Mar 28, 2008

Holding the future between each breath

You know, Rudyard Kipling's "If" is one of my most favorite poems, and something that helps me feel better when I'm sad, and a very very good reason to buy Dr. Bronner's Lavender Liquid Soap so you can read it while taking a shower. But I wonder sometimes if its last line has given me any gender identity issues.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

According to Alice Walker, "A woman is not a potted plant, her roots bound to the confines of her house," but internet job searching certainly makes me feel like I might turn into one.

A woman is not a potted plant,
her roots bound to the confines of her house
A woman is not a potted plant,
her leaves trimmed to the contours of her sex
A woman is not a potted plant,
her branches espaliered against the fences of her race,
her country, her mother, her man, her trained blossom turning this way and that
to follow the sun of whoever feeds and waters her
A woman,
is wilderness
holding the future between each breath
walking the earth only because she is free and not creepervine or tree
Nor even honeysuckle or bee.

Mar 23, 2008

Gun Nut Cookies

Andy's copywriting partner, aside from being an excellent headline craftsman, is also something of a gun enthusiast. So we thought it would be fun to make him some NRA-approved birthday cookies for his celebratory dinner at a local sushi restaurant.

We started out by cheating and using premade sugar cookie dough sheets which were on sale for Easter and came with atrocious purple and yellow frosting. We googled some images of guns and Andy used his childhood memories of hunting in Minnesota to create a duck decoy and some bullets. We cut the cookies by hand using a butter knife and baked them up the night before.

The undecorated shotgun, bullet and shotgun shell cookies. The next day I used ass-loads of red, blue and yellow food coloring to create gun-like shades of grey and brown frosting. When Andy came home we piped the frosting out of plastic baggies with holes cut in the corners and decorated up a full gun cabinet of delights.

Some spring flowers that Andy picked up for me on his way home. Seattle is all of a sudden completely in bloom with all kinds of beautiful local flowers and trees that I don't get to see in the converted desert that is LA. I've been meaning to go on a photo excursion and do a blog post about it, but for now here is a preview. Ok, back to disturbing cookies.

The wood detailing on the handle of the handgun is really what sets it apart.

The completed set of Gun Nut Cookies which includes two of each gun plus various sizes of bullets, and Andre's initials. There were supposed to be some target cookies, but they somehow got eaten by someone. We could have added some dead animal cookies, but I've already had some bad experiences with that. It never turns out pretty.

We used the leftover frosting to make mini cookie sandwiches. Andy wants to share.

Andre can't believe his eyes! We also got him some beer and wasabi peas and Pocky for Men, and Andy got him a nice compass and a book about cooking with beer.

Happy birthday wishes!

There is no waiting period to enjoy these delicious sugar weapons.

The Ototo Sushi Seattle roll and California roll. My two homes come together on one plate.

Andy and Andre pretend to share some house sake at Ototo.

Andre should know better... the frosting safety is on.

Face to Face

One small freelance gig that I recently did was as a hired performance artist of sorts, if you can believe it. The creative staffing agency I work with was having an open-house type reception and they asked me to come in and illustrate the party theme on a white board for an hour while guests were mingling around me.

It was kind of short notice and I was completely freaked out about it, as you can imagine. I've never had to draw up a mural in such a short period of time, and in front of a live audience, using white board markers no less. I really wasn't sure I could do it, but it seemed like fun so I said yes.

I kind of created an outline of what I would draw, with some little motifs and elements that could easily be moved or reproduced in different areas. The idea was that there were 3 illustrators altogether who would draw in succession using the same space, kind of like that game where you write one word of a sentence and then the next person writes a word and pretty soon you have some mangled up grammatical nightmare that makes no sense. Like that, but on a white board.

The day of the party I got a confirmation email that said that one artist had dropped out, leaving just me and another illustrator, whose name I googled and found his beautiful portfolio of paintings and storyboards. Ahhh! I felt the need to write back and remind the project manager that I am not a professional illustrator, I merely have a knack for drawing that I like to implement in design when budgets don't allow for commissioning real artists. I'm a, you know. What's the word? "Hack"? Ok, "amateur" maybe.

I didn't really get a response, probably because they were like, Look we've got a bar to set up and caterers on the way, just suck it up lady and we'll all be fine.

