Friday, June 29, 2007

Mmmm..... Martyr.....



I am totally crushing on this woman. She's a 15th Century statute of St. Catherine, French, sculptor unknown, and we met her at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts when we flew into SLC. I don't know if the photo does her justice, but she is very lovely indeed. Plus, I've always liked bookish women.

Medieval art is the shizzle.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Colorado

It's been a rewarding 2 1/2 weeks of blogging here at L&TM5K. But, now it's time to just slow things the hell down. Alan Greenspan and other voices in the financial sector have been expressing concern that the blog is in danger of "overheating."


Plus, I'm going to Colorado. The trip will largely consist of a family reunion. It's Mrs. 5000's family, not mine, so although they are all very lovely people I will inevitably be feeling like the in-law I am. My plan: stay just a little bit drunk all week. Or, with a little luck, I might be able to get away for a day or two to indulge in my admittedly freakish hobby of county collecting. A guy can hope.


If there's a computer in the hotel, I'll to check in to entertain you with some pithy little anecdotes from the road. Or whatever. If not, see ya next weekend. Thanks for reading.



M5K

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mrs. 5000 at 23rd and Sandy

Listen, I have admitted that I might not be entirely impartial on the subject of Mrs. 5000's artwork. Nevertheless, I think you really ought to get to the 23Sandy Gallery this month to see her camera obscura. And I don't care if you DO live in Chicago. This is art, damn it!

The camera obscura is appearing in a book arts exhibit called "Sense and Sensuality," a national juried show which I believe will also feature work by recent L&TM5K contributer fingerstothebone.

Here are the dates:

June 27 - August 4, Thurs - Sat 12 to 6 p.m.

Artist Reception: Friday, July 13, 6 - 9 p.m.

NE Sandy and 23rd in beautiful Inner East, Portland


And here's an example of the kind of thing you might see if you gazed into the camera obscura.



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I tweaked with the Palmcorder Yajna recording from last night. It sounds much better to me now, but I don't know if will sound any different to you. You can check if you want.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Concertina Yajna


So I bought a concertina a few weeks ago. It was a rash and controversial act that I can't explain or justify. A concertina is incredibly loud, and I don't really know how to, you know, play it. Per se.

This lack of natural ability and talent is conspicuously on parade on a demo recording I finished tonight of the Mountain Goats song "Palmcorder Yajna," a great track that frankly deserves better than this kind of treatment. (I've posted it as "Concertina Yajna" on SoundClick to throw off the intellectual property enthusiasts.)

A note to the uninitiated: Home recordings don't sound all slick like you might be used to. And I know my voice sucks, OK?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

In Which Michael5000 Talks Back to The Man

When bitching about public issues, I really try to resist the logic of "how come they are doing x, but they ain't doing y!?!" In general, that's a pretty naive way of thinking about any complex organization.

Furthermore, it bugs me that many of my fellow Portland lefties enjoy characterising the Portland Police as a sinister cryptofacist brutalizing jaugernaut. It ain't. Complaints about the PPD generally strike me as embarassingly provincial, kind of like complaints about the terrible, terrible Portland traffic.

Having said that, though, it was discouraging that in the same week we learned about the Police Bureau's abyssmal performance in investigating rape cases, we were also treated to the spectacle of officers aggressively ticketing letter-of-the-law traffic infractions by bicycle commuters -- $242 for rolling stops in the light-traffic Southeast Industrial neighborhood. Which is just unspeakably stupid.


C'mon, Rosie. Let's set some priorities.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mrs. 5000 in Blogospace!

I was more than a little pleased today to see the work of Mrs. 5000 -- a book artist who is, in my evenhanded and dispassionate opinion, only slightly greater than Joseph Cornell -- featured on the Rag and Bone Blog. Lamentably, she is not credited. Hers is, you know, the best one. Third one down. With the little birdy.

Oddly, if you scroll down in the blog (which is worth doing; there's lots of cool stuff down there), there is a post on another project by artist Nina Katchadourian, recent winner of a Michael5000 Award for Excellence in Online Cartography. This one is completely unrelated to maps, but is nonetheless very cool and very entertaining. Small world, or something.

------

On a completely unrelated note, here's the Michael5000 Song of the Day: Sufjan Stevens performing the Innocence Mission song "Lakes of Canada" on a banjo, on the roof of a public building in Cincinnati. No, really. Check it out.

