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Archive for July, 2007

Possibly the funniest article I’ve read all month: Marvel Comics vs. Science: 5 of the Most Absurd Superhero Origins. Makes me sad to think that there are no Commie villains anymore (well, Putin is just too easy…).

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Dear God, this test and its writer have flattered me more than any man (or woman) could possibly hope to: they’ve validated my sense of humor.

And I, being the selfish hack that I am, most definitely saw fit to post the results: (more…)

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Wilshire Village

Here in Houston, there is a beautiful old apartment complex at West Alabama and Dunlavy; those of you from here will know what I’m talking about. It’s called Wilshire Village, or at least it was in better times. Wilshire Village was built at the tail end of the Depression and with a 1939 price tag of $1,000,000, it was the largest and most expensive building project in the South at that time. When they were completed, the apartments were state of the art — stainless-steel Westinghouse appliances in the kitchens, telephone nooks in the hallways, art deco architectural details throughout — and had beautiful wood floors and a clever system that used crosswinds from the many courtyards to keep the apartments cool in the Houston heat, long before central air would become standard. The “village” is set in park-like grounds that are heavy with magnolia trees and thick ferns. Each apartment had a front door in a hallway shared with four other apartments and a separate back door that led out onto one of the courtyards. The buildings were fireproof yet beautiful, with copper awnings and window casings — function and form met as one.

Since I was a very little girl, these apartments have stood mostly abandoned. I remember them as clearly as I remember the first time I was sent to the principal’s office in first grade (for flipping the bird to a fellow seven-year-old) or the time in fifth grade that I beat up a classmate with my lunchbox for making fun of my glasses. These apartments have always stood out starkly in my memory. When I was younger, I didn’t know why I was so enthralled by them. Now that I’m older, I can see that I’m drawn not just to the distinct architectural beauty of them, but to what they represent — hopes and possibilities and people striving for something better. When these apartments were built, they were a huge undertaking. They were the embodiment of a collective voice saying We’re pulling ourselves out of this mire — this Depression — and creating our own futures. I’ve always been fond of human representations of possibility, and Wilshire Village is just one of those examples.

My camera is another object of possibility of which I’m very fond. I still use an old 35mm Canon that my father gave to me ages ago. Digital cameras are okay, but there’s something hollow about the images that they produce. Don’t like a picture you took on your digital camera? Erase it — it’s gone forever. Trying to get that perfect shot? Just take a few dozen with your digital camera and eventually one of them will turn out right — you can choose which one you like best later. It’s soulless.

With a traditional camera, every picture you take means something — whether you know it or not. It means something because once it’s taken, it’s there for good. It’s imprinted on that tiny piece of negative or glossy photo that you have developed. It’s something concrete and tangible that you can hold onto. With a traditional camera, you have to make a real effort in your photography. Once that shutter is released, you’re committed to that one photo that you just took — you’re twinned forever to that moment. It’s more than a little sacred.

I went to Wilshire Village this afternoon to take some photographs of the property before its inevitable destruction. While I don’t feel like dwelling on this particular topic right now, as it pains me to no end that our city has adopted their “Never Look Back” stance with such short-sighted gusto and literalism, you’re welcome to read more at any number of Houston architectural or preservationist websites. I wouldn’t feel right taking along a digital camera to a place like this, its very nature incongruous to the weight that I feel every time I visit the complex. It’s a very haunting place by nature, but today was different. Storms have been rolling through the city every day for the past — two? three? months, I don’t know anymore. They’re the typical Houston summer storms, what we used to call “the devil beating his wife” when I was younger (I don’t hear that particular spousal-abuse weather euphemism much anymore) — heavy, pounding rain while all around you are blue skies. The rain moves from place to place like a sentient, schizophrenic being. It’s something everyone should experience.

I caught a break in the random rainstorms for about an hour. There was no wind the entire time and everything was perfectly still. It was mid-afternoon, so there were no katydids or crickets yet and therefore almost complete silence. It was such a perfect, crystalline moment in time — just one hour — punctuated only by the occasional cheuckh of the camera shutter, as sturdy and beautiful as a heartbeat.

***

Pictures (click on the links below):

Peaks of windows fall in line across the courtyard.

Windchimes wait for a breeze.

Graceful curves and a view to the sky.

A woman and her owl guard their post.

Branches hang low and heavy across a path.

5-6-7-8

Here’s hoping they remembered to take the bird with them.

Counting the days until Christmas.

Where does one obtain a clown graffiti stencil, anyway?

Lost room.

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Thoughts

I do not run for the Presidency merely to oppose any man, but to propose new policies. I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have such strong feelings about what must be done, and I feel that I’m obliged to do all I can.

Kennedy stood on a ticket of racial and economic justice, non-aggression in foreign policy, decentralization of power and social improvement. A crucial element to his campaign was an engagement with the young, whom he identified as being the future of a reinvigorated American society based on partnership and equality.


What if Robert Kennedy hadn’t been assassinated?

What do our current presidential candidates stand for? Or rather, what do they stand for that’s anywhere near as vital or crucial as the things that people like RFK stood for? Where have the Ginsbergs and Kings of our generation gone? Are we so bereft of soul and substance as a nation that our voices are those self-serving, disingenuous cries of Al Sharpton and assorted Fox News pundits?

When will our voice come?

And where is our path leading?

and, no, I haven’t seen Bobby nor am I intending to, so stop asking

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Where I work, we have a Breakfast Club, like so many other offices across the nation. And every Friday morning we are subjected to the unrepentant and unfailing cycle of bagels, donuts, bagels, donuts, bagels, breakfast tacos and more donuts. I don’t know why I used the word “subjected,” since we’ve all undertaken this breakfast mission voluntarily, but I definitely get the feeling that most people participate due to either peer pressure or the knowledge that by spending $10 on a box of Shipley’s, they can get free breakfasts on Fridays for the next twelve weeks (I mean, it’s a pretty good trade if you think about it).

This morning it was my turn to bring breakfast. (more…)

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E-Mail Hell

Since one of my favorite pastimes is gently (okay, maybe viciously at times) mocking the people I work with and transcribing some of their better moments, I present you with this head-pounding-against-the-wall chain of e-mails (with all random spacing, spelling and punctuation left intact):

Katharine-

***

-Sev

Sev-

Sorry, nothing came through…

-Katharine

Katharine-

His information cannot be retrieved?

-Sev

Sev-

I’m sorry, I meant that your prior e-mail was blank — there was nothing in the body. What do you need?

-Katharine

Katharine-

I apologies for the misunderstanding. We need a copy of Mr.Smith’s elections, when he elected benefits; and / or a screen print of when (lots of blank spaces here that Blogger won’t let me format) Mr. Smith benefits.

-Sev

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I have big boobs. For those of you who know me, that’s as aphoristic as it gets. (more…)

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