Friday, November 30, 2012

Requiem: Fox 40 Classic

This is not a picture of my trusty Fox 40 classic which I have owned since the summer of 1994.  There is no picture of that beloved whistle because after years of service, I lost it.  This is the replacement.  The original was black.  In 1994 I think they only came in black, unlike today when everyone can get their favorite color.  I bought the whistle the summer I was a lifeguard at Wild Waters, which was an awful place to be a lifeguard.  We rotated from station to station all day long, spending 7.5 hours per day standing in the sun.  If I had gotten a job at a public pool I would have been outside for an hour at a time, maximum.  If I ever develop skin cancer, I will blame Wild Waters.

When guarding the water slides we had to indicate when children could go, by motioning them forward as we watched to ensure the person in front of them was far enough along that they wouldn't collide. Because of that,  "Can I go yet?" is permanently in my book as the stupidest question ever.  "If you could go yet, I would have motioned you forward." I told more than one child in an exasperated voice after hearing the question for the fiftieth time that day.

I bought the Fox 40 Classic because the regular old whistle I was issued did not stand up to the rigors that is guarding at a water park.  Watching the pool portion was the worst as it was a frothing mass of unsupervised children, many of whom didn't hear me when I whistled at them to stop whatever rule-breaking activity they were doing.  I learned quickly that if you blow a normal whistle too hard it makes a very wimpy "cccaaaa" noise that inspires laughter from the few that can hear it, while the hoodlums I was whistling at carried on with their rule breaking ways.

The Fox 40 Classic, one of my fellow lifeguards told me, never does that because there is no ball in the whistle.  The air travels through chambers.  It's pretty darn loud too.  I ponied up the then-exorbitant fee of $5.95 for my own and, wow.  That whistle gets attention.

There was only one summer of life guarding for me, but I kept the whistle around.  When I started working at an elementary school and added "recess monitor" to my duties, I pulled out my trusty Fox 40 classic.  It's been causing children to cover their ears when I blow it at recess for over six years and it deserved more than to be lost somewhere between the playground and one of the K/1 classrooms.  But that's what it got.  Sorry trusty friend.  

We have a new story. On our block in N. Portland.

The next story has crept across the surface and has appeared in my view from the train.
From this side view it looks like the back side is framed up to its maximum height.  There also seems to be some sort of concrete gateway entrance between the two buildings.

Books read in November 2012

Full-on Mock Printz prep this month. Plus a great non-Mock-Printz-YA Novel which will probably be a top 5 favorite for this year.  And Dennis Lehane's new book, which I didn't like very much, alas.

The Brides of Rollrock Island
Margo Lanagan
Read for Mock Pritnz
This is that kind of fiction that I think is supposed to be "literary" because there are a lot of words, and pretty, carefully written words at that, but not a lot of explaining because, I guess, the author thinks the reader should be smart enough to figure things out.  But when it's not really clear to me from the beginning what is going on, it's hard for me to attach to the book.  Also, I didn't find the characters very distinct from  one another, so I was always a bit confused.  That said, there are a few pages in the last quarter of the book that are beautifully written and if you "need" to finish the book, just keep waiting for them. They might make the whole book worth it.

Every Day
David Levithan
A very clever plot device (main character wakes up in a different body every day) executed brilliantly by Mr. Levithan.  This book questions the nature of gender, love, brain chemistry, sibling relationships, family relationships, body type, race, sexual orientation and probably other things I'm forgetting.  I couldn't figure out how he was going to end the book in a way that made everything okay, but he did it.  I will be recommending this for years, so you should go and read it now so I don't have to harangue you.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Emily M. Danforth
Read for Mock Printz
I recently lamented that all the up-and-coming actors in my age demographic have either become "too old" and disappeared (mostly the women) or have become established actors, full of gravitas (mostly the men.)  However, it seems the novelists in my age demographic are just now really getting started. Ms. Danforth would be a novelist in my age demographic who has set her story in the same period (more or less) when I attended high school which had a lot to do with my enjoyment of this book.

But!  I also liked that it was set in a tiny Montana town where a friend lived and worked after college and I have even visited that town so I could picture it in my mind's eye.

