Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Best Resolution Ever.

Some of you may remember that I set a goal at the beginning of this year to take more risks. Really, it was to be more adventurous in general. I thought having more of a broad goal would make it a little easier to achieve but would still give me a chance to do something new. I was hanging out with two of my friends on Monday and Camilla told me that I'm one of the only people she knows who actually achieved her New Year's resolution! I thought I'd share with you some of the successes that I had in achieving this goal.

To start, I was thinking about how many museums and historical places I visited this year. I came up with a list which is pretty darned lengthy! (An asterisk [*] indicates a place I've never been to before this year; if there is a number next to it in parentheses that indicates the number of times I went there this year only.)

The Museum of Modern Art, NYC*
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC*
The Frick Collection, NYC*
The Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit
The University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History
Arab American National Museum, Dearborn, MI
The Public Museum of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids, MI*
Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, G.R., MI (3 times)*
The Grand Rapids Art Museum, G.R., MI*
The Salem Witch Museum, Salem, Mass. (twice)*
The Salem Pirate Museum, Salem, Mass.*
The House of the Seven Gables, Salem, Mass. (twice)
Hershey Museum, Hershey, PA*
Plimouth Plantation, Plymouth, Mass.*
Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA*
Meyer May House (a Frank Lloyd Wright house), G.R., MI*
Nauvoo, Illinois (Joseph Smith house, Red Brick Store, Skovill Bakery, etc.)*
Empire State Building, NYC*
Quincy Market, Boston, Mass.
Fanueil Hall, Boston, Mass.

Some other places I went/saw:
Artprize (a pretty big deal in Grand Rapids this fall)*
Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, PA*
Lincoln Center, Juilliard, The Strand, Times Square, Central Park, Rockefeller Plaza, NYC*

I think you can tell from some of the locations of the museums and other places that I travelled quite a bit this year! New York City; Boston (twice); Salem, Massachusetts (twice); Maine (Bar Harbor, Freeport, Boothbay Harbor, Portland); Philadelphia; Hershey, PA; and Ludington, MI (4 times).

I also embarked on a very big new adventure: I quit my job, moved to Grand Rapids, and started a graduate program in painting at Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University. It's been a bit of an adjustment living someplace new, going to a new school, etc, but it's been a great adventure!

So now I need a new resolution for next year that out-does this year's. I'm open to suggestions! Now that I'm a student again it has to be a low-budget resolution, but I think I'd like to stay in the area of doing things that are adventurous. I've got one more day to work it out...I'll let you know what I decide it should be. There may be more on this decision tomorrow...

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Newest Painting


I finished this painting on Wednesday - it is based on a trip I took to New York City earlier this year (in case you couldn't tell from looking at it...). The photo's a little dark, but you get the idea!
(Painting copyright Katherine Downie 2014)

Friday, November 6, 2009

What I Do

I was talking to my friend Brian the other day about how hard it is to blog sometimes with a sister as hilarious and witty as mine. Now I don't mean to sound (too) bitter about this, it's just that, well, she's funnier than me! (And I have proof.) And I'm OK with that. While I feel fairly confident with my writing skills, I think my strengths lay in writing fiction or thoroughly researched (and thus slightly boring) papers and critical analyses. (Don't feel bad, I just fell asleep writing about writing them, so your snores don't upset me.) ;)

So here's my plan: I was thinking that, while I still plan on blogging about the usual boring stuff (the foundation upon which my blog was built), I might occasionally share with you something that I'm just slightly more comfortable with: my (and sometimes others') art! As a grad student at Kendall College of Art and Design, I eat, sleep, and breathe art (a little uncomfortable at first, but I've adjusted), so why not blog about it (a little), too? If you don't like art, I hope you'll still give this a chance. Like my 20th Century Art History professor told us, I don't have to make you like it, but I'd love to help you understand it.

To start off on this path, I thought I'd share with you a few paintings that I've done. I work mostly (~96% of the time) in watercolor, which is what these are. These three paintings are on 23" x 30" Arches watercolor paper.




This is a painting I did in 2007 of some of the knights at the Renaissance Festival in Holly, Michigan.














A more recent painting (done in September/October 2009), this one is from a new series I'm working on called "What's On Your Table?" This is a collection of items that reflect my recent move to Grand Rapids from Saline.








This is the second painting in the "...Table" series, and is really just things that were, at that time, on my coffee table. Through this series I'm working on photo realism and am continuing to paint larger and larger (the most recent that I'm still working on is 3' x 4'). They are also becoming more personal in their content (I'll post those when they are complete).


(Please note that the paintings I post here are copyright 2014 Katherine Downie, so please don't reproduce them anywhere without permission. Thank you!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Some Guy's Phone Rang.

I'm at the library right now, and a few minutes ago, someone's phone started to ring. It was one of those really loud rings that's actually a ring, not your (current) favorite song or your friend's voice saying, "Pick up, dude, it's me! Pick up!!!" The phone kept ringing until people around me and I started looking around thinking someone must have walked away and left their phone, or else someone was too embarrassed to accept responsibility for the obnoxiousness of the situation. Finally, the guy at the table behind me starts rustling around in his coat, which is hanging on the chair next to him, and he pulls out his still-ringing phone and shuts off the ringer. Then he said, to no one in particular, "I thought the vibrate was on...guess it's not." Why did it take him so long to get to his phone? Has he blocked out the sound of his ringer? Or did he just hope it would go away? I'll admit that my phone has gone off at rather inopportune times, but I'm usually scrambling immediately to shut it off or smash it to smithereens.

On a different but related note, at the table on the other side of me sits a guy who's reading a book. (I know, reading a book at the library?! What will people think up next?) 15 minutes or so ago, another guy came up and sat at the other side of Guy 1's table and began reading a book, as well. Guy 2, however, has ear buds in and is listening to music so loudly that I can hear it from where I'm sitting, a good 15 feet away. I feel bad for Guy 2's eardrums, and bad for Guy 1's concentration. Then that cell phone went off...it's not Guy 1's day.

