Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Michelina's finished, at least for the time being. Off for some long-delayed downtime, back Thursday. See you then.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
"The author's fading fast," said Michelina.

"It's 25 degrees Celcius on the street at 11:30pm and 35 degrees Celcius in his cramped office," said Monkey. "No wonder he's falling asleep."

"He's not going to be very comfortable sleeping on the keyboard," said the stuffed tiger, rat, shark and assorted cat substitutes perched on top of the monitor. "Why doesn't he just go home?"

"He won't sleep," chimed in the Incredible Talking Cats all the way from downtown. "He'll just toss, turn, get up at 2am to eat raw broccoli out of the fridge, and end up copy-correcting your adventures."

"All 125 pages of them!" cried the knights.

"How did that happen?" inquired Lady Genevra. "Weren't we originally supposed to be a picture book for children? With only minimal text?"

All the friends scratched their heads.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Someone writes to alert me to a handy piece of shareware called Audiograbber.
This Just In:

"'The people who do this suspend the normal rules of society,' says Dr. Jerry M. Lewis, a sociology professor at Kent State University who has studied fan behavior. 'Normally, you don't walk around dressed as Chewbacca or Darth Vader.'"

(thx Yahoo News)
ART (Aesthetically Rejected Thing): EMI Canada Copy Controlled "CDs"

My brand new legally purchased Pet Shop Boys "Pop Art" 2CD-set won't play on my office computer's music player of choice, only on EMI's proprietory, bug-ridden automatically installing "copyright control" software, which won't let me adjust the levels or any other setting to my liking. A glorified version of the Fisher-Price "record player" I once had as a kid.

"Please remember that this recording and artwork are protected by copyright law. Since you don't own the copyright, it's not yours to distribute." This despite the Canadian government's collecting a tax on MP3 players, CD-R blanks, etc. to compensate artists for any sales lost as a result of digital distribution. To say nothing of my not wanting to distribute the copyrighted material in the first place, but merely to enjoy it, as was promised by EMI's deceptive packaging.

To my mind, this is a little like me refusing to sell someone a new book, on the grounds that it's possible for them to photocopy the text after leaving the premises.

I look forward in my lifetime to buying a CD direct from Chris and Neil, artists I admire and support, without the dubious "help" of the useless folks at EMI.

Fortunately, BitTorrent and Limewire have helped me re-acquire that which I have already paid for.
Q: What's with all the pseudonyms?

A: Private relationships aren't public property. Current ones can be negotiated (thus SGB, sending thumbnails of East Kilbride, prefaces the pictures with a note saying, these don't constitute an "official release," please don't post them...). But other folks are owed a measure of privacy.
ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Vladimir Cosma's Sentimental Walk, from Diva

I saw Diva years ago in high school, at the Ridge, with Ms. G., as one half of a double bill.

I don't remember much of the film now, with the exception of a very slow sequence set in Paris in the early morning, the streets wet from the night before and unattended fountains spouting off into space.

Solo piano in behind, the notes spaced very carefully. I think of my mom taking glasses from the dish washer, drying each one, and then placing them gently back in the cupboard.

To Seattle and Cle Elum on Wednesday, for a long think and a cup of coffee, the Pet Shop Boys' new 2CD mix set Back to Mine accompanying me in the car.

Up Snoqualime Pass in the late afternoon, sun slantwise on the cedars at the side of the road.

I pulled out to pass a loaded semi laboring up the hill, and Cosma's piece began. Music I had not heard for almost fifteen years, but which I'd apparently remembered all this time, note for note.

A brief moment of absolute temporal suspension.

The way certain scents and colors call us back.
Here's a short review from this week's Straight, one I'm not embarrassed to have written, of an exhibition curated by former Canadian Alpine Journal editor and contemporary photography collector Andrew Gruft. I would like to have as much energy as Gruft and his partner, photohistorian/photo collector Claudia Beck, apparently do, when I'm their age.

This is an excellent show, one I probably wouldn't have seen if I hadn't been asked to review it. There's lots of dull pretentious architecture-speak in the catalog, which makes most contemporary art writing look like Ernest Hemingway by comparison. Fortunately, though, you don't have to read the catalog as I had to; you can just drop into the Belkin and spend as long as you want with the innovative maquettes and proposals on display.

Patkau Architects' Strawberry Vale Elementary School really is an amazing building, one that I, a non-architect, respond to on a totally intuitive level. Something to do with material collage and those big undressed timber beams, which remind me of the late-50s West Coast BC-via-early 50s Los Angeles Case Study Homes aesthetic that I saw so much of in the 1970s, growing up in West Vancouver.

Substance Over Spectacle: Contemporary Canadian Architecture
Curated by Andrew Gruft. At the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery until June 5

Curated by retired UBC architecture professor Andrew Gruft, Substance Over Spectacle is a complex survey of the recent work of 27 critically acclaimed Canadian architectural firms. Projects range from major West Coast public buildings (Hotson Bakker/KPMB’s Richmond City Hall; Patkau Architects’ Strawberry Vale elementary school near Victoria) to private Atlantic Canadian homes (MacKay-Lyons’s Nova Scotia coast houses), as well as more speculative projects that flirt with aspects of landscape architecture and civic planning (Pierre Thibault’s lyrical Winter Gardens, which recall the work of Scottish artist Andy Goldsworthy, or George Yu’s multilevel alteration of Richmond’s orderly grid of suburban streets).

Each architectural firm is represented at the Belkin gallery through a written project description and an architectural maquette or other documentation. Patkau Architects’ Strawberry Vale school is depicted by several sculptural maquettes—one detailing the innovative, light-drenched building’s massing on the site, the other providing a more comprehensive view of the interlocking planes and wooden “fins” that make the school so distinctive from afar—as well as a series of well-composed photographs of its interior halls. Similarly, an intricately detailed model of Henriquez Partners’ BC Cancer Research Centre is lit from within, and its petri dish–shaped windows glow like stained-glass tondos.

Hotson Bakker’s award-winning Richmond City Hall is also a standout. Its long terraces are adorned with running water and native plantings that refer to the dikes that lift Richmond out of the sea, and to the agricultural lands disappearing under waves of new condos and single-family homes.

Other firms document their projects in more experimental ways. Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg’s Janus-faced Le Quartier Concordia appears in a video portrait that presents quick glimpses of the building’s façade, juxtaposed with street-level, time-lapse portraits of Montreal pedestrians and vehicles passing by the construction site.

