Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday linkyloo

jwz - I, for one, welcome our new regular hexahedron-headed overlords I love this outfit. Love it. And you know I'd wear it, too.

Museum of Hoaxes: Floating Barn Eerie, and beautiful.

CNNMoney.com: social security short $13 trillion Makes me SO proud to be an American. We're officially going to hell in a handbasket.

unsecureflight.com: Read Your Own DHS Travel Dossier My question is, does requesting to see your file actually flag you as 'un-American, possible terrorist'?

stuff.co.nz: Police wiki lets you write the law Neat idea, allowing citizens to rewrite local laws online! Let's see if it actually works.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dr. Randy Pausch, Dream Factory on Legs

Neatorama: The Last Lecture This is my gift to you, dear (jaded) reader.

Pausch is a professor at Carnegie Mellon who has changed so many people's lives for the better, it's just staggering. And he's hilarious and ridiculously likable and dealing with pancreatic cancer. Instead of dwelling on the pathos of his situation, though, he gives an hour-and-a-half-long lecture about his childhood dreams, and about the fantastic twists and turns in his life which enabled him to realize those dreams. And then he talks about bringing other people's dreams to life, in terms of virtual reality and gaming and so forth (his areas of expertise). Just a ridiculous amount of incredibleness in one person.

I guess what's really stuck with me since I last watched his lecture a few days ago is his sense of perspective. This guy has clarity like you wouldn't believe, his heart's in the right place, and he makes things happen. He's really become my role model, in addition to my parents.

This isn't my typical linkyloo; this guy's standing alone in his own entry, because he really deserves all your attention. If you don't come away from his lecture a changed human, then...I don't know what. You probably drown kittens for fun, punch little old ladies, and rip out the final pages of murder mysteries in bookstores.

If you want to find out more about him, check out his site. He's all "Pshaw, I'm nuthin' special," but don't let him fool you. He's wily that way.

Wednesday linkyloo

Bob Dylan, Times Magazine Interview Pretentious douchebaggery is timeless.

Foreign Policy: End of the Line This is an incredible magazine, and this particular photo essay about shipyard salvage is fascinating.

The Sundays - Here's Where The Story Ends SUCH a great, lilting little ditty, perfect for driving through the countryside on a dreamy...Sunday.

Museum of Hoaxes: The Top 20 Most Bizarre Experiments of All Time Humans are weird, and not always in a good way. Definitely a fun read.

International Herald Tribune -- Next step in pirating: Faking a company Horrifying. Is nothing sacred?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sea of Dreams

My favorite cinematography instructor from USC, Chris Chomyn, shot a film for a great guy and fellow alumnus of mine, Pepe Ochoa, and it's showing in quite a few theaters, perhaps in one near you (especially if you're in LA). It's called "Sea of Dreams," and I do recommend you see it -- it's magical realism with lots of sultry pizzazz, stars ridiculously gorgeous people with terrific screen presence, manages to make the ocean as palpable a character as the humans (which is pretty dang awesome), and both Pepe and Chris should be proud of themselves to the point of bursting.

I saw it at CineGear a few months ago, and found it beautiful, definitely go see it and support this teensy indie movie with hefty atmosphere and big passions! And, of course, it has lots of shots of beautiful people gazing at the horizon wistfully as the wind tousles their hair in various inviting ways...which is surprisingly not as cheesy as it sounds. Like I said, Chris and Pepe are talented that way.

My only caveat: the central female character isn't so much a three-dimensional human being as a symbol of Femininity (yes, with a capital F), or so it seems to me. This peeved me initially, since it seems like such a flat, inconsiderate, male perspective, but since the story overall is clearly a parable and has lots of other, similarly iconic figures in it, I've decided to let this sticky point slide. Aside from my righteous feminist indignation, this film is actually a wonderfully haunting view of Love (captial L, of course), and I'd happily go see it again with anyone who hasn't had the pleasure yet.

Go! See it! Do it now!
The Astrid has spoken.

Tuesday linkyloo

KT Tunstall: Suddenly I See I love when people mix with models and puppetry. Big surprise, huh? This song makes me want to jump on my bed as I'm belting out the words, or at least perch in a tree with a giant guitar and frighten passersby.

Tom Petty: I Won't Back Down One of the best anthems ever. I consider Tom Petty's work timeless, and on a human scale. I'm not sure what that means, but it feels right.

kollaboration.org: robot dance I wish, I wish, I WISH I could dance robotically. This will most likely never happen, but I can sure admire this from afar.

Kodak - Winds of Change HOW THE HELL DID I MISS THIS? THIS IS AWESOME. "They're turning the schmaltz back up to 11!" BOO YA.

Zazoo Condoms Best 'please use prophylactics' campaign I've ever seen in my life. Granted, I haven't seen many others, but...you know.... This rocks.

Monday, September 24, 2007

my Sunday shoot

So, yesterday I had a shoot at the home of the very good-natured John Faratzis, which was essentially a scene for the actors' reels, and was only supposed to be good for a little experience and some pocket change on my end. That, plus it was fun to play with John's nine Emmys sitting on his mantelpiece from his producing work on the Super Bowl and the Olympics ("I'd like to thank my aromatherapist for making this possible", cue air kiss). To be honest, I wasn't really expecting much from this shoot. At least there was a fun fight scene, complete with breakaway vases, fake blood, and catty woman-on-woman combat, and that was all before lunch. Did I ever mention how much I enjoy my job? Yeehay.

Still, things took a turn for the unexpected in the afternoon, and in the best possible way. There was a scene between two characters who were estranged lovers still madly in love with each other, but also very bitter about each other, and one of them was dying from a bullet wound in her gut. Since it all promised to be wistful and arty, I decided (along with the director) to block (meaning 'to physically set up') the scene with a window glowing behind the two people, and let them be almost silhouetted against the sunlight flooding in. All very nicely atmospheric and anime-ish, but again, I wasn't expecting much.

This was just the full rehearsal -- blood was oozing, sunlight was glowing, the guy looked very dapper in his suit, they each had a gun, people were gabbing in the living room, the roar of airplanes wafted through the open windows, and the camera wasn't rolling yet. I'd seen this all before, blah de blah blah. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Until the actors looked each other in the eye and started the scene.

Have you ever been transfixed by magic? Like, to the point where you couldn't breathe, and you just couldn't believe what was unfolding before your eyes, and you were terrified something would shatter the spell, and you wouldn't trade the experience for all the world?

It was a little like that, only a thousand times more so. It was Romeo and Juliet on steroids. It was so wickedly beautiful, I thought we were all going to spontaneously combust from the cold heat in that room. It was like the whole universe had contracted to only include these two people, and somehow I was both of them at the same time, and it was gorgeously dangerous. And then, when he gave this dying, loving, gloriously hateful woman the most tender kiss I've ever witnessed in my thirty years of existence, she shot him.

The shock in his eyes was mesmerizing. His eyes never left hers as his life drained away, her arms quietly enfolding his dying flesh which settled into her body, her life slowly dripping away as well, satisfaction and regret flickering through her eyes before they closed forever.

