Sunday, July 31, 2011

Updates And Stuff...

So I'm all done with my house-sitting job. I think I managed to get the place all cleaned up and back to normal. On Thursday, The Studio Musician came over and we turned the basement into a recording studio. I sang into a microphone for about six hours and at the end of the day we were three tracks closer to the finish line. I can't even begin to describe how exhausted and accomplished I felt at the end of that day.

I'm really excited about this little five track album and can't wait to let you guys hear it. I'm pulling out all the big guns. When all is said and done, this CD will have all of the following things:

- sound clips from old horror films

- badly pronounced German lyrics

- a song about the end of the world

- me singing back-up vocals to myself (in stereo!)

- a perfectly manicured pop orchestra (think: Abbey Road)

- a little punk guitar action

- an organ playing a cadence you might hear at church

- a cheesy, yet potentially face-melting guitar solo

- an epic five minute song with no real chorus

- the word "cerebellum"

- a chord progression that screams "grunge"

- slightly melodramatic and theatrical vocals

- a musical collaboration with the local poet

- keytar!

Dude. I can't wait till this project is actually done and I can show it off.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to make The Want Ads into a real band... I think I have people coming to audition today but nobody responded to my last email... So I don't really know? Stupid Craigslist interactions. Hmmmfph.

As for news from the commune... The Management has started raising everyone's rent. Except they're doing it randomly. And everyone has a different percentage that their rent is raised by. So that's messed up and will probably be the catalyst for World War Three around here.

Except battles with The Management have been raging before that happened. Remember a couple of posts ago when The Chef got in trouble for putting a peaceful banner out of his window?

Now they're hanging out of a whole bunch of windows. Solidarity in honor of freedom of speech, yo. Let's see The Management try to shut that down.

I think they've given up on this particular battle. So far, the only opposition I've encountered was from the guy that lives below me. I got a little carried away with my banner and let it hang all the way down the side of the building, blocking the window below me. One day, I came home to this charming little note taped to my door:

My reaction?

- There's a guy here named Tom?

- Has he lived below me this whole time?

- Oh man... I bet he was the guy pounding on the ceiling the time The Fonz and I just had to have a midnight dance party to Milli Vanilli. I'm still really embarrassed about that. I should meet Tom at some point and tell him I don't actually like Milli Vanilli.*

- I remember looking at room 207 before I moved in... isn't it tiny? Like, dorm room tiny? How on earth are there 17 house plants in there?

- More important question: Why are there 17 house plants in there? Does Tom have a obsession with jungles? Is he growing a small army of cannabis in his window or what?

- Whatever. The note was nice enough and I can never say "no" to a request that comes packaged with an awkward doodle.

So I fixed the banner, which is still proudly waving away outside my window.

Anyway, I've got to wrap this up so I can go deal with the auditions (or lack thereof). Gah. Why does finding a back-up band seem like such a daunting task sometimes?

Peace out, kiddos.

* Okay, I secretly like Milli Vanilli.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Day I Met Fred

Do you ever have one of those days where you are completely on your game from the minute you wake up to the minute you collapse in front of the television? You know, the kind of day where everything that comes out of your mouth is hilarious and strangers constantly compliment your outfit (even though it should have been laundry day two days ago and you're wearing the exact same thing you wore yesterday)? A day where the sun seems to be shining just for you, all the songs on the radio make you scream "I LOVE THIS SONG," and the world seems not only friendly, but completely conquerable?

Honestly, I don't have these kinds of days very often. But yesterday was totally that kind of day. And it was the best.

There were a lot of great moments yesterday. I was walking Jane The Pit Bull and a car full of teenagers drove by and yelled "You two are so cute!!!" There was a guy who stopped me on the street just to tell me he liked my shoes. I spontaneously ran into an old friend from college. I ate waffles on the sidewalk with my little brother. I made friends with a tattooed man who loves pit bulls. I helped rescue a small, leash-less dog from a busy street (while singing this song to myself the whole time, naturally). I made an epic sandwich. I had productive text message conversations.

But this is not a story about any of that.

This is a story about Fred Armisen.

As many of you know, Mr. Armisen is currently starring in the show "Portlandia," which is being filmed in my city. Supposedly, they're even going to call me to be an extra in it at some point. Anyway, I had heard a rumor that there was a film crew set up a few blocks away from where I was eating waffles with my brother. So I casually walked over there, dragging my brother and my pit bull with me. I was hoping it would be "Portlandia" but was expecting an unknown indie film.

But the first thing I saw when we got there was Carrie Brownstein riding around on a motorized unicycle of sorts, and I knew we had stumbled upon "Portlandia."