So I went in there with my little sketches, and as you can see, it turned out fine. I'm glad I prepared something because it would have been impossible to fill that space without something to start with. The theme was "Face to Face" so my interpretation had to do with the human designer's interaction with typefaces, thus "face to face." I also like birds and flowers, so...

Working with whiteboard pen is really the worst though. Chalkboard would have been much better. Whiteboard is so unforgiving and difficult to use. I should have just stuck to one or two colors and done more shading. Knowing what I know now I think I could do better the second time, but hopefully I won't ever be asked to use whiteboard again so it won't matter.

The other artist came in later and did a continuation of the flowers at the bottom with a pretty cool Seattle skyline and a "Rain-bot" that sprinkled the city with water. He was ultra-cool and fun to talk to, and we chatted as we drew. Other people came in and talked with us and the food was good and I had a glass of wine which surely helped.

I tried to dress cutely, so that maybe it would distract from the appearance of my mural. It sort of worked.

This is a story of courage more so than anything else, because it was difficult to go into that situation and get up in front of people like that. Anyone who knows me knows that while I can chatter away one-on-one about pretty much anything, group presentations and public performance is hard. Having my work judged doesn't necessarily get easier over time, I just get better at recovering. It ended up being quite fun, and a great experience, and looking back I can honored to have been asked.

I would even do it again. I think I would have used a different concept for the drawing, perhaps "Face to Face with My Fears" would have been appropriate.

826 Seattle

Photos from our visit to the 826 Seattle Space Travel Store. When I go to LA I am definitely going to check out the new Time Travel Store in Echo Park. The copywriting on the packaging there is amazing. The Seattle Space Travel store is small and cute but not nearly as interesting.

Chicken Hekka and Razor Scoota

Beth has no job, or at least no consistent work, so to pass the time she blogs and cooks. My most recent adventure was cooking a traditional Hawaiian dish for Andy and his partner. The recipe called for rice noodles, which are a new cooking medium for me and I had a rather tough time getting the noodles to the right texture. After all that, I neglected to take a photo of the completed Chicken Hekka dish!

Appetizers and beer awaiting my man-guests' arrival. I felt very housewifelike, cooking dinner for my dude while he was at work, and having some chilled beer and soda ready for when he came home.

No photos of the food, but here's an unnecessary picture of me & Andy. Unfortunately I think I turned out better looking than dinner.

Later we went into Andy's office so they could finish some work and I could put together my portfolio. I got Andy a Razor Scooter for Christmas to help him get around the office quicker and thus meet his deadlines with lightning speed and flair.

I quite like the scooter, and am considering getting one for myself.

Andy is hard at work and needs peanut butter fuel to get him through the night.

Savor Seattle

For Valentine's Day (yeah, I've been a little behind schedule in my blogging), Andy took me to a nice dinner and to see Persepolis which I had been dying to watch for months.

For my gift, I treated Andy to a little local food tour of Pike Place, called Savor Seattle.

They took us to a lot of the famous Pike Place stalls and stores, like Market Spice and Chukar Cherries but they also introduced us to some places we hadn't tried yet like The Confectional for hot chocolate and Etta's for coconut cream pie. At the famous fish market where they throw the fish over the counter we got to taste salmon jerky and gawk at the handsome fishmongers. They're the like rubber-overalled version of firemen, except instead of smokey, they smell fishy.

The tour guide and owner of Savor Seattle is the most upbeat adorable little woman named Angela. She uses a pink "Savor Seattle" umbrella to guide tours through the bustle of the market, and chatters away in your ear over the headset.

My favorite stop was the Beecher's Cheese Shop where we got to sample some of their artisan cheese AND...

... their "World's Best" Mac & Cheese! I'm not qualified to say whether it's indeed the best in the world, but it was pretty damn gooey and delicious.

Next we sampled Piroshky Piroshky, which is another of our new favorite foods at Pike Place. Hot, inexpensive and tasty. Oh, and I almost forgot the mini doughnuts at The Daily Dozen, which also exemplify the street-food-triad of deliciousness. No pictures, but if you come visit us in Seattle we'll take you to get a bag.

I loved the smoked salmon piroshki. I dunno if it's spelled with an "I" or a "Y" at the end. I prefer Y for "Yummy!" Ha.

The view from Etta's near Pike Place. A beautiful clear crisp day in Seattle.

One of our last stops, Angela told us about the art exhibit drain pipe system in one of the Pike Place alleys.

