Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Destined to be together

I've decided to start scanning in and archiving all of the random photos I've got dumped in a box.

Here's two I scanned in yesterday:

Me at age four:

Allie at age 5?:

Growing up in different states, who would have guessed we'd meet and get married 22 years later? Judging from these photos, I predict our kids will be extremely cute with dimples and really blonde hair. They will also wear only black and red shirts.

Christmas Time

I finished my 2009 Year in Review Zine! I printed up all the copies yesterday. It looks pretty good. I'll try and post a pic after X-mas. I'm so glad I got It done before Christmas--if you'll recall, the 2008 issue was finished four and a half months late--in April of 2009.

We've been overwhelmingly busy getting ready for the holidays. We spent six hours on Sunday making cards. I spent over two hours yesterday writing in messages and the addresses while Allie slaved away in the kitchen making sweet treats for friends.

I'm hoping to wrap up the rest of my gift shopping on my lunch break today.

In other news, I've been overly-excited by the fact that the Wherehouse CD/DVD store on 82nd is going out of business. Everything in stock was 30% off and now it's 40% off. I bought a lot of presents and a lot of other stuff there. Allie and I picked out for ourselves the 3 disc Travelling Wilbury's box set as well as a box set with 6 Nirvana albums in it. The Nirvana one especially felt great to get--I had there first three albums on tape only, and the Unplugged one on CD-R. We got these sets for $42 combined!

Sunday making cards, we listened to Nevermind, In Utero, Incesticide, From the Muddy Banks of the Wishka, and Sliver: The Best of the Box (twice on this last one). I also started reading the Rolling Stone Nirvana book Allie got in April. It's been like time travelling back to high school, except now I am a much bigger Nirvana fan.

I love CD box sets like the two above, where you can get the entirety of an artist's output in one fail swoop. It really makes life easier for a completist collector like me. Other awesome comprehensive sets I've gotten my hands on are the four disc Zombies set, the five disc Simon and Garfunkel set, and the 9 disc Black Sabbath set (collecting all of the Ozzy era Sabbath). There's one other like these I want to get--the Misfits set which comes in a coffin shaped box and includes all the Danzig-era Misfits.

Allie and I will be going to Eugene for Christmas I'm looking forward to seeing our respective families and am hoping to be able to make time to visit a couple old high school friends.

I hope to be posting again soon.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I have officially written a mediocre novel!

I finished my novel! I busted my butt over the holiday weekend, catching up and then getting ahead so that I could finish the thing a day early and not have to worry about it Monday, when I was at work. It's almost 51,000 words long. It's 200 pages. I couldn't think of what to call it so I jokingly submitted it as We Are The Robots!, a line from a Kraftwerk song. My book is about growing up and building robots. It's not too great, but I am looking forward to revising it--there's some good stuff mixed in there with all the crap.

For now, I am focused on finishing up the 2009 Year In Review Zine--I'm going to get this one done on time. I'll have the writing done this weekend, maybe even the whole thing (fingers crossed).

In other news...

We saw a free preview screening of Wes Anderson's new movie The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It was great. The animation was incredibly charming.

We had Thanksgiving with friends Jesse, Andrice, Gariet, and Orly. It was a delicious meal. Allie made brussel sprouts, pumpkin cheesecake, and cranberry sauce (with apples and jalapeno in it).

I went and saw Former Ghosts play again on December 1st. The whole band couldn't make it for the show--it was just the lead singer/songwriter playing keyboards along with programmed music. Still, it was an amazing performance--too bad he was an opening band and was only able to play six songs. I can't recommend this band enough. If you like emotional music and have a healthy, broad musical appetite, you will like this band. I took my friend John to the show. He had never heard of Former Ghosts but still had a great time. Buy the Former Ghosts album and even more importantly--see them live if you have a chance.

For December, my friend Spencer and I are doing a book club sort of thing. We're both reading Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. Then, when we run into each other at work, we talk about the book. This is especially helpful in the case of Naked Lunch because the thing is half-gibberish. I'm enjoying the writing, but am not yet sold on the rest of it. I'd like to do more book club stuff in the future


Thursday, November 19, 2009

An update on my novel

Well, it's day 19 and I am still plugging away on my NaNoWriMo novel. I caught up from last week's busyness. Then I got behind again and then I caught up again.These last couple days I've been able to stay on track and am even edging slightly ahead. For now at least, I'm out of that hating-my-own novel feeling I was struggling with when last I posted. Yesterday, I passed the 30,000 words count! I'm kind of blowing my own mind--it's almost hard to believe I produced that much in only 18 days. It's neat to see what you can achieve when you really put your mind to it. Passing the halfway mark was so gratifying, I've really felt good ever since. If you compare it to riding a bike, putting out the first 25,000 words was like going up a hill. Now I am going down that hill and it's almost like coasting.

