Jun 30, 2008

too big? or perhaps too small?

jean: i found the PERFECT bday cake for you
me: YAY! does it have whales or squirrels or penises on it?
jean: umm.. no. those have all been done
me: what about whale penises?
jean: i'm not eating that cake

With Nonfat Vanilla Soy!

ben: http://graphjam.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/funny-graphs-californians.gif
me: so true! i do live in coffee!!!

At Trader Joe's the Only Thing in My Salmon is Red Food Coloring

ben: yesterday i went to the new ralphs in downtown la. man it's so nice. so urban.
me: that's what i like in my grocery stores.
ben: shush
me: i like a little cement in my cherry tomatoes. real grit in my grits
ben: inside it was a very nice upscale ralphs. but around it was urban
me: perhaps a dime bag of cocaine in my salmon filet
ben: a dime bag of cocaine?
me: isn't that what they put cocaine in?
ben: i think you need to check your drug prices
me: i'm not urban enough to shop at your ralphs apparently. i guess i better stick with trader joes

Whatever is dreamed on this night...

... will come to pass. - A Midsummer Night's Dream

A couple weekends ago we attended the Fremont Solstice Parade, primarily because of the promise of naked bicyclists. I feel ashamed to admit that, but I suppose it's the truth. It's how people have been telling each other about the parade for as long as it's existed: "They have naked people on bicycles!" That's how they get you.

We met up with our friends Mileni and Alec, who have a lovely condo in Fremont and had been reserving a primo spot downtown since 10am. Around 11, a giant crew of naked cyclists came by in a rainbow array of body paint with themed "costumes." They would wave as they went by, then turn around at the end of the street and come by again. I thought that was it. I was kind of shocked that so many people were around to see a crew of naked bicyclists, but then not so much. That's why I was there, right?

The rest of the parade then came as kind of a bonus. A huge huge cherry on top of an ice cream sundae which had been served on a naked person's butt, on a unicycle. (I'm wondering why that didn't actually appear in the parade. Next year maybe...) I think the thing that most impressed me, aside from the great use of papier maché, was the creativity in the concepts. It inspired me to want to think of a way to participate next year.

My current idea: To go as a "Singing Telegram." Four people could dress as a barbershop quartet, maybe carrying balloons and using a tuner to tune. A few more could just go as mail, with envelopes and hearts stuck to them. One person would be dressed as a postman and chase everyone else. We would all sing "Hey Mr. Postman" and run around.

Who's in?!

The tail end of the naked bicyclists

The Flying Spaghetti Monster

Making a Sandwich

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed

Wind Up Toy Doll Girls

The Ridiculously Pink Mob of Bellydancers

Dancing bakers and poodles from Ooo La La

After the parade, we walked down to gasworks park to hang out with the parade participants and hear live music. Most people were kind of just sitting out on the grass, intermingling naked with clothed, painted with papier machéd, drunk with high, and everything in between. The scene was very surreal, as is Gasworks Park itself, but it was a beautiful day and the smells from the food vendors were amazing. We retired to Mileni & Alec's for BBQ burgers and then went home to sleepy-sleep. I dreamed about blogging the event, and here we are.

Less-blogger friendly photos can be found on my flickr.

Approaching Gasworks Park

Graffiti artists

Jun 26, 2008

Time For a New Me

I read about this makeover site Taaz where you can actually get realistic looking haircut demos, so I thought I would give it a shot. There are about 50 different hairstyles to choose from plus each one has a half-dozen color variations and you can maneuver the style to fit your head shape or flip it. You can do makeup stuff too, but I don't really wear makeup. The hair looks astonishingly real. I've been debating a new look to help myself ease into my 30s, and these are my favorites:

My first choice

Second choice

If I decide to try something new

Summer 2006 Beth

Hipster Beth

High Fashion Model Beth

Japanese Pop Star Beth

My mom Beth

How was prom Beth


Five Dollar Steak

A couple days a go I was cramming for my final homework for class, so Andy decided to cook dinner from a recipe. The recipe came from a book called "The Best 1001 Short Easy Recipes" and it was chicken made from a can of lemonade concentrate. You basically marinate the chicken in lemonade concentrate and soy sauce and then bake it for 45 minutes. I was a bit dubious, but grateful to be getting fed.

The recipe is called Lemonade Chicken, and it was indeed Short and Easy. I am not used to all this truthfulness from my cookbooks. I am used to Martha Stewart trying to tell me I can make my own buttercream frosting by churning my own butter, or Rachel Ray trying to tell me that she makes all her food in 30 minutes for $40. But Lemonade Chicken was the most delicious chicken ever, so much that Andy and I are quitting our jobs and opening a Lemonade Chicken stand.

When life gives you lemonade concentrate...

...make chicken

I was mentioning to Ben that I was slightly disappointed that I only had 6 or 7 responses to my birthday dinner email, so he sent me this lovely tidbit, and I thought it needed to be posted for everyone's enjoyment:

Dear Beth,
I am very excited for this event. I will be there absolutely without a doubt 100% confirmed yes for sure. I've created a little advent calendar filled with chocolate sculptures of you to help countdown the days until this occasion.

