Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Coming Soon to the Moore!


These guys are in my top ten for least favorite band name. Also on that list are Minus the Bear, Limp Bizkit, Puddle of Mudd, Panic at the Disco (yes, we all love the Smiths, but not THAT much), Hoobastank, Less Than Jake, Jimmy Eat World and Rocket from the Crypt. Yeah, Passion Pit is right up there.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Your Sunday Squirrel


This is another shot from my bounteous visit a week and a half ago. I didn't have any peanuts, but this fellow followed me around like I did have some and even tried to climb up my leg at one point. Even though you're supposed to get just one squirrel per Sunday, I found this little bonus at Very Demotivational:
demotivational posters - SQUIRRELS + COFFEE
This guy appears to be from the east. They have a lot more tan on their coats in those parts. Perhaps the go-go-go east coast lifestyle is the reason for their coffee consumption.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November Blast!


What started yesterday as some pretty weak-ass snow turned into something a little more formidable by the afternoon. It was no Class 3 KILL-Storm, but it did have its more wintry moments. Being in Belltown, I had no commute to deal with (that's why I live in Belltown, sweet people), but I did end up waiting for somebody at Buckley's last night who had to negotiate the madness. This is Seattle; snow turns motorists into morons.

Last night was a little on the thrillingly-stormy side, with snow blowing all which-way. Quite a sight, it was. Today, things are pretty. Look:





I also made a visit to Denny Park. No Snow Squirrels. I think squirrels are doing what they do best - surviving. That involves staying home in their tree and watching squirrel television. They have some decent daytime programming, but at night, their stars really do come out to shine. Anyhow, even though there were no squirrels, there was general prettiness around the park. Observe:



Apparently tonight, it's going to be oh-so-very cold - definitely not the time to go streaking. You know, I'm detecting a distinct lack of crazy people out and about. I guess that even those who are completely nuts know when to come in.

On a different topic altogether, I got an email from a guy directing me to a P-I blog post from Dave Nelson about lending your oven to help cook for the homeless this Thanksgiving. You can read about it here. This is cooking FOR the homeless and NOT cooking THE homeless, as I misread at first. Besides, the homeless are a bit too stringy for me. Har, har. And vegetarians taste just like chicken. OK, let's have all the cannibalism jokes you've got! Anyhow, give it a thought. I'll be somewhere else all day, so I won't be able to do it. Plus, my oven seriously sux.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Breaking News: Snow!

For those unwilling or unable to look out a window, here's the scene:

It's snowing! Golly, it was just a few short weeks ago that we were wearing shorts because of that unexpected heatwave. OK, so it's snowing but not sticking. But it's accumulating in places. Observe:





Note one of Seattle's finest in the photo above, vigilantly protecting that parking lot (on the corner of 3rd & Virginia) from all who care to spread mayhem.

I really like the snow and the dramatic way it's treated around here is laughable. Having lived here for 20 years, I've never missed a day of work (when I was employed) because of it. I'd just walk to where I needed to be. My coworkers would eventually drift in, exuding weather-related melodrama like they'd just braved a hail of gunfire to get there. It's snow, people! Today, it's not even sticking. But if it keeps up, it will tonight. One can hope. I think I'll head off to Denny Park and see if I can't spot the elusive Snow Squirrel. That oughta make a nice calendar shot - if indeed there is to be a calendar. So far, nobody's given me any input. Come on, people, hop to it!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Your Sunday Squirrel


It had been a lean week for squirrel sightings until I went to Denny Park on Thursday. And then there were so many squirrels running around, I lost count. I saw at least ten. Wouldn't you know it, I forgot to bring peanuts. Well, I got some nice shots anyway. This is one of them. My zoom function was working nicely, so no Impreshunizm Skwerl this time. There will be many more shots from this visit in the weeks to come.

And while we're on the subject of squirrels, I have a question: if I were to assemble a calendar of past Sunday Squirrels and sold it at Cafe Press, would anybody bother to buy it? I think it might cost something like 15 bucks plus shipping. Anybody? Please let me know. I'm in the process of selecting the shots now. Some are very nice.

Recently at the Moore


OK, this is a little late. I was hard at work on a new tune yesterday. But it bears mentioning that the central attraction of this event was - wait for it - watching a guy bake a cake. Yeah, I like cake, too, but would I buy a ticket to watch a guy bake one? No, don't be absurd. Honestly, who would do that? I mean, how exciting could it be? Sure, it would probably make the Moore smell great, but you're paying to watch a guy bake a cake. He might be the boss of cakes, but seriously, what the hell? If I'm missing something here, let me know. It just seems that there are many other better entertainment options out there. Why watch a guy bake a cake?

