Thursday, September 29, 2005
Deadlines. Looming. Work. Tired. Yes.

Monday, September 26, 2005
I know this is probably uncouth, but every time I hear "Rita" on the news, which is an awful lot these days, I think of margaritas. Top shelf, on the rocks, no salt, please. Is that wrong?

Thursday, September 22, 2005
Last night I watched that JetBlue flight on tv. You know: the one with the screwed up front landing gear that made a safe landing in LA after three excruciating hours of fuel-burn-off circling, the mental horror of which I don't even want to think about. I know I shouldn't have sat there watching it all unfold, because what if something really bad happened? But, like Sodom, Gomorrah, and train wrecks, it was too captivating not to watch. (Not that I've ever watched any of those things, but still.) It was awful to watch all the flames and sparks, and I was really glad that everything turned out okay and that no one was physically hurt. It would have been awfl to watch an Airbus crash on live tv, and I knew that even as I sat on the bed watching, but still, I couldn't look away.

After the plane landed and everyone started getting off (or "deplaning," the weirdest and most specialized verb ever), I immediately started looking for the name of the plane. JetBlue names their aircraft, probably to aid in their attempt to be a friendlier, fuzzier airline, but in a situation like this, all it does is make each of their otherwise identical planes very identifiable. Sure enough, there it was under the cockpit: Canyon Blue. So now everyone knows that Canyon Blue had faulty landing gear.

I've never flown JetBlue, but I do know that when JetBlue passengers are waiting in the gate area, one of the employees makes a cheerful announcement that their plane is right outside at the gate, and then they happily say what the plane's name is. It's usually some cutesy play on the word blue (Out of the Blue, My Blue Heaven, Blue Moon, Bada Bing Bada Blue), and people at the gate have a good giggle and feel somewhat special that their plane has a silly name, and some might even say, no way, I took that exact same plane to Nassau last February. Meanwhile, the plane I'm usually on is called Airline Express RJ-92b, and not only does it not have free DirecTV, it doesn't even have a snack. JetBlue doesn't fly to anywhere near where I live, but if they did, I'd probably want the specially named Airbus with the free DirecTV and the snacks too. Wouldn't you?

Anyway, what I'm getting at here is that I sincerely hope that JetBlue paints over the Canyon Blue painted on the faulty jet and replaces it with a new name (Lucky Blue? Blue Smoke?) so that future JetBlue passengers don't freak out when they look out the window, boarding passes and blisterpacks of sugarless gum in hand, and are able identify their plane as the one that sparked and smoked down an LAX runway. It would freak me out, anyway.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Have you had these Liquorice Altoids? That's liquorice with a Q, not licorice with a C -- the Q makes it sound like there's liquor it them! Okay, not really, but as a huge fan of all things that taste like black licorice, I have to say that these Liquorice Altoids are really excellent. They're not even that sweet, either: they just have solid, strong licorice flavor. Like other Altoids, they're also oddly hot, but these aren't annoyingly so. Oddly so, maybe, but not annoyingly so. Maybe that's the curiously strong nature of them. I don't know if they do much to freshen your breath, but they sure taste good. Actually, I don't know if the peppermint ones do much to freshen your breath either.

But I don't like the Ginger Altoids. I actually haven't tried them, but I am 100% positive that I don't like them because I don't like ginger. Like at all. In anything, any time, anywhere. Nothing makes me shudder more than when I'm at some quirky pan-Asian restaurant eating an otherwise tasty plate of something and I bite down into a honkin' chunk of ginger. It makes the sides of my mouth sieze up worse than after a gulp of sour wine. You know how when your stomach feels queasy and you're supposed to eat or drink something ginger-y to make the queasiness go away? Ginger actually gives me that queasy feeling. I think it's because I used to get queasy (and puke-y) a lot when I was a kid, and all my mom would give me was warm ginger ale. I think the taste of ginger and the experience of puking my guts out until my sides get sore are now somehow tied together into one big unpleasant sensory memory. So no Ginger Altoids for me. But the liquorice ones rock!

Also: genius grants! Are you on the list? Nah, me neither. There's always next year.

