyes and the eye of my camera. It's a labor of love … Portland's going through a lot of changes, but she's still the beautiful woman I remember from all those years back. I'll love her 'till the day I kick it.

It's $11.99, and available through Lulu.com via this link:

http://www.lulu.com/content/legacy-lulustudio-calendar/zehnkatzens-portland-2016-calendar/18068232

Or you can click on this button:

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

And, here's a preview:


12 December 2015

[pdx] In David Douglas Land, The Stranger Abides

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As a matter of fact, The Big Lebowski is one of our favorite movies. But, that's as maybe.

We live in an area of outer east Portlandia where the schools fall under the historic name David Douglas. School geography in Portland is a curious thing. The Portland Public Schools … in, what one would imagine a nominal sense, the school district covering the City of Portland, is not, in fact, the school district ones' kids go to if they live, in the main, east of Interstate 205. You can still be in the City of Portland and not pay property taxes to PPS, a fact which endlessly amuses me when I see them talking about Portland school taxes and strife on the school board and I have to take a moment to remind myself that this does not apply to me out here out 122nd Way. 

Though we don't take part in much of the David Douglas social whirl, being night owls of necessity so long it's become nature, we do take pride in being part of the David Douglas community. It's the kind of place you find yourself in that you realize, after being here a while, that you were meant to be here all along. It's also has the reputation of being the most economically and culturally-diverse community in the city.

Portlandia, as funny as it is, was not written about the Portland I live in, the Portland of eastern-European churchgoers who walk to church and never step out in anything but their best to so much as go to the store; the Portland of Somali housewives who step out dressed int the brightest colors you can imagine; the Portland where all we have to do is walk down the street and around the corner to get authentic Mexican pan dulce from the tienda. 

And there are famous people who come from here too. Last week, we attended the David Douglas Holiday Bazaar, held in the North Campus building in the halls and the cafeteria, and there were the usual throng of convivial people, all very nice, handicrafts and wooden toys and witty artifacts and all, and I don't know why I never noticed it before, but over the main hall past the school offices are photos of the student body presidents gong back more than 60 years. Particularly interesting is the one who graces 1962. He went on to Hollywood; made some good movies and TV, and played the enigmatic center about which Lebowski really revolves (and has hence been abused as a meme to the point of meaninglessness), and even though he was born in Sacramento, he appears to claim the Rose City as his home (and David Douglasville claims him as a homey) and he still came home to visit his then-going-on-97-year-old David Douglas mom (and visit an alternative newsie or two).

It's this "dude":


Sam Elliott. Being rather smug about being a Sam myself, I feel lucky to be a namesake with such a fellah.

The Stranger abides, man. And he's one of us.

10 December 2015

[liff in OR] Portland In The Time Of Flood

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The counter on the Acu-Rite weather droid for rain, while I do love this little guy, is flawed. It doesn't reset itself after the water year ends. It also appears to top out at 99.99 inches. After I snapped this, I cleared the totals … you can only clear all … so we're starting out again. This was the view on Tuesday morning:


It defines rain 'events' differently than our weather broadcasters do, and it's a little inscrutable, but over this historic weekend, when sewage gouted out manhole covers in The Pearl, when Johnson Creek rose 1.6 feet in one hour on Monday morning, when Detroit Reservoir rose 17 feet in a single day, we saw 6.04 inches of rain at the Chez ZehnKatzen.

With 8.7 inches we are now statistically over the rainfall we'd expect to get in a December, and I call the rain to a halt for this month. It can all go straight to the mountains as snow.

I have spoken.

[creativity] A Look Into A Writer's Brain. DeNiro Knows.

3244.
The quote says quite a lot without saying all that many words.



What DeNiro is attributed to say here can probably felt to some degree by a great many of us who are artists, and the part of me that aspires to writing as well as that which aspires to drawing feels each one of those; moreover, perversely, it thinks that those things are actually my more charming points.

And that is on a good day.

Via A-Z Quotes.

