Sunday, August 12, 2012

i'm here to help

Search entry that led not one but two people to this blog: BLUE DOBERMINT PINCHER.

My condolences to these bereft individuals, and good luck to them in their search for the degenerate fiend(s?) who stole their sad dog gum.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Old painting, sold. Just wanna slip it in here so's I have everything in one place...

Tara's Elephant (watercolor and brush pen, 15"x11")

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I've got a few comic ideas a-brewing.

Meanwhile, here are some sketches.

These fellas might end up being regulars around here.

my dead dog

my old dog 

my fake dog

Saturday, June 23, 2012


How come I can't comment on other blogs sometimes? I click on "comments" and look, there are the comments and the little personalized "please comment" witticism -- but no text box or garbled word or "post comment" button. I don't get it. Do I need to sacrifice a modem to the Gods of Internet or something?

I'm trying to be a good citizen in the blogging community, I swear! Allison, I think the present tense in novels comes off gimmicky 90% of the time! Sierra, you should start a whole "Policing Pinterest Recipes" series -- it'd be rad! James, I say goofy nature crap too and think "Dexter McChest" is a hilarious character name! Shanelle, I'm really glad you're married! Sorry, guys!


So here, have a picture of a Golden Retriever cuddling baby bunnies.

And this picture of chocolate cake.

And this painting by Schiele.

Unrelated true story: The other day I was taking the Metropolitan Area Express Train (Max for short) downtown and it made me think fondly of all our train rides in jolly old England. So I nearly texted the following to Kathleen: "On Max, thinking of England." Which, if you're familiar with certain euphemistic phrases, is very funny. At the last second I foresaw great awkwardness and changed up the grammar accordingly. Phew! Crisis averted! (Because Kathleen would definitely have been so totally offended.)

And then I blogged about it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

webcomic rec

Ever since Kathleen introduced me to this comic at Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, I've been thinking about doing some comics of my own. Maybe I will someday soon. In the meantime, I've been scrounging around the Net for other webcomics, and recently found Hark, A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton. I especially like the historical/literary ones.

A few more so-far favorites...

The Great Gatsby,
The Brontes
Sexy Tudors

WARNING: Some swearing sometimes.

Thursday, June 14, 2012



It's amazing how much grief this tiny anatomical doohickey can give you.

Did you know that equilibrioception (sense of balance) combined with proprioception (sense of body position) are jointly accepted as the sixth sense? (In the "sense of smell/touch/sight" sense, not the telepathy/M. Night Shayamalan sense. Make sense?) So it's not the most awesome thing in the world when your inner ear starts freaking out on you, like mine has been doing off-and-on for the past three years.

But a couple months ago, my Grammy offered to pay for me to see a prestigious specialist here in Portland and get some serious testing done. Several hours of poking and prodding and looking at weird things later, I went back to get the verdict from Dr. Wackym. (Pronounced "Whack-em". Seriously. He used to partner with two other doctors named Black and Grimm. Black, Wackym, and Grimm. Sounds like a shop on Knockturn Alley, doesn't it?)

Diagnosis: vestibular migraine. Plus the saccules of an 80-year-old (whatever that means; he explained it twice but hello impaired cognition, common symptom of vestibular disorders). The point is that this is all actually good news; Dr. W is confident the condition is treatable and the damage reversible, and prescribed meds and balance therapy. Very, very, very GOOD NEWS.

I'm still adjusting to the meds, which cause some fatigue at first. And it will probably take a couple weeks before I feel better. But I will almost certainly feel better. And I may very well never again have a severe vertigo attack.

The Free Dictionary defines vertigo as "the sensation of dizziness." Pfffft. As if. I eat a "sensation of dizziness" for BREAKFAST, fool. The Free Medical Dictionary gets a little warmer, defining it as a "sensation of rotation or movement of one's self or of one's surroundings in any plane." Not bad, but there's still the problem of that lukewarm noun, "sensation". I actually prefer a definition from, of all places,, which pithily describes vertigo as a "movement hallucination". Because it does begin to touch on the totally unreal freaky scariness of the experience. But still, it hardly captures the reality.

So in the interests of personal catharsis, allow me to wax melodramatic for a moment about vertigo.

It's not about feeling "dizzy". It's about the total loss of your ability to locate yourself in space, or to clearly register where your body ends and everything else begins. You have sailed off the edge of the world; you have fallen down the rabbit hole; you are hurtling toward the bottom of a cartoon canyon a la Wiley Coyote.