Monday, September 19, 2005
Over the past few days, I've been videotaping an installation of glass art by Dale Chihuly. (One of the reasons why I've been so busy.) Before last week, I kind of had mixed feelings about Chihuly. I thought his stuff looked kind of nice, but never really saw any profound artistic statement in all those colors. And it sort of bothered me that he didn't actually do any of the glassblowing himself: he kind of instructs teams on what to do and how to do it, then signs his name, calls it his, and collects checks. Not a bad deal if you're in the business of getting your name out and making money, but to me, art on this scale always seems like it should be an individual pursuit. Start talking architecture, and I guess the team aspect is more acceptable. But this isn't architecture, and the man has an HR coordinator, for example. I think once you have an HR coordinator, you stop being an artist and start being a company, because people don't think in terms of human resources -- companies do. And once you're a company, you make company art, which sounds a whole lot less impressive than individual art. To me anyway. Am I making sense here?

Anyway, I think I and everyone else in the museum who had similar feelings about Chihuly's work feel a little differently now. His work has tremendous presence. I don't know if I can explain it any better than that. It's one thing to look at a picture of a 17-foot tower made of 500 glass pieces, but it's very much another to stand next to it and watch it go up like a boxed faux xmas tree. (Lots of Xs in that last phrase!) It's just big and bright and shiny and tactile, and even though I'm still not seeing much of a statement in his work (maybe it's me?), it's really impressive and nice to look at.

I also have to say that I'm in kind of a privileged position here in that I get to watch it all being assembled, whereas most people come to the exhibition and see only the finished work. It kind of demystifies the pieces to know how they're all assembled. Last summer when I saw the Chihuly exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the giant towers and glass sculptures didn't really seem real to me, but watching them get assembled makes them look a little less impossible. If that makes sense.

But still: artist with an HR coordinator. It's hard to get past that, but I think I'm starting to look at his work less as art and more as architecture. In which case, I guess I might be becoming okay with the HR thing.

Thursday, September 15, 2005
It's been a long day, I have a sinus infection, and I have a ton of stuff to do, but this morning the only thing that was running through my head, and don't ask me why, was, "Maxi burgers, Maxi burgers, yum yum yum. Maxi burgers, Maxi burgers, makes you want to hum. Hmmmmmmm." I don't know how that unearthed itself, and it wouldn't go back into whatever subneural concavity it slithered out of, no matter how hard I tried to will it there. Seriously, if I could concentrate on the serious stuff half as well as I seem to concentrate on ridiculous pointless crap, I'd have a fucking Pulitzer. Or a Wurlitzer. A Wurlitzer might be nice too. Ooh, I like the ones with the water that streams through the outside.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005
When you ride alone, you ride with Satan. You know it's going to be a difficult week when you get in your car at 7-flippin'-30 on Monday morning to go to work and you turn the key and the ignition fires and you twist on the lights because it's not quite bright out, and you look at your odometer and you see this. 66666! This is not even close to a good sign. I'm not a superstitious person or anything like that, but I knew it was going to be a tough and busy week anyway, and now this. Sometimes the pull of the universe just lines things up in a way that makes you wonder what's really causing the wind to blow.

Also: Dear Honda Motor Company, My name is Amy and I drive a Civic. You know how some cars can go zero to 60 in like four seconds? My car goes zero to 60 in as much time as it damn well wants. It does a breezy 75 on the highway, and once I had it up around 85 (but that was in Canada, so it doesn't really count). I'm pretty sure it won't get up over 90. So why does my speedometer go up to 140? Just curious. Your pal, Amy.

Sunday, September 11, 2005
Move on or dwell on it? I can't decide.

Anyway, last night we went to a party that was actually a chili cook-off: anyone could bring a crock pot of chili, and everyone there would taste them and vote for their favorites. Normally I like food parties, but since chili is usually beef-heavy and since I am not big on eating cow, I was hoping there would be some creative/different (read: not beefy) crock pots of chili there for me to taste.

Well, this is Michigan, and people here sure do love their beef, but sure enough, there were a few chicken and a few veg options. They were all pretty good -- how can you really screw up chili? -- and this one chicken tomatillo chili was actually quite excellent. There was an unusual Indian dal-ish chili that was also nice, if not a little heavy on the tumeric (whoa, how often do you hear that phrase?). The strangest? Duck chili.

