Thursday, May 31, 2007

Houston: New Beginnings Again

Now that she handed in her resignation, I've been given permission to blog about this. The missus has a new job in Houston, TX . While I've never had much of an interest in the Lone Star state, the brief research I've done on Houston has piqued my interest. Things to look forward to about my new city :

National Museum of Funeral History "Experience the skill and workmanship of 100 years ago as you enter an authentically recreated Casket Factory set in the early 1900's." Come on, that exciting stuff, people! Also, glass caskets and contemporary African fantasy coffins.

The Orange Show - Starting as a one man's attempt to make the single greatest attraction in the country, the Orange Show Center for the Visionary Arts is now home to Jeff McKissack's strange home/homage to his favorite fruit, are also renovating the Beer Can House and offer Eyeopener Tours, "...Eyeopeners, we called the tour, 'places that made you stop, look and look again.' At our committee meetings, we tried to outdo each other in bringing the most interesting food, the best story, a great new sighting."

The Art Car Museum
- Houston is home to loads of people taking cars and transforming them into eccentric pieces of art. Also see: Houston Art Car Parade 2006 - a photoset on Flickr

All in all, promising stuff.

We have a couple of months before the move. Started to amass a collection of Houston blogs, while somewhat informative but so far fewer Houston bloggers than I expected in a city that size.

I'm also starting the process of disconnecting from Atlanta. It has begun in simple ways, starting with unsubscribing to local online mailing lists for galleries and music venues. That was the easy part. The hard one, telling one of my employers who I like very much. They had been using me exclusively for art installation and I've really enjoyed working with them. So, I'll miss them much. When I did it, they were pretty excited for my wife, and offered to recommend me to anyone who called. Plus, an artist they rep lives in Houston so I might have someone to talk to there about opportunities.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Best Art from the British Government - Lessons from WWII: Beware of Smart Blonds

I love this poster. She doesn't even look particularly German. It's good art and there's a something extremely ironic about this in a 3rd-wave feminist sort of way. Can't put my finger on it. Artist Harold Forster did this beautiful piece as well, which I may post about at a future date.

More to be seen here: The Art of War from the The National Archives of the United Kingdom

Dorking, England & San Francisco, US

My friend Kelly showed me the sites in San Fran some time ago. Took me to eat at the lovely and old St. Francis Fountain in San Francisco. Opened in 1918, this place has small wooden booths, tattoooed friendly staff and great milk shakes.

Also a fantastic candy selection.

Since I forgot my camera, she was gracious enough to lend me hers for the above pix. I had a great time with her on this little adventure. It came at the end of a day's worth of San Francisco site seeing.

For more pictures:

St. Francis Fountain on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
st francis fountain on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

She has just returned from a visit to England where she saw one of sites I've wanted to see; The Dorking Cock!

For more info see: The Dorking Cock Has Been Erected (on the A24) - Firetop

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The History that Never Happened: Kymaerica & Dueling Postal Services

In the lower courtyard where Star Provisions/Bacchanalia are, there hangs a bronze historical plaque. It tells of how the city got its start.

"Adalanta Desert

When the Tehachapi incised the Adalanta Desert with two great sphaltways, a settlement at their junction was inevitable. Martha Pelaski's small trading post that became the great city was built here..."

At first I couldn't find this plaque. I went to Star Provisions and the nice Brazilian counter guy offered to show me where it was. After leading me to the plaque in the lower courtyard he asked me to explain it to him. He was pleased to be working in a place of historical merit and wanted to know more.

I had to tell him that it was a complete fiction, part of a country-wide project that imagines the North American continent not as it is but as a place full of alternative history. Plaques like this are scattered around the country. Cabinet Magazine's interview with Eames Demetrios details the people that made up his world.

"There are over 5,000 zones or quasi-nations in Kymaerica. Each one has its own story. For example, there is the Tehachapi, which is the great road building culture in Kymaerica, and they built most of what we now think of as the interstate highways. There are the people who were the original Samurai who were blown off course and settled what we now call Santa Barbara (which they named Hizurokoro). There are the People of the Wind who make buildings totally out of air and who believe that what we call hills are actually depressions in the sky, and what we call valleys are actually hills in the sky. In the area that is present day linear San Diego there is something called the Sandafuegan Fire Cult which puts out valuable possessions and then sets fire to them."

So, it was in Atlanta/Adalanta that a bit of that historical fiction took place.

Discover Kymaerica
Kymaerica Plaques - a photoset on Flickr

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

For another bit of alterna-history, there this bit of cryptic graffiti in a Georgia Tech elevator.

The "muted trumpet" is symbolic of a long-standing war between rival postal factions. Taxis was symbolized by a trumpet, the Tyrstero a muted trumpet showing its rival silenced. All of this stems from Thomas Pynchon's short novel The Crying of Lot 49. While the Tyrstero faction was imagined by Pynchon, Franz von Taxis actually founded the first Italian postal service in the 16th century. Pynchon's broad and arcane conspiracy appeals to me so it was nice to see a little bit of it in the real world at Georgia Tech.

