Archive for April, 2010

Storm Chasing (me)

April 30, 2010

I headed home to Madison this afternoon to join the family for KJ’s birthday celebration.  We’re going to see a UW production of Into the Woods and then tomorrow head down to my grandmother’s home town of Monticello, IL which we still love to visit even though she’s no longer there.  I’d been tracking the weather and knew that there was a big storm rolling my way.  As the sky grew dark and thunder started to rumble ominously I coordinated with my boss and got the last few things wrapped up so that I could take off a early and try to get out ahead of it.  In fact the image above is me stopped on a hilltop just out side of Coon Valley and looking back (somewhat smugly) at the louring clouds – thinking I’d gotten out from under it. That picture, I should note, was taken at 2:00 pm!  (The place I stopped happened to be the charmingly named Cut Across Road.)  However as the weather map screen shot from shortly after my arrival shows – I did not escape the storm.  In fact I established a new definition for the word torrential while I crawled along at 40, barely able to see the car 100 yards in front of me.  I am so grateful to be parked and now my knuckles are returning to their accustomed flesh tone.


“Our Knuckle Dragging Forebears and the Battles They Ran Away From”

April 28, 2010

I picked up Garth Nix’s book of short stories, Across the Wall, from the library a few weeks ago, mostly for the small continuing taste it offered of the Old Kingdom world previously written about in Sabriel, Lirael and AbhorsenLirael is one of my favorite books and largely contributed to my twentieth birthday being one of the Best Days Ever; I spent most of it lying in a hammock reading Lirael for the first time.  Its a fabulous example of well written, well plotted, well dramatized fantasy that is miraculously free from derivative Tolkien references.  Also the whole first half of the quite-hefty book takes place in a library – its a dream come true.  But I digress.

The last “story” in the book is actually a “spoken word piece” written for a “panel session at the 1999 Worldcon in Melbourne, Australia.”  Its the spurious introduction to a new epic fantasy series entitled “Introduction to My Really Epic Fantasy Series” and its absolutely hilarious.  I was laughing so hard by the time I turned the first page that I could hardly breathe.  And ever so kindly he also has it posted on his website so I need neither re-type the whole thing in order to share it with you nor worry about copyright infringement.  I’ve pasted the text below but you can also find it on his website here:

Garth Nix’s New Really Epic Fantasy Series

I’m going to read the prologue from my new 47 book epic fantasy series which is currently titled THE GARBELIAD. The titles of the individual books include:

Book One A Time of Wheels

Book Two A Throne of Games

Book Three The Dragon Who Died Young

Book Four The Sorcerer’s Thirty-Seven Apprentices

Book Five The Witch Wardrobe of Lyon

Book Six The Dark is Falling

Book Seven The Seventh Book

Book Eight The Return of the Mistakenly Purchased King

To tell the truth I’m not entirely sure about the other 40 books yet, though I’m toying with ‘The Book Whose Title Must Not Be Spoken’ for Book 26. You know, to keep the series sort of atmospheric and spooky. Read the rest of this entry »

Useful Life Lessons From the Bard

April 26, 2010

I’m feeling a strong sense of mourning for the end of Bard-A-Thon which was more fun this last week than I could have imagined.  The experience of sitting around an ill-lit table in the back of a side street store front down town at all hours of the day or night reading great prose and poetry out loud with one other person or with a dozen was so deeply satisfying that I’m looking around my life for ways to re-create it.  Having steeped myself in Shakespeare and read nine plays in six days I have derived a few useful universal principles we can take from the cannon.  Feel free to chip in with your own!

In any odd case of mistaken identity, check for a missing twin before you assume everyone around you is bewitched.

Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night

This follows on the idea of “when you hear hoof beats think horses not zebras.”  I would say its particularly apt when, as Antipholus in Comedy of Errors, you have been traveling around for the last six years looking for your long lost twin brother and suddenly you find yourself in a place where people you don’t know seem to recognize you as a neighbor.  Logic might suggest that you had succeeded in your quest and should start looking around the area for a guy that looks just like you.  I find this a little more excusable in Viola and Sebastian but … really its still pretty dippy.

