Thursday, August 25, 2011

Man and Beast and Beast and Beast and Beast and Beast...

Warren and I watch DVDs with the subtitles on most of the time, often adding an extra layer of entertainment to our viewing experience. MadMen, for example, becomes even more bizarre than the sound-picture-only version, as you can see by reading along that it's not your imagination-- often the dialogue makes no sense whatsoever.

The other night, we were watching a movie-- I'm not going to tell you what it was, I'm going to make you look at the photo above and try to guess. When those words flashed across the screen, I made Warren back up and freeze frame so I could share this gem with the six of you. The cohabitation of man and beast and beast and beast... Say WHAT? Life out of context really beats the crap out of life in context much of the time, don't you concur?

Sadly, our fun subtitle pastime* will likely soon come to an end, or at least taper off sharply. NetFlix is jacking up their prices 60% starting next week and I'm just not sure I can stomach that so my plan is to cancel our subscription. Oh sure, we can still go to Vulcan-- (like we did last night when I foolishly agreed to go along with Warren's choice of ConAir, having no clue how horrible it would be. What the FUCK is up with Nick Cage's "southern" accent in that film? Didn't he learn his lesson in Back to the Future or Peggy Sue Whatever that he was in? I love Nick as much as any gal who came up in the '80s and swooned over him in Valley Girl, but the man has made some really odd professional choices...) -- but, such a sad, sad First World Problem, no longer will we have instantly delivered to our PO Box and computer Warren's beloved not-exactly-soft-porn-but-definitely-weird-quasi-erotica-made-in-the'70s-in-other-countries. How I will miss lambasting him for selecting yet another flick in which beautiful French/Polish/Israeli/Swedish women and/or men lie around scantily clad complaining about life (proving, at least relative to our own existence, that art does, in fact, imitate life).

Anyway, so can anyone guess what movie the above still shot is from? Hint-- it wasn't made in the 70s, it wasn't shot on foreign soil, and the two seconds of nudity were very obviously a body double as the mammoth, pendulous breasts flashing across the screen dwarfed those of the star's by many cup sizes.

(*about the asterisk-- is it really pastime or is it past time? Both look wrong but spellcheck disallows pasttime. Hmm... technically I think it should be passtime.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

You Need to Call Gwyndows TODAY-- Take Rebound's Word for It.

Some of you know I'm the barter queen-- witness my raised bed food gardens, my compost bin, my mountains of yarn, etc. A few months ago, I was hit with an intriguing offer. The owner of Gwyndows, a women-owned and operated window washing business, is getting hitched. Did I want to swap clean windows for doing the honors? Clean windows? This concept was beyond foreign to me-- in a galaxy so far, far away that the notion didn't even register in my otherwise large base of personal knowledge. Well, wait-- there was the vaguest of memories of childhood weekend chore slavery. Come to think of it it did fall to me to shine up the sliding glass doors with newspapers and vinegar water Saturday mornings of my tortured youth. Maybe this is why I grew up to avoid the task altogether. To the point that, by the time I connected with Gwyndows, I was 6.5 years into home ownership and NOT ONCE had I cleaned the windows.

In particular, the lower windows of the French doors leading to the back yard were caked in so much mud from the dogs pawing at them that they were pretty much opaque. After a team of about 700 Gwyndows Washers descended on my house and whipped through the place like squeegee-wielding human tornadoes, every window was so clean that honestly, I appeared to not have windows at all. Everyone who entered the house had the same question-- What happened in here? It was sort of like trying to put your finger on it when a long lost friend turns up and it takes you a while to run through the possibilities -- weight loss? hair cut? nose job?-- before you figure out that he's shaved off his eyebrows or something. Having the windows cleaned was, in fact, very much like having cataracts removed, only about $2800 cheaper. No really, you cannot believe how crystal clear the panes are. It is totally freaky.

Even the dogs think so. I catch them just standing or sitting in front of the lower windows of the French doors staring in wonder and disbelief. Rebound in particular loves this new pastime. Lately I've been meditating in the sitting room since Henry is temporarily living with me and has taken over the mediation room. That means that I sit down in the morning facing the French Doors, and Rebound sits in front of me. Yesterday when I opened my eyes, I spotted what Rebound was fixated on: one of the garden-demolishing squirrels that was creeping up on Dante's food bowl. The squirrel flattened herself against the patio at one point and was either staring back at Rebound or, probably more likely, pretending she was invisible. Whatever the case, it was most excellently hilarious. I only had my iPhone nearby, so you'll have to look pretty close to see the flattened squirrel. But this morning I got out the good camera and took a whole series of shots of Rebound Looking Out the Amazingly Clean Windows. Much better than TV.