I was still taking in the scene when Fred Armisen walked across the street and joined us in the shade. He was wearing a ridiculous outfit, complete with a wig and a gigantic motorcycle helmet. It was all a little bit surreal.

I'm infamous for acting like a total retard around celebrities, but talking to Fred Armisen seemed surprisingly natural. I made fun of his outfit with him and asked him about the sketch they were filming. He explained it to me and we talked a little bit about "Portlandia" in general. He commented that my brother and I look a lot alike. We laughed and told him we're related. He was like, "Oh, that makes sense. Cool. Who's older?" I told him I was by about six years and he acted surprised (in a very dead-pan, Fred Armisan kind of way).

Apparently, Fred loves dogs. He petted Jane The Pit Bull and told me I had a great dog. I didn't have the heart to tell him it wasn't really my dog. An intense looking bearded guy rode by on a bicycle and we made some jokes about him. Then someone walked by with a giant bag of books and Fred simply said, "Wow...somebody has a lot of books."

It was then time for Fred to go back to filming, so he said "goodbye" to us and returned to the set across the street.

It's definitely my new favorite celebrity encounter story.

Not to mention the highlight of my day/week/month.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The 27 Club

I logged into Facebook today to see my newsfeed exploding with the words "RIP AMY WINEHOUSE."

Honestly, I wasn't a huge fan of her. I didn't dislike her and she has a couple of good songs that I jam out to occasionally, but I didn't love her. And I feel like her death really shouldn't be a surprise to anybody. Yes, it is tragic, but maybe she should have actually gone to rehab instead of saying "no, no, no."

Too late to make her go to rehab now. She's a certified member of The 27 Club now and is now probably hanging out with Kurt, Jimmy, and Janis somewhere.

When I was a teenager, I secretly thought that joining The 27 Club would be a good life plan. After all, when you're 15, you have over a decade before The 27 Club becomes an option. That seems like enough time to accomplish rock and roll fame. Plus, when you're a teenager, the prospect of being any older than 27 is slightly nauseating. Joining the ranks of Kurt and Janis at a young age and leaving behind a legacy just seems logical. It's either that or do even scarier turn 30.

But as I got older, The 27 Club began to seem less appealing. Now that I'm sitting at age 23, I want nothing to do with a young rock and roll death. I'm only four years away from being 27 and I love my life way too much to plot the end of it.

Plus, you can really only join The 27 Club if you're a famous rock star. I've got a long ways to go before I'm eligible.

Not to mention I'm too square to die of a drug-overdose and not quite dark enough to kill myself. So that leaves all of the fairly lame rock star death options: a plane crash, choking on vomit, a bizarre gardening accident...

I am so over The 27 Club.

Besides, turning 30, or 40, or even 50 has got to be better than having the words "vomit asphyxiation" become part of your eulogy.

But anyway, I digress. And all that's really left to say is this:

Rest in Peace, Amy Winehouse. You were totally a hot mess and sort of looked like a man in drag, but you had a voice on you and knew how to work your own style. Thanks for the songs about the rehab you did not attend and tell Kurt I said "hey."

And now I should really close this post before I come up with more insensitive things to say...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mad Scientist Alert

I am convinced that the man across the hall from me is a mad scientist.

I know I have talked about this particular character before. I've dubbed him "Mr. Merry Christmas Forever" because of the way he charismatically wished everyone a Merry Christmas until about March. He's a very fascinating, intelligent human and though he rarely comes out of his room, I feel like we're actually kind of friends, or at least solid acquaintances. I guess in the sitcom that is my life, he plays the role of the nutty-yet-lovable neighbor who appears in the hallway long enough to offer a profound thought or deliver a one-liner.

He's always been strange, but he's gotten weirder over the past eight months. A couple of weeks ago, I made the following list in my journal:


- He calls his room "The Laboratory"
• He says he's writing in there all the time, but what is he REALLY doing?

- Sometimes, his door is blocked off with black duct tape
What is he BUILDING in there?

- The silent, beautiful, mysterious woman he lives with
• Is she his lover?
• His sister?
• His assistant from a small Eastern European country who doesn't speak any English?
• The first prototype in his army of clones?
• An android robot he created?

- The Hair
• Does he put gel in it or does it stand straight up on it's own?
• Did he take a lawn mower to the back of it?

- The Walk
• He always looks like he's on his way to ring the bell tower
• Really, what's with the limp?
• Is he just being melodramatic or does he have gout?

- The way he enthusiastically greets people in the hallway
• Nothing says "I secretly have a whole room full of hideous science experiments" like a hearty "GOOD EEEEEVENING!"

- He's probably one of the smartest people I have ever personally met
• In the words of The Poet, "That man has way too many IQ points to be normal and sane."

Sometimes, he keeps his chest full of notebooks outside of his door
• The notebooks are all FULL of crazy, illegible handwriting*
• Some have charts, drawings, and diagrams

*(Yes, I sat in the hallway one night and flipped through this guy's notebooks like the good little voyeuristic creep that I am. In my defense, I had his permission to do this.)

This guy is TOTALLY a mad scientist. I am convinced.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lost In Music, Caught In A Trap, No Turning Back...

So no one has pooped in a bucket yet, but I'm sure it's coming. And The Chef is still around, but everything is ballooning into a bigger controversy. Meaning that a bunch of building code violations have been revealed and now there's an impending legal battle. Not to mention the rumor that we're all going to eventually die of asbestos poisoning and possibly other things. It's what we get for thinking that it was a good idea to live in what was formerly an abandoned retirement home. No matter how much white sage you burn, there are things about the building that will always be a little bit toxic.

Luckily, I'm house-sitting for about a week and a half. I get to hang out with the world's sweetest pit bull in Southeast Portland. Burn my latte and call me a hipster, but this is my favorite part of town.

Now if only I can figure out how to work the television here, everything will be perfect. The thing has a trillion remotes and I think I pressed the wrong button on one of them last night. I was doomed to an evening of watching Ye Olde Fuzz Channel. Fail.

In other news, I've decided that I'm going to be done wallowing around in mediocrity and I need to own my life. Meaning, I need finish the album, get a back-up band together, and create a scene. I think I'm holding auditions this weekend if I can get my act together. I'm trying really hard to give the impression that The Want Ads has more than just one person in it. We'll see how that goes. The Poet is acting as my band manager. I need to get him one of those wooden paddles that the manager of Spinal Tap carries around. Painted pink, of course.

I'm also figuring out the cover art for my CD and have spent way too much time in the past week in my bathroom taking pictures that look like this:

As far as other items on the rock and roll to-do list go, I am perfecting my ability to slip in and out of a fairly convincing British accent. Pretty soon, no one is going to know what nationality I really am.

I'm either onto something great or I've hit the infamous Quarter-Life Crisis hardcore. All my friends at The Nursing Home For Artists are very encouraging, but many of them are going through similar crises (of both Quarter-Life and Mid-Life variety).

I'll just keep up the madness and see what happens.

I even went all out and made a Facebook page for my band (become a fan? :D). Everyone knows that nothing is official until it's on Facebook. So now it's official. I'm here to rock.

Except I still have to put myself through the vicious daily cycle of self-doubt. I really just need to get over all of that. And I will. But there is always a moment in the day when I have too much time to myself and realize that pursuing The Rock Star Dream is actually a very scary thing to do.

But it would be tragic if I didn't give it my best shot.

I think my sentiments can be best expressed through a song by Sister Sledge:

That's all for now. Peace out, kiddos.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Have You Heard About The Turd?

I've been laughing all evening.

It all started yesterday. The Management has been on a rampage lately. An email went out informing us that we could no longer hang whatever we wanted to on the walls. The email explained that if we want to put up art, we have to get it approved by The Management. The threat is that things will get taken down if we don't play by the rules.

That's beyond ridiculous. This is supposed to be an "artist's community." We're the ones that live here, so we should put whatever we want on the walls. We shouldn't have to ask them if it's okay and we definitely shouldn't have to worry about anything being taken down.

When I was in high school, I wrote a rap song about Freedom Of Speech. I'm tempted to call a meeting with The Management and bust it out, but my rap career is far behind me.

Anyway, so many people got upset over the email that The Management sent a follow-up email in attempts to settle everyone down. This one was very long and unnecessary, but there was one part that caught my attention:

First, we want to be able to hang work that is respectful of the environment in which the work is displayed. There is some artwork that is not appropriate for public, or semi-public space. For an extreme example, work made with feces or raw meat that smells and is unhealthy would not be appropriate (I have had this happen in other art venues, so its not out of the question to happen here).

I don't think anyone here would have thought to put feces or raw meat out in the hallway and call it art. The whole thing was so ridiculous that I just had to make a bunch of signs that said this:




Coming soon:

“Poop In A Bucket”

A performance piece

and art installation

on the 3rd floor

I swear, I'm usually more mature than that. But if The Management is going to treat me like a third grader, I'm going to have to start throwing the word "turd" everywhere. It's just how it goes.

It started out as just a couple of signs, but then The Poet and The Chef caught on to me and encouraged me to make more. We ended up putting them all over the building late at night. I went to bed feeling radical, accomplished, and very, very amused with myself.