None of this was real, of course -- after all, this IS the movies. Duh. But I almost hiccuped my heart from out of my throat, it was that powerful. And, even more amazingly, they were able to do this scene with the same intensity again and again from different camera angles, nailing it every time. When we wrapped (packed up) the set afterwards, I didn't know what to do with myself. I wanted to run screaming through the streets. I wanted to hug lampposts. I wanted to kick things and blow stuff up and cackle maniacally and explode into a million pieces and then do it all over again.

This is why I wouldn't trade being a filmmaker for anything. For ANYTHING.

These moments are so rare, but when they come, they sear your brain and mark you for life. It's a good kind of pain.

And FYI, the actors were Chad Duell and Semele...something. I don't know how to spell her last name, but I'll try to find out this week. They truly are something to behold. They almost scorched my camera lens, but it was well worth the trouble.

Monday linkyloo

sleepinginmyhead: tobler-oh-yeah! via Boing Boing Toblerone has a hidden bear in its logo? Rockin'!

Inventor Spot: 15 Absolutely Brilliant Billboad Ads...Really They're definitely not kidding, some of these are eye-poppingly wonderful.

Varieties of unreligious Experience: Humanism and the virtue of anxiety via the nonist Very thought-provoking essay on justifying your career in the humanities -- and the comments are just as intriguing/erudite.

Mother Jones -- Black Ops Jungle: The Academy of Military-Industrial-Complex Studies via Boing Boing Ender's Game is alive and well, they just need to throw in some video game sims and it'll be complete! ::shiver::

The Trade Card Place (Victorian trading cards) via Boing Boing via Little Hokum Rag I love these. Why can't we see such illustration gorgeosity in advertising today?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Astrid in crisis, or: now is the autumn of my discontent

Q: I have a shoot in 6 hours, why am I not in bed?

A: Because I am a tortured soul who is addicted to the Internet. TENNIS BALLS OH DANG.

Also, it occurred to me today that I love all the various elements of my life -- particularly friends and career -- it's just that I just wish I had more of each. As in, more time spent with friends, rather than pining for all the awesome people who are out of state or just too busy. As for shooting, I love it, I just wish more worthwhile projects came my way. I'd also love to teach more, but I'm stuck in the part-time ghetto; I worry that committing to a whole semester at a time would get in the way of accepting more shooting gigs.

Should I be marketing myself differently? Should I just be patient and shut up? Or should I switch out of the wild world o' film entirely, and go into something that's still creative, yet slightly less competitive? Should I go into academe full-time? I would consider absolutely ANY field which would draw upon my talents/experience in film, graphic design, web 2.0 savvy, and phenomenal people skills. To clarify that B.S.-sounding last part: I'm outrageously talented at bringing out the best in people, helping them create things they didn't even realize they could do, refining their work, and pushing them to the next level. If you don't believe me, watch my former students' projects, and ask them how they went from clunky to festival-worthy in four weeks. I get very Dead Poet's Society when I'm in front of a room, complete with Robin Williams-grade arm-flailing, irreverence, and hammy overacting, and it actually seems to work on occasion.

In other words, I'm not much as a content provider, but I'm a helluva terrific catalyst. Which, not coincidentally, is also why I'm a terrific cinematographer, humility be damned; it's my job to take somebody's vision and refine it, make it shootable, use lighting and camera composition to turn it into something bigger and better than it was in everyone's heads originally, all while staying true to the story and the director's vision, highlighting the nuances in the actors' performances, and having my crew still like me after grueling 12- to 14-hour shoot days. The past couple of years, I've actually figured out more or less how to nail all of this, and if all the directors I've worked with in that time ever get around to giving me the footage I shot, not that I'm getting peeved about this, I can properly re-edit my reel and show the world. W00t.

Here's the question that's been keeping me up at night lately: How do you get the world to beat a path to your door and say "You're fabulous, and we want you right now to catalyze all sorts of exciting projects, for which you will be remunerated admirably! Also, we will fund travel to exciting climes, and you will get to meet all sorts of lovely, innovative people who won't keep moving away from you or get too busy every time you decide you need them in your life forever"?

I need more exciting projects, a better paycheck, and a sizable group of people who (time and geography willing) can hang out at least once a week. Starting a production company with my friend Dave is great, but it's moving at a glacial pace, alas. I DEMAND ACTION, THRILLS, VERVE, OOMPH, NOVELTY, STABILITY, and EXCELLENT CATERING. AND I DEMAND IT NOW.

Any ideas how? I'm opening the floor to any and all suggestions. Seriously.

In the meantime, enjoy the following musical diversions:

Boards of Canada: ROYGBIV A fan-made video, with "footage from 1980's uk tv adverts." The synergy truly knocks my socks off, although they keep cutting to a blond kid who definitely annoys me after a while.

Kate Bush: Cloudbusting Kate Bush can always be counted on for jolly weirdness -- and is that Donald Sutherland? A heapin' helpin' of awesome.

Goldfrapp: pilots [on a star] If Kate Bush fused with the film Gattaca, the result would be this video. Or something very much like it.

Goldfrapp: Strict Machine This is what the inside of my brain looks like, no joke. It gets even weirder when I fall asleep.

Emiliana Torrini: Easy Pure seduction. Even better than the album version -- this is lightly remixed, gives me chills and makes me want to kiss the whole world in one go. Perfection.

Okay, I'm off to bed. If you're still looking for more, try reading my friend Bekka's blog entry I feel a little invisible sometimes, and you'll get a similar version of what I've just written here. O, restlessness; we hear the mermaids singing, each to each, but they do not sing to us. Arrogant trollops.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

linkyloo

I just had sushi with Matt and Isa -- good people, good food, good times. And now I get to go to Long Beach and celebrate my brother's birthday! It's an excellent Saturday, yessiree -- and I'm wearing my Calgon plum/raspberry to boot, which is an excellent comfort scent for a such a grey day.


Because he is wickedly ingenious: Chris Leavins, Cute With Chris -- episode wherein he recites Britney lyrics By the way, that's not a photo of him, it's actually a viewer photo from Chris's website. You just need to go visit and see what I mean. Go. Go now.

Will It Blend?: the iPhone via Papelera 21 I swear, people will do anything for yuks. Like, tossing an iPhone into a blender. Awesome.

CollegeHumor: Darth Vader Blues via Papelera 21 Betcha didn't know Vader's helmet had a built-in HARMONICA! YES! This totally made my day.

Fantoche (2 times) by Blu via Neatorama This is nothing short of incredible. And it loops so well, too!

The Wind MOST AMAZING PUNCHLINE EVER. It will make you go back and watch this all over again with fresh eyes. Oh, and phenomenal casting, score, directing, everything. My gift to you, because I love you. I really do.

Friday, September 21, 2007

linkyloo

I've developed a terrible habit of putting together unwieldy lists of links in the past, so from now on I'll dole them out in bite-sized parcels. Enjoy!

a fresh perspective on cats via Unscathed Corpse via placeboKatz

The Boat Lullabies: The Way of All Flesh via Boing Boing. A poignant look at the progression of a woman through a lifetime of her photographs. Beautifully eerie.

web gobbledegook what is this? Is this spy code? Web search terms being catalogued by Homeland Security? Now that I've found this page, am I now going to be whisked away to a colorful island, renamed as a number, and held prisoner by a giant Latex bubble?

Groovy dancing girl via zefrank.com Dang, this gal can MOVE. I want to memorize this routine, along with the dance routine from Napoleon Dynamite, so that I can win my next dance-off. It's good to be prepared for these things.

