Pantone 15-5519: Color of the Year 2010In one of my favorite (because it’s one of the quirkiest) year-end traditions, Pantone has released its 2010 Color of the Year. It’s color 15-5519, colloquially known as “Turquoise.”

For those who aren’t design geeks, Pantone is a company that has striven for color matching since 1963. That is to say, they try to make standards in color. If you took five people to a hardware store and asked them to buy turquoise paint, you’d get five different shades of blue/green. But if you tell someone that something needs to be a certain Pantone color, it will always be that exact color. It’s related to actual pigmentation, rather than digital images – Pantone colors are mixed using actual pigments, not RGM or CMYK values. There are over a thousand designated Pantone colors, and many organizations that have recognizable logos have very strict regulations as to what Pantone colors are used to create that logo. Boise State blue is Pantone “Reflex Blue” and Boise State orange is Pantone #172. The University of Texas uses an orange called Pantone #159.

I love the idea of there being a Color of the Year. It’s such a deliciously arbitrary thing. I mean, who sits around and decides what neutral is the new black? Who gets to decide what color is going to best represent a year that hasn’t even started yet? (Seriously, I want to know, because I want that job.)

They’ve only been doing it for a few years at this point. “Violet tulip” (Pantone #16-3823) was the first Color of the Year, for 2005. I guess 2006 wasn’t a very colorful year, because we didn’t have another CotY until 2007. That year’s color was “Chili Pepper” (Pantone #19-1557); 2008’s was “Blue Iris” (Pantone #18-3943), and this past year’s color has been the irrationally cheery “Mimosa” (Pantone #14-0848).

I like this year’s pick. In fact, the combination of Turquoise and Chili Pepper is one of my favorites – I’ve got an imaginary living room all decked out in those shades. I saw a window display at Pier One once, with a turquoise wall decorated with big chili-colored platters. It’s such a vibrant, beautiful, zesty combination. In fact, some number of years ago I started to set up a website using those colors – it’s just too bad that I never did anything with that website, I guess.

Pantone #15-5519 is bound to appeal to me, though. For one thing, turquoise is my birthstone (or one of them – apparently I can choose between turquoise, tanzanite, blue topaz, and lapis lazuli, depending on which website you trust). And – according to the Pantone “Colorstrology” people, anyway, my “astrological color” is Pagoda Blue (#17-4724), a teal that looks like turquoise’s darker cousin. (The colorstrology page is actually kind of fun – you should check it out.)

Well, when I started to write this, I thought I had a point. It turns out I didn’t. But that’s okay. Not every blog entry has to be a winner, right? 🙂 Have a good one.

Happy to be alive and blogging.

Ryan told me that it had been snowing, so I’d want to leave myself some extra time to get to school. When I went out to start my car, I realized that by “it’s been snowing” he meant “you need your snow boots” – we got some SERIOUS weather. School wasn’t canceled though, so I was off to Nampa.

The roads didn’t seem bad in my neighborhood, but as soon as I hit real roads I realized that they were slicker than they’d appeared. I figured that once I got on the highway I’d be okay – after all, the highway usually gets cleared up more quickly than the rest of the roads.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that the highway wasn’t in very good shape, either. Fortunately, westbound has low traffic in the mornings, so I decided I’d just take it easy and drive nice and defensively all the way in. Unfortunately, the idiots around me didn’t seem to think that was a good idea. I was driving at a safe speed for the conditions; other drivers were tailgating me, blinding me with their high beams, flipping me off, and zipping around me at 50-60 mph. The worst aggressive driver was so bad that I wanted to call the cops on him, but his license plate was completely covered with snow. Go fig.

So I’ve got the stereo off, I’m in the righthand lane, going maybe 35 on the highway, being as safe as humanly possible – and suddenly, it’s like my car just got picked up and set on a sideways moving track. I start sliding sideways, across traffic, and nothing I can do is doing a thing to stop or straighten myself out.

I don’t know when I’ve ever been so scared. I was in a relatively bad wreck once before, and I remember the moments after the impact – the car spinning and lurching to a stop. I don’t remember the milliseconds before impact. This one, though – I had time to be scared. I was painfully aware of the cars behind me that I was crossing in front of, totally out of control – and worse, I was very, VERY aware of the eastbound lanes of the highway – lanes packed with commuters, right in the path of my slide.

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t think of family, home, friends, work, or any of the things I’d be leaving behind. Mostly I just thought that I was going to die, and I didn’t want to die, and I thought about how much it was going to hurt when one of those semis hit me. I was scared of the pain. Like, teary-eyed scared of the pain. (And still am, just writing this.)