Also, I hope this place has a gigantic $50 steak to make bets on, cause that tradition needs to continue.
Love always,
Benjamin Scott Ackerman, Esquire

Tonight was the single day between my last batch of Portfolio classwork and my Flash class which starts tomorrow, so to celebrate Andy and I went down to REI and checked out bikes, and had dinner in South Lake Union at the Southlake Grill. We were walking around near REI and I noticed a sign that said "Wednesday is $5 Steak Night!" and it was a done deal. It was only a 6oz steak served with bleu cheese and fries, but that's actually about the size of my fist, and therefore probably a good sized serving for me. No winning $50 steak bets for Beth.

I am not fond of South Lake Union. It reminds me a lot of Bellvue, which in turn reminds me a lot of LA. I love LA, but I'm talking about the bad parts of LA. Maybe more like the OC. I dunno. Every guy in the Southlake Grill was wearing some sort of buttondown polo or striped shirt, and every woman was wearing some generic patterned dress with a leather purse that could have been real leather or could have been from Ross. Everyone was in their 30s and seemed really generic, like they belonged in a real estate ad. I guess South Lake Union basically is a real estate ad. But it's like they saw the ads and were like, "Hmm, I need a Labrador and some slacks, pronto. Now, where did I put my martini?"

At REI (and also at Target actually, and probably most sporting good stores) they have tiny scale models of tents. They also have regular sized tents, which confuses me, but I like to put the tiny tents inside the big ones. The tiny tents make me happy, and so we always have to go see them. Someday I hope that if I get proposed to, my engagement ring will be in a tiny tent. Then when I get married, I hope it's in a tiny tent, and when I conceive my firstborn child it will hopefully also be in a tiny tent. Later, I will put my child in the tiny tent, mainly because they seem like a good way to keep a baby ventilated but confined. And when I die, I want my funeral to be in a tiny tent, and a tiny tent placed over my tombstone. To keep the rain off.

Jun 22, 2008

The Story of Fifi the Loofah

Sometime in May, a little baby loofah named Fifi was left behind in Seattle. We're not sure who the negligent parent is... Beth bets on Nicole, although it seems unlike Nicole to leave something behind. Andy think it was Jean, but I think it's because he likes to imagine Jean showering. I dunno. It could be Emily or Kim or Andrea. Even though Ben stayed at a hotel, he's not completely off the hook.

Poor little Fifi had some abandonment issues in the very beginning, and it was hard for her to get used to life in Seattle. She is such a tiny little loofah, alone in a strange new place with strange new friends. But she has been quite brave... and she's doing better, although she would be happy to travel home to LA if someone wants to claim her.

Here is her story:

Fifi feels sad and abandoned in Seattle.

Fifi attempts to make friends but finds it can sometimes be difficult to connect with strangers. Perhaps it's the Seattle Freeze?

Disheartened, Fifi contemplates ending it all... Don't do it Fifi!

Beth tries to comfort Fifi and help her adjust to her new life in Seattle.

She invites Fifi to join the family for supper... Fifi uses a booster pillow at the dinner table.

Fifi licks her plate clean.

Beth thinks Fifi might be tasty... although, perhaps a little spongy?

Just kidding Fifi! I would never have you for a snack!

Fifi aims to get the triple word score.

Fifi enjoys trashy television. Notice the wagging tail...

After a short adjustment period, Fifi finds acceptance with her new family, Lulu and Louie Loofah

Jun 20, 2008

Ladies: Don't Give Things to Andre. Especially Not Things Involving Your Womb.

me: i have a present for you
andre: really? I get more presents from you than anyone. is it from Wajis?
me: no
me: andy and i made it
me: it's a baby
me: we made you a baby
me: surprise!
andre: wow, exciting
andre: I can hardly wait to sell it

(I think I'm gonna start posting funny quotes again. They make me happy.)

Jun 17, 2008

Call Me Tuts

Yesterday morning I went into work feeling pretty bummed out. You know the feeling, when your job pays you well to sit and do nothing, and you feel sort of useless and listless... you spend a lot of time looking at YouTube videos that people send you or reading blogs about cupcakes or chatting on AIM about Battlestar Galactica. Right?

Thank goodness for AIM chat with Jean. Two days into her new job and she is already full of great wisdom and advice (even moreso than before). She reminded me that the benefit of a freelance gig is in flexibility. My hours are, after all, *my* hours. If there's anything Beth is good at, it's using the internet, and within a few minutes I had discovered a new way to charge value into my day, in the form of Photoshop Tutorials!

I had completely forgotten about online tutorials and the inherent bliss of learning something new. I had forgotten that along with baking blogs, Battlestar Wikis and Movie Spoiler Websites (which have saved me from many an M. Night Shyamalan Crappening) the internet is full of new somethings to learn that actually pertain to my job. Because while it's great to be able to keep up hours long conversation on why there's no 7th Cylon (Yeah, why?!), no one is gonna pay me for that skill.