I've become aware lately of how unaware people (and I include myself in this) are of what is acceptable and what's not. For example, playing the cello in your apartment at 3 in the afternoon: pleasant! Playing hard rock in your apartment as loud as you can at 3 in the morning: obnoxious. (Playing the cello in your apartment at 3 in the morning would also be obnoxious, but it hasn't happened yet.) Reading a book in the library: acceptable (expected...). Playing tag in the library (this happened while I was here the other day when a high school group came in): not cool. Sometimes I want to ask the people having a party in the apartment above me at 1 in the morning on a Thursday night, or the guy sitting near me singing along with his headphones, or the person coughing on my neck in line behind me if they were raised in a barn. But I don't, because I don't think that's acceptable, and I am trying to be more aware of that. In the mean time, I'm practicing up on my evil eye and dirty glare. THOSE, I believe, are still quite acceptable.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Robot Tuesdays

On the second floor of Kendall (where I'm going to school now) they renumbered the classrooms over the summer. In order to aid the students in finding their classes, they provided maps with the old and new numbers on them, which were placed in a plastic sleeve on the wall with a post-it note saying "Take one!" When I was walking to class last Thursday night, I noticed an addition someone had made. Is it immature that I thought that this was hilarious?? Ridiculous, yes, but the fact that a college student did this made it all the funnier to me.
In other news, I went and saw "Whip It!" last Friday night, and was SO excited to finally be seeing it after waiting for over a year. How do celebrities do it? Below is a photo of Sarah, my partner in movie crime, and me in front of the "Whip It!" poster at the theater. We're pointing to my leg, which is just visible in the corner of the photo from the movie! I saw myself 3 or 4 times in the movie, shouting and pantomiming with the best of them! I'm famous! Sarah and I are in a scene near the end very prominently on the screen. We're famous! I highly recommend seeing the movie. Just plan on going to the bathroom during the pool scene. A little ridiculous.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Favorite Songs

I'm sitting at my parents' house going through some of my
playlists on YouTube and wondering why I don't listen
to some of these songs every day! I've gathered these
songs over a few years and though some are very old,
I still love 'em!

The first one doesn't have embedding enabled, so you'll
have to go there to watch it. It's Rufus Wainwright
singing the Beatles' "Across the Universe." I love to hear
the Beatles perform it, too, but am particularly fond of the

This song by Munchener Freiheit, a German pop band,
came out in the 80s and was one of my favorites when I
was younger. The harmonies are really beautiful, though
the video is a little odd (though artistically interesting).

The last one I'll share for today is a classic from my
childhood: "The Rainbow Connection." This version
is performed by Jason Mraz, one of my favorite singers,
and is, I think, particularly well-done!
What are your favorite songs (past or present)?
Share! (Please!)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Reasons to Stay Out of the Ocean

Elizabeth told me today about something that happened in a Jessica Fletcher "Murder, She Wrote" book she'd been reading, The Maine Mutiny. Jessica was stranded out in the ocean (long story as to how she got there), and a shark started circling, even brushing her legs. Turns out the shark was actually a Mola Mola, or Ocean Sunfish, which are often around the same size as sharks and have similar dorsal fins. We couldn't believe a Sunfish could be so large (I've caught Freshwater Sunfish before that were about 4 inches long...), so spent quite some time researching and being grossed out/amazed by the Ocean Sunfish. (Some time was also spent chuckling about a blog we'd found about the Ocean Sunfish. "Bimbles..." Good times.)

Who knew these monstrosities existed?! Quite frankly, they are just one more reason for me to never swim in the ocean, go on an ocean cruise, or fly over the ocean ever again. (Well, I've never been on an ocean cruise, so they're one more reason not to go on one in the first place, along with sea sickness and all of the shenanigans/murders that inevitably happen. I may be reading too many mystery novels.)

Some quick facts about the Sunfish:
- They weigh on average about 2,200 pounds (that's 1,000 kg for you Metric Systemers) (the fish in the black and white photo here weighted about 3,500 lbs)
- They are the heaviest of the boney fish in the world
- The females can produce more eggs than any other vertebrate in the world
- They eat mostly jellyfish, lots and lots of jellyfish
- Elizabeth thinks that the midget in the photo above (on the right) was planted to exaggerate the size of the Sunfish. She also doesn't believe midgets existed in 1910 (when the photo was taken). I'm pretty sure she was kidding.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tartanic!

I went with some friends to the Michigan Renaissance Festival this past weekend, and was excited to see that Tartanic was performing! Ever since I saw them at the Saline Celtic Festival, I've been looking for another opportunity to see them perform. It was a short, but action- (and music-) packed show! Tartanic is a band that aims to bring bagpipes into the everyday lives of unsuspecting American citizens... It's bagpipe music with an edge! As a woman of Scottish descent, I grew up with a love of bagpipes, but for those of you without the bagpipe love flowing through your veins, I would still highly recommend the band.

After the show, I got my picture taken with Adrian Walter, the front man for the group. (The pose was all his idea! The girls laughing at the right of the picture crack me up, too!)

I apologize for the boring "Here's something I did, read about it!" quality of this post...just wanted to share a few photos of them!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Robot Tuesdays



Not to take away from Elizabeth's "Wednesday Thoughts" or Brian's "Sesame Street Tuesdays" but I thought I'd share some thoughts with you, and they're not necessarily connected. Since my blog URL is actually "Robottuesdays," that seemed a fitting name for this blog post and possible some future ones. Without further ado...

I'm sitting in the Public Library downtown Grand Rapids as I write this and I still can't believe I'm here! I moved here on Saturday, and it still feels really weird. It's a beautiful city (for the most part), and I can basically bike everywhere I need to go (except church). Let's go, environment!!

I've spent the last few days unpacking and trying to get my apartment to look less like a storage facility and more like an actually lived-in apartment. It's exhausting!! I'm thinking about leaving the rest of the boxes and calling it art. Either that or just donating the rest of the my stuff to make life easier (and less cluttered).

Yesterday was my first day of classes at Kendall, and let me tell you, there's nothing like a grad program at an art school to make you feel like a terrible artist. Ha! (I have to laugh because I've been torn down so much in the last few days...) I have to do a lot of self-affirmations to keep myself going. "Katherine, you're a great artist. You can do it! Your style is just different from theirs..." Thankfully there are some other new students in the same boat as me, so we're banding together. We may start a club.