I like poultry. I like duck. In fact, I actually really like duck. Even though we seem to live in a world where white meat is prized and dark meat is fed to lucky kittens, I have to admit that while I eat white meat in an effort to be healthy, I kind of prefer the dark stuff. And duck is all dark stuff! Yum-eee. So I got myself a big ladleful of duck chili, and it was really good. Not as good as a well-seared duck breast that you might get at a high-end bistro-type restaurant, but still really good.

A little while into the party, I was standing near the crock pots talking to some people I had met when this guy came over to the crock pots, looked at some of them, and then settled on the one with the duck chili. He got a bowl of it and tasted it and made some "not bad" expressions. Then he told us that he works at the meat market down the road (as in, a place that sells meats, not as in a place to pick up easy ladies) and sold the guy who made the duck chili the duck to make the chili with. He said there was $75 worth of duck in that chili. He said it was good, but he could think of better things to do with that much duck. I kind of had to agree. But, since I didn't pay for it, I had another small bowl of it, just to lock in what expensive duck chili tastes like. It tastes good.

We didn't bring chili. We brought vegetarian gumbo, just to be different. It was good, but we got very few votes. I guess if you want to win a chili cook-off, it might be smart to bring some chili. We've decided that next year, if the party happens again and if we get invited, we're going to win. Since the duck chili placed fairly high, we figured that unusual, non-beef options might be worth exploring. The chicken tomatillo chili also placed high, and my hypothesis is that people love shrimp, so I am thinking of concocting a shrimp-tomatillo chili for next year. Salad shrimp are way cheaper than duck, too.

Wednesday, September 8, 2005
Busy. Just busy.

Also: it takes so little to make me happy. Our local supermegamart used to carry this bread that I really liked, and then they stopped carrying it for a while and replaced it with a significantly inferior brand, so I wrote a letter to the company complaining that I couldn't get my favorite bread, and then yesterday when I went to the store, they had it again. Woohoo! (See? Very little.)

More also: The Office starts up again in less than two weeks. I haven't been this excited for a new season of a tv show to begin in a long long time. Actually, ever. Do you watch this show? You should. It's not as good as the BBC version, but it's still ever so clever. Ever so.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005
About a year ago, I went to this "outsider" art fair. It's supposed to be this art fair where the artists haven't had any formal education. They sell their stuff, and a lot of it is weird cottage-y folk art stuff. Pencils glued to tables, painted metal, bottlecaps stuck on everything from wooden jugs to ironing boards -- that sort of thing. Eccentric, but so uncool that it's cool again. But along with these things, vendors at this art fair sell all kinds of found objects too: stuff like poorly painted old furniture ("shabby chic," you know), old bottles, framed Prohibition-era proclamations, and the like. But one guy last year had a table full of old photographs. They weren't great photos, though. They were just snapshots -- somebody's old snapshots from their family album, for sale for a buck or two each. I looked through them and thought they were interesting, but I didn't get anything. I have enough pictures of my own family. Why did I need pictures of someone else's, let alone someone else's I didn't know?

Then at a film festival last October, my documentary played with this film called Other People's Pictures, which was all about people who buy these photos, and how they collect them, and how they choose which ones to buy, and stuff like that. It was actually really interesting, and made me rethink these snapshots. They did have a cool look to them, and it was someone's personal history, and if these people didn't have the wherewithal to keep them in the family where they would be appreciated, maybe I could appreciate a few here and there. So I told myself that the next time I saw someone with a table full of old snapshots for a buck or two each, I'd buy a few. And I like old pictures, so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch.

So on Saturday, we went back to the same Outsider Art Fair, and there was the same guy from last year with the same table of photos. I looked through hundreds of them and bought three from a series of a dozen or so of this guy sitting next to an older woman on a couch. The woman looks motherly and captivated by the man, and she is wearing a print dress. The man is wearing horn-rimmed glasses and a tuxedo, and looks to be talking about something both important and amusing. In each photo, both the man and the woman have different expressions: in two, the man is smiling nervously at the woman, and in one, the woman looks shocked, like she'd just been told that encoded in the print of her dress was the secret to the meaning of life. I thought they were the best three of the ten or twelve there that were taken on the same occasion. (Umm...I'd post one, but my scanners kind of on the other side of the room and not hooked up, and it's late and stuff.)

