Oh, PopUp Gallery , Worcester, you are so cool! You’ve hosted all kinds of seriously osm events, from art showings to dance exhibitions, to spoken word events. Which is to say, thank you WCC for making the space available to the city! GoGo #woopopup !

On August 7th, Bob Gill put together this really great reception for poets who were published in the last year, and I was super excited to hear about it* – Tony Brown, Victor Infante, Judith Ferrara, Joe Fusco Jr., Carol Mays, James Nicola, Catherine Reed, Christian Relfsteck, Susan Roney O’Brien, and Richard Fox** were on the roster. Audrey and I took a trip down on a perfect Sunday afternoon*** and enjoyed the celebration – we also got a chance to talk with Bob, and with Mark Thomas, half the organization behind the wonderful space in the old Printer’s Building.

 

***

*If not amused by the insistance to bring a chair ~.o
**Richard has been unwell of late – Gary Hoare stepped in to read his work and totally did him proud.
***The humidity didn’t hit until later that night \o/

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I know you’ve already marked your calendar and blocked off the evening of Saturday, October 22nd to be at Nick’s with us (because poetry movies, y’all), so I’m pleased to announce that tickets for Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival 2016 are now up and ready for you at the Doublebunny Store. You can grab yours right here!

We’re planning a super fun night for the festival this year – Tony Brown and Melissa Mitchell will be hosting again,* and there will be TONS of fantastic films screened. Awards are going out in seven categories this year: Best Overall Production (natch), Best Sound/Music, Best Animated, Best Smartphone, Best Under One Minute, Best Valentine, and, and, AND! Omg, folks, we got enough entries this year that the Shoots! Youth Prize is finally going to be a real thing!**  There will also be fancy dresses and photo opportunities and delicious food and drinks and, of course, popcorn.

In the meanwhile, if you need me, I’ll be over here getting the trophies set up – I’ll be the one with the inky hands, holding court with a bunch of paper bunnies. There will probably be movies on in the background – you’ll be able to find me by following the sound of the spaceships ~.o

***

*Have you seen this power couple all dressed to the nines?? Omg: GLAMOUROUS.
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**This is the third year we put out a call for entries for Shoots!, and the first time we received any entries at all – and we got TEN! I am over the moon, y’all.

Sarah Gillis* is a confirmed Cat Lady. It’s one of my favorite things about her. She keeps me stocked in stress-reducing photos of her furry brood, her netsuke cat game collection, and even the sweet new boarders at Worcester Animal Rescue League during kitten season.

As well as working for WARL, Sarah is also a registrar** over at Worcester Art Museum. When you bring her two specialities together, you get somthing really quite exceptional – the Cats in Residence Program.

Cats run the internet, everyone knows that.*** And, as well, until September 4th, they will hold court over at WAM. In the aviary over the Franklin Street entrance,**** you can meet some of the WARL kitties – and, yes, they’re all up for adoption.

ps – WAM is open free to the public for the entire month of August.There’s a really great show up right now, too, Meow, a Cat Inspired Exhibition.
pps – there’s also a cat cam in place that peeks into the aviary, for when you need an off-hours kitty fix!
xoxox

***

*Yes that Sarah – our copyright go-to girl and a judge at last year’s Rabbit Heart =)

**Kind of like a librarian for things that aren’t necessarily books. In her case, artwork. A librarian with mad loading skills, if you will.
***Behind every server is a fuzzy, clawful IT guy, keeping that business well-cooled and debugged and running. You know it’s true.
****This is different from the Hermitage cats – these buddies are all in one place and looking for people to take them to their forever homes.

Everyone in Worcester knows about Turtle Boy. And if you’ve visited Worcester, chances are someone took you to go see Turtle Boy while you were here. On the edge of Central Common is the statue of a boy -ahem- riding* a giant sea turtle. It’s actually a fountain, not currently functional, but, hey, we’re having a water thing right now. The statue, also known as the Burnside Fountain, was commissioned after a gift of $5,ooo was given to the city from Harriet F Burnside in memory of her father. Over the years it has become kind of a mascot to the city. Its official name is Boy With Turtle.** Of interest: somene tried to steal it in 2004.** Where were they going to put it??***

Anyway. In conversation with Molly about the fountain on the Common, I was given the heads-up about another statue in Worcester featuring sea life and a young man, and this one is awe inspiring in an altogether different way. Boy With A Dolphin by David Wynne resides in the courtyard at One Chestnut Place, and it pains me a little that it’s tucked away so well. This fountain (yes, it’s a fountain too!) is a true beauty.