And!  I loved it was a coming-of-age novel about a lesbian as those are in short supply (at least I think so, I don't come across them often.)

Also! I loved the writing--at least three passages made it to my quotes page--and the characters were great. Danforth is quite good at capturing little details that made the story come alive.  The hair tucking of the young minister who looked like Jesus, or Eddie Vedder was one such example. This was one of those books I liked so much I was recommending it to people before I had even finished it.

The Quitter
Harvey Pekar
Read for Book Group
Eh.  It's a graphic novel, which aren't my medium.  And I'm not the biggest fan of Harvey Pekar's schtick.  I thought the art was a good fit for the time period, but I didn't love this book.

Live by Night
Dennis Lehane
Dennis Lehane, here are the things you do very well as an author:  You create fabulous characters, fully-formed, flawed, smart and smart-assed.  You write plots that are interesting, complicated, a bit dark and have a social justice bent to them.  These things are very good and will keep me always reading your books. But you know what you do better than everyone else?  Star-crossed love.  And when your book, interesting as it might be and this one was, does not have star-crossed love I feel a great sadness and find myself feeling a bit cheated.  So you maybe you want to move away from star-crossed love.  Okay, I'll still read your stories.  But I'll be patiently awaiting your next book with star-crossed love.

Ask the Passengers
A.S. King
Hey look, it's another book about a girl who likes a girl!  And it deals with that whole "questioning" issue.  That's a good thing.  I think there is a lot of questioning going on.  Overall, I thought this was a pretty successful book. The main character's relationships with her sister, family, friends and girlfriend felt pretty true-to-life.  The "ask the passengers" device never stopped feeling like a device.  But I kind of liked it.

Started and did not finish
Read for Mock Printz
I get a big heavy feeling in my chest when I read about species in peril because it seems to be too big of a problem for anyone to solve and the whole thing feels hopeless.  This book is about the amazing journey of a bird, but  it's also about the trouble his fellow birds are in.  I don't know what to do about that and dealt with my despair by putting the book down and never picking it up again.

Also, I found the prose rather breathless.  And that annoyed me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Just when I was ahead of schedule

I wash my face with a half-and-half solution of castor oil and jojoba oil.  I just had mixed up a new batch two days ago.  But sadly, I put it on an unstable surface in the medicine cabinet so look what happened when I opened the door.  Happily, it all ended up on the counter and was pretty easy to clean up.  It still set me back a good ten minutes, though.

Monday, November 26, 2012

PTB & Blue Skies

We* are digging now.
Two trucks rotate through all day long.

*You know "we."  Me, the person who takes a picture every once in a while and at least two very big digging machines, not to mention the people who operate the machines and the trucks and truck drivers who take the dirt away.  We're all working very hard.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews: Argo

I really liked this movie because I expected it to be very dramatic and tense and it was, but it was also quite funny in places.  This made it a great night at the movies.  I also remembered why I originally preferred Ben Affleck to Matt Damon when the two of them became famous.*

Cost:  Free due to passes.
Where watched:  Regal City Center Stadium 12.

*Ben Affleck has those fabulous sad eyes and is better looking in general.  But then he started starring in all those horrible movies and there was the trip to rehab and the best-forgotten Bennifer brouhaha.  Whereas Matt Damon kept his nose clean and just kept making quality film after quality film.  But now that Affleck is directing himself, his acting seems much better and doesn't distract me from his good looks.

poster from:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

PTB Gone

I've been away from work for a few days, so haven't seen a blow-by-blow, but the building that held Powell's Technical Books is no more.

Three sentence movie reviews: Anna Karenina

I've not actually read this book, (though I know how it ends) so I was going in with no bias.  I loved the claustrophobic/theatrical use of the stage set and in general this was a very pretty movie to watch.  The acting was also quite good (you can put me down as "fan" in the Keira Knightly column) and I was absorbed the entire time, though nearly everyone else in the theater got up at some point to go to the bathroom.

Cost:  free due to birthday movie gift card
Where watched: Regal Fox Tower

poster from:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews: The Cake Eaters

While sometimes grabbing an unfamiliar movie from the library works out, sometimes it means 90-120 minutes of "ugh".  So was the case for this movie which despite starring Kristen Stewart (who I like) and being directed by Mary Stuart Masterson (who was good in some key movies in my life) was not a very good movie at all.  Aside from the fact the title never bothers to connect itself to the movie,* the plot itself has many confusing attributes** that were just annoying.

