Friday, March 25, 2005

Nothing to see here, move along...
This made my week- clips of Octopuses (er...Octopi?) in various disguises, scooting across the ocean floor. My question is...why are they walking? Who else walks on the sea floor?
via Boing Boing

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Wow- amazing footage of a running Vampire Bat! So CUTE.
via Boing Boing

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

I was probably at my finest when I was 14. By that I don’t mean smartest, most accomplished, and certainly not best looking. But when I was 14 a transformation happened in my life, and I was probably my most truest and funniest self. It was the year I say I got shipped off to Halifax Nova Scotia to live with my grandparents and go to the Convent of The Sacred Heart- but the truth is I wanted to go. I had been attending Middle School in West Seattle and was probably the most pitiful lonesome thing you ever saw. The typical shy girl get up- ever present ski jacket, Kmart sneakers, books held close to my non existent chest as I skittered forlornly down the halls, all fat chipmunk cheeks and greasy hair. Smart enough to be in honors classes but way too nerdy and quiet to be friends with any of my classmates, artistic enough to have one small talent to be known for but lazy enough that my classmates resented that I’d show up just inexplicably having not done my homework. I hated everyone.
One day my mother sat down and asked me if I wanted to go to school in Halifax. Her parents were moving back- I could live with them as I went to school. My mother, grandmother, and great grandmother all went to the school. I can’t remember even considering it- I think I said yes before the question had even fully been posed. As I spent the summer waiting to move, I sat in my room, reading teen magazines and plotting. I wasn’t going to be my same old loser self, no way…I would be a bright skinned and smiley teenager, having fun in sweaters. And I would never be a quiet mouse again. I was going to be a loudmouth. I would at least act like I had some worth. I knew I was smart, and I was going to go with it.
So I moved and on the first day of school as the new student I got up in front of the assembly of girls. I had been asked to do a skit about the canned food drive with another girl and I stood staring at the hall of students scoping me out. And I opened my mouth…and I launched into my best Bob n’ Doug McKenzie Canadian hick voice and I talked that way solid for 5 minutes. It was only later the girls realized that not only was I not a retard hayseed but I was being FUNNY, and not only that, I was from Seattle and therefore they all decided I was glamorous! My attention was clamoured for. It was unnerving and it took me awhile to get that it wasn’t all a cruel joke. They took me in hand and got rid of my questionable outfits and put me in Levi’s and cool shoes. My plan was working.
I guess I grew a bit taller during that year because my tights always seemed too short and I was always hiking them up. I was walking home one day in my uniform, black watch kilt with light blue button button down shirt, dark blue sweater, dark tights and flat shoes (scuffed to hell, naturellement). Suddenly I heard a shout. My brand new neighbor Giles, a ruddy cheeked blonde Prince William kinda guy, hollered at me to wait for him. Huh, god…what? A boy talking to me? Uh…I waited for a minute as he said goodbye to his friends and ran over. “Hey- I thought we could walk home together.” He said. I played it totally cool, casually walking along and talking about music to this strange specimen of humanity in his peg leg pants and Paul Weller haircut, who actually seemed to think I was normal when it happened. My tights fell down. Well- they didn’t fall down as much as the tight waistband slid down so my butt popped out of them. Under my kilt of course. I had on an army jacket thing (I know- ATTRACTIVE. It was the 80’s) and I grabbed the waistband of my tights which was now sliding down and strangling my mid thighs on its determined decent downwards, through the pocket of my coat, real sly like. And I walked home a mile like that, my hands jammed in my pockets frantically trying to keep my tights from fully falling down, without ever letting on anything was happening. I think I learned something that day, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was.
And so when I was 14 I carved up my hair into interesting new shapes, I fell down stairs, I wore big plastic earrings, I talked to boys, I made fun of metalheads and mall chicks. I spoke the truth. I wasn’t afraid of anything. I imitated the nuns during class, making paper buck teeth and parting my hair down the middle, imitating Sister Morgan’s monotone drawl, who made history a tear inducing exercise in staying awake. I ran rampant down the school halls, I played ornery Russian widows in school plays. I kissed Claire Sykora on a bet. I made all the prank calls during slumber parties. I wore my Duran Duran buttons on my grandfather’s old gas mask satchel. I got hip to Levi’s. I had loads of friends. I danced my new wave dance. I had fun in sweaters.