Kate Bush - Running up that Hill I heart Kate Bush and overly fogged-up music videos. Also: love the pants. Even though they look like skirts. But are still pants. Yeah.

talking dirty: the Italianate segment of Victorian architecture

The quotes (in bold) and pictures below are from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italianate_architecture, unless otherwise stated.


The Breakers designed by Richard Morris Hunt, completed 1895 (Newport, Rhode Island)

The Italianate style consisted of taking Italian 16th-century style and slapping it onto 19th-century structures. O pastiche, how very Victorian! Anyone who says that post-modernism is a strictly 20th-century phenomenon is full of it.

Sir Charles Barry, most notable for his works on the Tudor and Gothic styles at the Houses of Parliament in London, was a great promoter of the style.

What a fickle guy! First he does pointy, medieval-looking things, then he does zany, pseudo-16th-century Italian things? Good gravy, mister, make up your mind!

Italianate [in America] was reinterpreted again and became an indigenous style. It is distinctive by its pronounced exaggeration of many Italian Renaissance characteristics: emphatic eaves supported by corbels, low-pitched roofs barely discernible from the ground, or even flat roofs with a wide projection. A tower is often incorporated hinting at the Italian belvedere or even campanile tower.

Er, 'corbel'?

(http://www.louisvillehomezone.com/page_images/korbel%20bottle.jpg)

A projection jutting out from a wall to support a structure above it. (Oxford American Dictionary)

Okay. Um, 'belvedere'?

(http://www.tv-intros.com/m/mr%20belvedere.jpg)

A summerhouse or open-sided gallery, usually at rooftop level, commanding a fine view. (Thanks again, OAD)

Oh, and a 'campanile' is a bell tower, so the phrase 'campanile tower' is redundant. Nyeah nyeah, Wikipedia!

The Breakers [shown at the top], located on Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island, is a 70-room mansion designed by the architect Richard Morris Hunt for Cornelius Vanderbilt II.

SEVENTY ROOMS?! Why on earth would anyone need seventy rooms?

Constructed between 1893 and 1895, it is the epitome of the Italianate style in the United States. While to all outward appearances it is a complete Renaissance palazzo, its construction with steel trusses and no wooden parts made use of the most modern building techniques the late 19th century had to offer.

It only took two years to build a seventy-room mansion, all without 21st-century construction equipment?! This just keeps getting more and more amazing.

Key visual components of this style include:

* Low-pitched or flat roofs
* Projecting eaves supported by corbels.
* Imposing cornice structures


'Cornice'? An ornamental molding around the wall of a room just below the ceiling or a horizontal molded projection crowning a building or structure, esp. the uppermost member of the entablature of an order, surmounting the frieze. (OAD)

'Entablature'? A horizontal, continuous lintel on a classical building supported by columns or a wall, comprising the architrave, frieze, and cornice. (OAD)

I swear, I just keep feeling dumber and dumber.

'Architrave'?
A main beam resting across the tops of columns. (OAD)

'Frieze'?
A broad horizontal band of sculpted or painted decoration, esp. on a wall near the ceiling. (OAD)

Gotcha. Carry on.

* Pedimented windows and doors

'Pediment'?
The triangular upper part of the front of a building in classical style, typically surmounting a portico of columns. (OAD)

'Portico'?
A structure consisting of a roof supported by columns at regular intervals, typically attached as a porch to a building. (OAD)

* Arch-headed, pedimented or Serlian windows with pronounced architraves and archivolts

Jesus H Christ on a Popsicle stick! 'Serlian'?
I couldn't find a proper definition for this in the OAD, but various websites describe this as an arched window with columns on either side, more or less.

And then, of course, there are 'archivolts' to contend with:
A band of molding, resembling an architrave, around the lower curve of an arch.

Is it just me, or is this getting exhausting?

* Tall first floor windows suggesting a piano nobile

OKAY, FINE, I'LL BITE: 'piano nobile'?
The main story of a large house (usually the first floor), containing the principal rooms. (OAD)

Wow, good to know. I could actually see slipping that into casual conversation: "Hey, nice piano nobile." Or: "Let me go freshen up, I'll meet you down in the piano nobile." Neato.

* Angled bay windows
* Attics with a row of awning windows between the eave brackets
* Glazed doors
* Belvedere or machiolated signorial towers


I can't find a definition of 'machiolated signorial tower.' I'm getting peeved.

* Cupolas
* Quoins


'qoin': an external angle of a wall or building. (Also quoin stone) any of the stones or bricks forming such an angle; a cornerstone. (OAD)

WELL, WHY ON EARTH COULDN'T YOU SAY SO?

* Loggias

'Loggia': A gallery or room with one or more open sides, esp. one that forms part of a house and has one side open to the garden. (OAD)

* Balconies with wrought-iron railings, or Renaissance balustrading
* Balustrades concealing the roof-scpapes
[sic]

Okay, this is it, and then no more: what, precisely, is a balustrade?
A railing supported by balusters-- (OAD)

WHAT'S A BALUSTER, YOU FAT-HEADED NINCOMPOOP OF A DICTIONARY?

A short pillar or column, typically decorative in design, in a series supporting a rail or coping. (OAD)

Coping--

The top, typically sloping, course of a brick or stone wall. (OAD)

Thanks, but I wasn't asking; I've officially given up coping with all this jargon. I'm going to go lie down now, and let us never speak of this filthy Italianate business ever again. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Chatting with (and summarizing) Wikipedia about Gothic Revival

All of the following -- quotes and pictures -- are from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothic_Revival.

Cast-iron gothic tracery supports a bridge by Calvert Vaux, Central Park, New York City


The upper chapel of the Sainte Chapelle, restored by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century -- the colors are just delicious.


Victoria Tower at the Palace of Westminster, London: Gothic details provided by A.W.N. Pugin


Sir Christopher Wren's Tom Tower, at Christ Church, Oxford. The frosty blues in this image are so moody and evocative. Love it.


Apparently, all this mid-18th-century Gothic Revival goodness started in England. Medieval-looking stuff was all the rage, "and perhaps more Gothic architecture was built in nineteenth and twentieth centuries than had originally ever been built," which amuses me immensely. Will nostalgia ever become old hat?

"Gothic architecture is generally considered to have begun at the Abbey of Saint-Denis, Paris, in 1140 and ended with a last great flourish at Henry VII[']s Chapel at Westminster in the early 16th century."

It didn't really die, though, because people who wanted churchy things and university things kept demanding the Gothic look. It's admittedly a pretty imposing look, suitable for inspiring fear of God and so forth.

Restoration became a big thing, and this included a surge in nationalism; every country claimed that it had invented the Gothic look first.

"A few Britons, and soon some Germans, began to appreciate the picturesque character of ruins — 'picturesque' becoming a new aesthetic quality".

In other words, why restore things when you can just build some fresh ruins which look all sorts of moody and evocative? Those wacky Romantics!

"In Contrasts (1836), Pugin . . . [claimed] that Gothic architecture was the product of a purer society. . . . Pugin believed Gothic was true Christian architecture, and even claimed 'The pointed arch was produced by the Catholic faith'. Pugin's most famous building is The Houses of Parliament in London, which he designed in two campaigns, 1836–1837 and again in 1844 and 1852".