It's incandescently lovely. Or maybe that's just me. Whatever.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Oregon: We Love Women With Swords

I was spending some quality time with the current New Yorker when I happened upon the latest installment of the "Oregon: We Love Dreamers" promotional campaign. Here, take a good hard look:


Aw, hell, I don't even know where to start. So let's do like good graduate students, and narrow our thesis. I will let the lameness of the copy shriek for itself. I will avoid catty remarks about how, on the flip side of this page, there is a second full-page ad featuring Portland's arguably "world-renowned" but basically snoreworthy (oops! catty!) Pink Martini. Let us instead simply review the ad's four images -- the images that some genius at Weiden + Kennedy has chosen to entice my fellow New Yorker readers to put down whatever else they were doing and flock to the cultural attractions of the Beaver State.
Upper Left: The Schnitz. Not a bad start! The "Portland" sign on the old Paramount Theater conveys urban excitement and the promise of after-dark culture. It's obvious what's going on in this picture, and it's obvious WHERE it's going on.
Upper Right: A Woman With a Sword. Uh-oh. Now, as a card-carrying native Oregonian, I can surmise that this is an ACTRESS, presumably from the very excellent Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. I can even guess that she is standing along beautiful Lithia Creek. Charming town, Ashland.
But you know what? There is absolutely no way that Mr. and Mrs. Where-Should-We-Spend-Our-Tourist-Dollars, of Arlington, Virginia, are going to be able to parse that. They are going to see a woman with a sword. "What's with the sword?" Mr. WSWSOTD will ask. "I don't know," his beloved will reply. "Maybe people in Oregon are just extremely eccentric." "Could be," he'll acknowledge. "Hey! Here's a tourist brochure from Wisconsin!"
Lower Left: A Man Holding a Big Chunk of Meat. He looks very friendly, but I'm not sure WHAT he's up too. One looks in vain for any small-print explanation. Perhaps he is getting ready to cook something that the Woman With a Sword killed.
Lower Right: A Woman with a Very Large Book. Mrs. 5000 thinks she knows what this one is all about, but I certainly wouldn't have got it on my own. Now, it is possible that the W+K market reseach department has found that a large segment of the New Yorker readership plans its discretionary travel around Very Large Book destinations. But I kind of doubt it. And if the idea is to cash in on the reputation of the fabulous City of Books -- and hey! that's a great idea! -- I think a slightly less oblique approach is called for.
Just a suggestion. After all, what do ~I~ know about manipulating popular ideas about places?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Michael5000 Awards for Excellence in Online Cartography

Does it seem presumptuous for a blog that is less than a week old to start giving awards? Well, tough. Because tonight, it's the first ever Michael5000 Awards for Excellence in Online Cartography.

Back when your humble correspondent was in graduate school, in a time we called "the early 90s," there was great optimism in the land about the potential of computer-based cartography to revolutionize the depiction of geographic data. If we had known the internet was coming, we would have absolutely wet ourselves. Looking back now, though, I am pretty disappointed by how few well-designed and innovative maps I have seen online. Online maps are almost always either (1) a static .jpg of a paper map that has been fed through a scanner, or (2) a static .jpg that has been saved from a cartography software package, usually with all the graphics options still set to their inappropriate defaults. Boring!

A shining light in this gloom was 2005's Google Maps, probably the most useful web gadget ever built. We have become quickly jaded to its much-copied grab-and-drag interface and its high-quality satellite imagery, but it has only been two years since these features were downright ~dazzling~. Remember that?

Now, it is a cool thing about Google Maps that it can be customized with specific data sets to create thematic location maps -- a map of the top-rated high schools in the U.S., to pick a mildly obnoxious example. It's a lovely tool, but it is so available and easy to use that it has had a stultifying effect on the development of any competing way of presenting geographic information on the internet. This is a real shame, because as much as Google Maps is quite lovely for route-finding, it truly stinks as a means of presenting geographic information. And yet, the volume of Google-based map sites out there could fill a blog of its own. In fact, it does: the Cool Google Maps blog (with its unfortunate slogan, "Who knew maps could be fun?").