Audrey and I went one rainy afternoon to see for ourselves. For the record, neither of us recommend sneaking past the orange barrier (in our defense, we found it ajar when we were there****) – we went and took some footage so you don’t have to wait until it’s officially open again to get a good look.

 

***

*You know what? I keep tryping a joke in here and then deleting it after feeling grimy as soon as the words land. You decide for yourself if there’s a good quip to be made. I can’t make it.
**A moment, please. I’m having a Wes Anderson moment.
***This amuses me to no end. The statue is twelve feet wide, and five feet tall. Did the thieves arrive with a vehicle or were they going to hijack it on foot? Were they going to stuff it in the back of a pickup truck and drive away? I retain an image in my head of two giddy (possiby drunken) bros dragging the thing down the sidewalk to a double-parked somewhat beat-up hatchback. That’s probably not the way it happened (I don’t even know if they got it off the base – this is conjecture, y’all. I maintain a rich interior life), but I like to think of it that way.
****This it the stuff that keeps me up at night (giggling). Would it have become a lawn ornament (surrounded by a bevvy of little gnomes in little red hats)? A roof topper (perhaps with a little weather vane atop it)? Also, having once seen the underworkings of a fire hydrant (once upon a time at a bbq in Dallas – but that’s a story for another time), I’m pretty sure there are pipes involved that would make mounting the thing a Pinterest project from hell.
*****Please forgive us, for we are lovers of public art, and so it felt like a speakeasy invitation: Psst – wanna see some ahhht?

Oh, how I do love Lock 50 – tucked away in the Canal District (50 Water Street) with her lovely staff and delicious coffee treats, I have found her equally the perfect spot for a work meetup or a relaxing morning.*

Highlights of this film include:
– Audrey gets KISSED BY A TINY DRAGON!**
– Talking Worcester and Second City politics with longtime resident Bill MacMillan and recent transplant Eirean Bradley***

Enjoy =)

*And I hear that now the café has extended hours in the evening – woot! Also, Lock 50 is indeed a full service (and rather fancy!) restuarant – I have not had the chance to check out the food yet myself, but I keep hearing super good things about it.
**She samples the delicious signature Facebreaker (macchiato with chili peppers!)
***I nearly snorfled coffee out my nose when Eirean said: “I actually kind of view Worcester as the middle sister of New England … Worcester is the one with the tattoos on her knuckles and really bad taste in men..?”
I really wish you could have joined us for this conversation – there was almost 20 minutes of footage by the end, and it was really tough to crunch it all down to just this little bit. But then, editing is painful like giving away puppies, right?

Will Dearest and I share in common the fact that we have family who had a hand in building big things: my granddad put the lights on the Verrazano Bridge in NYC; his dad was part of the group from Boys Trade that built the Ernest A. Johnson Tunnel. Both of us are proud of that stuff in the same way that little kids get excited about earth movers and dump trucks – it brings a gleam to the eye and a catch to the breath, and it demands be repeated as part of the fun trivia of our lives when occasion permits. We come to love the stuff that our families have had their hands in, you know? When I first moved up to Worcester, Will made sure that the Ernest A. Johnson Tunnel was on the list of places I needed to see.

I wasn’t actually 100% sure that it was a tunnel when we first drove it. I mean, it’s not very big at all; you could miss it if you closed your eyes for a good yawn* – maybe it was an underpass? But, then again, it’s long enough to demand lighting. And it has a name! No one just gives an underpass a name, y’all.

This tunnel has hosted black-tie parties and car burnouts, and once had some business called human bowling happen in there.** Occasionally, after a good hard rain, it hosts an amazing floom-style puddle.*** Good Times.

Anyway – while the Ernest A. Johnson Tunnel isn’t my favorite place in the city, it is one of my tiny joys, and I drive it whenever I have the opportunity.**** So of course, while we were downtown last weekend I brought Audrey to check it out =)

 

 

*While riding in the passenger seat, natch.
**I don’t know what that is – I wasn’t working at First Night that year.
***Ok, sometimes it floods out.
****Also, it’s super good for avoiding getting on the highway from downtown while that exit at Lincoln Square is all ripped up with construction.

A couple years ago I woke up with the startling realization that I’ve lived in Worcester, MA longer than I’ve lived in any other place. But as the saying goes, If the cat has kittens in the oven, you don’t call them biscuits. I’m not a native – I still get lost while driving here, I’m unclear on all the prideful fuss around that statue on the Common, I do a crap job of using wicked as a modifier,* and y’all is still my favorite pronoun.** I’m not entirely sure I know how to Worcester yet.

