Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Kiss-Off

"Begin at the beginning and go on
till you come to the end:
then stop."

- The King, Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Well folks, it's been real and it's been fun, but it hasn't been real fun.

This is my 375th and last post on May's Machete.

When I started this blog I was a frustrated artist who was swamped with grad school work and didn't have the time or energy for the more creative work that makes me feel fulfilled. Blogging made me feel like I wasn't a liar for still considering myself a writer and it gave me some focus for the little creative energy I did have. Since then, I've grown a lot as this blog has progressed and I enjoyed the ability to work out some of my life in stories for others.

But when I think about what value blogging gives to my life, I'm not coming up with enough answers that would keep me doing this. It's taking up an increasing amount of my now quite active creative energy and I'd rather spend that on projects I find more fulfilling. So that's what I'm going to be doing from now on.

Thanks to all of you who shared this blogging adventure with me. Thanks especially to those of you, Tony especially, who enjoyed my stuff enough to pass it on. Thank you to all of you who commented, subscribed and read the random shit I find compelling. Thank you for finding me worthwhile enough to make me a tiny part of your lives.

If you feel like following the continuing adventures of my weird-ass & ridiculous life, you can:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Michael Garfield: Writer, Painter, Songbird

The same two awesome people who introduced me to Wonderfalls, also introduced me to their friend, Michael Garfield, who just so happens to be another amazingly multi-talented individual. He describes himself on his MySpace page as a "writer, painter, songbird." This video will introduce you to at least two of his talents, and it was the first of his art that I had ever seen. Totally blew me away:

You can see more of his art on Photobucket, but these are a few of my favorites:

I'm sure you noticed last week that I tend towards artists with lots of movement in their work, so his stuff is right up my alley. Plus, add the amorphous shapes and images that seem to come out of both mythology and dreams and I'm totally sold! I'm gonna have to get my hands on one of these; it would look great in my apartment and you can never have enough art. Lord knows I could certainly use s'more.

Now for a few more songs:


If you liked what you heard, feel free check out his YouTube channel or to download several of his albums. They're available for free download and I have loved every minute I've listened to.
Double-Edged Sword EP
Get Used to Being Everything
Rare Bird on Common Ground, Volume 1
Live at Frozen Dead Guy Days

Related posts:
Balloon Me!
Create Your Own Reality
My Multi-Talented Friend and her Automatic Drawings

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Little Turn on the Cat Walk

If you are my friend on Facebook, you might've read about my plans to take my cats on walks - which translates more to standing around in the front yard with my cat on a leash because they're scared of the outdoors... It's hilarious! Here's some pictures of us taking the two youngest out:

Pinky (right) is anxious to get outside but
Inky is still struggling to accept the leash

We walked them out half way into the front pathway,
but Inky just turned around and ran back to the door....

He stayed up on the porch the whole time,
but it was only his 3rd trip outdoors so he was more nervous

...meanwhile, Matt put Pinky into the yard to investigate

He had a fun time sniffing!

But mostly he was just trying to find the sidewalk so he could do his favorite thing: rolling back and forth on the sidewalk in as much dirt as possible!

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Monday, February 16, 2009

The Journals of Rachel Corrie: First-Hand View of Gaza Violence

oh rafah. aching rafah.
aching of refugees
aching of tumbled houses
bicycles severed from tank-warped tires
and aching of bullet-riddled homes
all homes worm-eaten by bullets and then
impregnated through bullet holes by birds.
... from a poem by Rachel Corrie

Over at the Feministing blog, they've got a fabulous feature called "Not Oprah's Book Club," where Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie was recently covered. After that recommendation, I knew I'd have to read it because Rachel Corrie was a humanitarian and environmentalist activist who was killed by the Israeli military in Gaza. I knew she'd be the kind of person I would have loved and I was totally right.

Reading Rachel's collected journal entries, poems, letters and e-mails, I felt even more plainly how much I would have loved this woman. Like me, she knew she wanted to be a writer at a young age and it forms the way we view the world. We have similar values and she writes so beautifully about even things that are tearing her apart.

The Journals covers her personal growth through elementary and high school on into college. It also covers two trips she took outside of the US, once to Russia and once to Brazil, before she went to Gaza to try and stop the tanks there. The final half of the book focuses more on war and tragedy, specifically on the events of 9/11, the beginning of the Iraq war and the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

It was extremely difficult for me to read her thoughts and feelings about 9/11 and the Iraq war because they so closely mirrored how I felt then and that is still an ache that has yet to heal in my heart (and I don't know why or how so it's no good asking right now). It was a relief when she started to focus instead on Gaza although her description of being immersed in a war zone is powerful and saddening. I'm going to leave you with her words and the sources she suggested as ways to find out more about this ongoing situation:

