4 February 2005

Coffee break for art! Via BoingBoing: the Wurst Gallery exhibit "Vintage Vandals", in which artists were invited to pick up a painting at a thrift shop and alter it. My personal favorites are the Driscoll Reid and Andy Sargent pieces. (Roll over the painting to see what they did). Reid's Domo-Kun-ish monsters just make that stupid landscape, don't they?

posted by shannon at 03:16 PM | comments (0)

3 February 2005

This photo by stijn (spotted on Flickr) made me want to go back to Berlin right this minute. Or at the very least, get back to work on my novel (set in East Berlin).

Ok, ok. OK! I'll admit it, I want to try out for the Martha Stewart edition of The Apprentice. I'll skip my whole Eurotrash writer girl thing for a while if it means duking it out with other potential Martha wannabes. My souffle-cooking, stitch-making, knit and felted "lifestyle magazine" pimp hand is way strong. I will make the other girls cower in their lame-assed gardening boots. Bow before me, you pathetic makers of lumpy gravy, I will whip up a terducken for lunch and new curtains by dinnertime without even breaking a sweat!

Yeah. I'd be so awesome. Not that I'm getting a big ego or anything -- when it comes to being a domestic goddess, even Nigella Lawson quivers in her tight little angora sweaters thinking of me!

(quoth Gachnar on Buffy: "FEAR ME!")

posted by shannon at 11:43 AM | comments (0)

2 February 2005

Damn you, Gummi, and your movie tag meme! Ok, ok, here goes.

  1. The last movie you went to see in a theater: Bridget Jones - The Edge of Reason. I had to go by myself, because no way in hell was my boyfriend going to go see that with me. We almost never go out to see movies, so chick flicks are out of the question.
  2. The last movie you watched at home: Without falling asleep? I think we watched Ed Wood. I can't remember, I've been too busy catching up on past Buffy seasons, and besides, I wasn't really paying attention.
  3. How many movies do you own? Not very many. Probably less than fifteen. But my boyfriend, with whom I live, has an obscenely large collection.
  4. What was the last movie you bought? My boyfriend bought me Wings of Desire for Christmas. Personally? I think Say Anything.
  5. Got Netflix (or a similar service)? Just satellite TV. If we didn't like Law and Order and the BBC so much, I think we could get along with just Netflix and NBC. Most TV is completely boring.
  6. List five movies you adore/mean a lot to you:
    • Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire). My favorite movie ever. Its sequel is good, too.
    • Winterschläfer. By Tom Tykwer, who did Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run) and Der Krieger und die Kaiserin (The Princess and the Warrior). I don't think I've ever seen a Tykwer movie I've disliked, actually.
    • Secretary. Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge had a display vitrine full of bondage gear when Tony and I went to see this for the first time. I wonder who they borrowed it from?
    • GoldenEye. Not the best Bond movie ever, but I really like it...brings back memories of the first time I saw it, at a pyramid-shaped theatre in Prague that could best be described as "Egyptian-style concrete socialist architecture."
    • Immortal Beloved. Gosh, what's with me and the depressing mitteleuropaïsch flicks? But Gary Oldman...ooh.
  7. Name your guilty pleasure movie (or genre): Overwrought fantasy stuff. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc. Once, my boyfriend caught me crying over the elves in Lord of the Rings. Why? Because they were elves. Uh-huh. I don't understand me, either.

Who shall I send this to? Hmm. Ryan, Tony and Sooz.

posted by shannon at 12:11 PM | comments (0)

Found on Food Network guru Alton Brown's website, this "chopper mixer." I have never wanted a particular KitchenAid so much in my life! (Well, since finding the violet Artisan model after it'd already been discontinued). My search for a reasonably priced KitchenAid has been redoubled...maybe I can take it to the guy who painted my dad's Harley to have the flames put on.

(And they say housework can't be creative!)

If I can't find a reasonably priced replacement for our wall oven, maybe we could paint flames on that, too. Although painting flames on an oven door does kind of send...well...the wrong message.

I'm prepping another proposal for a different TV producer this week. If all goes well, I'll be making an appearance on not one, but two shows come fall! Thus, I need to create items in various stages of completion to show on camera, which interferes with other artwork I want to do. But paid work, or work that will lead to promotion of my other work, has to come first.

There's such a tricky divide between art and profit. Recently on Blogcritics, someone posted a rather nasty poem about Henry Rollins and Jello Biafra in the comments section of a Rollins book review. The gist? Rollins & Biafra have both sold out in a big way. I think that's patently false, of course, but where do you draw the line? I have great respect for both men, because their companies (2.13.61 and Alternative Tentacles) put out a continuous stream of quality art by artists outside the mainstream. And if they make enough money to support themselves, and continue in that path, well -- what's wrong with that? Is it any better to play holier than thou from your post at Starbucks, smug because you didn't sell out?

posted by shannon at 12:53 AM | comments (1)

1 February 2005

Privacy, schmivacy. From the American Community Survey to the Post-Abortion Grandparents' Kit - when will people learn to mind their own damn business?

