Sunday, October 31, 2010

The WMATA trains of FAIL

Saturday I had to go downtown for a memorial service right in the middle of what my mom would say is "en mitten drinnen," Yiddish for "in the middle of things." And so, in the middle of Jon Stewart's Rally for Sanity (see its 100 best signs), I vetoed driving and ended up in the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority nest of f*** which culminated in 2 mile jog/walk from Dupont Circle to Georgetown.

I spent almost the entire train ride trying not to accidentally start a family with the multitudinous strangers whose lower limbs, vying for space, found themselves wrapped themselves around my thighs during a long, awkward train ride made longer because we kept stopping due to track maintenance and heavy volume. When we DID stop, doors opened and eager riders gazed longingly at us packed sardines and instantly calculated the futility of a fit. Not a single other person was able to squeeze on after Silver Spring, and we weren't even in DC yet . Also, this trek, undertaken after much metro jostling and a sprint up the Dupont Circle escalator of doom (which was broken so no resting!), added a note of comic urgency to the already pressing matter of making a remembrance service on time.

Look at this packed station!
The insanity! Metro photo from Deb

Friday, October 15, 2010


What a day!!
  1. Minor reaction to flu shot, check.
  2. Minor car accident, check.
  3. Minor surgery, check.
  4. Begin reading book about 9/11 death, check.
  5. Scour sympathy cards, pick two, check.
Just about the only positive thing is that I have doctor's orders to avoid situps for a month!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I am the class example!

I started taking an introduction to drawing class last week. The class description specifically mentioned this was for beginners, for those wanting to learn how to draw. NOT for people who already have talent.
I signed up.

The first exercise was a "contour" drawing: stare at an object and trace it WITHOUT lifting the pencil from paper and without actually LOOKING at what you're doing. "Go slowly," the instructor said, "your hand will outline what your eye sees."

Yeah? Here's the "vase" I "saw":

If you need a good laugh, seriously, right now, try it. Trace the outline of something without actually looking at the paper. You've just done a contour drawing!

We practiced this a few times and I kept snorting at my results. I wanted to try using my other hand just to mix it up even though I am NOT ambidextrous. "How much worse could it get?" I thought.

The instructor began circling the room to check on us.
Instructor: "How are you doing?"

me: "Alright, I guess. I tried this with both hands and it's interesting that I can't really tell which hand did which." I pointed to my paper. "See? This was my left hand and this other one, my right."

Instructor: "Which do you prefer?"

me: "I'm right-handed."
He excitedly grabbed my sketchbook and held it up to the class.

"Look! Here's a GREAT example of how you need ABSOLUTELY NO MECHANICAL SKILL WHATSOEVER to do this exercise. None! See? She did this [awful, crude, primitive, toddler's rendition] vase with both left and right hands. If you ask me, the left hand actually looks a little better."

He circled the class, pointing to my scribbles. "No skill! None! It's perfect!!"

I brightened behind the easel, proud of my lack of talent. I was the class example for zero ability!


"See how her brain was less constricted by what she was 'supposed' to be seeing in the left-handed drawing? It's more symmetrical. It's a truer view of the vase."

He delivered the sketchpad back, adding, "See if you all want to try this" to the rest of the room.

(The vases were slightly different.)

The next class focused on "gesture" drawing. This involved scribbling out a shape in 15 seconds.

"It doesn't even have to LOOK like the thing," the instructor stated. "You really just want the *essence* of what it's DOING."

So, uh, here's the chair I was sitting on:

Quite clear, right?

I spent the next 2.5 hours scribbling things and fantasizing about how I maybe should have enrolled in something extremely inartistic like accounting. Every sketch seemed to exceed the previous one by an exponential factor of suck.

Then I got home, threw on some instrumental music and my brain lit up. Inspired, I tried one last sketch for the night:

I've never been able to draw faces before. People in general are extremely difficult. Either I needed those 2 hours to warmup or trance tunes act as calisthenics for the non-visual brain but I felt like maybe this class could actually help me learn to see.

If I could actually learn to create? Bonus.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger (short film clip by Bill Plympton)

Another film I saw at DragonCon: The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger, by Bill Plympton, described in the IMDB as "A children's fable about the power of advertising, the meaning of life and ultimately the test of a mother's love."

See Bill Plympton's blog post for more info.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Skylight, by David Baas (short film clip)

One of the best short films I've seen lately is Skylight by David Baas:

part 2:

These short clips show only about a minute of the very beginning, but the audience I was with was *howling* all the way through. The movie features penguins in their statement about the hole in the ozone layer. If you get a chance, check out a screening. (As of today, nothing's scheduled, but I hope they update their site soon to reflect future indie film showings.)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

an adventurous spine-bending evening

If you've been following my Twitter feed, you know that I've been suffering from the plague. The tentacles of death seem to become boldest at night as they've been reaching through my dreams, yanking me out of the underworld and thrusting me into an amniotic sac of wakeful sickness into which I cannot breathe. I'd juuuust drift off into a sweet slumber (a blissful reprieve from this ailing consciousness) and suddenly bolt upright choking and gasping for air. This has been happening all week. And so I am missing about 5 good nights of sleep.

Sleep-deprivation, incidentally, is an exceptionally cruel torture method. This cold seemed to be getting worse, not better, and so last night, weary as I was, could not rest. I'd get 5 minutes into a dream before being rudely ripped awake in above said fashion. This happened repeatedly for hours.

After a particularly violent bout of choking where I almost died, I started to cry. Uncle! However, I could not even afford myself the luxury of self-pity as tears bring with them their own poison and I couldn't allow an increase in snot production. I swallowed the bitter feelings of the repose-impoverished and decided to try a new game plan. Even overdosing on medicine didn't seem to help so something else was in order.

I'd BEEN sleeping on a stack of pillows up high. I'm a back sleeper, so this felt not unlike lounging on the couch. But it still didn't help. I decided to try sleeping on my side. Note that with the current setup, this approach required a kind of bending of the spine which probably should not occur at all, let alone for 8+ hours straight:

However, I am pleased to report that it seemed to help. I slept!! And the muscle aches don't feel much different so either I'm already so broken it doesn't matter what contorted position I shape myself into at night, or the spine, when heated to a temperature above the bodily norm of 98.6, is able to bend much more gracefully than expected. Experiment to be repeated tonight.

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