22 February 2017

[PDX_liff] The Temporary Lakes We Grow Out Here

A local friend and author, Cyn Ley, gave me permission to share this with you all … here in Outer East Portlandia, and especially with the glandular rainfalls we've been getting lately, for being an area nowhere near a creek or a brook or a stream, we seem to have our share of seasonal lakes in streets and parking lots (and basements) and some pretty cockamamie reasons for them occurring …

Every time it rains significantly, the parking lot of our local Post Office develops a lake. No small seasonal depression, this; this miracle of Nature is at least a foot deep, and will most happily dampen your axles as well as your mood. Known affectionately as Russellville Lake, it is a wonder to behold. When the weather is dry, it takes several days to return to the skies from whence it came, unless it rains more.
Here's the odd thing: it develops over a sizable storm drain.
The other day, I visited the Post Office thinking to get stamps, and the subject came up. It turned out that one of the mail clerks knew the secret of this precipitous wonder.
For reasons as yet undetermined, someone had blocked the drain in years past with a concrete slab.There's no moral to this story, only a possible future inquiry into the mind of Man regarding the proper functioning of storm drains. As yet, no trout have been spotted in the lake.

But, if there's any time when there is trout in the lake, we may be there to report it for you. Because in Outer East Portlandia, that's our kind of quirk.

Thank you to Cyn for allowing us to post this. 

[art] Motivational Drawing Board Art Courtesy of Fanaticon

Two weekends ago the Klein Force traveled across light years (not as heavy as actual years) to a teen-run micro-comicon that had it's second iteration this year. Advised by the inimitable Jake Richmond (Modest Medusa), Fanaticon is a microcon organized and run by the teens in the Manga Studio art class he facilitates through Portland Parks and Rec. We went to last year's and found it inspirational, and the same with this years. Some old friends, some new treats, some quality face-time with Jake, some great fun chatting with Pharoah (really looking forward to the next episode of Black Fist, my friend) and a couple of bits of inspirational art for postinga bove the drawing board.

I just now realized that I'm evolving the long-neglected drawing board into an altar of sorts; whether or not the universe cares about it, our human psyches need ritual, even an informal or brief one. My religion, such as it is, has only one sacrament, and that's the pursuit of art in the form of word and drawing.

The assembling altar has a totem and and two affirmations here; the cat, our main spazz Mason, comes as a fuzzy gray bonus. His mind is elsewhere. Possibly on Mars.

The single line, I HAVE THE SKILL, is a line from a song by a band who called themselves The Sherbs and was done in 1980 on their album The Skill. It's affirmational in a down-to-earth way: the first verse and chorus run thus:

Ain't no magician, no miracle makerI am the shoreline, you are the breakerAll I can say, if this life that we're livin'Is a death-defying thrillI have the skillI have the skill
We're not supermen and superwomen but each day we live, we defy death. Why am I so afraid? But it continues in that straight-on, straight-ahead style. It's a great pep-talk of a song. The line is set in Micrgramma Extended because that's the headline type on the album cover design.

The other two bits of art came from Fanaticon, and speak to me in different ways.

That cutie of an orange fox with the pink ears is a representation of my totem, the fox. Just like many other metaphysical symbols, I didn't choose it, it chose me; I've always been fond of foxes, and the more I thought of foxes, a few years back, the more I saw them. I figured my local universe was giving me a role model. So I went all in on the fox as that point, and this one, by local artist Jillian Lambert (jillianlambert.com) I fell for instantly; the cute cartoon rendering, but most of all, the texture of the coloring … that made it real, authentic, and very seductive to the eye. And the fox is happy for no particular reason. Acquiring a cheer like that, both practical and motivational, would be a boon. It's a lesson I can take.

The type on the right is a dynamite design by Robin Casey (rozdraws.com) and has the right combination of resolve and irreverance that makes me smile, and not just because of that. The type is fun to look at, reminding me greatly of the elan with which sign painters sometimes go to town when they kick out the jams. You can paint great pictures with type, and this is a great example of how.

And I'll look at it every time I sidle up to the drawing board and push to create something … anything.

21 February 2017

[logo] Seattle's Public Radio KUOW Re-logos

KUOW, one of the Puget Sound area's two NPR affiliates and, by reputation at least, one of the most listened-to NPR stations in the nation, has been on the air since 1952.

