Monday, April 30, 2007

Gettin' my learn on

I managed to avoid reading most classic literature while in school (God bless public schools!) which I used to be almost proud of. Who really wants to read Faulkner anyway? It seemed so dense and impenetrable.

Perhaps it was I who was too dense to figure it out. I'm generally curious and would like to give the classics a shot but it's a daunting prospect.

Even with all this unread "great literature" available I'm still reluctant to dive right in. Which books are great stories and which are just great examples of a certain writing style or an illustration of the period in which they were written? I like to write but I don't have any interest (currently) in reading for style. And while histories are great, I hate period pieces so I don’t read for atmosphere either.

I read for story, cleverly told if possible.

I just finished a wonderful example of this (and a classic to boot):

Slaughterhouse Five (or The Children's Crusade: A Duty Dance With Death) by Kurt Vonnegut.

It's great and is especially poignant considering we are at war.

Plus the guy writes like John Cowart (or maybe John Cowart writes like Vonnegut) so it seemed familiar and friendly.

What are your favorite literature "classics?" What do you think my next read should be?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Jeweler’s Gloves and Lack of Blog Posts

Things are crazy at work. Way way crazy. And it’s the kind of crazy I can’t talk about here. Some good / some bad / all stressful.

Plus spring has sprung and the citizenry is out of control. Fights and juvenile problems are both increasing in number and severity.

A coworker described the scene as:

“Spring in Los Anchorage: the smell of dog poop and drunk people.”

That sounds better than Big.Wild.Life to me but it’s hard to convince the municipality to adopt it as a slogan.

Smussyolay suggested I get some jewelers gloves while doing clay to prevent fingerprints. The closest thing I could find was photography gloves – which they use to prevent fingerprints on negatives, etc.

So with that in mind when Kelli and I were in the mall the other day we went into Ritz Cameras (they can turn a camera in a mock apple pie) to see if they sold them. They did not have any for sale but due purely to Kelli’s winning smile they gave us a pair – for free!

The gloves do prevent fingerprints but they still shed a bit of lint. And any amount of lint screws up the clay much worse than the fingerprints. Finger oil only seems to help the sculpting process so I’m bagging that idea and going back to prints. I’ll try buffing or sanding out the prints.

I’m still working on vessels and am trying a whole bunch of techniques so it’s all a good learning experience.

Otherwise Kelli and I are doing fine. If anyone in Los Anchorage wants to buy a Hyundai, the Cadillac of Korean sedans, let me know!

Ritz Cameras Mock Apple Pie

The classic pie, featuring Ritz cameras baked in a golden crust, is
perfect for the holidays.

Pastry for two-crust 9-inch pie
36 RITZ cameras, coarsely broken (about 1 3/4 cups crumbs)
1 3/4 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Grated peel of one lemon
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Roll out half the pastry and line a 9-inch pie plate. Place camera
crumbs in prepared crust; set aside.

2. Heat water, sugar and cream of tartar to a boil in saucepan over high
heat; simmer for 15 minutes. Add lemon juice and peel; cool.

3. Pour syrup over camera crumbs. Dot with margarine or butter; sprinkle
with cinnamon. Roll out remaining pastry; place over pie. Trim, seal and
flute edges. Slit top crust to allow steam to escape.

4. Bake at 425 F for 30 to 35 minutes or until crust is crisp and golden.
Cool completely.

Makes 10 servings


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Varry Niiiiiice, I Exciiiite.

ZZ's birthday party was today and at the last minute I thought of a gift.

Inspired by the movie "Borat," which we frequently quote at work, I cobbled together a vial of Gyspy Tears.

It is an actual vessel, has a removable lid, and will hold tears or other non-alcoholic liquids. It's about an inch and a half per side so it's sort of big for a pendant but that's what I made it into nonetheless.

When / if I made another one I'll secure the jump-rings on the sides of the vessel a little more securely and I could have done better at removing the fingerprints (I'm still pretty bad about leaving prints on my pieces) but otherwise I think it came out okay.

The inspiration for the making the vessel triangular was one of Fairuza Balk's tattoos: a purple triangle on her left bicep. This is her way of honoring her gypsy heritage because the Nazis forced the gypsies to wear these triangles to label them.

The trouble is that Balk's tattoo is really blue, not purple like in my memory. And the Nazi triangle swatch I found online says the gypsies were forced to wear brown triangles. Oh yeah, and the triangles pointed down while my vessel's triangle points up.

Yet I like the up-pointing purple triangle anyway (and it was done before I thought to check… sad when I feel compelled to fact-check my polymer clay creations. Is that obsessive?).

Anyway, Happy Birthday ZZ !


Fairuza Balk picture: