Mur Murs

Nov. 21st, 2013 07:09 pm
tablesaw: An indigenous American crucified on a cross crowned by a bald eagle. In the background stands a Mesoamerican temple. (América Tropical)
I saw Mur Murs at the Aero last week, and had mixed feelings about it. It's a documentary by Agnès Varda about the murals of Los Angeles at the beginning of the '80s. Varda films murals of around Los Angeles talks with many of the artists. I came mostly looking for the aspects of Los Angeles history—and it was great to see some of the murals that have since been destroyed or covered up—but the film overall had a syrupy "artsiness" that left a bad taste in my mouth.

I grew up in Los Angeles in the '80s (though I was only a toddler when this movie was filmed), and there were so many twinges of memory while watching the movie. I don't know how much I've internalized the way film looked at the time as an indicator of what life looked at the time, but everything looked like something out of my vague memory. And judging by the occasional murmuring of the mostly boomer audience, others who were older then felt the same.

Because Varda always seems to have at least one mural in every shot, it leaves you feeling like Los Angeles is a is a city where very wall is filled with color, an art gallery on every street. It's not that way, and it wasn't then, and I was craving the chance to leave the frame to see the mundane spaces that I was more familiar with. But seeing those sometimes out-of-the way places knit into a dream geography is wonderful.

Some of the best moments of the movie involved the members of ASCO, an influential Chicano performance-art group. Members like Willie Herrón and Gronk talk about their early murals, which leads into their discussion of current work, culminating in the filming of an ASCO happening that is part mural, part theater, and, ultimately, part film. It's this kind of artistic synthesis that Varda seems to be chasing throughout the film, though in many places it falls terribly flat.

Where I was looking for the art to speak for itself, Varda seemed to want to comment on the art herself. She stages shots in painfully precious ways. A line of people practice Tai Chi in front of Two Blue Whales. People are provided with props to match the images of the murals they walk past. And most egregiously, while showing the entirety of the Farmer John Packing Plant mural, someone (presumably Varda) makes derisive pig sounds for a few minutes before the narrator (definitely Varda) chastises Farmer John for not showing the artists of the mural the appropriate respect. (Though, to her credit, Varda does make it a point to announce the artist credits whenever their work appears on screen.)

Maybe it's a generational thing; the older audience seemed to be eating those segments up. During the Q&A with Varda, even terrible puns were treated with absurd reverence. But the movie was made for a different audience and a different time. ASCO, who tagged LACMA in protest of Chicano exclusion from the at world, had a retrospective in LACMA recently. I can see how a film like this would be an argument for the art establishment to respect murals, but then I don't care much for that establishment anyway, then or now.
tablesaw: An indigenous American crucified on a cross crowned by a bald eagle. In the background stands a Mesoamerican temple. (América Tropical)
I'm back in LA, and recent evidence confirms that Portland may be quirky, but Southern California is weird, the kind of Capital-W Weird that encompasses Lovecraftian-level Weirdness.
  • There was an earthquake in Los Angeles last night. It wasn't big (magnatitude 3.7, below the 4.0 threshold for most Angelenos to care about), but it was centered in a populated area (I was playing board games less than a mile from there only three hours earlier). It also managed to move through most of the LA Basin without losing much strength; it woke me up sixteen miles away, wondering if this was the beginning of a large quake, tensing to leap out of bed and prepare for coming chaos. Instead I fell right back to sleep, and when I woke up, I couldn't remember why I was looking at the clock at 3:18.

  • The Los Angeles City Council voted to ban medical-marijuana dispensaries within city limits. This puts city law at odds with the state law which is at odds with federal law. (The LA law is also at odds with federal law since it affirms the right to "grow and share marijuana in groups of three people or fewer.") I love this quote:
    "The best course of action is to ban dispensaries, allow patients to have access under state law," [Councilperson Jose Huizar, who proposed the bill,] said. "Let's wait to see what the state Supreme Court decides and then we will be in a much better position to draft an ordinance that makes sense."
    Because when the law is unclear, the best thing to do is take the most drastic action possible while waiting for a final result.