*No cake was eaten, no discussion was made about cake, frosting or any desserts at all.
**Here's a partial list:

  • Kristen Stewart's illness was never really explained.  If you are going to have a rare disease in a movie, it pays to let your audience know what's the deal.  
  • They live in a tiny town and yet these people seem to have no idea of the existence of each other.
  • "Intricately plotted" should only be used when the plot is, well, intricate. This was just members of the same two families sleeping with each other.
  • If you are going to have a "very sad realization" happen to one of the characters, you need to spell out a little better what the heck the realization is.
  • Movies where hair is cut in a dramatic fashion should manage the wig situation well enough so that the audience can't tell there is a wig involved.

Cost:  Free from library (thank goodness)
Where watched:  at home.

poster from:
(note that the cover of the DVD had a big picture of Kristen Stewart unlike this original poster.  I think this film was picked up because of Twilight.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

That darn "excepting" vs. "accepting"

Nathan hasn't fully grasped the difference.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A loud message.

But perhaps not quite so clear?

This was on the walk to Lowe's which is not a pretty walk. It's chock full of speeding cars, little-to-no sidewalks, some careful walking along the edges of mud, various industrial things and then a boring section of seemingly endless parking lot and big box-type stores. It's a utilitarian walk.  So I heard the message on the sign loud and clear, but I was confused by what it was telling me.  I was confused enough to stop and ponder.  My first question was  "My left, or your left?"  I think they must have meant my left, so I looked to the left of the sign and saw nothing that looked extremely dangerous, just more parking lot and building.  Then I looked to my left and saw the usual, cars driving by, sidewalk.

I finally decided the extreme danger was the steady flow of cars exceeding the 40 mph speed limit in the quest to get to the freeway on-ramp.  And I think the people who put up the sign are not the business we see in the picture, but the business across the street.  Their customers must pull out of the lot into very fast traffic.  The road slopes a bit so visibility might not be very good.  With my mystery solved--at least in my mind--I walked on to Lowe's and purchased my plastic anchors and wandered back home.

Three sentence movie reviews: The Tourist

The review I read for this movie could be summed up as "eh," so I bypassed it when it was in theaters.  But because I loved Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's* previous film** and because the movie was just sitting there at the library and because I really like both main actors I took it home and watched it.  And I LOVED THIS MOVIE which was chock full of glamour and intrigue in that old Hollywood way without being slowly paced in that old Hollywood way.

Cost:  free from library
Where watched: at home

*My favorite director name, ever.
**The Lives of Others, which you really must see if you haven't already.

poster from:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews: Beautiful Thing

I took a chance on this even though the case told me absolutely nothing about the movie, except for the fact that a lot of people liked it.  And I liked it too, all those critics weren't wrong!  It's a coming of age gay-boy story set in a suburb of London and even includes a side helping of Mama Cass.

Cost:  free from library
Where watched:  at home.

poster from:

Friday, November 16, 2012

PTB Finally! A picture where you can make out some detail.

There is  a lot of brick and a lot of those machines and the building is going away quickly.  It's been interesting to watch.  They seem to sort things into large piles as they work.

Three sentence movie reviews: Savages

I put off watching this for years because I thought watching a brother and sister put their estranged father in a  nursing home would be too depressing.  But I needn't have worried, this was a delightful film, fun and funny and even sweet, without being too saccharine.   My enjoyment may have to do with the fact that I adore both lead actors, but what can I say?

Cost:  free from library
Where watched:  at home.

poster from:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

PTB in ruins

Powell's technical books is no longer a two-story building.  It's not even really a building at all.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Steadfast bee (or wasp?)

Internet research has convinced me this is a wasp, and furthermore, that it's a Yellow Jacket.  At any rate, I have a very clear picture of it because it stuck itself to the window of the Max right next to the seat I was sitting in.   I noticed it at Killingsworth and it rode with me for three more stops before I had to get off.  I wonder where it was going?

PTB and blue skies

Yep.  Pretty nice picture of the blue sky.  Unfortunately, the point of this unclear picture was to show you the remains of Powell's Technical Books.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Guess what I got in the mail?

My Aunt has had the peeps for quite awhile, and I was momentarily alert when she came over for the Art Party.  But then I got distracted by party duties and forgot about the peeps, which would have given her ample time to hide them.  But no!  She did not!  Because today a package arrived in the mail from Hawaii, where my Aunts are currently vacationing.  I usually get a postcard, but not a package, so I was pretty excited.  "I hope it's food." I thought, forgetting, once again, to be more specific with my hopes.

And my hopes came true, because the peeps went to Hawaii.
I hope Kamuela was fun for them.  They will be returning to their rightful home soon, as Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Aunt Pat always hosts.

PTB on the way out.

Geez, I miss work on Friday and Monday due to a teacher planning day and a holiday and I come back to not much building remaining in a form that is not debris.
Here's the last chunk standing on this side.
I probably need to trick my camera into f-stopping itself for the building at the bottom, not the sky.  This will involve me reading the manual.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews: The Trouble With the Curve

"I think that movie was just a continuation of Clint Eastwood's Republican National Convention speech:  facts don't matter, go with your gut!" said the boyfriend as we were walking home.  And there really wasn't much to love about this movie; it wasn't even bad in that terribly fun Battleship way, just mediocre and boring.  Amy Adams brought it as usual, but it says a lot when the hour-each-way walk to/from the theater along a dimly lit road with mud and cold weather was more entertaining than the movie itself.

Where watched: Jubitz Cinema
Cost:  $3.00

poster from:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews: The Kids are All Right

Though I quibbled with the main thrust (hah!) of the story,* there were so many great family moments in this movie that I couldn't do anything but love it.  Plus, I have this theory that Paul Rudd in Clueless** imprinted himself on so many then-high school girls that we can't help but love him whenever we see him and it seems that Mark Ruffalo in You Can Count on Me*** did the same thing, but to my college self and I can't not like him.  And Peeta was in it (!) and that Mia girl with the complex last name is a fantabulous actress.

poster from:

Cost: Free from library
Where watched: at home

*this footnote is rotten with spoilers.  Stop reading now if you don't want to hear anything else. (lalalalalalala)
So I can see why, from a drama prospective, it would be fun to explore what happens when the guy who donated the sperm to create the children starts to have an affair with one of the mothers of said children.  But part of me just couldn't shake the disbelief of "really?"  We can't have a movie about lesbians without a man inserting himself (ahem) into the narrative? Really?

**You know you want to watch that clip, so here it is.

***As well as Laura Linney.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

PTB still there.

The demo continues, but the building is still recognizable.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Walk to Alberta Street

I need new shoes.  Actually, I seem to be in need of a lot of new clothing all of a sudden, I'm not sure what happened.  At any rate, I took a walk to Alberta Street and Pie Footwear.  Here's what I saw along the way.

Longtime readers with stellar memories may recall my love for the house that once stood on this lot.  People who need to refresh their memories can click here.  Indeed, the house is gone and holes are being dug for bigger houses and more of them.  If only progress went in the way I wanted it to, namely more houses, but more tiny houses.  And with permaculture landscapes.
Autumn carpet.
What should I hear from the basement of the house next to the van with the bumper sticker "Drum Machines Have No Soul"?  Someone playing the drums.  Appropriately.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews: Looper

First off, let me reassure you that in 2044, women are still wearing high heels.*  This movie constantly surprised me, went to a few dark places I had no idea were coming and was a thoughtful, well-acted,** action-packed piece that I really loved.  That said, given what I know of the people around me who are parents, especially of young children, you might want to do a little research and see if you really want to see this movie before you go.

Cost:  free due to movie passes
Where watched:  Regal City Center 12, Vancouver.  And let me tell you, that theater was the opposite of  a hip, happening place on a Friday night.  I'm a bit worried for its future.

poster from:

*I would like to think we will evolve past them at some point, but not any time soon, according to this movie.
**Joseph Gordon-Levitt!  Bruce Willis!  And, totally unexpectedly, Emily Blunt!