This simple project paradoxically provides a multilayered analysis of the social space the building inhabits. The video is also immediately accessible and compulsively watchable, a nice change of pace from the dense and unengaging work of more theoretically inclined architects like Calgary’s Marc Boutin, the creator of a loud, obnoxious, and socially estranging “multimedia portrait” of an Edmonton theatre renovation. On the day I visited, the Boutin project’s bright lights and annoying soundtrack of white noise made it almost impossible to focus on other works nearby. My instinctive dislike of Boutin’s work only mounted after studying his dull, jargon-laden writing in the exhibition catalogue (“anticipatory infrastructure”, “open-ended, non-prescriptive spatial matrix”, etc.).

Fortunately, as projects like Hotson Bakker’s Richmond City Hall and Patkau Architects’ Strawberry Vale school elegantly prove, theoretical complexity and functionality are not mutually exclusive. As Gruft’s exhibition makes clear, most ambitious Canadian architects maintain a strong interest in site and context, one that only deepens their intellectual engagement with critical or theoretical issues.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Caption installed by Pulpfiction manager Chris Clarke on the door to the (overflowing) storeroom for my car-camping gear, surplus shirts, climbing equipment, & etc.:

"Part Time Traveller
by Christopher Brayshaw
Mixed-media sculpture and found object art
2002-present, ongoing

Editing 120-odd typed pages far away from books, phones and aesthetic images. Back Thursday. (Fake palm tree photo credit: Ron Terada, from his new show at Catriona Jeffries Gallery. Short review written, edited, and forthcoming in the Globe and Mail on Friday). Posted by Hello

Joel Meyerowitz, NYC, West 46th Street, 1976. Meyerowitz has made some terrible coffee table book pictures in his lifetime, but his complex New York City street scenes aren't among them. This is my favorite of his street photographs, both for the gestures animating it, and its dispersal of written language through space. Walker Evans' spirit hovers restlessly over this image in the best possible way. Posted by Hello
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Special Guest Columnist Jamie Tolagson traces an all-too-familiar "aesthetic progression":

"Star Wars to X-Men, X-Men to Watchmen, Watchmen to 'painted comics,' painted comics to Klimt, Klimt to Schiele, Schiele to Shahn, Shahn to Basquiat, Basquiat to Twombly, Twombly to HEY. Wait a minute. Where the hell am I? There aren't any X-Men around here."

All The Little Live Things' Jamie Tolagson confirms my belief that Revenge of The Sith is best described as, "Two and a half hours of my life that I'll never have back":

"I've struggled for years to articulate a few of the ideas you've thrown out so casually in your post. Especially the last bit about these sorts of entertainments being the first step for many kids in becoming interested in the structure of things like art, storytelling, music, whatever.

Unfortunately, I can't think of a worse place for kids to start their education in these things then the new Star Wars films.

My main problem with the new films is not their almost impossibly awful writing, acting and effects (baffling given the scale of the moviemaking machine Lucas has at his disposal). What bothers me is their almost complete lack of atmosphere, something I rarely hear critics commenting on. The films seem to take place in a virtual world devoid of natural light sources. The light source for most scenes seems to be, well, nothing. Everything seems modelled in 3 evenly lit dimensions, even the actors. Nothing is half seen, no background is (perish the thought!) out of focus. Nothing is alluded to. Everything is perfectly present, perfectly lighted. Everything is there, nothing left out, and therefore there is nothing left for the audience to do. Lucas has said that the making of the original films was a frustrating experience for him, because he couldn't make things look exactly how he wanted them to look. I guess it's never occured to him that letting the audience fill in some of his blanks was part of the power of those films.

I like the fact that artists can never quite make things look exactly how they want. I don't think perfection is a very stimulating state, for artist or viewer. The new films seem to prove this.

There are some wonderfully naturalistic, moody moments in the original films. Luke staring yearningly at the twin suns of his home planet, the lens of the camera zoomed in to the point of distortion on the suns, atmospheric haze distorting them as they drop below the horizon. John Williams' score is particularly beautiful here, and the imagery feels more like 'Lawrence of Arabia' then 'Buck Rogers.'

Luke, Ben and the droids cruising Mos Eisley in the landspeeder, everything covered in an authentic (because real) coating of dust and wear. A strong sense of a not too friendly place that has existed for a very long time (Ruined, incidentally, in the re-release, by the inclusion of several newish looking droids that look as out of place as a couple of G5 computers sitting in a thrift shop).

Yoda lifting Luke's fighter from the swamp, then expressing his doubt over Luke's faith in the force. A great scene, drenched in atmosphere and feeling. Yoda's facial expressions utterly convincing, even though he is only (gasp) a lowly puppet. Lucas seems especially proud of the fact that Yoda is now a computer character, not a puppet, but I would challenge anyone to find a scene with Yoda in the new films where he seems as real and believable as in this scene.

Luke fighting his way through the snow drifts of Hoth, half-hallucinating a vision of Ben that transforms into Han astride a snow beast. A scene so minimal and moody that the new Lucas would shriek in horror.

There is no silence in the new films. No moments of rest. No time to contemplate anything that is happening. You were right when you said the films are cultural phenomenons and therefore somewhat beyond criticism. The difference is, the original series was also a series of films. Good or bad films is up for debate, but they were films and could be discussed as such.

I believe people want to see things that were filmed. I don't care that Yoda is a muppet in the original films, because I know that a muppet exists, and that at one point in time a camera was aimed at that muppet and human beings worked that muppet and made some sort of magic happen with it.

Perhaps that is part of what we marvelled at in the original films, the fact that human beings were making something magical happen with puppets, props and toy models. Those tools are gone now, made passe by the advent of CGI, which, to my eyes looks like what it is: a graphic simulation of something that never happened. One could say that the original films effects never happened either, but that's not true. They did happen. Almost every effect that you see in those films happened at one time in real space, in the world we live in. The X-wings were filmed flying through that trench, and that trench existed. The ships were models, and the trench was only about twenty feet long, but that's not the point. I believe that human beings sense the difference between things that happened and things that did not. So when I say the new films lack atmosphere, I mean it in both senses of the word."

Saturday, May 21, 2005
Bacterial Remixes of CD-Audio: Nick Cave, Soft Cell, & etc.

No kidding.

"The Molecular Media Project is principally concerned with exploiting polymer and colloidal nano-agglomeration or biotechnology to control optical nonlinearity for new media applications. Digital data in the form of (i) still image, (ii) text, (iii) motion pictures and (iv) sound have all been modified at the micro/nanoscale. This research overlaps chemistry, physics, microbiology, computer science, mathematics, engineering and performance art and design. Molecular computing with cells and atoms is also useful for changing the structure and properties of digital audio. Molecular computing is a signal processing tool that works at near atomic resolution. A sample set of contemporary music has been re-mixed using this method. The audio examples have not been edited in any way and were recorded as part of a live DJ set. Many of the recordings demonstrate frame-level sampling, mutation, cross-over, copying, distortion and extinction events that act to attenuate, replicate or recombine elements in the original recording into new sub-sets of digital information. Therefore, molecular computing is a practical use of nanotechnology for generating glitch and error. However, it differs from traditional cut-and-paste technique or granular synthesis by exploiting chaos, self-organisation and emergence at the resolution limit of the digital bits that make-up sound! Each sample file is available in 30 second streaming MP3 audio. These tracks are posted here for research purposes only, and are not intended for personal download, reproduction or public performance. Copyright belongs with the author, owner or respective nominee."
A Long Time Ago...

Possibly summer 1977, though I don't remember for sure, and haven't consulted with other family members, all of them currently being away out of town.

My parents loaded us into our red and white Volkswagen seven passenger bus and drove downtown to the Capitol 6 on Granville Street to see a first-run "family film." To put things into perspective, in my family, the chances of this happening were about as good as the chances of a small asteroid ploughing into Georgia and Granville at rush hour.

Packed theatre. Lots of hyperactive kids. Still not too clear on what kind of picture we were about to see.

Twentieth-Century Fox searchlight logo. John Williams' sweeping score. The crawl. And then my first glimpse of an Imperial Star Destroyer, emerging from the top of the screen, and continuing on and on, its dull grey hull studded with windows, lights, communications gizmos, pod bay doors, etc.

A spaceship as long as West Vancouver? Mental crack for a socially maladjusted seven year old.

Repeat viewing (six or seven times, including the re-release with a not totally credulous SGB a few years back). Comic books. Kenner action figures (Storm Troopers; Boba Fett; C3P0). The Story of Star Wars narrative 33 1/3 record. A pretty convincing imitation of Darth Vader's creepy breathing (in the Volkswagen's back seat, on the way to elementary school, too many times to count). And lots of bad handmade "science fiction novels" (6-8 pages of double spaced handwriting, cardstock covers, stapled or bound wraps, pencil crayon cover art), though to my credit these weren't stories about the Star Wars characters, nor even thinly-disguised substitutes, but original stories, albeit ones as poorly plotted and characterized as the movie itself, thus proving that the distance between George Lucas' imagination and that of a bright, creatively unfocused seven year old boy wasn't so far at all.

SGB and I saw the first two prequels on video, with varying degrees of patience (none whatsoever for CGI-generated Walking Racial Stereotype).

I lined up last night on Granville Street in the rain, with Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye.

The logo, soundtrack, and crawl gave me goosebumps, but the rest of the film left me strangely unaffected. CGI effects, CGI effects, terrible stiff dialogue, exposition, exposition, establishing shot of spaceship dropping into CGI landscape, Jedi knights, Senate, civil war, dark side of the Force, Yoda, robots, spooky prophecy, backstory, backstory, CGI effects, robots, dark side of the Force, foreshadowing, foreshadowing, yadda yadda yadda.

The New Yorker's Anthony Lane really, really hated this film. His review in this week's issue is spectacularly bad-tempered and abrasive, an excellent bad review, marred only by his unwillingness to see that the object of his scorn is not a film per se, but a cultural phenomena, which is perhaps exempt from criticism in the same way that legends are, or glaciers.

Lane says:

"Whether the director is aware of John Martin, the Victorian painter who specialized in the cataclysmic, I cannot say, but he has certainly inherited that grand perversity, mobilized it in every frame of the film, and thus produced what I take to be unique: an art of flawless and irredeemable vulgarity. All movies bear a tint of it, in varying degrees, but it takes a vulgarian genius such as Lucas to create a landscape in which actions can carry vast importance but no discernible meaning, in which style is strangled at birth by design, and in which the intimate and the ironic, not the Sith, are the principal foes to be suppressed. It is a vision at once gargantuan and murderously limited, and the profits that await it are unfit for contemplation."

Which is pretty accurate, so far as it goes.

What Lane doesn't consider is that this stuff is perfectly appropriate for a seven year old imagination, and may inspire better stuff in turn (I'm not the only person my age whose initial impulse to make things -- stories, drawings, films -- was motivated by Lucas' unwieldy franchise). I think the path from bad art to good art -- George Lucas to Georg Lukacs, say -- is an honest and straightforward one, one walked more frequently than my friends in the academy might admit (I also wonder if some of them might have Boba Fett drawings of their own in the closet, and, if so, how much fun they had making them. Not much, is my guess).
Friday, May 20, 2005
ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Those windmilling drums opening Mr. Nick Lowe's (You've Gotta Be) Cruel to Be Kind.
Thursday, May 19, 2005

Deep depression. West Coast Express to Mission under huge looming skies. Showers on the Coquitlam Central platform, and rain in earnest crossing the Pitt River, turbid water moving below. Dru picked me up in Mission and we drove on to Chilliwack through curtains of rain, dru focused on his upcoming Smith Rocks trip & me on my own anxieties and unease, going through Michelina and the last decade of my "career" and finding both wanting.

Thai dinner in downtown Chilliwack, rain in earnest now.

Walking home along Old Yale Road, cars approaching with their lights on.

A night on dru's floor under thin sheets. Rain overnight, sunlight green through sucker holes in the rumpled morning sky. A wet wool blanket shaken out over the Cheam Range.

Swaying Greyhound into downtown Langley.

Roseanne Cash's Seven Year Ache on Corporate Thrift Store radio as I loaded Terry Pratchett pocketbooks into my red plastic basket.

Depression unleavened by these things, but I'll miss them when I go.

Crop Circle Sanrio courtesy dru. Intelligent life has good design sense!

