November 2008

downside to no sales tax in OR: when you go home everything is expensive

 I’m typing this from my rocking chair at home in Tacoma, with my cat by my side (it is Thanksgiving break).
Classes all seem to be gearing up for finals.  I know I was hammered with assignments before Thanksgiving Break; it’s too early to start reviewing, but there’s not much class time left to learn much more new material, so that basically means it’s time for projects and papers!  I just turned in an essay in International Affairs, and the Old Testament class has been hard at work on a multi-stage 20-page research paper/project.  In Networks, we just chose the topics for our final projects.  I think I’m going to be working solo on a networked tic-tac-toe game.  I feel like it’s going to be pretty simple, so that means I’m probably going to have to spend a bunch of time on it because it will inevitably become complicated.

minus the bearLast weekend, the band Minus the Bear played on campus.  It was a really good concert; on the logistical and planning side of things, it was kind of a fiasco, but the band were all really cool and nice to me, so that was good.  It could have been a lot more stressful than it was.  And the music was great, so there’s that.


 Anna Spackman ben bateman  

Also last weekend, the Platteau Student Art Center in Platt West residence hall held its monthly open-mic night.  Student performers from all over campus (and some who live off-campus in houses or apartments) come to share their performance art (mostly music, but some poetry, dance, stand-up, personal essays, and many other things) or to try out new things that they may be working on perfecting.  It’s a really cool experience every time it happens, and many people here look forward to it every month.  This year we had to extend it to 3 hours because the normal 2-hours we’d allotted were just not long enough to include all of the people who want to perform.  The really cool part is that most people stay through the evening, even if they just came to watch a specific friend (and most performers stick around for the duration, too).
After the show, some friends and I stuck around in the Platteau and jammed (I guess “experimented with sound” is more correct). We just brought some of our instruments there and tried to make weird noises and play off each other, it was pretty cool (if you have the means, go turn the gain way up on an electric guitar and try singing into the pickups!).
Only a few weeks left in the semester… so much to do!art outside JR Howard Hall.  I don't know why it's there, what it means, or who made it.

now playing in my ears: “Untitled 5″ by Tera Melos

27 November 2008

Time flies…

…when you’re having fun! This weekend was one of the busiest ones of the semester so far. SAAC hosted two events: powderpuff football and the fall carnival. Also, my best friend and her sister came to visit me for the weekend! On Saturday we went downtown and watched my friend’s boyfriend in the UNC football game versus PSU. It was quite an exciting game, and cheering for the visiting team was an experience. I love football games, but man oh man was it cold!! On Sunday was the much anticipated FALL CARNIVAL! The student-athletes totally rocked this event. We had almost every team represented, and the booths were super creative! Unfortunately someone (not us) dropped the ball on the publicity end and we did not get the participation that we were hoping for. Those 7 kids had a great time though, and the athletes just ended up playing at each others’ booths. Being that it was our first year, I think it was a success because everyone came through enthusiastically on our end. It is going to be an annual event, so I am positive that it will continue to grow. All that time and effort that I put into it seemed at first to just be all for nothing, but then I saw the athletes mingling and playing with the little kids and I knew we had accomplished our goal of bridging some gaps. All in all I had fun putting it all together, and I know that it’s just going to get better as the years go on.

Things on the homework end have been a bit quiet, still. It’s like the calm before the storm. I’ve been assigned two longish term philosophy papers, so I’m going to spend some of my break wrestling with Epicurus, Aristotle and Nozick. On that same note…it’s almost Thanksgiving!! I leave tonight to drive with my roommate and some friends up to Seattle. We’re adopting one of my good friends for the weekend and I’m excited for her to see my life away from L&C. I’m sure I’ll have some interesting stories from the weekend to share. Now I’m off to eat some lunch and pack up all my laundry (I never pass up an opportunity to do free laundry) before I head off to my last class. What am I thankful for? Well, right now I’d have to say my fleece blanket because it’s freezing in my room!

Until later,

26 November 2008

Adventures in Ulster!

Ulster is one of four provinces of Ireland, and it is often used when referring to Northern Ireland. I was in Belfast recently, and was informed of this by a kind cab driver who shared suggestions for adventures, restaurants, pubs and clubs, and walking tours of the city. A small group of friends from Lewis & Clark went together, just for a short four days. It was a really spectacular trip, and I will try to recall the best parts for you!          

Thursday was travel day, beginning with a train ride from downtown Glasgow to Stranraer. Stranraer is a small town on the shores of Loch Ryan, and is best know as one of the main ports between Scotland and Ulster. At Stranraer we transferred to a massive ferry for about a two hour trip across the Irish Sea to Belfast. After taking some wind blown pictures on the outer decks, we decided that trying to stand straight was beyond tricky, so we parked ourselves in big chairs at the front of the boat, and just faced forward! It was a pretty rocky ride, but the very pretty too! Thursday night was a relaxed evening because by the time we made it to our accommodations everyone was just ready to eat and have drinks. We were staying very close to Queen’s University Belfast so it was fun to talk with local students, and hear about what we ought to do and see!

On Friday morning Haley and I prepared a big breakfast for the five of us, and we decided to spend the rest of the day exploring downtown. The city center was having a big outdoor market for the holidays, with lots of booths representative of many countries. Lights lined the streets, and there was a tree up in the middle of the market. After plenty of walking around we found our way back home, and spent the night in with a few movies and some delicious Dutch fudge from the market!

