Archive by Author

Some Critters Ain’t Never Gonna Learn

25 Apr

So this is what happens when someone (in this case: the IRS) gives me money:


I buy this goddamn ridiculous thing on eBay. It has both the Space Needle AND a map of the Seattle Center on it, for chrissakes. It is at once a Seattle thing, a piece of Seattle World’s Fair memorabilia, and a map. AND A DRESS, WHICH I HAPPEN TO COLLECT. EXAMPLES OF. My hand was forced. Plus I saw the same dress on Etsy a couple years ago for $1000, in a size 2, so it seemed like a deal at $[redacted] and in a size [that I can actually wear].

Agh, and the demure little sleeves kill me. And the Space Needle corona peeking down from the neckline. Hystellarious. I die, I die.

The buyer came over to deliver it tonight, along with a 6-page appraisal and history of the dress. In the doc, the appraiser pointed out that the Pacific Science Center arches are conspicuously absent from the pattern (a fact that I’m sure I would have noticed eventually, ahem) and he wonders if the designer used one of the early blueprints of the Seattle World’s Fair from 1959-1961, before the arches were conceived of. So he theorized, therefore, that it was made before the World’s Fair in ’62, which is important, because if it were made in, like, 1988, that would cut a big chunk out of its value. And we know it wasn’t, because so-and-so would definitely have stuck the very definitive, non-negotiable Science Center arches in there. So s/he must have not known they would exist when s/he made it. Very clever, Professor Moriarty.

My boyfriend was like, “When will you wear it?” and I said at our wedding, and you can dress up like New York City, which is where he is from, sort of. I’m not sure what that would entail. A Chrysler building hat? A Statue of Liberty crown? Stinking rags and a overloaded shopping cart?

(We are neither engaged to be married nor planning a wedding. To be clear. I was going to try to get away with not putting a disclaimer here because it’s funnier to not have to explain your jokes, but you know how people are, and the Internet is forever, so: Joke alert.)

The dress is museum-quality, and the document said that both MOHAI and the Seattle Center Foundation had expressed interest in displaying it, so now I’m terrified to even take it out of the bag, much less risk its ruin by trying to stretch it around my gigantic ass. (Waist, really). That appraisal doc was really something; it was written more like an essay or an op-ed than a fact sheet. I was all hushed and emotional by the time I finished reading. “Gee, I don’t know, maybe I should contact Antiques Roadshow about this? What if I’m sitting on a goldmine here! My god.”

Shut up. It’s amazing. I’m great. Whatever you say, I’m still great.

Keep Your Memes on the Internet, Please

17 Apr


See, I don’t like this. I like SweetIron Belgian Wafflehole just fine–well, I don’t have a strong opinion on it, after consideration–but this thing right here belongs on Reddit/Imgur and maybe Facebook. If ever I am walking down the street in real, actual life, I don’t want to see the Contemplative Salamander or whatever his rightful name is (I’m confident he has one) or Scumbag Steve or Good Guy Gregg or Ridiculously Photogenic Guy or Antoine Dodson or Jessi Slaughter or Chris Crocker or the words fap or cake day or any other imaginary characters or lexicography from the ongoing Internet graphic novel series. I realize you’re trying to share a winky nudgejoke with your kith, and that’s sweet, but I and the legions really need this stuff to stay in the book and not come to life and entice us to buy coffee. Like, I put the book down and went outside. This is scary and it is cheating.

(This is sort of hypocritical because I totally sang “Bed Intruder Song” at karaoke the other day. But it shouldn’t have been in the song book in the first place. How can you not sing “Bed Intruder Song” when presented with it at a karaoke night at a sports bar? You cannot.)

(If you have no idea what I’m talking about with all of this, please click here.)

Anyway. Not cool, waffle/coffee store. Coffle. Place. Guy. Knock that shit off right now.

Also, -100 points for not drawing the background.

More Map Wonkery

17 Apr

Just thought this was mesmerizing and rad. Seasons! I like watching bits of the Southern Ocean freeze and unfreeze down by the Antarctic Peninsula.

The Amethyst is eventually going to turn into some kind of geography . . . mappity . . . art blog eventually, hunh. You can just tell.

It’s Funny ’Cause It’s True

16 Apr


Another exquisitely weird comic strip from cartoonetta Julia Gfrörer. Man. She told you.

Thug Lyfe for Geography Wonks

16 Apr

In the three years since I moved back to my sweet, perfect, fabulous, flower-filled hometown of Seattle from the darkest bowels of New York City, I haven’t ever for one single second wished that I still lived there, not an ounce of me. But . . . this event is kind of making me wish it. Just for an ounce of a second.

If you don’t feel like clicking: A bunch of map-slash-history dweebs (are they ever mutually exclusive?) (A: no.) are going to get together at the New York Public Library and edit Wikipedia entries together, with the aim of delineating neighborhood boundaries within the city and creating entries for any nabes that may not have them yet. That is just gloriously nerdy. My god. Plus they’re calling it “Wiki-Gangs of New York” in some sort of Poochie-on-the-Simpsons-like attempt to make it into something hip and fresh and def. Oh, my little heart.

