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Welcome back to the 100 Delightful Things in Worcester Project, 2017 #RHPFF edition \o/ This year the lovely Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival interns, Sarah Meigs & Alli Jutras* are taking the reins & bringing us the good stuff. Check out this great little bit on Clark off-campus staple,  Acoustic Java  (932 Main St # B).

xoxox,
Apple

 

Kelley Square. Wowza! If you’re from the Worcester area you know exactly what I am talking about. If not, chances are your gps will betray you and send you there soon enough. In Kelley Square there are no rules: no road markings, a few yield signs, and a lot of cars.

ANYWAY, lucky for all of us, Kelley Square is also home of the Crompton Place, an old textile mill on Green St that’s been restored and filled with gems. Firstly, Birtchtree Bread Co: you walk into this huge open space filled with the smells of everything from coffee to homemade sandwiches, soups, and pastries. Then, you order the feta toast – life changing – and sit down in one of the cozy booths or communal tables. On Sundays, they have bands play, and it is just the most lovely place to meet a friend, sit and read, or do the work that you’ve been dreading to do (which, of course, you can’t do until you finish your toast ;-)).

Next there’s Seed to Stem – OH HOW I LOVE THIS PLACE! Filled with the most beautifully green plants, sweet smelling candles, and all the cool things you could ever dream of. Literally, I want everything in there. Oh, and they rotate through the greatest set of playlists that I can’t resist singing along to. Badly and loudly I might add.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Crompton Collective. A space where local vendors, craft makers, artists, rent booths and sell their goodies. Once again, the music is always great, and you can easily get lost looking at all the amazing things the craftspeople and collectors of Worcester have to offer.

(Also located in the building is a barber shop and a salon. If I wasn’t bald, I would eagerly get my hair cut at them both.)

In all, as ridiculous as Kelley Square is, there are some fantastic things happening there that you must check out if you haven’t already. Saturday I was at the farmers market in Crystal Park (There is also one held every Saturday in the parking lot of Crompton which is DELIGHTFUL) and I bought honey from a hive located on the rooftop of a building  right in the square. How cool is that?! Kelley Square honey!

~Sarah

 

*#TeamSalli FTW! Thank you Clark LEEP Program!

doll20parts_zpsoei23o2mSo… Looking at this project from the front and kind of far away, without anything in hand and just the paper dollies stop-motion trailer from last year under my belt, it looked like simply A Good Time. A little closer up, sitting on the orange rug in the office, surrounded by ripped open bags of secondhand Barbi, Bratz, and a variety of other unidentified dolls* from the thrift store, it still looked like fun, albeit somewhat complicated fun – there was a problem to solve, and I generally like a problem to solve, especially when it involves clay, dictionary pages, ink, and glue. And over the course of a few weeks, with the generous application of all of those (delicious) supplies** our models emerged at last, rabbit-headed and incredibly tippy,*** but creepily darling in their own right.

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And then I had no idea what to do about it. Because that’s kind of how I work, right? I write novels without outlines,† I push things into motion sometimes (ok, often) with only a general plan, and I have been known to go on a spending spree at the craft store just because I want to touch all the things to find out how they feel. A friend once asked me what I thought my defining drive/emotion was, and for me it came down to Curiosity. This is to say, my inner critic is strong, but she also often gets squashed down by my inner six-year-old, who just wants to know How Things Work.

Ok, so I had a clue: I knew that Picasa would crunch pictures for me once they were amassed. I knew that we would need something stable to hold the camera while we took a brazillionty†† pictures for Picasa to crunch. I knew that lighting was going to be A Thing. And I knew that keeping track of two figurines, specifically, which leg of which figurine was going in which direction during micro-movements, was going to be a little tricky.††† I also knew that we were going to need to build a set that not only looked nice, but accommodated some really top-heavy movie stars.‡ And so, armed with an idea, we dug in to make a trailer.

Here’s how it went, bullet-point style:

– We opted for the iPad to take the pictures, because it does a better job than my phone. Also, I do not own any high-end camera equipment.

– We moved two six-foot tables into our space – one for the set, and one parallel to it for a workspace & camera. There was about a foot and a half between the two. We masking-taped the floor around the feet to mark the tables in case any of us bumped them, so we could move them back if need be. Also we duct taped a couple of the feet down and prayed it wouldn’t pick up the finish upon removal. (We got lucky there \o/)

– Books books books. And tiny birds. And dominoes. And the tiny model trees I had always wanted to buy but had no reason to buy, and a birdhouse, and some bitty paper apples. Dictionary paper, a watch key, and a bunch of fat produce rubberbands, cut into strips, to keep the slidy stuff in place – we built a set. A really cool set \o/
PRO TIP: Take reference shots. Things will move as you move all the, well, moving parts. It’s really good to know where they were before they moved. Also, if you have cats where you work, reference shots are invaluable. (SPOILER: we have 3 cats. We also employed a barricade overnight because Gunther likes the way Barbi hands feel against his fancy fancy teeth. Project board worked really well. G’bless the science fair, y’all.)