I don't have internet in my apartment yet...I have never felt so cut off from the world!! Thank heavens for the library.

Ok, it's time to see if I can get a library card. I've just got to wait until "Sabrina" is over. Thank heavens for YouTube, too. ;)

P.S. I think I'm going to keep this background for a bit longer. I can't help but like it a little! Plus, with no internet at my place, I don't look at it that often...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pretty or Nauseating?

I have an important question for you. Is this background too much? I can't decide. I'm pretty back and forth about it, really. I love the colors, but it kind of makes me feel a little nauseated when I look at it for too long. (That could also be due to the barometric pressure and my tricky sinuses. Tough to tell.)

In other news, I started my move to Grand Rapids today. My apartment is cute! Small and old, with wood floors and lots of storage in the closets. I'll post a picture or two when I get all unpacked and set up. I feel excited and nervous about the change! The future may hold many posts about boredom and creepy sounds I heard in the night, though, so be forewarned.

Seriously, though, please let me know about this background. Your feedback may lead me to either change the background or buy some new sinus meds... ;)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

For All the Bettys Out There

Back in May, I got an upset phone call from my sister, Heather. She told me that on "Good Morning America" they had announced that in August, Archie Andrews was getting married...to Veronica Lodge. I just kept saying "What?!" over and over. Archie is supposed to be with Betty Cooper! We all know that. What does Archie's choosing Veronica mean? That the mean girl wins? That what's really important to a guy really is looks and money over brains and kindness? My whole world view has been shaken.

Later, Elizabeth sent me a link to a CNN article about the issue. It seems that things might be up in the air according to the various party's blogs (see links above).

I feel a special bond with Betty. Often, when I receive one of those "Answer these 25 questions about yourself and forward it to your friends" emails, I'll fill it out as Betty.  I love how she makes her own clothes (that are just as nice as Ronnie's Paris originals), bakes delicious goodies (which she usually gives to the undeserving Archie or the always grateful Juggie), does well in school, and is generally upbeat and optimistic.  She's also an independent woman who knows how to fix Archie's car and take care of business!  

What is Archie thinking?!  

Veronica is spoiled, selfish (she can at times use her money generously, but it's usually because of the positive influence of someone else), needy, and fickle!  She's never loyal to Archie, and often ditches him for Reggie (who has money and a fancy car), or for another guy if she gets bored of those two.  

Needless to say, I'm rather upset.  My sisters, cousin, and I have discussed the matter thoroughly.  When the comic in which the big event comes to pass, do we buy the comic and then burn it in effigy?  Or do we boycott the comic altogether?  Or a third alternative: read the comic in the store to find out how exactly it all goes down, then hide them in various locations throughout the store so no one else can buy them...  

A final thought: Whatever the outcome of this comic may be, I will cling to one fact:  My paternal grandparents names are, believe it or not, Archie and Betty.  Maybe things can still work out?  If not, Adam (Betty's sometimes beau) seems like a nice guy... 

Friday, August 7, 2009

Do I Dare to Eat a Peach?

This year, rather than make several New Year's Resolutions, I made one. That resolution was to be adventurous! To do new things! To take chances and not be afraid of the outcome! For some reason as I've thought about some of the chances I might take, the phrase, "'Do I dare?' and, 'Do I dare?'" has been repeated in my head over and over. It's from a poem that I've liked for years, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot. The whole phrase is:

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
...Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

T.S. Eliot was referring to something different than I am when I think of it, but I still find it fitting as I come upon a big change in my life. In about a week and a half I will be moving to Grand Rapids to start an MFA program in painting at Kendall College of Art & Design. I'm excited and nervous! More excited right now, but the nerves come on in waves. I have moments when I think, "You know, I could just stay here where it's cushy...or...do I dare?"

I do dare! It's quite the rush to do something completely different! I promise to keep you up on all of the exciting happenings that I shall dare to do in the months to come. As long as you promise me to tell me about the daring things that you do, too!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'm In A Movie!!

Look very closely at the above image. In the upper left-hand corner you see the torso of a girl in a black t-shirt and blue jeans. I kid you not, my friends, THAT IS ME!!!! I will show you the jeans for proof!!

As many of you know, last summer I starred...OK, had a supporting role in...OK, I was an uncredited (yet paid!) extra in the movie "Whip It," directed by Drew Barrymore. Well, the time has arrived, my friends...the trailer is out!!!! I have to thank my friend Andy Owen for informing me, for I would otherwise be unhappily oblivious to this fact.

I have studiously reviewed the trailer multiple times, and while I technically have not seen a still shot of myself (and belIEVE me, I reviewed it frame by frame), I know I'm in there. I watched many of those shots being filmed! The above photo is exciting proof of that fact!!
As soon as the scenes of roller derby in the warehouse with the crowds came up, I can't tell you how fast my heart started to beat. I kept saying to Elizabeth, "I was THERE! I SAW that! I was IN THAT WAREHOUSE!! Wow. Crazy!" etc. It's such a weird sensation actually having spent countless hours there last summer and now seeing those scenes and images all put together and in a trailer!

I'll stop gushing. Check it out, though! And please keep October 10th open. I know the movie comes out on the 9th, but I've decided to go watch (preview) the movie with Sarah on the 9th so we can: 1.) Get our giddy gushing out of the way without our friends having to witness it, and 2.) To see if I'm actually visible in any shots so I can point them out to my fans...err...friends. Oh, and 3.) To make sure I haven't made a fool of myself in any shots so I can distract the entire audience during those moments.

Enjoy!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

I'm on the Front Page!


As many of you know, I'm one of the chairs for the annual Saline Celtic Festival, which was held last weekend. Everything went really well, and I had a lot of fun! To top off a great weekend (including the Tartanic concert...you'll probably hear more about that at some point...), I'm quoted on the front page of the Saline Reporter! It's no New York Times, but hey, ya gotta start somewhere! Here's a link to the article on the Saline Reporter website: SalineReporter.com. I'll be signing autographs at the Saline Library. ;) I also drew the red dragon for the Red Dragon tent sign, complete with Saline baseball cap. When I win all of my awards some day, I'll have to remember to thank the Celtic Festival...

