Archive for December, 2012

Happy Newt Year

Monday, December 31st, 2012

[IMAGE] newt gecko

…click to listen:

…about the music

I am a newt music composer.

Yes, I know that this is probably a gecko. But in order to wish you all a happy newt year he’s gonna have to do, ‘cos for all my gazillions of creature pix, I ain’t got no newt.
And you know what they say:
no newt is good newt.

Later this week, it’s back to this fella’s home: Hawaii, for some much-deserved R&R. Last January it was Maui; this one: the Big Island. With Big Volcanoes. And Big Lava. And Big Snorkeling!

[IMAGE] Alex Cousteau
Smile and say, “Sea Urchin!”

And my ability to shoot waterproof photos!
I cannot wait to be doing this again. San Juan Island is paradise, but the water is 48 degrees.
Looky, but no touchy.
Definitely no newt beaches here, I tell you. Clothing is not optional. Much as I’d love it to be.

So here’s to the start of 2013. Out with the old,
[IMAGE] newt gecko

and in with the newt.

[IMAGE] newt gecko

Well, for all the upcoming photos. These were from last year!
But you newt that from the gecko.

(get-go. get it? huh? eh? ohhh… well… never mind…)

To cap off the year

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

[IMAGE] jelly

…click to listen:

…about the music

Something’s jellyfishy.

You, kind Kelphistos (Kelphilos? Kelphisti? Lovers of the kelp-following?) have become used to my now-six-full-years of nearly exclusively natural-object explorations and often-dopey commentary. But there have been a few occasions, like county fairs and airport wanderings, when I’ve deemed the human-made to be worthier of your precious e-reading time.

And this, fair blogspherians, is one of them.
Behold: the shower cap.

[IMAGE] cap

Yes, I know, I know: a shower cap looks remarkably similar to a jellyfish. You would appreciate this even more deeply were I to post a photo of one of those east-coast or Caribbean clear-variety jellyfish. Or those gorgeous creatures we can see wafting around in awesomely disco-lit aquariums. Sadly, you’ll have to make do in this instance with my pic above of the common, red, Pacific Northwest denizen, our lovely crimson threat, the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish. Just looking at it makes me go ouch. It is VERY potent. We have loads of ’em up here. Watch your step.

I’ve just returned home from almost two weeks on the road: the first in New York City and the following one in Chicago. I am convinced that I met, talked, dined, drank, walked or exchanged passing grunts with roughly 3623 people. Ok, a slight exaggeration. But only slight. My approach to art-making is a social one: I value people and I love making contact. And I remain loyally connected once contact has been made. The result of all this congeniality is quite wonderful on many levels, but also means that by about Day Ten I have nearly lost my voice. Many are thankful for that result, surely.

[IMAGE] Alex at Hilton
At the Hilton Chicago, working ardently on losing my voice.

On this particular trip, I slept in two different Hilton hotels on three separate occasions. Good trick, huh? Meaning, the night before my departure to NY, and the night of my return from Chicago two weeks later to the Seattle airport, I stayed in the same SeaTac Hilton, which I snag for a tiny fraction of cost thanks to my masterful, well-practiced Priceline bids. And for the week in Chicago, I set up camp in the historic (and well renovated) Hilton on Michigan Avenue, at the merciful Midwest Clinic conference rate. I smiled broadly at the woman checking me in, and she gave me a corner room on the highest floor. And later that day I scored free Wifi, just because I called the concierge to see if there might be a weekly discount from the stultifying $16.95 daily rate, and instead of instinctively shouting “what a @#$% rip-off!!” I was very nice to the person. Niceness often pays.

Staying as I do in so many hotels throughout the year, I have become expert in assessing the little amenities that greet me when I open the bathroom door. In recent recession-fraught years, even the swankier outfits have cut back on the goodies (no more free toothbrushes, mouthwash or plastic shoe horns, and shoe shine cloths and mending kits are harder to come by). Even still, there is most definitely a parity between the class of hotel and what’s next to the sink.

