completed – back-scratching octopus

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This is the final underwater back-scratching team. Hundreds of backs were successfully scratched. Children were delighted, or mystified, or frightened. Next time, maybe an entire squadron of scratchers will be deployed – costume to be determined.

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building the back-scratching octopus, part 2

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As mentioned in the last post, the octopus must be finished soon. Here are the latest additions.

Draped seaweed – A sea-weedy fabric curtain from a thrift store, cut in strips and hung from a pipe-cleaner collar.

Tentacle holder – Tentacles are pinned to another piece of vaguely sea-like material (this may have been something that tied back drapes) and then hung around the neck.

Sea shoes – Because octopus don’t have human-like feet, this is an embarrassing necessity. I took the sleeves cut from a old green shirt and stretched them over shoes. Hopefully no one will notice that I’m not really a cephalopod.

seaweed1tentacle_collarsea foot

 

building the back-scratching octopus

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It’s almost time for the Solstice parade and if I’m going to scratch the backs of onlookers, there’s work to be done.

Tentacles – Cheap costume tights, stuffed with polyester batting. 10-gauge wire is inserted and bent so they don’t just hang straight down. There are six tentacles because my arms will go through the legs of another pair of tights to make the seventh and eighth.

Suckers – An old bathtub mat made from little disk-shaped plastic pieces was handy. I’ve cut it up and hot-glued the vaguely circular, semi-transparent chunks to the tentacles.

Giant back-scratcher – The same one from prior years. I stripped off the old monkey fur, added green tape and sea-weedy cloth strips.

There are more steps involved before I’m confident that no one will catch on. Spectators should think I’m a real octopus carrying a giant back-scratcher, of course. 

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news from the looney bin

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The New Yorker has recently provided some of the best writing I’ve seen about gun violence in the U.S. I’ve accumulated some quotes below, along with an opening and closing quote that I found elsewhere.

The U.S. begins its process of doing nothing about the deadliest mass shooting in its history. (Charles Mudede in The Stranger)

In recent years, gunmen have shot up fast-food restaurants, post offices, military installations, a movie theatre, a holiday party, a night club, a health clinic, a congressional softball game, churches, high schools, colleges, an elementary school. Three weeks ago, someone killed eight people at a football-watching party in Plano, Texas. You didn’t hear about it because eight gun deaths barely register as a national news story anymore.  (“Washington’s Ritualized Response to Mass Shootings.” The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza)

The distance between forty-nine dead in Orlando and at least fifty-eight in Las Vegas is sixteen months. The deadliest shooting before Orlando, the massacre at Virginia Tech, which claimed the lives of thirty-two people, held that terrible distinction for nine years—not a small amount of time, but damning by another measure, in that our “worst” tragedy could not exist for a decade without being surpassed. (“Another Worst Mass Shooting in the United States” Jelani Cobb. The New Yorker)

 … if he was … from a Muslim country, then a massive act of terrorism would have been committed and a militant response, including travel bans and broad suspensions of rights, would be essential. If it was just one more American “psycho,” then all we can do is shrug and, as the occupant of the Oval Office put it, send “warmest condolences and sympathies…” (“In the Wake of the Las Vegas Shooting, There Can Be No Truce with the Second Amendment,” The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik)

After Newtown, Wayne LaPierre, the C.E.O. of the National Rifle Association, said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” But in Las Vegas the only thing that have could have stopped a sniper hidden behind a bank of windows on the thirty-second floor of a building, shooting at people twelve hundred feet away, would have been the unlikely presence of a similarly armed sniper located at a vantage point that gave him or her an open shot at the perpetrator. (“Another Worst Mass Shooting in the United States” Jelani Cobb. The New Yorker)

One measure of the development of a civil society is the obstacles that we place in the path of those who would commit acts of great harm to innocents. (“Another Worst Mass Shooting in the United States” Jelani Cobb. The New Yorker)

There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons. (Governor Ronald Reagan)

Vandercloot

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“It’s living between the folds in your cerebral cortex.”
–   Dr. Vandercloot

Dr. Vandercloot is a 19th century exorcist, scientist, and collector of strange artifacts. He will appear on stage next month – Friday the 13th – October.

Info here: Seattle Playwright’s Salon

Vandercloot’s first name is Randolph, but you won’t know that from watching him on the stage, because no one is on a first-name basis with the doctor.

(He’s part of a Halloween-themed show presented by the Seattle Playwright’s Salon.)

His assistant, Alba, will accompany him. She enjoys the doctor’s occult science, but is a bit numbed from years of serving as his guinea pig.

(Remember that Friday night parking in Georgetown can be horrifying, so please appear earlier than the 7 p.m. start time.)

In this short adventure, Vandercloot endeavors to help his local dentist, named Florian, who has a terrible malady. In the process, we’ll seen some ghastly items from the doctor’s peculiar collections.

 

eclipse weekend

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We were among thousands that drove to the totality zone for the eclipse, camping for three nights in the Eastern Oregon town of Culver. We participated in a scenic 25-mile bike ride as part of the Culver Crawdad Festival and in general, had a great time there.

On eclipse-day morning, we watched the first slice of shadow cut across the sun. Soon the temperature started to fall. Over the course of the next hour and a half, the temperature dropped from somewhere in the low 80s °F until it was cold enough that I wanted to put on a sweatshirt. The landscape around us gradually turned dim and a little grayish, as this picture shows in totality.  It became fairly dark, Venus appeared in the sky, streetlights came on. There were sunset colors around the entire horizon.

Most amazing, of course, was the sun, or rather the lack of it. You can look without glasses while it’s completely covered, and the sun was like a black jewel in the sky with rays of light sticking out around the side. Even though the circle itself was dark, there was something crystalline and “super-real” about it. The two minutes of complete eclipse seemed momentous and cosmic, even though it’s fairly common. It looked like this about a second after totality. (I only had my phone camera, so I have none of my own.)

We were fortunate to see some wonderful sights in addition to the eclipse (click to expand)

On a bike ride, we viewed Mt. Jefferson over farm fields

Wind farm in South-Central Washington

The amazing Lake Billy Chinook

Last but not least, the Culver Crawdad Festival