Is it just me, or does this sound suspiciously Hitlerian, as in 'Gothic architecture is Aryan architecture'? Boo hiss, Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin! Just as an aside, the guy died when he was only forty, possibly from mercury poisoning (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustus_Pugin).

Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, unlike many popular Gothic-lovin' folks, felt that Gothic-y stuff should be restored with modern-day materials, including cast iron, rather than trying to imitate what had already been done. This inspired new designers to create Gothic-y-looking structures which could never have been made just out of stone, and hinted at the beginnings of my all-time-favorite art movement, Art Nouveau.

"Carpenter gothic houses and small churches became common in North America in the late nineteenth century. These structures adapted Gothic elements such as pointed arches, steep gables, and towers to traditional American light-frame construction. . . . But in most cases, Carpenter Gothic buildings were relatively unadorned, retaining only the basic elements of pointed-arch windows and steep gables. Arguably, the most famous example of carpenter gothic is not even a real building. It appears in the background of the painting American Gothic by Grant Wood."

I don't have a smart-alecky comment to that one, I just think it's cool. And Grant Wood was simply brilliant. Such liquid colors! Such eye-popping clarity! Such vibrant compositions! Ooh, I just love him. In fact, look at this:


"The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," by Grant Wood

This image doesn't do the original painting any justice; go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and see this sometime. It looks eerie, and almost like it's underwater. I first saw this painting in person several years ago, and it haunts me still. Now that's what I call art.

"At the turn of the 20th Century, technological developments such as the light bulb, the elevator, and steel framing caused many to see architecture that used load-bearing masonry as obsolete. Steel framing supplanted the non-ornamental functions of rib vaults and flying buttresses. Some architects used Neo-Gothic tracery as applied ornament to an iron skeleton underneath".

In other words, we still like the look, but wouldn't ever dream of using such archaic building techniques, so we slap the look onto inherently modern structures. Personally, I'm cool with that -- Gothic (and Gothic Revival) buildings from the inside tend to be dark, dreary, and rather pinched, with teensy windows and drafty everything.

Still, I do kinda miss flying buttresses.


Monday, September 17, 2007

a few words about Drina, with a brief mention of goats

Before we discuss anything about Victorian architecture, we need to review Queen Victoria herself. According to Wikipedia:

Full name: Alexandrina Victoria
Nickname within the family: Drina
Nickname outside the family: the grandmother of Europe
Which is: not as catchy
Born: May 24, 1819
Died: January 22, 1901
Of a: cerebral hemorrhage
She disliked: black funerals
So for her funeral, London was draped in: purple and white

Lost her father to pneumonia: eight months after she was born
Lost her grandfather (George III): six days later
Crown went to: her uncle George, then (when Drina was 11) her uncle William
William's number of kids: 10
All: illegitimate
Because: he got them by messing around with the actress Dorothy Jordan

Drina's heritage: almost entirely German
Husband: Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
His relationship to Drina: first cousin
This: freaks me out a fair amount
They got hitched: February, 10 1840
Number of kids: 9
Named: Victoria, Edward, Alice, Alfred, Helena, Louise, Arthur, Leopold, Beatrice
Drina outlived: 3 of them
As of September 2007, surviving great-grandchildren of Drina: 2
Names: Carl (a count in Sweden), Katherine

Queen of: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Became queen: a month after she turned 18
First ever: Empress of India
Which made her equal to: the Russian Tsar
Reign over British Empire lasted: 63 years and seven months
Which is: "longer than that of any other British monarch"
And included: the Industrial Revolution
With emphases on: morality, family values, giving more power to the House of Commons, and making the monarch more of a symbolic figure

Carrier of haemophilia in the royal line: first
May have been a result of: a sperm mutation
Age of her dad at her conception: 52
Drina and all female-line descendants are members of: mitochondrial haplogroup H.s

Attempted physical attacks on Drina: 6
Assassins/pranksters who committed/attempted the above: Edward Oxford (18 yrs. old), John Francis, John William Bean, William Hamilton, Robert Pate, anonymous folks who cooked up the Jubilee Plot

When you've been queen for 50 years, your celebration is called: Golden Jubilee
When you've been queen for 60 years, your celebration is called: Diamond Jubilee

Style
Introduction of Christmas trees to the Drina's court by: Prince Albert
After Albert died, Drina "ordered that his clothes be laid afresh on his bed in his suite at Windsor Castle": every day
For: 40 years
Drina had a parasol which was: armored
Which weighed more than: 3 pounds
And probably: was never used

Random bits o' knowledge
"[T]hree of the main monarchs with countries involved in the First World War on the opposing side were themselves either grandchildren of Victoria's or married to a grandchild of hers. Eight of Victoria's nine children married members of European royal families, and the other, Princess Louise, was married to the Marquis of Lorne, a future Governor-General of Canada."

"As of 2007, the European monarchs and former monarchs descended from Victoria are: the Queen of the United Kingdom (as well as her husband), the King of Norway, the King of Sweden, the Queen of Denmark, the King of Spain, the former King of the Hellenes and the former King of Romania (deposed)."

"[I]n the town of Cape Coast, Ghana, a bust of the Queen presides, rather forlornly, over a small park where goats graze around her."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hear ye, hear ye: the school of Astridica is now in session!

I've been casting about for things regarding which I'd love to learn more, and eureka! I have now found a splendid lesson plan:

Victorian House School

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be exploring each of these subsets of wacky Victorian architecture, and you are more than welcome to come along for the ride. Before diving in officially, here are some pics I found which incited my interest just now:

photo in Eureka, CA by Josh: A dream house of mine. No, seriously. Also, did I ever mention that the theme music to "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends" is one of my favoritest themes of all time? Interesting how that immediately sprung to mind....

another photo in Eureka, CA by Josh: dream house of mine no. 2. I could really eat these up with a spoon. Just glorious.

a rainbow house, presumably in San Francisco, simply peachy.

I am so thrilled, you have no idea. So far, my idea of my dream house would be a Queen Anne, painted in colors bright enough to punch out your eyes, with about fifty bajillion weathervanes along the rooftop, and windchimes (and comfy reading benches) on the porch, and a haphazard mix of plastic flamingos and more weathervanes on the front lawn, and the inside of the house would have wide open spaces suitable for a)fine dining and b)roller skating, depending on my mood, and there would be sunlight everywhere, and Persian carpets, and mismatched Tiffany lamps, and at least one pennyfarthing bicycle just for kicks, and there would be an open-air cupola on the highest part of the roof, with a telescope, where I could stargaze or perhaps recite poetry to no one in particular. And I'd have endless tea and raspberry lemonade and chocolate chip cookies for everyone who dropped by. And I'd have a player piano with rainbow keys which would play the latest vaudeville dance tunes. And I'd wear a feather boa all the time, and eat bonbons while reading Maugham in the bath, and I'd have seances, and I'd even have a talking parrot named Reginald who would consistently beat me at Connect Four.

Oh boy oh boy oh BOY.

do it for the banana

Geostationary Banana Over Texas

Pretty much says it all, doesn't it? Just think: a giant banana. In orbit. Over Texas. Folks, I do believe we are about to witness the purpose of humanity unfolding. Armageddon is nigh. AND IT WILL BE BANANATASTIC.