When you start a 50,000 word novel on the fly, you worry about whether or not you'll be able to fill all those pages. I didn't want to burn through my preplanned ideas too fast, so I spent a lot of time setting up the story, creating characters, giving the characters and the town they lived in histories. I created a couple subplots. My biggest problem now is wrapping everything up by 50,000 words. I want to let it be organic, so I have not decided either way, but I think the original plot I conceived of will have to be finished in a sequel novel. In addition to that, I already have an idea for a third novel, another sequel. It's kind of absurd really. I'm certainly not going to deliberately stretch the plots out to fill another book or two, but I am also not going to rush all of them and force them to end before they're fully developed.

I'm starting to get straight up weary of all this writing. This morning on the bus, I pulled out my laptop to start typing for the day, just like I did the last 18 mornings. I knew what to write next and I managed to write 300 words on the way to work, but it was really tiring. I just wanted to get out my book (Two Weeks In the Midday Sun about the Cannes Film Festival, by Roger Ebert) and read, skipping all that mental exertion.

Meanwhile, my parents came up to visit this last Saturday and we spent a nice day together. My dad helped me start weatherizing the house and I've been continuing that work. It makes me feel clever saving money on heating costs, figuring out all the ways to keep in the heat and keep out the cold.

I've also got to start on the 2009 Year In Review Zine. I need to get this one done in time to send out with Christmas cards, which means I need to start writing it concurrently with my novel. I have some ideas of how I want to write it, but I've been procrastinating on that front.

I've realized these last couple years that keeping yourself busy, doing projects that are personally gratifying, is great for the soul.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NaNo Update and Fires Down the Street

I thought I'd take a moment to give you an update on my NaNoWriMo book. I'm still plugging away but the thing is getting more and more difficult. When I started, I thought to myself, 'This thing is pretty good!' A few days later the honeymoon was over. It's not easy coming up with all the plot details on the fly and even worse not being able to revise them or spend too much time thinking about them. The ultimate goal for this challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of November 30th. That means you must maintain an average of 1,6667 words a day. This isn't so bad, until you actually have a busy day, or are really not enjoying the part of the book you are writing. By Friday November 6th, I had actually streaked a full day ahead on my word count. On the weekend, I squandered it all and ended up just breaking even. I stayed even on my word count until last night when I decided to throw caution to the wind and go over to a friend's house for Poker Night instead of finishing my daily dose of storytelling. I hope I can catch up easily but I'm planning to take a couple days off in the near future if it comes to that. Part of me has been wanting to quit the challenge, since I'm not even enjoying the story lately, it's really hard to keep up with, and the finish line is so far off. But really, I hate quitting. There's no way I am going to give up on this, barring some sort of disaster.

Speaking of disasters, yesterday at Guapo Allie noticed a constant stream of fire-trucks zooming up the street. Then she noticed a large plume of smoke coming from the direction of our house. 'Is that by our house?' she fantasized. 'It couldn't be.' Well it turns out it was the school just four houses down from where we live. The Marysville K-8 Elementary burnt to the ground last night just 70 yards or so from our house. No one was seriously hurt, which is the most important thing, but it was still so sad. All summer and early fall they were remodeling the playground. They tore out all the asphalt, put in new jungle gyms, a covered basketball court, and more. The school seemed so much more shiny and new. Now it's just a shell (but I believe the new playground came out fine). This morning there were still news vans parked in front of our house and the end of our street is still blocked off. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Here's a video of the school burning--it only shows one corner of the fire, the full thing was much larger.

Here's a link to a news article, with more videos.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Concerts and more concerts

I'm disappointed in this blog. Events are flying by, and we're barely reporting anything...Oh well.

This weekend we kept very busy with social engagements. Friday night we went out to see a customer's band play and celebrate their CD release party. Three punk bands played including his. It was a really fun night.

Saturday, our old high school friend Nick came up and he and I went over to Lewis and Clark College where we saw a free concert by Former Ghosts. The band is led by the guy from This Song Is A Mess But So Am I and also features Jamie Stewart from my favorite, Xiu Xiu. The guys really blew the lid off with dark, noisy, moving, synth pop. Nick and I were blown away by the performance. The lead singer Freddy Ruppert put all of his physical and emotional energy into the performance. His whole body was tense as he sang, shook, danced, and played. The venue was so intimate and we were so close you could hear him panting, out of breath, between songs. There was a percussion stand both guys would occasionally wail on, and you could see wood splinters flying off their drumsticks. The Former Ghosts album is reportedly about a relationship and break up Ruppert had and it seemed like he dredged up all his real life emotions for the performance. He was just an ordinary guy before the show, but during some of the songs he actually brought tears to his eyes and after a couple of them he quietly sobbed to himself. It was intense, but seemed brave and moving instead of pathetic or uncomfortable as you might imagine it could be. It was as if Ruppert was doing a method actor style performance, bringing up all his personal grief to sell the songs and give them truth. Former Ghosts wouldn't be to everyone's taste, but I highly recommend them.