Look closely at the flattened squirrel

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Mysterious Absence, My Big Screen Presence

photo copyright Caroline O'Connor 2011

A Big Hello to All Six of You,
Soon I will reveal why I recently disappeared, to where I disappeared, and sundry other bits of info. In the meanwhile, knowing how much you must miss me, I wanted to let you know about an opportunity you have-- coming right up-- to catch me on the big screen at the Paramount for a good 10 - 15 seconds. You might recall a post I wrote about being invited to be part of the remake of SLACKER. Well, the big premiere is August 31, 2011. Below is a press release. I will be back with something for you later this week or next week. 

(Austin, TX)—The Austin Film Society and The Alamo Drafthouse Cinemaare excited to present the World Premiere of SLACKER 2011, a re-imagining of Richard Linklater's SLACKER by 24 Austin filmmakers. The premiere screening will be on Wednesday, August 31st at 7 PM at The Paramount Theatre (713 Congress Ave). Red carpet arrivals with Richard Linklater, cast of the original SLACKER and directors and cast from SLACKER 2011 will begin at 6 PM.
Screening tickets are $10 for Austin Film Society members, $15 general admission. Screening with after-party at The Highball tickets are $50. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 512-322-0145.

About SLACKER 2011
Richard Linklater's SLACKER inspired a generation of American filmmakers by exploring the subculture of Austin, Texas in a loose narrative with a tapestry of quirky characters. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of that iconic movie, 24 of Austin's top filmmakers banded together to update SLACKER with their own perspectives on the city. SLACKER 2011 is a stream-of-consciousness chronicle of a day in Austin, presenting the city-dwellers, dragworms, proto-hipsters and locations that give the city its modern identity. The film showcases a transformed town next to things that never change. SLACKER 2011 is an homage to twenty years of independent filmmaking, presenting the city’s changing face and showcasing some of its most exciting talent. The film celebrates the 20th anniversary of SLACKER and the project was used to raise funds for the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund. 2011 TFPF recipients will be announced on August 26th. More information available at:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Como Se Dice FANTASTIC in Turkish?

Add to the already ridiculously long list Things I Love About Austin this: living in a university town has meant making friends with folks from around the world. This in turn has led to enjoying food from around the world. Last night illustrates my point nicely. My Turk friend Kenan recently accidentally (but thankfully) stumbled upon the Turquoise Grill,  a Turkish restaurant in Round Rock. I'm pretty sure it is the only Turkish restaurant in the area.  On Kenan's recommendation (he's eaten there about 40 times since they opened last month) thirteen of us, including my other Turkish friend, Baris, descended upon the place and settled in for an hours-long feast. It was most excellent listening to B & K chatting with the waitstaff and owner in Turkish.

It was also quite nice having the food explained. For example, I got a vegetarian dish that involves a lot of eggplants, and has the word Imam in it. The other word in the title, which escapes me now (and you thought my Spanish was bad), but which you can look up on the menu if you want, means "faints." So put it together and you get the Imam Faints. And why does the Imam faint? There are a couple of theories about this-- one is that the imam who first enjoyed the dish was so blown away by the flavor that he passed out. The other is that he was so flabbergasted at how much olive oil was used (costly) that this caused him to faint. After tasting it, I am going to go ahead and say that I think Theory #1 is the correct one.

We didn't set out on a food-blogging journey at all. Really we just wanted to gather and break bread and eat thick yogurt and baclava and other yummy stuff. Which is why the pictures below appear to have been hastily shot on my iPhone. Yes, it is possible to take pretty good shots with the phone, but not when someone is holding a fork just out of view of the lens, threatening to gouge you if you don't hurry up and take the picture so that the eating can commence.

I super duper highly recommend Turquoise Grill-- you have to really look for it, it's in a strip mall. But totally worth tracking it down. Take a crowd. Tell them I sent you. I am already trying to convince the owner to open up another restaurant within walking distance of my house.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY! Spike & Crafty Friends at BookWoman!

Hey Y'all,
I'm hosting a sort of party/reading/event/happening/craft extravaganza on Sunday, August 14th, at BookWoman @ 5501 North Lamar. We'll be going from 3 pm til 6 pm and there will be snacks and fun stuff to do for all ages. I'm going to bring a bunch of my craft supplies to share and we've got a great lineup of other crafty folks. Below is a list of who will be fearlessly leading us. I hope you can attend.

Bernadette Noll and Kathie Sever co-authored the recently released Make Stuff Together, which includes a couple dozen cool projects for families to make together. They'll be kicking off our day with some info about the book and a project we can all work on. You can find out more about their book at this link.

I've told y'all about Ann before and I'm telling you again. Ann ROCKS it in the craft world. She's got an Etsy shop which you can access through the Ann Woodall Studios Website. Ann is an amazing photographer-- she's got a line of photo-art cards. She's also a helluva a fiber artist, often crocheting fiber from all sorts of sources (from the finest to the most 70s acrylicest...) into hats, blankets and groovy cat toys. Ann will be on hand to teach crochet, show off her cards and answer questions about the Etsy Life.

