Voice activation

Am learning voice commands for the lovely unnamed’s navigation system the fun way: by trial and error.

Most commonly, by some bizarre intuition, I’m misinterpreted as wanting the air conditioning turned up to full blast (I was ever the cold-weather child), but for instance: “Find nearest pizza restaurant” unveiled “Rear Defrost,” and something like “Who has the best chance to defeat George W. Bush?” became “Passenger Temperature 80 degrees.” Evidently my wheels are just as nervous about the election as I am.

(Dual-zone climate control! How fabulous is that?)

I’m thinking of calling her Hattie, as she has so far been quite scatter-brained.


Something in the atmosphere

Don’t often make mixes, but part of having a 6-disc changer in the new car is filling it up with music! “Something in the Atmosphere…” is eclectic to say the least, but it does give you an idea of what I’m listening to these days:

  1. Jinjeonghan French Fry’s shidaeneun gatneunga - Byeol1
  2. 9:30 (Just Another Guy) - Noam Weinstein
  3. Mas Que Nada - Tamba Trio
  4. Center of the Sun - Conjure One
  5. Four Seasons In One Day - Crowded House
  6. Tattoo - The So and So’s2
  7. The Distance - Cake
  8. Amado Mio - Pink Martini
  9. All The Pain - Wendy Ip
  10. April’s Bonfire - Color Theory
  11. Here’s My Heart - Pat Benatar3
  12. Read or Die OP
  13. Love’s Recovery - Indigo Girls
  14. Teardrop - Massive Attack
  15. Belleville Rendez-vous - M4
  16. Battle Without Honor or Humanity - Tomoyasu Hotei5
  17. Uneasy - Laika
  18. Mad World - Gary Jules6
  19. Your Head’s Too Big - LASZLO featuring Norah Jones
  20. The Dream Within - Lara Fabian7
1 from the soundtrack to the excellent Korean film Take Care of My Cat, playing on Sundance of late.
2 from the just-released Give Me Drama, which everyone should run out and get.
3 from Giorgio Moroder’s 80s release of Metropolis.
4 The Triplets of Belleville.
5 Kill Bill, vol. 1.
6 Donnie Darko.
7 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.


dealing with a painful deformity (set of 31)

dealing with a painful deformity (2 of 31)
dealing with a painful deformity (17 of 31)



Threw a bit of a belated birthday dinner for a dear friend tonight, but sadly appear to have come down with a touch of food poisoning somewhere among the cake and raw oysters. So far tonight it’s been very unhappy, nor will I probably have an enjoyable Wednesday, but here’s hoping for the best…

Take a look at the amazing Buddhabrot gallery at Jared Tarbell’s complexification.net. What I wouldn’t give for a full-size wall poster!

And elsewhere, Paul (a.k.a. metameat.net) has unwittingly set Bach’s Kaffee-kantate running rampant through both stereo and head. Turnabout is fair play: im Fleisch on Sunday, those pesky badgers went the other way.


This frog keeps it real


Originally uploaded by

Posted from flickr

“This frog keeps it real, so you don’t have to.”

This is now my favorite image ever.


3/11 Madrid

madrid te quiero
I have no words.


So that’s how it’s done

Playing around with a little photoshopping as described by dooce early last year. I don’t usually like to doctor photos, but it’s a lovely effect and does make for some dreamy images.

(Click on thumbnails for full-size versions)
Another dooce’d photo:

Found a lovely online gallery of photos by Matthew Kalenuik, mostly of flowers and other minutiae. I especially love the one of Wurlitzer vacuum tubes — I wonder if he sells prints?


Ugly dolls and pretty art

Recent collected links of varied origin:


Still keeping it real

Still keeping it real, thank you very much.

When you fake the funk, you disrespect the funk.

Found an envelope in the mail from signalstation, containing one keepingitrealfrog sticker, two panicbear stickers and some other goodies. Please click on the image to peek inside!

It was certainly a lovely surprise and brightened my day quite a bit. Thank you!


I could kiss you on the…

Have been watching a lot of Arrested Development, lately, which is the most fun I’ve had with a new American sitcom in quite awhile. It’s got that combination of smart writing and random silliness that usually gets my attention, and Jason Bateman (!) is a surprisingly likeable and capable lead. Bateman seems to be making something of a comeback, what with this show and Starsky and Hutch, but for the life of me I can’t recall what show he was on in the 80’s. I certainly remember all the pinups, though. Also, Teen Wolf Too!

Went to see the Symphony for the first time in, like, ever. It was a bit of an odd outing with some folks from work, but it was quite nice to hear some live classical music. Particularly exciting was Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony, which was wonderfully played (what a rousing finale that piece has!). There was also a premiere of a symphony by Chen Yi and MacDowell’s second piano concerto, with André Watts.

I have an itch now to hear more, and there are certainly opportunities coming up: in June, Howard Shore will be in town to conduct his six-movement symphony based on his Lord of the Rings scores. Also, the Seattle Opera will be doing Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos later this year, which is something I’ve always wanted to see. The last opera I attended was almost six years ago — Der Rosenkavalier, also by Strauss.

Am determined that this will be the year of cultural betterment, and suggestions are welcome. Even better, join me?


Ruby slippers

It was a nice weekend to go driving.

In my mind’s eye I can see the waves crashing against the rocks, the daylight diffracted in the spray. The sun is high at first, bleaching the driftwood carcasses scattered throughout the landscape. There are people here, but few in the expanse of beach.

Here at the edge of the continent I can walk for a mile and be happy just looking at the stones at my feet. Northwest shores have sand: dark and wet, covered with small, thumb-sized pebbles; though ground into rounded smoothness by nature, you don’t really want to be walking barefoot on them. The water, when it does hit the skin, is as chill as the brisk wind coming in off the ocean.

Going south, the sea stacks diminish, until there’s nothing outwards but endless sea. As the sun descends and the sky dims, the eyes strain to make out the boundary between heaven and earth. This is the time to turn back, to watch the sunset against the rocks, now firmly ahead. Selva on the sand, in the dying light.

Amazing, this beach; so different on every visit, but for which I can visualize endless new configurations when I close my eyes and dream.

It would have been a nice weekend to go driving. Instead, I sit at home, white walls, dry air. But the memories of a sunset never experienced are still strong.


Countersinks and pipes

A bundle of obscure but surprisingly compelling confections:

From Enric Rovira: chocolate-covered… corn? Which are toasted corn kernels coated with chocolate — not v. sweet, but surprisingly addictive. Whereas Spicy Apple Ginger Chews from The Ginger People may quite possibly be the best thing ever. If only they weren’t so difficult to unwrap!

When trying to figure out what the other Rovira flavors were, babelfish produced these puzzling results:


Countersinks! Yum!

I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the 1982 TV adaptation of The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I first saw when very young. Romance, adventure, and those glorious costumes that Jane Seymour got to wear! Of course, back then I never realized that Ian McKellen was Chauvelin, stealing the show and stomping on every other cast member’s performance. Now I can, though, because it was just released on DVD! As expected, McKellen is great, Seymour is even more lovely than in my memory, and Anthony Andrews is a thousand times more irritating when he does his “Sir Percy” voice (but his pimpernel mode’s still kind of dashing!). Also, there seems to be a lot more cocaine-sniffing than I remember! Did they really show that on TV in the 80s?

I won’t dwell on the film’s merits, because unavoidably my view is colored by the rose-colored pupils of little seven year-old yukino, sitting raptly before the television. A little dated, a bit cheesy, but just about as much fun as I remember. Far more than I could have hoped for!

This might kick off a marathon of costume romances, which I adore and own aplenty. Sad that it won’t apparently soon include Andrew Davies’s adaptation of Northanger Abbey, which is in trouble (via Anita). Sigh


On saying good-bye to a friend


“I’m so happy for you,” she whispered, and meant it; the first time, truly, since she’d started saying it.
“Thank you,” said her friend, her sometime sister, and her heart broke again.
Silently, they made their way toward the platform. Jehanne searched for words again, knowing that they wouldn’t come. Finally, when they had reached the train’s doors, she turned to her companion.
“It’s like the song, you know. ‘Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.’” Inside, she wondered if they would ever meet again.
Alexa turned away, and shook her head, her eyes hidden. “Friendship is thicker than blood. You’ll see.”
But sometimes, you still bleed, thought Jehanne. Friendship wasn’t thick at all; it was a gossamer thread, fragile to the faintest touch. She reached out, as if to grasp at its ephemeral beauty one last time, but it was too late — the doors had closed. Within, Alexa placed her fingertips on the glass, already a thousand miles away.


Happy Birthday, Kallese!

Happy Birthday, Kallese!


Round-robin experiment

Continue the story! Also, try not to notice my recent overuse of the word “gossamer.”