Afterwards, we each bought the album and headed to North East Portland and the Tonic Lounge. We met Allie there and although I missed the performance by our friends Fun Yeti, I was in time to catch the Punk Rock Collective which also features two of our friends. They played a great, energetic set of punk rock covers.

Sunday we went to see Where the Wild Things Are, which I really enjoyed, and then had friends over for dinner.

It was a great weekend but I find myself filled with angst about everything else. There's so much house work to do and I feel so behind on so many things...

Anyhow, this might be my last blog entry for a long while as I am embarking on a personal project for the month of November, which could possibly use up all of my free time. November is National Novel Writing Month, in which participants try and pump out a 50,000 word story. I've had an idea for a novel floating around in my head for the last four or five years and I am going to use this month to finally dive into it. I don't have much planned out or anything. Come November 1st, I'm just going to write and write until I make it to 50,000 or more words. If it's any good, I'll start the long revision process come December. If it stinks, I'll just be happy I gave my brain the exercise. I'm trying to get a friend to participate with me. He most recently committed to doing it, if we promised to make one Print-on Demand copy of our creations in December; a "published" edition of one. Sounds fun to me.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Allie's Amazing Cake!

In August, Allie made an awesome cake for our friend Andrice's birthday. I previously promised photos. I was waiting for Allie to post them here, but at this point, I think it's better to do it myself.

Our friend Andrice was turning 40 and having a big birthday party to celebrate. It was Allie's job to make the cake. Andrice is a big fan of baking and cooking, so Allie had the idea to make her a gourmet cake, upon which she put 40 vintage cake toppers which Andrice could later use in her own baking. It was both a dessert and a gift.

The cake was white chocolate and dyed with streaks of blue and teal. The frosting was parfait amour butter cream and was dyed lavender for the side of the cake and green for the top, where it was laid down to evoke a field of grass. The cake had two layers between which was a filling mixture of parfait amour frosting with orange and elderflower marmalade. It was delicious!

After everything was put together, Allie topped it all off with two handmade banners which ready Happy Birthday.

She also made this lovely card:

Allie loves making crafts and such and it's a real treat to watch her make new things and grow in her skills. One of us--hopefully Allie--will post some relevant news on her crafting passion soon--I promise!


Weekend Update

Yes! This weekend we went to another Portland Library book sale and it was awesome!

I scored:

Hollywood Babylon II by Kenneth Anger
The BFG by Roald Dahl
I'm With the Band by Pamela Des Barres
Two Weeks in the Midday Sun: A Cannes Notebook by Roger Ebert
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman
Invincible Summer Volume 1 by Nicole Georges
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
New Rules by Bill Maher
Fables for Our Time and Famous Poems by James Thurber
Lanterns & Lances by James Thurber
Fart Party Volume 1 by Julia Wertz

Allie bought a biography of Joan Crawford and a bunch of craft books. All of this only cost us only $21! We also bought twenty or so books for the store. It's always so much fun being able to go crazy buying books without having to spend too much money. Meanwhile my room is literally overflowing with books for which I have no shelf space. Eek!


The most frustrating aspect of running a comic book store is getting stuck with hundreds and hundreds of back issues. We have to order all our comics two months in advance and we have to order them in the amount we think will sell, with no returns possible. Unfair right?? Companies like Marvel and DC are always launching new titles and new mini-series and it can be pretty hard to anticipate how new titles will sell. We tend to err on the side of overkill, over ordering a little, and thus we always end up with a certain amount of comics that never sell. Right now our store basement is filled with thousands of these comics. Even with occasional clearance sales, it's impossible to get rid of these things. Earlier in the year we gave away an entire long box of comics to a charity because we have so many--that's about $1,000 worth of comics.

To try and remedy this situation we've started listing comics on Amazon. It's been doing so well that this weekend we opened up a Pro seller account. Comics have been flying off of our virtual shelves!
We have thousands of more comics to list so we'll see how it goes. It's a pretty long process and has been keeping Allie very busy. On the bright side, I'm feeling like this will at the least keep our back issue section from growing further out control. If we're really lucky, it might actually start to dwindle!

Running a small business in the struggling economy, we have to do whatever we can to try and increase sales and using Amazon to get rid of our extra stock really seems to be paying off.


A couple weeks ago our cat Ouija started having mouth problems. We saw her fang seemed loose and we scheduled a vet appointment. We took her in Saturday and saw that her fang had actually broken right off! Even worse, the root remains and the rest of her mouth is filled with cavities. I can't imagine it feels good for her to be living with a broken tooth. We want her to get taken care of but the estimate for dental work is $200 to $700 and we do not have that kind of money. We're thinking of trying to pull off some kind of fundraiser or bake sale. Any ideas?

Friday, September 25, 2009

We're having a store event

I just remembered yesterday was my six-year anniversary at my day job. Normally I'd get a raise, but they've been dropped from the budget this year as a result of the poor economy.

