Tall, Dark, and Mysterious


Potteryblog, redux: the Hollywood North edition

File under: 1000 Words, I Made It Out Of Clay, Talking To Strangers. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 9:10 pm.

So, we’ve established that no one’s interested in my pottery. Tough crowd, but I’ve been spending nearly all of my time in the studio lately, so that’s all I’ve got. How about a story about my pottery and Al Pacino, then?

Gallery Show this week. Here’s my stuff. Those of my readers who follow the amateur pottery scene will note that the bulk of my work does not conform to the preferences of the consumer, who will pay good money for a turd dipped in blue glaze after rejecting every other colour of bowl, mug, vase, or plate, regardless of how skillfully made and well priced. I’m not kidding; every single one of my pieces that sold in the past two days was blue. Someone bought the fifth piece I made, ever. It was crap, but it was blue. Don Davis, author of one of my pottery bibles, once remarked that potters tend to focus on form, while non-potters pay closer attention to the surface of a pot. This certainly holds true in my experience, and it’s a shame, because glazing is my weak suit, and it shows. Throwing is my strength and my passion, but only other potters seem to recognize that.

But, Al Pacino. Sales were slow at the gallery yesterday morning, and the other studio member who was manning the tables with me decided to duck out for a few minutes to promote our show. A few minutes turned into half and hour, and when K returned, she explained that she had had trouble getting across campus, what with the movie being filmed around the science building (*), and what with every student and their dog trying to get a piece of the star, Al Pacino, who was six feet from her, and her without her camera!

I had my camera. K dispatched me to the scene, and I had no trouble finding it. Or, as it turns out, walking into it: I soon found myself six feet from Al Pacino while a handful of security guards idly looked on, but I convinced myself that it wasn’t actually him, because wouldn’t the security guards have held me back? As I turned a corner, a stagehand called out to me, “Hey! Get back! Only extras are allowed in here!”

“I’m an extra,” I lied, because, why not? I had nothing better to do yesterday than be in a movie.

The stagehand didn’t buy it. “No, you’re not,” he proclaimed with such conviction that I couldn’t help but feel hurt. What gave it away? I surveyed the actual extras across from me as I tried to assess what separated me so obviously from them. Was it my glasses? My aspherical breasts? My underwear-covering jeans?

The stagehand was forthcoming: “Our extras are not covered in dirt,” he sneered.

“Clay,” I corrected, self-consciously fingering the dried bits of slip in my hair. Nevertheless: point well taken.

I apologized for walking onto the scene, and explained that the security guards on the set had seen me and hadn’t tried to stop me, so I had assumed that the filming was taking place elsewhere. The stagehand sighed heavily. “Those are not security guards,” he explained slowly, “Those are actors playing security guards.”

I excused myself from the set. Off to the side, two female students were chatting up another assistant. The topic of conversation was something along the lines of Al Pacino is here? Like, right here? Can we see him? Can we get his autograph? I injected myself into the discussion long enough to ask what the movie was called, because on the off-chance that its editors suck, then they’ll leave in the scene that was filmed when I accidentally wandered onto the set. Look for the clay-covered girl, appearing soon in a theatre near you!

“It’s called 88 Minutes,” replied the assistant. “It’s about a guy who has 88 minutes to find three people .”

“What three people?” asked one of the girls.

And at this, the assistant gave a lopsided grin, and said, “If it were up to me”- here he pointed - “it would be you, you,” - eyes settling on me, and a huge wink - “and you.”

A few hours later, when I’d gotten myself to a computer, I looked for some more information about 88 minutes. Here’s a plot summary:

[88 Minutes is a] thriller about a college professor who, while moonlighting as a forensic psychiatrist for the FBI, receives a death threat telling him that he has only 88 minutes to live. In narrowing down possible suspects, he frantically seeks to communicate with a problem student, an ex-girlfriend, and a serial killer on death row. (**)

Which makes “and you” a contender for the worst pick-up line ever. Regardless, I have been really low on bloggable material lately, so I giggled and smiled back at the assistant, and handed him a promotional postcard for the gallery show. “You’ll have a lot longer than eighty-eight minutes to find us,” I said, and winked back at him.

I spent this morning in the studio attaching handles to mugs, and just after lunch I wandered up to our display to see how sales were going. “You sold some stuff,” the studio secretary informed me. “Some guy came in and asked for you specifically. He didn’t know your name, just told me what you looked like. It was weird. I told him where your stuff was.”

“Dude in his thirties or so, tanned, light brown hair?” I asked.

“Yeah,” replied the secretary.

Son of a gun. “Did he buy anything?” I asked, incredulous.

He did. He bought a mug.

It was blue.


