22 July 2019

The City of Mind Controlling ... I Don't Know, Spiders Or Something

3592Just your average day in the average coffee shop out in the Foster-Powell nabe, and you want to use the restroom but you've got to wait for the mind-controlling spider to finish what it started with the guy who went in there first.

Or maybe it's a cybernetic ant, I don't know. But you know, it's the way people everywhere are.

What do you mean "no, not here?"

Beach Chair Trio: The Opening Act

3591And here's the first moves on "Beach Chair Trio", the PaintWorks PBN by Darrell Bush.

It's a smaller work, only about 17x11, and the dark and the second dark colors are easier to cover in a single sitting. And even though there is a black to fill in, and a black pot of paint, the black on the card isn't black. It's a combination of color 2 (a red) and color 5 (a green). The result is a dark yet warm purple. The second-dark is a very light blue (color 6) and a darker yet neutralized blue (color 8) resulting in the seafoam swells.

Eggplant and Peppers: The Opening Act

3590There's not much to see here, but it's the foundation to "Eggplant and Peppers".

The author suggests I block in the veggie outlines with black chalk. I went with a 2B Lyra Graphite crayon because it'll work just as well for my purposes and I don't have any black chalk anyway.

Letting my compulsion toward frugality override my desire to happily create, I used a canvas panel which I obviously accidentally intended for something else, or which intercepted something somehow, and I figure I'll work it in somehow (which is perhaps an unwarranted fit of artistic competence at this point, but I'm going to roll with it).

I'll be fine tuning the blocking just a little, but just a little. The author is encouraging me to keep it loose here and to bring the finer detail when I go in and actually do the painting.

20 July 2019

Two Paintings: One With Numbers, One Without

A preview of the next two things I want to attempt, painting-wise. Number one is another PaintWorks PBN. Number two is the real challenge.

Pictured above is the PBN. It is another PaintWorks product, this one titled "Beach Chair Trio". It's a smallish one, only a little bigger than 17"x11", and contains just twelve colors. This is similar to the "Flower Shop" PBN I did a while back. There is an opportunity for drybrushing practice here. I expect the usual level of PBN satisfaction from this.

... and the second one:

A while back I picked up a book by John Barber called The Acrylic Color Wheel Book. It contains a slidable color wheel in the cover so you can easily envision the mixes it calls for, and several projects that look pitched at the beginner painter who wants to gain skills to do more solid work. It is the kind of stuff that sits on the next level of proficiency that I want to attain on this journey.

I've reviewed the work "Eggplant and Peppers", a still life, quite a few times. The feeling I have of it is that of the swimmer about to dive into the deep end of a cold swimming pool and is still building up courage to do so. But in that way, it calls to me, such a mundane painting to do so, but it does. And I can picture me doing the techniques it calls for. So it't time to push into it.

I'll be documenting it all here on this blog and on the Facebook page I've started, The Daily Paint by Number. Wish me something resembling luck, or at least, perserverence.

The Daily Paint By Number: Selected "Echo Bay" Progress Photos

3588Very recently I completed yet another PaintWorks PBN project, Darrel Bush's "Echo Bay" (#73-91474). I generated an armful of progress photos and want to share them all here, but 24 graphics is a bit much, so here, hopefully thoughtfully curated, is a reduced selection of that.

I may have duplicated one or two or put one or two out of order. I'll fix that later.

17 July 2019

The Olivia Report: Olivia The VW Goes To The VW Hospital

3587After two months of stress, worrying, deprivation and hope, we've finally gotten the ball rolling.

Olivia, Our lil' yellow VeeDubya, went to the hospital today to have her heart torn down and rebuilt.

Somewhere around the 8-9AM hour, our old friend from Team Towing, Danny, and if there's a more squarely-professional buckle-down-and-get-it-done tow driver on this planet, we've not yet met them, brought out the flatbed and we got the process in motion.

Even without power it's nice to see her moving down the street, you know that?

One tow bill later, we've gotten her from Outer East Portlandia to the hospital in Saint Johns ... a place called Fix-Um Haus. We've spoken with Rich, the proprietor, at length about the prospect of fixing the engine and what impresses me the most about him as that as he's talking about fixing the motor he's reeling off a detailed plan in his head. He's like the sculptor who knows what stone to chip away to reveal the figure he sees hidden in the stone. He's like the artist who knows where every line is supposed to go on the drawing he's about to do before the ink goes down.

So far he seems to us like a rockstar old-school hardcore VW mechanic, which is what we need so much right now.

As you can see, Fix-Um Haus has a lot of people depending on it. There was the sweetest blue '74 Type I Cabriolet there ... it's a very nice shop. Everything inside the bays is tight and tidy. It looks like we found a true winner here.

So we commend our beloved VW and (soon) a good deal of money (part of it crowdfunded) into the hands of a pro who we're expecting will Get The Job Done.