I had an anxiety dream about my work yesterday morning. In my dream, I woke up late at 10:30 am, horrified that I had slept in (I start at 8:00 am). I fell back asleep and woke up again at 1:00 pm, fell back asleep again and woke up at 4:00 pm. I slept the whole day away! I didn't call in to let my boss know I'd be late and I was certain I'd be fired. I was feeling a little relieved when I realized I was sick. And when I realized the house had flooded during the night, I thought I just might have enough excuses to get out of trouble. The flood waters had receded but the house was a mess. The rabbits had escaped from their cages. I woke up for real to see I had forgotten to set my alarm. It was 7:06 am. I had slept in six minutes but still made it to work on time.

Tomorrow is the "Fun On Foster" neighborhood event. Our store will be having multiple things going on in connection with it. 1. We will have a variety of local cartoonists in from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm drawing with kids that come in. 2. Any kid that participates will be given a free copy of a coloring books featuring local cartoonists. I printed these up and assembled them today. Sean Christensen did the art gathering and layout as well as the awesome cover below (along with Stefan Saito).

3. The art the kids draw will be hung on the walls as part of our September art show, which will officially debut in the evening. The proceeds from any of the pieces that sell will go to P:EAR, an organization that works with homeless and parentless youth. 4. We'll also be selling Cotton Candy.

I'm looking forward to the events. If a bunch of kids participate it will be awesome, but it's pretty hard to tell in advance how the turnout will be. We're going o have to put in an extra long shift from 10:00 am to 8:00 or 9:00 pm.

Here's a sample of some of the interior art work in the coloring book:

The theme of the coloring book is magic and fantasy.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

House Update

1. I have resolved that we are going to post one blog every day of this week. Allie started it off Monday, and then I dropped the ball Tuesday, my first day! It was so busy at my day job that I had no free time to work on it, as I sometimes do. After work I went straight home, washed dishes, made myself dinner and then went out with friends to see The Informant! It was a really good movie. I wanted to see it right away because I am such a fan of the director, Steven Soderbergh. I'd recommend it if you follow his movies, are a Matt Damon fan (he did an awesome job) or are looking for a weird, true story corruption bust, comedy.

2. I've been meaning to do a (semi) final update on our house project. The whole month of August was our own version of hell. Moving out for a week, and then spending the next three weeks moving back in and painting the hallway kept us busy and with a constant feeling of strees. It wasn't easy, but our floors look GREAT.

Here's some before and after photos. I previously posted some of these befores but I can't resist putting them beside the after photos. To some, these photos might be a bit boring, so if you make it to the very end, I promise you a photo of a very cute cat.

Mid project:
The new and shiny after:

Here's a picture of one of the new windows we installed:

Here's a before shot of the living room/hallway:

And here's an after with our new look:

We also painted the above hallway Peach Butter but I forgot to take some good pics of it.

3. This floor project, begun three years ago when we started removing the carpet, was such an ordeal, I told Allie we were done with house projects for the rest of the calendar year. It's such a nice feeling taking that off of our plates. Every day now I get home from work, do the dishes and then revel in my free time. There's nothing I have to work on. What this means for the future, hopefully, is more crafts, more zines, and more art, from both Allie and I myself. She's been using the extra time to crank out a ton of crafts (more on this to come) and I have been using it to...watch movies! I can't help it, it feels so good to relax.

I feel like I'm on the cusp of starting something real big. After years of hemming and hawing I finally feel ready to dive into some of these projects I've had in mind. I'm gonna bring it up here to peer pressure myself into following through. I don't want to tell you, (the friend or family member reading this) a lie do I?

Okay, I'm done for now. Here's that super cute cat photo I promised you. It's our cat Ouija showing off her stuff.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Blazin' the trail

So, lately we have been hiking. I bought this book about a year ago that has all of these day hikes around the Portland area. It took us awhile to use it, but Jeremy has really gotten into it. I like going, but it takes a bit of peer pressure from Jeremy and when I'm doing it I always ask myself, "Why am I doing this? What is the point?" But then I'll see some beautiful lake, or some squirrels chasing each other and I'm excited again.

This was where we went this weekend. It is called Punch Bowl Falls and it is located out in the Columbia Gorge. We saw lots of fish and cute dogs on the trail. We also got yelled at by a teenage squirrel who was chasing another squirrel. I think his voice broke when he barked at us. We went with our good friends Gariet and Orly. It is nice to be able to see Jeremy talking and hanging out with someone who has such similar interests. For the longest time he has just been stuck with me.