21 November 2015

[PDX] Snowy Volcanoes on an OryCon Friday

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OryCon 37, the yearly must-do and the SF con I designed the program books for this year (which I'll talk about perforce) opened today and we went down to get the lay of the place, connect with much confriends, and get copies of my program book.

I was too busy to take photos inside, but let me tell you, the kids are alright, and the adults aren't doing too badly, not neither. The daytime parking … the nearby SmartPark garage offered $15 flat for four hours or more … that's another matter. Weekend parking is going to be a lot more kind, economically speaking.

The view from the 7th floor of the 2nd and Jefferson SmartPark was almost worth the price of parking there. Actually, priceless.

I give you two Portland icons. In the foreground, the Hawthorne Bridge. On the horizon, Mt. Hood, called by our Multnomahn predecessors Wy'east.  You won't be able to see this view forever though, in the next few years, a new and monolithic Multnomah County Courthouse is going up on that block between this POV and the bridge. How, I'm still not certain, but they're promising it's going to happen, much to the Veritable Quandary's dismay.


What is that white stuff on it, you may ask, fellow Oregonian?

Snow. It's snow. We haven't seen it out there in a while. And an ironic moment for me was realized when I remembered that that stop-sign in the middle, at the bottom, where the traffic from northbound Naito Parkway patiently waits for eastbound access to the bridge, is where Working Kirk Reeves did his best work.

Still miss that fellah. Haven't seen that vivacity around here in a long time.

Cropping the photo to more focus on the mountain gives a different feel. More drama. You lose the deck of the bridge but you gain the feeling of a whole other world.

I love Mount Hood.


Of course, when it comes to volcanoes …


… we got 'em coming and going around here. But not quite erupting just now, a kindness that. Saint Helens reminds us we have to keep our eyes open.

They do make for an almost-indescribably-beautiful mountain, though. 

16 November 2015

[art] What Do You Do At East Burn at 11 PM on a Sunday Evening?

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Well, since the tables are covered with a sort of Kraft paper, and crayons are provided, you draw something.

And this is … well, certainly something. 


The crayons were kinda sad and unhelpful, so I used the trusty Cross Classic Century.

Another thing you do is order and share the Trinity fries, which are regular French fries, sweet-potato fries, and deep fried leek shreds. This is really tasty and relatively economical … you get a big bowl of fries for $8, and if you split that, that's $4 per. And $4 really isn't so much to spot when they taste that good. Also came with rosemary aioli. I'm not that big a fan of aioli.

And since it was sitting between us, we were suspiciously close to playing with (or in) our food.


And, it was all fun and games …


… until Rocketship X-1 showed up.

We didn't stay around to welcome the astronauts. We'd already had a full day.

19 October 2015

[Out122ndWay] Cruiser's Cafe's Neon Is Back!

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Cruiser's Cafe is a totally adorable diner out past 122nd on SE Division; precisely speaking, it's on the southwest corner of SE 136th and Division. It's been there about forty years, since the 80s, and for all that time, it's served its own version of the classic American burger-joint dependables: burgers, cheesburgers, fries, tater tots, patty melts, and the  rest, and some unexpected things too: The Wife™ says the deep-friend shrimp there are divine. Big portions, reasonable prices. Can't lose here, really.

What they've been missing is the neon on the outside. It's been visible, and visibly, sadly broken. This last evening, as we came homeward bound on Division, though, we saw it … shining out in the night like an oasis to the weary diner lover. The neon has at last been repaired.


There are two levels of hot-pink-and-teal stripe; one along the roofline outside, and another along the ceiling line, inside. Both were working and simply beautiful from the street.


The most attractive thing to me, was the type. Looks like Cooper Black Italic; it's chunkiness gives it that old-school American diner feel. I took snaps while Wife™ stepped in for a vanilla soft-serve cone, which we shared … which was superb as well.


She chatted up whoever was in the building; she said they said they've been working on the funding for this for about eight months now.

Money and time well spent, I'd say. 