Stay tuned and we'll update. 

16 July 2019

Multnomah County's Only Covered Bridge: Cedar Crossing

3586Oregon has many covered bridges, but up until historically recently, none of them were in Multnomah County.

In 1982, though, the county deemed that we deserved to join the party. So a secluded spot was selected where a back road that connected the SE 134th and Foster neighborhood (almost-but-not-quite-Pleasant Valley) to the backside of the then-still-small-and-charming backroad burg of Happy Valley crossed the upper reaches of Johnson Creek.

The road becomes SE Deardorff Road in an unsigned change as you round a sharp bend and dive into the gully there, then you turn a corner ... and there suddenly, is this:

If it seems a little new looking for a covered bridge that's because it is: as I noted, it was built in the 1980s to make up for the fact that Multnomah County had no covered bridges within its boundaries; it was dedicated, in part, by County Executive Don Clark (a political titan back in the day when MultCo only had three commissioners), and its name was selected from a naming contest held amongst David Douglas High students.

This bridge is as East County AF.

It's also pleasant, secluded without being too far out, and there's a turnout on the south side of the bridge where you can chill and listen to the forest and the flowing creek below.

15 July 2019

A Sprig Of Mahonia

3585The Oregon grape, Mahonia aquifolium, is the state flower of Oregon. It's not a grape at all, of course, but a berry. This is how they grow them out in Happy Valley:

It's a shrub. The leaves are not unlike holly leaves, stiff and waxy and prickly along the edges. The berries are that beautiful dark blue color, and are edible but not really palatable, unless you like the tartness unless you do something with them. Wikipedia tells me that pre-colonization natives in these parts used to offset the tartness with a sweeter salal. I am also told that you can make preserves with it, either mixed with salal or on its own, and you can make a wine with them, though you have to use rather more sugar to get it to ferment.

We plan on having these in our yard one day soon. They're drought resistant, grow in poor soil, and the berries attract birds.

In Salem, Mahonia is used as foliage, as hardy evergreen bushes in home landscaping, and to grow governor's mansions.

Oregon Highway Signs Are Pure Visual Bliss To Me

I adore the Oregon state highway shield, as those who know me know, and as those who only read me now know.

I've spent a great deal of my life watching Oregon highway shields go past. The current day design may seem odd ... like a chicken's egg on its point that decided to try become an oval as it got to the top. There's a reason for that. The original Oregon highway shield was adapted from the state's armorially-styled seal which can be found on the front side of the state flag. The word OREGON and the route number were surrounded by the outline of that shield with a silhouette of the eagle, sheaf, and arrows that surmounted it (a lovely photo of a battered old Hwy 99 sign can be found here: https://www.aaroads.com/shields/show.php?image=OR19550993&view=3.

I was born near Hwy 213, have lived most of my life near Hwy 213, live near it now, and will probably die in proximity to it. So it goes.

So to someone else, this might be just a banal roadside marker, but to me?

Visual poetry.

I also just like the way the number 212 looks like in that font that the State uses.

14 July 2019

When Worlds Collide - The New Revised Edition

3583One of the novels that I have loved since I started reading SF is that classic of American SF literature, When Worlds Collide. 

It is an odd bird, this book.

It is, arguably and as far as I know, the first mass-market work of prose or literature that has as its main event the physical annihilation of the planet. It's influence has rung down through the years: it's cited as the inspiration for Flash Gordon (in as much as the rogue planet Mongo is on a collision course with Earth) and Deep Impact, the comet-hits-earth flick from 1998, the year with not one but two asterism-threatens-to-hit-Earth-and-everyone-dies-movies (this was the one that didn't suck).

The broad outline of the plot, for those who don't know, is that a binary rogue planet, the Bronson Bodies (named for their discoverer) are discovered hurtling toward the Solar System, and scientists quickly determine that they are going to interact, not in the good way, with Earth. One planet, known as Bronson Alpha, is a gas giant world similar to Uranus or Neptune in appearance and size. The other, Alpha's moon, is Bronson Beta, a world almost identical to Earth in size and, as it turns out, environment.

A scientific clique, the League of the Last Days, is formed to address the threat. The first-amongst-equals is an American physicist, Cole Hendron. He and his group of scientist-engineer survivors drive most of the plot in their endeavor to construct a ship to escape our doomed world and make a landing on Bronson Beta, for it is predicted that the Bronsons, after making a close and catastrophic pass on Earth will round the sun and return in sixteen month's time to finish the job; Bronson Alpha to collide with and physically demolish the Earth and Bronson Beta to be captured by the Sun and bereft of gravitational influence from Alpha by Alpha's collision with Earth.

The novel was written by two well-known and popular novelists and writers of the day, Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer (Balmer, who mostly wrote SF and for the pulps, has been largely forgotten while Wylie, who wrote in more than one genre and famously wrote a mainstream novel Generation of Vipers and another classic of speculative fiction The Disappearance, still has something of a legacy footprint). It was written and first published in 1933 and has been in and out of publication ever since. So it has staying power.