The Post-Abortion Grandparents' Kit is brought to you by James Dobson's charming associates, better known for recently outing SpongeBob Squarepants. It includes the book I'll Hold You In Heaven and the brochure "Your Daughter's Abortion and You"...which brings some pretty sick visuals to mind, if you ask me. Seriously. If my parents learned I'd had an abortion (which, for the record, I have not), I highly doubt their first concern would be whether they'd get to hold the baby someday in heaven.

Dobson also has a special page devoted to "marriage under fire." Their persecution complex knows no bounds! "How your religious freedom is sacrificed at the altar of political correctness — and what you can do about it"? Give me a break. The subheader above that little gem links to another book for sale called Persecution: How Liberals are Waging War Against Christians. Its description?

Reclaim Your Right To Participate In The Political Arena
Author David Limbaugh exposes the subtle but pervasive discrimination against biblical Christianity in our culture. Using real, sometimes shocking, examples from Hollywood, public schools and other venues, he shows how terms like “tolerance” and the mythical “separation of church and state” have been used to portray Christianity as repressive, ignorant and offensive. This is a call to action for those who want to exercise their right to influence popular culture and find true religious freedom.

They can't go for five minutes without invoking the evils of Hollywood, can they?

It makes me laugh when Christians consider themselves oppressed and unable to "participate" in the political arena. Translation: if you don't listen to us and believe what we tell you our religion means and do exactly what we say -- no matter what you may personally believe -- then you're persecuting us. What about those who don't subscribe to your beliefs? Are we being persecuted? When we stand up for our right to function as secular human beings in a society that does not and should not enforce a prescribed religion, how does that affect you? I'm not rounding up any pregnant Christians and forcing them into an abortion clinic, so what gives you the right to try keeping me out of one if I need it?

It all boils down to privacy. My body is my business. Your religion is your business. Keep your nose out of mine, and I'll do the same. (Unless your religion involves sacrificing gorgeous redheaded babes to the Aztec god Limbaughcoatl on the town square, that is).

posted by shannon at 05:29 PM | comments (0)

31 January 2005

A little something about "tone"...

Have you ever noticed that whenever someone writes something online (particularly in email, or on a mailing list) that later comes back to haunt them, there's an immediate rush to blame "tone"?

In the past few months, I've had not one, not two, but multiple instances of "tone" being used as an excuse to back away from a statement one no longer wants to support. I've even had people try to make excuses for my own forceful replies with "tone." Let's be clear. I'm a writer, I know all about tone. I choose my words with particular care to ensure that my intent is not only clearly expressed, but put forth exactly the way I mean it to sound. I don't get namby-pamby about it. Either I meant what I said, or I didn't. And since I don't have the time to write things I don't mean, you can generally count on the former.

Clarifications of position don't count. If a position can be interpreted in multiple factual ways based on my words, and I need to clear up my actual thoughts on the matter, or explain how it relates (in my opinion) to another point that's been raised, that's different. I'm talking about instances in which I state a response forcefully, and then stand accused of misreading "tone", or of not meaning what I just said because it's "so difficult to interpret tone online."

I'm not speaking Swahili. We're not using a mutual second or third language to communicate. I said what I mean and I mean what I say. Is "tone" being used as a passive-aggressive exit strategy from unpleasant communication? A means of avoiding conflict by blaming a neutral "third party" (i.e. the internet)? Would you treat non-electronic written communication in the same way? Is face-to-face communication now the only valid means for expression of distaste?

In other words, if you disparage something I've done, is my response valid only if I call you out into the parking lot to "discuss"? If an email falls in the woods and no one hears it, did its author really mean what was said?

posted by shannon at 12:35 PM | comments (1)

28 January 2005

Somewhat NSFW original link from the Suicide Girls newswire...

From "Ohio Anti-Gay Marriage Law Leaves Unwed Abuse Victims Unprotected, Public Defender's Office Claims"...

In Ohio, where an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage was passed last November, a sickening example of how discriminatory legislation can have consequences far beyond those intended by its creators is currently unfolding in Cuyahoga County courtrooms. In at least two cases so far the county public defender's office has asked a judge to dismiss domestic-violence charges against unmarried defendants, arguing that these charges violate the anti-gay marriage amendment - often referred to as Issue 1 - by granting marriage-like legal status to unmarried victims of domestic violence.

and...