Friday, November 19, 2010

In Case You Haven't Noticed


The McGuire is still there, but with a difference:


That's a demolition notice. Within a year or so, it'll be gutted and transformed into a lovely vacant lot. In the meantime, I have a suggestion. If it's still standing around Halloween time, they should make it into a haunted house. It could be fantastically scary! One can also hope.

Goodbye to Kelly's

For real and true this time. They've gotten rid of the sign:

I'm concerned. Where will all this rotten neighborhood's plentiful sketchy folk drink now? They can't all fit into the Nitelite. Well, maybe they can sketch up the new place. One can hope.

Enclave!

It's been a while since I've visited the street-art enclave (I don't know what else to call it!) on 1st, between Battery & Wall. The last time I actually noticed, the huge "Welcome to Belltown" wall had gotten "Zebbed." Yeah, that guy was such a egocentric dumbass that even legitimate street art was fair game for his scrawls. Anyhow, that's fixed and things have been added. Here is a sampling:





OK, the hot-dog people aren't new. I just like them. Stop by and have a look.

Is It Just Me...

...or does the upside down bicyclist look like a guy with a weird nose and a Hitler mustache? Have a look:

Or maybe a weird nose and an expression of surprise.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Your Sunday Squirrel


Impressionism squirrel! You know, sometimes when my camera malfunctions (which is not that often), the results are kind of interesting. This was one of those times. See, the current crop of squirrels at Denny Park is not very friendly. That's probably because of so many bums laying around the place during the summer. But it makes them pretty skittish, so the zoom lens is often necessary. This is what sometimes happens when it's on maximum zoom. Seriously this guy was about 50 feet away, but when I took just a few steps toward him, he was up a tree. So much for neighborliness!

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm Belltown Messenger-Famous!


A few weeks ago, I got together with Alex from the Belltown Messenger for an interview. We walked around. I did most of the talking. We ended up at Kelly's. I didn't know that it had closed. I think it happened while I was away. Well, I didn't really hang out there and had no special attachment to the place. In fact, I've never even ordered a drink there. Nor will I ever, since it's closed and all. But it's changed hands and will be a bar again. Anyhow, it was at the end of our little sojourn around Belltown, so I guess it qualifies as a "visit." You can see the interview over at the Messenger. There's also a photo of me that looks kind of weird. Yeah, I'm still kind of that tan, but I look like my skin's made of plastic, which it is not. Enjoy!

Bell Street Follies


This was the scene this afternoon just down the street from the former Kelly's. It's just a guy laying on his back while three bike cops try to figure out what to do with him. He didn't seem drunk or drug-addled; he was just laying on the sidewalk. He looked rather comfortable. I didn't stick around for the conclusion of the farce, but it made for an interesting sight.

You Know What Happens Next


This is the scene at 3rd & Cedar. These buildings used to be occupied by the Musicians' Union (may they all rot in hell) and a kung fu studio. But once that fence goes up, it means death for those structures. I believe that some kind of 17-story building is going up. Progress, people. Well, the ex-Musicians' Union (may they continue to rot in hell) building is quite ugly, so no great loss. You know, I'm pretty sure those were portable school classrooms that somebody got for cheap, because they sure were rickety. Anyhow, look for dramatic changes to take place on that corner. I do hope that the kung fu place found a new home. I mean, if they haven't, roving gangs of former fu students might further complicate Belltown life.

This Just In!


Actually, I'm very, very late with this. The good news is that the beloved Cinerama is re-opening after some whizz-bang modifications that will allow them to show 3D films. The bad news is that they're re-opening with a damn Harry Potter film. Hate the books. Hate the movies. Grumble, grumble. But let me remind you that the good news is that the Cinerama is re-opening next week.

Coming Soon to the Moore!