The Hilton is a good hotel, so along with the shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and two kinds of soaps, they always make sure that my plentiful long locks can stay dry while bathing. Frankly, I almost never use a shower cap. Maybe once a year, if I absolutely don’t want to get my hair the least bit damp before going out into freezing temperatures, thus turning me into an Alexicle. So after a shower-cap-less year, last week I finally deigned to pick up the box.

[IMAGE] cap

I really had never studied it before. Immediately, the logo and font scream out “designer quality! This is chi-chi, baby!”. Verrrry Madison Avenue. And then there is that magic, if overused word:

I admit, I was already considering donning one of these bizarre, sex-appeal busting contraptions (I was alone in my shower), but now, my curiosity was duly piqued. What, I ask, what, is the difference between a shower cap, and a deluxe shower cap?

[IMAGE] cap

I was frighteningly naive all these years. I really thought that these ugly-fying things (seriously: not even Cindy Crawford could look seductive in this getup) had been invented a long, long time ago. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and shower heads lacked the snazzy directional spray options on which we have grown to rely so heavily. I mean, it’s like the internet: I can’t even imagine life before it, and heck, I lived more than half my life [so far] without it. And shower caps?
Been there, done that.

But I was wrong.
This– this Deluxe Shower Cap– was designed AND developed by a man with three names and no spaces.
I mean, we are talking high end, expensivo, too hip for the room, wake yo’ mamma, shake me I think I’m dreaming, this is too good to be true.
First Class, I tell you.
The three Ds: Deluxe, Designed, and Developed.
My pulse quickened.

And look! There’s even a web address!
Very handy, in case I need assistance with the whole deluxe shower cap application process. I mean, granted, the designer took the time to print clear instructions on how to use this thing right there on the outside of the box, but gee– there aren’t any pictures. I bet the website has some nifty diagrams.
Plus, I can type in that URL if I want to order a bunch of these as gifts for my closest friends (after all, the ones I like the most bathe regularly).

I nearly had to sit down.
The excitement of opening this very, very special offering was making me dizzy.

[IMAGE] cap

I fumbled with the elegant box momentarily. Maybe one needs the website in order to cope with the vaguely opalescent, multi-pronged and sided packaging, which is almost as contrived and challenging to decipher as one of those Apple products housed in a clear-plastic and white, hermetically sealed and possibly bulletproof case. I was never good at these kinds of three dimensional puzzles.

[IMAGE] cap

Inside this precious origami: a shower cap.
Not just any shower cap: a DELUXE shower cap.
I could not wait to unravel it and bask in the glory of this item which has been so carefully designed and developed. Really: it’s one thing to design something like this. But it’s not really deluxe until it’s been developed.

I was learning quickly. I had never been so up to speed on shower caps in my life, and had progressed from ingenue to connoisseur in three minutes.

With the care and attentiveness I would give to any fine object d’art, I unfurled the sheer plastic.
My hands trembled slightly. I think I might have even forgotten to breathe.

[IMAGE] cap

Lo and behold! It’s a…
Shower… cap…

Didn’t you already see this shower cap, earlier in this post?
Yeah, just like we’ve already seen this shower cap, time and time again, earlier in our lives.


Plus ça change, plus c’est la même shower cap.

The Hilton.
Clean and comfortable corner room with a fabulous view.
Free WiFi for their smiling guest.
Really nice staff.
But man, they are such a tease.

There’s a reason for the similarity between a jellyfish and a deluxe shower cap:
If you’re not careful, you can get stung!

Alpacalips, now

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

[IMAGE] Alpaca

…click to listen:

…about the music

Music that sounds anything but alpacaliptic.

It’s early December, and the countdown to the end of time has begun in earnest.

Admittedly, it’s hard to be too earnest when staring at this adorable face. If it’s the last thing I see before the calendar goes “poof,” well then, I will have died happy.

With waaaaaaay too many unfinished projects,
but happy.

[IMAGE] Alpaca