Our previous hike was to a place called Mirror Lake. We hiked there on Labor Day earlier this month also with Gariet and Orly. The weather that day wasn't as warm, but at least it didn't start to rain until our hike back.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Here's a list of our recent going ons

Flight of the Conchords Season 2
My So Called Life
Supernatural Season 1
Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job!
Samuel Fuller (Jeremy)
Listening to a lot of records
Listening to a lof of CDs, unpacked after a two year exile in the garage
Grey Gardens (HBO Version) (really good, but hard to not compare it to the musical and two documentaries)
Roald Dahl (Jeremy)
Julie & Julia

2008 Taxes are finally filed, refund is expected!
Guapo's Ebay Store is set up
Allie's birthday celebration
Super deluxe cake for our friend Andrice's 40th anniversary, made by Allie. (pictures to come)

In Process:
Hallway has two coats of Peach Butter
Listing things on ebay
Moving back into house

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Busy Tuesday and a Mayorial encounter

This is our world:

Yesterday, Allie and I got up around 645. She went off to nanny and I went off to my office job. Allie got in to Guapo at midday and was the sole worker in charge of helping comics and coffee customers. Her goal for the day was to finish designing two Guapo ads that were due and input the invoice for this week's comics delivery. She made little progress on these goals as she was slammed with a barrage of coffee customers.

I took the bus home from work and got into Guapo at 545. I immediately started moving the comics from last week's delivery out of the New Arrivals section and into the older comics section. This is done every Tuesday night to make way for Wednesday's delivery.

I had to stop putting away the comics so that I could pack up some books to sell and display at a Foster Neighborhood Association party at Kerr Park. The party started at 630. Allie and I intended to go together, but I had to leave her behind to finish her computer work.
I rushed over to the park to set up our table and start peddling our wares. I brought a lot of locally published and self-publish comics and zines. I met and greeted people, gave out coupons and made a few book sales.

Mayor Sam Adams showed up to the event, and as I was at the end of the line of tables due to my late arrival he greeted me first. We shook hands and I gave him our spiel about supporting local arts and D.I.Y., creative culture. I know this sort of 'meet and greet' thing is a political gesture as much as anything, but he felt very genuine to me and I got the impression that he really did like saying hi to people and meeting his constituents. It was validating to tell the man in charge a little about our goals and passions.

Later, on his way out after visiting all the tables, Mayor Adams snapped a picture of me to post on his Twitter site:

Our partner Megan showed up at the park around 710 to help. We were there until 830. I sold a few books including one copy of my own Macky Zine (yes!).

I raced back to Guapo to pick up Allie so that we could rush off to get the brand new Flight of the Conchords Season Two DVD set at Best Buy before it closed at 9pm. It's our favorite show!

We moved out of our house this weekend so the floors can be refinished. In light of this and how busy and stressed we were, we decided to skip making dinner and go for Thai food at one of our favorite restaurants. We got in right before the kitchen closed at 900 and, after salad rolls, yellow curry, and noodles, headed "home" around 940.

We're staying with friends down the street from us but had to first check in at our house. We moved the rabbits to the back yard where they've been enjoying the lawn. We fed and visited the bunnies and I packed my lunch for today before heading off to our "home away from home" just four blocks down the street.

Before we could get there however, we had to go to the opposite direction and get some necessities from Fred Meyers, and then had to go back to Guapo so that Allie could finish e-mailing her ads and I could put away all the leftover books from the neighborhood party and last week's delivery. We finally got in at 1040, our friends already in bed. I fed the cats and birds (who both moved with us) and we passed out at 1100.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hot, Hot, Heat

Is the heat finally abating here in Portland? This has been possibly the worst week we could pick to spend all our free time packing up the house. It was so hot, stuffy, and still in the house Allie could barely bring herself to move. Upon her special request I dug out the old air conditioner we had used at the previous Guapo location and did my best to install it at the house. Unfortunately, it was too big for the windows in our bedroom so I put it in the only window it fits--in the kitchen. Some scrap wood, some towels, and a lot of half-assed work was all it took to slap the thing up there and get it blowing cold air. We turned it on Tuesday at 10pm and the temperature was still 90 degrees in the house.

We threw a foam pad on the living room floor (which adjoins the kitchen) so we could sleep out there and soak up the coolness from the AC. Last night we actually ended up a little cold, although you go anywhere else in the house and immediately start sweating.

Somehow, we've managed to pack up most of the house. All that's left really are our clothes, the plants, pictures on the wall, and all the big furniture.

My parents are coming up this weekend from Eugene to help us finish things off and install two new windows. We're also having an art show opening party at Guapo this Saturday. Here's the flier:


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We survived Portland Zine Symposium 2009

Working the symposium Friday through Sunday was fun and tiring. We barely survived with our psyches intact. I was totally bummed out and sleepy Saturday, Allie was in a bad mood most of Sunday. The raging heat here in Portland didn't help matters (and is still making it hard to recover.) Nevertheless it was a good time, and nice to see so many friends.

Here's Allie, hiding behind one of our Guapo zine racks. This photo was taken by our friend Greg.

Sales were slower than normal but we did sell a lot of our zines. Allie's zine "She's So Unusual #1" was the top seller of the ones we made. My Macky zine did pretty well too. Our friends gave us lots of great feedback which felt great as they've been making zines for years longer than us.

Here I am making a letterpress style stamp for Allie to put the final touches on her zine. She spent all Friday finishing it up, and much of Saturday and Sunday, making additional copies to keep up with the demand. I'm wearing the awesome Hellen Jo t-shirt I got at this year's Stumptown Comics Fest. This photo was also taken by Greg.