Monday, July 13, 2009

And I Quote...Elizabethisms

Well, folks, it's what you've all been waiting for! My sister Elizabeth is a very quotable person, and has approved of these quotes (this is starting to feel like a campaign commercial). I really hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

"Dictionary! You entice me with your words!"

"Peeps? They should be payin' ME $4 for 3!"

"...You know what, though? Scrabble players around the world would hail me as their Queen!" (talking about removing the letter Q from the alphabet)

"I love to see a woman punch a man in the face when he's asking for it! ...Put THAT in your quote book!"

"I can't help it if you guys can't draw a toilet with your eyes closed. It just happens to be a natural talent that I have." (Playing Cranium)

"Life is too short to finish a boring book."

"One of these days I'd like to learn the secrets of the number 9. Why isn't 9 everyone's favorite number? It's the only one with all those tricks up its sleeve."

"I'm going to type up my resume and under 'skills' I'm going to write, 'sarcasm, snide remarks, and mocking (especially celebrities and/or idiots)'."

"Why won't these church tapes play? It's like our VCR is run by Satan."

"You don't understand, but he heals. He heals me." (Joking about whether or not Dr. Mario is a real doctor)

"Ok, I just need to go. This is the 11th hour. This is when I do my best work!...It's go time. Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum!" (talking about writing a paper)

"You know, I wonder if someday in my life I'll fall off a cliff and hang from a branch. I mean, it happens to so many fictional characters!"

"That's what I'm here for: to encourage you to do what you decide to do on your own."

"Hardly anything gives me the heebie-jeebies like claymation."

"I'd never marry a fascist. A dictator, yes, but a fascist, no."

"A roly-poly cannot enter a closed nose." (talking about "A closed mouth catches no flies")

"Boy, 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' really got us associating cellos with Asian people, huh?"

"I wonder if a Lifesaver got stuck in my throat if I'd still be able to breathe through the hole in the middle?"

"He proved that disfigured can be hot!" (talking about Gerard Butler in "The Phantom of the Opera")

"Man, that really brought out the WT in me. I knew it was in there somewhere." (talking about the demolition derby)

"Are we supposed to watch and, like, daydream about their life together?" (watching the happy couple dancing at a wedding reception)

"I've been curious about the worm for a long time. I've just never voiced it. And yes, I do realize that makes me sound crazy."

"Is this what it's like living with Elizabeth Downie? It's a bit much." (After I said something crazy!)

Friday, July 10, 2009

And I Quote...

Years ago I started jotting down funny things people said. I had these nuggets on napkins, scraps of paper, receipts, etc. Finally I took this little notebook that I'd bought in Thailand and started to compile the quotes there. There are some real treasures in this little book of mine!

The whole thing really started with my sister Elizabeth. Having lived together for so many years, I have been witness to some real slap-happiness and intense silliness (I include myself in this, too) which has resulted in some hilarious and sometimes profound quotes. Since I'm a nice sister and am letting her approve of which quotes will go up here, and she's still out of town, I thought I'd warm you up with a few other quotes (then post hers at a later date). Some of these are from TV/Movies, some are from friends. Enjoy!

Quotes from friends:

"Katherine, there's something you must know: At heart, at my core, I am an adolescent girl." -Dave Pate

"What I need is a big tub of lust." -Joe Donnellon (while watching "Shrek 2")

"And I'm SO mad! Warlocks get 28-slot bags!" -Jen Irwin, talking about WOW

"It was a real tractor beam, if you will, for the babes." -Todd Lillian, talking about his "Star Trekathon"

"Awkwardness isn't so much a fear as a way of life." -Megan Mason

"So I just walked from the car to school and I couldn't have done a better job wetting my pants." -Quincy Harrison (it was raining hard)

"If I had a heart, it would be broken right now." -Jason Evans

"It's like last call." -Seth Johnson, talking about engagement

"My fantasy would be completely different...including some tight yellow pants, but yeah..." -Camilla Broderick

"I do love swine...as is evidenced by my dating record." -Megan Mason, talking about her pig collection

"I forgot it was Wednesday." -Me "Yeah, I have that effect on women." -Joe Donnellon

Quotes from TV/Movies:

"We're right on this guy like stink on a monkey!" -Kramer ("Seinfeld")

"Just look at him - square...the shape of EVIL!" -Plankton ("SpongeBob")

"Who among us hasn't snuck into the break room to nibble on a Love Newton?" -Mr. Peterman ("Seinfeld")

"I think 'better a happy idiot than someone who knows the truth'." -Michael Scott ("The Office")

"It was a tough night at the senior center. I had to flip the checkerboard in a fit of rage a little earlier than usual." - Arthur ("King of Queens")

"I'm bakin' like a toaster cheeser! It's so hot here!" -Ham ("Sandlot")

"Ah, Squints was pervin' a dish." -Yeah-Yeah - explaining why it took them so long to get there ("Sandlot")

"Pride is an abomination. One must forgo the self to attain total spiritual creaminess and avoid the chewy chunks of degradation." -Ace Ventura ("Ace Ventura, When Nature Calls")

"He who ha-ha's last ha-ha's best." -Nelson ("The Simpsons")

"Oh, I love today's music. 'Frere' this, 'Jacques' that...outta sight." -"Meaux" (Moe on "The Simpsons" during the "Count of Monte Fatso" story after Bart and Lisa had been singing "Frere Jacques.")

"...And I fell to my death." - Bill ("Still Standing" - after starting to tell his kids about this time he snuck out of his house, he said the above after getting a warning look from his wife - click on the link for some other funny quotes from that episode)


Well, those are some highlights. Do you have any funny quotes, either from people you know or from the media? Share, please! I love a good quote...in case you couldn't tell...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Secrah Terry, P.I.?

I've been filling in for the secretary at the school where I work this week and last, and have found myself with a lot of time on my hands and not much to do. (The summer camp here doesn't need much help.) I'm trying to at least look like I'm busy, and this film noir-esque story is what I ended up with. I've been reading too much Calvin & Hobbes, apparently. (My favorite thing to do to make myself look busy is to type while glancing over to a blank piece of paper on the desk next to me. Makes me look like I'm typing up an important document or something. Big sighs from time to time help, too.)

