Archive for June 2006
Two Saturdays ago I test drove some vehicles at a nearby dealership. I tried the Toyota CRV, the Toyota RAV4, and the Honda Element. They all are fun to drive, and all fit my need of having a lot of space so I can move all my stuff to Nevada, but I think the CRV is kind of ugly, so I’m crossing that one off my list. I don’t think I can afford payments on a new car, since I can only afford to put down about $500 up front, so I have found two used cars that I like:
This RAV4 Has about 55K miles on it, is a 2001, and is an automatic. It’s priced at $15,681. I’m gonna go look at it this weekend, and, if I like it, I’m going to see if they’ll knock the price down to $14,800. I have the vin# and I’m going to look it up on Kelly Blue Book to see if anything fishy has happened with it since it’s been owned.
I think the RAV4 is SO cute, and it gets about 28MPG highway, which isn’t too bad! That’s what my Pontiac Sunfire got. The RAV4 is what I’ve always wanted; they always turn my head when I see them on the street. Not to mention, they’re super fun to drive! There’s more room than my Sunfire, so I think I should be able to fit everything in. And what I can’t fit, I’ll just ship.
Here’s the Element. It’s a 2003, with 78K miles on it, but is priced a little under $14,000. It gets the same MPG as the RAV4. I believe this is an automatic too. The Element isn’t as fun to drive as the RAV4, but what it lacks in that department, it makes up 10 fold in handling and supberb design. The Elements have amazing turning radius’ and can fit into tiny spaces. I tested parking it, and it was a breeze. Also, Honda’s design team has done a spectacular job making every square inch of the car have a specific function.
For instance, the plate that covers the spare tire folds out into a picnic table. If you fold the back and front seats down, it forms a bed. The car is designed so you could practically clean it out with a garden hose. It’s got spaces for everything, and the back seats fold up against the sides of the car so that the space in the back is maximized. The back of the Element is HUGE. It reminds me of an ice cream truck. Also, the salesman mentioned to me that it’s kind of like driving a mix between a Mini Cooper and a Hummer, which made me laugh, because he’s right, as improbable as that sounds.
The price is good on this one, but the downside is the mileage. Almost 80K. However, the reason I’m considering it is because of Honda’s amazing reputaton for vehicle longevity. (Toyota too, in fact, these are the only two car companies I have even considered).
I am hoping to buy the car maybe this weekend. The dealership said they would store it for me until I leave, which is awesome. I think also, that all I would have to put down is the down payment, and then I wouldn’t have to start making actual car payments until I picked it up at the end of August.
I was a bit intimidated by the huge dealership from which I’m buying this car, they have like 28 stores throughout New England. There’s plenty of competition, so I don’t feel like I’m supporting a monopoly, but I am still a little worried about getting scammed.
I’m trusting my gut reaction and women’s intuition to guide me through this uncertain territory. Oh, and the wonderful help of both my father and this awesome article I found on the internet. I’m also dragging along Ariana to the dealership, so I can take advantage of the supreme haggling skills she’s acquired throughout her travels in Africa.
Now I have to start thinking about insurance. Apparently, both Massachusetts and Nevada are famous for high insurance rates, so looks like I’m going to have to pay a lot whether I buy my policy from MA or NE.
This is a big decision for me and just a little bit scary, because I really want to make the right choice. I don’t think I can go wrong with either Honda or Toyota when it comes to quality, but I’m still a little concerned about getting a lemon. Perhaps I should take it to a mechanic? I need to research how much they cost to do a check up on the car.
Current listening to: Magnet
Last weekend, I swam in poison ivy. Literally. (I don’t recommend it!) Last Sunday, after some hot time over a BBQ grill, some friends and I walked down to the awesome fresh-water reservoir near my apartment to hopefully find some repose from the summer heat.
Upon arriving at the reservoir, and sampling the water with our toes, we realized that the water temperature was way too perfect to waste it on our feet. So the four of us, Ariana, Justin, Stuart and I jumped in, fully clothed. It was a blast! The water was perfect, the later afternoon sun was shining, the whole experience was, in a word, delectable. A perfect summer treat. There was one problem: I didn’t see the poison ivy. We none of us did.