Thank God, this is what happened instead:


That piece of highway is (hypothetically) under construction – which is probably how I slid in the first place. The pavement is rough, and when you hit an uneven patch it kind of throws your car. I figure I hit one of those spots hidden under an icy spot, and away I went. Anyway, because it was under construction, there were temporary concrete barricades put up between the westbound and eastbound lanes. As I slid across the highway, I saw the barricades and turned into the skid, and my car turned just enough that I hit the barricade with the corner of my fender instead of head-on, and I bounced off and skidded to a stop, almost as if I’d meant to park there on the shoulder of the highway.

I was shaking so badly that I couldn’t think. I think I said “oh my God” about a hundred times. (Ryan, now you know that that’s apparently just what I do when in a state of shock.) Then I asked the car what I was supposed to do, whether I was supposed to call the cops or what. My car didn’t respond, so I started looking for my phone, but my hands were shaking so badly that I couldn’t find it. About that time I realized that if I could slide across the highway, someone else could, too, and so now I just started begging the rest of the highway not to slide into me.

Then I finally found my phone, but couldn’t dial. Just about then a police car pulled up on the other side of the median. (It turns out he’d been called out by another car, depicted in pink above, that had driven into the ditch. But it was a white car in the white snow, and he didn’t see it, so I got helped while the person who actually managed to call dispatch had to wait another 20 minutes for a second cop. Sorry, white car in ditch. I didn’t mean to steal your cop.)

Oh, and I cried, too. As long as we’re in True Confessions time, here.

So the cop wanted to know if I was okay, and we looked at the car, and he took my license and registration and everything. Which, y’know, was cool, because yesterday was not only my birthday but my license-expiration birthday. So I had an expired drivers’ license. And he called a tow truck, and he gave me a ticket for driving too fast for the conditions. Even though, as I told him (and you, just a minute ago) I was the slowest thing on the highway.

Casualties so far:

  • front left corner of car
  • one school day
  • my mascara
  • my spotless driving record
  • about 5-10 years off my life (and considering Texas took 5-10 off the other day with that last-second field goal, I now have an expected life span of about 45 years – which is 16 years more than I thought I was going to have this morning)

It took me half an hour to get anyone to answer the phone at work, but I finally reached someone who was able to arrange for a sub and jot down some sketchy lesson plans. If the sub follows them, and if the kids cooperate, they shouldn’t get too off schedule.

It took almost an hour for the tow truck to arrive. The police officer stayed with me until the truck arrived, and he offered to let me sit in the back of the car, but I decided that was absolutely the last thing I needed, especially considering that our double one-car accidents were drawing the attention of news crews. The first to arrive was Channel 6, and as I was sitting in my car feeling sorry for myself, I realized that the dude filming my bad morning was mi amigo guapo Eric. So I got out of my car and he gave me a trademark lift-off-the-ground hug, and that made me feel a little better. Also, he said he wasn’t going to put me on the news. That made me feel better, too.

So the tow truck finally got there, and he didn’t want to take the car home, but he eventually did take us home, and then he dumped the car facing the wrong direction on the road for some unknown reason, and charged an arm and a leg, but hey – that’s what credit cards are for, right?

I started to realize that I was going to be sore a couple of hours ago, and now I can tell for sure that I’ve got some achy pains, but all things considered – it’s all okay. I was wearing my seat belt, and although I bumped my head on the window it wasn’t hard enough to even hurt at the time. My fingers are a little sore where they gripped the steering wheel, and my torso muscles are beginning to complain after no doubt clenching up into a futile attempt to preserve my important bits, but I’m fine. And there’s some possibility that my car will be okay, too, if we can get the fender off of the tire.


Doesn’t even look that bad, does it? Thank goodness for sturdy cars and for not driving too fast. And thank God for concrete barricades.


What I guess I was trying to say in yesterday’s post is that I had a huge intellectual crush on Tom Trusky, and I’m going to miss him.

Everyone ought to have a chance to hear his voice and his nutty sense of humor. There’s a tiny clip on BSU Radio here. I got into my car yesterday afternoon, turned the key, and his laugh burst out of the car speakers. Fantastically shocking – needless to say, I didn’t leave the parking lot for a few minutes. His voice, unexpectedly broadcast, and the comments from his long-time friend, Alan Virta, really got to me. I wish you’d listen to it. Tom’s laugh will make you smile.

There’s a Trusky interview podcast here, as well, but I haven’t been able to get it to play. Not sure what it says or whether it works.

