Monday, June 30, 2014

Hawks and Conchords

I came across this guy a couple of hours ago in the Boston Gardens, hanging out in a shrubbery. Sent a photo to my buddy Jim, who says it looks like a young red-tailed hawk.

On the subway ride home, someone with a sing-songy voice was talking about sandwiches, and I figured, since the blog is all randomness lately, that's reason enough to share my favorite Flight of the Conchords song again…

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Randutiae That Reflect the Scattered State of My Brains

I've been a very poor blogger lately. I have a list as long as my arm of things I've been wanting to blog about, but the spirit has not been moving me. In particular, I've been going through a period of grievously fractured focus with my writing, and have been wanting to blog something about that. I actually sat down yesterday, expecting to write a blog post about it – even contacted a few friends to ask permission to share some of the wise things they've been saying – but then, to my delight, my focus came back, and instead, I worked. I'm hoping the same thing is about to happen as I sit down this very moment. So, instead of one of those blog posts I've been meaning to write, I offer a few random pictures and one wise quote from a friend, presented with no context whatsoever :o). Maybe they will mean something to you.

 On my writing desk.

Cambridge, MA window box.

 City Hall in Cambridge flies the American flag, the POW/MIA flag, and the rainbow flag.
I ♥ my city.

 And here's the view from far, far away. Screencap on my phone.
Blue dot means "you are here."

The satellite images in the maps app may be the most beautiful
 things a phone can do.

A wise friend said these words this week and I was like, "Wait, I need to write that down."
I did so, then stuck the post-it onto my computer.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Sharing Some Great Links…

… via screencaps of all the browsers currently open on my phone. Some of these are priceless, others are slightly pointless…

1. Dance performances on the Ability Unlimited Foundation website. The Ability Unlimited Foundation is a Delhi-based non-profit social service organization for the benefit of differently-abled people irrespective of race, religion, caste, colour and creed. Thanks, Deborah :)

2. Frog Museum in Estavayer-le-Lac, Switzerland. 150-year old satirical tableaux made from stuffed frogs.  Bizarre and awesome. Thanks, Anindita :) 

3. Tiny Pantone Matching System Match. "A personal project of tiny proportion—matching small everyday objects to their Pantone® colors, by designer Inka Mathew." Oddly soothing! I couldn't stop scrolling down until I got to the end. Thanks, Jess :)

4. Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann. This outstanding new book of poetry turned me into a puddle from the first poem. A silent, wondering puddle. Not out until September but it can be pre-ordered. From the starred Kirkus review: "Lacing traditional fairy tales through real-life perils, Heppermann produces short poems with raw pain, scathing commentary and fierce liberation. There’s no linear arc; instead, girls buck and fight and hurt.... Full of razors that cut—and razors to cut off shackles: a must."

5. Graph showing the most common non-Christian religions in the USA by state. Cool! Thanks, Becca :)

6. Vietnamese landscapes painted by Phan Thu Trang. Beautiful. Also thanks to Becca, IIRC :)

7. Super Indian, a comic by Arigon Starr, reviewed at American Indians in Children's Literature. This and the four links in the next screencap are comics I intend to look into at some point. I can't remember how I came across this one, though…

8. Written? Kitten! I've already blogged about Written? Kitten! and it shouldn't surprise you that I have it open on all of my devices. Thanks again, Steve :)

 9. The blog of graphic novelist Craig Thompson.

10. The comics of Daniel Clowes.

11. The comics of Faith Erin Hicks.

12. The comics of Gene Luen Yang. Thanks, Amanda, for all four :)

13. Around here is where my links start to get exceedingly random, and maybe I should've closed a few browsers before taking my screencaps… But, local people, do you know about the new H Mart in Central Square? Thanks, Becca :)

14. How to Care for a Pregnant Mare. This is book research. You know, you would really not believe how late in a pregnancy mares remain active – and how dangerous a delivery can become, very quickly, for both the mare and the foal, if the foal isn't presenting correctly.

15. The Wikipedia page for Green Lantern... because you know what, I don't really understand the point of Green Lantern. I will say, to his credit, that at least he doesn't have a big letter A on his forehead that stands for America.

16. A Google search for that line in The Princess Bride about how you should never bet against a Sicilian when death is on the line. I (being of Sicilian heritage) needed to use the line in an argument with a friend and wanted to make sure I was quoting it correctly. (Like I said, the links begin to deteriorate a bit here at the end... but I am a completist, so (uncertain about whether I just used that word correctly) I soldier on!)

17. A lovely essay called "You're Probably Using the Wrong Dictionary," by James Somers. (Webster's 1913 Dictionary is the one we should all be using.) Thanks, JD :)

18. Monks, Popes, and their Political Intrigues, by John Alberger – a free e-book on Amazon that will remain on this open browser until I get around to downloading it. Book research. No idea if it will be helpful; often I read things on instinct, not entirely sure what I'm looking for.

19. The first few lines of The Merchant of Venice, about sadness, spoken by Antonio. These words are so, so beautiful, and sometimes, if I'm sad and I can't figure out why, it's a great comfort to me to read them out loud:
In sooth, I know not why I am so sad:
It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn;
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado to know myself.
20. Google search for World Cup results. No explanation needed!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Word treasure hunt on a square-rigged ship: What is a moonraker?

What is a moonraker? Also called a moonsail, a moonraker is the small sail, sometimes set in light winds, above the skysail.

What is the skysail? Used in a favorable light wind, it's the light sail above the royal.

What is the royal? Also used in a favorable light wind, it's the small sail above the topgallant sail.

What is the topgallant sail? It's the sail above the topsail. Sometimes divided into upper topgallant sail and lower topgallant sail (depending on the era of the ship).

What is the topsail? It's the sail above the course. Sometimes divided into upper topsail and lower topsail (depending on the era of the ship).

What is the course? The sails that hang from the lower yards of a square-rigged ship, now usually restricted to the foresail (the principal sail set on the foremast and the lowest on that mast) and mainsail (the lowest and largest sail on the mainmast, pronounced mains'l).

So, what is a moonraker? It's that tiny sail six or even eight sails up. Generally only used on tall ships built for speed. I enjoyed flipping through A Sea of Words: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O'Brian (by Dean King with John B. Hattendorf and J. Worth Estes) to figure it out.

More info on square-rigged ships on Wikipedia.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Apocalyptica Face Paints

So, my sister, codename: Apocalyptica the Flimflammer, has given me permission to share some more of her face painting. Please note that she owns these pictures; feel free to link to them but please do not gank them.


Blue jay.

I asked Apocalyptica why she likes to face paint. She said a lot of interesting things in response, and I thought the following bit might resonate with the writers in my audience:

"...And I do it because it's such a challenge to take an image in my head and put it on a body, because there's all this stuff in the way...eyebrows and noses and a mouth, and the surface curves and won't cooperate...usually I start out with a certain inspiration and then I actually start to work with the body and it completely commandeers my process. Like that caribou I painted was supposed to be a scrabble board, but my leg objected. And the fruit bat was originally going to be a floral pattern based on a piece of fabric I bought. So I like being limited by the odd surfaces a body provides, because it produces surprises and there's a built-in respect for the body as the boss of the mind instead of the other way around. But it's also extremely frustrating. I am sometimes quite happy with my final product, but the first half of the process is normally awful and I feel like I will never make it work and I should just give up and take a shower."

(The caribou.)

(The fruit bat.)

Also, a passenger pigeon. And for the grand finale....

Here's a picture of an actual
Malayan snail-eating turtle...

and here's Apocalyptica.

Thanks, sis, for sharing your pictures and your process :o).