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Quick music post

This, to me, is not surprising:

A few weeks ago I borrowed a digital copy of Led Zeppelin's 1975 double LP Physical Graffiti, and this week I re-borrowed it because I want to spend more time listening to and appreciating it, which means:

The Zep album I've best responded to so far is also the band's longest, most involved album. At least up until 1975...

(Other albums I've recently borrowed are Gorillaz's latest The Now Now, to tide me over until I feel ready to buy it; David Bowie's Hunky Dory, because I wanted to hear "Life on Mars?"; John Williams's scores to The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and The Last Jedi (2017), because John Williams hits and satisfies me in ways not many composers do; Prince's Batman (really); and one of the more surprising albums I've found so far on Hoopla, Tori Amos's 1988 detour into synth pop, Y Kant Tori Read. It's cheesy (as my late friend Mike Pearl, who got me into Amos, said; he'd gotten to hear the album back in the Nineties when it was really hard to find), but to me oddly enjoyable. Amos was credited simply as "Tori" on that LP, so some people came to think her name was Tori Read. Really.)
Juniper is the one chicken who lives with the Belmont Goats. Last night Juniper was frisky. I would up taking plenty of pictures of her, and fewer of the goats than normal. I liked seeing Juniper be that perky, and the goats were nicely chill. Including Cooper, who is recovering from surgery and was allowed out in the field. (At night he stays in a pin, marked "Re-Cooper-ation Pen.") Instead of a cone, which he hated wearing while at Oregon State University where he went for the procedure, a veterinary student improvised a box for Cooper to wear around his neck instead. He's been fine with it. And with the OSU colors.


October 17, 2018

October 17, 2018

October 17, 2018

October 17, 2018

October 17, 2018

More Juniper, more goatsCollapse )

Sometimes, you simply feel down.

For much of today I was more or less a lump. Not getting much done. That was until the afternoon, when I did the semi-monthly cleaning: today, the kitchen. After that (and a quick but satisfying shower), I got out: reading at the neighborhood coffee shop, then walking to the produce stand near SE 82nd and Foster for carrots, a cucumber, and potatoes. I felt better once I was productive.

Except that yesterday I was reasonably productive, but still felt kind of low. I went driving, visiting a comic shop I like then having a good dinner at a new-to-me place that had been recommended to me by people I trust (Yay, I can still trust them! *grins*), then visited the Belmont Goats during their Wednesday open hours. With shorter days now, there was evening light, which made for striking views. This was all stuff I like doing, but I still wasn't feeling all that "up."

I'm not sure what factor or factors led to feeling like that. So I'll simply note it. And work to have tomorrow go better and be better.

Fun with old buildings, continued

The Phoenix Pharmacy, a landmark for decades along SE Foster Rd., has been purchased by preservationists. So, eventually, finally, this neat building will be used again. To mark the news, I went out this afternoon to visit and photograph it.

Taken 10/16/2018

And why not in black & white?

Taken 10/16/2018

Here are more pictures of the building; and because I liked the afternoon light, I took more pictures along Foster.

I'm serious about teasing.

My late friend Mike Pearl was good at teasing. He could sound harsh. Key word: "sound." People noticed that he seemed insulting, but he really wasn't.

Here's the thing. He never teased me. I think Mike sensed my experience, where almost anyone who teased me, and who was not one of my family members, would tease me meanly. (Family could tease me, but with love. Thank goodness.) I think he knew I'd likely feel bad about it, not be amused by it.

More context: I've said it before, but I was a serious kid. Which, unfortunately and frustratingly, made me a better target for teasing. Laughing at myself didn't come naturally. Any sense of humor I have, any ability to be funny myself, I've built up. I'm probably doing heavy-lifting when I do that. You can learn it, and I kind of admire people who do learn it, but with them and with me, I can sense that effort, that heavy lifting. And I can feel it. At core, I'm still serious.

So, I think, Mike cut me slack. And I truly appreciate that he did.

Without getting into specifics which would probably show that I am fully capable of being a jackass, at times I've wanted to tease. Some of those times, I caught myself: wait, why do I want to tease them? And I've found a mean undercurrent in some of those thoughts. (Slight context: I'd wanted to, but resisted, saying to someone "You're just mad I'm not gay so you could never ask me out, right?") And I resisted. This is important, and needed.

Teasing should make people feel good. I want that to be truer. Similar to how flirting should make everyone involved feel good. (And now I want to flirt.)

Stevie Wonder will at least understand.