Oh, and don't forget to donate something! If you don't want to donate money, they're looking for engineers, mathematicians, translators, administrative folk and so forth to donate their efforts.

Please: do it for the banana.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

two weeks' worth of smorgasbording

Science & Technology for a Better Tomorrow
Stirling engines will save the world! And it only took a century to get around to this.

Building Stonehenge - This Man can Move Anything via William Gibson Books

360 degree Light Field Display via Boing Boing. It's so holographo-riffic, I can't stand it!


Science & Technology for a More Excitingly Disturbing Tomorrow

Laser Flashlight Hack! - video powered by Metacafe -- am I the only one who finds this simultaneously cool and frightening? What do you think the range is on this thing?

Yahoo! News: Spider web engulfs Texas park trail -- creepycool.

Heating With Radium: nicely creepy, ye olde view of the future


Profound Commentary on Western Civilization
Scott and Rory and the Baby Carrots at TechEd 2005 -- although it looks like it was shot with a cell phone, this made me laugh. And laugh and laugh and laugh. I may have a short circuit. That, plus I know too many programmers. And tiny carrots are always hilarious.

Village: The Game: it's a SimCity-esque game that teaches you how to be an ethical Third World entrepreneur. I'm not into gaming, and I haven't even tried this yet, but this seems to have its heart in the right place. Check it out and get back to me on this.

Should the Net forget? -- Rough Type is a wonderfully thoughtful blog about how ethics and the Internet intertwine. Good stuff.

Greg the Bunny -- Monster Puppets a Breed Apart: trippy, and very funny.

Bono and Steve Jobs: this is so on the money, I can't stand it.

Intermarriage, a short 'n' sweet love story via Yo Yenta!

Side show 'freak' wants to be a lawyer: am I the only one who doesn't see the big deal? Gooble gobble, we accept you, one of us etc.

Odd Mustache Competition: I love the phrase 'beard enthusiast.'

Judge strikes down part of Patriot Act: Hallelujah! Hell may have finally frozen over.

Violent Acres: The Pentecostal Church and The Holy Ghost Want You To Wear Big Panties -- hilarious as always. A great (if disturbing) slice o' Americana.

Midwest Teen Sex Show: BRILLIANCE. All episodes are nothing short of spectacular, but my current favorite is Episode #6 (Gym Class).

Mom via Planet Hiltron. Carole Morgan is sheer brilliance. My car is my freedom!

Mr. Bean: Invisible Drum Kit

Rowan Atkinson: Welcome to Hell

xkcd: Dating Polls: it staggers me, really, how much stupendousness there is in this world. So much creativity! So much hilarity! So much brilliance! Can I be this cool when I grow up?


Art & Design-y Things
daab creative: my friend Luke has his own agency, and oh my lordy is he awesomely talented. He makes me feel all sorts of glamorous just for knowing him.

What can be done from old books: the sacrilege of all this makes me cringe, but WOW these things are gorgeous. SO innventive, so beautiful...so wrong.

Art is Not a Scam: so dumb it's awesome. Makes me feel 11 again, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Henrik Halversson: NSFW, but still stellar photography. I'm a giant fan of the portraits.

Paleo-Future: GM's Three-Wheeled Runabout (1966): oh MAN I want this car. SO cool!

MareNostrum, Europe's No. 1 Supercomputer via Papelera 21: a supercomputer in a former church? How very Avengers. Beautiful.

Amazing things: The ghost of Chernobyl. Via Unscathed Corpse. I especially love the neato graffiti.

Tribbles, Gorey style! Oh boy, I love Gorey! Oh boy! Great homage.

B-Movie Retro Fonts

Science tattoos!

English Russia >> The Matrix Goggles via William Gibson Books

Decline and Fall of the Ligature because I really am that much of a typography geek. You'd never guess I have a degree in graphic design, would you?

Amazing things: 21 examples of dullness in construction LOVE this.

We Make Money Not Art: The unhappier you are, the more ice cream you get I'm trying to decide if this is a good thing or bad thing.


Screens, Big & Small
Haitian UFO Sighting: very graceful, and I'd love to know the story behind it.

Video compilation of TV logo signoffs via Boing Boing: ah, dated signage with synth music. How marvelously quaint.

YouTube: Technological Terror via Papelera 21. Truly a terrific way to get Star Wars geeks to turn off their cell-phone ringers.

Vertigo! -- OMG OMG OMG!
Vertigo, this time with cavemen!


(Sometimes Spooky) Kitsch-o-Rama
Do What Now?: Corn Is Not a Filling -- I am always a sucker for excellent kitsch, and Do What Now? never disappoints.

Do What Now?: It's a total blue-out -- I love AND hate this. Interesting.

Freaky Mermaid Guitar: this just seems wrong, somehow.

Which brings us to: Little Hokum Rag: Teenar, Girl Guitar -- wrong for so many reasons.

Dow What Now?: Whatever. It's still a hamburger meat bolus. Pretty much says it all.

Yurt Madness! Who isn't mad for yurts?


Music
YouTube: Polly Paulusma - Guitar Shop Tour - Track 1 - Day One: This wonderful singer/songwriter is touring different guitar shops, recording different tracks on proprietor-recommended guitars she's (presumably) never played before. SUCH a neat idea! This particular track, despite the poor sound quality, is still achingly sweet.

Kimya Dawson:"I Like Giants" via /Film. Long intro, and unnecessary non-singing stuff at the end, but the actual song is nothing short of magnificent, in a simple way. For fans of The Moldy Peaches.


Health
Tattoo bandage assortment: for the biker with a paper cut, here's your chance to have the most stylish adhesive bandage on your person ever.

Researchers discover correlation between birth month and short-sightedness via Phys Org. I was born in November, what's my excuse?

Monday, September 10, 2007

boldly going where no pocket-sized cinematographer has gone before

I've realized three things:

a) I'm a fast learner, and only require a week to learn that perfume is cool,
b) I'm bored with talking about myself, and
c) I'm at my happiest when I'm creating something, and/or learning something.

To that end, I'll try the experiment of picking a theme roughly each week, and learning as much as I can about it, given that I also have a life that doesn't revolve around a blog. Sorry. Sometimes these themes will be film-related, sometimes they'll be about player pianos -- you'll just never know.

See you on the flipside!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Spetmeber Scent Xperiment, Day 8



Chopin has very little to do with this post, I just felt like snapping a moody pic of him. I got this bust of him at Ross a few years ago; isn't he just dreamy?

Moving right along, Friday was a Body Shop Neroli Jasmine day -- just sublime. why does fruitiness in a perfume convey innocence? Why are floral notes in perfume usually considered the opposite? For me, here's how I think of my little scent library, in order from most innocent to least:

Body Shop Satsuma (very orange-y)
Calgon Get Juic'd Plum Raspberry
Sephora mûre (very blackberry-ish)
Body Shop Neroli Jasmine (might as well be relabeled "Astrid in a Bottle," it's absolutely me and so divine)
Body Shop Sandalwood
Body Shop Ananya

There's definitely a psychological progression within the fruit spectrum, at least for me; darker-colored fruit (plums, blackberries) smell more gothic to me, peculiar yet true.

