Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

There was much fist pumping and a few dorky tears shed when reading this book. Ready Player One is a love letter to nerds and children of the 80s packaged in a beautiful quest novel.

Ernest Cline creates characters with beautiful souls and plunks them down in a dystopian society. These are the folks you cheer out loud for at the critical scene in a movie and then look around, embarrassed that you're actually one of those people who claps during movies. Not that I do that (she types, studiously avoiding capturing your gaze).

Thank you, Ernest Cline. I hope your book becomes required reading.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

List : October : Beer Tasting

Bar sign

EarIier this month, I went with Scarlet to Baltimore Beer Week, largely for the purpose of conducting research into whether a beer exists that I can stand to drink. We made it to two bars, Hudson Street Stackhouse and The Wharf Rat.

On tap Beer week, stop 1

Hudson Street Stackhouse was in a great location with lots of potential. The bright sunlight and continual, fresh breeze coming through the open door made it really hard to not fall in love with the Canton neighborhood. Toss in a worn bar and the ability to buy beer samples for the win. Even the other patrons were neighborly. We weren't there 15 minutes, and Scarlet was letting a friendly stranger taste one of her beers. I tried the following five different Belgian samples: Dubuisson Scaldis de Noel, Scotch Silly Ale, Echt Kriekenbier, Achouffe la Chouffe, and Silly La Divine. I found I liked the non-Silly beers better than the others, since they weren't quite as dark.

Bathroom fun

Second stop was The Wharf Rat, which is much closer to Fells Point. TWR had really good specials (3 for $6) and a fun bartender. Can I just interject here how much I like sitting at the bar? If you do it right, it gives you a great opportunity to interact with others*. I added three new sample beers to my tally at TWR, including Kolsch Style, Blue Point Toasted Lager, and Manchester Cream Ale. Despite inclusion of the word 'cream' in the title, I couldn't drink the ale. I really need to stop thinking beers taste like the flavor in their title.

While I didn't find that beer I couldn't wait to drink, it did feel good to find beers I could nurse. The whole experience did make a little cocky about beer. TWR had run out of their pumpkin beers, so when I spotted a singled bottle of a pumpkin ale at Whole Foods a few days later I picked it up. Dudes, I ended up spitting it right out. So bad.

*Not that we met a lot of people. We went early in the day when the bars weren't exactly packed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

That's What She Read, Episode 1

Remember when I added "record a podcast" to my list of October goals? I guess I cheated a little by including it because I knew this was brewing. Ravena and I both read a lot and find ourselves debating/arguing about books quite a bit. Sometime our tastes intersect, sometime they don't. I got the harebrained idea that we should take turns selecting a book and record our chats about it.


Welcome to the initial episode of That's What She Read, a book review podcast where Ravena and I ramble on way too much. This episode is a bit manic, and a lot went wrong with the recording. For example, the metronome-like beeps, I had no idea those were actually recording. Don't hold it against us! Instead, consider this a test. We promise to work out the kinks by the next episode. Also, if you're expecting a formal, snooty book discussion, you probably want to skip this one. In fact, it's so FAR from snooty that I used the word turpitude when I meant fortitude. Forgive me, English Nazis.

Without further ado, click on the photo below for a fun ramble about The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

that's what she read

Let's get nostalgic: first adult novel

Continuing with Friday's theme of pop culture firsts (inspired by an older PCHH podcast), next up is my first adult novel. I pretty much had the same problem when trying to remember the first official adult book I read that I did remembering my first cassette. I devoured books even faster back in the day than I do now.

Where these days I have a soft spot for post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels, I cut my wannabe adult teeth on the romantic dramas of Danielle Steel. I read a lot of her early catalog, and I'm fairly confident that one of the first real adult novels I read (thank you, Tom Green County Library) was Palomino. Lost love, new love, tragedy, and love again. Ah, sweet formula of happiness. I blame my steady diet of romance novels at a young age for the fact that I've steered pretty clear of them the past 15 years.

What was your first adult read?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ghosts of Halloween past

With Halloween approaching, I thought it only fitting to post a few photos (which I was too lazy to scan) of my various costumes growing up. Every time I think back to going as a playboy bunny, I just have to shake my head and give my mom a hard time.

Can you believe I've never been trick-or-treating? We did always go to the school's Halloween carnival. Several of the pictures below were taken there. I mentioned school Halloween carnivals and the cake walk to Ravena this weekend, and she didn't know what a cake walk was? These are normal occurrences, right? Cake walks?

Halloween Past - baby clown Halloween Past - Raggedy Ann
Halloween Past - playboy bunny Halloween Past - sad clown
Halloween Past - punk rocker Halloween Past - princess falling rocks
Halloween Past - Hawaiian girl Halloween Past - witch

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Graffiti hunting on the red line

take a breath

I find myself on the red line once every few weeks, usually commuting from DC to a meeting in Silver Spring, and despite all of the drama surrounding red line delays, I always look forward to the trip. Instead of burying my head in a book, I'm always treated to an ever-changing art show along the tracks. I don't go so far as to press my nose against the window, but I always get a little hyped spying all the different tags. If you haven't figured it out, the red line is known as one of the major graffiti corridors in DC.