Now that the symposium is over, it's time for us to get going on our next "Zine Challenge" I think we'll start in a couple weeks after all our house/floor stuff gets done. I want to post some pictures of the zines we did make but haven't taken them. Here's the image I created for the cover of my Macky zine.

I used oil pastels for the first time since 7th grade art class. It was fun! I want to do a drawing like this of Ouija too.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Catching Up, Also: We made zines!

Life is good. Oiuja's on my lap meowing. I'm listening to Smog's Supper album. We had a nice dinner with friends. It's almost midnight, but I can't resist doing a blog update. We've been extremely busy with no time for rest these last couple weeks. There's been so many blogs I wanted to do but no time with which to do them in.

I finally finished removing all the carpet from the house. August 3 we're having the floors redone and we need to pack everything up by then. We're only a third of the way done with that.

Here's some final before and after shots:

I can't wait to post the ultimate "after" shots, when these floors are totally redone. We've been planning this project for three years and it'll feel great to check it off our to-do list.

We joined the IPRC (Independent Publishing Resource Center) and took an Intro to Letterpress class last weekend. This is where you grab lead letters and load them up backwards one by one, then put them into a press which you hand ink. I dunno, it's hard to describe but it's really thrilling to learn such a tactile and historic craft. We made business cards for the store but hope to get a lot more projects done.

We also just made it through our personal "zine challenge." We've been vending as Guapo for a few years at the annual Portland Zine Symposium. After last year's symposium, we promised ourselves we would make our own zines by the next symposium. Today was day one of the 2009 zine symposium and we met our goal. I made two zines, one is the first issue of a zine of analytical essays about my favorite songs. Issue one is about Bill Callahan's song "Eid Ma Clack Shaw." I previously threatened to post this essay on this blog, but have since decided it was too esoteric for blogging. Instead I made a little booklet of it. Issue two will be about a Will Oldham song and issue three about a Beach Boys song. I did a second, more accessible zine, this one about our cat Macky. It was especially satisfying getting this one (which is all drawings) done as Macky has really been ailing lately and he may not be around to be our cute little cat much longer.

Last night I stayed up until midnight helping Allie finish her zine which is called "She's So Unusual." This is the first of a series about women who have inspired Allie. Each issue will feature personal reminiscences, related crafts, and factoids. The first issue is dedicated to the artist who inspired the zine title, Cindy Lauper. It's a really cool zine and I'm proud of her for squeaking it out. When we were working at the symposium today, she was actually putting the final touches to it, including carving a stamp of Cindy's face, stamping a cover made out of wall paper samples, and die-cutting a page for you to put your fingers through to make a picture of Cindy dance.

I'll post pictures of our zines shortly and give you a full update on the symposium. I've got to shower now and do some chores before getting to bed.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Our Fourth of July Weekend

We had a great Fourth of July weekend. I'm always trying to balance work and laziness, productivity and leisure and this weekend was a perfect blend.

Friday we slept in, as I had the day off from my office and we had friends covering at Guapo. We worked hard on the house all day and actually did so much that Allie commented that, "This is the most we've ever gotten done in one day."
My big project was organizing the garage. I also started emptying our house of junk in preparation for the floor project.

Saturday I slept in again (yes!) and then dug a big hole in the back yard to make a fire pit.
We ended up having a semi-impromptu barbecue at our house Saturday so I did a lot of weird stuff like this in preparation. Eighteen of our friends ended up coming to the barbecue. Here I am at the pit, building a fire to start once it gets dark:

I had the idea to set up our 8-bit Nintendo outside so people could play games on it. We couldn't get many of them to work so we ended up playing a lot of Jeopardy. Here I am beating Gariet and Jesse while Orly looks on in awe:

The fire pit was a big success and I'm looking forward to having more outdoor fires. We made a lot of S'mores around the fire.

Here we are lighting sparklers:

Eventually it was just Allie, me and four of our friends. We set up two tents in the backyard and camped out there overnight by the dying fire.

Sunday we all had breakfast together (Allie made French Toast and bacon) before going our separate ways. I spent a lot of time cleaning up the post party mess. I did three loads of dishes

and then relaxed the rest of the day. We watched the nearly 3 hour movie The Aviator about the early life of Howard Hughes. It was really good and I've been spending a lot of time reading up on him since.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

More weekend adventures plus the best concert ever!

Another busy weekend is over and done with. This last one was an unusual one for us as we spent most of it apart. Megan was out of town, so Saturday Allie worked the morning shift at Guapo while I slept in and watched Alphaville. Then I came in at 1230pm to work the afternoon shift while she went home to work on crafts and watch Bride Wars. After I closed the store up at 700pm, I headed out to a goodbye party for one of my old co-workers. She's moving to Indiana to become a lawyer.