If your boss betrays and kills everyone around him, watch your back at the end of the story.

Richard III

I have to say Buckingham seems like one of the stupidest characters in all of Shakespeare.  Bear in mind that I’m including Sir Andrew Aguecheek (of Twelfth Night) in this assessment.  He is working for a guy who begins the play by saying:

“I am determined to prove a villain

And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous

By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams.”

OK so granted he says these things in monologue to the audience but Buckingham stands around and listens while Richard outlines nearly countless other betrayals, either by ordering people dead, stirring up trouble so that other people send the orders, killing them himself on the battle field or by asking them confusing questions and then declaring them to be traitors – then having them executed.  He helps Richard kill his own nephews for crying out loud.  Then at the end, he’s shocked that he isn’t richly rewarded for his service (while Richard is in the middle of a fairly serious uprising at that).  Not one of the world’s brightest lights, our Buckingham.  Unsurprisingly he ends up dead.  Nearly everyone does.  So many people die in Richard III (both on stage and off that they have to import a new cast of characters from France to finish the play.

If your boyfriend is mad at you, tell him you’re dead.

Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra

This one works great – instead of having your issues out with your significant other through discussion just have someone go tell them that you died after your last fight.  It helps if the messenger seems really upset and also if they say that your last words were the name of your love.  Watch out though – because depending on the context of comedy or tragedy this plan can backfire badly.  Priests seem often to offer this advice (MAAN, R&J) but that is not always a guarantee of its success.  What you want to do is make sure that your loved one will be shaken but not totally undone by grief.  If you fear the latter make sure that whomever you send with the follow up message of “just kidding” comes in good time or you may find that they’ve prematurely killed themselves.  Then you have to actually kill yourself.  It is the only way.

So this rule has a follow up: Read the rest of this entry »

Star Wars Cast

April 23, 2010

Unfortunately I don’t know any more about the provenance of this image than that it came from this blog, which unfortunately doesn’t source it at all.  But I have to post it anyway because its been making me happy ever since I happened across it.  I’ve been on a bit of a Star Wars kick (more so than usual) recently.  Read the rest of this entry »


April 21, 2010

All Shakespeare, all the time.  That’s what’s going on in La Crosse this week.  The idea is an around-the-clock reading of all of Shakespeare’s plays in a little empty storefront in downtown.   I’d seen posters for it but was feeling oddly reluctant to go check it out until yesterday when someone at work had a little flier with the order and times of the plays.  Seeing the titles with times beside them finally kicked me into action.  I decided to go see Richard III at 8pm and I walked downtown to see what it was all about after dinner. Read the rest of this entry »

Deadline met!

April 19, 2010

Well its all done.  And I really did end up cutting it down to the wire.  I redesigned the collar of the jacket last thing and was sewing on the final seem at noon on saturday.  Then I rushed all around my apartment throwing things in a bag and was in my car on the way to the wedding by 12:20.  According to google maps that departure time meant I’d barely make it to the service but, by dint of driving quite a bit over the speed limit on open roads the whole way, I made it there in good time.

The wedding was totally lovely.  This was actually my first grown-up wedding and I thought it all came off beautifully.  Chris and Paul were married in her home town church by his family minister and everyone there was very casual and happy.  Chris looked amazing (like a real bride)!  The reception was really nice.  There was a great big band style band playing dance music and I sat with a table of fellow archi-grads so it was like a mini reunion as well.  All in all, I was thrilled to be there for it.  Oh I almost forgot.  The craziest thing is this:  I caught the bouquet.  I’m not really up on the rules of this but I figure it means one of three things:  Read the rest of this entry »