Two days later, however, it made its debut on my forehead. I haven’t had a poison ivy attack in about 7 or 8 years. At first, I thought it was a heat rash. I had no qualms about scratching the hell out of it. Until I noticed that I also had the rash on my stomach.
Three days later, it’s spread over the right side of my face, my entire midsection: stomach, lower back, breasts, butt…and creeping dangerously close towards regions I’d rather not mention.
I took Thursday and Friday off from work. This weekend was of the hellish variety–I was miserable, and antisocial. I woke up during weird hours of the day/night, itching all over. I tried a variety of drugs, alcohol, and homeopathic remedies I found online…and they all kind of fell short of what I was deperately hoping for, a complete and instant cure.
However, I did find a few things that helped: did you know spray starch stops the itching? (for a while). If you take a hot bath with 1/2 cup baking soda, the rash starts to dry up. I also hear oatmeal’s good. And if you eat honey on a regular basis, you’ll have less of a chance of getting the rash.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I tried calamine lotion too. It didn’t seem to do a damn thing. Thank God I finally found out the beauty that is Gold Bond Medicated Creme, I wouldn’t have my sanity had it not been for this little gem.It neutralizes the itching with a cool, menthol-y goodness.
I recommend that if you ever contract poison ivy, clear your calendar, take about 5 days for yourself, run out and get a box of baking soda, some Gold Bond Medicated Creme, rent about 50 movies and a grab a six-pack, because you’re in for one hell of an awful ride.
Well, thank goodness, my face has stopped weeping, oozing, seeping…whatever you want to call it. I *think* my midsection is on the way to recovery.
Now if I can Just. Stop. Scccccccratching.
Currently listening to…well…nothing. But guess what! Jason Lytle is doing another mini tour and will be appearing in Boston, yes, BOSTON next month. And he’s playing at the Paradise. I couldn’t be happier.
Tonight will surely be a special treat! I’m going to go see country-rock band My Morning Jacket play with the Boston Pops. This is totally fantastic, because I’ve wanted to see both MMJ & the Pops, so this is ‘killing two birds with one stone’.
MMJ was touring with Pearl Jam and came through Boston earlier this summer. I really wanted to see MMJ, but didn’t want to pay the high ticket price associated with a huge Pearl Jam concert, a band of whom I am not an especially big fan.
I also wanted to see either the Symphony or the Pops play before I left Boston, because they’re both so world-reknowned. When I heard that Keith Lockart, the young, cool Pops conductor had invited them to play as part of the summer’s “Pops on the Edge” series, was intrigued and really psyched.
Not only do I get to see both of them in one night, but what kind of magic will come from a full orchestra + a southern rock band? I’m not sure how it’s going to sound, but I’m sure it will be amazing. I sprung a little extra money to get a great seat, too. I’m on the first balcony, center. I’ll have a perfect view, no doubt. More tomorrow.
Currently listening to: At Dawn by My Morning Jacket
I found this picture on Getty today and I think it’s inspiring.
The crop, the silhouette, the Gaussian blur, the lighting…all spectacular. It also has a very subtle horizon line in the background which gives it depth. Just incredible.
It kind of reminds me of some of the older, richer Disney scenes, like from Bambi or The Jungle Book. It looks totally unreal. Like this could have been drawn in Illustrator using only black and a perfect orange-yellow linear gradient. Hmm…. Maybe *I* could draw it!
Also reminds me of Tord Boontje, the amazing Dutch designer.
Currently listening to: “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac
No, not the Big Dig, the Weekly Dig.
The Weekly Dig is the best free paper in Boston for humor, news and nightlife. About a year or so ago, the Weekly Dig underwent a design transformation that openend my eyes to its wonder. It used to be kind of a small, ugly, text-dense newspaper that I never could get into all that much. I used to default to the Boston Phoenix or The Improper Bostonian for my free local news.
Then, in early 2005, they must have hired a new art director who changed the entire format, look and feel of their newspaper. I can’t say whether their content has been revamped as well, because I didn’t really read it prior to their new design. However, the new look of the paper has got me addicted to reading it. The whole design of the paper is so easy to understand. It’s friendlier to the eye and showcases the articles in a way that makes them shimmer. Always one to turn my eye towards something shiny, I have began to read the Weekly Dig avidly.