Back to Chopin: did you know he died when he was thirty-nine? THIRTY-NINE, people. Just horrendous. You stick around long enough to impress people with your brilliance, then your lungs get wacked out and that's it. It makes me think that I need to hurry up and get impressive -- but not before I stop and smell the blackberries first.

NB: don't ever wear perfume oil on both your wrists AND your throat. It will make people faint dead away, plus you'll frighten their dog. And then you'll have to do an emergency rinse of your wrists and hope for the best as your friends regain consciousness. Not that I'm speaking from bitter experience or anything.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Spetmeber Scent Xperiment, Day 7: Ladies of the Lens!



Yesterday was an Ananya day -- I was feeling very intense, apparently.

And a giant insect flew into my apartment. That's it at the top; it has a stinger about half an inch long, and it's sitting trapped in an inverted vase. I'm so terrified of getting stung when I release the thing, I'm going to let it starve to death before I dispose of it. I thought very carefully about this, and I've decided that my health is more important than the life of this desperate, trapped insect. I suppose this makes me a bad person -- but are you looking at that stinger? Scariness.

Good things: I'm in the process of applying to the Society of Camera Operators. I thought I had everything squared away, application-wise, until I checked the website before going to the post office, and discovered that I need references. Sigh. So, I swallowed my mild phobia of calling people I haven't spoken to in a while, all in the name of convincing and cajoling them into wanting to say good things about me at a later date.

To my surprise, there's a lot of love and goodwill out there in the name of Astridica, even despite the fact I hadn't talked to some of these people in years. Folks were all HELLS YEAH about being my reference, which now has me glowing with warm fuzzies, and so I will now be able to ship the darned application off tomorrow. Woo! Thank you so much, everyone, this really means the world to me!

I hope I get to be an active member in the SOC (as opposed to an associate member), it all sounds supercool. Plus, this was an excellent excuse to reconnect with my director friend Harry, who (along with his kickass lady, Jean) is all that and a trip to Aruba.

Interesting note: with a name like "The Society of Camera Operators," you'd expect the acronym to be SCO. Well, as it turns out, they recently changed their name from "The Society of Operating Cameramen." Yes: cameraMEN.

Because, you know, having a uterus can totally mess up your ability to frame a shot properly.

Still, to the SOC's credit, they were very enthusiastic about having me apply, back when I saw them at the CineGear Expo a couple of months ago.

Another interesting thing: out of the 308 active members (according to the list on the site), anywhere from 15 to 21 are women (according to the names, anyway -- darn those gender-neutral ones), which means women are only 4.8% to 6.8% of the active SOC. CRAZINESS.

Which leads me to something I've been wondering for a while, and I've been asked this for a while, too: why are there so few women behind the camera? Is it an intimidation thing? A boys' club/misogyny thing? A most-women-just-don't-care-about-cameras thing? I suspect the answer is a combination of these. Also, I'm meeting more and more people who say they see women behind cameras all the time, so perhaps the tide is turning, the new generation is elbowing its way in, and I still get to be a 'gender pioneer.' Go me.

Speaking of pioneering women behind camera, go order a DVD of the documentary Women Behind the Camera. I just ordered mine, so we can be DVD sisters. Or, if you're a guy, DVD siblings. Power to the ladies of the lens!

Now, if only I could find a fluorescent-pink light meter, I'd be all set.

Conclusions:

1. Ananya is a great scent for staying upbeat and kicking ass.
2. I am the beloved lady ninja assassin of camera. Bow to me, peons.
3. I'm starting to think of scents as music; you pick different scents, as you pick music, depending on your mood. Sometimes, though, a little silence can go a long way -- I do find, once in a while, that my nose appreciates an unscented rest here and there.
4. My scent library has a definite spectrum of sexiness, which I hadn't thought about before. More on this tomorrow.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Spetmeber Scent Xperiment, Day 6



I had an interview yesterday, so I went Satsuma, just to up my Personal Awakiness Factor. As I was waiting for my interviewer, reading a book and minding my own business, a guy dropped his papers on the floor around my feet. Being the good citizen that I am, I promptly scooped everything up for him; he thanked me profusely, I did the whole 'oh, it was nothing' hand wave, and I figured that was it.

He paused next to me for a fraction of a second too long. Oh, crap, not again.

"Hey, do you know where the nearest Verizon place is?" he asked.

"Nope," I said, immediately burying my face in my book again. Why is it never the cute ones?

"Hey," he said, going for round two. "What nationality are you?"

This is where I gave him my Martian Death Ray Stare. "I beg your pardon?" I inquired in a voice of sweetness laced with cyanide.

He was understandably taken aback by this, stuttered nervously for a moment, then bolted. I was peeved; I don't know about you, but I consider my heritage a very personal, intimate matter. How dare a total stranger ask me about it?

Generally, there are two circumstances in which people bother asking me about my background within moments of meeting me:

1. They're WASP, figure I'm not, and want to confirm their suspicion before they accidentally treat me like an equal, not that I'm paranoid or anything,

or

2. They're a minority, figure I am too, and want to confirm this so that they can instantly be BFFs like OMG! and most likely more. This category is extremely male-dominated.

Please note that I don't resent when people ask me about my heritage AFTER we've gotten to know each other a bit, and I know if they're trustworthy or not. I'm only angry when it's one of their first questions, so I know they're using the information to define me and then stick me in the appropriate pigeonhole in their heads.

This guy fell into circumstance 2, just in case you were wondering. Dude, if you want to hit on me, ask me something related to the context we're in! Like, if two people are in a coffee shop, they can converse about the mocha-mint-blah-blah special. Or, if their cars just collided, they can share a good laugh and then ask each other for their insurance info. Sheesh. Must it be this crass and obvious?

Am I alone in feeling this way?

Conclusions:

1. People should mind their own beeswax, until I've gotten to know them well enough that I know they won't abuse whatever personal info I give them, and

2. Satsuma really is good for the professional sphere, in spite of (or because of?) the possibility that it encourages my natural belligerence. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Spetmeber Scent Xperiment, Day 5



I broke out the Ananya today, and I was instantly flooded with memories of my freshman year at Michigan. Weirdly, the memories weren't so much of people as they were of environments: I was reminded of the carpeting in my residence hall, the tile on the walls of the dimly lit hallways, and (this particularly surprised me) I was reminded of the sound of earrings I used to have. See, I had a pair of earrings (now missing) which looked like miniature wind chimes, and I would wear them whenever I was feeling especially...er...tinkly. I'd almost forgotten about these earrings, until I put on the Ananya. Peculiar what our brains can cook up, given the right stimuli.

What got me wearing Ananya all those years ago? This still makes me giggle: I was in a Body Shop around Madison and 85th in NYC, summer of 1995, examining the perfume options and trying to figure out what would make me smell the most grown up at college. As I was pondering this, a female version of Jabba the Hutt wearing thick glasses was on a similar quest. I picked up the Ananya tester, sniffed it thoughtfully, and the lady burst out "Honey, when I wear that, my boyfriend can't keep his hands off me!" I bought the scent on the spot and never regretted it. I still think, in fact, that this could be a great ad campaign: have a series of spots where various homely, seemingly dour women are sitting in front of a neutral background, facing camera, and they each put on a Body Shop scent, whereupon they are beset by various male models who swoon about the ladies in question. The ladies then beam gorgeous smiles at the camera in a manner suggesting the thought AW YEAH, as the words "Ananya" (or other scent) and "Only from the Body Shop" quietly appear on the side of the screen.