And for the animal that is your body, there is only one possible reaction to these perceptions, which is to scream: "You are seconds away from certain death! DO SOMETHING!!!" And though your brain knows that everything will be all right if you simply lie still on the nearest available flat surface, such attempts at rational thought tend to be drowned out by the steady drumbeat of "DEATH DEATH DEATH", punctuated by sudden jolts of pain from the adrenaline-fueled shaking and involuntary straining of random muscles against the push and pull of a nonexistent force. 

It's like having a panic attack and the stomach flu while tripping on acid*. Or like starring in your own personal Picasso painting. Or like an hour(s)-long near-death experience.

It is not awesome.

(Phew. That sure felt good to write.)

So take that, vertigo. Eat my Verapamil. Buh bye, suckah. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

*I have never taken acid. Just say "no", kids.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


When a story gets to me, I think I think too much and I know I expect too much. Like when I punched the seventh Harry Potter book in the spine and then spent three days writing a skeleton plot for an alternate ending. Or when I reworked  the script in my head all the way through the Where the Wild Things Are movie. Artistic disappointment gives way to a feeling of deep personal betrayal until I find myself shouting "I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHO YOU ARE ANYMORE" with all the hellish fury of a scorned woman. With OCD. And too much time on her hands.

It's maybe a little bit silly.

Television is consistently the worst offender. Understandable; the level of creative stamina required to sustain a story (that isn't a sitcom or a strictly plot-driven procedural) through 20+ hours of footage is Herculean. Also, I think the TV show schedule can't help but disrupt the creative process. With a film or mini-series, you have the end in sight from day one of filming. With TV, you have to do so much execution before you even think about an ending -- I can easily see how that would drain energy and enthusiasm for a project. Not to mention the fact that you start getting all sorts of feedback (ahem) before you have the conclusion (or possibly even the major story arcs) figured out. It's the old "be true to your vision" versus "be open to criticism" conflict times a billion, and continually played out at the moment of presentation, when there's no chance of going back to the drawing board.

So no hard feelings, ER, House, Lost. I understand why you broke my heart. We can still be friends. But I'll never forget those sleepless hours I spent trying to figure out how everything could have gone so terribly wrong.

(Maybe getting two degrees in English wasn't such a great idea, after all. What has been analyzed cannot be un-analyzed.)

But I can't help it. Something about Doc Martin, warts and all, has won my heart, and I can't love something without wanting to analyze it to bits. (Now then, who wants to date me?) Two strong seasons, an excellent third, a spotty fourth, and now the fifth is just wrapping up its USA airing and oh, how it fell flat. And after giving it a lot of thought (seriously, you don't even want to know) I think I've figured out the main reason why. Let's talk about art theory for a moment, shall we? (You lucky thing, you.)

Flashes of inspiration occur to the artist and spark the creative process, and a good artist learns to trust these intuitive leaps and go with what moves her, arrests her, or "just feels right". In my experience, this is closely tied to the interplay between the concrete and the abstract, with inspiration arriving in concrete forms (specific images, lines of dialogue, plot events) that, if executed well, will illustrate abstract concepts (love, pain, change) in fresh, moving, challenging ways and voila: MEANING.

Of course, during the editing process, plot and dialogue may need to be revised in order to clarify (or ambigui-fy) meaning, or sometimes whole chunks may need to be written "backwards" (e.g., "we need to establish X concept, so let's do A, B, and C.") But in my experience, the most successful pieces aren't deliberately written toward an abstract "end"; doing so tends to impoverish the work, whereas the intuitive route paradoxically serves in the end to communicate meaning much more powerfully.

In my opinion, this is where the creators tripped up. They got bogged down in the "must establish X" mindset and then jerry-rigged dialogue and plot points in service to that concept. They didn't wait or reach for those intuitive leaps that are the seeds of artistic magic. Maybe they got to too tired to play. In any case, the result was a flat season.

But I have faith. They can turn it around in season six. They can. Hear that, Show? You can, and you will. Or else.

(Hmm. This review ended up being totally bass-akwards. Let's start over.)

Doc Martin.
It's a fab premise: big-shot London surgeon suddenly develops crippling hemophobia and flees to a vacant GP post in a remote fishing village. Mutual hostility arises at once between Doc and the locals -- they're village idiots, and he's a class-A jerkface. Comedy-drama-romance-mystery ensues against the backdrop of the stunning Cornish coast. Quirky characters, witty exchanges, and Britishness abound. Also, there's a dog. So far, so awesome.


