Thursday, March 29, 2007

Enough already!

We thought that spring had sprung in the springs- pansies were out in bloom everywhere, poppies sticking out their noses, rose bushes feathering out.
But guess what? It's snowing. Again.
Oh great god Miracle-gro, please make it stop. Amen.

But for the udpdatey goodness for the Eastern Screech owl nestbox webacam in Austin, I might despair that spring would ever come!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My first Gmail Poem

Here is a found poem based on the ads Gmail generated for a recent message of mine.

Say no to Amnesty

Migrate to Australia now

Authentic Mayan hammocks

Date Liberals now

Pro Comedians for Hire

Theatre of the Absurd

I challenge our dwindling readership to come up with found Gmail poems of their own. I tag "Noemon," who may send me his poem since he doesn't have a blog. By the way, the rules are that you have to use the headlines but you can rearrange them.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Colorado Springs' Finest at Work

Yesterday, Lola's family was in town to visit, so I ended up not going to the St. Patrick's Day parade downtown, and I feel guilty now. The parade is apparently a big deal in our town, full of the kind of well-supervised rebellion that I tried to avoid during this season when I lived near South Padre Island. So when I heard that a group of local peace activists were planning to get their message out in the march, I was a little skeptical. Privately, I worried about people perpetuating the idea of the peace movement as a bunch of killjoys. It seemed to me that the movement's own event, a rally downtown that happened today, would be the more important action. Boy was I wrong.

Activists got a permit to participate in the march yesterday under the aegis of the Bookmobile. They wore lime-green shirts with peace signs and carried signs related to the upcoming anniversary of the illegal and disastrous invasion of Iraq. Although organizers of the parade allowed candidates for city council to march unmolested, they asked the police to remove
the peace marchers, who were accused of having a "negative" message. People I talked to at the rally today said that after giving the demonstrators almost no time to respond to their "official notice," the cops started dragging people with green T-shirts to the sidewalk.
One of them was Elizabeth Fineron, above. She is in her 60s and walks with a cane. She had to be hospitalized after the cops were through with her.
We saw her today at the rally. She said she was sore but had no serious injuries. Nevertheless, what a cowardly thing for a cop to do! These photos are from the Toilet Paper blog.

For today's rally a crowd of about 100 gathered to hear speakers, a performance by Our Town's own First Strike Theater, and the musical stylings of a blues/funk group who managed to insert the phrase "work for peace" into their rendition of "Brick House." The cops were present but didn't seem to be interested in any funny business.

Elizabeth, along with some friends, runs a group called Alterni-Tees that prints some fantastic topical T-shirts (example on left). If you want to show the local cops what you think about what happened, why not order a T-shirt? All the shirts are extremely professional-looking designs in multiple colors, and many are printed on interesting and attractive colors of fabric. They wouldn't have been out of place at Lo's shower.

On a darker note, a man wearing a rainbow-colored "Gore 2000" hat and a tie-died shirt was walking around today's rally collecting signatures on a petition calling for an end to the war. He wasn't affiliated with the organizers of the event, and when I asked him about this, he said he had just started his own petition drive. He continued to circulate, and after getting a large number of signatures, he left the rally. On his way he stopped to talk to the cops. I saw paper in his hand and I couldn't tell whether he was asking them to sign the petition or giving it to them. A mole in our midst?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Things to do in Denver when yr dead Tired

Well, we're wrapping up teaching here and settling in for Spring Break next week. One lucky thing that I had to carry me through to the end was the prospect of a visit from Margi and Enrico. Enrico was coming to Denver for a physics conference, and Margi was coming along. And although I didn't get to see as much of Margi as I wanted to (boo, snow!) I did get some nice hanging out time with Enrico, some great dinners, and a trip to Denver's new art museum building to boot.
Now, I'd been to the old part of the museum when I was a wee lass of 14. I always remembered it as a repurposed corporate skyscraper, which is unfair, I guess. Nevertheless, the new Liebeskind-designed wing really blows the other wing away. Super wow.

It was a really great day to be out and about-- sunny and warm for the first time in months. We walked all over downtown, and then around the art building. The angles in the main hall are so freaky, standing in the third floor mezzanine made my knees start to shake.
As for the art, I saw a Yoshitomo Nara, two Takashi Murukami sculptures and a large silver painting, and a photorealistic painting of an infant Hitler being venerated as the Christ Child. I saw a sculpture of a naked man hiding under a cardigan, which I liked, but I can't remember the name of the sculptor. All of this was in a rotating gallery, someone's personal collection.
In the permanent gallery we saw all of the greatest hits: Taos modernists (Marsden Hartley! Woot!), Manets and Monets, and even (in Denver? Shocking!) Whistlers. I saw a Braque that brought back memories of grapes, and a Juan Gris that brought back memories of Braque. Had a debate with Margi over who is the best cubist- didn't come to a conclusion, but we both decided that Picasso needs to go away for a century or two. Tried to draw Enrico into the discussion, but he claims not to care for any art that's pre-surrealist.
Finally, we visited a rotating gallery that was showing the John and Kimiko Powers collection of 14-18th Century Japanese art. First: if you're going to show off your collection of oldoldold art, it's a pretty neat gesture to use an Andy Warhol portrait of yourself as the obligatory "meet the collectors" entryway thingy. Second: I realized just how bumpkinly ignerent of Japanese art I am. But also, I could not pull myself away from the calligraphy part of the show. I love calligraphy: I love how you can still sense the hand that made each brush or pen stroke. I love how you can see the choice of tool. I love how vital each line is. Myself, I'm a lousy calligraphist. You can see me overthinking each line, a hesitation that cramps everything up (this might also be the reason I'm lousy at crochet, but decent at knitting). So I spent about 40 minutes standing in front of a calligraphied banner, trying to follow the swoops in one ideogram by waving a rolled up piece of paper in front of me. The gallery security guard hardly left my side for the whole time. When I finally moved on, I found an even grander sight: poems written onto a gold foiled screen. The screen itself was so carefully gilded, but the calligraphy seemed almost off-hand and graffitti-like, done with a skinny brush. Unlike the paper and cloth banners, the poems just seemed to stop and begin, without any urgency to fill up the beautiful gold space. It just blew my mind that there was once a person who was so lucky/ batshit-crazy-in-a-good-way as to have something so magnificent and yet so casual somewhere in his or her daily life. Here's the curator's translation of one of the poems:
When I consider
How fleeting is this world
That knows no tomorrow;
Very bitter is the count
Of days not spent in love.
-- Fujiwara Teiku, 1162-1241

This one made me sigh, and resolve to try to live a more beautiful life, one in which I appreciate my surrounding, my family, and my friends more. What a gift to have had a chance to see this screen. I feel grateful to the Powers for their loan to the DAM.

After the art museum, we find an Italian restaurant that is not crammed with physicists, and have a good meal. After that I drove home, and collapsed in bed.
What a great day. Thank you both, Margi and Enrico.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ethical dilemma

Leslie Magnets:
Exploitative or super-nifty?
Please share your thoughts.


Pete here. I called Book People's 800 number, and according to them, Leslie was consulted about the magnet, and he gets a portion of the sales. The employee was sketchy on the details but said that he thought it was around 20% of sales. The buzz is that Leslie has bought a new shed and a TV with this money.