Seven Year Ache
Words and music by Roseanne Cash

You act like you were just born tonight
Face down in a memory but feeling all right
So who does your past belong to today?
Baby, you don't say nothing when you're feeling this way

The girls in the bars thinking, "Who is this guy?"
But they don't think nothing when they're telling you lies
You look so careless when they're shooting that bull
Don't you know heartaches are heroes when their pockets are full

Tell me you're trying to cure a seven-year ache
See what else your old heart can take
The boys say, "When is he gonna give us some room"
The girls say, "God I hope he comes back soon"

Everybody's talking but you don't hear a thing
You're still uptown on your downhill swing
Boulevard's empty, why don't you come around?
Baby, what is so great about sleeping downtown?

Splitting your dice to be someone you're not
You say you're looking for something you might've forgot
Don't bother calling to say you're leaving alone
'cause there's a fool on every corner when you're trying to get home

Just tell 'em you're trying to cure a seven-year ache
See what else your old heart can take
The boys say, "When is he gonna give us some room"
The girls say, "God I hope he comes back soon"

Tell me you're trying to cure a seven-year ache
See what else your old heart can take
The boys say, "When is he gonna give us some room"
The girls say, "God I hope he comes back soon"Posted by Hello
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Urban Camera Obscura

To Emily Carr, the "outside judge" for this year's grad show awards. No shortage of good work on display (Rachelle Sawatsky's projection; Shan Powell's Smithsonian glass cube of False Creek seawater and toxic sediment; Matt Sinclair's goofy cartoon reformulations of late-50s "expressive" gestural painting; Kristi Malakoff's trompe-l'oeil "orchard" of fake fruit trees and paper birds, literally springing off the bird-patterned wallpaper serving as its backdrop). But the real surprise came after lunch, when our administrative assistant pointed out Matthew Griffin's circular camera obscura on the hill above the hotel.

Up the steep grass slope in the windy afternoon, and up the shaky painted metal stairs (diving board steps, pinched from some local pool?). A huge silver circle, shaped like the world's biggest can of tuna, with small portholes in its side. The door creaked. We wiggled in and tugged it shut behind us.

A panorama on the interior walls. The world inverted. False Creek's huge glass towers, thunderheads massing along the North Shore mountains, green inverted trees, rocking right to left in the wind. Buses passing along the undersides of bridges. Wind blowing in steady gusts, the structure rocking a little in the wind. All of us glancing nervously around as the wind gently shook us, like kittens in a mother cat's mouth.

Thanks, Matthew Griffin!
Patkau Architects Inc. -- included in Andrew Gruft's massive Canadian architecture exhibition at the Belkin Gallery (review forthcoming). My command of architectural theory is pretty limited, but I'm a long-term admirer of their Seabird Island School and Strawberry Vale Elementary School (scroll down through the 'projects' link for images of both). I first saw Seabird Island returning from a climbing trip at twilight: a huge building, its "wings" unfolding against the green mountains like a heron's in the failing light. I catch some echoes of 80s-era Frank Gehry in their incongruous juxtapositions of wood against metal, angle against angle, etc., but these jarring formal shifts always seem related to the site in unanticipated and subtle ways (eg., Seabird Island's "wings" echoing the mountain skyline behind).
Monday, May 16, 2005
All The Little Live Things -- live from Powell River, Constant Reader Jamie Tolagson

Untitled painting by Brad Phillips, from a title originally purchased at Pulpfiction. Don't make the mistake of typing instead of into your browser, the results aren't pretty. Posted by Hello
Secret Garden

Right at the edge of Kingsgate Mall, possibly the most decrepit shopping mall in all of Western Canada, lovingly referred to by locals as, "Hellsgate." Caramel-and-russet 70s theme; liquor store, rental furniture outfit, Bargain Land, great huge echoing space full of retail fixtures where the Saan store used to be; pimp- and ho- shop; Radio Shack; Dollar Land; card tables left over from the weekend's big Yui-Gi-Oh tourmanent.

But outside, on the far side of the parking lot: rhododendrons (blossoming), irises (ditto), fresh bark mulch, long wild grasses and native shrubs. A little hidden garden, decrepit and usually full of guys passed out in the undergrowth, but beautiful in the spring after rain.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Mr. Thomas Dolby -- 80s electro-musician par excellence, composer of the sublime One of Our Submarines.

One of Our Submarines
Words and music by Thomas Dolby

One of our submarines is missing tonight
Seems she ran aground on manoeuvres

A hungry heart
To regulate their breathing
One more night
the Winter Boys are freezing in their spam time
The Baltic moon
Along the northern seaboard
And down below
The Winter Boys are waiting for the storm

Bye-bye empire, empire bye-bye
Shallow water - channel and tide

And I can trace my history
Down one generation to my home
In one of our submarines
One of our submarines

The red light flicker, sonar weak
Air valves hissing open
Half her pressure blown away
Flounder in the ocean
See the Winter Boys
Drinking heavy water from a stone

Bye-bye empire, empire bye-bye
Shallow water - channel and tide
Bye-bye empire, empire bye-bye
Tired illusion drown in the night

And I can trace my history
Down one generation to my home
In one of our submarines
One of our submarines
One of our submarines

One of our submarines is missing tonight
Seems she ran aground on manoeuveres
One of our submarines
Yet another book from childhood: Holling Clancy Holling's Paddle-to-the-sea. My dad's favorite book as a child. Terrific watercolor paintings, and dozens of little marginal drawings that remind me of the cartoon map of Canada placemats at North Vancouver's Tomahawk Grill.

"The boy looked at Paddle lashed by fish line above his bunk. Wave and wind had worn him smooth and there was little of his second coat of paint left. But he still smiled, and the boy liked his smile. It made Paddle look as though he had seen many things and understood them all.

'A long journey, you have made,' the boy would say. 'Now you are on a ship. Do you hear the wind in the rigging? Do you feel the roll of the waves? Do you know that you are sailing across a great ocean to France? Are you not surprised?'"
Grey rain showers moving through, the North Shore lost this morning behind a wall of water. Fantails kicking up behind the buses. A miniature Grand Canyon, cut by the weather overnight in the sewer crew's West End excavation.
The Vocoder -- innovative speech synthesizer powering the Pet Shop Boys' London, Neil Young's Sample and Hold, and that obnoxious Cher song on high repeat on Corporate Thrift Store radio.
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Michelina 1, Thing 0

Michelina cried out, surprised, and fell backwards, the painting coming with her, and tumbled to the floor, knocking over a wastebasket and an umbrella stand as she went. Surprised voices from the other room. Running footsteps. She tore free of the ruined canvas and squeezed into a dark little crevice between the desk and the wall. Don't breathe, she told herself, don't so much as breathe.