Robin Chotzinoff
Robin Chotzinoff is the author of three books, most recently Holy Unexpected. She also writes a pair of excellent blogs. And she is a craft genius whose current great passion is PVC pipe. On Sunday, with an assist from her daughter Gus and Gus's friend Ramona, Robin-- who also happens to be a terrifically gifted singer/songwriter-- will be presenting handcrafted songs and amateur production numbers you can try at home!

Kate Payne
Kate is the author of the Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking, which tells you all you need to know to be self-sufficient and styling in the home while living on a budget. Kate will demonstrate easy ways to keep your prized produce out of the compost pile by making small batches of both fermented and refrigerator pickles.

Spike Gillespie
That's me. I'm the accidental author of three books on quilting, I'm an avid knitter that travels around the world in search of more yarn, and I am the queen of turning everyday crap into clever craft. I'll be your hostess and I will have googly eyes for the first 400 people who show up.

Please help us get the word out-- not only do we want to share the craft, we also want to remind folks that BookWoman rocks it, and not only that, BW represents all that's right with our town, which supports small, local businesses. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

57: It's Not Just a Condiment

Don't hate me, people, but I've been spending the week in Oregon. I'm in Portland now but I was in Astoria for the past few days. Astoria is this wonderful little town on a hill overlooking the Columbia River where it meets the Pacific. The morning temperature was 57 degrees while I was there, fully 50 degrees less than the high in Austin lately. I slept in a tent on my hosts' back deck, facing the river, wrapped in heavy blankets, wool hat on my head and wool socks on my feet. Yes, this was bliss. It's a little warmer in Portland, but not much: 62, not likely to go beyond 71, and quite possibly some rain will fall. I wish you all a trip to cooler climes soon. Until you get that chance, here are some pics of my trip to distract you:

My tent, back deck, Astoria, Oregon. 

A room with a view doesn't begin to capture it. 

While I love traveling to new and strange places, I also love returning to certain places over and over. Astoria is one of those places, for all sorts of reasons. One of the biggest reasons? The Blue Scorcher Bakery, which serves cardamom rolls so incredible that I get weepy thinking about them. Now I have to wait another whole year before I can have another BSCR. Damn. 

Poached eggs, tempeh "bacon," fresh toast, savory spread and fresh fruit. I spend hours and hours at the Blue Scorcher every day I'm in Astoria-- it's a hub.

My friend Shannon lives in Astoria. We met because I spotted her knitting at a Farmers Market booth in 2006. On my annual Astoria trips we sit at the corner table at the Scorcher and catch up and it is always, always, always the best time. Shannon made this lace shawl.

Can you spot the errant googly eye in this drawer of loose buttons at the Deja Vu Thrift Store?

Ever wonder where menorahs come from? Well, duh, they come from the Menorah Tree.
Spotted this enormous golf club outside of a church.  So, yeah, it's God's golf club. Is God swinging for Rick Perry? Please God, NO!!!

Homemade veggie burger: Blue Scorcher Bakery.

Please notice a) the circumference of this massive log, on display for tourists and b) the conveniently placed ashtray right beside it.

The flowers and trees up in Oregon are just incredible. Probably because, you know, it actually rains up here.

Looking downhill at the Columbia River. 

My meditation spot in my hosts' garden.

We stopped at a cherry stand on the drive back to Portland. See these baskets of cherries-- $25 at Whole Foods, right? Roadside they are, like, $5. 

more pretty flowers.

I LOVE PORTLAND. Currently there's a little guerilla art project going on where people are going around and fastening little plastic horses to the real, life-size iron horse rings that punctuate the curbs here. HILARIOUS.

The house I will live in when I move to Portland.

No words.

Flier from a recent SlutWalk or SlutMarch or whatever it was. A protest for a good cause with a catchy name. Please note the marginalia left by passers-by.

Thistle do just fine!

Heart made of wine bottles. 

Rose of Sharon abounds here. 

People just love repurposing stuff, crap and junk here, putting it together artfully for little yard installations. This is in the Sunnyside neighborhood.


This picture does absolutely nothing to capture the size and majesty of the tree in it.

I think the note on the windshield is from a stranger  beseeching the owner of this car to sell it. I also think the vase & flowers are part of the plea/ploy. Really you see stuff like this all over Portland. It sets my Whimsy-o-Meter all a'flurry.

Another little horse.

Lavender bush at my hosts' house in Portland. Not only is lavender my favorite scent, but this bush holds a lot of meaning for me. I've been visiting it since 2006-- I have cried into it, meditated facing it, inhaled deeply from it, brought clippings from it back to Austin, and always look forward to seeing it again.