There's things I want to write about. I keep not writing about certain of these things. I think maybe I'm jumping the gun, I think maybe circumstances will change so what I wanted to talk about becomes moot, I think there's a chance that the simple act of writing about [xyz] will cause [xyz] not to happen. Or to happen then un-happen, like the end of Caitlín R. Kiernan's novel Threshold or the climax of Donnie Darko.

Sometimes I'm superstitious. Damnit.

And I shouldn't be. I have no rational reason to be. But I let this affect my thinking and my actions. Bussing to work? The side of the bus I sat on could determine my day. Entering a job through one of several gates? I'd have a better day if I went through this gate instead of that one. Complain online that I can't yet get a digital copy of a short novel because someone ahead of me has held onto it for weeks, when it's a book that could be read in a day, and maybe, maaaaaaaybe that person'll magically know it's time to finish it and pass it along so the next reader can read it.

That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works.

But at some level I think it does. Then I realize that I think it does then I think Damnit, Chris and try not to think like that.

Magical thinking is a hell of a drug.

And this isn't even fun magical thinking. "Maybe The X-Men's Kitty Pryde will turn out to be real and available to date!" "Maybe I'll get to levitate and fly!" No, it's "things will suck unless I do [x]." And [x] is arbitrary. It can't possibly have an effect on, well, cause and effect. "Anything that happens, happens," to quote Douglas Adams (his 1992 novel Mostly Harmless), and there's no room for superstition in that statement. Qué será, será.

This is me trying to at least notice better when I think or act superstitiously. That way I'm more likely to stop doing it.

When in doubt, do Out-Of-Context Theater.

"ALL HAIL GOOGLE-BRAIN
IT REMEMBERS WHAT WE FORGOT
AND WHAT WE FORGET WE FORGOT"



P.S. I now sort of wish I'd written instead "WHAT WE FORGOT WE FORGOT"...

Maybe this will make you sleepy

An afternoon of walking, up to Beulahland to hang out for a while, then heading home via an indirect route by bus and Max trains; I decided on the spur of the moment to ride up to PDX and hang around the airport for a bit, as I do sometimes.

While waiting at Gateway Transit Center for the Red Line train to get me there, I filmed this.


What's good

Things that should work, things that recently worked, weren't working this morning. Not how I wanted to start the day. I dwelled on this. (You know I can dwell.) I was doing the :-/ expression.

I did what I could to get past this, to (I hoped) get over this. So I did stuff. I walked, first stopping at the grade school about eight blocks from the house to drop off my most recent collection of Box Tops For Education. Then I walked farther and got to the Woodstock library. Certain online things are easier to do on a desktop than on a tablet, and I did some of those things.

Then dinner: pasta with sausage added to the sauce. Makes it more filling, and more satisfying, especially if you like sausage.

And I made sure to think of other things that were working, that were good, that I could feel nice about. Here's a partial list:

• I'm reading Douglas Adams essays, from the collection The Salmon of Doubt. Some of that I read while walking, as I like to do. His perspective and phrasing are soothing to me.

• The Moon is back in the sky; tonight I caught the sliver of a crescent.

• We currently get good views early at night of Mars.

• I've been getting fed okay.

• I can borrow several David Bowie albums digitally via Hoopla. (I just borrowed Hunky Dory, which has "Changes" and "Life On Mars?")

• I can still think, and write, and be clever.


There. A little more affirmed.
This afternoon, the clouds Portland has had for a couple of days broke: so we were sunny, while framed by interestingly stacked clouds to the east and west. Good day to visit downtown. It still exists, even beyond the Transit Mall, the main part of downtown I'd been to lately. I bussed into it, got off, and walked, deliberately going to parts of it I hadn't seen for a while.

I had a practical reason — turns out the new issues of the Portland Mercury still arrive in downtown Wednesdays, just every other Wednesday now, though lately my part of SE hasn't been getting them until Thursdays, so I WANTED A PAPER AND I GOT ONE — but I also kind of went sightseeing. I was a sightseer. I sightseed. Wait, that word doesn't look right. On SW Fourth, on SW Second, then down to the Waterfront, where I dodged bicycles and watched seagulls stare at me.

Plenty of things have changed lately. Demolitions, at least one restaurant I went to semi-regularly at the last job now being closed, construction. The new county courthouse building is rising up near the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge; and I looked across the river to the Centeal Eastside where the cores for what looked like two new tall buildings are going up. I'd completely missed those before today.

Portland feels a bit more Seen now, after that trip.
Underwear is expensive apparently?