For additional info: Thurn und Taxis on Wikipedia

Friday, May 25, 2007

Cabinet Magazine, Wundercabinets & Athanasius Kircher

I've discovered that my appreciation for anything (music, books, website, etc,) has this cyclical tendency, on-again-off-again. I listen/read/visit, and then I get distracted and put down the pursuits. But often these interests reappear because I've found something else that compliment and reinforce something I liked at one time. More times then not I find that I am not alone in my appreciation of what ever has caught my interest.

Cabinet Magazine is one of those things. The magazine issues are collections of arcane facts and stories about people, places and ideas. And being a successful magazine, it must mean I'm not the only one reading about strange and unusual things. Like...
  • King C. Gillette (1855-1932), creator of the disposable razor published a book The Human Drift advocating the creation of a Utopian city near Niagara Falls. Why the Falls? A perfect source of power for his new society.
  • An article on "the Miniature Book Society, an organization whose interests extend only to printed works three inches or smaller."
  • And much, much more.

Last Monday, I called their NY office and ordered all of their back issues, the most current and got a 1-year subscription. Wednesday all the issues arrived! This is my attempt to surround myself with reading material that will capture my interest and keep me focused. A problem I've been having lately. I'm going to continue to attempt to get the remaining issues that were sold-out to complete my collection.

The magazine is influenced by the Wunder cabinet (
also Wunderkammer or cabinet of curiosities) . A precursor to museums (which means to excite the Muse) these cabinets or rooms were private collections of natural oddities, things, etc, that individuals would display on their homes. "Wundarkammern; cabinets of curiosities, which proliferated in the 16th and 17th centuries. These were usually collections of natural history specimens---skeletons, stuffed animals, fetuses. Sometimes they were ethnographical artifacts, brought from distant lands. Gathered magpie fashion, these cabinets were eclectic, unsystematic and sometimes a bit gruesome." The Getty Museum in LA has a book, Devices of Wonder, that includes the topic of curiosity cabinets in it.

And lastly, the 17th century Jesuit polymath who much of this oddness orbits around. From the Chronicle of Higher Educations article, Athanasius Kircher, Dude of Wonders...

"...The consensus is unambiguous: Athanasius Kircher was, indeed, very cool. A dude of wonders, even. Even a partial catalog of Kircher's accomplishments tends to make one's jaw drop. A German-born Jesuit priest, he served as a professor of mathematics at the Jesuit training institute in Rome. Nicknamed 'the master of a hundred arts,' Kircher also knew dozens of languages, including Chinese and Coptic. His scientific writings -- studied with rapt interest by scholars (Roman Catholic and otherwise) around the world -- included works on acoustics, astronomy, chemistry, mineralogy, and optics. He also published some of the earliest scholarship on ancient Egypt..."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My Music

So, is it any good? Ehh... you tell me.

I had been working on songs for almost a year when the computer suffered a bit technical difficulties. All that music gone, except for a few remaining files. Some songs are more finished then others. Now hosted freely on (for downloadable MP3s) , I put a few surviving files up for public scrutiny. On the player, select a song to hear.

Rarely do I feel like I made something I set out to. I love bands/DJ's like Justice, Soulwax, Whitey, Erol Aklan and other mostly dance-happy, electronic bands. But I haven't made anything that reached their caliber. And probably won't.

The main reason I put the music there is that some of the music I found online is really obscure and/or odd but I like it. But it was put out there to be found. If someone is happy to keep one of these songs as their own, I've done the same as someone did for me. Since I haven't spent any real money, I can't complain. Originally created on Apple's free software, hosted freely at and streaming with free code... I can afford that.

And more music will be added in the future as it gets finished.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Caption Wrote Itself

While walking in Piedmont Park this Sunday, saw a guy picking up a girl in the park. One-armed no less. I was rather impressed.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Weekend Update: Ma-Li, "Hot Fuzz", Chocolate Pink, Lavapolloza

Does it count when the weekend fun starts on Thursday?

Amongst the many things done, we started with the last showing of "Hot Fuzz". The fanboys on Ain't It Cool have been going nutty about this one, and combined with reviews from online friends, I had high hopes. The movie was great and I think Simon Pegg (writer/actor) can do no wrong.

A walk to sweets-shop Chocolate Pink was another treat at week's end. I like their signature cake, the Chocolate Pink, and their decor inside pretty nice as well.

A Thai food craving was sated at Ma-Li, where I've yet to have a bad meal. Our favorite Thai food place in town.

We hit Lavapolloza on Saturday with a friend of my wife's, who much to my pleasure drove. The music and food were good, the clientel DEEE-RUNK!

On Sunday, it was a walk to the Midtown Art Cinema for Spiderman (**1/2) and a short shopping trip to Trader Joe's.

All in all, a very nice way to spend the days with the missus.