I woke up to a text message from The Poet informing me that all the signs were gone. I couldn't believe it.

I went into the kitchen to find The Chef hard at work on an artist's statement for "Poop In A Bucket." He read it to me and I nearly cried I was laughing so hard.

This is what it said:

A time based self generating work celebrating the diversity of open sourced sustainability into cohesive holistic creation. Reflecting much of the origins of nature and life itself, and the deconstructed consummation of unified, intentional and the chaotic into systemic absolution. An exploration and celebration literally into the acceptance and dialectic opposing denial inherent in community building designations and appropriations.

Deeply exploring the ongoing compulsion and underlying societal psychological memes in the pursuit of this intercultural expression, relating attitudes, ecological dynamics, and basic human rights, sometimes denied, like downtown, for example.

Work resulting in an vast oeuvre in a sometimes dynamic continuum from the intimate personal inner expression, into an outward manifestation with purpose, need and urgency, often with a magnitude of proportion.

These primal responses enabling the creator and viewer alike the full experience of the works denouement : in a gallery setting, a hallway, a paper bag, a bucket, an editorial, a policy statement, a broken agreement, a corporate office, a modest building of humble origins harkening back to a simpler exposition, or bravely forward with technological apps.

POOP IN A BUCKET captivates!

So the signs went back up, this time accompanied by The Chef's ridiculous statement. I couldn't believe that The Management had confiscated them already. I mean, those things were gone first thing on a Saturday morning! Ridiculous.

At one point during the day, one of my neighbors informed me that they were going to call the local paper and try to get "Poop In A Bucket" listed in there. I also heard that The Chef was threatening to send his statement out to various media outlets as a press release. I decided to wash my hands of the whole ordeal. From there on out, I would have no idea where the concept of "Poop In A Bucket" came from.

Shortly after that, The Poet knocked on my door with some news (I can always count on that man for current information). He had figured out who had taken the signs. It was not The Management at all.

It was the crazy lady that lives downstairs.

I don't think I've talked about this particular character very much, mostly because she's so absurd I don't know where to start. But here she is in a nutshell: She's in love with The Poet, she makes her own fake eye lashes, she has episodes of extreme agoraphobia in which she has to order people to bring her mini-donuts from the gas station, and she is currently reinventing her style into a look she simply refers to as "Elizabeth Taylor: The Rehab Years."

So she saw the signs last night and was outraged. And she crept around the halls at three in the morning, taking them all down because she believed a whole hoard of "venture capitalists" were going to make a visit to the building soon and she wanted it to look professional.

Of course, she did not suspect that the signs were put there by little ole me. She naturally assumed it was all The Chef's doing. And though she is usually great friends with The Chef (when they hang out, it's strangely reminiscent of 90's Brit-com "Absolutely Fabulous"), she called him and blew up at him over these stupid "Poop In A Bucket" signs. Of course, The Chef wasn't about to tell her who really made the signs, so he just told her to get over it.

Now we just have to wait and see what The Management does when they see the signs on Monday.

This is all way more controversial than it should be. Also, I have a fear that before this is all over, people will actually be pooping in buckets and I will secretly be responsible for it. But I guess that is what will happen when you try to shove censorship rules onto a bunch of artists.

Ack. I feel a rap coming on...

Free speech is important to me
Without it we would be in agony
We'd be a communistic country
Yo Karl Marx, that wouldn't work for me!

Like I said, my rapping career was short lived...

Anyway, that's all I've got tonight. Stay tuned for more drama and hilarity!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Your Daily Dose Of Commune Drama

I'm angry.

The Management is building a case against The Chef. They are trying to evict him. They are taking the stance that he is crazy and shouldn't live here anymore.

Sure, The Chef is eccentric. Sometimes he's downright profane. He's a loud alcoholic who is never afraid to express his opinions. He takes up a lot of wall space with his paintings of babies shooting laser beams out of their eyes. He occasionally disrupts art openings with his noisy, psychedelic air mattresses.

But he isn't crazy. He's not dangerous. In fact, he's an important part of our community. He drives us all nuts sometimes, but the halls are way too quiet whenever he leaves. He gets in weird power struggles with people out of boredom, but he also gets stuff done. He's the reason we have a big friendly wooden table in our kitchen instead of plastic break room-style tables. He was one of the main forces behind getting us a decent refrigerator. He's also the guy who pressed a recent investigation of some pipes in the building that turned out to be full of asbestos (and we wonder why everyone is sick all the time...). He's a little rough around the edges and will tell people he doesn't like to f@#$ off. But he's got a very kind, generous spirit underneath the gruff exterior.