The best part about their redesign was their decision to start featuring full-color covers that showcase the work of local artists. Since I’ve been totally impressed with the design and content of the paper, I would consider it the highest of honors to have my art printed on the cover. I’m not sure if my work is good enough, but I’m gonna give it a try.
I have a great concept for the cover; it’s a little inside joke for us Bostonians. On the super-busy corner of Boylston Street and Massachusetts Avenue, there is an overpass to the highway. If you stand near the intersection of these two streets, you can look about 20 feet below to where the traffic whizzes by.
Supporting this overpass are several metal girders and beams which help hold up Mass Ave where it passes over the highway. There is a huge huge fence around the overpass, so that drunken Bostonians don’t fall into the rush-hour traffic yeilding a rather messy death.
Anyway, someone, at least three years ago, somehow managed to throw a horse head over the fence and it landed on a girder.
Here is a photo of it, and you can see the huge fence that it made it over, somehow
Not a real horse head, but the top of one of those little pony-heads-on-a-stick that kids ride around on. It has been there, reportedly, since 2003. It’s pretty awesome that it’s survived like three winters now. Through all the snow, wind and rain, it’s managed to stay put on this flat, narrow beam.
Seeing it used to creep me out a little, but now I’m happy to see it as I pass by. Anyway, a surprising number of people that I’ve asked have seen it, and wonder what it’s all about too. I think it’s time to idolize it and make it one of Boston’s little locals’ attractions. Anyway, I just wanted to pay a little hommage to it, because it’s mysterious. I wonder if anyone knows the story behind this little pony?
I went down last Friday and took some photos of it, and then I began sketching it over the weekend. I don’t know if the Dig will like my illustration or not, but here’s hoping. I hope to have it done in a couple of weeks.
I’m going to post my process here, similar to my Bob Portrait post, so that you can follow along as I work on it.
Here is an initial sketch I did while standing at the intersection. This drawing represents the realistic view of the horse head, and some of the details around it. Although I kind of like all of the diagonal lines, I think that trying to include too much of the scenery detracts from my main subject, the horse head.
I decided I wanted to do a more graphic composition that highlighted the two main factors of the image, the head and the traffic below. So I re-thought the design of the page and came up with this:
This is my first rough sketch of the revised composition, where I work out some ideas on a perspective and scale. Here, its almost like you’re looking right down on top of the horse from above, instead of the photorealistic view, which is foreshortened and at a distance. It’s a little more intimate, while (I hope) still getting across the same point.
Here are some little sketches I did of cars. I wanted to keep the cars fun and simple, since they are supposed to be kind of far away. I didn’t want to get too much detail in them, so they will be kinda cartoony.
I start the final drawing. I didn’t include the horse head here; I’m going to draw it separately so that I can draw it really large to capture as much detail as possible. Then I’ll scan it, and shrink it down to fit on this image.
The cars were really labor intensive. I kept erasing and re-drawing them. I don’t have much experience drawing cars, so I needed to make sure I got the perspective, angles and proportions correct. Or at least relative to the other cars in the drawing.
That’s all for now. Ariana and I are having a party today so I need to start preparing for that. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish this up in the next week.
Ack. I took a break from this for a while due to the poison ivy.
I’ve started experimenting with color. I want the cars to sort of reced into the backkground. And I think that the gray of the beams may be too dark. I’m gonna let it sit for a while and come back to judge the color.
Well, I let it sit for a couple more weeks. Truth is, I was terrified of drawing the horse head for fear I would mess it up. I finally forced myself to sit down and draw it last night. The most terrifying part was the mane. However, it turned out a lot better than I thought it would, I’m pleased. It was labor intensive, but worth it in the end.
Here I’ve placed it on the background. I decided to get rid of the shading I did at the end of June, because the main purpose of making it blue was to make it recede, but with all the different variations of blue, it stood out too much. I don’t want it to compete with the foreground, which is way more important.
Here I’ve added some color. I used the curves to get the background to be a nice cyan, and then I used a *slightly* darker cyan to fill in the cars, so there is a tiny little bit of subtle tone difference. Then I started filling in the mane with magenta. Of course, this is a bit more free than the real color, I’m just putting it in as it pleases me.