  • I just recently learned about a wonderful blog series running on the KCET website: Laws that Shaped L.A. One was nominated by gaming buddy Mark Valliantos: "The Roots of Sprawl: Why We Don't Live Where We Work." It's about the 1908 zoning laws (the Residence District Ordinance and the Industrial District Ordinance) of Los Angeles, and how they were designed by the first Progressives who were trying to use the laws to create a more ordered and virtuous city.
    "People had a sense that when it came to land use of the city, we could spread out, we could avoid some of the problems of the East Coast industrial cities," he says. "But in the end, it's a shame. We went too far in the other direction, too much toward cars, too much toward sprawl. We're still repairing that today."
    My other favorite so far is on the Laws of the Indies enacted by King Philip II of Spain in 1573, which explains why Los Angeles isn't centered near the port (where Long Beach is) and why downtown LA's grid clashes with the areas around it (a story continued in an article on Thomas Jefferson's 1785 Land Ordinance.)

  • Occupy LA was an odd moment in our police history, when the LAPD (the L.A.P.D.!) was calmly letting Occupy do their thing. And yet, when folks take chalk to the streets, someone I know (don't know if I should reveal their identity) got caught in a MacArthur Park–like cleansing of the area, which resulted in getting beaten with a nightstick when trying to leave. It wasn't until after the police had begun firing rubber bullets into the crowd that a different officer let them through with the advice, "Run and hide."

  • And now there's Anaheim where the police seem to be going on a killing spree aimed at driving toward a 1965-style riot. Local radio station KPCC compared the situation to the one described in a 1963 report by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations. The local nickname "Klanaheim" was earned in the '20s when the Ku Klux Klan briefly (and ultimately unsuccessfully) took over the city government. But resident OC Mexican Gustavo Arellano
    Wonder why Orange County trembles whenever its Mexicans protest? Welcome to the Citrus War of 1936, the most important event in Orange County history you've never heard of.
    His article about the Citrus War of 1936 details an extended racialized labor struggle in which
    Orange County Sheriff Logan Jackson deputized citrus orchard guards and provided them with steel helmets, shotguns and ax handles. The newly minted cops began arresting [mostly Mexican] strikers en masse, more than 250 by strike's end. When that didn't stop the strike, they reported workers to federal immigration authorities. When that didn't work, out came the guns and clubs. Tear gas blossomed in the groves. Mobs of citrus farmers and their supporters attacked under cover of darkness.

GIP!

Jul. 16th, 2011 03:57 pm
tablesaw: Benito Juarez holds up a neon sign that says "GET OUTTA MY COUNTRY ARCHDICK" (Archdick)
Benito Juarez has a message for Archduke Ferdinand, from Hark, A Vagrant
tablesaw: An indigenous American crucified on a cross crowned by a bald eagle. In the background stands a Mesoamerican temple. (América Tropical)
I used to do reviews of the Escape Artists podcasts. Maybe I should do that again. Recently, I've been meaning to post more, but the days slip by without me even noticing I haven't posted again. (On the other hand, my exercise is staying fairly regular, despite wisdom-tooth disruptions, so that's good.) But I really wanted to talk about one particular Podcastle episode I listened to last week. So I'll preface by saying that on the whole, the quality's been good from the shows that I was listening to (though I listen anywhere from a month to a year behind release, usually).

The story I was listening to on Monday was Podcastle 156, "Household Spirits" by C.S.E. Cooney (full text available at Strange Horizons, where it was originally published. I stopped listening halfway through.

Skipping episodes is actually common for me—due to audio issues, substandard performance, or stories that are simply not my cup of tea—not usually anything to remark upon. With "Household Spirits," though, I had to turn it off because of the relentless parade of tropes forwarding racism against Amerindians.

As I was listening to this story, I felt like I was ticking off a checklist, or filling in a bingo card, about how to use harmful racist imagery to not!Amerindians in science-fiction. I spent a while looking for such a checklist. I mean, there's got to be one, surely, what with Avatar, and all that. The best thing I could find actually wasn't related to speculative fiction, but was simply the criteria from How to Tell the Difference: A Guide for Evaluating Children's Books for Anti-Indian Bias by Doris Seale, Beverly Slapin and Rosemary Gonzales, published online at Oyate.org.