Hey, anybody wanna help me shoot a spec commercial?

Other than my Proustian rush of memories, yesterday was very calm. Did lots of necessary computer crap I'd put off for a long time, including shifting my blog to a non-MySpace forum -- I'm not done yet, but I will be soon, and then all seven of my MySpace subscribers will have to switch to RSS feeds and get their Astrid fix that way. Sorry. MySpace blogging is like playing with Tinkertoys, and now I'm ready to build the Empire State Building. Or something.

Also, apropos of nothing: POM blackberry/tea irritates me. The beverage itself is lovely, but they've changed the lids and it took me ten minutes and a set of keys to pry that sucker open. Worse: as the lid popped off, a third of the contents splashed all over me. Grrr. I hate when design fails -- it's always a bad sign when you need to attack a beverage with implements. I call a POM boycott! Until they change the lids back, of course.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Spetmeber Scent Xperiment, Day 4

So I put on some Body Shop Sandalwood, and was immediately very happy. It smells very clean, and yet...er, mystical? I don't really think of 'clean' and 'mystical' going together -- I like my mysticalness to be dirty, I guess -- but it works.

First thing I spotted on my Labor Day outing:



What on earth is a 'Noddle'? It sounds like a noodle, only muddled. Tasty.

I also find it interesting that "Noddle" was clearly written at a separate time from the rest of the text; note the darker blue, indicating a fresh marker application. This indicates to me that somebody questioned the spelling of 'Noodle' at some point, which may have been either an internal conflict for the original writer, or a discussion involving at least two people about the spelling of 'Noodle' who then wrestled each other desperately for the dry-eraser, with the 'Noddle' person winning. That, or somebody smeared the sign, and the writer had to fix the damage. Whatever happened, somebody clearly gave 'Noddle' some very serious consideration, like I am now. Fascinating.

So, anyway, there I was, meandering about the face of Pasadena in my big ol' sunhat and strapless sundress, at peace with the world and noddles, when I noticed a mustachioed man filming me from across the street. With a very bulky, professional-looking camera.

Sht.

Being the stupidly confrontational person I am -- did I mention that, when I'm angry, I suddenly grow SEVEN FEET TALL and STEROIDALLY BUFF, entirely in my own imagination? -- I crossed the street to talk to the guy. Weenie that he was, he immediately turned off his camera, hurriedly packed it into the back of his silver Ford SUV, and climbed into the driver's seat.

Oh no you don't you miserable pigfcker son of a bastard--

"Hi," I said, into his window. "Are you a videographer?"

"Yes," he said.

"Were you just shooting footage of me?"

"Yes."

"Are you aware that I could sue you for using my likeness without my permission?"

His eyes lit up, clearly waiting for this.

"You can't sue me." And he gave me the widest possible smile-that-wasn't-a-smile, a smile that showed all his teeth but it didn't reach his eyes at all, a smile that said I GOT YOU, PUSSY IN A SUNDRESS, AND YOU ARE POWERLESS TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. I WILL NOW GO HOME AND VIOLATE MYSELF WHILE WATCHING YOU, AND ENJOY EVERY MINUTE OF IT, WHILE YOU CAN'T DO ANYTHING EXCEPT WHINE IMPOTENTLY ABOUT THIS EXPERIENCE ON YOUR SILLY, SILLY BLOG, PUSSY IN A SUNDRESS. HA HA.

So I wrote down his license plate number (5LGE855) and phoned the police.

The officer on the other end was very nice, ran the number and told me it was connected to a local Pasadena film production company, but she also informed me that what the guy did was, technically, not illegal. If I ever see my likeness anywhere, of course, that'll be a whole other matter; but, for now, I really am a powerless pussy in a sundress. Fck me.

Way to harsh my sandalwood mellow, you Pasadena mustachioed wanking-to-women-who-hate-you bastard. I will now take pictures of myself looking peeved.



Well, me being me, peevishness never lasts terribly long.




And I swear I'm wearing a sundress -- it's strapless, but still very tasteful. Honest.

The worst part is, this isn't the first time a random guy has taken my picture without my permission. Fckrs all.

Conclusions:

1. People capturing your likeness without your permission should be shot on sight.

2. Next time this happens, I'm going to flirt with the guy and ask for his business card, and then unleash my unholy wrath upon him via a lawyer. HEEHEHEEEHEHEHEEHEHEEEEE.

3. Sandalwood is very soothing, even in the worst of times.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Spetmeber Scent Xperiment, Day 3



Invisible Day

I felt invisible yesterday, in a not-entirely unpleasant way. Did the Satsuma thing again, as per Rebekah's request, and did a whole bunch of unpacking and book-sorting. Read a chunk of "Mary Poppins, She Wrote; the Life of P. L. Travers" by Valerie Lawson, and I've hit the part where Travers starts hanging out with theosophists. I've decided that if I weren't such a card-carrying atheist, I'd be a theosophist instead; it just seems like a barrel of monkeys plus a bag of Doritos, you know? I also happen to agree with the theosophy slogan -- "There is no religion higher than truth" -- although the actual practice of theosophy involves quack seances, 'telegraphing' with the undead and so forth. Fun for a Saturday night, but not my idea of truth, exactly.

Still, there's no denying that theosophy attracted some really remarkable people, besides friends of P. L. Travers. From Wikipedia: "before his death Scriabin [a theosophist] planned a multimedia work, to be performed in the Himalayas, that would bring about the armageddon". IS THAT NOT AWESOME? Also, Henry Steel Olcott "is still remembered fondly by many Sri Lankans." Man, that's one of my goals in life, to be remembered fondly by many Sri Lankans. Nifty.

So, yeah, lots of heavy lifting, light lifting, reading about quacky folks, and more lifting. Then there was Peruvian cuisine, and a Lee Hazlewood music tribute at Tangier, where everyone was ironically hip except me, because I was still wearing my unpacking/reading-about-theosophy clothes, and no amount of Satsuma goodness (now entirely faded) could make up for my utilitarian, shambly look. Not that I minded: the very last performer of the evening, whose name I sadly couldn't get, was just a man and a guitar singing Lee Hazlewood, and his purity and simplicity blew. me. away. It more than made up for all the pouting and posturing from everybody else that night, and I wanted to give him a hug afterwards.

Conclusions:
1. Being the perfume novice that I am, I'm learning that perfume does not magically renew itself (Renew! Renew!), and requires periodic upkeep. I'm sure this is painfully obvious to everyone except me, but I pride myself upon being a fast learner. Heck, I didn't learn how to properly blowdry my hair until last year, and now see how snazzy it is! This is what I get for being raised by a tomboy mom.

2. It's not a good idea to take perfume requests. Sorry, Bekka, but I was really in the mood to just smell soapy clean and nothing more. I guess there's no predicting these things, though.

3. I need to figure out a way to do a multimedia presentation in the Himalayas, and also hang out with many Sri Lankans.

P.S. The above photo was taken in my bathroom. Yes, I really do have a hula girl keeping me company. And I use the doll's head, which is hollow, as a cup to hold my toothbrush. More info than you ever really needed, huh?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Spetmeber Scent Xperiment, Day 2

SSXD2 lasted until about 2 this morning, which is why I haven't written about it until now. Here's how it went:



I chose the Body Shop Satsuma (the ESP award goes to Rebekah, rock on), because I needed to feel alert, and citrusy scents are handy for that. So far so good.