Decided that the composition would be stronger if I cropped it a little bit. I hope it hasn’t lost it’s context now, and as a result, the joke. Finished the color, tweaked the saturation and levels a bit to make it pop more. Still don’t know if I’m 100% happy with the color, but I’ve been working on this so long today that I’m going to give it a bit of rest and come back to finish it tomorrow.
Currently listening to The Sounds of the Sounds of Science by Yo La Tengo
Today at work, I received a small package from Sheffield, England. One of the people on TalkScape took a bunch of pictures with a one-time use camera and sent it to me to develop. I’ve never met this person and barely know him from TalkScape but he seems funny and he likes Grandaddy, so that’s all I need to know.
As of yet, neither of us know how the pictures will turn out, but I intend to post some of them here when I get them back. I think I’m going to return the favor and send him some pictures from Boston. Or perhaps I’ll send it on to someone else, and we can have a chain of sorts.
Alright, that’s it for me. I’m still at work, but I’m going to leave soon.
When I think back about being five, two things stick out in my memory, and both have to do with grandfathers and cars.
The first happened while riding in my grandfather’s big, floaty tan car, which smelled like new plastic and had those little metal switches in the arm rests on the doors that controlled the motorized windows.
One day, while riding in it, he warned me, unprompted by anything I said, that if I peed in his car, my urine would ignite the linoleum seats in flames and we’d all die. I’m not sure why he gave me this little talk. The only reason I can think of is that he was terrified that I was still too young to have full control over my bodily functions. Perhaps he thought threatening me with death would be effective. I remember, that from his tone, he seemed to be unaware I had been successfully potty-trained some three and a half years before.
The second story begins during the summer, on a warm, sun-soaked day, circa July 1985 in the suburbs of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We lived in a friendly neighborhood that had lots of children. My best friend, Cheryl, lived next door, and, if she couldn’t come out to play, I always had variety of other kids to play with.
There was Dennis, the kid from wrong side of the tracks. He was a bad boy, but sometimes we played together. He taught me how to give the bird, but not what it meant. (He probably didn’t know either) We would stand on opposite street corners and flip off all the passing cars. One night, I remember, upon returning home, showing my mother my new trick. She was putting her hair up in curlers, and I was so proud to show what I had learned. She was confused, and asked me not to play with Dennis anymore.
Then there was Jeffrey, who was kind of a round little kid, who seemed to have a soft spot for me and was always very kind. He had a cute little lisp, and used to say he was scared of “funder and lightning” which I remember my mother and I laughing at later. Oh, and the kids whose yard backed up to ours. I never saw them except through their fence, but they had a Bassett hound and also they could not tell me what their last name was.
Down the street there was this girl, named Rachel, that I hung out with from time to time. She lived about 5 or 6 houses down from mine, which was sort of outside of my playing limits, so I rarely went to her house. She was my age, and we got along mostly, although sometimes she was kind of mean. She had an older sister, Cathy, who Rachel always referred to as not her real sister, but her adopted sister.
Cathy was tall, with a short little messy blonde bob. She was in fourth grade and was 10. She had a mild case of autism or down’s syndrome, I can’t remember, exactly, but it caused her eyes to look a little twisty in her doughy face. She kind of weirded me out a little, and I only played with her when I went to Rachel’s house and Rachel wasn’t there.
One day, I when I went over to Rachel house but she wasn’t around, I went in to play with Cathy. She offered me some Kraft cheese slices and and some of that cheap sugary juice, the kind that has a rather unnnatural taste and is only sold in gallon jugs. Then, she asked me if I wanted to go on a ride to the hardware store with her and her grandpa. I said I wasn’t sure if I should go, that I should ask my momma first. She said “we won’t be gone long”. Still not sure if I wanted to go, but feeling pressured by Cathy, I agreed to go as long as we would return very soon so that I wouldn’t miss dinner. She assured me we wouldn’t, and so she and I piled into the back seat of her grandpa’s Buick.
I don’t really remember any sort of conversation that her grandpa and I had, other than maybe a gruff hello from him. I got the feeling that he wasn’t bringing Cathy and I along for fun, just that maybe she was under his care and he had to go somewhere so she and I were drug along.