Administrative Insisting

8:24 am. The broad out front is a pushy dame, always eyein' me, makin' me jumpy. I tell myself she's just doin' her job, but it doesn't help. Her name is Suzie. Or maybe Elaine. Never can keep those names straight. I call her Blondie in my head, Ma'am to her face.

My name's Terry. Secrah Terry. I got this gig a week ago, and it seemed like a glamorous deal. Sometimes I look back and wonder what I was thinking when I agreed to it.

Money. That's what I was thinking. They had it, I wanted it. So I said yes. Big mistake.

9:12am. This place is some sort of kiddie racket. They're either buyin' 'em or sellin' 'em, I can't figure out which. They seem to be trainin' 'em up for somethin'. Labor? Some sort of trafficking? They sing a lot of weird songs - maybe they're like the songs the slaves used to sing to pass on information. Maybe it's some kinda germ warfare. Kids are fulla germs. Cooties, too. All I'm saying is, you get kids interactin' like they is here, ya got trouble comin' to ya.

10:42am. The bossman came back this week. Wasn't here last week, so it was smooth sailin'. Now they're ridin' my tail, keepin' me from doin' what I wanna do - Solitaire ain't never been so solitary now that I can't play.

Sometimes all you want is to be left alone, but here, that doesn't happen. Someone's always on your back, sneakin' up on ya, makin' ya work when you'd rather be back at home with a good book and a frosty bottle of beer. Root beer, that is. Cream soda if ya got it.

11:37 am. The things they got me doin' - answerin' phones, organizing stuff, helpin' people. Some o' these people really cheese me off, too, with their incessant questions and bellyachin' 'bout the smallest things. So we lost their kid? Ain't our fault he's a curious type. Seems to me the parent should be blamed for that.

Next thing ya know they're gonna be goin' on 'bout how some kid stole their lunch. And shoes. So what if the kiddie thief was actually a teacher? Whadda they think, we do background checks on these people or somethin'? They come in, tell us they're good with kids, we give 'em a job. Capiche?

12:04pm. The dame out front just left with a bag of food. Good thing, too, way she was lookin' at me. I don't wanna cause any trouble unless someone is askin' for it. And let me tell ya, those shifty eyes of hers were fillin' out a request form.

12:16 pm. It's cold in here. Too cold. Somethin' tells me they're tryin' a new approach with the kiddies - freezin' 'em out.

12:22pm. Some broad in a pink shirt just came in askin' for keys. Wonder what they're lockin' up here? Or maybe I should ask who they're lockin' up. Good front really. Advertise some sorta camp, then lock 'em up and put 'em to work. Wonder what the penalty is for squealin'? My guess - melted ice cream in a soggy cone for snack next day. Nothin' worse'n that.

12:34pm. Pinky just brought the keys back. Maybe I shoulda asked her what she was lockin' up. No use, really. All she'd tell me is some cover story - toys for the kiddies or art supplies. Why bother, anyway? This gig ain't gonna last long, then I'm outta here.

12:38pm. I can hear someone shreddin' papers. What are they hidin'? Hmmm...sounds like they're doin' some kinda project with it. Arts and crafts? This joint is bafflin' me. Just when ya think ya got it figured out, they pull out somethin' tricky like arts and crafts. Maybe I pegged 'em all wrong. I don't think so, but maybe.

12:44pm. Blondie just walked in with an empty bag and a look of satisfaction on her face. I had a feeling she'd be back. What does she think it is, lunch time?

Oh, it is. Guess I'd better 23-skidoo. Gotta get somethin' to fill my empty belly...looks like it's gonna be a looong day.
(For more Calvin as Tracer Bullet, click on the comics above.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Worst Favor in the World

This past Sunday I made a possibly crazy decision. A friend of mine was selling his piano, and I thought to myself, "I've always wanted to learn, I'd like to buy a piano at some point in my life, and this is a pretty good deal...I'll buy it!" I woke up Monday morning feeling a slight sense of "What did I do?!" but recovered quickly.

It was later that day that I started thinking about logistics. That piano wasn't going to move itself, which meant that I was going to have to approach my friends, people who I think generally trust me, to help me move it. If you think about terrible favors to ask, I think that asking for help moving a piano would be at or near the top of the list.

I spent some time thinking about other favors that would be terrible to ask. Favors that are above and beyond the call of duty. (Don't worry, I won't ask any of you to do any of these. This week.) Here are some that I came up with:

-"Could you please give me one of your kidneys?"
-"Our house runs on bicycle power. Could you take a 6-hour shift?"
-"My spouse and I are going abroad for 6 months. Could you watch our 2 year-old octuplets while we're gone? Oh, and our 15 puppies?"
-"I dropped my wedding ring into that pool of hungry piranhas. Get it for me, please?"

And, of course, "Could you help me move a piano?" I've offered food bribes to my manly helpers, but somehow it doesn't feel sufficient. I suppose I'd better prepare myself to give up a kidney. It's only fair.

Have you ever asked someone/been asked to do a terrible favor? Please share. Maybe you'll make me feel better.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Guy Tries to Smuggle 14 Birds in Pants

I saw this headline today on CNN.com. Really, I don't feel like I need to say much about it. That's a pretty amazing headline! Some questions popped into my mind, though. What was this guy thinking?! Where was he smuggling the birds to and from? (This is before I watched the video.) What kind of birds were they? Were they small? Was he smuggling them over a border? Into a club? Out of a butcher's? There has to be a great story behind that.

I finally did watch the video and all of the images in my head of birds stuffed into pants pockets (I pictured cargo pants) went out the window. Technically, the guy smuggled (well, attempted to smuggle) them in on his fancy bird carrier socks. What in the WORLD was this guy thinking?! And how did he come up with that ingenious device?
I knew I had to share this story with all of you, but an interesting thing happened when I copied down the headline into my blog. (Again, this is before I saw the above photo.) A very vivid image came into my mind. Have you pictured it, too? I'll give you a moment to read over the headline again before I tell you what I saw in my head...