Sunday we worked the morning shift at Guapo (800am to 1100am) and then worked around the house. We've tentatively committed to getting our wood floors refinished in late July, which means we've got to start packing up the house ASAP. I stuffed the car with things to take to Goodwill and the recycle dump. It was so full that Allie had to ride with a small TV on her lap. We recycled 4 old TVs, a broken oil radiator heater, and a satellite dish.

I finally finished up cleaning the back yard and patio (that means no more weeds in the flower beds, no more wild bushes, no more junk and dead grass all over the patio, and a freshly cut lawn) while Allie made us chicken curry for dinner. Our friends Graham and Tracy came over to eat with us. We had a nice time before Graham and I jetted off to go see Bill Callahan (formerly of Smog) play at the Aladdin Theater.

Remember my blog about how I was going to sell a bunch of CDs? Well, I sold 11 and was able to get less than two in return. I got 20 bucks for my used CDs and spent another 8 to buy the Chain in the Gang album and Bill Callahan's latest, Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle.

The Chain in the Gang album is great fun, but the Bill Callahan album is sublime. He just keeps getting better with age. Every new album has a few new masterpieces and this one is no exception. I'm so obsessed with one new song in particular, that I've been writing an analytical essay on it in my spare time, which I hope to finish and post here soon.

Callahan's music these days is still rock but with hints of country, folk, and frequently Krautrock style rhythms. His lyrics are about relationships, god, and death. In a way, he's like a meaner, more depressed Bob Dylan. It's not so much their music and lyrics, but their brilliance of expression, timelessness, articulateness, and depth that I see them having in common. I get the same feeling listening listening to a Dylan song like "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" as I do listening to Callahan's best songs.

Anyhow, my anticipation for the show was high and it did not disappoint. I had never seen Bill Callahan (or Smog) live before and was totally blown away. I really felt like I was watching a future legend. He was a fairly quiet and understated performer, but his music, delivery, singing, and lyrics were so strong that I was totally captivated. It was easily one of the best concerts I've seen. My friend Graham was equally thrilled by the whole experience and the whole audience seemed to really enjoy themselves.

It was such a busy weekend that I barely had time to relax. Thankfully, I've got this Friday off from both my jobs and we have all Sunday off. We only have to work an extra short day Saturday, as we'll be closing the store early.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Uggh. I can't believe it's been so long since we've blogged. I was really digging it and then just suddenly got sick of hearing myself talk. I'm still waiting for Allie to do another update (hint, hint). I feel like my feelings of productivity come in waves. Lately, I haven't wanted to do anything.

We've been pretty busy lately. I've been working hard on finishing a zine about our cat Macky for the upcoming Portland Zine Symposium. Allie is supposed to do a zine too, but is stalling so far. She has been quite busy making cards, which she'll put up on her Etsy store someday soon.

Speaking of Macky, the poor thing has been really sick lately and is only now getting better...He's an old cat and really looks the part.

The weekend before last we saw I Love You, Man in the theatres, went to a birthday/graduation party, and went out to dinner with family.

This last weekend , we saw the Grey Gardens musical, which was very good. I even shed a little tear. Several actors were cast in multiple roles and the most ingenious casting decision was to have the woman who played the young mother in the first act, play the old daughter in the second act. It really brought home how the daughter suffered the same fate of loneliness and crushed dreams as the mother (but at least they had each other). It was a really funny and moving play.

We also went to the wedding of our friends Julia & Brody. It was a very sweet, nice wedding and we were busy celebrating it from 230pm to 1200pm Saturday.

Our friend Jesse did the following diary strip about the wedding day, featuring Allie and me:

You can read more of his awesome diary here.

Anyhow, I have half of another blog ready to go. I've been working on it a couple weeks now. Hopefully, I'll post that soon. I'd also like to preview my Macky Cat zine. Hopefully, you'll hear from us soon.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Soda Memories

For years I've been telling people about all the weird flavors of soda I had or saw growing up in Sacramento and no one seems to know what I'm talking about. As I grew older, I eventually realized Sacramento must have been a test market for this kind of thing and it turns out I was right.

I brought up one of these long lost sodas, "Tropical Chill" Pepsi, to Allie the other night and she kind of rolled her eyes at me for retelling the story, yet again. So I decided to try and find evidence of them on the interwebs. Turns out "Tropical Chill" Pepsi was only available for 1991 in select markets. I remember it as being really delicious, like Cherry Pepsi with Hawaiian Punch in it. Back then, soda was still a treat for me. We didn't stock it at home, but my parents would buy me one once or twice a week. I had allowance money but was usually too cheap to spend it on consumables like soda and candy--I'd rather have something I could keep that would last, like toys, comics and baseball cards (almost 20 years later and I'm still trying to get rid of those purchases).

All of us kids loved the new "Tropical Chill" flavor and we gave it its own theme song, co-opting Guy's R&B hit "Let's Chill." The lyrics were the same, but the subject was now about drinking soda instead of getting romantic, "Let's chill/let's settle down/that's what I want to do/Just me and you/Let's chill." We all loved rap and R&B in those days.