February 7, 2003
I have been in Palestine for two weeks and one hour now, and I still have very few words to describe what I see. It is most difficult for me to think about what's going on here when I sit down to write back to the United States. Something about the virtual portal into luxury. I don't know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank-shell holes in their walls and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I'm not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days before I got here [note: Rachel was killed by the Israeli military just over one month after this email was written], and many of the children murmur his name to me: Ali-or point at the posters of him on the walls.
I think about the fact that no amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing, and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can't imagine it unless you see it- and even then you are always well aware that your experience of it is not all the reality: what with the difficulties the Israeli Army would face if they shot an unarmed U.S. citizen, and with the fact that I have money to buy water when the army destroys wells, and the fact, of course, that I have the option of leaving. Nobody in my family has been shot, driving in their car, by a rocket launcher from a tower at the end of a major street in my hometown. I have a home. I am allowed to go see the ocean [note: the ocean is off-limits to Gaza residents]. Ostensibly, it is still quite difficult for me to be held for months or years on end without a trial (this is because I am a white U.S. citizen, as opposed to so many others)...

As an afterthought to all this rambling -- I am in Rafah: a city of about 140,000 people, approximately sixty percent of whom are refugees - many of whom are twice or three times refugees. Rafa existed prior to 1948, but most of the people here are people-or descendants of people-who were relocated here from their homes in historic Palestine - now Israel.
Today as I walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border: "Go! Go!" because a tank was coming. And then waving and "What's your name?" Something disturbing about this friendly curiosity. It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids. Egyptian kids shouting at strange women wandering into the paths of tanks. Palestinian kids shot from the tanks when they peek out from behind walls to see what's going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners. Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously - occasionally shouting - and also occasionally waving - many forced to be here, many just aggressive - shooting into the houses as we wander away.
I've been having trouble accessing news about the outside world here, but I hear an escalation of war in Iraq is inevitable. There is a great deal of concern here about the "reoccupation of Gaza." Gaza is reoccupied every day to various extents - but I think there fear is that the tanks will enter all the streets and remain here - instead of entering some of the streets and then withdrawing after some hours or days to observe and shoot from the edges of the communities. I went to a rally a few days ago in Khan Younis in solidarity with the people of Iraq. many analogies were made about the continuing suffering of the Palestine people under Israeli occupation and the upcoming occupation of Iraq by the United States - not the war itself - but the certain aftermath of the war. If people aren't already thinking about the consequences of this war for the people of the entire region, then I hope they will start.
I want to suggest a few resources for people who may be new to the issue-or who are solely reliant on the US media-everything always of course through the lens of critical thought:
  • - This is the website of the International Solidarity Movement.
  • - Website of a daily English-language Egyptian newspaper
  • - The Middle East Report
  • - Palestinian-produced website provides thorough accounting of the impact of occupation on the people of Palestine
Related posts:
Just Pull Out
Planet, Not Politics
Human Rights are Meaningless in America

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Frank: The Trippy Cartoon Whatsit

I like comic books so whenever I'm at the library I grab whatever ones look interesting that I haven't already read, which is how I got my hands on Jim Woodring's The Portable Frank. According to his website, after high school Woodring "got a job as a garbage man and lived in picturesque squalor as he set about the task of capturing his inner life in words and pictures." And I have to say The Portable Frank definitely captures his "inner life" - it was like watching someone's dream or drug trip, so I wasn't all the surprised when I got to the end and read that:

Frank was born in a cloud of proponal, butanol and alcohol on the afternoon of July 17, 1997. His receiving blanket was a memo form. He looked exactly has he does not except his tail was longer, his head was larger, and his feet were smaller. ... He found he liked comics work and peformed in them throughout the '90s. ... He wishes it to be known that he can and does talk; it is the comics that are wordless, not he.
Trippy shit, right? Well, you ain't seen nothing yet! The "14 classic black-and-white stories" that comprise The Portable Frank are so random and dreamlike. Sometimes I had no idea what was happening, but it sure was fun to look at. I love seeing things like this because it helps to spark my own creativity by making my mind move in ways it doesn't normally.

Here's one of the shortest stories to give you a taste of the madness:

Related posts:
My Top 5 Web Comics
Death, Sex and the Future (In Manga)
Sam and Max are Back!

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Guinea Pig Nostalgia

This video (found on Cute Overload) really made me miss having guinea pigs.

When I was growing up, my siblings and I had a ridiculous number of guinea pigs. It all started when we were given a pair of the piggies - a blind oldish one we called "Grandma" and her half-albino (red eyes but gold fur) supposed daughter. Of course, the daughter ended up being a boy and before we knew it, we were inundated with the fuzzy little creatures.

Each generation kept breeding and inter-breeding and after a while, despite selling whole litters to pet stores and giving others away, we ended up with a long line of big cardboard boxes (they were free and easy to get from Aldi's) covered in pine bedding and filled with 3-4 piggies a piece. We tried to separate the boys from the girls, but one determined male, Cheeseball, always gnawed through his box and a box of girls while we were at church and then we'd have babies all over again.