All the lights in the office flickered on.

"I'm sure I heard someone," said one of the policemen.

"So did I," said the Thing in its oily museum director's voice. "Look over here."

"This painting's been damaged."

"There's blood on the wall," said a third policeman.

"Really," said the Thing. "What on earth from?"

"I don't get it," said another policeman. "It's almost like someone was trying to throw themself through the painting into the wall. Which makes no sense at all."

"Mmm," said the Thing, closer now. Michelina drew her knees up against her chest. The Thing's black shoes and sharply pressed grey pants appeared in the gap between desk and wall. The Thing squatted, bringing its torso and its horrible face into view. "The door's open," it said smoothly in its director's voice, widening its jaws and exposing its grey double-row of shark's teeth. "I'll see you out. If you go now you'll be able to catch her on the stairs." Locking eyes with Michelina it raised a long white finger to its lips, then stood again, moving quickly out of sight.

Michelina could scarcely breathe. It's going to lead them away, and then come back and kill me.

That finger on its lips.

Why doesn't it want me to speak?

So they won't know I'm here.


They'll protect me. To them I'm just a silly kid.

Keep it off balance. Don't do what it expects you to.

Michelina screamed.

A rush of footsteps. The Thing's face dropped into view again, its features contorted in an expression of unbelievable rage, but it did not say a word. It can't, she realized, or it'll give the whole game away. It's trapped! She screamed again, feeling more in control of the situation with every passing second.
Friday, May 13, 2005
Or, for example, the twenty seconds of time changes opening The Boston Rag.
An explaination of sorts, for those who accused me of having no theory. See also Kelley Walker, Sturtevant, and The Culture of the Copy:

Sample and Hold
Words and music by Neil Young

Hair: Blonde
Eyes: Blue
Weight: 110
Disposition: Even
Mood Code: Rotary Adjustable

I need a unit to sample and hold
But not the angry one
A new design, new design.

I need a unit to sample and hold
But not the lonely one
A new design, new design.

I need a unit to sample and hold
But not the lonely one
A new design, new design.

Sample and hold.

We'll send it out right away
Satisfaction guaranteed.
Please specify
The color of skin and eye
We know you'll be happy.

Don't hesitate to give us a call
We know you'll be satisfied
When you energize
And see your unit come alive
We know you'll be happy.

I need a unit to sample and hold
But not the lonely one,
the lonely one,
the lonely one
Sample and hold.

Perfection in every detail
Fabricated from
the curl of the hair
To the tip of the nail
Because our units never fail
We know you'll be happy.

I need a unit to sample and hold.

Don't hesitate to give us a call
We know you'll be satisfied
When you energize
And see your unit come alive
We know you'll be happy.

I need a unit to sample and hold.

We know you'll be happy
We know you'll be happy
We know you'll be happy.

But not the lonely one
A new design, new design
Perfection in every detail
Sample and hold.
North Surrey Lions Club Sale @ 9am (Surrey Place Mall), followed by a hopscotching route from Corporate Thrift Store to Corporate Thrift Store, to use up all of my expiring-at-tomorrow-midnight 30% discount coupons.

Lunch at a tiny cafe on Clarke Street, Port Moody, opposite the rail tracks. $5.95 for a huge multigrain roll stuffed with wild smoked salmon, capers, red onions, & etc. Flat grey light on Eagle Ridge's forested hummocks, and on the green trees across the rail tracks from our table.

A Muzak version of "What A Shame About Me."

A whole ledger page of sales in my absence.

Cold Okanagan Spring Pale Ale in the fridge.

Light rain peppering the sidewalk after dark.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
All the ultrasound was normal, ditto the blood test, ECG, urine & etc. Later on in the grey morning I waited at the bus stop opposite Benny's Bagels for the #9. An erratically flying crow caught my attention. This crow had a big stick in its jaws, and would climb, drop the stick, dive, roll, catch it in mid-air, ascend, and drop it again. I've seen other animals playing before, but never crows. I gawked, and the crow swooped and rolled on down Broadway, totally oblivious to me.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Narrative as Landscape -- excellent paper by Bob Hughes, found today at wood s lot.

"'War and Peace' really is a landscape, and the text Tolstoy has given us is simply a route he found through it; his other works traverse different parts of the same landscape, by different routes, of different lengths.

I certainly get a similar experience from all Tolstoy novels - and indeed from all Tolstoy sentences. Which is not unlike one's experience of walks in a real-world landscape: whether it's an afternoon stroll or a whole day on the peaks, you still get the 'Snowdonia experience.' What's more, Tolstoy behaves as if he is in a landscape. He is famously apt to indulge in what we call 'digressions,' where he 'leaves the main path' of the tale to explore some philosophical or historical issue at length - just like some good mountain guide who takes you off the track for a while to show you some ruins, or an interesting geological structure, or a fantastic view, or to pick bilberries. (And he shares this tendency with just about every other story teller, from Milton - king of the extended metaphor - to stand-up comics like Eddie Izzard, to you or me). This tendency makes it very hard for a 'path-centric' narratologist to write a rule for writing Tolstoy novels: like trying to program an anti-aircraft gun to shoot down flies."

CJB: Hi, I'm calling about your used Ford.

UFAV: What?

CJB: The used car you're advertising for sale. This number's posted in its back window.

UFAV: It is?

CJB: Yes. Can you answer some questions for me about the car, please?

UFAV: It's $900. But let's make a deal.

CJB: What year is the car?

UFAV: Ah...uh...1994.

CJB: How many kilometers does it have?

UFAV: I don't know. It's a good deal!

CJB: Anything wrong with it? Rust...accidents?

UFAV: There's a leak.

CJB: Where?

UFAV: In the transmission. Listen, I give you my mechanic's number, OK? He will tell you.

CJB: About the leak.

UFAV: Right, right. [Gives long distance number].

CJB: This number is, uh...

UFAV: In Edmonton.

CJB: In Edmonton.

UFAV: Right, right. Listen, you and I, we make a deal, okay? $400. Whatever you want to pay.

CJB: Well, I'd like to, uh, see the car first, and maybe take it for a test drive.

UFAV: Ah. The car is not working.

CJB: Not working.

UFAV: No. Not today. It will not start. But the battery is new! [Pause] $200, okay?
Day off today, departing in a second for somewhere far from books. Two quick notes:

1. Apologies to Internet Explorer users, who reported yesterday's Alice Notley quote uncharacteristically gibbled. Now fixed.