Andy enjoyed the piroshkis so much that later we visited Piroshki on Broadway in Capitol Hill and had these cute salmon and turkey piroshkis. Definitely not as good as the ones at Pike Place, but much cuter.

Mar 17, 2008

Cupcake Royale!

Andy knows I love cupcakes (and of course he loves em too) so on his way home from the DMV a while back he brought home a box of treats from Seattle's Cupcake Royale.

They were supposedly ranked in MSN's Top 10 Cupcakes in the Country. I like them better than Sprinkles in LA, but maybe that's because I hated all the hype and long lines. I think these were also better than the ones at Lark in Silverlake, but not as good as some giant ones Jean once had or some that Ben shared from a place down the street from his house.

Andy picked on appearance only, just like a boy. He got me one with lavender frosting and himself a red velvet (of which I am not a fan) and a mini baby vanilla one to share.

I think Cupcake Royale mostly makes very tasty vanilla and chocolate cupcakes and focuses their flavoring attention on the frostings, which to me makes a lot of sense, from an information architecture point of view. Simplicity is good.

The thing that made these cupcakes so great though was the oversized muffin-tops. I think they protect the bottom part from drying out somehow. The bottom cake part is nice and moist with a lot of good vanilla flavor and just sweet enough. And the muffin top is a nice size with a little bit of carmelizing of the sugar in the batter, so that each bite can stand on its own and has just enough frosting. I always felt like they overdid the frosting at Sprinkles.

The lavender frosting was delicious and somehow really worked, flower bits and all. Plus it was adorable. Andy's red velvet was okay, but I've already established my dislike for red velvet. Seeing the pile of empty food coloring bottles after a friend made some red velvet was enough to turn me off for good.

All done!

Delicious, but not so sugary that you feel gross afterwards. Just sweet enough to make your day happier! I think I'm now a fan of the Cupcake Royale.

I Love a Man That Can Make Me Laugh

The viewing public has long been divided between Andy's resemblance to Tony Hawk or Seth Myers, but I am personally in the Seth Myers camp. During long stays away from each other I would watch SNL and make out with the television during Weekend Update. Mainly I think it's because I love a man that can make me laugh.

When Entertainment Weekly came this week, I thought I would take the opportunity to prove my point by doing a face to face comparison.

I think we can all agree that Seth Myers and Andy were separated at birth.

I'm having difficulty telling the two apart...

Mar 15, 2008

SoDo Claypool

Last night Mr. Les Claypool came to town to the Showbox SoDo and he brought some friends with him. He had a somewhat unique quartet featuring Les on bass, Skerik on sax, Mike Dillon on percussion and a new drummer I haven't seen him play with before, Paulo Baldi.

All in all it was a fine show and Les was in good form. They played some of his current stuff off of Whales of Woe and some old Primus stuff too. Fisticuffs was a big surprise and brought a smile to my face. Although, for some reason I never quite dig the midway drum solo (aka Les' lunch break). It always leaves me with a headache.

After seeing a Claypool concert, or any concert for that matter but especially one with Les, it's always very inspirational. The next day I pick up my bass and can play with a rejuvenated spirit and passion. Also there's always a song of his I haven't fully learned to play and I'm forced to investigate a little further. I've seen him live probably eight times now and while I've never been quite as amazed as the first time I saw Les play, he always manages to inspire me musically a little more.

Here's the set list as best I remember it:
1) Ding Dang
2) Fisticuffs
3) Some song I wasn't familiar with.
4) Long in the Tooth
5) Precipitation
6) Drum Solo followed by Whammola
7) Filipino Ray
8) Vernon the Company Man
9) John the Fisherman
10) Rumble of the Diesel
11) One Better
12) American Life (on bass banjo)
13) Iowan Gal (on bass banjo)
14) Morphine cover

Mar 14, 2008

Unemployed Again, Naturally

Today I woke up at 10am and for a while I just lay in bed and stared at the hair on my knee and then I got up and sent job application emails and looked at Facebook and then I went and had lunch with Andy and Andre at the Pyramid brewery, where none of us drank any beer. We talked about our positions in society as the supper-bell-ringers, signaling the world that it was "Time to consume!" and thus, of course, causing the downfall of civilization. I had chicken chili though, which is better than beef chili and so it all balances out.

Not having a freelance job to currently attend to means that I am free to do all sorts of fun/meaningless things. After lunch I went to the bookstore and bought a book about user interface design for my web design class and then came home and learned how to play the world's slowest online scrabble game.