But I digress. This isn't about Google Maps, this is about some innovative online mapping that makes us visualize the world in new and exciting ways. Let's move straight on to the first category:

Practical Map Application

If you happen to live in beautiful Portland, Oregon, City of Roses, you might well already know about our winner in the Practical Map Application category. Portland Maps is an online database of public records kept on all real estate parcels within the Portland city limits. Sounds kind of complicated -- is it easy to use? Oh My God, yes.

The minimal front page asks you to enter a street address. Go ahead. Enter a street address. If you entered mine, you can learn in a matter of minutes how many square feet we've got, the size of our mortgage, how much we pay in property taxes, how many bathrooms we've got, and where our kids would go to school, if we had children. You can check out what kind of crimes happen in the neighborhood, wave at any nearby registered sex offenders, check out the nearest bus stops, explore where the sewage lines take whatever we flush down the toilet, and examine the changes we've made in the landscaping over several years of aerial photographs. It's all extremely invasive, but good fun as long as everyone plays nice.

Need an address to try? Well you sure the hell can't have mine if you don't have it already. Here's one that's close to where I used to live: 1222 NE 22nd. That will give you an apartment building, so you won't be poking into any one individual's private business. I certainly wouldn't condone THAT.


Pseudo-Practical Map Application

The Pseudo-Practical Map Application category is for maps that seem like they are all business, but when you really get down to it they are basically just toys. Our winner in this category, Ben Fry's zipdecode, is an elegantly overbuilt utility for determining the location of any ZIP Code in the lower 48 states. You don't need it. But you'll like playing with it.


Symbolic Cartographic Animation

The ability to show a dynamic animated surface is the big advantage that computer mapping has over conventional paper maps. Lamentably, most online maps don't take this advantage, and those that do usually do so in painfully lame fashion. Not so Breathing Earth. With its massively excellent visual design, creepy little soundtrack, and running count of global mortality, this map hammers home its point about the global environment with precision and poise. It also wins the special achievement award for "Map Most Likely to Give You Nightmares."


Live Action Cartographic Animation

The winner in this category is another false utility, beautifully presenting information that no one outside of an aircraft control tower has any conceivable legitimate use for. And yet the AirportMonitor live action map of air traffic at and around Los Angeles International Airport is a stunning display of real-time data made accessible and available over the internet. And I find it endlessly fascinating. Really. I stare at it like other people stare at goldfish.


Map Art

Finally, the highest use of either maps or the internet: art. Perversely, the award goes to simple images with no interactive or animated elements. They are, however, images that knock my socks off. Brooklyn artist Nina Katchadourian's Geographic Pathologies and World Map rock my cartographic world. They'll rock yours, too.


Thanks, Doug

I learned about some of these sites through Doug Greenfield's excellent "Map of the Week" listserv. Want to be on his list? Shoot me your Email; I'll hook you up.


Reader Submissions

L&TofM5K welcomes reader comments, suggestions, second guessing, and submissions towards future Awards for Excellence in Online Cartography.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The PDX Garden Experience

In the life of any self-respecting middle-class American dude comes a point when his heart turns to yard care. Perhaps the least interesting form of this syndrome is the obession with Lawn Care and its associated chemical treatments, tools, and grotesquely out-of-scale riding mowers. Let us speak no more of this.


To really embody the PDX experience [I hereby pre-emptively copyright the term "PDXperience"], though, you gotta garden. It's as much a part of being a Portlander for us early middle-aged types as bitching about how the Portland Police were total Nazis at your Anarchists for Bicycle-Friendly Greenspaces event is for those in their 20s. Or, like, tieing your dog up to the bike rack while you get your $4 coffee. It's part of our culture.

So, it was with glad hearts that Mrs. 5000 and myself drove up to reasonably beautiful Scappoose, Oregon this weekend to spend some quality time at one of our favorite nurseries. "We won't necessarily have to buy anything," I had reasoned. "It will just be a nice excuse to get out of town, and browse through the demo garden. Plus, they have cookies!"

Naturally, we bought quite vigorously. Here's the take:



They are, left to right: Penstemon "Margarita Bop," Melianthus "Antonow's Blue," Draconculus Vulgaris, and two of Delphinium "English Seedling." Don't look like much, do they? But then, why do I get all giddy just thinking about them?