Let's take one section:
In these hills called Seven Quails by the Kilquuts, back in those days there still was Kilquuts. Our ghost don't talk much. When he does, it's to Jessemee.

I shouldn't say ghost. Jessemee says the better word (just like you with your better words) is genius or numen. I've heard other words too, by other settlers. Ghoulog. Scabby. Shadekin.

Got to tell you, Del, to me it just looks like a boy.

His name, so far as I can coax one, is Mimo.

I know I got that wrong. There are other sounds in between the ones I can hear, but that's close enough for letter writing. Mimo looks a bit like this old Kilquut farmhouse we bought sight unseen. Skinny and leaning, with dirt on it so thick I don't reckon a bunch of bachelors like us'll ever get it scrubbed clean.
What can we check off?
  • Are Native peoples portrayed as . . . simple tribal people, now extinct?
  • Are there insulting overtones to the language in the book? Are racist adjectives used to refer to Indian peoples?
  • Are Native cultures presented in a condescending manner? Are there paternalistic distinctions between "them" and "us"?
  • Are Native peoples discussed in the past tense only, supporting the "vanished Indian" myth? Is the past unconnected to the present?
Or how about this:
About ten years ago, the Kilquut elders had a sit-down at their meetinghouse (big ramble of a place the Gladstones have overrun), and said, They're coming. We can't fight them. We can't become them. We can't leave.

The Kilquut argument, what Jess calls "their focal tenet" (which puts me in mind of you, Del, and those radical ideas you call religion), is that it's always better to die than kill. Easy way to wipe out your species, I say. I told you that before.

So the Kilquuts gathered themselves in a valley. All but the young'uns, who the elders hoped might grow up with no memory of how things'd been. Then the Kilquuts spoke some words they all knew, and the green lightning came down and killed them. The sky opened and poured a month straight, filling up that valley of the dead.
In addition to some things we've already checked off:
  • Are Native Nations presented as being responsible for their own "disappearance?"
  • Does the story encourage children to believe that Native peoples accepted defeats passively?
Continuing on:
After making sure Mimo was okay and not puking anymore, he went outside and cut a switch, then came back in and explained to Mimo, let's see if I can remember the words . . .

"Son, those arrows weren't rightly yours to . . . to . . ." Dad pointed at the green fire but couldn't say burn. "And someday, Mimo, maybe not tomorrow, but someday in the future, if I don't show you right now how it's wrong to break other people's things, it'll go bad for you."
Let's check off:
  • In modern times, are Indian people portrayed as childlike and helpless? Does a white authority figure – pastor, social worker, teacher- know better than Native people themselves what is "good for them?"
And this is just in the first half of the story before I turned it off. And it's not even all that was in the part I listened to. And Oyate doesn't have anything on their list about being magical.

It's not a new idea that there's a problem with speculative fiction writers who attempt to "subvert" or otherwise "neutralize" racist tropes by using their authorial control to make those tropes literally true in their world. So the Navi are literally connected to the earth. Patricia Wrede writes about pre-Columbian Americas that are literally "empty of people but full of dangerous animals, many of them magical." The beings that South Africa are subjecting to apartheid are literally insects. This is not subversion; this is entrenchment.

Finally, there's a general criterion on the Oyate list:
  • Is there anything in the story that would embarrass or hurt a Native child?
It's a question best answered by [personal profile] moniquill:
STORIES LIKE THIS HURT ME.

