Monday, August 31, 2009

Unicycle Bastards Kick Zombie Ass

This is me crawling through the woods covered in fake blood, mud, dirt, twigs, and zombie makeup during the second day of shooting the epic "Unicycle Bastards Kick Zombie Ass" short for the Unicycle Bastards. For some reason I couldn't convince any other girl to cover herself in sticky, stinky gore, and crawl through the woods in January. I had my first fake blood bukake when the Super Soaker misfired and nailed me in the eye.

I figured since I have put so many other people through the torture of makeup and acting, that I probably should try it out so I had a better perspective on things.

My perspective is that it sucks. I don't like being covered in fake blood for hours (Karo syrup, chocolate syrup, and food coloring) which turns out to be an amazing mosquito attractor. There is a reason I'm behind the scenes as opposed to in front of the camera or on stage. I suck at acting. It's hard eating lunch through a mouth covered in fake blood, latex, and mud. It's uncomfortable and a little embarrassing to have your head in a guys crotch for hours, especially when people are walking their dogs through the hills of West Linn. It takes forever to get a single shot, and my temper runs short when my brother is behind the director telling me what to do. "Get down here and do it your damn self if I'm doing such a bad job!!!!" ran through my head more than once.

The great part was the end result, and having the opportunity to work with really fun and talented people to create something I'm really proud of. I of course had to get a tattoo with a zombie to commemorate the event. I was really happy it made it to the Filmed By Bike shorts fest the the Clinton Street Theater. It was cool to watch an audience watch the short.

If you want to check it out go here or if the link doesn't work check out YouTube.

Livin in Felony Flats

Many changes in life since I posted a long time back. Let off one job, found another the same day, laid off that job after a year due to the economy, and like many Oregonians have been unemployed since last year. Moved away from psycho landlords in lower SE to crazy Jerry Springer drama in upper SE. Met a new, great guy, inherited a 10 year old girl as part of the deal, took over as managers at the complex I moved into, and am finally to the point where I feel like I can start being productive again artistically. I actually painted a sign last week!

I was under the silly assumption that I would be super-productive with all my new free time. I didn't realize that honeymoon would be short-lived, and the depression and panic would take over. It was great for a month or so, until the money started to run out and the reality of the job market started to sink in. We were both unexpectedly laid off at the same time, leaving us in a major money crunch. I didn't think I was ever going to have to do food stamps, or get help from the state, but the longer we went without any hope of finding a job, the more we realized we were going to have to work the system so we could eat and keep a roof over our heads.

We have both been fortunate in that we: don't have a mortgage; don't have car payments; don't have to pay child-support payments any longer; don't have credit card debt; don't have college loans to pay off; and are used to living pretty frugally after past bad relationships left us screwed with basically $100 a month to live on. I am the queen of pulling meals out of my ass with whatever we can scrape together.

So all that being said, there have been a ton of challenges over the past year. Moving up to 92nd and Foster was definitely culture shock for me. SE 50th seems to be an invisible division line between where the Eastside hipsters live, and where the "other" people live. After living here just a year I can already see some of that line fading as more people are priced out of those neighborhoods. It may be me, but I think some people find it refreshing to move someplace where you have a lot more diversity and can actually afford to buy a starter home or rent a decent sized place without breaking the bank. Even if it is out of necessity.

The same thing goes for access to shopping that won't rob you blind. I'm sorry, but I can't afford to buy organic veggies, meat, eggs, milk, or whatever bullshit is being touted as organic at the time. I am a big fan of Winco now, and don't mind buying generic if it saves me a buck. I have realized that I totally bought into the snob factor associated with places like New Seasons and People's Co-op. The concept was initially great, but the reality of how much you're spending to feel good about yourself just isn't worth it. We have a garden to grow veggies, which I think are fairly organic as long as you ignore the car exhaust and cigarette butts. I guess my values have shifted more towards survival mode. I like the fact that I don't feel the need to impress people anymore.