One day, we had a big, school-wide athletic event (possibly the "Have a Heart Jogathon") and we scored free "Tropical Chill" soda. I was pretty thrilled. Looking back at it now, I'm sure this soda was just donated or discounted to the school as Pepsi's way of infiltrating the hearts, minds, and taste buds of the city's youth. Still, nothing goes together better than soda and athletics, right?

"Tropical Chill" was one of three fruit infused colas, referred to as the 'Wild Bunch,' which Pepsi marketed and even sold together. I remember seeing another of these flavors, the "Raging Razzberry," but have no memory of the "Strawberry Burst." Apparently, they were all "Fresh From The Tropics," as evidenced by this picture:

There was also Coke AM, an extra-caffeinated soda marketed to coffee drinkers as an alternate way of getting their morning pick-me-up. Turns out I've been misremembering this soda for years and it was actually Pepsi AM. I used to wait for my morning elementary school bus at the end of the block along with my dad, my school mate Linette and her dad Art. Art was really into Pepsi AM and used to drink it while we waited.

There are dozens of great websites and blogs out there that talk about old sodas. I particularly like this one, for giving the lifespan of the various drinks mentioned, and this one for being somewhat more comprehensive in its list of old sodas.

It's funny how even the detritus of our consumer, popular culture can so fully inform our childhood memories. Junk food and advertisements are as much a part of my fond childhood memories as books, TV shows, movies, vacations, sleepovers, and family get-togethers.

I still love the advertisement iconography of my youth; soda can logos, the hats and colors of Major League Baseball teams, light brown M & Ms, McDonald's characters, Bell Biv DeVoe, Bo Jackson commercials. Brown and orange will always be my favorite colors for the San Diego Padres. Though it's long gone, I'll always want another taste of "Tropical Chill."


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Getting things done!

As Allie mentioned, this past weekend was great, productive and relaxing. Friday night I saw the new Star Trek (which I liked, but not as much as I had hoped). Saturday we worked at the store and cleaned the house, and Sunday--I tore the carpet out of Allie's room!

Here are some "before" pictures of the bedroom with nasty, brown carpet.

Here's Ouija helping me pull carpet. She's my little shadow, and follows me around like a dog.

Here's Ouija helping me move Allie's dresser out of the way.

Once the room was cleared out the work wasn't really bad. I was having terrible allergies however, which was only exacerbated by all the dust from the carpet.

I got to listen to music all day, which is a rare occurrence. I put on the following: M.I.A.: Kala, Amy Winehouse: Back In Black, The Rolling Stones: Beggar's Banquet, Esquivel: Space Age Bachelor Pad Music, The Delfonics: The Sound Of Sexy Soul, and The Ventures: Live In Japan '65. Except for the M.I.A., these were all albums I burned off of my computer Saturday. I actually filled the thing with so many mp3s that I can't add any more (the memory is full). I'm trying to clear out space so I can import copies of the CDs I want to sell.

Here are some "after" photos.

It's obvious that at some point someone painted the walls, knowing carpeting was going in. So they didn't bother to keep paint off the hardwood. The floors are in great shape otherwise and they'll look great once we refinish them. I just have two closets and a bedroom left to go and then we'll be carpet free!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sunny Sunday

This Sunday was an amazingly nice day. Jeremy and I started the day early by opening up at Guapo at 8am. We left at 11am, went to the library and then I insisted that I needed to get some lime beer.

I have really been into this beer called "Miller Chillada Style." It basically tastes like someone put a whole mess of lime in your beer. So after the library we went to Fred Meyer's and I went in search of my beer.
Unfortunately, they seemed to have quit making Chillada in the big bottle it used to come in and instead they have made it into this light beer that only comes in a 6 pack. I definitely do not need that many. I just wanted one. So I settled for margarita flavored wine coolers. Then Jeremy and I picked up some peach mango salsa and headed home for lunch.

Once home, we played boggle, drank our wine coolers, and munched on chips and salsa outside on our back patio. For lunch we ate leftover carrot peanut soup and jicama mango chicken salad I had made the night before. Our cat Ouija joined us outside and we all hung out on the grass in the nice weather. Very relaxing.
Everyone enjoying the sun.
Ouija is actually happy. She always looks mad.

Jeremy and Ouija

Jeremy and Ouija do a little gardening.

Ouija poses for her next line of inspirational cat posters. She was thinking of the caption for this one to be either "Keep Your Dreams Alive." or "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow."

Then I got to work giving Pecan (one of our rabbits) a bath and a new hair cut for the hot weather. After that I put Pecan's harness on him and tethered him out in the yard so he could hop, jump and nibble on clover.

This is a picture of Pecan on alert after he heard a dog bark.

Once it grew dark Jeremy and I settled in for turkey burgers and a couple of episodes of one of our favorite shows, "The Wire."

Overall it was a great day, though the next day I woke up SO sore from the yard work and all the weird angles I was in to give Pecan a bath and cut his hair.