So, there I was, flipping around various TV channels yesterday morning, munching on my breakfast (strawberries, plain yogurt and oat sprinkles, yumz), when the words "Bill el Científico" flashed across the screen.

Huh, I thought. That kind of looks like 'Bill the Scientist.' As in "Bill Nye the Science Guy." Sure enough, the familiar chorus of "Bill! Bill! Bill!" popped out moments later, and I was then treated to an episode of Bill el Científico yammering away in dubbed Spanish about the science of breathing. Apparently, the Spanish term for thorax is 'thorax.' And mucus is 'mucosa.' There was also a mention of the Krebs Cycle, I believe.

All this science fabulosity was then followed by another excellent episode of "Bill el Científico," wherein he discussed friction ("Friccion!"), as evidenced by him sliding around a lot. Also, there was an excellent demonstration of ball bearings, using marbles and a jar lid, which spells doom for any household with an impressionable and overly curious 11-year-old.

Speaking of impressionable, did I mention that, back in high school, I wanted to marry Bill Nye? The man is total hotness in a blue lab coat. Granted, he does look a tad cadaverous, what with the deep-set eyes and high cheekbones, but I kinda go for that sort of thing. After all, I also like David Bowie, Daniel Day Lewis, and cadavers. Er, I mean....

Yeah.

So, after all this hilarity and swooning and Spanish-dubbed excitement ("Friccion!"), I decided to get down to business, trotting out to my local caffeineatorium with script in hand, but that all ended when I went outside. And slammed into an invisible wall o' heat, about 102 degrees Fahrenheit, which would have been enough to fry Bill Nye's bowtie right off his sexy geek neck. This was a killing heat -- I went back inside, and was already done for the day. It was sad, and no amount of Satsuma awesomeness was able to counteract it. I read a little, napped a little, read some more, napped some more, etc. I also dimly recall watching some "SpongeBob SquarePants" in there, which is always a fine idea. The script, thankfully, turned out to be pretty impressive, but it wove weirdly in my dreams with SpongeBob, which I'm not sure I'd recommend.

I awoke with a start around 8pm, feeling groggy, and then I was suddenly consumed with the need to salvage the day. Or night, whatever. And so, feeling a little woozy and disconnected, I headed out into the Pasadena evening, and I'm really glad I did. It was like the entirety of Pasadena, which had napped right along with me, had decided to stir along with me as well, and the sense of expectancy in the air was electric. Everybody was out, even in my part of the neighborhood, which is just houses and trees and crickets and dim streetlights and not much else. In the dark, people coasted past on bicycles, gears clicking as the riders quietly chatted and laughed. Children giggled, dogs bounded, trees glowed in the streetlights, guys shyly nodded their hellos, crickets chirped, and couples kissed. Actually, I think Pasadena may have broken some record for kissing couples, right around 8pm yesterday.

Like I said, it was that kind of evening. And the Body Shop Satsuma fit it perfectly: sweet, clear, yet serenely lush.

I grabbed an iced Japanese Cherry green tea and chocolate chunk muffin at the Coffee Bean, settled in with a second script (a vile paint-by-numbers gorefest, yawn), gave up on the script after twenty minutes, and people-watched. Folks were thronging to Pinkberry across the street, which still baffles me. As for the rest of the crowds, the night was too hot for people to be as jumpy or chatty as they normally would be on a Saturday night, so there was an almost liquid quality to people's movements, a lethargy which made everything seem even more serene and meaningful somehow.

Pasadena, last night, had presence. It was magical.

After I finished my tea and muffin, I decided to head home, but when I hit my street, I just kept going -- something deep within me couldn't give up this night just yet. I still have no idea how long I walked in the dark, twenty minutes? Two hours? It was quietly glorious, in that wistfully suburban, Ray Bradbury sort of way. Air conditioners hummed, sprinklers swished, houses creaked and settled. In the distance, through an open window, Mel Gibson yelled "Freedom!" as an orchestra swelled. I passed an older woman who was outside just to enjoy things like me -- she was gazing absently at her sprinkler when I walked by, and we quietly said hello to each other before we let our minds slide away again into the dark. It was nice. And my perfume lasted the whole time, adding that little something extra. Just beautiful.

I wasn't planning on wearing the same scent twice in a row, but it has been specially requested, plus it was undeniably part of yesterday's magic. I can't wait to see what happens tonight.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Spetmeber Scent Xperiment, Day 1



So, after an inspiring exchange thus far with a pen pal (er, keyboard pal?), I've decided to do a little experiment with myself over the next month or so, which I have dubbed The Spetmeber Scent Xperiment. The misspelling of September is intentional, which will make sense if you go back and read the entirety of my blog. Enjoy! I'll wait here until you're finished.
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Okay, nice to see you made it back. So, here's the background to my experiment: I normally never wear perfume, which my keyboard pal deplored, saying that one's nasal activities should not necessarily have to be restricted to breathing. There's a fun-scented world out there, and it's time that my provincial olfactory system be taken for a spin, if you will.

The experiment: to wear perfume every day for the next thirty days or so, ideally not wearing the same scent two days in a row. I already have a small library o' perfumes, which I've allowed to languish, and now's my chance to finally put said library to good use.

The point of the experiment: to see if this somehow improves my existence, or at least my perception of my existence.

Now, I understand that today was technically not yet September (or Spetmeber), but Science Waits For No One. So, today I chose to spritz myself with Sephora "mûre," which not only made me feel immediately sassier, but even inspired me to wear my Officially Sassy Pumps, which I stupidly forgot to photograph earlier.

No matter.

(Side note: I noticed when I got home just now that I had forgotten to log out of MySpace, which may have confused some people into thinking I was chained to a computer all day, but in fact I was Out and About, sharing my perfumed sassiness with the world at large under the guise of picking up footage I shot, catching up on teaching-related paperwork, getting groceries, and having a lovely dinner al fresco with Rebekah.)

Back to the Spetmeber Scent Xperiment, Day 1: Despite the fact that the scent wore off quickly -- must remember to up the dosage next time -- its psychological effects carried me pretty well throughout the day. Students complimented my sassy shoes. Cashiers complimented my sassy earrings. Even the e-mails I received today seemed sassier, including the boring listserv ones.

Conclusion, end of Day 1: Sephora mûre rocks, but it would rock harder if it didn't wear off so quickly. I'm not used to bathing in perfume oils, but I guess desperate perfume times call for desperate perfume measures.

Saturday will be a big day o' script reading for me, done in a lovely nearby coffee shop, and I am as clueless as you are about what scent I shall try for tomorrow. An invigorating Body Shop Satsuma, perhaps? A more mellow Calgon Get Juic'd plum raspberry? Or a more mysterious sandalwood, in case I'm tired of smelling like a fruit bowl? Or perhaps a walk down Memory Lane with Body Shop Ananya (my signature scent in my freshman year of undergrad)?

I'm sure you're bored senseless by now, but this is a world I haven't explored in a long, long time. It's almost like discovering I have a third eyeball and can now see in four dimensions. Or something.