When I first moved to SE 16th and Clinton it was kind of a scary, industrial, dingy, no man's land. The closest places to shop were either Nature's up on Division, or Fred Meyers on Hawthorne. It was pretty much Dot's, Wynn's, the Reel m' Inn, the Night Light (after they made it through fire), and the Scoreboard for places to get a cheap drink and meet interesting people. I know it sounds all whiny and get off my lawn-ish, but it did suck when all the new shops, condos, trendy and expensive restaurants, and the evil New Treasons started to invade. After almost being run over multiple times by assholes in their Volvos and SUV's pulling out of the New Seasons parking lot, and packs of bicyclists who could care less about pedestrians, I figured it was time to motor. It didn't hurt that my creepy, peeping tom landlord decided it was time to kick out the tenants and raise the rent $100 so he could take advantage of all the new people moving into the neighborhood. I hope they have enjoyed chasing the homeless people out of the backyard and across the street.

I can tell I've had a major sea-change in my perceptions about living in Portland. I've been able to get to know my neighborhood, which definitely has a collection of stereotypes you would expect to live in the area. Lawns full of torn-up furniture, empty Hamm's 40oz. bottles, cars on blocks, and barking dogs. I plan on writing about some of our fun experiences in the past year as things have slowly changed.

On the other hand I have been meeting new people who actually give a crap about where they live and are interested in making a difference in the community. I had never met anyone from Pendelton before meeting Dave, and it's been interesting discovering a whole other world that exists just four hours away. I have learned that a snipe isn't just something you go hunting for in the woods at summer camp, and that Milwaukie's Beast Ice kicks ass on PBR when it comes to getting more of a bang for your buck. I have also learned to be a musician's "wife" and all about what that entails. I'm lucky to be with a talented musician who could give a damn what people think as long as it's good music and excellent musicianship.

It's been an adventure, and a challenge emotionally and physically to move forward and start from scratch, but here we are.

So if the greasy creep with three teeth doesn't come back and steal the lawnmower, I'll move on to more specific adventures involving the police, sexual predators, being buried in the snow, and other cowboy tales.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Portland Graffiti Task Force Rules!

I was out watering my garden last night and heard some commotion coming from down the street by the railroad bridge down the street. Since things happen there all the time I figured I'd go check it out and see what was going on. I walked down the street in time to see two undercover police cars pulled up and officers putting two teenage boys in handcuffs. I looked over and saw fresh and really crappy tagging covering the entire side of the metal building by the tracks that has been hit pretty bad lately. They were busting the kids whose crew the task force had been tracking around the area. They happened to get a tip from one of my neighbors and were able to catch these 14 year olds in the act.

The officers were very professional, and handled the situation really well. I saw the guy pictured above talking to one of the kids, and heard him explain how stupid this was for them to do, and they were going to be punished. He never raised his voice or yelled, but he definitely was getting his point across.

After they got the kids in the cars I asked Officer Matt some questions about the taggers. He said they were tracking quite a few crews and were using tips to bust these guys who ranged in age from 12 to 30. They were keeping busy this summer and trying to get the word out that they were going to be punished for what they were doing. Officer Matt was really cool, and even gave me his number in case I had more questions or noticed other tagging going up. I guess they keep records of the various tags, and can tell which ones are gang related, which is kind of scary. There's definitely a difference between some of the really good graffiti that I've seen over by the train tracks, and the stupid taggers who are basically just pissing on people's walls. They usually tag over the good stuff, which sucks.

It was nice to know that there are some really good police out there and that they are trying to crack down on the growing problem, which seems to be hitting SE pretty bad.

Monday, August 27, 2007

SCRAP Iron Artist Competition

Saturday I went to the SCRAP Iron Artist competition over in North Portland. I had planned on going to the Adult Soapbox Derby up on Mt. Tabor beforehand, but realized I would have to hoof it to the top of the hill in four inch heels to get the pictures I wanted. I decided to skip that and headed over to the SCRAP event directly. It had just started when I got there, so there was plenty of time to hang out and have a beer before taking photos. The teams really did a great job of getting into the competition with loads of costumes, heckling, and a sense of humor regarding the whole thing. They had tents set up, and bleachers out in the sun for those who were being spectators. The only sucky thing was the beer garden was stuck behind the bleachers, so it was hard to see what was going on if you wanted to have a beer. I loved the Tchotke girls walking around with cigarette girl type carriers selling handmade odds and ends of stuff. I bought a decopaged Altoids container with a plastic baby and lace inside, and a couple of buttons.
I spent most of the time wandering around and checking out what people were up to. I don't know how crowded the event has been in the past, but this year they had a really good turnout. I'm sure it helped that the weather was super nice and not too hot. After the competition, and I couldn't hear who the winning team was, there was a drum corps playing out in the street. They were awesome. I always get goosebumps. People were out dancing in the street and having a blast. Overall it was a lot of fun and it was great to see so many people get excited about the event. I think I might need to join a team next year. I think it would be a blast.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Getting The Right Picture