I'm looking for more clothes. New clothes, this time, not new-to-me clothes: I feel like the most recent times I've shopped secondhand, I've chosen badly and not paid enough attention to what I was buying. I hoped to buy a few things Thursday, and looked in a couple of places: the one thing I found worth buying was a new belt.

Today I needed groceries, and decided to go to one of the larger Fred Meyer stores, the Hollywood neighborhood one. (The Freddy's nearest me, Hawthorne, doesn't sell clothes, though it used to, BUT I CAN'T GO TO 2005 TO SHOP.) Improving on Thursday, I bought two (two! Two! Aah, aah, aah...) new clothing things: more black dress socks, and grey slacks. I tried a tannish pair of slacks but didn't like the particular color; I also tried jeans that were a little too tight in the crotch. Getting one pair seemed best for budget, spreading-out-my-purchases reasons, so I didn't try to find a different pair of jeans. Those will be later. I need new jeans. Both pairs I have, have holes in awkward places.

I am whittling away at this. Finding what I can find. Though I was surprised at the price of the underwear I considered buying but didn't. Luckily I'm not as short on undies as I am on other things.



* ...no, that doesn't make sense.

Out-of-context venting.

None of the following is directed towards anyone who reads this blog. These are some miscellaneous thoughts I wanted to put down:



• Read more.

• Your politics are starting to boil down to "If you disagree with me, you're stupid."

• You don't really seem happy doing [a particular online thing]. You don't have to.

• It's easy to be cynical. Do you really want to?

• I'll try never to talk to you about money. You get angry about it. You get especially angry about people who you think got money they did not deserve.

• Try to add something with your attempted jokes. You almost always go for the easiest, most obvious joke. I've done that. A lot of our fellow geeks do that. You can do better than that.

• Talk less, smile more, don't let them know what you're against or what you're for...wait, that's the Hamilton song "Aaron Burr, Sir."


Anyway.

Out-Of-Context Theater.

"Now I want the film Die Hard With A Vegan."

It's possible

Okay, now, hear me out...

Two American Football teams are on the field and in a game. Could be NFL, could be NCAA college football. (Maybe this could happen in the Canadian Football League; I don't know enough about it to be sure. NFL Europe, as it was called for a while, no longer exists.) The team with the ball has fought its way to a 3rd and goal, less than a yard from the goal line. Both teams line up. Ball is snapped. Receiving quarterback slips and can't grab it, and the ball bounces off of his hand high in the air. Scramble ensues. Defensive player on the opposing team picks it up, and starts running for the other goal line. Every player on the field chases him. A player from the team that had possession tackles him, and the ball again pops out. GRABBED BY SOMEONE ELSE ON DEFENSE. More running. More tackling. More ball bouncing. Someone on offense still on the field finally goes "Screw this" and successfully grounds the ball...less than one yard from the goal line opposite from where the play started.

Boom. The team has regained possession. At 4th and 98. Um, yeah, then you're punting. Not happily, but hey, then your team's out of the danger zone.

Technically, under current rules, this is possible. It would possibly be the funniest football play to watch ever, like if teams from the film The Waterboy tried to recreate the Immaculate Reception.

It would also be possible, and possibly also funny, if someday (as explained in minute 18 of this video), an NFL game ended with a score of 6-1.



Yes I know the icon is for the other football. It's the only sports-related icon I have and I'm not in the mood to make another one.

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Howard Ashman. He was a songwriter, stage show book writer and, later, film producer. He was one of the reasons there are 1982's Little Shop of Horrors, 1989's The Little Mermaid, 1991's Beauty and the Beast, and 1992's Aladdin.

He also holds a tragic milestone. As his personal partner Bill Lauch said when accepting Ashman's Oscar for the song "Beauty and the Beast," "...it is bittersweet. This is the first Academy Award given to someone we've lost to AIDS." Ashman was diagnosed in 1988 and passed away in early 1991, after completing his work on Beauty and the Beast. If I remember correctly, he finished his last piece, the unused and brutal Aladdin song "Humiliate the Boy," only three days before he died. A few years past his death, AIDS and HIV drugs reached the point where they could keep people alive and healthier; but those weren't ready for him, or for the many others who died of AIDS in the Eighties and Nineties.

And a 1990s that didn't happen, because he wasn't here to live and work, can only be imagined. I decided to try to imagine it.