Recently, there has been a lot of discussion over illegal versus commissioned graffiti. The red line is certainly near the center of this debate, and the folks behind The Red Line D.C. Project are driving the dialogue. You guys know I struggle with my own opinion on commissioning "graffiti".

go long
Despite the fact that I sit on the fence about whether "approved" graffiti takes something away from the people, you can't deny that these murals are beautiful. You also can't deny that talented artists deserve a platform from which to be seen. I decided to go graffiti hunting today and capture some the things I saw last week on the line. Before we even really began the trek, we came across these murals commissioned by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and painted by Chor Boogie, Decoy, Joshua Mays, Pose 2, and Quest Skinner. to the right

Despite falling for the colors and stories told by the murals, we continued on, following the line and searching for ways in. There were a couple of entry points we stumbled upon, and we were lucky enough to meet a nice city worker who actually let us park on city property to duck around a corner and shoot a few pictures. Thanks to him, we discovered the section below. Some of us get tired of living in a beige world, and it's these splashes of color that make things exciting.

scouting for next time

What do you think? Are you able to appreciate random, colorful tags? I'd love to hear your thoughts, and I urge you to join the conversation over at the Red Line D.C. Project.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

When the waters rise

My map in progress.

For the past couple of months I've been trying to find a work-around for an idea I have for a series of embroidery pieces. Thanks to Elsie, I finally have an idea on how to transfer the maps I want to use. My ultimate goal is to create a bit of activist art by using embroidery and other materials to depict flood risk in newly built areas.

Turns out I'm not the only one with this idea. Last week, Grist ran a piece on Eve Mosher's public art project that marked areas of NYC that would be submerged if sea levels rise. I love the idea and have already come up with ways I'd love to work (for AR) with Mosher. Check out what she's trying to do.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Small Demons

Cat Womans Whippin' Cream, Shaunna Peterson
Piece by Shaunna Peterson snapped by me at Art Whino last year

I think I just had a pop culture orgasm. I snagged a beta invite today to Small Demons, and I'm already in love. Imagine a site that takes the books we love and maps out their broader links to people, movies, music, and places referenced within its pages. As someone who has been known to fall down many a rabbit hole following the little eggs left throughout shows like Gilmore Girls or visit music clubs referenced in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, this site has potential to be such a fun tool in broadening the way we experience books and the universe the characters we read about inhabit. 

Do you read The Other Boleyn Girl and find yourself googling Anne Boleyn or the Tudors? Visit the site and snag yourself an invite.

Let's get nostalgic: first cassette

Why, yes, that is me busting a move. I bet you're wishing So You Think You Can Dance had been around when I was young. 

I've been catching up on older episodes of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour during my recent car trips and happened upon an older episode where the cast talks about some of their pop culture firsts. I thought it would be fun to take their lists and blog about my own firsts. I love looking back and thinking about how much my taste has changed (or not). I was also a little motivated by the fact that I actually had a hard time digging that far back. I can't promise these are my true firsts, but they are the ones that managed to stand out.

Let's get one thing clear. We're talking cassette purchases here, no 8-tracks or vinyl. Don't even talk to me about CDs because I'm pretty sure they weren't around. I have to confess that I kind of miss cassettes. How many of us spent many hours perched over our boom boxes with a blank cassette at the ready, waiting to capture our favorite songs as they played on the radio? Why didn't I think to keep some of those mixtapes?

One of my first music purchases was Def Leppard's Hysteria, largely because of Pour Some Sugar on Me. I was more than a little into hair bands. Also, let us not forget Love Bites.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Party @ the Walters

Party @ the Walters Party @ the Walters

As a little girl, I wasn't above dreaming about getting all dolled up and going to fancy parties. Recently, I got a bug up my butt (clearly, I need a little class in my life) and decided that I wanted to put on a shiny dress and go to a place where dancing was expected. Enter the Walters Art Museum stage left and their Party @ the Walters.

taking a breather

I grabbed a partner in crime, and we headed to the museum with the promise of dancing, fanciness, and an open bar. The fact that I also got to experience all this in an art museum while previewing Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes (not really the type of art that calls to me) before it opened today was just the cherry.


There was lots of laughing and sizing up the competition. Can you believe they played Golddigger at a fundraising event? Perfect. And, yes, I did let an older gentleman twirl me around on the dance floor for a few seconds. :-)

Ready to leave



One of my small collections is the letter 's'. This currently resides at one of my favorite vintage stores in Lucketts, Virginia. While it might overwhelm my apartment, I can't help but want it for my collection. I do have a birthday coming up. :-)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Sometimes you have to stop and have a little fun while walking to a project site.