OK, I've been remiss once again with the blogging. I have a good excuse. Here goes: I spent a good chunk of this week writing a song about fish and cutting a music video about rockets. Neither is completely done, but I'm getting there. OK, so the Moore. I couldn't figure out what the heck was up with this guy's name until I heard that he's got a Hungarian last name that is best spelled out phonetically. When you start out with something that looks like Szekely, you get CK at the end of it. To be perfectly honest with you, I went around for an entire year calling Zoltan Kodaly "Zoltan Kodally," instead of the correct "Ko-dye." True story. Anyhow, it's worth mentioning that Hungarians are my second favorite foreign people. I've had some spectacular adventures there. Anyhow, Louis CK isn't that kind of Hungarian, but I imagine I'd get along with him if we met.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Your Sunday Squirrel


I was at Denny Park yesterday. I saw four squirrels, including one extremely small one. Three of them didn't know what peanuts were. I tried to acquaint them, but it was hopeless. This fellow above wasn't around. I took his picture last week. He has an unusual tail - it's partially bushy, but not totally. I'm sure that he's still making the rounds at the park. He was probably just in some tree chillin'.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Just Go


Ah, the Frankfurt Airport. The longer your layover, the more pointless the place becomes. I was stuck there for six hours. After the initial exhilaration of surviving my flight from Istanbul wore off, I struggled to find even the least redeeming thing about the place. I found none. Well, maybe just one thing - you can smoke there. Yeah, well, let's back up a bit.

I spent much of my time in Istanbul hanging out with this Russian girl whom I met in Selcuk. As I have previously mentioned, her English was excellent. We'll call her Svetmilla - not because her name was either Svetlana or Ludmilla, but because it amuses me to combine those names. By her accent, I initially figured that she was German. But nope, Russian - although she was of Iranian descent along her father's side of things. Because of her language skills, there was no need for my flawed version of Russian with its limited vocabulary, lack of idiom and plentiful anglicisms. There was no romance, owing to the fact that she was getting over somebody and that women naturally find my advances repellent. And that was fine. When you travel, you fall in with people, then you go elsewhere and you never see them again. For me, that's always been a liberating thing, because you can be honest about everything. I mean, hey, you're never going to see them again, so why lie?

OK, Svetmilla and I did this and that (for instance, we saw Dolambace Palace and shopped for ney flutes) around magnificent Istanbul for several days. We would cap things off with drinks and dinner in the evening. Yeah, it was fun. Now, as you may recall, the final day of my last trip was pretty epic. It was just one of those days when you're squeezing out as much from every moment that you can, because at the end of it, Seattle is waiting. My last day this time around wasn't like that. For one thing, I woke up feeling just awful. I have no idea why. For this trip, I had felt absolutely excellent at every turn - until that last morning. She stopped by my place at 10:00 and promised to meet up at 2:00. That was the last I saw of her. Yep, stood up on my last day by somebody I'll never see again. Plus, I felt lousy, but that situation improved as the day progressed. I'd planned for us to take a ferry to the Prince's Islands out in the Sea of Marmara, but that was a no-go. I spent the parts of the evening wandering around Sultanahmet looking for her. Gosh whiz, what a contrast from my last evening back in May.

It's really too bad, because I had a lot of fun with Svetmilla. She was very different from me. I tend to hate people similar to myself, so it's fortunate she was that way. Her whole focus was on spiritualism - not ghosts or anything, but meditation, chanting, channeling energy, seeking enlightenment and whatnot. If I've misnamed it, I apologize. Me, I've never been into that sort of thing as I'm more into the peasant superstitions of my forebears, but it was interesting to hear somebody explain it. I still don't understand it, as there is no "unified field theory" for spiritualism. For example, with Christianity it's simple: God is responsible for all the good, the Devil is responsible for all the bad. Even a child can understand it. In fact, it makes much more sense to children. The ambiguities come later. The problem with this spiritualism-deal is that it's an individual pursuit, has no dogma and is pretty much defined by the participant, so there isn't much theory involved. Sure, there's a lot of Buddhism in that stew, but it was difficult for Svetmilla to explain why evil existed in the world, as that wasn't her particular area of focus. And why should it be? I mean, nobody becomes enlightened spending their days contemplating evil. Since I'm not seeking enlightenment, I actually spend a lot of time thinking about it. I won't get into it here, but I found her views both thought-provoking and a bit preposterous. She had actually written two books on the subject, which was quite admirable. One evening, we sat in front of the hostel. I read the scene in The Odyssey where Odysseus returns to Ithaca and whacks all of his wife's suitors (it's really violent) and she read me some passages from one of her books. You know something? She's quite a good writer. And I believe that she wrote both in English. Could I do the same in Russian? No, I could not.