19 Hours … and counting

April 16, 2010

OK.  I’m cutting this one down to the wire because the occasion for this dress is tomorrow at 4:00 PM.  I figure between the time it takes me to drive to the church in Keister and the drive of my commute home from work tonight I’ll have about 19 hours to get this all finished up (plus do all the eating, sleeping and personal hygiene I feel is necessary in the interim).  I’m quite confident about the dress – it just need to have the zipper set in and then be hemmed.  The jacket still doesn’t have sleeve of any sort – that one is just a rectangular piece of fabric pinned on to test.  It may or may not make the deadline.  Never the less it will be fun to try it tonight.  And I’ll be sure to snap and post the final result tomorrow.  If anyone has a spare moment tonight … wish me luck in being as decisive and productive as I need to be!


April 15, 2010

So its tax day and I DON’T agree with T-Rex here.  I lamely come down on the Utahraptor size and think taxes are pretty darn cool.  I actually only just filed my federal taxes today (way to procrastinate, me!) although, in my defense, I did have them all prepared and set more than a month ago.  I filed my state taxes last week and already got my refund direct deposited to my bank account (woo hoo!)  I’m going to owe on the federal taxes.  But actually I find the whole process kind of fun and interesting.  Here I am, making a contribution to my nation’s maintenance costs.  So … hooray for taxes.  I, too, would rather have less of them go to pay for our nations wars but even there – I’m not about to suggest cutting off funds to the soliders currently embroiled in our mess – they need all the help they can get.  Anyway.  I’m totally with Gail Collins here.  We should be celebrating tax day.


April 10, 2010

The new xkcd is oddly resonant with a favorite Dino Comic of mine.  So here they both are:



A Dime Novel Hidden in the Corn Crib

April 8, 2010

I found this pen and ink sketch of several corn cribs during a little random internet trolling the other day.  Its labeled as being from Eric Sloan’s An Age of Barns.  I don’t have all that much to say about it other than … isn’t it a lovely form.  I love those slanty walls and open slats, which seem beautiful as well as practical solutions for keeping rain out and air flowing.  I’ve never personally seen one set up on glass panes before.

Mysterious Ticking Noise

April 7, 2010

I happened to watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with my aunt and uncle when I was in Seattle.  (It was awful.  Chris Columbus should be ashamed of himself.  The movie versions have improved SO MUCH in recent years now that he’s no longer involved in them.  Thank goodness!)  But for some reason it reminded me of this video which I then re-watched and felt inspired to share.  Enjoy.

Click here for more on Harry Potter.

Lightning Round Dress Design

April 5, 2010

Here’s my new challenge: the 72 hour dress.  This is something I’ve had in mind for a while – the fabric was purchased on a whim in January and I decided probably in February that I was going to make a dress out of it to wear to Chris’s wedding.  But then other things came up and I didn’t really get around to doing it.

So now here it is April and the wedding is the weekend after next … and I also had plans to make a coordinating gray corduroy jacket.  Accordingly, yesterday I threw down the gauntlet for myself.  I bullied a little reluctant design advice out of KJ while she was here and came up with a basic design and then got my dress form out and started pinning.  The above is still just the mockup – all held together with pins and folding.  In this shot to the right though I’m wearing the semi-complete bodice section while my handy dandy dress form continues to be just pinned together.  But by the time I left for work I had attached the skirt section to the bodice and tried the whole thing on once.

Its coming together very quickly and I’m keeping my usual contemplative deliberation breaks to a minimum.  Tonight I hit the fabric store for a zipper and hook-and-eye closure and I very much hope to have it wrapped up by tomorrow.  Here’s the full mockup below:

Happy Easter!

April 4, 2010

KJ was up for the weekend and our dear momma sent a little bag of easter candy along with her for old times sake.  We very maturely waited to crack it open until this morning and found these two chocolate bunnies.  Couldn’t help re-creating the funniest easter card I’ve ever seen with our own two bunnies.  Happy Candy Day!