Road to Cumberland. Trust Jim to always take a challenge.
pretend protestingjoining in

We just happened to walk pass a few protestors who had taken over the corner. Trust Jim to join in while we waited for the light.*

*No government dollars were used in the taking of these pictures. ;-)

Monday, October 10, 2011


photo by me, art by Sara Stepahin 

This week's going to be something of a wild ride. I'll see you on the other side.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Artomatic @ Frederick

outsider art

Saturday was an action-packed day. That morning I grabbed Ravena, and we headed up to Frederick, Maryland to check out Artomatic. It's been a sad state of affairs not to have Artomatic's annual exhibit in DC (believe they've struggled to find a suitable temporary space), so I was stoked to hear there was going to be an offshoot up in Maryland.

I was not disappointed. All four floors of the old Board of Education building were packed floor to ceiling with art. It was such a great use for this old space and made wandering the rooms, hallways and stairwells an adventure. I've enjoyed past Artomatics held in massive office buildings, but the richness of this year's space added depth and atmosphere that I think makes even the crappiest art look just a bit better. One of the things I seemed to notice more this year was how much presentation and framing of the art affected how much I enjoyed it.

another favorite

It surprises me how much my taste has evolved. I still notice and feel drawn to things like painted skulls (yes, they were there), but I don't get that same thrill when I see them. Instead, I found myself drawn to natural colors. The photos here are a few of my favorites.

Christine Rounds

I wish I hadn't been in such a hurry and had taken a better shot of this display by Christine Rounds. I want her to come to my office and make it look like this.

keepsake/inventory by Deborah Winram 

Sweet Dreams
Sweet Dreams by Rhonda J. Smith 

kokeshi dolls
kokeshi dolls by Andrew Hendricks 

I had to end with this photo of Ravena posing near some Frederick street art. I call this pose 'atonement'. Why? I really wanted to grab barbecue for lunch at Black Hog, but a restaurant centered around a pig isn't exactly vegan friendly. We wound up eating at La Paz, which should have also been great (hello, #1 Mexican food fan here). Sadly, I can now say I've experienced the worst Mexican food of my life. So. Bad. If you follow me on twitter, I'm sure you saw my snarky comments. ;-)


Friday, October 07, 2011

Almost a love letter

patten's pond 3

I was searching for a specific photo at work today when I came across these images I shot back in 2005. In no time, I was flooded with a huge wave of nostalgia.

Kennebec River

Sometimes I get blindsided by how much I love my job and how incredibly lucky I am. Do I get pissed off? Absolutely. Is the work frustrating? More than you want to know. Have I been called names? You betcha. However, it also stimulates me intellectually and allows me to be creative. I can look at the work that I'm doing and know that I'm leaving something in this world a little better off (such a wonderful, selfish feeling). Beautiful rivers and trees are my remote office.

goodbye dam

I read a number of blogs, and there seems to be a growing trend with people quitting (or wanting to quit) their "day jobs" to pursue blogging or other creative ventures. I'm thrilled that these folks have found their passion and are trying to turn it into a way of life. At the same time, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to do what I do every day and that it is a passion.  

Discovering these photos also made me want to bust out a film camera again. I'm smitten looking at these photos.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Sustainable fashion?

The fall issue of Bust Magazine has a spread dedicated to eco-friendly fashion, and I have to admit that it made me want to go all high fashion (and maybe frolic in the woods). Cozy. Stylish. Edgy.

skirt by Study NY

Skirt: Study NY
Philosophy: Believes in ethically sourced material, no-waste patternmaking, and sustainable design.

vest by Suzanne Rae

 dress by Suzanne Rae
My favorite!

Vest (photo 2)/dress (photo 3): Suzanne Rae
Philosophy: Evidently owes her eco-friendly label to her use of hemp and wool fabrics. Original photographs by Glynis Selina Arban in Bust, Oct/Nov 2011

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


scenic route 40 as seen from the Castleman's River Bridge

Is it wrong to enter a month already prepared for it to fly by? That's the way I feel about October. The combination of it being my pre-birthday month and a particularly crazy time at work mean that I know I'm right. In an effort to drag the month out as much as possible and ensure I take the time to enjoy it, I've compiled a list fun things to accomplish (my own personal activities scavenger hunt).

- take White's Ferry across the Potomac River
- record a podcast (plans are in the works, people!)
- finally do a corn maze - host a beer tasting in an effort to finally find a beer I can stand to drink
- make a pie (including the crust)
- find a local trail to hike and do it
- go camping (really pushing for tent camping, since I've never done it)

Any suggestions for me? Sadly, I'm afraid this list might already be too ambitious. Oh! I should absolutely mention this list was inspired by the list Carrie put together.