I should be really excited about all this free time, but I think work brings me meaning. Work equals producing, and at its best, producing in my job means creating, and I somehow value creating above all else as the meaning and purpose of life.

All I am creating right now is a lot of emails in my friends' mailboxes and a lot of scribble on their walls and nonsense on their voicemails.

I really must stop whining and get off my butt and do something. Creativity doesn't need employment to be employed. I have a million ideas and now is the time to implement. But first, more whining...

When people talk about milestones growing up they never mention the fact that the first time you get really truly all out bed-ridden green-snotted low-grade-feverishly sick without access to your family or readily available healthcare, you will certainly panic and think you are going to die.

I'm sure they mostly don't mention it because afterwards it seems silly, but I'm sure if everyone thinks back to the worst and first time they were sick and out on their own, they will recall that they were a little freaked out.

Last week Andy was stuck on a presentation meeting and worked all weekend, and I had no one to call because as I've already mentioned I have no friends here, and since my COBRA health insurance is Aetna of California, I could only really count on coverage if I went to the emergency room. And my paycheck hadn't come yet, and I had a fever and blood in my snot and cramps from my period. And it was 11pm and there was no Tylenol in the house and I didn't know what to do.

I called my mom in tears and told her I had a fever and that I was scared of getting brain damage. I'm sure she must have wondered how she raised her daughter to be 27 years old and worried about brain damage, but luckily I have a wonderful mother so she was only supportive and loving and offered to send money or fly me home.

Hearing my mother's voice seemed to calm me down somewhat, and Andy came home for a break to bring me hugs and Tylenol, good sweet boy that he is. Five days later I woke up one morning and felt all better. The end!

I have been reading up on typography because I find that typography is the easy way out for some people when they are assessing your design portfolio. Like when someone is giving an ad critique in class and they say "But that ad could be for any product, it's not differentiated enough." Sometimes that's true, and sometimes they are just blowing bloody green snot out their nose, but if you don't know enough to know when they're wrong, you'll fall prey to their all-purpose nitpicking.

Same thing goes for typography. Typography is such a complex art form that involves so many practices and so much fine-tuning, that to look at a portfolio and say "your typography could be better" is like reading a book and saying "your grammar could be stronger." More importantly, it drives at a general skill level and not at a specific piece or issue.

So studying type seems like the best way to call their bluff, and I've been reading typography books until the wee hours, and having typography dreams as a result. The other morning I woke up with what I was sure was the best new idea for a video game ever based on the Gutenberg Bible where the point would be to decide a character's path by deciphering between printed pages and identifying key glyphs and character-space to determine which ones were fake. Each fake page would take you to a dangerous world full of intricate type-puzzles and each real page would transport you to a reward level.

I thought it all brilliant and was ready to start making up keyframes or something when I realized that this was basically the idea behind the computer game Myst, and then I went back to sleep.

Mar 13, 2008

Heroes Season One

A few weeks ago Beth and I started watching season one of Heroes and now it's like crack. We can't pull away. Our whole lives evolves around one known truth, "Save the cheerleader, save the world." As soon as an episode ends we instantly look at each other and say, "should we watch another?" Because of this we've been flying through DVD's like nobody's business. Now we're getting near the end of the season and I'm beginning to worry what's going to happen, both in the show and in my life. First there's the obvious questions of what's going to happen for this thing to wrap up in some sort of way that makes sense and then the other is, when the hell are they going to pump out season two. It better be fast because we may not be able to stand the withdrawal pains.

Hiro after taking a poop in the future or something.

As for now we have a few episodes left and things are getting pretty juicy. It been a little frustrating thinking something is going to happen in the next episode (so we watch another) then it doesn't. This may be part of their scheme to keep people on the edge of their seats, but it's a let down sometimes. Partially because we guess wrong and partially because now we have to wait another episode to find out. In the end it's nothing to complain about because it's all good stuff.

Mar 4, 2008

Snip Snap

Move to a new city, cut your hair in a new fashion. It's a test. If I look different and I'm located in a different place, can I still hold true to the things that I think make up the central core of who I am? Probably. Afterall, I still hate it when someone asks me if I put "product" in my hair, I still have a combined pathological curiosity/fear of changing my hair color, and I still can't wield a hairdryer for crap.

But next time I intend to get super super short bangs.