As I paid (three dollars!) for my pictures, the man selling them told me that the man was a professor at some fancy-dancy engineering college. I can't remember which one. And the woman was his adoring mother, with whom he was very close and had a good relationship. He asked me what I was going to do with them, and I told him I thought I'd frame them as a sequence, kind of like frames from a film or something. He seemed to think that was a good idea. Someone should frame them.

Sunday, September 4, 2005
Perhaps you may remember a few months ago when Paul and I tried to bike to the beach and it didn't work out so well. (If you don't remember because maybe like you have better things to occupy your brain than the trivial goings-on in my life as posted to this here website, here's what happened: we biked out, we made fun of people fixing flats on their road bikes, then Paul got a flat, and we sat around like chumps until we got a ride home.) So we vowed that by the end of the summer, we'd take another crack at it. Well, seeing as how tomorrow is sort of the unofficial end of summer (yes, I know technically we have until like September 20, but who's being technical?) and seeing as how we had today to do whatever we wanted, we got the bikes and got cracking. I mean riding.

Sixteen miles out and sixteen back. Sixteen and a half, actually. And then we rode into town a little, since town ("town") is a mile or so from the trailhead. We had a good time and got some serious exercise, and we had a very tasty salty lunch with full-sugar undiet sodas at a bar and grill(e)-type place, and then I wanted to put my feet in the lake, kind of as a symbolic we-made-it gesture, but also because my legs were all covered with trail dust and I wanted a clean start for the trek back. It was fun, and I kind of feel like I can kick some serious ass right now, but I also feel kind of tingly-like, as if maybe my blood sugar-salt-water-electrolytes-tcount equilibrium hasn't resettled itself back to its normal non-tingle-inducing levels. My legs were burning when we got back, and my lower back was I think spasming (or maybe it was just dire soreness), and I was sort of lightheaded and sweaty, but now all of that has gone away. Oh, but my ass is bruised big time. I have got to get a new bike seat. One of those squishy gel jobs. Fortyish miles on a factory issue was a bad bad idea.

I'm hopeful that the odd tingly sensation will go away after nine solid hours of sleep and maybe a jelly donut in the morning. I'm pretty sure that jelly donut is integral. I'm gonna go pass out now.

Friday, September 2, 2005
Hey, it's been a few days. Here are a few things I'd like to report, in no particular order:

  • This whole hurricane situation in the gulf states kind of makes me feel sick. But what makes me feel even sicker are the raving morons who see this kind of devastation as a chance for them to steal other people's stuff and open fire (with stolen guns, mind you) on anyone in the vicinity and think they can get away with it because the cops have other things on their agendas. What the hell is wrong with these people. I think they had their heads under water too long. People can be so ugly.
  • And gas! Gas is expensive! $3.39 last I checked, which was a few hours ago. In about two years, I've gone from driving wherever the hell I wanted to because I have a stunningly efficient car to trying to drive a little less to trying to drive a lot less to not driving at all. I haven't taken my car anywhere in two days! Makes me glad I have a scooter that gets in excess of 80mpg.
  • And speaking of said scooter, I am, as mentioned, riding it a lot more, and I am getting seriously fed up with the assholes who tailgate me because they think I'm not going fast enough. It's worse than drivers not heeding to the share-the-road-with-bikes ethos. Plain and simple, if I am riding my scooter and you tailgate me, you are an ass. Back the fuck up, beause if you hit me and so much as scratch my thumb, my mom will make it her personal business to make your life a living hell, and I'm pretty sure my dad will get in on the action too. It's my lane too, and no, I will not move over so you can get to Krispy Kreme five seconds faster. Slow that clunky-ass Excursion down and have some fucking patience. If the speed limit is 25 and I'm going 28, guess what? I'm going fast enough. Honk all you want, because you know what? I spend $4 every two weeks to fill up the tank on my scooter. I'm riding it all I want. You're not going to make me do anything. Thank you.
  • I've been back to school for three days. We have today off. It's nice, because after three days, I'm ready for a little vacation.
  • Speaking of vacation, why am I sitting here typing? It's nice out!

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