Did anyone else picture 14 Birds in Pants? Blue jeans, maybe? I know Donald Duck only ever wore a shirt and no pants, but maybe these birds were making a statement. Maybe they were trying to just blend in so this guy could smuggle them in to where ever they were going. (If it was a club he was trying to smuggle them into, the pants may have been sequined and/or [p]leather.)

Now I have an image in my head of 14 birds in sequined, pleather pants doing the funky chicken in some hip New York night club. It's not a bad place to be, the bird-filled night club in my head.

(I tried to find an image to put here of birds in pants, but, surprisingly enough, I wasn't able to find any. Maybe I'll draw one and post it here later. If anyone else would like to contribute a picture of birds in pants, please do!)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Familial Promotion

When I was in high school, I did some pretty ridiculous art projects. Some of them I thought were pretty awesome at the time, others I look back on and laugh at how bad they were (are). Most of them I set aside for good, never planning on changing or improving them.

My brother, Sean, is a little different than I. In 10th grade, he started to write a story and ended up with a couple of chapters. He set it aside for a long time, finally picking it up again in recent years. The result of his cumulative efforts (those from high school and all of the work he did more recently) is a novel. A very good novel, called The Book of Simon.


Ok, so admittedly this isn't just any old blog post. It may possibly be a post to promote my brother's book, which became available for sale last Friday at Amazon.com!! How cool is that?!! Imagine taking something that you started working on ~15 years ago, working and reworking it, getting advice from family and friends, haggling with the people through whom you are selling your product, then finally seeing that product for sale to the general public. What an amazing thing that would be!

The book that my brother wrote is about a man named Simon (believe it or not...) and an interesting turn of events that lead him down a path completely different from the one he'd been heading down. It's sci-fi/fantasy, but don't worry, enemies of Twilight, it's very accessible and geared toward adults! (Plus no whiny teenagers or love-sick vampires...not that I didn't like Twilight.) The characters are very relatable and fun to follow, there's humor interlaced into the plot, and the story has lots of fun twists and turns that keep you pulled in (I read it in two days!).

I realize that I might seem a bit biased, and maybe I am a little, but I know a good plot when I read one! (I also happen to have done the cover art, so I'm pretty excited about that myself.) I highly recommend this book, my faithful readers! You can find it at Amazon.com if you search under the name Sean Cameron, or if you click here (or on the not-so-subliminal link above). You may even see a review there from yours, truly...
Enjoy, and let us know what you think!

Friday, April 10, 2009

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out.

I came home this afternoon and felt like it was the perfect type of afternoon to take a nap. Kind of cool, a little overcast, plus I was incredibly sleepy. Perfect!

Apparently I need to check with the local wildlife before planning my afternoon naps.
I had just drifted off to sleep when I heard a tapping. An incessant tapping. It was like that Donald Duck episode where Daffy can't sleep because of the lights and the dripping, among other things. There's a part at the end of the episode where Donald goes a little bonkers, and really, that could've been me this afternoon.
I lay in bed for quite a while, half asleep, trying to figure out what the noise could be. Dad hammering in some siding? No, he was at the store. The neighbor boys being obnoxious? No, why would they be tapping on the side of my room? A ghost? If it were night, maybe, but not in the middle of the afternoon.

I decided to ignore the tapping, hoping I would drift back off to sleep. When the tapping continued, I tried ear plugs, but to no avail. This is where the hair pulling out, wrapping myself in my mattress, extreme measures to try to ignore the tapping came into play. At this point I knew what the sound must be, but was trying to ignore it, knowing that acknowledging it would mean taking some serious action.

I finally came to the conclusion I'd been fooling myself. There was no ignoring this sound, and the sound, a repeating triple-tap, had to be coming from a woodpecker. I couldn't think how a woodpecker had attached itself to the side of our house and why it was tormenting me, but knew I had to to do something about it. I got dressed, crept downstairs, and quietly opened the front door.

There it was, the demon bird:
It was perched on the side of our house, just outside of my bedroom, pecking away. Ooooooh, I was angry! I'm not a violent person, I am a nature and animal fan, and I've never liked guns. However...I have never wanted a BB gun so badly in my life than I did at that moment. Visions of triumph of woman over beast filled my head as I stared down with the foul bird. (As an artist, I also couldn't help in that moment to admire the bird's beautiful colors and plumage...it was a confusing time for me.)

Being severely lacking in guns, I reached for the closest thing I could find...a cane. I figured I could knock the beasty down and show him who was boss. And if that crafty bird hadn't flown off just as I emerged with my deadly weapon, he would've been in for a world of hurt.

Having thwarted my attempts at defensive tactics, I decided to take up the offense. This came in the form of bee and wasp spray. I grabbed a ladder, opened the garage door (I felt like a real warrior, the garage door slowly opening as I stood there, ladder slung over my shoulder and bug spray in hand) and set it up near the corner where the damage had been done. I couldn't be-lieve the size of the hole!!
It doesn't look that big in this picture, but it was about 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. What was that beast doing?!
I bug-bombed the area with the wasp spray as Woody watched from a nearby tree. Take that, foul fiend! I haven't heard any pecking since, but believe me, if I do...I may have to ask Santa for a certain Red Ryder BB gun.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Work Shmerk - or - Lessons From an Art Teacher

As an art teacher, I get to do all kinds of fun stuff, like order supplies. Especially cool supplies, like this awesome Elmer's Glue Dispenser Pump! I wish that you didn't think I was joking about how awesome it is. You try filling tiny glue bottles with a one gallon jug of glue and then you'll understand my excitement upon purchasing the pump!

I received an order the other day that included this box of colored pencils. I spent a considerable amount of time just looking at the pencils after I opened the box. There's just something so wonderful about brand-new art supplies that gets my blood pumping! (Glue pumping?) Another thing that gets my blood pumping is lifting 25 pound boxes of clay. I don't remember my art teachers being particularly buffed out when I was a kid, but you can't be a pansy and an art teacher. (Though really there are more reasons that that's true than just the heavy lifting thing.)