She led him to the edge of the world, where the ground fell away and nothing separated his feet from the void but threads of endless gossamer, stretching into infinity. Hesitant, he turned back, only to find that the path had become a hut, tiny and alone. Dim light shone from within the paper walls, just brightly enough so that by it, her slender body was revealed through the shapelessness of her clothing.
“Beyond this point, I cannot pass,” she mouthed, without voice. He knew it without looking, and did not respond.


Tim Wistrom

Extreme,” by Tim Wistrom

Tim Wistrom is a Seattle-based artist who paints surreal, striking images, many of which depict an alternate reality where nature has reclaimed the cities of the world. His art is sometimes whimsical, sometimes eerie, and often both. Favorites include polar bears walking the ice outside of Safeco Field (“Bear Necessities”); ocean engulfing the Capitol Records building in front of the Hollywood sign (can’t find this one online); and a memorable, elegaic image painted just after the 9/11 attacks (“Liberty Awake”).

You can see more at Wistrom’s gallery, which doesn’t actually show the image I liked best (“Rust in Peace,” an evocative painting whose numbered prints were going for $350+, way out of my price range).


Sunny side up

Weather was absurdly beautiful today, downright toasty at times. Took the opportunity to enjoy nice walks around lower Queen Anne and Ravenna, soaking in the sun, browsing art and music, and playing the window-sill menu game. Felt v. energetic, unusually so for Sundays of late. Simply lovely!

Saw the following sign, proudly displayed by Thai Heaven restaurant:

Specialize in:
Meat & Poultry

Am having a hard time imagining what they don’t specialize in.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Tower Records is apparently pulling up its roots, though to where is anyone’s guess. The south face of the building, usually home to classy pop mural art, was repainted on Thursday to read:

MID-MAY at the Seattle Center Parking Lot

Can’t tell you how long I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around that one.


Anna at Fifty Yards

Buffalo, NY | August 2000

Anna at Fifty Yards

Fifty yards to go, and she needed to stop. Time to compose yourself, Anna. Won’t do at all to let him see you’ve been running, not on his account. Briefly, things went out of focus; grabbing at a tensa-barrier, she steadied her body until the wave subsided. Careful, don’t pass out! That would just be perfect.
She’d been out of sorts for the entire trip. Whether that was a result of stress, anticipation or rage was unclear, though some combination of all three was likely. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t been through a lot — two thousand miles, two connections, twelve hours of travel time, and nine hundred dollars’ worth of airfare — and yet, she knew that Howard would still give her grief for being late. Seven years of marriage had taught her plenty about her ex-husband.
The dizziness had left her, but now her stomach was dancing. Anna wondered if it would always be like this. Surely he can’t try to sue every time, she mused ruefully. Howard had money to burn, but not nearly enough to waste on frivolous legal maneuvers. She knew that this first time had been a show of strength on his part — he’d already won the battle, and he’d wanted to rub her face in it. That was just his style.
She rested for a second, catching her breath and regaining her bearings. Albany was a lovely, clean airport, and not a very busy one; completely the opposite of Denver, where she had risked life and limb weaving through crowded terminals, barely making it to her connecting gate despite a brisk run. Chicago hadn’t presented that particular obstacle, but there’d been the thunderstorms — an hour’s runway delay in a warm, stuffy plane, poison to mind and body alike.
Now, there were only fifty yards to go. Taking a deep breath, she rounded the corner, passed security and entered the baggage claim area.
Anna saw them against the glass doors, backlit and indistinct, but Howard’s smirk was unmistakable. That was almost too much, after weeks of uncertainty: between when she had been served with those awful papers; and the court date, where — thankfully! — the judge had thrown out the lawsuit as completely frivolous. By then, it had barely been possible to get travel arranged in time, and still he’d had the gall to complain bitterly about driving in from upstate on a Saturday. “Short notice,” indeed!
Don’t look at him, she chided herself, as she continued her approach. He’s not the reason you’re here. Her eyes were inexplicably wet, and the sun still too bright, but she could finally make out what she’d waited months to see: that tiny shape, clutching her father’s leg, beautiful beyond words. Doubts came flooding back into her, fed by months of worry: Will she recognize me? Is she still my little girl? Anna was sure her mind would break in two if her fears were confirmed. She resisted a powerful urge to run, mostly because there was no way of telling which way her legs would take her.
And then her daughter saw her, and smiled, and Anna knew that it had all been worth it.

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