18 October 2015

[pdx] Molten Gold In The Skies Over Downtown Russellville

3240.
The one-way couplet that distributes east-west traffic along SE Washington and Stark Streets from SE 75th through SE 108th Avenues has its anchors in two nabes of long-standing establishment. By far the more well-known is Montavilla which, as befits its name. starts on the northeastern shoulder of Mount Tabor and is in full effect through about SE 82nd Avenue.

The other comprises the area from about SE 92nd Avenue through 108th, and has a freeway running through it. That area is Russellville, and that's my home. The areas have two different characters: Montavilla a little more toff, with a strong dash of modern Portlandia; the businesses along the north-side of Stark between 80th and 76th feature a measure of poshness that's not too hard to discern from the street. There's still the echo of the working-class there, but it's seeming to attenuate over time. Russellville is still pretty down and dirty in the good way, and real; where Montavilla has the hip late-night bistros, and the pet supply store with artisanal products, it's Russellville that has the pizza parlor, the Dollar Tree, the strip clubs, and the Target store, and the freeway running through it (I-205).

Please note I cast no aspersions intentionally. But I live here; this is what I see. And, in the manner of community, if Montavilla gets the finer stuff, that's not to say they're bad; similarly, to say that Russellville's a bit more careworn, that's not to say we're all bad either. But sometimes we get compensated in unexpected ways. Such as late Saturday afternoon, when The Wife™ and myself walked out of the Jack In The Box at SE 105th and Stark, to see the sky.

It's all in where you're standing, and where you are when you are.


The sun, which was setting behind Mount Tabor to the west, was impinging on the clouds and not merely illuminating them from with out, but scintillating sunset rays were clearly at furious play in the clouds themsevles.


A thing like this can even make a Denny's look like a place that has a dignified view of heaven.

Meanwhile The Wife™, whose powers of observation are typically quite sharp, directed my view over the Saylor's Old Country Kitchen, the restaurant on the north side of SE Stark Street. It's famous for a 72-ounce chunk o'meat that's free if you can eat it all down at one sitting, but tonight, it was renowned for this:


You can see it just over the sign, above it at to the left of it. The setting sun was actually inflecting the clouds behind the point of view. It's a sun-doggish, sun-bowish thing, which is a little inaccurate to say, because those effects happen totally different ways. But it's how I thought of it.

Since it's a little tough to see unaccented, I bumped up the reds and it stands out much better.


It's all in where you're standing. And when you're standing. And that's like life. 

28 September 2015

[pdx] Superbloodmoon of 2015, Washington Park, Portland

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It was harder to find a good vantage point for the SuperBloodmoon than I thought. Or maybe I just underestimated the popularity.

Me, like (apparently) many … oh, so many … of my fellow Portlanders figured that the east lawn of the Pittock Mansion would be ideal. And, as far as views go, it is. And so also though about 6 million of my fellow Portlanders, who blocked up NW Barnes Road and NW Pittock Avenue nearly all the way back to Burnside, and had people parking their cars on Burnside and walking all the way up that hill just to get to the mansion.

The free day about two years back didn't get this much traffic. Throngs of people all wandering about in the narrow roads, making it impossible to get any where without wondering if the next thing you were going to hear through the car's chassis wasn't the sound crunch.

So. Re-emerging, after some travail, where NW Barnes Rd debouches onto West Burnside Road, I get the idea to try the Washington Park Rose Gardens. And why not? As something to shame me, despite my oft-boasted about adoration of my own hometown, I go to the Rose Test Gardens astoundingly infrequently. This problem was about to to solved. Quite easy to get to, actually … turn south off West Burnside onto SW Tichner Drive, then hang a right on SW Kingston Avenue. That leads you right in. A fortuitous parking spot opened up just as we got to it; a very patient TriMet Bus 63 driver gave us the leave to wait a minute or so while the car cleared the space, and we parked it.

The time was about 7:15 PM, Pacific Daylight Time, Sept 27th, 2015. We had my tripod and our Canon S100 PowerShot, which isn't the most ideal camera for astronomical phenomena without a great deal of help but we were going to put her through her paces.