They hurt PEOPLE LIKE ME. The especially hurt CHILDEN LIKE ME. They hurt me because they are part of a cultural narrative that erases the reality of my existence. That claims that This is what NDNs were and Now they Are Gone isn't it Sad? But if our good readers had been there, OH IF ONLY THEY HAD BEEN THERE, they would have been some of the Good White People and would have Joined The Natives. Yes they would. Which neatly absolves them from having to think about the fact that their ancestors didn't and the lasting ramifications that has on native people living today. Everyone weeps cathartic tears and insists that they'd have helped the Na'vi fight to keep out the unobtamium miners, but precious few of them then go home and help the REAL FUCKING LIVE Dineh (Navajo, to those playing the white name game) fight the uranium miners TODAY in the REAL WORLD. And why should they? The story already absolved them.
Moniquill wrote this and much more because I bugged her about this story before I wrote up this post. As a result, she wrote a far more amazing response than I could hope to come up with, from which I took the above quote. She also subjected herself to the entire story, so if you want to get a taste of even worse things in the story (and even I was shocked at some of he quotes from later in the story), she's your person.
tablesaw: One machete is raised, a host more rise to meet it. (From the "Machete" trailer in "Grindhouse".) (Brown Power)
The Nigerian historian J.F. Afe Ajayi steers a sensible middle course between dramatization and trivialization of the effects of colonial rule: "Although the Europeans were generally masters of the colonial situation and had political sovereignty, they did not possess a monopoly of initiatve during the colonial period." We must therefore ask who held the historical initiative, as well as when and under what conditions. This approach throws into question the long-popular model of "impact and response," which held that the dynamic representatives of the "West" were those who acted, while the natives only had the option of reacting. In reality, the colonial situation is characterized by an ongoing struggle on the part of all concerned for opportunities to act. For the colonized this has also involved a struggle for human dignity.
—Jürgen Osterhammel, Colonialism
tablesaw: -- (Default)
After extensive Jedi NPL training, it's sometimes strange to play games with other people. Take yesterday's game of Pictionary using player-submitted clues.
Player:
OK, the category is historical event, but I don't even know anything about this.

Tablesaw:
The Defenestration of Prague!

Player:
...

Player:
We still get the point even though I didn't draw anything, right?
tablesaw: The pixelated dog from Duck Hunt, emerging from a real field of tall green grass beneath a clear blue sky. (Duck Hunt)
I follow Live Granades because, although I don't go to the IFMud much anymore, I spent a lot of time there, and really liked Stephen, and even spent some time on vacation with him and Misty. Mostly, I like looking at the pictures of their kids and Misty's craftwork.

But this is a seriously great post:
So to recap: a game intended to be religious was changed by its first disciple so that access to the religion involved either money or being famous. Possible responses include subverting it within or declaring a reformation and forking the project. Sound familiar?
Seriously go read it.

Stephen says later:
You want to know why I care about games? This is why. Chain World has spawned arguments about the greater meaning of games and how they reflect the wider world. Leave aside arguments about whether games are art or not. Games like Chain World have something to say about our lives.
Of the people I read talking about videogames, I really do think that Auntie Pixelante is the most insightful and radical. At a time when the "industry" is obsessed with making sure that videogames are "mature" while remaining juvenile, Anna Anthropy steps up to show what you can do when you're really at peace with the role of sex (even supposedly deviant sex) in a functioning human's life. Recently, Craft and Punishment closely examined the relationship between game maker and game player and the BDSM participants. And
Beyond Indie, presented at this year's Game Developers Conference proclaims:
the promise of tools like game maker—that let anyone make a game with no professional or programming experience—and the cheap broadband internet that allows them to distribute their games without a publisher is GAMES MADE BY EVERYONE FOR EVERYONE, not games by the same small handful of nerds for the same nerds to play.
Geek Feminism points out that the father of the first true videogame console, one that used a microprocessor specifically to play games, was Jerry Lawson, a black engineer. I knew about the Fairchild Channel F from my Encyclopedia of Game Machines, but while the importance of the machine is mentioned, Lawson isn't. (The space is saved for the head of Fairchild, Gordon Moore.)

Just a few cool things in videogames recently.
tablesaw: -- (Real1)
Next week, my desktop turns eight, which explains why it's all creaky crappy doing anything at all.

I'm going to need a new one soon, and I may possibly get one on Friday, again. I have no idea what I'm looking for anymore, though. Tips appreciated.

A happy holiday for everyone. Stay safe, and remember the truth about our history.
tablesaw: Run Away (to the ocean, to the country, to the mountains . . .) (Runaway)
I suppose it would happen that I lose internet access when I'm having an existential crisis. The internet is something I use to fend them off.

I've been making a fanmix for a Whedonland challenge, and that's meant digging deep into my music collection. And digging deep into my music collection has meant listening to music I haven't heard in a while. And listening to music I haven't heard in a while means feeling things I haven't felt in a while.