It's a historic blowtorch on the FM dial. Up until now the logo look has been like this:

It's also more recently used this look, which eschews the Futura for a bit of timeless class:

KUOW has changed its look again, going for something that's a little futuristic, a little hip, and a little retro:

I see all three, here. The abstraction of the letters into 3-d space gives me a retro-future feeling. The red lines giving volume to the letters while only serving as a transparent skeleton speak to me somehow of the past. The starring role of the call-sign continues a trend I've noticed of broadcast stations taking the focus off the frequency and bringing the call-sign front-and-center, to become more of a brand: here in Portland we have KBOO, which everyone knows by name even if you can't call the frequency to mind immedately. The type shows features of the hip, mechanically-drawn lines I've seen quite a bit of lately, that seem to have visual resonance even with an old-fashioned type lover like myself.

Not everyone I know is enamored of it, finding it busy, or with too much visually going on. I think I can see that. I'd be interested to know what other people think.

[liff] Mackenzie Phillips at Powell's Books

Seen in passing: During our usual Sunday night sacrament at Powell's Books, the actress Mackenzie Phillips appeared to promote her latest book, a series of essays on life, recovery, and addiction titled Hopeful Healing. 

I was up in Pearl browsing the art books, as is my wont; The Wife™ was mildly apprehensive that I would be invading a closed level, as celebrities such as Mackenzie create rather a stir in our still-parochial burg.

But there was no problem. Indeed, the few moments I spent seeing someone I used to crush on on TV when I was much younger than I am now were rather calming. The audience was attentive and she was engaged with them. There seemed to be a calm chemistry going on between them all.

I always thought that it was ironic that someone should speak so authoritatively on addiction and recovery should have once played in a production titled One Day At A Time. 

It was an interesting moment. There really was a sort of serenity emanating from the group that was calming. I didn't stay long, but I'm glad I went by.

Brush with greatness again, my friends.

18 February 2017

[lit] Proust On Film

A great deal of Proust's life is known about; he left a surfeit of information about himself behind, and a great many photographs. But we may now actually have him on film.

The following clip, of a high-society wedding in Paris in 1904, shows an unaccompanied individual proceeding down the steps on the viewer's right, in the 37th second:

Des images de Proust retrouvées ? by LePoint

This via France24 (http://www.france24.com/en/20170215-france-literature-marcel-proust-footage-wedding-clip) is a clip of the wedding procession of Armand de Guiche, being betrothed to Elaine Greffulhe, daughter of Countess Greffulhe (whoever they may be). De Guiche was a good friend of Marcel's.

There are a number of tells that make it extremely likely this is Marcel Proust. From the article:

The clip from 1904 shows a single man dressed elegantly for the occasion. The gay French writer was one of the few unaccompanied guests at the Greffulhe-de Guiche marriage ceremony.

The clothes also correspond to Proust’s sartorial tastes. "The clothes he wears, elegant but distinct from those of the other men at the wedding, correspond to what he wore at the time, when he was a dandy in the English fashion,” said Sirois-Trahan. Proust was then a young man of 30, a socialite who was admitted into aristocratic circles due to his reputation as a spiritual, reclusive man working on a massive book project.
So, Marcel Proust, rescued from lost time … on film.

Hat tip: Friday Valentine. Thanky! 

17 February 2017

[Wy'East] Mt. Hood With His Cloud Cape On, and Calendar Talk

Last minute overtime at work again had me coming home after 10 AM. Now, I know the lights going to be better, the farther we go into the year, and the weather hereabouts being so chaotic, added up to this:

Wy'east towering over the eastern verges of Portland, dominating the old Rossi place, and with a blanket of clouds casually thrown over as though Nature dropped a cloth.

Most dramatic.


Now, as to calendar matters: The last three-four months have really done an enervating thing on the spirit. Yes, political matters have us discouraged and anxious. The chaotic winter weather Oregon has experienced has visited its own travail, as I recall a recent Sunday, where we might otherwise have gone to book church at Powell's, was completely spent when a stationary front parked itself over Portland and our now-somehow-faulty guttering and drainage dumped on the order of 200 or more gallons of cold rainwater into the basement where I try to do my art, but did it on a constant basis throughout the day, making me way too intimate with the wet-dry shop vac.