As we drove out of the neighborhood, down the main street, and into town, Cathy reached down to pick up a little wad of silvery paper that resembled tinfoil from the floor. She showed it to me, smiled, and without a word, began to mold it into the shape of a crude horse. There were several little tinfoil wads on the back floor, why they were there or if they were really tinfoil I will never know. After a minute of watching little dim Cathy, I thought it would be fun to make a sculpture like hers. I reached down, to pick one of the the little silvery bunches, and I began forming mine into a horse too.
We approached a stoplight, and Grandpa slowed the car to a stop. Then, he turned around, slowly, stared me right in the eye, and said, as I was showing Cathy my tin foil horse, “If you ever touch that again, I will chop your fucking head off.”
I remember a moment of being stunned. That was the first time I had ever heard that word, but I knew it was bad. This was also the first time my life had been threatened. I wasn’t sure how to react, because I felt that I hadn’t done anything wrong, and Cathy had been playing with the tinfoil for several minutes, without comment. Why was I being attacked?
Having spent the majority of my life among adults that were always good to me, I assumed that whatever this man was saying must be in jest. Not knowing how else to respond, I said to him, “Oh, you’re just kidding!” with a little knowing grin.
I turned to smile at Cathy, so she could be in on the joke, but she wasn’t smiling. She stared me down for a second, all beady eyes and serious face, and said, “My Grandpa never kids.”
Grandpa stared at me for one minute more, his face as serious as a mafia member, and then turned around and started driving again.
It was in that moment I saw my little life coming to an early end. I carefully set my tinfoil horse on the ground, as Cathy continued, uninterrupted, to play with hers. A noxious combination of fear, confusion, embarrassment, and misunderstanding flooded my little head. The rest of the ride to the hardware store, during which, Grandpa was eerily silent, was spent with me figuring out how I could escape the car and run back to my house. I didn’t talk to Cathy anymore either, although I sort of remember her trying to make light, cheery conversation with me, as though nothing had ever happened. I just sat, quiet and small, staring straight ahead, trying not to incur the fatal wrath of Grandpa.
While sitting in the car with her while he went in to the hardware store buy his nails and hammer or whatever, I fidgeted in my seat, trying to devise ways to escape.But I was trapped, because I didn’t know how to get home.
A few minutes later, Grandpa got back into the car. The short drive back to our neighborhood was conducted in complete silence. It was maddening. I was expecting to die. I knew that at some moment, this unstable, insane man would pull over the car and bludgeon me with whatever tool he had purchased at the hardware store while little autistic Cathy watched, while casually toying with her tinfoil.
I wanted to cry, but knew if I did that would just make him angry. So I sat very still, breathing in short little breaths, planning my escape from his car, and thinking of my mommy.
Miraculously, I was still alive when we pulled back into Cathy’s driveway. I was sitting on the left side of the car, and I remember looking out towards the west side of the street, the sun now beginning to lower in the afternoon sky. I could see my house from the car. I knew that if I got out of the car as quick as I could, then I might have a chance to escape before I was murdered.
As the car was rolling to a stop in the driveway, I opened my door, jumped out of the moving vehicle, and bolted. I didn’t look back, but ran as fast as I could away from Cathy and her evil evil Grandpa. I remember her saying something to me, as I ran, like “Hey!” or “Where are you going?” as if she didn’t understand why I was running away, but I didn’t respond.
I just kept running. I made it back to my house, ran in the door, shut it behind me, and leaned on it, gasping with relief. I had escaped death.
An hour or so later, Cathy and her grandfather came over to our house, unannounced. I saw that they were coming, and hid in the kitchen and peeked around the door jamb when my mom went to answer the doorbell. I remember our little Dachshund, Gretchen, running up to the door to meet them, and I wanted her to run away, because I was scared that Grandpa would try to hurt her too. Grandpa, who was standing, rather sheepishly, behind Cathy, had apparently come to talk to me. I refused to come out of the kitchen, but he saw me as I peeked my head out to stare at him. He waved to me, but I just slinked back in fear. I have no idea what he told my mother had happened, but I’m sure his explanation didn’t include the words “I will chop your fucking head off.”
Currently listening to: the beeping of a truck backing up outside.