As a part-time art teacher at a charter school, I don't actually get a classroom, just a small office where I hide from the monkeys...I mean, children. I took a picture here of the wall I face while at my desk, which includes the 2 small mannequins that I ordered; the cart that I push around the school to teach art in all of the classrooms (I do NOT get paid enough...), and the magnetic Mr. Man and Little Miss mood indicator...better watch out when I'm Little Miss Scary.
What was my point again? Oh, yeah: I teach art to small children and annoying tweens, and when I get overwhelmed, I try to find little things to focus on to make me happy. Like glue pumps and mannequins and colored pencils. I don't think much about the fact that I'm an art teacher, but then, every once in a while, I think about Mrs. Walker, my elementary school art teacher. She was the best! She always seemed to have energy and great art project ideas. I remember once when a kid dropped his lunch tray in the hallway. I don't remember what food had been on the tray, but I remember specifically the spilled chocolate milk. Mrs. Walker came by just then and said, "Hey, look! It's art!" I must have been 7 or 8 years old, and that has stuck with me to this day - find art and beauty in everything you see. I wonder sometimes if my students will remember me and the lessons that I teach them.
Do you have any art class memories? Or fun memories from elementary school in general? if so, please share with the class!

Friday, March 27, 2009

I'm supposed to be working right now.

I'm currently at work, sitting in on the Course 1 middle school math class. It's likely that I should be helping the students, as I AM the instructional assistant for this class, but do they really need my help when they're just taking notes? I go around and wake up the sleeping students, regulate when students are misbehaving, and make sure their papers are filling up with fractions and the rules of dividing them.

I know, it's pretty exciting.

The image “http://www.enchantedlearning.com/math/fractions/gifs/dividefractions.GIF” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

One thing that being an instructional assistant in this class has taught me is that we REALLY don't use a lot of the algebra we learn in school. Have any of you ever divided fractions outside of middle or high school math class? Or needed to find out what n equals? Now, if you have a job as a mathematician, then yes, you have. But what about us lay people? I can't say as I have ever multiplied or divided fractions in my average life. And n could equal monkeys, but it doesn't really affect my day. I've certainly used what I learned about percentages (though tip calculators have saved me from some math headaches), adding, subtracting, multiplying, etc, but beyond that, I tend to try to purge my brain of whatever algebraic knowledge I have gained.

http://www.storyboardtoys.com/gallery/Piets-House-Large.jpg http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/01478/pictures/vitruvian_man.jpg

Geometry, on the other hand, has been rather useful in my life as an artist/art teacher. All that we see in the world around us it made up of geometric or organic shapes, and understanding geometry is helpful in trying to transfer the image of an object to a piece of paper. I have learned to like geometry as it aides in my career, while algebra has become sort of a dirty word to me. (Though as an organized person I do tend to enjoy the fact that there are fairly hard and fast rules in algebra which, if followed, will give you the correct answer every time. Ahhh, organization.)

So, are you a lover of geometry? Is solving for n your life's passion? Do you find geometric shapes in objects around you, or do you multiply and divide fractions in your head while your roommates are telling you about their day?

I'll leave you with a problem of the day: If x=24 and y=3, does a tree falling in the forest make a sound if no one is around to hear it?

Friday, March 13, 2009

This Lady Really Freaked Me Out the Other Day.

Dangit. I really need to stop making my post titles so descriptive, 'cause there's not much more to say than that. She really wigged me out, though. Her eyes were all bugged out and she was gnawing on her lower lip with this crazed look on her face, all the while driving a red van.* She gave me the jibbly-jibblies. I really couldn't shake it off for a while! Great, now I'm going to have nightmares. Thanks for bringing it up again, guys.

*Um, if that was you that I saw, SO sorry. I didn't recognize you with that great new hair cut!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A favorite poem of mine with which to start your week...

I memorized this poem a long time ago, and have found it to apply in my life more often than I'd like...but the ending always makes me chuckle.

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends-
It gives a lovely light.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

Thursday, January 29, 2009

An Artistic Analysis: Are Matthew McConaughey's Arms Proportionate To the Size of His Ego?

I assure you, my readers, that this photo is not here to be oggled at. It is here for scientific purposes only. It just so happens that it's rather difficult to find a picture of Matthew McConaughey with his arms down at his side and his shirt on. Ok, it's hard to find a picture of Matthew McConaughey with his shirt on, period.

It was brought to my attention recently (by Elizabeth) that Matthew McConaughey's arms are short - that they are not in proportion with his body. As an artist and someone who has studied the human figure, I was intrigued. As a result of my initial intrigue, I have studied in some depth the proportions of Matthew McConaughey's arms in proportion to his body. Again, I assure you that this was done purely for scientific purposes.

The basic proportions of the average adult human body can be measured using that person's head as a guide. (See chart.*) For example, the average person is 7 1/2 heads tall. (Again, using that person's head as a measuring tool; if you use another person's head it might not work as well.)

Some other handy proportions:

-From the top of the head (t.o.t.h.) to the pit of the neck is 1 1/2 heads
-From the t.o.t.h. to the sternum/nipples is 2 heads
-From the t.o.t.h. to the navel is 3 heads
-From the t.o.t.h. to the knee/bottom of the patella is 5 1/2 heads

Two other proportions that have particular relevance to my study are:
-The upper arm from the shoulder to the elbow is 1 1/2 heads
-The lower arm from the elbow to the wrist is 1 1/4 heads

Now it's time for some Dwight Shrute-style facts.

Fact: Matthew McConaughey's upper arm is approximately 1 1/8 heads long.**
Fact: The aforementioned celebrity's lower arm is approximately 1 head long. **

I believed upon discovering this that the results of my studies were fairly clear: Matthew McConaughey's arms are too short in proportion to his body.
However...
I reflected back on the fact that it was difficult for me to find a photo of Mr. McConaughey with his arms at his side AND his shirt on...note, again, that it was hard to find a picture of him with a shirt on at all. I hypothesized that perhaps it was not Matthew's arms that were too short, but that it might be that his head, the tool which I was using to measure his arms, was too big. I knew that the only way I could decide conclusively would be to do further research.
After many grueling hours on Google Images, and thousands of photos of Matthew at various beaches, parks, parties, premiers, awards shows, etc, later, I came up with a few new facts:

Fact: Matthew McConaughey had his shirt off in 83.5% of photos taken out-of-doors***
Fact: Matthew McConaughey had a slightly grumbly look on his face in 78.3% of photos taken fully clothed***
Fact: Matthew McConaughey is totally buffed out****

The conclusion I arrived at based on these results is the following:
Matthew McConaughey's head is larger than the average human male. This is caused, no doubt, by the fact that his ego is 7.3 times larger than that of the average male, female, or orangutan.***** As a result of the large size of his head, the measurements I initially did of his arms were inaccurate. It appears that they are proportionate to the rest of his body, they are just small when compared to his ego.