The brouhaha over Issue 1 is expected to go as far as the Ohio Supreme Court, where legal experts say the letter of the law strongly favors the legal interpretation of the public defender's office. If their position wins out, defense laywers in the state would be bound by law and professional ethics to file for dismissal of domestic violence cases involving unmarried couples. This could affect as many as one out of every five reported cases of domestic violence, of which there were over 20,000 in Ohio last year.

Does this disturb you half as much as it disturbs me? Domestic abuse victims get some extra protection under the law because of the situation they find themselves in. (For example, it's easier to get an automatic restraining order than it would be under other circumstances). That's a good thing...unless, of course, you're in favor of domestic violence.

Issue 1 was so poorly written and executed that even our Republican trifecta (governor + 2 Senators) didn't support it. It was unnecessary, too, given that we already had a defense of marriage provision. It makes us look bad to the business community who might want to move here, hold conventions here, etc. (Not to mention the already sizeable brain drain of Ohioans leaving the state).

And now, abusive partners of all sexual orientations might get a free pass thanks to some tricky legal maneuvering. Thanks, anti-gay Issue 1. Thanks a whole lot.

But wait! there's more! US to slap tourists with RFID

(In response to that link, my boyfriend stated: "'1984' seems kind of... quaint.")

Here, this'll cheer you up, at least.

posted by shannon at 11:50 AM | comments (0)

Have you heard of the American Community Survey? It's the latest obnoxious attempt at Total Information Awareness by Big Brother...ahem, I mean "our government."

My parents got one of these forms. Among the questions you'd expect on a census form (how many people live in the house, etc), they've added some really obnoxious personal questions such as "What time did this person usually leave the house to go to work last week?"

(As my mother said: "What, so they know when to come and search the house?")

"What is this person's ancestry or ethnic origin?"
"Does this person speak a language other than English at home?"
"How well does this person speak English?"

Profile much? Who thinks the communities with "suspect" language speakers are going to get a little extra Federal attention, if you catch my drift? (Detroit's Arabic-speaking population, for example).

Here's the worst part:

The American Community Survey is conducted under the authority of Title 13, United States Code, Sections 141 and 193, and response is mandatory. According to Section 221, persons who do not respond shall be fined not more than $100. Title 18 U.S.C. Section 3571 and Section 3559, in effect amends Title 13 U.S.C. Section 221 by changing the fine for anyone over 18 years old who refuses or willfully neglects to complete the questionnaire or answer questions posed by census takers from a fine of not more than $100 to not more than $5,000.

So if you object to providing this kind of personal information, they can fine you up to $5000. Does that sound American to you? What about the right to not incriminate yourself? What if you're an illegal alien? Do you have to fill this out? And if you don't because you're afraid of getting caught, can they fine you? What if the way you earn a living is illegal? (And I'm not talking drug dealer, prostitute, etc...in some places, being an acupuncturist is illegal. Being a naturopath is illegal.) Do you lie? Do you choose not to answer? Sure, they say the information they collect isn't shared with anyone else, but I believe that about as much as I believe anything coming out of the current Administration, i.e. not at all.

This country gets scarier every single day. Each new item like this erodes our right to privacy, and it's time we fight back.

update: I'm not the only one who thinks it's a bad idea - thanks for the link, Tamas!

posted by shannon at 10:19 AM | comments (0)

25 January 2005

I vant to bite your ear! (aka Spike, vampire-cat)

Spike has many quirks, but one of his most endearing/annoying traits (depending on how long he's been at it, and whether it's noon or 3:00 a.m.) is his need to nurse on your ear from time to time. Blame it on being a bottle baby, say he's spoiled. Whatever. He's still my little monkey. Here he is nibbling on Daddy.

Spike's brother Milkshake has his very own profile on MySpace (he's more social than our little vampire, apparently).

Here are the brothers having a playdate:

Why the catblogging? After all, it's not even Friday. For one, I've been flat on my back with bronchitis since Thursday...and now I'm playing catch-up with the world. Seriously. I was able to watch Buffy DVDs, that was the extent of my abilities. Reading? Owww, head hurty. Knitting? No can do. Eating? Oh please, no. I'll have another tea, but no...no food.

You'll have to give me another day or so to get sufficiently riled up to talk about how idiotic anti-gay Issue One is now affecting straight victims of domestic violence in Ohio. This has been brewing under the radar, and it needs to be brought out into the open and discussed, particularly since Senator Allard's chickenshit Federal Marriage Amendment is back in play.

posted by shannon at 03:54 PM | comments (2)

24 January 2005

Wow.