(*) There have been many movies filmed on campus. The one that I remember best was this dreck, which is hands-down the worst movie I have ever seen in my life. I watched it only because I had heard that part of it was filmed in the very classroom where I had taught a first-year calculus class. The movie opened with a scene featuring high school students in that classroom writing their SATs, an acronym that the narrator informed us stood for “the Suck-Ass Tests”, and if you still think that this looks to be quality cinema after reading that, then you are not welcome here anymore.

(**) Does anyone else find it amusing that the problem student is apparently just as likely a suspect as the serial killer?


  1. we’ve established that no one’s interested in my pottery.

    What you mean “we”, paleface?  Me interested in both ceramics and psychoceramics (morbid curiousity only on the latter).

    - Engineer-Poet — 10/19/2005 @ 10:11 pm

  2. Umm, I love that largest brown bowl on the far left. Congrats on selling anything, though!

    - oliviacw — 10/19/2005 @ 10:50 pm

  3. We’ve been hearing about Al Pacino on campus for the last couple of days, too. I guess I forget that they do indeed film a lot of movies around here.

    I do like what they’ve done with renaming the library as a “Health Services Center” though. Adds a certain pizazz.

    - Simon Rose — 10/19/2005 @ 11:53 pm

  4. Agh, I’m a bad one–I should have commented on the pottery post because I LOVED the pottery. I am guilty on the blue thing, though. I have some coffee cups from Target that are glazed just like the ones in the gallery photo and, yeah, I bought them mostly for the color. But I’m also mighty fond of those brown-and-buttercream bowls (so rich looking!) and I love the mugs in the last shot linked in this post, too.

    I’ve always heard Hollywood pickup lines were super-cheesy-bad, but “you, you, and you” really takes the cake given that plot summary.

    - nurse hatchet — 10/20/2005 @ 12:21 am

  5. I like the buttercream and brown bowls.

    In addition, the only thing I had to say about the previous pottery post (at the time) was the clay trap cleaning looked nasty. But I couldn’t get up the actual energy to type it. Insurance has taken all this out of me.

    - meep — 10/20/2005 @ 12:57 am

  6. I must attend a boring school. We never get film crews on campus.

    (Of course, being 100 miles away from any city larger than 5,000 residents might also be connected…)

    All the locals tell of one movie in recent memory that was filmed in the locale, but I can’t remember the name of the film. Probably because it was released before I was born.

    - karrde — 10/20/2005 @ 5:47 am

  7. I love pottery and although I am not a potter, I always pay attention to the form. I have a bad habit of trading my goods for pottery at craft shows, even when I don’t have any particular use for the pottery.

    As for the blue thing, I read about some research in color preferences that said that blue is the most common favorite color, with something more than 50% of the population claiming it as their favorite. I’ve also noticed that herd color preferences influence buying patterns with my little craft business. I do tie-dyed baby onesies, and EVERYBODY shopping for a girl buys a pink one, and everybody shopping for a boy buys a cobalt blue one. I’ve made some lovely lavenders, and some rather feminine blues, and some nice neutral yellows and greens, and even hot pink, but they never sell. Everybody buys the light pink ones and the cobalt blue ones, even when they like the other colors.

    - Wacky Hermit — 10/20/2005 @ 6:47 am

  8. For many years I’ve had a meme in my head that purports to explain the color preferences you have observed. I have no idea where I learned this, but it was presented to me as a Known Fact, and it’s down in my memory under “fairly trustworthy”. Which is worth every penny you paid for it. To wit:

    People eat off china. They don’t want it to be any color that might get confused with their food. And if you think about it, the range of common food colors occupies everything south of green. Blue is the only color left.

    Those brown bowls look good enough to eat themselves, but a cook wants his soup to be visible in the bowl, not put in the shade by the rich color of the crockery.

    Anyhow, this is just a hypothesis, and of course it utterly fails to explain Wacky Hermit’s experiences with onesy-dyeing.

    - ACW — 10/20/2005 @ 1:00 pm

  9. Well, you’re not eating babies, but I can see a connection.

    All babies look more or less the same — like little chubby aliens. And, more importantly, it’s pretty impossible to tell boys from girls without some kind of signal. Thus the pink and blue clothes.

    I’ve put my baby in cute pastel clothes — heck, I’ve had my baby in yellow =dresses= — and people will still think she’s a boy because she’s pretty bald. And huge for her age. And yellow is considered an ambiguous color.

    Of course, people have assumed her a boy when the baby is in pink pants, too.

    Here’s another theory: parents can have to change a kid up to 4 or 5 times in a day. No, not diapers (that’s more often) - clothes. It’s easier if the clothes are all the same color, because then you can mix and match. Pink onesie, pink pants, pink socks, pink shoes. No fuss when there’s a muss.

    - meep — 10/20/2005 @ 1:28 pm

  10. Nurse hatchet (hey!) - was that you at the gallery today? Because today, someone came by to purchase both the big brown and buttercream bowl, and the burgundy mugs. Ha! Pottery is still less lucrative than working for minimum wage, however.

    Wacky Hermit - not surprising, alas, but I’m curious: what on earth is a “feminine” blue?

    ACW - that makes sense. One of the more experienced potters in our studio always glazes the insides of her mugs and bowls with light colours; she’d recognized that people prefer to eat out of light-coloured vessels, but didn’t know why. Being able to see one’s food - yeah.

    I’ve been called “sir” while wearing a light brown dress - you know the one, Meep. And I have long hair, too.

    - Moebius Stripper — 10/20/2005 @ 7:44 pm

  11. Sometimes I wonder if the artifex is from clayland. Points for guessing MS’s favourite colour?

    For anyone who hasn’t, click on the “unpossible” button in the gallery.

    “…and you.”
    ‘Nice shoes.’

    - Jordan — 10/20/2005 @ 8:01 pm

  12. As always, Roger Ebert comes through. His review of “that dreck” is mostly a rant about how most movies in cinemas these days are total crap, and then he ends with this: “Have I drifted from the movie under review? I’m not drifting, I’m swimming.” Well said.

    - Matt Corks — 10/20/2005 @ 9:31 pm

  13. Because today, someone came by to purchase both the big brown and buttercream bowl, and the burgundy mugs.

    I have a gift for prophecy, maybe? No, that can’t be right–I’d be wealthier.

    - nurse hatchet — 10/20/2005 @ 9:41 pm

  14. Jordan - oh, no points for that, come on: all of my favourite colours are in the layout of my blog.

    Matt - oh, that’s great. Reminds me of my favourite review ever. (I’ve posted this before; apologies if you’ve read it. What makes this article so great is that it appeared in the reviews section of an issue of the American Mathemtical Monthly, as a review of a specific calculus textbook.)

    - Moebius Stripper — 10/20/2005 @ 11:31 pm

  15. Hey - at work on Monday, a cafeteria guy called me “sir”. That hadn’t happened in a while. But then, everyone wears blue shirts and khaki pants, but most guys don’t have a 2-ft braid down their back… well, except that this is NYC and one shouldn’t assume about these things.

    I’m waiting for someone to call me sir next time I’m pregnant.

    - meep — 10/21/2005 @ 1:53 am

  16. My favorite review may well be Dorothy Parker’s review of “The House at Pooh Corner” in “Constant Reader”.

    Even though I disagree with the sentiment.

    - Doug Sundseth — 10/21/2005 @ 2:13 pm

  17. It’s true, the first thing I thought when I looked at the first picture was “I like that blue color”. Then I read the rest of the post and went back to look for something else to say.

    I really like the shape of the mug handles. They look slightly tapered in the picture, but still thick enough for a good comforting grip, and the curve is really elegant.

    - alextree — 10/22/2005 @ 3:25 pm

  18. Post-show update: after all the blue stuff was gone, people started buying the rest. Here’s what’s left - note that all six of the brown and buttercream bowls sold. Not surprisingly (to me), all of the vases remain; I find tall and thin forms the most difficult to throw, so I price them higher than the perhaps-higher-quality bowls and mugs.

    Also - the dinner set I’m making for myself will be a creamy/yellowy colour with rust accents. (Aside - so far it contains 4 cups, 4 saucers, 4 sandwich plates, 2 dinner plates (I’ll make the other two some other time; I ran out of clay that day), 4 soup/salad bowls, and a serving bowl. I also have a pitcher, but it’s made out of white clay, so I might make a red one. Am I missing anything? I might end up making a damned teapot, even though teapots are a huge pain in the ass and every time I make one I promise myself that I am never making another bloody teapot. Since I have made eight or ten teapots, the other potters can be excused for not taking my threats seriously. Hell, I may actually teach a teapot workshop one of these weeks. Anyway, once this is done I will have to become the sort of person who eats dinner off of actual dinnerware.)

    Speaking of teapots, I don’t know what the hell happened to mine: I thought I’d brought them with me to the studio, but apparently not. Hopefully they’re somewhere in my storage locker, because otherwise, who knows.

    - Moebius Stripper — 10/22/2005 @ 6:36 pm

  19. I’m a sometime potter who can’t throw on a wheel, but what I’m fascinated most by is glazing. Spent most of the 3 semesters I took of ceramics creating test tiles for glazing color combos.

    When looking at art, or anything else, I notice color first, but although I like blue, it’s not anywhere near my favorite color, and would not be my first choice of pottery unless it was a really striking and unusual shade. I really love complex colors, and if they are warm (in tone, like your rusts) as well, perfect. (Although I don’t care for yellow.)

    - Mychelline — 10/26/2005 @ 10:10 am

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