(Listening to Mr. Hopkinson's Computer ™

Friday, May 18, 2007

Lavapalooza: Trader Vic's Atlanta

At some point Saturday, we will be here. And you?

Derby! Derby Map...

Sunday's derby bout was fantastic. I won't go into detail but it was one of the best bouts I've seen yet between the Atlanta teams.

So, I got thinking about where other places have derby. Wikipedia has a list of roller derby leagues, old and current. To narrow it down, I stuck with members of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association. They have a map...

... but being addicted to Google maps and Google Earth, I whipped up one of my own.

Women’s Flat Track Derby Association Locations

And that's how I spent my time... instead of doing something more productive. But now I know what cities would be worth moving to next.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Summer Trips: Grottos and Baggage

With summer approaching, some travel looks to be in our future. The American south east is full of strange roadside attractions, which means something for me to see in almost any direction from Atlanta. My wife would like to take a trip to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. Looks to be a quick 2 hours drive. Howard Finster's folk art heaven-on-earth Paradise Gardens might be on the way. But since I would really like to see the Ave Maria Grotto (in Cullman, Al) we may have to pass up Howard's place.

"The Ave Maria Grotto known throughout the world as "Jerusalem in Miniature", is a beautifully landscaped, four-acre park designed to provide a natural setting for the 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous historic buildings and shrines of the world. The masterpieces of stone and concrete are the lifetime work of Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk of St. Bernard Abbey. Begun as a hobby, with various materials he could find, and infinite patience and a remarkable sense of symmetry and proportion, Brother Joseph re-created some of the greatest edifices of all time."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Flickr: Photos tagged with paradisegardens

Flickr: Photos tagged with avemariagrotto

Flickr: unclaimed baggage center

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Best Photographs the Federal Government has to Offer - 7

"20TH AIR FORCE, OKINAWA--A/2C Don W. Murray of Mazon, Ill., flashes a victory smile from the gun blister of his U.S. Air Force B-29 "Superfort" after shooting down a Communist jet fighter, ca. 11/1952"

"Construction of aircraft at the Glenn L. Martin plant at Baltimore, MD. Machine gun turrets are completely assembled and ched operated before installed in the carcass of PBM., 02/1943"

"Myriads of lights at the Long Beach, Calif., plant of Douglas Aircraft Company form pleasing star patterns in the shatterproof plexiglass windows of noses for A-20 attack bombers., ca. 10/1942"

All images found on the National Archive (U.S.) Archival Research Catalog

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Best Photographs/Art the Federal Government has to Offer - 6

The Best Photographs the Federal Government has to Offer - 5

The Best Photographs the Federal Government has to Offer - 4

The Best Photographs the Federal Government has to Offer - 3

The Best Photographs the Federal Government has to Offer - 2

The Best Photographs the Federal Government has to Offer - 1

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Weekend with The Folks (Hers): Aquarium, Antiques & Buddha! + Derby

First off, hooray for Chinese Buddha reopening. A favorite of ours, this Chinese restaurant had been closed for months, after forced to relocate to a new venue. Time went by, with its opening continually pushed back. Questions arose, would we ever have the good food we craved, how much tackiness would remain, would this picture be hanging in the foyer like in the original?

The answer are yes, not much and no.

Yes, the food is back, they reopened on Sunday. We got dishes that we had before the restaurant's closing, and there was no difference. You can tell new waitstaff is finding their pace. One thing new thing... white people as waiters. One person missing, our favorite cranky waiter.

Tacky, no. The restaurant is beautiful, a bit too much so for my taste. We heard other patrons commenting about the nice digs, and wondering if the Mick "Ick" Jagger picture would return. I doubt he and friends will be appearing in public again.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Our first visit to Buddha was just us, our second (of the week) was with my in-laws. They liked it very much as well. While there, a hellacious rain storm swept away the blues skies. Before Buddha, we took the 'rents to the Dekalb Farmers Market. It took awhile for them to overcome being overwhelmed, but then the shopping commenced.

Dinner was followed by a trip to the Aquarium. Special late-night hours made the visit great. Fewer people, much fewer kids and adult drinks. Again, in-laws were pleased.

Next day, we hit the Scott Antiques Market. The 2 massive complexes house loads of dealers, but few bargains, and we left spending money only on some cheap hot dogs and ice cream. A trip to Trader Joe's was made and dinner at 6 Feet Under made everyone fat and happy.

And now that they have left, I will be doing derby tonight, the Denim Demons vs. Sake Tuyas.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Weekend with My Folks: Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Well, I had to take them someplace nice and quiet, because I managed to get Dad to the roller derby game on Sunday. He felt bad that the girls couldn't afford new fishnet stockings, and had to skate in ripped ones. Sarcasm, he has it in spades.

BTW, the game was great, the hometown team won against the Colorado Springs team, and I finally got to see another game. Next time I have to track down one of the players as I found out she is distantly related to me.

Can't wait to have her derby picture added to the family genealogy.