So anyway – with all that in mind, I started a blog project with the aim of not just understanding this city in which I live, but also maybe to fall in love with it a little bit, too: The 100 Delightful Things in Worcester project began in 2013 (2012?) And then, um… well, I kind of fell out of love with the project – stuff got in the way, and work got super busy, and I started Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival, and just, I dunno – I lost track of the whole thing around item 6.***

But now it’s back! As I’ve been working on R♥ it never fails – someone asks me if it wouldn’t be better throw this affair in Boston. And my hackles go up, because, you know, I live here – and also, you know, Worcester deserves nice things. And so, with the help of fantastic R♥ intern Audrey, the 100 Delightful project is up and running again, this time on film (because home movies are fun, y’all! Wicked fun, even).

We figured we’d start things off right with a quick Sunday afternoon trip to the venue for Rabbit Heart, Nick’s Bar & Restaurant, at 214 Millbury Street.


*Seriously – watch when it comes out of my mouth. Generally it’s followed by a blink and a blush. It gives me Feelings. Feelings like I’m doin’ it wrong.
**Shortly after I moved here I worked waiting tables. It never failed to amuse paying customers when I would ask, “Y’all all set?” after setting down the food.
***Seed to Stem – which has actually moved since the blog post. They’re over at Crompton Place now.

Well, it took a hot minute, but we now have a trailer for Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival 2016! Shot on the rig that Audrey and I built from a defunct photo enlarger and some odds and ends, and pushed uphill through post-production in Photoshop from its first draft, it took about a week from start to finish.*

This was an incredibly rewarding project – I mean, just learning how to do it was pretty exciting all on its own, but there’s more, too. Seeing something grow from scraps of paper to a moving thing is amazing. Collaborating with someone to make it happen is affirming. The groove of Process is renewing. This whole thing just feels really really good. If you ever have the chance to do one, I would highly recommend it =)

So save the date, ya’ll – Rabbit Heart 2016 is coming to Nick’s this year on Saturday, October 2016!

 

*Tho’ the paper dollies took a couple days on their own back in February.

WooT! We have a fine beginning for the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival trailer – this is the first draft, the proof of concept, if you will, that Audrey (best intern EVAR) and I cooked up today on the repurposed rig. 180 frames, I think.

Next I want to adjust the color and contrast, and crop out the messy stuff on the left and top. Tomorrow is All Photoshop All Day. Please send good thoughts – xoxo

finished20rig20at20rest_zpsagbk2depRepurposing is a thing that happens around here. Because of the lives that Will Dearest & I live, a wide assortment of oddball stuff has a tendency to accumulate in our home – I have a suspicion that this isn’t unusual for people who make art on the regs; most of my friends have a junk drawer (or room) that they refuse to open in mixed company. We’ve acquired the regular stuff – a variety of printers and computer parts (some that work, even), pallets, milk crates – as well as some of the less usual: a fussy lighting rig, a photo enlarger for analog camera film, a ziploc bag of feathers, three steamer trunks, you know, biggish and/or eyebrow-raising stuff. All of these items one of us looked at and said, “This might come in handy at some point,” and then stuffed into a corner.

But, check this out – this week we used some of it \o/

I’m not gonna humblebrag until the project comes to completion (there’s still a ways to go), but I am excited af to tell you that the first steps of making a stop animation trailer for Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival are finally happening – we have built a rig!

The biggest problem I’ve had with filming anything, much less stop animation, has been about keeping the camera from wobbling like a drunken cartoon character. I know for a fact that there are folks around with stable arms, people who can shoot handheld and make it look like gold, but I can assure you I am not one of those people. And some my previous attemts at building a rig involved rubberbands. Spoiler alert, that business bounced around like an outtake from The Blair Witch Project. I don’t need to tell you that was less than ideal. So I approached this project with some trepidation. Luckily, our fantastic R ♥ 2016 intern, Audrey, was there to the rescue! So, here’s how it went.

Tools used: a screwdriver with a star-shaped bit, pencil, xacto knife. Not pictured: scissors, cutting mat & board (I like my carpet, y’all), most of a roll of blue painter’s tape, and a few sheets of cardboard. And a pot of coffee.

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We started with two pieces of equipment: the enlarger and the light rig. The initial idea was to have the enlarger do all the work, hold the ipad and keep out the shadows, but it turned out the light was a) blocked by the ipad, and b) just not that bright. Hence the two-piece solution.
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