Saturday was another big day of sightseeing, but instead of going to the city, we hired a cab tour of the Irish Political Murals that have been painted on buildings throughout Northern Ireland. These murals depict past and present divisions between both religious and political parties. From 1970 over two thousand murals have been recorded. It was helpful to have an informative driver, who let us explore different neighborhoods and was delighted to answer any questions we had for him. By now we were ready for a big meal downtown and enjoyed some lively discussions from the morning. Saturday night brought plenty of shenanigans in the city, ending, naturally, with fresh fish and chips!

We left our cozy rooms mid-morning on Sunday and made our way back to the Belfast-Stranraer ferry, a bus, train, taxi, and home again to Glasgow! I am now back to routine, with a full day of classes yesterday, and a nice dinner with my flat mates. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so I hope you find yourself with some family and good friends for a little break and a tasty meal!     



26 November 2008

“I need a lover with soul power, and you ain’t got not soooul power”

Oh dear- I must apologize for my absence in the blog world last week. It’s the strangest thing, I wrote a post about how boring my week was, saved it, but then never published it! This may be to your advantage, however, because all the good stuff happened after Wednesday anyway.


On Thursday, I heard that the tickets to the Of Montreal show were not, in fact, sold out, as I had believed. So I made the spontaneous decision that afternoon to nab some and join my friends. This turned out be one of the few instances where spontaneity served me well. The show was at the Roseland Theater, which is located right in the middle of downtown PDX. It’s a very attractive venue- the inside sort of looks like a rock ‘n’ roll art gallery. The stage is upstairs, in a standing-room-only-room. The term “room” seems unfitting because there wasn’t any of it. The place was packed! The opening band was a noise band from LA called HEALTH. Distorted guitars, haphazard thrashing bass, thunderous double-bass drums, duels on the toms, screaming and an occasional melodious interlude… I loved them. Most of the crowd- comprised of fragile hipsters and electro-pop lovers- wasn’t too into it. The energy they put off is killer, and totally got me siked for Of Montreal If you are interested in new, loud, seizure-inducing sound, be sure to check them out.


It was another hour before Of Montreal came on… The smooth jazz they played between sets didn’t exactly prevent one from becoming antsy. But soon, we saw people in gold jumpsuits creeping across the stage, attempting to be inconspicuous as they took their places behind a screen. Colored lights and psychadelic graphics swirled around, and the band took their instruments, donned in; seventies-era Native American costume, Sergeant Pepper-reminiscent coat, bright orange stockings, tiger-head mask… The music starts, the crowd begins to gyrate en masse, as if we were all contained in a massive color-changing jello mold. This all came to a climax as charismatic front man, Kevin Barnes, took the stage. n567882041_994171_3440.jpgThe energy of the show stayed at this level without faltering until the very end of the last encore song, which was a magical rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.  Of Montreal’s shows are unlike any other you will go to. They are incredibly theatrical, with a whole cast of dancers, countless costume changes, surrealist skits during songs, and lots of crowd participation.n567882041_994196_9511.jpg To name a few highlights: Kevin Barnes stripping to a metallic speedo, then reemerging covered in shaving cream,n567882041_994205_1453.jpg several break-dancing buddhas, glitter, confetti, and feathers being showered on the crowd, and the ever-changing scenes enacted by the dancers. Unlike many shows in Portland, people who come to an Of Montreal show are not too cool to dance, and I don’t mean just nonchalant swaying back and forth- we got down with our bad selves! n1479420087_30143478_5654.jpgI thought I might pass out of dehydration at one point, but it was- in all truth- the most fun I have ever had at a show.n567882041_994214_9070.jpgn567882041_994217_2080.jpg


The weekend was more low-key. On Saturday I went to northeast PDX with some pals to eat at an incredible breakfast/lunch place called Gravy. They make delicious vegetarian gravy and an oatmeal brulee! My friend, Dick, is a very talented photographer and snapped this picture after I almost got hit by the MAX train.n567882041_1001627_5685.jpg


I hope everyone has safe travels and a lovely Thanksgiving! Write me about New York Times crossword puzzles, sleet (is it snow or rain?) or how vegetarians don’t need tryptophan as an excuse to nap a lot on T-day.

25 November 2008

A little late.

All quiet on the western front this week.  Last week was pretty relaxed for me academically. I didn’t have any exams or papers due.  On the contrary, this week has been loaded with papers, and tomorrow I have my final biology “midterm.” I don’t know why it’s called a midterm, there are three of them spaced out over the course of the semester.  Either way tomorrow is the last one, I’m pretty pumped about it.  This week has gone by so fast, but I am so looking forward to the weekend.
We are a little past the halfway point of November, which means that I am halfway through no shave November.  My beard is coming in, in little bits here and there.  Many of my comrades who are older are rocking quite exquisite facial hair.  Regardless of my inadequate beard I will continue to participate in the ancient tradition of no shave November.  Hopefully by the end of the month I will be able to shave my chin and cheeks and sport a manly Burt Reynolds mustache. me trying to grow facial hair  This is the one area of my face where hair grows the most; I believe it is due to genetics.  My father has probably the greatest Zappa-like mustache.  I hope someday I will be able to grow a stash to make my father proud.  dad’s stash
Next week is Thanksgiving.  I’m heading down to San Francisco to hang out with my best friend.  The plane ticket I bought was wicked cheep and the flight is only about an hour.  It’s so tight that my best friend lives an hour and $250 away.
Well its getting close to being the end of the semester and the cold is setting in.  The rain has begun to fall every day now and all the leaves have fallen from the trees.  A friend back home said the temperature was pretty much in the 20’s.  I miss the dry bitter cold; this soaking wet cold will need some getting used to.

Until next time.reynoldscar.jpg

21 November 2008