A certain very prominent blogger / humorist / columnist for the Miami Herald has an assistant who is a real drama queen. (Why give them Google fodder? That should be enough for you to figure out who it is). Last week, it seemed they'd missed a closing tag inside a post...and it was making all the other posts below it appear in italics. So I wrote a very short, sweet email with a possible diagnosis (Missing or incorrect closing tag? Oh yeah, I've done that before. Many times). She responds saying she can't see it. So I send a screenshot. She sends one back. It's fine on hers, so I must be the idiot, right? And I quote:

If it was like that, it's not like that any more. I sent you a screen shot. Perhaps if you would just hit refresh, we could stop discussing this.

Nice. I couldn't help firing off one more response, after I'd emptied my cache and restarted the browser, only to find the same thing. One can only wonder how she treats other people who try to be helpful -- unbelievable.

(And I thought my former assistant was bad!)

posted by shannon at 11:29 AM | comments (1)

Art should be accessible. And by that, I don't mean "easily understood" or "facile." I mean that everyone should have access to art, either in a museum setting or in their own home.

eBay is one great equalizer. It was founded so that Pez collectors could trade their wares. Now, proper fine art is changing hands, too. For example, my favorite aunt is selling two watercolor sketches through one of her friends on eBay right now. (She's a well-known watercolorist and just about everything else-ist, art-wise). When you're a professional artist, you've got lots of sketches like these sitting around the house. More importantly, something like this is an entry-level piece. If you can't afford to drop a few grand on a painting, start small. Everyone should be able to afford art.

They've got a program in the UK called Own Art, which lends money to people who want to buy art at 0% interest. This not only helps support the artists whose work is being purchased, but it enriches the lives of the buyers on a very personal level. You could choose to buy some godforsaken Thomas Kinkade dreck, if that's what you're into. I could buy another Cynthia von Buhler painting. And everyone's happy!

At Oberlin College, the campus art museum allows students to borrow up to two pieces from the collection for a semester. You know those godforsaken posters most dorm rooms sport? Well, at Oberlin, you can have a real Warhol or Picasso...no word on whether or not "The Kiss" is up for rental, but since it lives in Vienna, I doubt it. All you freshman girls will have to pick something else, I fear...maybe a nice Monet?

I don't expect this country to disband the NEA in favor of arts loans. (Ok, maybe the disbanding part alone...God knows this administration likes tanks better than triptychs). But maybe it's time for some new accessibility measures in terms of art purchasing.

posted by shannon at 08:46 AM | comments (0)

19 January 2005

Really, now, Brooklyn hipsters. This is just idiotic. Via Craigslist (the vector for all ironic amusement), it's the Miss Williamsburg Pageant:

Are you the coolest girl in the Burg? Do you spend hours trying to make it look like you are not even trying? Do you secretly wish that for once there would be a pageant where you could get some credit for that new hot trend on Bedford avenue that you KNOW you invented? NOW IS YOUR CHANCE!!!!! The first annual Miss Williamsburg Pageant is now taking applicants. We want to crown the most creative, talented and original individuals, girls whose boyfriends have the best record collections and play in the coolest bands, girls who cut their own hair, or pay someone to make it look like they did, who make their own clothes out of beachwood, rags, and scrap metal, who excell at karaoke and scrabble, can shotgun PBR's and do the robot at the same time...

Oh come on! Please tell me this is a joke.

While I highly appreciate good indie style (hell, I run a shop devoted to it), I have a tough time taking the cooler than thou people seriously. Like this one chick on New Year's Eve...I was calling her Miss Ladytron, because she was aping the Ladytron aesthetic on a whole new level. At a bar. In Lakewood, Ohio. Uh-huh, next! Or Whora Birch (so called because she looks like Thora Birch, but is superslutty and hits on my friend's husband all the time). She's got that Betty Pageish / Sailor Jerry tattoo thing going on.

Spare me the generic alt-girls and those who'd encourage them...in jest or no.

If the Miss Williamsburg Pageant is real, someone needs to go all Carrie on it. Believe me, one bucket of pig's blood is all it would take to cull the Miss Ladytrons from the crowd.

posted by shannon at 05:11 PM | comments (4)

18 January 2005

Why is it that whenever something insanely good happens, something equally horrid has to happen right away to balance it out? It's inevitable. And you always forget about this rule until it happens the next time. Perhaps the trick is to act as if everything is equal to you on the good/bad scale -- fool the universe into not swinging that pendulum back so hard? Sigh.

The bad stuff I can't discuss publicly, but the good involved an amazing find -- a cache of vintage buttons. Bakelite-y, carved, complex, wild buttons. If you know anything about thrifting, you'll know how cool this is. I've got to get back to actually making stuff, as opposed to just writing about making stuff...especially now that the Renegade Craft Fair is going to have a second, Brooklyn-based incarnation this year. See you all there, yes?

posted by shannon at 10:53 PM | comments (0)