2. That's SGB on that Air Canada 767, not me. She's off to a month's residency in "Polo Mint City" -- East Kilbride, Scotland. Business as usual for the Incredible Talking Cats and I: wash the dishes; dump the garbage; test drive every <$2000 beater in the neighborhood; ignore the City of Vancouver Sewer Department crew who fired up their drills and backhoes outside my open bedroom window this morning at 7:50am.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005

"Enjoy Scotland," say the Incredible Talking Cats. "Don't forget us." Posted by Hello
Mr. John Latta quotes Ms. Alice Notley: "I wanted to be clear, and not consciously innovative in language: I had done that before in discussing poetry and probably will do so again, but I didn’t want to make, as much as to serve. However, I did want to invent a viewpoint in each instance according to what was required, that is, to see what was there without a predetermined terminology or logic getting in the way. Any contemporary poem or poet deserves to be approached without preconception. If it’s of now, who knows what it is?" Those first and last sentences sat me bolt-upright, so I poked around in the Buffalo archives while finishing my decaf, discovering Ms. N's amazing clarity for myself:

"I'll look up 'love' in the dictionary. They're beautiful.
Bodily they're incomprehensible. I can't tell if they're
me or not. They think I'm their facility. We're all about
as comprehensible as the crocuses. In myself I'm like a
color except not in the sense of a particular one. That's
impossible. That's under what I keep trying out. With
which I can practically pass for an adult to myself. Some
of it is pretty and useful, like when I say to them
'Now will I take you for a walk in the snow to the store'
and prettily and usefully we go. Mommy, the lovely
creature. You should have seen how I looked last night,
Bob Dylan Bob Creeley Bob Rosenthal Bob on Sesame Street.
Oh I can't think of any other Bobs right now. garbage.
It perks. Thy tiger, thy night are magnificent,

it's ten below zero deep deep down deep in my abdomen.
It pulls me up and leads me about the house. It's got the
sun in the morning and the moon at night. It does
anything in the world of particulars without wanting.
The anyone careless love sees that everything goes, minds.
The melody was upsidedown, now the melody turns over.
One note: my feet go."

Constant Reader Jamie Tolagson sends along Jen Sorensen's Accidental Hipsters, provoking the first real laugh of the day. That guy in panel #4 undoubtedly has a stash of old Nilsson records and Bantam Gold Medal paperbacks ("Just kind of liked them...never really was one to throw anything away...") out in the barn.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Burnaby reader Reiko Tagami emerges from the woodwork:

"Up until now I've refrained from emailing, but your mention of The Three Investigators rocked my world. I too read them in elementary school -- we had some in our school library here in Burnaby, and then some family friends gave me a beginning collection for Christmas one year.

I wanted to BE Jupiter Jones or Pete Crenshaw, or the third guy (Tom? I forget his name) with glasses. There were many times I regretted the fact that my parents did not own a junkyard in which my friends and I could construct a secret lair with five secret entrances.

Among other things, The Three Investigators taught me about rhyming slang, and Waltzing Matilda -- the first time I'd ever seen the lyrics in print.

I wanted so much to be The Three Investigators, that in Grade 2 I convinced my two best friends -- neither of whom read the books -- to form a private investigation firm with me. We called ourselves 'The Private Eyes' -- how creative was that? -- and the graphics teacher at the high school where my dad taught printed us up a bunch of business cards with our company name and a big eye in the middle.

We even had one case. The enrichment teacher at our school hired us to solve 'The Case of the Missing Soldering Iron.' He drew us a bad sketch of a soldering iron and tried to explain what it was used for. We never found it. But I remembered it fondly whenever we did electronics in Grade 8 IE."


One last title: Russell Hoban's Mouse and His Child (1967), illustrated by Lillian Hoban, which I did not read as a child, but as a 20-something adult in Elliot B. Gose's kids' lit class at UBC in the early 1990s. My favorite children's book of all time, which includes a sophisticated parody of Beckett's Endgame as performed by a troupe of talking animals, many strongly-rendered depictions of nature, and a powerful child's-eye view of the world unmatched by any other kids' book I know. The currently in-print version has tasteful illustrations by an artist whose name I almost immediately forgot; Lillian Hoban's illustrations are absolutely essential to Russell Hoban's text, and the book is diminished without them.

Russell Hoban: "The Mouse and His Child was a book in which I had an idea from a toy. When I wrote the book these were almost impossible to obtain, but the same company made a number of other toys of similar type and I used a clown-juggler for a stand in. At that time, I lived in Wilton, Connecticut, by a pond in which there were snapping turtles and dragonflies and frogs and all kinds of things. And I had a little pond aquarium in my study in which I had for a time small catfish and a snapping turtle and various kinds of larvae. And I had the clown-juggler standing in the bottom getting rusty with his clothes coming off and so forth. And I actually saw the dragonfly nymph metamorphose out of that aquarium and fly out of my window. A remarkable thing to see." Posted by Hello
Dru writes to remind me to include John D. Fitzgerald's Great Brain series in my children's lit shout-outs. Six or seven novels, set in rural Utah in the late 1800s and early 1900s, illustrated by Mercer Mayer. A kind of rugged companion to Little House on the Prairie, a surprisingly unsentimentalized account of Gentile life in a Mormon town, leavened with quick humor and the inventive moneymaking schemes of John's older brother Tom, "the Great Brain." In one story, Tom is asked to spade the garden. He proceeds to hide a tin can of "treasure" in the garden, sections it off into quadrants, then charges the neighborhood kids a "treasure hunting fee" to look for it. Generous as usual, Tom even lets them bring their own shovels.
Just as I was finishing up the last post I heard stealthy footsteps outside the office door, which puzzled me, because a/ I closed at 7pm, and, b/ the front door was locked (or so I thought).

No green ghost, just Mel from Aurora Bistro next door, with a tupperware container full of homemade angelfood cupcakes, frosted with little caps of whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

As I recall, the ghost turns out to be cheesecloth suspended from a wire, and covered in luminous paint. But this rational explaination in no way stopped it from scaring the bejesus out of six- or seven- year old me. One of the novels actually written by Robert Arthur, an honest-to-god suspense writer vacationing as a children's novelist. The early Three Investigators stories nicely balance humor and moments of real menace, and are much better written than just about any other kids' series going.