OK, it’s gone now. Whoosh. Close shave.

ETA: Maybe I’ll jack this idea for a party or something. Aaaaaa, MAP PARTY.

The Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Done or Said: This Post Right Here

13 Apr

Telling you guys this is, of course, hugely detrimental to my own interests, but I have to tell someone, sin of pride:

There is a secret and gigantic rummage sale/thrift store in the Methodist church in the University District every Friday afternoon, and I just made a little lunchtime pit stop there, ho hum, where I scored four GREAT skirts, an hideous black ’80s stretch-belt with fake snakeskin buckle, and a little blue-and-white tea towel with the names of different teas on it. Total? Three bucks. I literally did a double take. “. . . How much?”

The skirts are, you know, Target-grade. Nothing fancy. One is Liz Claiborne (gray, tweedy, with buttons down one side, OMG, so cute). But they definitely sold for more than 75 cents or whatever originally. I guess one of them is technically a cotton slip, but I came to age in Seattle in the ’90s kinderwhore era, so watch me rock it.

Meanwhile, my boyfriend, the mononymous Simon, got a vintage Seahawks sweatshirt, replate with the old logo where the seahawk’s eye is sweet and plaintive, not the fierce and aggressive seahawk eye we know today, plus two Urban Outfitters long-sleeved tees. Also for three bucks. The little church ladies laughed when we paid them: “We must be the cheapest thrift store in town!” Uh, yeah. One of my skirts cost a quarter. The woman actually held that one up and admired it. “This is beautiful!”

A list of past scores of mine include:

  • at least five Mary Quant-style sleeveless cocktail dresses from the ’60s
  • one of which is lime green and has a matching coat, lined in yellow satin
  • two killer kimono-sleeved ’70s-doyenne type dresses
  • a set of vintage Le Creuset cast-iron skillets in excellent condition ($5 for both)
  • a brand new digital clock radio (what, I needed a clock radio)
  • this old bolt of orange/yellow floral fabric that I use as a tablecloth sometimes–I dunno, it’s just cool

I ended up giving both of these vintage dresses to friends because they didn’t fit me. Which was fine because they were $2 apiece. You can just BUY EVERYTHING.

Warning: Shop at your own risk of feeling like a total shitheel for ripping off these sweet old church ladies. And at risk of me fighting you for everything good. Oh, I will be there.

University Temple United Methodist Church is at 1415 NE 43rd Street, in Seattle’s University District, although the entrance to the thrift store is in the alley, closer to 42nd Street, near Caffe Allegro. The thrift store is open every Friday from 2pm to 5pm, during the mid-day meal for the homeless.

I’m the Firestarter, Twisted Firestarter

6 Apr

MAYBE I AM BIASED OR SOME KIND OF A THING, but this event has me crazed with excitement:

Stefan Gruber, high school teacher and flip-book/Flash animator who was shortlisted for the Stranger’s Genius Awards in 2008, is directing The Firebugs this weekend at the NOVA Project, my own little alma mater. (Can high schools be alma maters, or is that just colleges? Screw it. If there’s one thing I learned at NOVA, it was to do whatever I want! Like drop out and move to California with a guy I met on the Internet, for example!!)

Written by Swiss playwright Max Frisch, the show features an all-student cast and tells the story of cheerful young arsonists who, “though their motives are sinister . . . operate with a policy of absolute transparency and friendliness.” After reading reports of superfantastical sets and special effects from the NOVA Animation Portal, I can’t help but imagine a living Gondry movie unfolding before our eyes. Maybe with a few influential elements of Max Fischer from Rushmore. (Maybe that’s just because of the playwright’s name.) Whatever it really is, I have no doubt that it will be grade-A boss-some. I’ll follow up with a review.

The Firebugs shows at the NOVA Project (300 20th Ave. E., within Miller Playfield on East Capitol Hill) on April 5th, 6th, and 7th, at 6pm and 8pm each night. The suggested donation is $5-15, but “no one turned away for lack of funds!” Oh, please go to this, you guys.

There’s Gotta Be a “King of the Hill” Joke in Here Somewhere

5 Apr

Thanks yet again to my fellow geography wonk Jen Dziura for linking to the fantastical story of King Peggy, the Ghanaian-American woman who woke up one day to find that she had been elected as the next king (yes, king) of Otuam, her family’s ancestral community in Western Africa.

“Your uncle always wanted you to be the next king,” Kwame Lumpopo went on. “He was so proud of you.”

But Peggy knew there was more to the process of picking a king. As Kwame Lumpopo explained, the king’s elders had to propose names to the chief priest, Tsiami, who then said each person’s name while pouring schnapps into the ground. If the schnapps was absorbed, it meant the ancestors did not want that person to be king. If the schnapps steamed up, it was a clear sign they wanted that person to rule.