Over 200 gallons, 9 gallons at a time. It was better than mopping or bailing, but I will tell you, my interlocutor, that I was one crispy critter afterward. Not even Denny's coffee could put the spring back in my step.

For the past two years it's been a evolving practice of mine to put together some of my pictures into a calendar which I then invite my friends to purchase through Lulu.com. After November, my creative energy and drive for even putting something as modest as that together went away. I was out of gas. So, this year, so far … so far … there is no 2017 calendar.

But I am going to go ahead with it. My calendar will start in March, which is a bit out of the box, but eventually I'm not happy unless I'm doing something a little bizarrely different.

Watch this space. I'll be updating your soonly.

And so it goes. 

16 February 2017

[OR_liff] Bill Hall Nails The Tao of Tom McCall With McCallandia

The Wife™ has informed me that seeing local things with the grammatic form -landia appended has become tiresome. I'm beginning to agree. If you see anythinglandia in Portland or the environs these days, it's long since lost its punch.

The upside to this is that when something is given the rubric and deserves it, it wears it so very well. I have just met with such a thing.

Bill Hall is a man of much ilk who has been involved in Oregon politics for a while; he is currently a county commissioner in Lincoln County, down on the coast. As a younger fellow, he volunteered to help elect Oregon's then-quondam governor, Tom McCall, to a hoped-for third non-consecutive term. Old Moe Mentum had swung the other way by then, and it was not to be, but clearly it left the seed of a story that eventually demanded to be told.

Oregon politics and politicos are strange things. At once parochial and world-aware, we tend to have a laser-like focus on the local that tends to obscure the fact that, in the back of our minds, we have a solid idea of how it connects to the world around us. I fancy they are a breed unto themselves. From the late 1960s through the mid 1970s, that breed of human was crystallized into a 6' 5" man from Massachusetts by way of central Oregon who taught us … and is still, by his legacy, teaching us … how to Oregon better than many natives. McCall is a legend in Oregon politics for good, solid reasons, leaving us a legacy of logical, sensible land-use planning and a way of cherishing the environment and our natural treasures that acknowledges that if Oregon's special because of them, Oregon will no longer be special if she sells them out as wealth and plunder.

But he was also a man of seeming contradictions, because as progressive as he was in many important ways, in other ways, he was your standard-issue 1970s Republican. Author Hall has taken the measure of the man, all in all, and given us a romp of a utopian novel in McCallandia, published by Matt Love's Nestucca Spit Press. The book imagines what would have happened if, instead of elevating Gerald Ford to the vice-presidency on Agnew's resignation in 1973, Nixon instead chose The Man From Oregon as an unexpected safe chair-warmer. Of course, Watergate happened after that. And after that … President McCall. And The Oregon Story goes national.

This is, as the tagline in the upper right corner of book has it, a utopian novel, and those who would say that what happened in the book couldn't possibly happen in reality would be well-advised to look up that word and understand what it means. Because a book in which the Bottle Bill and the Beach Bill went national, the President temporarily heads the EPA, Vortex II happens on the National Mall, and Barry Commoner becomes vice president couldn't possibly happen in reality. Being a utopian alternative history, though, allows you to kick out all the stops.

Where this book really clicked for me, though, whas the way Hall made everything work. By his authorial pen, McCall achieves full measure as an Oregonized sort of Lyndon Johnson, who had one foot in tradition and one foot in daring to do the right thing against any and all odds. All the positivity and even the hope for change that McCall represented to many of us was captured utterly. The novel is saturated in all the Oregon you could ever want to read about; no less than James Cloutier contributed a Hugh Wetshoe cartoon as one of the opening gambits.

Hall's McCall fairly strides though the novel, which is set up as a series of episodes interspersed with narratives from other supporting characters and 'what might have been' media pieces. The life of President McCall doesn't deviate from the actual history of the times; "Squeaky" Fromme makes an attempt on his life in Sacramento in 1975, Vic Atiyeh still triumphs over Robert Straub to become Oregon's last GOP governor; McCall still succumbs to cancer in January of 1983. What also impresses is the way Hall weaves the facts of what actually happened with the idea of a McCall presidency and makes it all seem as though, if McCall had actually gotten into the White House, this all might actually have happened.

And any Oregon political novel that has Ken Kesey as a character? That name-checks Callenbach's Ecotopia? Whose roll-call of Oregon political names rings down the Capitol corridors like animating spirits? Whose second chapter is a notional Rolling Stone piece that channels Hunter S. Thompson? How could I not say yes to that?