I've been flashing back to the feeling of the Tower Records at GW, the place where I browsed magazines and books, where I bought new music (that I still have), where I saw Suzanne Vega talk about meeting Lou Reed. just across the way there was an ice-cream place (was it a Coldstone's?) and an Au Bon Pain and a bar I never went to because I didn't turn 21 until I was at UCSB, and I remember it in flashes of how I felt that day, cold or wet or hot or tired or excited or scared or depressed or infatuated or proud.

Or I'll remember standing in the Albany airport, waiting for [livejournal.com profile] isako to give me a ride to meet [livejournal.com profile] ojouchan for the second time, or the same airport later, when my mom called to tell me that my grandmother had died while I was away.

And every flash is different. It impresses upon me that I never really know who I am, because I'm always changing. I don't know who I am right now.

In a lot of ways, I'm afraid of the past more than the future. The past can do as much damage as the future, but unlike the future, it can't be changed. And every year, there's just so much more of it: more pain, more joy, more laughter, more momentum, more power.

So I like to move forward, focusing on the short term, and leaving anything that's fallen out of my view deep in the past, because once I let it drop, it might not be something that's mine. It's something that belonged to a past me.

If I had the internet on right now, I'd go back and look at my posts. But I can tell, right now, that this is the kind of thing I'd be willing to post years ago, but haven't posted much recently. I'm only doing it now because I'm scared, and I can't sleep, and the only way I can reach out right now is with the phone and everyone I know is (or is probably) asleep. But then, back then, I was a lot more lonely, too, I guess. I've been feeling so many things, but haven't wanted to say them, or write them, and there's been so much to do with friends and family and work and all.

I don't know what's going to change. I do know that I'm more regularly social right now than I've been since college, with two gaming groups, one regular group TV-watching, a close friend at work, and dating with [livejournal.com profile] ojouchan. And I know it's going to be a hard time sleeping tonight.

But even now, I'm feeling the relief this blog used to bring, easing the pressure of loneliness and melancholy.

Also, I'm getting a wisdom tooth pulled tomorrow. That's not really much compared to the memories making me revaluate my concept of identity, but it's also not helping me get to sleep either.

(finished 2:12 a.m.)



Internet is back, the result of my modem and router being finicky about the order they got turned on. Off to the dentist now,and I'll look for and add the links I was thinking of when I get back.
tablesaw: The Mexican Murder Rock from <cite>Warehouse 13</cite> (Mexican Murder Rock!)
I had my laptop throughout the workshop, so I was collecting the links as they came up. Most of them are from the speaker (Bruce Love), but others were from other people at the workshop or ones I located on my own while we were working. Here's my collection of links with descriptions of each.

Mesoamerican Society of CSULA: The hosts of the event, with announcements of future events.

Friends of the Maya: A group Love is associated with that teaches Maya hieroglyphs to modern Maya.

Mesoweb: A collection of Mesoamerican resources, including books.

Night Fire Films: Filmmakers of Breaking the Maya Code, a documentary about the history of Maya script decipherment.

Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. (FAMSI): Has various research including the Kerr photography collection of Maya ceramics

Maya Vase Database: A site run by FAMSI with the Kerr photographs.

K6997, K1837: Kerr photographs of ceramics shown in the workshop.

Peabody Museum Corpus of Hieroglyphic Inscriptions: Photographs and line drawings of stone inscriptions arranged by location.

Tonina Monument 69: One of the carvings that we worked on during the workshop.

Maya Decipherment: Mayanist David Stuart's blog on Maya script and updates to decipherment.

Online Dresden Codex: This link goes to a post on David Stuart's blog with a link to, and instructions for accessing, online photographs of the Dresden Codex on a German website. The Dresden Codex is the most significant and well-preserved Classical Maya codex.

Maya News Updates: Eric Boot's collection of news links related to the Maya.

Mesoamerica in Aztlan: Youtube channel of a student who made a minipresentation on Day 3, examining Mesoamerican cultures today.
tablesaw: The Mexican Murder Rock from <cite>Warehouse 13</cite> (Mexican Murder Rock!)
So not a funerary urn. It's a hot chocolate mug. With the king's name on it. So nobody else gets his king germs.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
Two days ago, I put up a poll to look at differences between British English ("BrE") and American English ("AmE"). My Thoughts . . . )

If you have any thoughts or insights on the questions, the answers, or the poll results, feel free to post them. I'm certainly interested in them.

