Invitation to Hell

June 11, 2009

Go ahead. Have your fun. I don’t mind. And yes, I’ll try not to stare like some pervy old man in a windowless van.

It’s the weekend, you see. And while you crazy kids will be out cavorting in the sun (OK, so maybe that’s wishful thinking), the ladyfriend and I will be down in a dank dungeon, grinding away at an intricate little slice of hell called "Wedding Invitations."

(Of course, it could always be worse … see below)

Now, admittedly the ladyfriend has done far more work on these little things than I. Not that I didn’t try to help, it’s just that she refused said aid. And I can’t blame her. What she’s constructed by hand is a sort of matrimonial marvel. In fact, it’s more of a booklet than a simple invite. The front of the cards are hand-stamped with an image that she carved herself of the cabin in Sisters where we’ll be married, and they’re held together with the rest of the package by thread, which she sewed down the spine. Flip this cabin inking open and you get the relevant details of the big party: the who, the what, the where, the proud parents. Then turn one more page and you arrive at the back, where a couple of stick-on corners contain an SASE for RSVPs (each one stamped with a red pinecone), as well as a handy scrap of paper containing directions to the cabin.

This has been her project for the last couple of months. And as we hurtle toward August, we’re hitting the point when we have to get these suckers in the mail. The house looks like Martha Stewart exploded all over the walls, floors, and wastebaskets. Construction paper, stamps, ink pads, scissors, paint, and embossing powder (which looks like cocaine) covers everything.

Finally, I’m being called in for duty. My penmanship, you see, is valuable. I write in all caps and tend to keep it neat. So I’ve spent the past few evenings addressing 150 or so envelopes. And we’ve spent the past few evenings getting in SUPER-IMPORTANT topics like … Do you spell out the state or abbreviate? Does everybody get a "guest"? Why do all of her mother’s girlfriends insist on keeping their maiden names? Does one kid constitute an "and family"? And lastly … how do you address a same-sex couple?

THIS is how we’ll be spending our weekend. Locked away, hands covered in ink and paper cuts, wondering why it was again that we didn’t just go down to the justice of the peace.

Enjoy your weekend.

Portland Underground Film Festival
Does “underground” mean cheap, messy thrills; no-budget chutzpah; or disturbingly taboo subject matter? In the case of PUFF, it means a little of all three. The festival’s four days will overflow with oddball shorts and fringe features ranging from the horrific to the enigmatic. Tonight’s feature is called "Bike Porn 3.0 Cycle Bound," a collection of short movies about (what else?) bikes. Apparently it includes lots of two-wheeled action and naked chicks, and there’s a "mystery ride" after the last show. We’re in. [Clinton Street Theater/7 and 9 p.m./$6]

Are you of the mind that the music’s not loud enough until your eyes and ears bleed? Us too. Like us, then, you’re probably going to this Shellac show. A supergroup of sorts, the band consists of guitarist and singer Steve Albini, who’s best known for his production credits with the likes of Nirvana and PJ Harvey; bassist Bob Weston (Volcano Suns); and drummer Todd Trainer (Breaking Circus). Albini’s industrial guitar-scraping owes much to Andy Gill of Gang of Four, and the band’s minimalist sound bares sonic traces of Can and Wire. Give yourself a day to recover. [Berbati’s Pan/8 p.m./$12]

MC Escher
Familiar to even the most casual observer, the works of graphic artist and printmaker MC Escher are famous for their multiple vanishing points, uncanny perspectives, and evolution of forms. About ninety items by this twentieth-century Dutch artist, from rough sketches to early architectural studies to exacting creative puzzles that required absolute mathematical precision, are on display at PAM. Certainly an entire afternoon could be spent pouring over the details of his twenty-foot-long masterpiece Metamorphosis III, a color woodcut originally commissioned by the Dutch Postal Service. [Portland Art Museum/Noon/$10]

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