Aladdin would have been much different. Writers (including Linda Woolverton) and producers could not make either Ashman's original story idea (which he and his writing partner Alan Menken had written in 1988) or other story ideas work until the filmmakers hired the writing team of Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio in spring 1991. Most of Ashman's first batch of songs didn't fit into the new story, leaving just "Arabian Nights" and "Friend Like Me" (and "Prince Ali," which Ashman had written later). If he'd still been on the film, would Elliott and Rossio have been hired? Would Ashman have gotten the chance to direct or co-direct, as he'd hoped? My hunch is, most likely, there'd be no Elliott/Rossio script (they likely would have had some other career breakthrough, though now I wonder if Pirates of the Caribbean would have happened with them scripting), instead some other writer(s) working with Ashman's input, likely with Ashman co-directing alongside John Musker and Ron Clements, and certainly no Tim Rice songs in Aladdin.

(And would Rice still have been hired for 1994's The Lion King? I'm about 60% "yes"; Rice was hired for the later film while already working on the earlier one, but even had he not, his name almost certainly would have come up.)

Had Ashman been alive in late '92, he also likely — how do I put this delicately? — would have had words about the controversy over the "Arabian Nights" line "Where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face." He would've been annoyed that people were mad. Good chance the lyric still would've been changed for home release, but Ashman almost certainly would've done better than "Where it's flat and immense and the heat is intense." He'd probably rewrite two or three lines around the line to make the revised song flow better.

And it's likely Aladdin, whatever version hit theaters in 1992, would have been a hit. He'd have gotten more work, but I'm thinking that full-on film directing would have been something he did once. It's a surprisingly grueling job, and in animation it's a slow job, especially back then when Disney spent an average of four years producing each animated film. (Productions tend to be faster now.)

Then there was Pixar. That studio's feature debut Toy Story was by design offbeat and less Disney-like, so in my hypothetical world, Randy Newman still would have scored that film, but imagine Newman and Ashman trading off on smartassed Pixar films, likely more of them musicals (or at least movies with songs). The side of Ashman which wrote Little Shop (and the harsh unused Aladdin song "Call Me a Princess," about a princess who's a spoiled brat and not at all like the final film's Jasmine) probably would have had a blast.

And non-Disney stuff. Ashman worked behind the scenes to make the Tina Turner/Ike Turner biopic What's Love Got to Do With It? happen and even wrote an unused draft of the script; that film still would have been made. What else? More science fiction-influenced stuff, like his stage version of Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater? And later, Little Shop almost certainly still would've been revived as a big Broadway show; and he could have adapted to the changing Broadway/Off-Broadway scene, perhaps doing an original Broadway show, or shows. Ashman was a stage guy at heart, which helps you to handle theater's brutal deadlines.

I doubt that he would have been interested in television work. I do think that if he paid any attention to the infamous show Cop Rock, which debuted in late 1990 a few months before he died, he would have rolled his eyes at it. But, fast-forwarding over two decades later to when the comedy-drama-musical Crazy Ex-Girlfriend debuted, had Ashman still been around, he would have at least respected what that show's creators do every week.

Had Ashman still been around. That's still a hurdle to imagine.

Howard Ashman had an intriguing enough life that I seriously hope for a biopic about him someday. There's (I think) a perfect bit of casting, too, Alan Tudyk of Firefly/Serenity and Rogue One: a Star Wars Story. We did at least get the documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty, about how difficult a time Disney Feature Animation had from the early 80s to the mid-90s, and the doc shows Ashman's sometimes explosive side and his powering-through-his-illness side; plus Don Hahn's 2018 documentary Howard will tell more.

We can't have him, except as a memory. We can't be him, either. It's unproductive to be mad at a disease, especially as I'm not a scientist or doctor who could have done anything to help Howard Ashman and others survive AIDS, but I'm still mad at what talent and love AIDS took from us, by taking so many people. Howard Ashman is a microcosm of that.

A lot of us still remember you, sir. We'll keep it up.



A much better source of info about Howard Ashman is the site and blog Howard Ashman Dot Com, created and maintained by Sarah Ashman Gillespie, Howard's sister. I just appreciate his work; I never knew him. I'm glad to hear from the people who did.

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It feels obvious to the point of being trite to point this out, but, man, I love 1975's Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Somewhat rambling thoughts on it follow:

It's hilarious and absurd. It's also a genuinely beautiful film. The Pythons and their crew filmed (in uncomfortable conditions) in Scotland. It was difficult, but about halfway through they staged a screening of the footage they'd gotten by then, and they realized they were making something special. Good motivation for the rest of the (still uncomfortable) shoot.