*Special thanks go out to my Life Drawing professor for the original chart, which I have adapted here.
**These are based on measurements done using photos only. Should I have the opportunity to measure Matthew's arms in person, I would surely swoon and end up stabbing him with my pencil or something.
***These facts are completely made up.
****This one's true.
*****Made that one up, too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

So A Fish Walked Into a Bar...

It's Tuesday after a long weekend, and I feel the need for a good laugh. Elizabeth was telling me recently about some studies that show that laughter really can help you feel better, whether you're merely feeling blue or if you are physically sick. In this miserable January weather (if it snows one more time...!!) I know I can use a laugh more than ever, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you. Here's the catch: You can only read these jokes if you post one of your own at the end. And please keep 'em clean... ;) Laugh on, friends!

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail, and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him a super-callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

A farmer was hauling manure and his truck broke down in front of a mental institution. One of the patients leaned over the fence and said, “What are you going to do with your manure?” The farmer said, “I’m going to put it on my strawberries." The guy said, “We might be crazy, but we put whipped cream on ours.”

A woman was shopping at her local supermarket where she selected a half gallon of 2% milk, a carton of eggs, a quart of orange juice, a head of romaine lettuce, a 2 lb. can of coffee, and a 1 lb. package of bacon. As she was unloading her items on the conveyor belt to check out, a drunk standing behind her watched as she placed the items in front of the cashier. While the cashier was ringing up her purchases, the drunk calmly stated, “You must be single.” The woman was a bit startled by this proclamation, but she was equally intrigued by the derelict’s intuition since she was indeed single. She looked at her six items on the belt and saw nothing particularly unusual about her selections that could have tipped off her drunken observer to her marital status. Curiosity getting the better of her, she said, “well you know what, you’re absolutely correct, but how on earth did you know that?” The drunk replied, “’Cause you’re ugly.”

ZING!!

A duck was walking (waddling?) down the street one day and his stomach started to growl. He was just passing a convenience store, so stopped in and asked the clerk if he had any duck food. The clerk was busy, so was a little annoyed by the request from the duck. He told him they had no duck food, so the duck left.
The next day, the duck was walking past the store, still hungry. He walked into the store, walked up to the clerk, and again asked if they had any duck food. The clerk was even more annoyed and angrily told the duck that no, they had no duck food, then asked the duck to leave. The duck shrugged his shoulders and left, still hungry.
The following day, the duck, still hungry, walked into the convenience store. The clerk saw the duck, and said, "NO. We do not have any duck food! If you come back here and ask for duck food one more time, I will nail your feet to the floor!!" Incredulous, the duck left.
The next day, the duck's stomach was growling like crazy. He was near the convenience store, so he walked in and walked up to the clerk. Before the clerk could say anything, the duck asked him, "Do you have any nails?" Startled, the clerk told him that no, they didn't have nails at their store. "Good," said the duck. "Do you have any duck food?"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year's Evolutions

I admitted in a comment on Elizabeth's post that I have not yet set any New Year's Resolutions. It's true. I just today finally bought a new planner for '09! (Speaking of '09, are we ever going to decide as a human race what to call these last 9 years? The Zeroes? I like the Oughts. Makes me feel all old-timey.) I'm a little behind the times.

While I haven't set any specific resolutions, I have decided on a new motto for the year. Or maybe it's not so much a motto as a way of life. I've decided that this year I'm going to take risks. Not like Investing-In-A-Pyramid-Scheme-type risks, but Do-Things-I've-Always-Wanted-To-Do-type risks.

Here are some examples of some things I've always wanted to do...or at least have wanted to do for a few weeks or so:


  • Travel to/through Europe

  • Visit my friends who live in New York City and Boston

  • Sell some (more) paintings

  • Meet a good-looking guy on top of the Empire State Building (it doesn't necessarily have to be on Valentines Day...that'd just be cool)

  • Take a road trip through the middle part of the country with someone fun

  • Marry a millionaire

  • Get a full-time job (if the previous bullet doesn't work out)

  • Get health insurance (which can be achieved through either of the precious two bullets)

  • Buy a really cool old house on a few acres of land

  • Raise chickens (which I'd need the house and the land for)

...To name a few. Those aren't really resolutions so much as they're things I'd like to do. With most of them (with the exception of the health insurance one), I'd need to take somewhat of a risk to achieve each goal.

Ellen Degeneres, in her book My Point...And I Do Have One, talks about being bored and realizing that she needed a hobby. Her description of how she felt when she realized that reminds me of how I feel about my life sometimes:

"It's like I'm sitting in a car but the engine is idling. I'm not even on the road - just off to the side. I see the others swoosh by me. I can recognize the shapes of the cars but not the direction they're going. I'm alone, all alone in a car on the side of the road."

I don't need any more hobbies, I've certainly got enough of those, but I do need to put my car in drive and get off the side of the road! I'm going to take risks, by golly, and be the blurr the others see passing them by! There's a great song from "Hello, Dolly" (that sadly was not featured in "Wall-E") that I've always liked called "Before the Parade Passes By." Here is one of my favorite verses:

Before the parade passes by
I've gotta go and taste Saturday's high life
Before the parade passes by
I've gotta get some life back into my life
I'm ready to move out in front
I've had enough of just passing by life
With the rest of them
With the best of them
I can hold my head up high
For I've got a goal again
I've got a drive again
I wanna feel my heart coming alive again
Before the parade passes by

So my friends, if you see a blurr passing you by, and that blurr is in a new charcoal gray car (one goal achieved!!), that's me. Grab on if you can, because I'm havin' me some good times this year. 2009, here I come!! Or, as Ellen said when she found her new hobby, "I will Iditarod and I will win."