The book is a wonder and a romp  and a manic bit of fun and as Oregon as it gets and a decided anti-depressant to the current times we're in, and if anyone ever wonders why McCall was revered by Oregonians Of A Certain Age and why he should be even now, you'll find the answers here.

I wholeheartedly recommend that anyone interested in Oregon get a copy of this book. It may well turn out to be one of the best-remembered and cogent books on the Oregon scene ever written.

It certainly nailed the McCall I remember.

07 February 2017

[pdx_liff] Me Talk Portland One Day

Stumbled on this at Oregonlive.

It's not a comprehensive list, but there are certain tells that alert the local Oregonian that You're Not From Here. We don't say "the" before the freeway number, we don't say "on line", and Jo-Jo's are a delicious potato thing you can get at the convenience store (well, at least you could in the 80s and 90s).

The Oregonian gives you a basic Oregon-English/English-Oregon dictionary at this link.

[design] Return To OryCon: The OryCon 37 Souvenir Program

I return to revisiting my program design work for OryCon with the design for OryCon 37. Coming away from its dark period, I re-entered the fray with a con that had a SF, adventure-y feel: The Quest For The Ultimate Artifact.

Tanya Huff was the Author GoH, and Alan M. Clark was the Artist GoH. As anyone who's seen Alan's work weill recognize, there's an atmospheric quality to it as he lets some of his materials play a chaos game in the background while he lets intelligence guide the foreground. The combination usually imparts a near-incomparable air of mystery to all his works, be they SF, horror, fantasy, or anything else he does.

The cover illustration, Buckets of Bad Weather, is a thing to get lost in:

The steampunk-y construction is inscrutable, it keeps its own counsel; it appears to be siphoning something off and sending it somewhere else, but while it's guessable, it's unclear what or where or why. It may be an unwelcome thing, taking from the local environment but giving little or nothing in return, and you might think otherwise, but the title has a sinister note to it. Also, it seems rather ancient; the parchment revealed seems to imply that but it, like the construction, holds its secrets well.

The portrait of Alan illustrates the sense of mystery, stress, wonder, and tension which seems to be his main art materials.

The idea of a quest inspired me to find a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" style font, and that may seem an uninspired, perhaps even lazy choice, but the type used for that movie is a brand that connotes intriguing, mind-expanding, crazy and just-dangerous-enough-to-be-interesting exploration. The Creation Station people really went to the wall with that one.

It's an example of type supporting the message, and again, the type and the art merged to create an atmosphere and feeling for the rest of the book.

[liff] What My Cat Googles

I have a big, black floof of a studio cat, Kiki, as I have introduced her in times past, and she's kind of my art director, and she loves to wander in front of me and, of course, walk on the keyboard of this computer.

She did and spawned a new window and, well … I think she was Googling "purring", but she may also be a scientific genius:

I'd ask her, but she's a cat, and doesn't handle English well. Or at all, actually.

02 February 2017

[Diary] Eight Good Reasons To Write

Today just now I was ruminating on diarizing and stumbled on this article at Lifehack:

These 8 Good Things Will Happen When You Start Writing Diaries

All the eight points mentioned I've experienced to some degree. I like the idea that I've saved my life offline in a form that can't go away when the power dies. I find the somatic component of writing what I feel in and of itself therapeutic. And as I work toward my moment of Proustian catalysis, I know I've gotten good practice in writing voice.

I've tried many phrasings, many ways of saying the same and different things.

[Wy'East] The Mount Hood For The Day Is St Helens

In anticipation of the coming wintry mix (Winter? Stahp!) I looked to the sky this morning and there was that gorgeous salmon-pink again.

The eastern sky pretty much obscured Hood, but the pink framed Loo-wit … Mt. St. Helens as we white folk call it … memorably.

This shot was taken from the hill overlooking the area of Parkrose that contains the old Rossi place, just east of 122nd off NE Fremont Street, where there are a handful of short cul-de-sacs which afford an even better view.

St Helens is, sadly, remarkable for what she looked like and what she did back in 1980. The real treat is found on the north side, the great crater with the lava dome which has entertained us muchly over the past decade.

But it is something to look at from the south side, knowing what happened there in a lifetime a great many of us share.