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– We set up lamps. We broke a lamp. We agreed we needed more lighting. We bought two cheap clip lamps (cheap clip lamps are The Best! Just, you know, make sure you have something to clip them to.) and a pack of 100-watt bulbs from HoDo. We moved in a couple power strips. We adjusted and adjusted and adjusted, and sighed and decided to humor one particular set of shadows in favor of dulling a big shiny reflection on the pretty green wall. In retrospect, we probably could have benefited from a string of LED Christmas tree lights taped strategically behind the set.

– We stuck the iPad on a couple books and boxes (and a tiny side table), and strapped that mess together with masking tape.
PRO TIP: I picked up a pack of foam popsicle stick looking things, initially to place between books to keep them from sliding. They were sort of ok for that, but not as good as the rubberbands. What they were REALLY good for, tho’, was as shims – we used them to keep pretty much everything level. And by everything, I mean the camera setup – we slid some under the iPad case, we slid some under the tiny side table, we popped a couple in under a book when the shot looked a little off.

– We applied generous amounts of modeling clay to the feet of our dollies to provide some support. This really worked out really badly. We revised our approach.
PRO TIP: if you want to get something to stay in place, the intuitive leap to modeling clay is great only in theory. Pick up some sticky-tac. You know, the stuff you use to hang up posters without cocking up the semi-gloss on your walls? It is AMAZING in these situations. Truly, I cannot praise the stuff enough for on-set shenanigans – with the sticky-tac we were able to make our models go where we wanted without having to employ balancing tricks; we just sort of, well, stuck stuff to other stuff where we wanted them to be and shot quickly. Hello, I ♥ sticky-tac.

– Team Salli posed the models, ducked out of the frame, and I shot. Pose, duck, shoot, pose, duck, shoot, pose, duck, shoot. Sometimes I posed and ducked and one of them shot. We did that for roughly 250 pictures – Good Times.

– And I let Picasa crunch the pictures: you select your pix from the files, tell it to make a movie, use the time-lapse option around 1/9 (play with it – you may find you like 1/10 or 1/8), and export that business. Afterward I popped it into Windows Movie Maker and added some music and fades, and voila! My friends, we have a trailer =)

For more information about Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival, check out www.rabbitheartpoetry.com

Also! If you’re poking around looking for info on making a film with practically no budget, check out the Rabbit Heart Pinterest page, How-To Tuesday for Rabbit Heart, where we’ve collected all kinds of good links for you <6

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*Some of which were unidentifiable because they were missing a head, or were only a head. The thrift store sells them in plastic bags that seem to have been scooped roughly out of a bin marked Random Doll Parts. Or maybe a dumpster behind a daycare. Anyway, the contents are all mismatched and really ought to be washed down before too much handling. I, natch, spilled them out on the rug and decided to wash my hands really well afterward. Before I vacuumed.

**And paperclips (to hold on the ears). And a multitool (gogo Leatherman!) There’s most of a Skipper doll inside the little bun – some bits needed to be trimmed. Honestly, the most difficult part of the transformation was getting the hair off the dollies so that the air-dry Crayola clay would stick to the doll.
And on that note, I must once again mention (I know you’ve heard me say this before): Behold the humble glue stick. Your materials almost never need to be expensive, they just need to do the job. Stuff we used for this project included wood glue, an $8 glue gun, Elmer’s glue sticks, used toys, a sheet of sticky tack, roughly-used dictionaries, a couple of $6 clip lamps (the bulbs were pricier than the lamps!), and kids’ craft air-dry clay. Stay simple, y’all.

***Some of this is down to the user. I was never a kid who played with dollies. Our interns, Alli & Sarah (whom I have been known to refer to fondly as Team Salli) were able to get them both to stand up with far less stress than I.

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†Admittedly, the last one took me 10 years to complete. I’m not proud of that, I just can’t seem to stick to an outline. In my own defense, I did write four short stories and a chapbook worth of poems that applied to the same universe in that time.

††FWIW, there are easily a Brazillion Portugese speakers on the Ragnaros realm in World of Warcraft. And I have pugged with a fair number of them.

†††This is where having two interns was particularly great – one dolly per intern really helped!

‡Sidenote: there’s a serious riot grrrl rant in here somewhere about how dolls marketed to boys, action figures, stand up better than dolls marketed to girls. But since I did happen to add a shitton of weight & counter-intuitive-balanced ears to the figures (not to mention, encased Skipper in an super unnatural position inside that small bunny), this is probably neither the time nor place.


O! O! O! August 28th was Audrey’s last official day as the Very First Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival Intern and Marketing Co-conspirator* and I’m already missing her. From making a stopmotion trailer for the festival,*** to getting out and about to investigate Worcester† and talk to people making wonderful things happen, to helping build this year’s trophies, to reaching our goal of selling out the venue before September 15th,†† I can say with sureity that we kicked some butt as a duo.

This has been a truly phenominal summer pulling the ends together and getting Rabbit Heart out into the world, and I’ve enjoyed it to the teeth. Thank you, Clark LEEP Program, for pairing us up!

You’ll still see more of Audrey – she’s opted to stick around as much as she can (classes are in swing now, so she’s working around that schedule and her two -2!- jobs), just not as much. There’s also still more 100 Delightful footage that has to be crunched, so her smiling face will grace the R♥ YouTube channel now and again,††† which makes me super happy. In the meanwhile, please wish her a fantastic senior year, and look for her at the festival, where you can tell her in person what a wonderful addition to the Doublebunny crew she made over the summer!

***

*Gunther will tell you that Audrey was not actually the very first Rabbit Heart Intern, as he’s been here all the while, and he long ago claimed the title of First Chair Intern for himself. Of note: when Audrey was in the office, he refused to do any work, occasionally sauntering through a room, muttering under his breath the phrase, “Second Chair Intern,” with side-eye and all, and then trotting off to sulk under a bed. Such is the life of a tuxedo cat** in a casual office environment.
** White shirts and fur coats: Gunther says it never goes out of style.
***
APPLE: First order of business – let’s take apart this photo enlarger and build a rig!
AUDREY: Um… Ok!
cut to –
APPLE: Which leg is moving forward again?
AUDREY: …
APPLE: …
cue nervous laughter, then gut giggles
† First open mic! First poetry slam! First Coneys! First roller derby! Aquatic animal statuary! Absinthe!
†† How about by the 5th? Whaaaat?? \o/
††† 100 Delightful is down for a nap now that Labor Day has passed – but do not despair! The Worcester featurette will still happen, just not on a regular schedule again until subs close for 2017.

The 100 Delightful Things in Worcester* project is winding down for the season** – Rabbit Heart 2016 is heating up and heading for the finish line, and there’s an awful lot to juggle that requires hanging out in the office. All that to say, I’m glad we’ve arrived at this one*** as one of the final shorts, because we had a ridic good time filming it.

Highlights:
– All the gear it takes to not get smushed in derby
– Derby names
– Derby 101
– Action shots!****

WoRD is always looking for new members – you can see their info and class schedules online at their website. You can also visit them on Facebook.

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*While technically, we were in Auburn for this one, the team is Worcester’s own, and practices out on the QCC side of town.
**100 Delightful isn’t going away – it’s heading for a little nap is all, & will be less consistent for a bit. There’s still some footage left to crunch for this year, and there will very probably also be some random stuff between now and next summer. The plan is to pick it right back up after submissions for Rabbit Heart close for 2017.
***Which I’ve been affectionately referring to as Audrey and Apple’s Big Derby Day – wheee!
****Thank you Bill MacMillan and Audrey Dolan for getting the center line shots!

O! O! O! I know Angela Pasceri and Randal Gardner from back in the old Java Hut* days when we were all a whole bunch more aimless (and even a little more silly) than we are now. Well, I’ll tell you what – running into them a couple years ago at an art museum opening was like coming home and finding out that things are even nicer than you remembered. We caught up about life as burgeoning grownups, and what we were doing,** and they not only told me good stuff about Eternity Iron Works, but they also let me in on their plans to open up a maker space in Worcester – of course I swooned!

So when Audrey and I had a chance to tour the WorcShop (open a scant three months now, and already blowing everyone’s minds), we jumped at it. Lots of machines! Studios! Newborn bunnies!*** Come see ♥

 

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*Aww – you too? It’s ok – someone’s just cutting onions around here, nbd.
**I was handing out stickers that night for the first Rabbit Heart, y’all ~.o
***Three days old, omg!

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.

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.

 

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*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?

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.

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