I'm fairly new to photography, having waited until digital cameras became affordable before even trying it. I'm very ADD, so I want instant gratification when I take a photo. I also want to have the option of eliminating the bad shots instead of paying for the development of a roll of film and finding out I got one decent shot out of the bunch, which is usually the case.

I'm always trying to find opportunities that will provide good subjects. One of my favorite things about Portland is that there is always something interesting to photograph. I like to take "walkabouts" at various times of the year and bring my camera with me in case I run across something interesting.

The picture above isn't mine but it's been a huge influence on my subject matter. It completely captures the essence of who these people were at one point in their lives. I have no idea where I found this, it was years ago, so my apologies to whoever posted the original image.

This picture I did take, and it really captures his personality. My friend G works graveyard shift on the weekends, so afterwork drinks are usually around 8:30am if I meet up with him. We were at Holmans, and sat next to this guy who's name was Dustin. He was a little loaded but really interesting and fun to talk to. Holmans is one of those places where if you hit it right you can meet some interesting people who aren't the posers that show up after 12:00pm and take over the place.

If you've been there you know exactly what I mean.

One thing I like about photography as a medium is you are always going to get better at it. You don't have a small window of opportunity to excel and then you're past your prime. I also like the fact that you're recording pieces of your life. It's cool to look at photos and be able to say, "that's right I was there." My brain gets so overloaded at times that it seems like pieces of it are being written over and potentially lost at some point, so it's nice to have visual post-its I can pull up when I feel like it.

I started posting stuff to my Flickr sight a while back. Part of it was to have an easy place for people to access what I've done. The other probably more selfish reason is to see what people are interested in. This picture has had the most hits of any of the others. I don't know if it's because of the subject, or if it's a good picture. I would tend to think it's the subject. The party I went to had a lot of people in costumes, and I took a ton of pictures, but most of them came out blurry. I think it was a combination of too many cocktails and four inch heels on grass that probably hindered my ability to get a decent shot, but I'm glad I managed to get this one right.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New Tattoo

When I go through major changes in my life I like to get a tattoo to remind me that I've made it through something really challenging and survived in one piece. My ex husband left me about two and a half years ago after being together 11 years. He "met someone" in Las Vegas on a company thing for Wild Oats, and came back and told me he was through with me. He split, cancelled my health insurance and car insurance and left me paying all the bills for two people. The good thing is I met G about four days later. We were both at a pretty messed up point in our lives, and we were sort of like survivors of a shipwreck clinging to bits of floatsome trying to survive.

Well, we are both back on our feet and are probably stronger because of the trauma. He's got his kids pretty much full time, and a house and chickens. He and his kids got me addicted to Invader Zim, especially GIR, so I figured this tattoo would remind me of where I was and where I am now.

And the ex, his new "girlfriend" dumped him after a month, he's been living in various roommate situations that haven't seemed to pan out so well, and he managed to drink away and have repossed the stupid mustang that he paid double for and that only had three car payments left. So it goes to show you that karma will kick you in the ass sometimes.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Family Get Together at Eagle Crest

Last week was our annual family get-together that we do every summer. We usually have about 30-40 people each year, and we've been everywhere from Fort Warden up in Port Townsend, to Long Beach Washington, and Sun River in Bend. This year we stayed at some nice condos at the Eagle Crest Golf Resort. The weather was fantastic by the time my son and I actually made it over there.