(Ed Vebell cover art courtesy T3I, an excellent fan resource).

Apropos of all this nostalgia for grade school days, my pal and fellow children's-book collaborator Jamie Tolagson offers some T3I nostalgia of his own:

"I read every single one of those books at least twice in elementary school. I checked them out of the McCall, Idaho library again and again. The covers of some of them are still etched in my mind. I went back to McCall about 8 years ago and looked for them at the library. There they were, with my name still scrawled in the checkout card, only three or four names after it, and in some of them none!" Posted by Hello
Saturday, May 07, 2005
Jean Merrill's The Toothpaste Millionaire, another formative influence on yours truly, discovered one day in the Caulfeild Elementary school library. The equivalent of stumbling upon the Berkshire Hathaway Owner's Manual in second grade.

Unkindly but not inaccurately reviewed by Germantown Academy 5th Grade Super Reader John B.:

"This story is about a guy named Rufus. He starts to make a toothpaste business because he knows he will use math a lot in the business and Rufus is always good at math! He starts the business and sells the toothpaste at a very low price and before you know it, he's a millionaire. Everybody is buying Rufus' toothpaste because people realize the price of toothpaste in stores costs so much more then Rufus' toothpaste. He becomes very rich and famous but at the end of the book, he gives up and decides to retire and give the job over to his working buddy, Hector.

If I give this book a rating from 1 to 10, I would probably give it a 4 or 5. I really feel that it was not exciting at all. It was just boring!

I would not recommend this book to those who like exciting books. If you don't like exciting books and you like books where there is not much action then this would be the book for you!"

The Mad Scientists' Club of Mammoth Falls -- another children's series much beloved by dru and I, recalled to me today by my ultrasound technician. I've only read two of these (eg., both copies in the West Van Memorial Library), and was more than a little surprised to discover that more of them exist.
If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now

PHONE: Ring, ring.

CJB: Pulpfiction Books.

LONG DISTANCE CALLER: I'm calling about a book on your website.

CJB: Yes, which one is that?

LDC: [Monograph] by [artist name]. How much is it to ship to New York City, overnight?

CJB: Probably a lot. Let me find the book, weigh it, and call you back. What's your phone number?

LDC: 212-555-1234. But I need to know right now!

CJB: We have 3000-odd books online. I don't know where this one is, nor how much it weighs. Let me find it and call you back.

LDC: That's not good enough!

CJB (patience evaporating): Look, if you're desperate enough to be ordering this from me and not some sharpie New York dealer, a ten-minute wait isn't going to kill you.

LDC: With an attitude like that, you should be selling books here!

CJB: I wish I was, believe me.
Matt Stichnoth gets the goods on the Berkshire Hathaway 2005 Annual Meeting

"WARREN BUFFETT: Social Security was introduced in 1936-37. It was proposed as an insurance program as a way to get it passed. Transfer payments didn’t fly then. But Social Security is a transfer of wealth from productive people to non-productive people. I believe that anything that reduces Social Security payments below their current levels is a mistake.

Not everyone is wired the same way. Someone with an 85 IQ won’t do as well as someone who’s a genius. The Social Security system provides a minimum level of benefit to everyone, as long as they’ve worked.

There are a lot of ways to save, such as 401ks and IRAs. The way I’m wired, I wouldn’t have done as well if I’d been born in Bangladesh. People who’ve done well have an obligation to help those who haven’t. One thing to do would be to raise the payroll tax cap from $90,000. I wouldn’t want to do anything that might hurt the bottom 20%-30%. I don’t understand why the administration worries about the size of the deficit on 25 years when it doesn’t seem to care much about the size of the deficit now."

Someone writes to ask, "Which of Philip K. Dick's novels would you recommend?", adding, "I don't read a lot of science fiction."

A Scanner Darkly

Radio Free Albemuth

The Man in the High Castle

In Milton Lumky Territory

The Dark-Haired Girl

Puttering About in a Small Land

The Broken Bubble

I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon

Humpty Dumpty in Oakland


Divine Invasions,
Lawrence Sutin's excellent biography

This list includes some pretty obscure books. Ubik, Man, and Scanner are all in print as Vintage trade paperbacks. Radio Free Albemuth is a $10-15 pocket book from the used bookseller of your choice. The others are seriously OP and expensive when you do find them, but I'm not recommending them as a book dealer or collector, but as a reader. By and large these are "mainstream" -- non-SF -- novels unpublished during Dick's lifetime, unique in their tart appraisal of West Coast life in the late 1950s and 1960s. I'd put Milton Lumky and The Dark-Haired Girl up there with John Updike's Rabbit books in terms of their influence on me, definitive proof that literary realism is a pretty big yard to play in.

Striking a Blow for Complexity


I received email from [EDITOR] at [INTERNATIONAL ART MAGAZINE].

Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to review the exhibition for them. Their word limit is firm at 400 words, which is more of a glorified blurb than a review, and, in my judgement, more than a little embarrassing for a multi artist group exhibition. This is less space than that provided for a single artist show in the Georgia Straight, which itself is not exactly October magazine.

I hope that I will have the opportunity to write about exhibitions at [LOCAL ART EXHIBITION SPACE] at more length in the near future, and that you will continue to send me notices of upcoming exhibitions. But, after several unhappy experiences writing bad, forgettable "blurb reviews" for folks like Art on Paper and Canadian Art, I've come to conclude that I despise the format, and I'm not going to do it any more. 400 words on 4 or more artists is like a sweater on a poodle; both dog and onlookers are embarrassed.

Best, CJB."
Friday, May 06, 2005
ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K. Dick, my favorite novel of all time. Soon to be ruined beyond all repair by Richard Linklater's animated movie. Just found my well-worn Vintage Books trade paperback, hunting through the middens on my desk for the ultrasound clinic's address on Victoria Drive.

Dick wrote his share of hastily conceived and churned-out novels (The Crack in Space; Deus Irae, & etc.), but this heartbreaking book isn't one of them. A year or two ago, I gave a 45 minute talk on Dick at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (sadly unrecorded) as part of a panel on his work. I don't recall much of what I said, but I do remember being more lucid than usual, and claiming that Dick's use of commas was the single most important aspect of his work, with each comma signifying a slight conceptual or ontological shift in the track of a sentence. I still believe that; I learned a lot about language's inherent simplicity by reading Mr. Philip Kindred Dick.