Here's why:


plants are pets: Living things whose lives I've taken responsibility for. Their health and well-being depends on my care. I need to make sure they have adequate nourishment and water. And in return, if they aren't exactly what you would call "affectionate," they will still reward me by thriving and performing tricks such as blooming and producing interesting and attractive foliage.

plants are science projects: All of the plants I bought this weekend will grow to be at least five feet wide, or at least five feet tall, or both. IF I do everything right, and am willing to wait a few years. It's just freaking amazing.

plants are puzzles: Where do I put it so that it will look good? Will it need more sun/water/shelter/mulch than it will get there? What will it look like in five years? Should I cut it back or just let it rip? Will it spread? Will it spread out of control? If it looks great in July, what is that spot going to look like in January? How is it going to interact with the fifteen other plants around it?

plants are an art project: Because you are trying to compose an attractive image with them. Duh.

plants can be really freaky and weird: Of the Dracunculus, for instance, it is written: "On a mature inflorescence, the smell is reminiscent of rotting meat, designed to attract flies for pollination. The smell only usually lasts for a day but it is still not advisable to plant it right by your house." Oh hell yeah! (and yes, I am TOTALLY planting it right by my house.)

plants are a social lubricant: Don't know what to talk about? Walk around the garden. All sorts of conversation pieces. Plus, it's all peaceful and like that.

And plants probably have other excellent virtues, too, but that's enough for now. Suggest some in the comments if I missed anything.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Mission Statement

The deal is, I'm starting this third blog (which, depending on whom you ask, is two to three too many blogs) to deal with topics outside of quilting and half-assed Bible study. These topics might include, but are not limited to, quirky observations, rants about popular music, thoughts on state and local politics, musings on the commonplace adventures of day-to-day life... you know, all of the things that are in such short supply here in the blogosphere.

Here are some examples, just so you can get a sense of the high-quality fare that will be chockablock (Ha! I wrote "chockablog" by accident! LOL!) on "TL&TofM5K," as its fans will know it:
Quirky Observation: Why do people just stand there on escalators? They are just moving stairs: you still get to the top faster if you climb them. But if you are incapable of climbing stairs, I apologize for my insensitivity. [note to self: don't be insensitive on new blog.]
Rant About Popular Music: I don't know about you, but I think the Mountain Goats are awesome! Yeah! And I'm not one of those "well, they used to be cool, but now they suck" people either. I think they're just getting better and better.
Thoughts on State and Local Politics: Measure 37 sure has screwed us good, hasn't it? Damn!
Commonplace Adventures: The nice people in the Thai restaurant down the street, when I come in, they just say "mango peach or avacado?" They don't even need to ask about the salad rolls, all they need to know is which shake I want that day. That kind of personal recognition makes me feel all special and so I tip excessively.
So anyway, you can tell that you'll be in for a kind of treat here that you just won't be able to find elsewhere on the internet.

The truth is, I really just want to be more like my personal blogging heroes, ChuckDaddy and MyDogIsChelsea. Except with, like, 100 comments for every post.

Wait! Don't click away! You haven't added a bookmark yet!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

1, 2, Oh My God

Mrs.5000 works out of our home, which means that the house becomes a business office after I leave in the morning and doesn't turn back into a house until I get home. I don't usually think much about this or even notice it, because, well, I'm at work.

But the other day I was home in the early afternoon, getting ready for a job interview. And really, the place seemed much like it always does.

But cleaning up the kitchen after a quick lunch, I started psyching myself up for the interview by... um... rapping. And just to show what an up-to-date hepcat I am, I was rapping from the very fine 1994 Beastie Boys album, "Ill Communication."

I'm sure I have the lyrics completely garbled, but the important thing is that they were VERY LOUD. Arguably I was not so much rapping as, say, bellowing:

ONE TWO OH MY GOD I GOT THE SHIT
I GOT THE KUNG FU GRIP BEHIND THE GREEN TRAP KIT
YEAH I'M A FUNKY SKULL AND I'M A SCORPIO
AND WHEN I'M IN MY FLOW I'M DR. ON-THE-GO, SO
MICHAEL5000 WHAT YOU ON THE MIKE FO'?

at which point, I switch to a deeper voice, for that authentic touch:

BECAUSE I GOTS TO TALK ABOUT THE TIMES WHEN I RHYME
AND WHEN THE MC'S FLY IN MY FACE I'M LIKE....

"Umm... Michael?"

"Yeah?"

"Can I call a client now?"