My son Nik has recently started driving down to Portland from Poulsbo, and it's been sort of hit or miss sometimes. The first time he came down he ended up on the Westside which wasn't good because I live on the Eastside. I was waiting for him to show up with my friend G. and was starting to freak out. He was totally lost and we were talking to him on the cell phone and trying to figure out where the hell he was. We were driving around Portland trying to follow Nik's clues and basically hitting deadends. He didn't realize he was on the wrong side of the river even though he's been down to Portland many times. G. finally told him to pull over, go find a land mark, and wait for us. Nik gets out of the car, takes a look around and tells us that there is a brick building for rent. That's our landmark. We finally figured out that he was over by Portland State and had him follow us back over the Marquam bridge to get him over to my place. I was a complete wreck that day. We didn't make it to the retreat that year because Nik didn't want to have to drive the three hours to Redmond.

So this year Nik makes it down to Portland fine, and we're planning on taking his car to Eagle Crest near Redmond. We run errands, get everything packed up in his car, and make it from 16th to 82nd avenue and then his car overheats. The meter totally goes into the red, and so we pull over to figure out what's going on. Of course the weather decides to be kind and it starts pouring. We lift up the hood and see coolant all over his car engine. It's also totally overflowing from the jug or whatever it is that you call the thing where the coolant lives. So Nik grabs a towel and starts wicking it out. We let the car cool down and get back in and take a right on 82nd and onto Powell. We figured it would be a straight shot, and would be able to limp back to my place and grab my car.

No such luck, we end up pulling into a Bridgestone service center. Nik goes in and they tell him they can do a stress test in about 30-40 minutes, but he'll have to hang out there. So I catch the bus down to my place, go get my car, go get lunch for us because now it's about 2:00pm. I get over to the place, and after waiting for them to do the test they tell us that we need to replace two hoses and it will cost $28.00 per hose and for them to fix it would be $300.00 including an oil change and a flush. Nik loses it at this point, so I tell the guy to give us the info on the parts and we limp back to my place. Nik is now pissed off not only about the car, but about the fact that we can't take off right away because we're hitting traffic hour on Friday, and we're going to have to wait a while to take off. We can't stay at my place because they've started tearing the bathroom apart being that I told them we'd be out of town over the weekend.

After trying to figure out what to do, and Nik getting more pissed off by the minute I call G. and ask if we can come over and time ourselves out at his place for a while. Being the incredibly generous and understanding person that he is he lets us hang out while he's finishing his nap and getting ready for work. We hang out for a couple hours until traffic dies down a little and then head out.

Traffic had not died down and it took forever to get even to Sandy, but we made it over the pass and into Redmond at about 10:00pm. In the meantime I'm freaking out because I can't get ahold of my mom to let her know what's going on. Finally my brother calls on his cell phone and I can relay that we're way behind. By the time I hit Redmond I'm exhausted and stressed out. Just as we get ready to turn right off the main drag within 10 minutes of our destination a cop pulls me over and tells me that my tags are expired, even though I still have a couple days to go on them. He lets me go, and we head out. We finally make it to the condo in pitch black with my brother waving a flashlight to signal where to go. I had a lot of glasses of wine that night to calm down.

The next day was much better. The boys played Magic, and my mom, my sister, and my brother's girlfriend went into Bend and hit our favorite bead store, a farmer's market, and had lunch at McMenamins. It was gorgeous and clear and not too hot. Later we cooked dinner for 30 people, and had one of the nicest evenings with our family that we've had in a long time. Everyone was on their good behavior, including me, and all the kids were playing frisbee while the grownups played giant Jenga. It was really nice to see everyone so happy and having fun together. It made it worth the trip to be a part of the experience, and I do have to say that Nik pulled through insisting that we still go.

The trip back wasn't too bad, and Nik found that he could get the parts he needed for $22.00 total and have my brother put them in for free, so it worked out just fine. I don't know if there's some sort of moral hidden in the experience and how we dealt with things, but Nik and I have learned that when we're stressed we seem to make things worse with each other and that we have to time ourselves out and not talk to each other for a while. Other than that it's nice to know that he's willing to fight to get to our destination because it means that much to be with the family. That's pretty cool. For some reason I kind of like my kid even if he drives me to tear my hair out every now and then.