OK, so that was that. I got stood up my last day. I said goodbye to X that evening. He told me that I should move to Istanbul and work for him. Yeah, one of the reasons why selling carpets with him is so fun is that I don't have to do it for a living. If my income depended on it, it would assume a completely different - and I'm guessing uglier - character. Still, I do admire X. His origins are very humble, he works extremely hard (you could say he works like a Turk) and he is completely undeterred by rejection. Maybe one day he'll be my boss. Who knows?

I slept for about two hours before I caught the 3:20am bus to Ataturk Airport. The routing for my return was Istanbul-Frankfurt, Frankfurt-Calgary, Calgary-Seattle. Usually, when we're taxiing for takeoff, I make some kind of non-binding deal with the Deity. You know: Get me through this and I'll be nicer to non-crazy bums or some such hooey. This time around, I was in no mood for such malarkey. My last day had been pretty anticlimactic and disappointing. I had a little voice in my head saying, "Just go." Istanbul is one of the greatest cities in the world, but I just wanted to get out of there.

The flight from Istanbul was, for the most part, completely terrifying. For two of the three hours we were in the air, we experienced severe turbulence. And I mean it was severe. We had all three kinds: the intense pounding and shaking, the quick-up, quick-down variety and the scariest of all - the slow roll. That's where the plane lolls lazily on its side and just when it seems like you're about to experience a barrel roll, the pilots whip it back to level. Yeah, it was so bad that the pilot had to get on the PA twice to tell us that everything was just fine and that this was completely normal. The only problem was that the first announcement (in German and English) was completely inaudible due to the violent shaking that the plane was encountering at that time. Even if we'd been able to hear, most passengers were Turkish, so they probably wouldn't have understood anyway. It just never seemed like it was going to end. I was pretty sure the plane (an Airbus A-321) was going to break apart in the air. I didn't care. At least that would have ended the ordeal. Seriously, it was probably the second-worst flight I've ever had.

Obviously, I landed safely - unless of course they've invented blogging from beyond the grave. Thanks to a cascade of French strikes, my Air Canada flight to Calgary was less than half full. I watched many movies and wasn't bothered by conversation. After cramming a two-hour US-Canadian customs procedure into 25 minutes, I hopped this cute little learjet-type plane (actually, it was a Bombardier - just like the one that flew me into Lvv) to Seattle where I promptly froze my ass off on the way back to Belltown.

So here I am. I know this is supposed to be a neighborhood blog and soon it will be again. I plan to return to both Ukraine and Turkey, but it won't be any time soon, as I am broke. So let's get back to all things Belltown. Uh, whoopee.

And Now...

...speaking of the Grand Bazaar, I bought a ring from my bestest pal, Jimmy, but it was a bit too small. Since in addition to fleecing unsuspecting tourists, Jimmy is all about customer service, he led me to a place that does jewelry modifications and whatnot. It was literally a hole in the wall. Five guys worked there in an atmosphere permeated by cigarette smoke, the smell of hot silver and Besiktas (one of Istanbul's three soccer teams) mania. Here's the guy working on my ring:
video
I didn't know this, but apparently around half of the Istanbul jewelry business is made up of Christians. This is something of an amazing figure, as there are so few Christians in the country. Most are members of the Assyrian Orthodox Church. I have no idea what that's all about nor do I know why they gravitated towards the jewelry business, but that's how it is. I'd like to think there's a little bit of Jeebus-magic in my ring.

And Now...

...a short film about the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul:
video

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Istanbul

Most who have been to Istanbul remember the city like this:

Or this:

Those are Ayasofya and the Blue Mosque doing what they do best: look great at sunset. But me, I love to head down to the waterfront and take in stuff like this:

The ship traffic is total chaos - and therefore very entertaining.

Once again, I had an excellent time in Istanbul. And once more, I'll spare you the details. But I do have many photos, most of an archaeological nature:










Yeah, that's Marcus Aurelius again above. He pops up everywhere - and he's generally well-preserved, too. Speaking of that, here's Tiberius yet again:










And these were all from the Archaeological Museum, which is one of the best in the world. It's huge, extensive and completely engrossing.

Here's the thing about Istanbul: it's ancient and bustling, but it has no analogue. It's not like an ancient New York. It's not like a much-warmer London. It's large and old enough to have its own identity. That's why I like it so much. Each year, thousands of Turks flood in from far-flung parts of Anatolia to get a piece of the action. I like cities with lots of energy and Istanbul is a powerhouse in that department. Seriously, there is no other place like it on earth.