FriNYTX: 26.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
This has been a busy weekend. And I need to write about it quickly so that [livejournal.com profile] ladytabitha doesn't drop me.

Saturday was the puzzle party, and it was decidedly lackluster. I solemnly swear not to care about bringing things that are new and innovative. If necessary, I'll bring in something that's been done before and that takes me ten minutes to prepare. We could have used some of that.

One nice thing was that, since there were fewer puzzles, there seemed to be a bit more plain old socialization. Not everyone may have seen this as a plus, but I did. A lot of the discussion was with Eric Chaikin [link changed 6/22/11; original link to "http://www.sundancechannel.com/festival/profiles/index.php?ixContent=5769"], an irregular puzzle party attendee, whose movie Word Wars [link changed 6/22/11; original link to "http://www.7thart.com/wordwars/"] is hitting theaters now. It's a documentary following the lives of the nation's top tournament Scrabble players, and looks to be a combination of Crumb and Spellbound. Wrap your mind around that. It's playing in Silver Spring, MD, and it will be opening in New York shortly. Apparently, the success of the movie in New York on its opening weekend will dictate, how much it gets seen across the country, including in LA. And since I want to see it, I'm making you see it. Specifics on the NY opening when I get them.

But yesterday was much more eventful. Artistry and I planned to spend a day exploring a few local sites in preparation for the NPL Convention of 2005, which will be held right here in Los Angeles. Artistry has really wanted to do a big hunt on Hollywood Boulevard, and I was going to go along to listen to his ideas and offer new ones. [livejournal.com profile] cramerica was also interested, so we thought we'd meet up with him at another site we'd heard about, The Museum of Jurassic Technology.

This is a place I will recommend to everyone reading this journal, certainly. If you're in LA now, you should visit. If you're not, you should make it a point to hit when you're in town. Inspired less by the Smithsonian and more by the museums of earlier centuries, such as P.T. Barnum's American Museum. Most of the exhibits are of dubious import, consequence, or existence, and it takes quite a while to get used to things.

The first gallery is a grab back of information, including detailed information on Noah's Ark [link removed 6/22/11; original link to "http://www.mjt.org/intro/ark_1.html"] (which was, of course, "the most complete Museum of Natural History the world has ever seen"). One of the more famous items of the collection is the Human Horn, mounted on the wall.

Some collections are more straightforward, though still not precisely effable. "No One May Ever Have the Same Knowledge Again" is a collection of unsolicited letters received by the Mt. Wilson Observatory in the period between the two world wars, explaining, in definitive terms, such mysterious as the composition of the moon, the location of God, and why that woman won't leave me alone. The Napoleon Library houses an collection of Napoleona so eccentric it might actually be Napoleona-ana. The art exhibits currently installed require the use of microscopes and magnifying glasses to make visible the works of art displayed on glass slides and within the eyes of needles. The back rooms of the museum are dedicated to an even more diverse subject matter. There are several celluloid dice from the collection of Ricky Jay, dioramas depicting antique stagecraft, and a gallery of three-dimensional X-ray images of flowers. The second floor features a Tea Room and a small theater showing short films.

And then there are several exhibits dedicated to curious persons or ideas, presented, in large part, without a clear concept of why these particular persons were chosen. The Delani and Sonnabend Halls are dedicated to the lives of Madelena Delani and Geoffrey Sonnabend, two very interesting individuals who have little in common except their proximity within the museum. The lights in the Delani room periodically darken, although none present could determine why. Another section is devoted to embodiments of the scholarly and theological writings of the 17th century Jesuit Athanasius Kircher. And one of the most stunning exhibits, "Tell the Bees: Belief, Knowledge and Hypersymbolic Cognition" provides examples and demonstrations of various vulgar medicines.

It was a fascinating place, and I do hope to prepare a puzzle handout to entice Krewe to visit it, although it will, undoubtedly, be much easier to solve than the museum itself.

