Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween.

Here's my Trogdor jack-o-lanter; check out its majesty and consummate Vs. Burninating all the people and the pumpkin paaaaaaatches!

Some of the other pumpkins we carved; I think they turned out pretty well. Stay positive. Drink Summit. Too bad squirrels ate them...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Oct. 23-28, Houston, TX. International Quilt Market, followed by the International Quilt Festival, is annually the largest convention center event in Houston, with over 53,000 quilters in attendance. I arrived for the business part of it, to debut Amazing Nickel Quilts.

The book was well received; when informed that a new Nickel Quilt book was av
ailable, reactions ranged from squeals of delight, declarations of "God bless" and "About time," to spontaneous hugs. Literally, hugs were given because my mom had written another book.

To catch the attention of store owners as they zipped up and down the aisle we asked if they were familiar with the Nickel Quilts books. The majority said yes, but some new store owners understandably didn't know about the books. After one such quilter admitted her lack of Nickel Quilt knowledge, a woman in our booth actually scolded her and I was afraid a brawl might break out. I could just imagine the carnage of broken hips and loose dentures. Luckily, it didn't come to that; Momma Speth was happy to educate everyone about Nickel Quilts with an ingenious marketing ploy of giving out free copies of the book to store owners. Hopefully everyone will fall in love with the book, I mean, how could they not?

Nickel Quilts booth- Pat Speth center, quilting buddy June on left and me.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Almost Famous

On Friday morning I used the delay on my coffee maker for the first time, set at the completely ridiculous brew-time of 4:15am. The pitch-black drive on an empty interstate and overwhelming feeling of excitement and nervousness added to the surrealness of the experience; it felt more like I was headed to the airport, about to depart on a month-long European adventure, than what I was really doing, driving to St. Olaf to be an extra in A Serious Man.

At the exit for Northfield there was a bizarre mimicking of the scene in Field of Dreams, with a line of hundreds of cars all driving toward the same place, headlights cutting through the dark in perfect unison. Once parked in a far-away lot, all the extras were shuttled to the abandoned science building where the day's scene was to be shot. We were ushered into a large lecture hall, "Extras Holding" posted above the entrance. After being divvied into groups we were sent to get our wardrobes, change, and come back for hair and make-up. This took approximately three hours.

There were roughly 120 "physics students" lounging about the lecture hall, all with extremely high-waisted pants and skirts. Lots of plaid and yellow ochre. Nerds galore. Big hair caused the place to reek of hairspray. I snuck out of "holding" as much as possible to snoop around, checking out the adjacent lecture hall where we would actually be shooting the scene. The Coen brothers were wandering around as well; I went in the breakfast buffet line behind Joel.

The actual shooting finally began around noon. We lined up and were assigned seats as we came down the center staircase in a smaller classroom. I was put in the third row, maybe four seats from the center, a good location. In the front of the classroom a chalkboard spanned from floor to ceiling, every inch covered in equations and theories. The scene is this: the main character, a college professor, is having a dream about teaching a large lecture and amongst the students is his nemesis. As he finishes giving the lecture the students leave and the seated man stays behind; they have a conversation and ultimately the main character gets his head smashed into the chalkboard. Unfortunately the head-smashing took place after we, the students, left, so we didn't get to see any action shots.

I was amazed at how much went into one scene. Fourteen hours, and they weren't even done shooting the parts that didn't need extras when we were cut. They shot the scene about a dozen times from the back and again from the front. I won't get to be in the shot from the front, they did a narrower view and I wasn't so lucky to be seated in the front row. Too bad, since I'm sure I wouldn't have to have been told by Ethan Coen twice to avoid looking at the camera like some other kid.

It was great fun though; a once-in-a-life-time experience, trite but true. And I know the scene won't get cut because it has the line, "I'm a serious man."

I wasn't supposed to take pictures, but luckily I'm sly.

Lecture Hall filled with extras, lined up the aisles to get their hair and makeup retouched.

Uber nerdy outfit. They added the horn-rimmed glasses last-minute.

I could have stolen Joel Coen's jacket!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My New Toy

I recently bought a DSLR, a Canon Rebel XSi, and finally took it out for a shoot around town. I had the same manual camera model and thought most of the features would translate, which of course they don't. But I am happy with the camera so far, and definitely need to spend some quality time with the user manual. Anyway it's good to feel motivated to take pictures again; somehow my old digital which requires me to manually pry open the shutter before using it (and getting fingerprint smudges on the lens) didn't provide a great deal of inspiration.

More "artsy" photos to follow, but here are some standard pics of Minneapolis landmarks.

Friday, October 10, 2008

When Shipping Embryos

I was on the FedEx website, looking up rates to send a small package to Mexico. To make sure no restrictions apply you are required to select what type of item you are sending. Scrolling down to find "electronics" I noticed one had the option of selecting "embryos." Unfortunately it states, "Embryos: FedEx prohibits the international shipment of human or animal embryos."

This begs the question though, what is their policy on the domestic shipment of embryos?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Slapping Infants

I was out drinking the other night when one of my friends noticed an origami fortune teller wedged behind the drink specials. This immediately cheered me up, bringing back memories of junior high, at least until the fortune I picked predicted that I would commit suicide. Needless to say I gave it another go, this time the paper seer suggesting I ought to find some infants to slap. Much better.

I like this idea though, of planting fortune tellers. They are hilariously entertaining, and how often can you tell a stranger
that they should commit suicide, never wear that hideous top, or reconsider their mustache without facing negative repercussions? It could be a public service, like those guys that traveled across America fixing typos, we could start a movement leaving advice-filled fortune tellers wherever we go. Now all I've got to do is think of a catchy acronym. That and avoid defacing national monuments.