The moon took a long time to emerge. It rose from the haze on the horizon, and more or less materialized into being. It did look noticeably larger than usual.

It was a good spot, though not ideal. The layout of the gardens, on the side of the hill, afforded a number of good vantage points, and the people were polite and nobody crowded us. It was actually pretty cool just to be there, and there was an intangible bonhomie in the air. People were at ease, casual … kids going down the stairs anyway but the steps … I remember an adult telling a 13-year-old girl that she was going to be an old fogy like him someday as she ran up the steps.

"Nooooooooooo!" she retorted.

I got a big of a glimpse of Mount Hood just before the sun went down. The poor mountain is looking so denuded after the hellish summer we've had. Barren and sere.

Toward 8:00 PM, we finally got conditions that gave the best opportunity for some memorable pictures, at least as good as my Canon would give.


It would have been a little better, I suppose, if we didn't have the bright lights behind and in front of us. But I opened the aperture as far as I could, set the exposure for as long as possible, and this is what we got, and at least we have a memory to show for it.

It was a good experience. We need to go to the Rose Gardens a little more often, The Wife™ and me. After, all, they are why this is the Rose City. And perhaps I'm just a poser if I can't say I've been there.


This last one, just above here, was the whole, uncropped scene … and the 15-second exposure time made wonderful ghosts of the many people who were there with us to see this thing.

Superbloodmoon over Portland, September, 2015.

22 September 2015

[pdx] The View From The Stadium Fred Meyer Overlook, 3rd Floor

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We've been to this view point before, but one level down.

I miss some things about NW Portland. I lived there at one time, long before things got fashionable and expensive, in a house between 21st and 22nd on NW Flanders Street. It was a good time. I can't go back to this area without thinking about it.

My first drawing board, real drawing board, was bought at Stadium Fred Meyer. I still have it; it's my wife's now. It was an entirely different building then. Now, of course, is the days of Trader Joe's (formerly the Thriftway on NW Glisan), conveyor belt sushi in the Stadium Fred Meyer, and a luscious 3-floor viewpoint in that Fred Meyer that you can see good things from.

The earlier vantage, the 2nd floor was good enough. The third floor?



"Get that western sky, said Wife™, meaning this view to the southeast (well, it's a Western sky, no matter which way you look, innit?). That tallest building is the lamented and overdue Park Avenue West, about to be the 3rd tallest building within the boundaries of Oregon, at 31 stories. And it's almost done.

Some people are pretty lucky. You look west and south at the hillside, and you see some of them:


The Wife™ noticed this aspect and zoomed in on the house on the right; I chose a wider angle. The big askew building is the grand old Vista Saint Clair apartments, named for the street they sit at the corner of. The cornice in the foreground belongs to the home of the Kingston Tavern. That house and the motel-like apartments to the left of it, those are located on SW 21st Avenue, and they look out (obvs.) over all those buildings and get a great view - or blinded when the sun reflects off the Wells Fargo Tower. Either way, with rents being what they were in this area … it'll cost you.

One corner that seems marooned in time is the corner of West Burnside and SW 21st Avenue, seen here:


Unlike most signs which stand for their historic value, the VOLVO isn't up there for the sake of atmosphere. That glossy teal building is still, to this day, the home of Jim Fisher Volvo, was probably since before I was born (a point we shan't explore apresent). The little brown building in front of it is Levine's Dry Cleaning, which sports the same sign it had back when I lived along NW Flanders back in the 80s. 

Like I said, good times. Behind the cornice on the lower left? Down that street used to be the studios of KPTV, Channel 12, back the in glory days. 735 SW 20th Place. Classic Portland, right there.

At least you don't have to pay rent to watch the view from the Stadium Fred Meyer, not just yet. And, if you look up NW 20th Avenue, just over the trees …


Yep. The arch of the Fremont Bridge. 

Real Portland.

