Archive for February, 2008

Friday of the Robots

This is a scan from a stamp I made.friday-robots-2-8-08(2) friday-robots-2-8-08

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The Sea.

If you travel by car from Portland, it takes about an hour to reach the Pacific Ocean. Lewis & Clark would be amazed at how easy it is. Yet for all our technology, the ocean remains a place of mystery and danger.
Looking Glass sang “my life, my love, and my lady is the sea.” No truer words have been spoken by a pop band. Yet the sea is a cruel mistress, calm and shining on top, but riddled with unseen dangers. Sharks and stingrays live in the sea. A tenuous truce between sharks and people is in effect (the Geneva Accords of 1953 gave the sharks the right to devour only those people who are deemed “annoying”). Whales live in the sea; they can swallow a little wooden boy without even blinking. Underwater volcanoes continuously change the seabed, making it impossible to make accurate maps. The high pressure of the depths will make a person’s head implode. Even if you can travel down that far without injury, rising back to the surface too fast will give you the bends. Legend has it that a vast underwater city of Atlantis exists, but no adventurer who has struck out for that destination has come back alive.
The surface of the sea has its share of dangers, as well. Storms at sea have claimed untold lives of sailors. Giant, tentacled sea monsters await the unsuspecting luxury cruise ship to pass their way. Areas such as the Bermuda Triangle exist solely to confound captains. Icebergs will jump out of nowhere to sink even an unsinkable ship. And for those unfortunate enough to live near a coastline, a tsunami can level a town in mere moments.
Even those of us living a fair distance from the sea are not free from its evil grip. I will tell you a story about myself. Consider it a cautionary tale.
I believe that I am married to a selkie. My wife and I have been married for a little over one year, and things seemed well. When we moved to Portland, I was under the impression that it was for many reasons. Little did I suspect that the most pressing reason was my wife’s plan on returning to her true home in the sea.
I should have guessed. When I first was getting to know the woman who was to become my wife, there was a mysterious trunk in her closet. I waited for an opportune moment to peek inside. I was shocked: it was her seal skin, neatly folded. I knew that if she grew tired of her life as a human woman, she could take her seal skin and return to the sea. This could not happen. I wadded the skin up into my backpack and took it to my apartment. My wife never mentioned missing it; I assume that she doesn’t check inside the trunk.
We were later married and have lived a reasonably happy life ever since. I have to be cautious, though. Sometimes I notice a quiet longing in her eyes. I have removed the skin from our house and put it in a safe place so she can’t find it when she is alone.
We visit the coast, but I am careful to steer her away from any memories of her previous life. When we saw sea lions, I quickly brought up how loud and smelly they were, then started talking about baseball. It was a close call.
So you see, the ocean may one day reclaim the woman I love. How can I be anything but leery of such a nemesis?

Ian Wilson, Musician Extraordinaire!

Ian Wilson is a good friend, fellow Oberlin alum, and the discoverer of radium. Now we can add published musician to the list.

That’s right! Ian has a BRAND NEW ALBUM out, called The Crater EP. Since I’m part of his inner-circle of confidantes, I had a chance to hear his fantastic album already. If you like piano-based pop but hate Billy Joel and really wish you get that awful Joel taste out of your mouth, give Ian’s album a listen. Also, if you want to increase your street “cred” by listening to the latest underground musician before he explodes on the scene, here is your chance. Go quickly, now, because he will be opening for the Rolling Stones in 2010.

As part of his Coordinated Marketing Quick-Strike Task Force, I was hired to conceive and draw his album cover. Now, for the first time, here is the official album art for The Crater EP.

The cover:ianwilson_Crater-EP_Large-Sized-Cover
Front and back cover, including tracklist:ian_wilson_craterCD imprint:ianwilson_Crater_CD_imprint

Want to know what those fish are about? And where the comet fits in? Please refer to Ian’s myspace page to hear his new album. Enjoy the swinging grooves.

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Mama’s Pizza

mamasMy informal series on the best eateries in Tucson continues with Mama’s Pizza.

My brother and I first knew Mama’s when we got their pizza by the slice. We spent the whole car ride home pontificating on the enormity of the single slice of Mama’s pizza. Big as your head? Big as the car? Big as the city, the state, the country, the hemisphere? I was learning geography in school at the time, so there were limitless locations to which I could compare the size of a slice of pizza.mamas_storefront
The true delight of Mama’s pizza is the taste itself. The closest comparison I can make is the pizza I ate while in New York City, which, I learned later, is where the owners of Mama’s originated. The toppings are all the usual: pepperoni, sausage, green pepper, onion,
anchovies…but somehow it is all better than a mere list can describe. If I were to give you the ingredients to, say, world peace, you’d look at me with disdain. “That’s it?” you’d say. “That’s all it takes to make world peace?” But you wouldn’t know the joy of world peace until I put it all in the oven and brought it out on a round, soft (but not too soft) piece of dough.
So now you want to take a pizza home and and enjoy the best circular meal of your life? Not so fast. The restaurant is an attraction in itself. Even on a hot summer day, the interior of Mama’s is dark, like a romantic dinner. There is a circle of tables that surrounds a lovely fountain. On each end of the restaurant there are slightly raised platforms with tables in front of the windows. When you’re a kid, you get to hop up that step to get to your table. To place your order, you must navigate around all of this and find the very back of the room, where you can peek at the large ovens cooking up the pizzas. The staff makes the pizza on the counter opposite a glass partition.

For pre-dinner entertainment, there are always two arcade games (switched out every one in a while) and one of those claw vending machines. When the pizza finally arrives, you will have to figure out where it can sit on the table. The diameter of a family size pizza is longer than the table’s width.mamas_interior

Mama’s is known for supporting local sports teams. I can be found in two team photographs hanging on the wall; two years of summer swimming remembered forever. After a meet, the team would often celebrate by going to Mama’s. The younger kids ran around in their swimsuits while the older kids joked with each other and the coaches.

Mama’s is one stop I always make when I go back home. It is a fine restaurant, one of Tucson’s best.