Of course, some litters didn't make it. Several died for no apparent reason, others were accidentally crushed by the blind Grandma (those were the saddest). But that didn't make enough of a difference in the amount of little guinea pigs we had in the house and eventually mom and dad decided they had to go.

We kept just Grandma since she was disabled and would be hard to place and Fawn, one of the others we knew was a girl since she'd had several litters herself. Sadly, we kept the crazy one that was the favorite of my little sister and no one else (that was the first hint I had she was mamma's favorite) and had to give away the randy Cheeseball who was the cutest and everyone else's favorite.

Angel & Fawn

Eventually Grandma died and I was able to get a little black and white guinea, but she and Fawn only lived a few years together before they died, ending our era of the guinea pigs.

I love how guinea pigs are like miniature cows, the way they scutter around making ridiculous chirping and trilling noises and the crazy way they'll scream for food or attention if they're riled up enough. It's sweet how they'll sit around and graze if you put them in grass, how they'll sit and be cuddled and petted, like so:

I love all things cute and silly and I sure do miss those cute, silly girls and boys. Unfortunately, I'm trying not to be a crazy animal lady or else I'd have a guinea, a rat, a bunny, fish, a snake and/or lizard and probably more. But, as it is, I'll just stick with these guys:

Frederick, Pinky & Inky
Related posts:
Dino Daddies Ruled the Roost
Just For Kicks: Animals Have Problems Too
For the Birds

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Living Dream Home

Holy crap! I just found my new dream home! The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has created a prototype tree house that is made of 100% LIVING components that, according to TreeHugger, will "circulate water and metabolic flows and would be fully integrated into an ecological community." It would be incredible to be completely sheltered and surrounded by nature every single day. Man, oh, man.

Here's how the MIT geniuses say this would work:

The basic framework of the house would be created using a gardening method known as pleaching, in which young trees are woven together into a shape such as an archway, lattice, or screen and then encouraged to maintain that form over the years.

As the framework matured -- which might take a few years in tropical climates and several decades in more temperate locations -- the home grower would weave a dense layer of protective vines onto the exterior walls. Any gaps could be filled in with soil and growing plants to create miniature gardens. On the interior walls, a mixture of clay and straw beneath a final layer of smooth clay would provide insulation and block moisture. On south-facing walls, windows made of soy-based plastics would absorb warmth in the winter; ground-floor windows on the shady side could draw in cool breezes during hot months. Water collected on the roof would flow through the house for use by people and plants; wastewater would be purified in an outdoor pond with bacteria, fish and plants that consume organic waste.

For more views of the prototype, watch this video.

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How the City Hurts Your Brain (and Nature Helps)
The Problem with the Green Movement
More Ways to Use Human Energy

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Top 5 Artists

1. Marc Chagall
Chagall is incredible. The way he expresses his dreams and imagination through symbolic use of figures and the language of colors always absorbs me. I could look at the stuff he makes for hours and not get bored because it always causes me to think new things and I look at the world differently afterwards. He was a Russian-born French painter and stained glass artist who lived and worked in the late 1800s/early 1900s.

2. Gustav Klimt
Klimt is pretty well known, so odds are you've seen his work somewhere. I love his use of gold leaf, his symbolism, eroticism and his absolutely gorgeous style that uses the entire canvas and is constantly re-evaluating the human form and soul. Shiny things are good! He was also a painter during the late 1800s/early 1900s (one of my favorite periods, p.s.) in Austria.

3. Hiroshi Sugimoto
I found out about this contemporary Japanese photographer when I was working at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. His photographs are all explorations of light and its effects. Love it so much! It is so vibrant and beautiful and peaceful and soothing. I could look at these for hours - though nothing compares to seeing them in RL.

4. Frida Kahlo

I'm gonna assume everyone has heard of Frida since they made that biopic about her a few years ago. Anyway, she lived in the first half of the 1900s and was a master at expressing her life, fears and dreams through paint. I love the boldness and brightness of her work and the underlying angst it seems to be constantly working through. The honesty her art has always causes me to discover something new about myself.

5. Hieronymus Bosch
This guy paints the craziest shit. He was a painter in the Netherlands during the 15th/16th centuries when the Catholic church was large and in charge and artists had to at least pretend to be religious. Bosch was amazing at toeing the line by seemingly expressing high religious values, but when you look closely it's just like looking at the complete insanity of the most random and disturbing of dreams. I LOVE that! It's awesome to be able to just look and look and look at a canvas and never see everything amazing about it.

One thing I noticed as I was thinking this list up is how few female artists' work I am even familiar with. I mean there's 4 out of 5 males in this list! What's up with that? So if you know of cool female artists I need to get into - let me know!

Related posts:
Climate Change Art Destroys All Humans
Tjie Tsang: Artist of the Apocalypse
My Multi-Talented Friend and her Automatic Drawings

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