[livejournal.com profile] cramerica, feeling ill, decided to not to continue on with us to Hollywood. I can only hope that he made it home safely and got much rest because today is his birthday, according to LJ. Hooray for him! On our way back to Hollywood, Artistry convinced me to stop at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to visit an exhibit they're currently showing: "The Secret Life of Sets: Set Decorators at Work" [link removed 6/22/11; original link to "http://www.oscars.org/events/set_decoration/index.html"]. The first floor features photographs of movie sets, sometimes accompanied by the decorators' notes, but the real show is on the fourth floor. Several, often major, pieces of actual set dressing, along with more detailed notse from the decorators, have been installed. It's a chance to get up close and personal with bits of the classrooms of Madame Trelawney and Remus Lupin, to see what Van Helsing's vision Dr. Victor Frankenstein's writing desk looked like, or lounge in the stylish apartments of Catcher Block and Barbara Novak from Down with Love. It's definitely worth a visit if you're in the area, but do yourself a favor and skip the first floor.

Then, Rwth called and invited us to see Coffee and Cigarettes. We tried to visit Hollywood before the showtime, but problems finding parking caused us to head for the theater first and try to grab some dinner. We met up at the Gaucho Grill and had a whole lot of meat, which we split. Then we walked across the street to catch the film. It's a bit uneven, as would be expected from what is actually a series of several short films, but there are an inordinate number of brilliant moments, and it's definitely worth catching, especially if you're a fan of any of its actors.

And after that, finally, we made it to Hollywood. I'd already seen it, of course, but this time I was looking at it with puzzle-design eyes. I wan't say much about it here, but this trip may have made it possible to turn a few puzzles meant for a touristy morning into a full-fledged event with a wow finish.

And now, the real adventure begins. The adventure of sleep organization!
tablesaw: Sketch of an antique tablesaw (Antigua)

I've gone crazy with the information available about California's Special Election on Oct. 7. You know, the one with Ahnold (and some other stuff that may influence the political future in California). This is some of the greatest stuff I've seen for a while. Since I'm obsessing about it, I thought I'd put some of the most important, the most interesting, and the most trivial information together. Most of the information is LJ-cut because it ended up going long, but I left the candidate tallies up front because it's useful information and I really like the way the table (which I stole from the Secretary of State's webpage) looks. But first, a quick update about some of the candidates I've already mentioned in this very journal.

Where are they now? )

And with that done, here's the real information:

<td> Total</td> <td> 247</td> <td> 135</td>
Party Candidates Filed Candidates on Ballot
Democratic 95 50
Republican 77 42
American Independent 3 1
Green 6 4
Libertarian 4 3
Natural Law 2 2
Peace and Freedom 2 1
Independent 58 32

It's a Wired Weird Election )

Why Are We on the Fringe? )

You'd Leave Your Job for This? )

In Their Own Words )

Even More Miscellaneous Information )

tablesaw: -- (Default)
As a footnote to an earlier discussion, the St. Cyril who is the patron saint of the parish where I just attended Mass lived a century before the St. Cyril that [livejournal.com profile] aussie_nyc referred to, who lived about four hundred years before the St. Cyril I was talking about.

I hope that clears everything up.

There was a good lector at Mass. He had a slightly whimsical tone in a rather unusually redundant first reading:
"The one who bears the sore of leprosy
shall . . . cry out, 'Unclean, unclean!'
As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean,
since he is in fact unclean."
I almost thought a Python would appear to say "Clean is right out!"

Unfortunately, the priest tends to get a little rambly in his homily. Let me see if I can reconstruct an excerpt, which some how sprang from the theme of a Christan attitude toward outcasts:
We can't all be like Mother Teresa and pick people out of the gutter. Actually, I tried picking someone out of the gutter, once. Because he was having an epileptic fit. And he cussed me out. So, personally, I haven't had too much luck with that. Although, once, I picked up a drunk of of my balcony when I was in an apartment in West Hollywood and walked him down the stairs because he couldn't get up. That probably wasn't a very Christian thing to do. But I couldn't just let him lie there. My house keeper would have tripped over him.
And so on.

Anyway, I'd better get some food in me before I get a headache.

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