21 September 2015

[liff] The ZKT Mailroom: What Jim Horwitz Sent Me

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This is another thing I've been holding back for a while, and once again I am remiss; I think a public thank you is in order for this man.

Jim Horwitz draws Watson, a comic which is has fierce fans, of which I am one. Sometimes it seems that Jim is as much of a fan of his fans as his fans are of him. I've come to know him as a correspondent with an incredibly generous heart.

Last year, he sent me a book that was important to him, and I've grown to love it too. It's this:


It's Helen DeWitt's The Last Samurai.  It tells of the journey of a young, preternaturally intelligent boy being raised by a single mom and in search of his father. It speaks to genius, the creative process, the restorative power of art. It's also a fiercely-good piece of fiction, provided to me at a time when I was growing out of being just a genre reader and falling in love with the idea of literature at large, its power to create little words that are very very real as we need them.

I'll be reading this again soon, between books on writing and creativity and Pynchon and Proust, because I have a feeling that it hasn't delivered its full message to me. A great novel, I've found, is that way, just like a favorite movie, it's a flower that opens a little more with each reading.

Jim wrote a personal message to me on one of the pages. I won't share it now; it's that personal to me, but I never took the opportunity to thank him for sending it my way, just the right thing at just the right time … how he knew it, I don't know.

But he knew.

I won't share the message, but I keep this post-it on the page facing:


Watson should be a guide to everyone trying to find their way … as I still am.

[liff] The ZKT Mailroom: Paint By Numbers From Donna Barr

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We get sent stuff occasionally from cartoonists. This is a delicious awesome hazard which comes from being acquainted with people with ebullient and generous spirits.

Today, we got this in the mail from Donna Barr:


Now, this is ever appropriate since I've blogged about PBN here, and Donna is famous for doing drawings like these:


Donna knows horses. If I'm looking for culpability, here's some evidence for that …


… which is a good translation and better than mine, because she actually speaks German, whereas I just make a jab at it betimes.

This made my day, need it be said?

[pdx] People of the Eastside: The Division-Midway Festival of Nations

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Sunday was the day of one of Portland's numerous other street fairs, this time, one quite close to home.

The Division Midway Alliance for Community Improvement … a business group centered along SE Division Street between SE 117th and SE 148th Avenues … is in our back yard. Hell, it's just as good as being our back yard. A few of our favorite merchants are within its demesne. And, each year, it celebrates the astoundingly awesome diversity that the David Douglas community has become with a little thing they call the Festival of Nations.

This year's 'do was held in the most welcoming and accessible spot yet … the western half of the parking lot of the Division Center shopping center, located at 122nd and Division. It happened from noon to 4:00 PM on Sunday, and it contained as much as it could in that small space of time. Nepalese and Karenni folk dancers (which we missed) and Grupo Latitudes (which we did not miss) provided the international flair; Latin and Somali food provided the spice. Here are some of the things we saw there …

An artist, masterful in the use of colored pencil:


Grupo Latitudes played music of the Andes.


We missed the Asian folk dancers performing … but we didn't miss seeing them in their gorgeous outfits, enjoying the food and the Andean music.





There were other crafts, too, such as the metalworker that was there, who had a most attentive student.


Some of the organization's volunteers, flush with the enthusiasm of a successful and interesting event:


We even imagine there were some "good guys" hanging around. Makes perfect sense to me.



The only real problem was that there wasn't enough of it, really. Four hours is a tough time to hold a really super street fair, and the location of it seems to hint at the challenges that our side of town has in creating community. Because of demographic shifts, the area around 122nd Avenue, the spine of the David Douglas school district and the increasingly vibrant David Douglas community.

It's a good place to be, but a place with its own challenges and obstacles that, perhaps, communities east of Mount Tabor don't share. When there are community positive organizations such as the Division-Midway Alliance and people-positive events such as the Festival of Nations that acknowledge the varied complexion of the community, though, how can one not love living out 122nd way? And how can one not have some sort of hope that a positive vision for the future of our neighborhood will prevail?

We had fun, and we hope it will get even better in the years to come.