More awesome still is Martin Clunes in the title role. Doc's hideous bedside manner is hilarious and his total lack of social savvy (which may or may not be down to a touch of Asperger's; the show remains ambivalent on this point, which I appreciate) is frustratingly endearing. The crew-cut and perma-glower do his unusual face no favors, which is just as it should be; he looks scary yet naive, like a sort of schoolboy-ogre. Clunes has also developed a unique, head-to-toe physicality for the character, wielding his tall, impeccably-suited bulk with a forcefulness that's at once deft and awkward. One of my favorite elements of the show is Doc's occasional clumsiness -- these little bursts of restrained farce are always exquisitely timed and never fail to crack me up.

His hemophobia, aside from being a useful plot-point (providing humor, irony, conflict, pathos, etc.), is also an inspired bit of character psychology. In an early episode, Doc describes how the phobia was triggered by the sudden realization that the patient under his knife was "somebody's wife, somebody's mother". In other words, he experienced an unprecedented blip in the chilly detachment which has been the baseline of his career (and in fact, of his life). One flash of normal human empathy, and he "couldn't do it, [and hasn't] operated since".

Doc's sensitivity to blood serves, I think, as a subconscious signal that he is finally ready to grow/heal/open up emotionally. (Um, a little bit. Maybe.)
Blood is an apt symbol, as Doc has a sharp tongue that has probably drawn as much blood as his scalpel, and his callousness has kept him from ever giving a damn about doing either -- until now. The paradox, of course, is that surgeons hurt people in order to help them, which I suspect mirrors the internal transition Doc is going through; it's a hard, back-sliding, painful process, but he'll be better for it in the end. Of course, blood also represents positives: life, love, sex, family. One hopes that he's on a path toward embracing those aspects of his humanity, too, and getting to a healthy middle ground between icy detachment and phobic terror. It's an elegantly layered illustration of the classic "it's gotta get worse before it gets better" principle.

Not that we would ever want Doc to be "fixed". That would ruin everything, obviously. But it'd be nice if he could maybe, you know, not make everyone hate him.

Which brings us to Louisa Glasson, the village schoolteacher. She's everything Doc isn't: warm, beautiful, popular. At first they butt heads, then they become sort-of friends, and then GUESS WHAT HAPPENS. So all right, it's not the most original lovestory formula ever. But the writers liven it up with some unorthodox pacing, imaginative faux pas, and the odd moment of surprising tenderness. In particular there's a scene in season two involving late-night drunk-talking that for me ranks as one of THE most brilliant (and economical) star-crossed love scenes ever. 

Aaaaaaand... that's all I'm saying for now. So, y'know. Check it out, if you like. It's streaming on Netflix and Hulu. The end.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Odds and Ends

This is a poor second cousin to seafood noodle salad, but it was still tasty. And photographed beautifully.

In other news, Brother Samuelson made me a pie.

Of the chicken pot persuasion.

With a perfectly flakey, all-butter crust.

I ate the whole thing in about three hours.

So then I reciprocated with Italian Stuffed Shells. Note the absence of hyphenation, please. I hadn't made this in years, so it was fun to revisit.

I'll post the recipe later.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I love the smell of flip-flops in the morning.

These arrived in the mail today. I ordered them online last week, having finally surrendered to this empirical truth: Old Navy flip-flips are the only brand in the known universe that are reliably cheap, comfy, and durable.

In other news, at some point in the last couple years I've become more allergic to mosquito saliva. I've got four quarter-sized knots throbbing away as we speak. But my will is strong.

Also, here's a poem fragment I wrote to a prompt a while ago, that's probably not going to end up anywhere.

Prompt: X-ray

High school choir grooved
middle C into my vocal chords,
made tight rope of my throat muscles,
leathered my lungs. Five lazy years later,
would an X-ray today show scar tissue
or the remission of promise?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Brownie Plot

I wanted brownies and, for stereotypically womanly reasons, I wanted them really, really chocolatey. So I melted a couple ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate and stirred it into the batter. I also added walnuts, a splash of vanilla, and a dash each of cinnamon, cloves, and chili powder. Me likey. I think a cheesecake layer, sweetened with coconut cream, would be a good addition. Too bad I only want brownies, like, twice a year.