From Scanner, a passage chosen by the random fall of pages:

"The surveillance, he thought, essentially should be maintained. And, if possible, by me. I should always be watching, watching and figuring out, even if I never do anything about what I see; even if I just sit there and observe silently, not seen: that is important, that I as a watcher of all that happens should be at my place.

Not for their sake. For mine.

Yeah, he amended, for theirs too. In case something happens, like when Luckman choked. If someone is watching -- if I am watching -- I can notice and get help. Phone for help. Bring assistance to them right away, the right kind.

Otherwise, he thought, they could die and no one would be the wiser. Know or even fucking care.

In wretched little lives like that, someone must intervene. Or at least mark their sad comings and goings. Mark and if possible permanently record, so they'll be remembered. For a better day, later on, when people will understand."
Thursday, May 05, 2005

Adam Harrison, Selbstportrait im Gerhard Richter's 7 Stehende Scheiben. From the 365 Sketches. Posted by Hello
A quiet day in the shop; I stood at the till and wrote the remaining 20-odd pages of Michelina in one gigantic push. Memories of university, page after page of longhand, my already creaky handwriting seriously slanted at the end.

The oldest fiction writer's workshop cliche in the world is the idea that "your characters will surprise you." Stephen King, in his excellent memoir On Writing, likens writing to digging up a fossil; you're never sure if you're going to excavate a wishbone or a tyrannosaur's hipbone. These last few days I feel like I've excavated a small house, a place which, apparently, I've been carrying around in my subconscious for months. So, yes, there are places where the characters surprised me, especially Michelina, and her resourcefulness in the face of a narrative which began as an illustrated picture book, of all things, then grew progressively more violent, expressionistic, and strange.

The last piece of fiction I actually completed was a not terribly well structured story called East Pacific Rise, which was promptly rejected by On Spec magazine, who had previously published a much less well written, but better structured story called Making History. I was still living in Kitsilano in my alley apartment, and working on my old kitchen table 386, so this would have been...1994? 1995? Long enough, at any rate, to consider the story-making mechanism in my head permanently broken, and to move on to art criticism, curating, and entrepreneurship. Part of the problem was peristent deep depression; that and the dumb belief that plot was subordinate to style, and that prose lines had to be worked like lines of lyric poetry, till they sang and sounded like Cormac McCarthy. Or Thomas Pynchon. Or Faulkner.

Those writers still retain a hold on me -- I can quote whole paragraphs of Gravity's Rainbow from memory, and not the funny stuff you'd expect, the limericks and off-color jokes, but the quieter passages, the descriptions of wartime London, or the men and women singing all across snowy England on Christmas Eve -- but somewhere along the line I started paying attention to a subtler kind of literary modernism -- first John Updike's Rabbit books, then Henry Green -- that achieves the same kind of stylistic innovation I admire in Pynchon and Faulkner, but without the thick veneer of symbolism and allusion. And read, again, writers I'd admired in childhood, Tove Jansson, Roald Dahl, and Robert Arthur (creator of the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series, which I devoured religiously as an elementary school kid) among them.

So: off to transcribe, and to edit. Dry spell snapped. Back soon.

Unsettled air yesterday at twilight, the western sky apocalyptic from the Royal Oak Skytrain platform, all black, massed thunderheads shot through with neon-pink veins, a sight no one would ever accept if submitted to judgement as a painting or photograph. Out drifting from cafe to cafe, 500 words in longhand in each. Earlier, through Mountain View Cemetery, rain threatening, crows circling and calling overhead, and red carnations bright against the long unmowed grass beside the graves. I was thinking -- still am, I guess -- of The Flooded Grave, and the way a skirt will crease, kneeling, and how that gesture pivots the body in space. The bus runs up Fraser Street, and I could hear the twang of the trolley wires as I walked. I imagined a young woman, maybe an office worker on Howe Street, buying flowers on her way home to her South Vancouver apartment, and stopping to place them on someone's grave. I don't know who that person is yet, or why her gesture's important, but it's an image I like, and I may try to do something with it.

The real surprise, though, was a long passage in Greil Marcus' Like a Rolling Stone, opened completely at random in Chapters Metrotown (in a vain attempt to reconvince myself that Mr. M. was neither memorable nor important, and that I therefore didn't have to bother reading him), on the Pet Shop Boys' remake of the Village People's stomping disco anthem, Go West. I wish I could quote this whole remarkable 1500-word passage at length, but a sentence or two will have to do: "As you listen, you hear history tearing the song to pieces - but the song will not surrender its body. At five minutes it seems to go on forever."Posted by Hello
Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A long grinding workday finally wound down, and a yellow legal pad exhausted, right hand cramped & spasming from the blue Bic stickpen permanently clenched between my fingers. Scouting in the suburbs or a late night widescreen b-movie? Hmm...

Off to Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle, a visually generous film with a good heart, which effortlessly quotes from Leone, the Matrix, Chuck Jones' Wile E. Coyote shorts, and zillions of other genre references I didn't catch. Physics and other earthly laws are violated so early and often that it's impossible to predict what's coming next. A Chinese harp that launches CGI daggers and screaming flying zombies at its foes; a secret kung-fu style that punches huge, Godzilla-style handprints into buildings; an unlikely blue collar couple who turn out to be the Bernd and Hilla Becher of the kung-fu world, & etc.

SGB and I kept punching each other on the shoulder the whole way through, pointing out favorite details.

"The hustle is a kind of dance." Posted by Hello
Monday, May 02, 2005
Hentai Origami -- Japanese anime porn ("hentai") meets Murakami-style superflat. These ingenious constructions don't tweak me the way, say, Louise Brooks' hairdo does, but they were still good for fifteen minutes or so of careful study. Check out the little orange robot with the wheel-of-Gouda head way down at the bottom of the page!
Into the home stretch on Michelina, only another 30 or 35 pages ( 4 or 5 days' work) to go and the first draft will finally be complete.

Local Award Winning Illustrated Kids' Book Publisher was in this afternoon to take reorders for the books we're sold out of, and to ask after the potentially figmentary manuscript. "Nearly done," I lied, dropping an elbow across the blizzard of yellow newsprint pages scattered beside the cash register, hoping he wouldn't look down.
Insert in My Obituary, Please

"When cornered & believably threatened, scream & strike out with all the anger & intelligence you can imagine."

-Kevin Davies, Pause Button
Sunday, May 01, 2005
Illustrated Children's Books Online -- lots to see at this slow to load but incredibly dense site.

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