My new goal for building a better Beth-brain is to complete one PSD tutorial per day from the PSDTUTs site, until I've completed every single one. The site has some pretty amazing tutorials that actually showcase things you would really want to learn, along with links to articles and inspiration. Also good are Computer Arts Magazine, Tutorial 9, and abduzeedo.

Having attended a few Photoshop seminars through Adobe, I find I only learn from doing, regardless of how great my notes are, so it's key to actually follow step by step. The tutorials on this blog are also great because the beautiful end product is taunting you at the top of the page like a carrot on a string. Here's what I've done so far. Not amazing, but I learned a few tricks here and there.

Watercolor Seattle: this is actually a fairly simple layer masking process, which I got from the Viget design blog.

Windows Vista-style light-rings using layering masks & gradients: Fairly simple, just time consuming, but you learn a bit about layer styles

Grassy type: Very very time consuming, but a cool effect to know, and easy to reproduce using any texture you'd like.

Jun 15, 2008

Back to Blogging

It has been such a long long time since I've blogged. I've thought about blogging at least once or twice a week, usually as I'm climbing the stairs to my apartment after a long drive back from Redmond. But once I open the door to my home and find BSG dvds to watch, fun new recipes to try, and a cute boy to cuddle on the couch, all my ambitions disperse. So it goes.

May was also a pretty insane month, as we:

Adopted a new vacuum

Visited family & friends in LA

Went to New York for the Stationery Show

Hosted Kim & Emily for the weekend

Recorded a hit single with the Seattle Six.

A lot has been going on.

I was recently reading through my old blog from my college years, and it's insane how much I would put out there in public all my thoughts and feelings about *everything.* I was a steady blogger from 2001 to 2005, averaging 15 posts a month at least. And in the early years I didn't have a digital camera, so it was all words. Sometimes I would post results of internet quizzes like "which Harry Potter character are you?" (Remus Lupin), but mostly it was just a daily recital of my innermost thoughts.

And it seems like I had more personality back then. I guess by that I just mean that I put more tang and pizazz into things. I was oh, tremendously emo, and everything moved me, everything had such great significance. I think I thought that if I didn't blog it, reflect on it, and really glean from each experience its deeper meaning on my walk through life, I would fail to understand or grow. I would be at a standstill.

I don't still have that mentality, but some of that must dwell in the far corners of my brain, otherwise I wouldn't still be here, blog blog blogging. I feel more content now to just move through my life and hold onto whatever my body and mind choose to hold onto. But the world of blogs and the blogging community has changed so much from what it was like in 2008. What is the ultimate function of a blog now to me?

This blog, Bendytime, was initially conceived as a way for both Andy and myself to keep in touch with family and friends in both Minnesota and California. But a blog cannot possibly perform that function. The only way to do that is to put phone to ear, pen to paper, butt to airplane seat. So where does that leave us? With a document of our lives that we are too busy to update.

I don't really know what I am getting at here.

It is a beautiful Sunday night here in Seattle. Today we changed my license plates from California to Washington, and part of me was sad, but part of me was resigned to it. If I plan to live as many different places and travel as much as I hope to, little things like changing license plates will have to become commonplace. Another step: hopefully getting our passports soon.

Andy is cutting his hair in the bathroom sink and I am preparing a big pile of tshirts and totebags that I plan to silkscreen for friends. I stayed up till 3m drawing up a Space Needle birdhouse, and if all goes well, my nearest and dearest will be getting homemade presents from me for my birthday.

Today in Los Angeles, my brother graduated from college and I was not there. But I think he knows I'm proud of him. And graduating from college is not really biggest milestone or accomplishment he will ever achieve. The ones that will make an impact will be–or already have been–quiet and solitary. Most likely he wouldn't even notice until much later, and then look back and go "oh yes. that was a big moment. something changed."

And it was Father's Day too. I bought my dad a card at Bartell's, and I noticed how many of the cards said things like "Even though you don't say a lot, you've done so much for me" or "Although you're a man of few words..." or "The way you tell me you love me is in actions not in words." Is that really a reality for fathers? Not talking? Enough that the writers at Hallmark have found a dozen different ways to say basically the same thing? Or is it that the kind of kids who buy their dads beige and brown Hallmark cards with long-copy and photos of fish and golf carts on them are the kinds of kids who don't know their fathers very well. I have a Hallmark campaign in my portfolio where the tagline is "Feelings are complex. Cards are simple." The Father's Day cards I read made me want to revise it to "Feelings are scary. Cards are safe."

But more than anything, it makes me sad for families and children everywhere. At least in my family, the sentiment is true. Since moving to Seattle, I've found it impossible to talk to my Dad, while my relationship with my Mom has gotten much better. I called for Father's Day and we spoke for barely 3 minutes. I don't know if it's because he's mad that I moved, or worried about me, or just that he's so emotional about it he can't even talk. But the point moreso is that I don't know. Because he won't tell me. And I don't even know why he won't tell me. If he would even just tell me why he won't tell me, I wouldn't ask any more questions.

My life would be much better if my Dad had a blog. Or a Facebook.

And otherwise, life parades onward. Speaking of parades, the summer solstice parade in Freemont this weekend promises naked people galore, I am looking forward to posting photos on my Flickr. Not to be missed!