It has, unlike the novels frequently touted as its equal on the covers (Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World) not aged well. Tied into the current events of the day of its writing and laced with soft versions of the sexism, racism, and elitism of the day, it's a literal period piece, dated as dated can be, despite being apparently regarded as one of the seminal works of the modern form of the genre.

So, last night at Powell's, I found a particularly luridly-covered vintage copy of this book. I found it interesting in that way, especially the incongruence of the two imperriled people to the catastrophe unfolding literally at their feet, the handsome man and the beautiful woman as stylishly on-point as their world is chaotically disheveled, as well as the melodramatic tagline Out of the horror of doomsday comes hope for life, for love. In a dark way, hilarious.

The real hook for me? In the lower right hand corner of the book, there is a dark blue flag with white letters reversing out the legend NEW REVISED EDITION.

Here, see:

On the right, a more modern version of the paperback, one I've owned for many years. Grim, blocky type made more intimidating by the atmospheric and effective Vincent DiFate cover art. On the left is the oddity I found last night, sardonically-hilarious art and all. Isn't that a scream, really? It's almost unfair to make fun of it, it's so obviously silly.

That's not the real treat here, though. Remember NEW REVISED EDITION? Well, the original text, written in the 1930s, is so full of anachronisms it's amazing that anybody's using it as an inspiration anymore other than wistful rememberances of That Was The World that Was (and if you are, you're almost certainly Caucasian; the only character that got any development that wasn't white was the Japanese manservant of the pivotal character Tony Drake, and when he was regarded, the text is leaden with benevolent, kindly patriarchal condescension). When I read the first few pages of this edition though, I almost fell over myself in bewilderment; the book starts off chapter one with the supporting character Dave Ransdell, a war veteran and aviator entrusted to courier the precious photographic plates to Dr. Hendron in New York, waiting to pass through customs at an airport, receiving urgent pleas to sell his story to the papers first.

Hold up. I've read this novel dozens of times. I knew he approached New York on a fast cruise ship from France. In this version, though, he voyages on a transatlanic flight from Lisbon.

It was then it sunk in just what NEW REVISED VERSION really meant. And I went looking. This edition was released in 1952 and sections of the text were revised to reflect more accurately the then-current geopolitics. A resurgence of the Nazi party in Germany was referenced. A reference to Mussolini was deleted. The Iron Curtain is referred to. East Germany is mentioned.

The truly odd thing on top of all the other odd things is that the version you're most likely to pick up today is the more anachronistic one, not the NEW REVISED VERSION which, while still anachronistic, is less so than the original. The version on the left, the more modern edition, was copyrighted in 1962 and was probably published sometime in the 1970s (all a guess as it's not documented in the book itself when it was published) but it's the original Thirties text, not the updated version, which came out in about 1952. It's not unprecedented; the Patrick Tilley novel of ET invasion and conquest, Fade-Out, was originally published in 1975 with reference to then-recent military events and geopolitics and republished in the 1990s with Gulf War references.

I think this would be worth a series of articles here about each chapter and what got changed and the book in general. It's still, though hoary and old, a part of what I informally think qualifies as an American modern SF canon, and it continues to inspire works of not only comics and literature but also popular music. And it's always useful to confront what's expired in our culture and winnow the bad out or at least call it by its name.

Oh, and just to be complete, here's the back covers, complete with more melodramatic text, some of which never actually occurred in the work itself.

Veni, Vidi, Legere

3582Art on the chalkboards at Powell's City of Books is always splendid. This I enjoyed Imperially.

This board is on the stairwell going from the Gold Room to the Pearl Room, which is heaven because that's where the art instruction books are and it's wholly proper to ascend as unto heaven for that biz, and will doubtless be up for about two more weeks. 

Movie Posters in a Hawthorne District Mexican Bistro

3581Pepino's is a tidy little Mexican joint down at Hawthorne and 38th. it's been under a couple of names during its long life (it's been there about twenty years) and the food is always simple and good. Street-taco-style tacos and a chipotle and potato burrito that's swell just the way it is, and is only kicked up to the next level by the addition of steak. Horchata ladled out of big glass jugs, five kinds of salsa, it's a fine place to be.

The vintage Mexican movie posters, though, really cast a sort of a spell over the place.

... and they do love them some Cantinflas, don't they? I'm up for that SF feature Santo vs The Invasion of the Martians, myself.

13 July 2019

Ukulele Player On Woodstock Blvd

On Wednesday last week, My Brown-Eyed Girl was down in the hidden southeast part of Portland, taking the car in for a bit of necessary, and while waiting out that process, spotted this genuine human on SE Woodstock Blvd ...

They were exhoriting us to do our homework naked, and eat our cereal with a fork.

Amanda Palmer music, I understand.