“And when Tsiami said my name, the schnapps steamed up?” Peggy asked.


There was a long pause.

From “King Peggy in Ghana,” O magazine, March 2012

Man. I love this. I also love imagining that it’s peach or butterscotch schnapps, some grode flavor that none of your guests will drink so it just sits on your bar-table for years and gets all gluey. This tribe finally figured out a use for it.

(I also love Oprah so don’t even step. We can talk about that in another article sometime.)

Savage Garden

5 Apr

Dude. So right as I was despairing about how I didn’t have any content for the Amethyst today and my blog experiment is clearly spiraling down the toilet and why don’t any of my projects ever work, this guy shows up in my inbox. LIFE IS FUNNY EVERYONE

Click to read more of Garden Spectre by Sam Alden

All I know is about Sam Alden is that he’s 23, he lives in Portland, and he made this gorgeous, splendidly detailed but at once rough-hewn Moleskine® comic titled Garden Spectre. And that I am his newest beaming fan. Look at those trees. Reminds me of the old Ripley’s Believe it or Not! art from the ’30s, but it’s a little user-friendlier, I think. Way more chewable than a bunch of point-blank faces of kings.

You can find more of Sam’s work at I recommend that you do.

(Sorry for the headline, everyone.)

The Rules of Polenta

3 Apr

Awwww, it seems that Gennie dredged up some mercy in her little heart after I whined about not having time to write anything and sent me this charming little piece about polenta and what to do with it. When you’re done reading, go click on her name and look at her photos of Yorkshire puddings because they’re ad-yorkable.

Lamb and polenta. (Copyright: Gennie Jenner, 2012)

It may surprise some, but in Italy, there are rules. There are rules about what what you can have on a sandwich. There are rules about what you drink at specific times of day. Yet these rules vary from region to region and even village to village. Everyone believes their rules are superior to all other rules and they are also likely to believe that their version of something is the original version. Imagine if you will, hundreds of creation myths regarding a dish, and then multiply that by a thousand or so in terms of assorted dishes available to people. This is why Italy’s government falls apart every nine months or so. You have so many versions of how things ought to be that officially, that very little will be accomplished.

Yet, day to day things happen. Like dinner. You can rely on dinner in Italy. It might end up being consumed at 10 o’clock at night, but it will happen.

Tonight, we shall make polenta. In the North, they use a coarse variety of cornmeal. In the South (like in Calabria, where some of my family came from), they use a much finer version of cornmeal. The upside of the fine cornmeal is that cooks a little more quickly. We are going to do that because sometimes you just want to get dinner on the table before someone can develop some kind of long-standing feud with someone else. It happens. You should meet some members of my family. There are people who have held grudges for decades. But let’s forget them for a bit.

Put out the antipasti and pour some drinks. You have water to boil. Polenta is really about ratios. Let’s imagine you are only cooking for two,(obviously double if you are cooking for more people) so measure out about ½ cup of cornmeal (set that aside in a bowl so you won’t forget about it) In a sauce pan (remember from last time, isn’t this thing getting a work-out or what?) that isn’t made of Teflon, because what are we? Visigoths? You will want to bring to boil 1 ½ cups of water. Add a little salt. You know a little, not a lot. Once the water comes to a boil, you will sprinkle in a little of the cornmeal and you will stir. Stirring is what you do. The cornmeal may try and clump up together like fascists and you have to break up these clumps with your wooden spoon. Beat the clumps against the side of the sauce pan. And you continue to slowly add sprinklings of the cornmeal. I know this may seem like a lot of effort for a peasant dish but this is a dish from a Catholic country. As my mother would say, “offer it up.” (A little suffering is good for the soul.)

As you add more of the cornmeal, you will reduce the heat. You can slow down on the stirring a little bit as you have to check the other elements of dinner. The polenta is still cooking. Lovely. Return to stirring and continue to keep an eye on potential clumps. It will over time become thick and much like a porridge. It should be ready.

Now you can pour it into a large dish and put your ragu on top (you know the one you have been cooking for eight hours–yes, that one) or you can serve it with grilled sausages, which is more common in the Emiglia-Romagna region of Italy. I like doing this when I want to make a quick dinner. Between that and a simple salad, you have a well-rounded meal.

Rectangular polenta. Polentangula. (Copyright: Gennie Jenner, 2012)

OR you could take the polenta and pour it out onto a wooden board, and as it is cooling, you shape it into a rectangle. Once it has cooled enough, you can cut it into slices and serve it up as a first course. You could put bits of cured meat or fish on top of each slice. Maybe some some sauteed mushrooms. I trust that you know your audience. You can even take the leftovers and fry it up the following day for breakfast. Have it with some eggs and bacon. It is a starch that is incredibly flexible and goes with the moment. Much like the people who eat it.


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