Heaven and Sea
My grandfather, an Rear Admiral in the Canadian Navy- was sunk during the second world war in the North Atlantic. Torpedoed by a German U Boat. He survived, unlike a great deal of his men, left to float in the frigid ocean for hours and hours- shivering off 17 pounds in almost as many hours. The one time I actually got to hear the story he told me that the first torpedo had just clipped them, so everyone on board knew the next one was coming, all running to the side to watch its wake streak towards them, like a wolf tearing across a field of snow. He said if they ever raised the ship off the ocean floor they would probably find his handprints in the guardrail as he was white knuckling it so hard watching the torpedo heading full bore, this one right on target. The story is he ran to his cabin to grab his photograph of my beautiful and glamorous grandmother, Margot. Which would seem like reckless bravado or just foolhardiness if it were anyone else. As far as Dan was concerned- it was a simple and pure move…apropos of its time I guess. The kind of unselfconscious romantic move moviemakers trot out to make you squirt out a tear.

My grandfather is gone now…though certainly not forgotten. His memory and kindness live in my mother, my aunt and my uncles- his children. I’ve written about him before, and it’s easy to forget little things, like the heavy drinking that occurred occasionally- but the sum of him outweighs things like that to a ridiculous degree. Maybe it’s his passing that makes me able to try to express the depth of my feelings…I sure can’t seem to do it for the living.
I think all I can really say is that I feel his spirit on cold clear nights, when the stars are aflame in the cobalt black sky- ancient constellations the same as when our eldest ancestors looked on them, that continue burning over eons, as civilizations rise and fall, great thoughts are thought and then lost in time, as deserts bury once great cities and rainforests fall to machines. When I say his spirit, I don’t mean I feel a ghost of Dan standing close. I mean that I feel a great calm flow, that his essence has gone and recombined with the universe, as we all have or eventually will…but that the things that made Dan still exist out there, anywhere. I suppose it’s a more tangible way of feeling kinship with the very best part of humanity- of “ creatureness”…of being on our beautiful spinning planet, when all is quiet and calm, and we are ok and safe to stare up above our poisoning sorrows and ravenous red struggles, and our imagination and gentle spirits can take flight…the payoff of being alive.

This is the sort of thing that stops me short, and makes me question my own small life. It’s amazing what you REALLY feel when you’re not feeling any fear…no niggling doubts burrowing under the surface. The world is no longer a place of terror and madness in which we are lonesome strangers…and the thought some have that this is a temptation filled weigh station to be turned away from, meant to test our devotedness to an angry god or some kind of prison planet for our pretended greater “forgotten selves” rings false and dead. I can’t deny true evil horrors don’t exist, that there are pockets of time when insanity seems to dominate, the basic fact almost all creatures must kill to exist, that we are doing a really great job fucking stuff up. I haven’t quite gotten my head around that one.
But nonetheless it’s quite obvious we were born into a paradise…the even the least hospitable places on earth are carved with exquisite beauty and unbelievably, still teeming with life. Sorrow and grief has it’s own dark beauty. A friend I know who is just coming to grips with sorrow after drowning all emotions in alcohol for years and years is just leaning that to be sad, to miss someone, to wish that something did not happen is not an evil, but rather just part of the trade off…and that it can add a strong depth to us if we don’t allow it to destroy us, makes the many good times so much sweeter. I know it sounds cloy but it really seems to be true. Not everyone wants to hurt us, not everyone wants to rip us off. Some people want the world to be better, for everybody, for all things. There is not always a wolf behind every door.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Next show- Pooch and Joe Chiodo! Pooch is the next big lowbrow painter. You heard it here first.


Pooch "The House That Hanuman Built" acrylic on canvas


Pooch "Sangra Azteca" acrylic on canvas
And you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"...
There's something to getting older. In some ways-it's really great- things that would have bothered me when I was younger I could care less about now. Other things are ...different. It's not the getting older- it's the not being young anymore...that point where you realise that certain dreams just aint gonna happen. Not going to be a rock star, not going to be a movie starlet, much less say, the Greta Garbo of my generation, or misunderstood literary genius. And mostly...it's ok. The thing Ive been thinking about lately is other things- like how I havent done much of the stuff I thought when I was younger that I'd have done by now. I was pretty sure I'd have lived in Paris for a year, at least travelled the globe once. Now I find myself waking up at 4 in the morning irrationally freaking out about shipping art or getting press for the new show ready, evenings spent watching the History Channel's "Digging For the Truth" a new show that has some young groovy guy wearing an Indiana Jones hat and traveling the world exploring "mysteries" , like the Nazca lines, the Pyramids, and the Knights Templar. There's usually lots of mummies. What a SCAM. What a genius idea. Isn't that supposed to be me playing with ancient mummified Peruvian trophy heads and extracting elephant pinworm larva out of my feet, all in the company of my pet spider monkey? What happened? Am I having a midlife crisis at age 35? How did I become so...normal? Ok, granted my life isn't totally pedestrian, and parts of it are great...I love my husband more than I could ever possibly express, I love owning my own place. My job is pretty amazing. But late at night I feel this deep hidden thing shifting around, something long buried and hibernating in my soul, that longs for something more, wild rivers, wild people,wild animals, and the bravery to trade comfort and status for adventure.