Actually, I think The Chef was my first official friend at this place. He gave me some soup in the kitchen the first night here and told me my music was beautiful (he had heard me practicing). A couple of nights later, he knocked on my door and invited himself in to drink beer out of a mug and eat cheese puffs on my couch. At the time, it was a bit awkward for me. I mean, it's not everyday that a chubby old guy comes into your room and starts crying over lost love.

But The Chef quickly became one of those people that always sides with me. He gets drunk and cheers at my shows. He's offered to design stage costumes for me (usually his vision involves fairy wings and too much glitter). He eats out a lot and keeps me updated on which pizza places have the cutest boys. He gives me pep talks in the kitchen when I'm unsure of where my life is going. And when I update my Facebook status to miscellaneous David Bowie lyrics in the middle of the night, he is always the one to complete them.

Really. If they need to get rid of somebody, they should evict the scary kid on the second floor that trashed the kitchen a few months ago. He's much more dangerous than a quirky old man who brings a three-eyed oil painting to a dance party as a date.

I also think they should get rid of Tweaked Out Elvis Costello if they are indeed trying to evict people who are a detriment to the community. He's gotten downright creepy, not to mention he's perpetually high on a whole cocktail of mysterious illegal substances. I really wish The Management would stop complaining about the artistic peace banners that The Chef flies out of his window and start cracking down on people who have closets full of "that new French diet drug."

I've always known life wasn't fair, but this whole thing is just ridiculous to watch.

Of course, The Poet isn't about to let them actually evict The Chef. He's going to go have a few words with The Management. Meanwhile, a bunch of us are going to figure out how to make banners and fly them out our windows in protest. If done correctly, it will be a bit of a "Save Ferris" moment.

And if that fails and they really do evict him, we'll just have to hide him as if he's Anne Frank.

A very loud, drunken Anne Frank. Hopefully it won't come to that.

Friday, July 8, 2011


"And the words of the stranger came back to me -
I said 'It's hard to be a 21st century girl.'
He said 'I think it's hard in any century!'"

I have so many wonderful friends. People that believe in me. People that will do ridiculous things with me, then be there to pick me up and dust me off when the ridiculous things don't go like I planned.

My friends are a unique batch of people. Most of them are pretty bizarre and some are just downright uncouth. But they are people that love and encourage me. I'm really lucky to have the friends that I have.

So why do I keep contacting the one person who constantly brings me down?

I should just accept the fact that this person has changed and that I will never be a priority. It's just hard for me to let go of everything I had (and didn't have) with this particular friend.

Facebook doesn't help. I miss the old days where you could drift away from somebody and not have to be alerted every time they are playing Farmville or eating spaghetti. Ugh.

The 21st century is rough sometimes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Things That Happened On The Fourth Of July

I celebrated The Fourth Of July by eating Chinese food and watching my friends use their cigarettes to light illegal fireworks out of beer bottles on the sidewalk. At one point, I was convinced that somebody was going to accidentally burn down the Mexican restaurant across the street, but fortunately all of the fire stayed in the sky.

It was a warm night - the first night in a long time where it made sense to sit outside in a tank top and shorts. The moon was a large crescent hanging in the background as fireworks exploded everywhere. It all felt very picturesque.

Though truthfully, I've never quite gotten over the irony of celebrating freedom by blowing stuff up. But it's the American way, I guess.

Somewhere in all the festivities, I checked my email on my phone and discovered that I'm going to be an extra on the second season of "Portlandia." It was already a really good night, but that email made it even better. I can't tell you how excited I am at the opportunity to hang out on that set.

I told the friends I was with and they were all stoked. They promised me that they would watch every episode of the new "Portlandia" season so they could see me, which is really sweet because most of them are hippies that refuse to watch television. I even had to text my mom at midnight to tell her the news.

Anyway, it all turned out to be a good night.

And it ended with The Fonz sneaking onto the roof of the building next door and peeing off the edge.

The Fonz: (yelling from the roof) I'm going to pee!
Me: (yelling from the ground) I'm going to write about this in my blog!

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: My life is a sitcom.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Putting The "Fun" In "Dysfunctional"

So I've been neglecting the blogosphere again.  My apologies.  I will spare you the excuses and show you my latest project instead.

You see, right this very minute, I am sitting at an art opening attempting to sell my latest creations.  Sadly, this event is extremely dead so I haven't even come close to making any sales. 

What am I selling, you ask?

Dysfunctional greeting cards.

It's something I've been talking about doing for a long time.  I finally just broke down and made some. 

There are several designs, but here are a few of my favorites:

I haven't sold any yet, but I'll see what happens.  Perhaps I'll put them on Etsy at some point. 

Hope everyone is having a marvelous Friday.