The very first draft of the script was a hodgepodge of scenes that didn't really connect with each other, going back and forth between medieval times and modern times, with a climax set in the present-day where King Arthur and the Knights steal the Holy Grail from the "Grail Hall" in Harrod's, since Harrod's, the large, longtime store in London, has everything. Even with what I thought was an inspired gag (they use a getaway car driven by God; you know it's God because shafts of light radiate out through the windows), they junked almost all of that — repurposing the Harrod's scenes for the "Michael Ellis" episode of their TV show — to focus on the medieval (with one big exception, of course).

It's still a sketch comedy film, and only slightly has a plot, but Monty Python and the Holy Grail did this with so much style. It makes good virtue of its incredibly limited budget. Replacing horses with people clomping together halves of coconuts was a genius move they made in the script stage. (They used a horse for exactly one scene where a horse was absolutely needed for the gag, and that was it.) I like that the recurring "saying '5' instead of '3'" gag happened because they rewrote a scene while filming, to eliminate two actors from a scene. (The Killer Rabbit killed five knights as written, but they cut that down to three, and wrote in the new dialogue by hand, then found other places where they could do the "5 instead of 3" gag to make it a running joke. Add to the joke, as improv troupes try to do! "Yes, and...")

And Terry Gilliam's animation, and the film's final animation gag, and Graham Chapman being a hell of a leading man (and still funny) as Arthur, and its meta, calling-attention-to-itself quality ("Look! There's the old man from Scene 24!"), and the funny-sexy Castle Anthrax scene, and the absurdity of the Black Knight scene, and how it uses mostly library music (not all that original as music, but energetic) as a tool to undercut plot points and to add jokes, and heck, how deep with jokes even the soundtrack LP they released for the film was: Monty Python and the Holy Grail is something special.

(Did England 932 A.D. have TED Talks? It just did!)

From above, continued

A reminder that the High Definition Earth Viewing System (HDEV) lets you watch views of Earth as seen from the International Space Station.

(I wanted to post today but didn't feel especially motivated to write an entry.)
I was mobile this weekend. First was a Saturday rapid trip to Oregon City, to shop at a different Fred Meyer than I usually get to plus to visit one of the two remaining Mike's Drive-Ins; second was a longer Sunday road trip, this time to Seaside via Astoria.

Slices of this weekend:

• Luckily I am good with spiders, Parts 1 and 2: a good-sized house spider had been in my bedroom, and since I'm the sort who waves and says "hi!" to spiders, this was fine until Sunday morning and I saw it was just starting a web on my desk. Nope. I gathered it up and carried it to the porch, where it dropped down and walked off. Probably more food options outside. I went back to getting ready for my road trip, then later got in the car, then got as far as the MAX Orange Line overpass above SE Powell when...another spider. (Not the same spider. How big a coincidence would that have been?) A really small spider that had, presumably, been sitting in an air vent on my dash. "You're not going to want to go on a trip," I told it, and pulled over near Southeast Grind, carried the spider out to a tree stump, and let it be.

• I downloaded to my tablet a digital copy of an album you might be surprised to know I never owned back in the day: Prince's Batman. That was my cheesy-but-enjoyable music for the drive out to Seaside. (Driving back, I put on the score to The Force Awakens.)

• I stopped just past a Rainier, Oregon and the bridge to Longview, Washington, and took these pictures. This is where I live.

• A thought I thought after a pit stop in Warrenton: "My mind is clearer, and so is my bladder."

• Seaside still exists, and I can get to it. One of these days I'll stay there overnight again so I can appreciate both a sunset over the Pacific and a sunrise over the Coast Range.

• In Seaside I visited a friend, a friend of that friend (someone I know just a bit), and the friend-of-the-friend's cats, all of whom were there on a trip. (Need me to untangle that?) We hung out, walked around in the day's almost-rain, window-shopped along Broadway, appreciated the still-running carousel in one of the buildings, then had satisfying lunch food, snacks, and drinks in a converted theater, now a newly-opened theater-pub. While we were there the screen was showing NFL football for free; the current film showing there is the worthy Incredibles 2; and later this month it'll host special screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This is especially great for a space that's been closed for years.

• I DIDN'T BURN THIS TIME IN SEASIDE. Really thick clouds helped, but I did have sunblock if I'd needed it.

• I left early enough to attend part of a comic book release party back in Portland, at the worthwhile and friendly store Books With Pictures. The store hosted a special event for the new Chelsea Cain comic Man-Eaters. I got to visit Cain again (I've met her a time or two before) and hang out with a bunch of neat people. Then home, and a good night's sleep.

One last post for September

I amused myself this one time, just about a year ago, with my tablet's video option: