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1. On Friday night, the usual chaos that is Critical Mass ensued. It was a much smaller and more subdued group than usual…because it was butt-freezingly cold. Actually, it’s been worse at various points recently – it was darn near reasonable Friday night, but reasonable for December in Kansas City is still plenty stinkin’ cold. The blue, rubbery, squeaky dophin on the handlebars of my old Trek had gone all hard from being cold, so I couldn’t use it to make loud squeaky-toy noises. Normally I like to make a little noise on CM, but since that bike hasn’t got a bell, and the dolphin was frozen solid, all I could do was hail passersby with “Happy Friday! Happy New Year!”

2. On Saturday afternoon, I went on the ACME urban exploration ride, as is my wont. As In was leaving my house, I looked across the street and saw one of the little crazy neighbor girls climbing out the front-room window. The child was barefoot, wearing a skuzzy, powder-blue, too-small tee shirt and a glorious, ruffled, plum-purple velvet skirt. She perched on the windowsill, grinning and waving to me, hollering, “hi, bike-lady.” Those two little girls are friendly little cusses, even if they can be a royal pain in the butt. I can’t imagine what possessed her to climb out the window all bare-footed, especially considering there’s probably a foot of snow on the ground in the lawns all up and down our block.

3. On Saturday night, after a lovely home-cooked Indian dinner, I started singing the Chutney Song. Joel had a bit of an WTF moment, I think, but recognised the cadences of a Weebles song and asked if there was a trippy cartoon to go with it. I replied that of course there was, and that we should watch it forthwith. About an hour of random Weebleness ensued, the upshot of which was that Joel spotted the tee-shirt sales, recognised the absolute fabulousness of the Pork design, and set himself up with the following tee, in ladies XL, which will probably be his springtime mountainbike racing jersey. He’s planning to have “Team Sexypants” printed on the back, across the shoulders.

I may buy the same, in Ladies’ Small, for my own nefarious purposes.

4. On Sunday, Joel and I went to the Nelson Atkins museum. There’s a special exhibit going on chronicling the early history of photography. My favorite images in the show were 1. a daguerreotype of frost on a window, 2. a cabinet card of a mischievous boy crouching on a chair in a froglike pose, and 3. a photo of the moon, shot through a telescope, I guess, with incredible detail in the craters. I’ve come to the conclusion that I generally prefer vernacular photography when all’s said and done, but I’m still quite fond of good studio portraits, because I’m fascinated with the fashions of the past, and just how people looked. Given today’s access to and attitude toward makeup, the styles of eyeglasses, and haircuts, people (women especially) can often look quite different, even though the possibilities of the human face are fairly finite. You have to look very closely at some of the very early daguerreotypes to realize that the faces of the sitters are not so alien as they first appear. The solemnity of expression, and the fussy hairdos with sausage curls arranged before the ears and coal-scuttle bonnets framing the whole arrangement makes some of those ladies of the past look like completely otherworldly creatures.

5. While we were there, I saw two Claes Oldenburg pieces that I’d never seen before. One I’d seen in photos…a large soft-sculpture of a saxophone. The other, a huge, bulbous, sagging, shocking-pink vinyl light-switch, was completely new to me. It was a kind of obscene-looking construction. At first glance, it looked like a hot-pink udder complete with two pointy teats. I’m a total Oldenburg nut…I’ve been ridiculously pleased to live in the same city as the Shuttlecocks, and I told Joel that if I ever get to see the toilet in person, I will have a hard time getting over the sheer fabulousness of it all. I don’t really know a lot about Oldenburg biographically, but I can’t help conjecturing that he had a significant smartass streak.

6. On my next trip to the library I am planning to pick up books on Oldenburg and Renoir, because I like their work, for various reasons, and I’d like to know more about them as artists and about their personal histories. Right now I am nursing a pet theory that Oldenburg was a bit of a smartass who relished freaking people out with his surreal and sometimes physically suggestive work, and I think Renoir must have been awfully girl-crazy. He painted so many beautiful women so lovingly and with such detail that it makes me think he must have had a real eye for pretty girls and was very fond of them. I don’t know these things, and I am hoping to learn if my guesses are at all correct or if I’m totally projecting (which I probably am). I like both of the artists’ works at any rate, and would love to learn more about their motivations.

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