Read about other people remembering Tom at Deviant Forms, The Political Game, Robert Frost’s Banjo, and on Facebook.


I have a theory that teachers fall into one of four categories.

There are the teachers whose names you can’t remember, from whom you learned practically nothing, who had no impact on your life. Some are bad, others are just indifferent.

There are the infamous teachers, whose names you will remember all your life because you still curse their names when you get together with old school friends.

There are the teachers who you liked all right, who taught you a thing or two and who were enjoyable to be around – teachers whose names you’d recognize if you saw them in the paper.

And then there’s a list – a very short list – of teachers who change your life. Teachers you know, or want to know, on a first-name basis. Teachers who actually taught you something, who treated you like a person, who made a real and lasting impact on your future.

When I think about my college experience, and about that fourth category of teacher, I realize that my list has at most four names on it. I’m not good at maintaining friendships, but I think of these people as being friends. I’ve eaten breakfast with them, camped out at coffee shops with them, traveled across the country with them, made big huge messes with them. I’ve made fun of them and recommended their classes to countless students. They are people I admire greatly.

On Tuesday, one of them passed away. That makes three out of the four to die within sixteen months. We lost Mary Ellen Ryder on August 25, David A. Wells on May 3, and now Tom Trusky on December 1 November 27.

Tom was one of only two teachers – in public school or college – who ever made me be critical of my own writing. He was the first teacher I ever had who told me that something I wrote sucked. (He was entirely right, of course.) Before making the fateful decision to take his undergraduate Poetry Writing course, I was blissfully ignorant of the fact that I wasn’t God’s gift to the written word. And ultimately, I was one of the lucky ones in that class – some of my stuff, by the end of the semester, didn’t entirely suck. Instead of letting his students slide by on charm and raw talent, he forced us to acknowledge our weaknesses, to improve, and to doubt. (He also forced me to admit that “fire” was a one-syllable word. My fingers were crossed then, and I still don’t believe it. But he insisted.)

It took me several years – delayed by my class and band schedule and, once, by Tom’s health – before I managed to sign up for Tom’s infamous Introduction to Book Arts class. If you look up Tom on a professor rating website, you’ll see long lines of people queuing up to complain about that class. The fact is that Tom’s classes were brutal. People signed up, thinking “poetry! bookmaking! easy A!” and inevitably received the shock of their young lives – assuming they didn’t drop out in the first three weeks, as at least half usually did. I still use some of the basic book forms Tom taught us on a fairly regular basis – they’re great class projects….

And I loved being challenged, loved his wickedly dry sense of humor (sometimes you wondered if you were really the only person in the room who got his jokes – surely not, right?), loved being held to a higher standard. I loved, in a sick sort of way, being told that something I did wasn’t very good. Oh, it made me mad as hell, of course. The only teacher who ever made me angrier than Tom was Dave, and that’s surely saying something.

I mean, how can you NOT love and loathe a man who sends the following as his (partial) evaluation of your final project – without a letter grade attached?

I had a hard time “dealing” (ww?) with your chain book, initially because it was on red paper–a particular dislike of mine.  Flocked whore wallpaper came/comes to mind, or terms like gothick melodrama overkill, too.  Then we got your chains on the cover. And chains for illustrations. And the word “chain/s.”

Of course, it’s all so over the top.

Then again, a hand on a throat, what is it?

I think I am the problem.  Although only an M.A. in English, I do have a Ph.D. in Repression.  So every mitochondria in me wiggles with distaste and screams and, in their famed a cappella mitochondria choral style, shriek “Underplay!” and “Less is more!”

I have no idea what a grade would be on your book.  I know what I like about it and what I don’t, but these reactions seem beyond grades, somehow?  Does that seem stoopid?  Again?  I always ask myself, how would I do this book, if I were to do it.  My problem is is that your book seems designed to function as a voice enraged, full-pitch, full-bore, 100% rant.  That’s a stunning concept–whether accurate or not.  I just can’t imagine myself doing such a book.  I always do things that are paced, little Polack narratives with hills & valleys.  Yet hoping to leave you breathless at the end.  Yours just rabbit punches from page 1 on, again and again and again.

Summary:  I think you’ve thought the book out and generally executed it well.  I can’t ask for any more.

I loved wondering which dark green button-down shirt Tom would wear that week. Loved the way he lit up like a little kid on Christmas whenever he encountered paper that glowed, dissolved, resisted water – you name it. Loved the way he eviscerated anything that was precious, self-absorbed, or cute. Tom could say the word “cute” in a way that made the sliminess of the word absolutely tactile.

Hey, look. It's Tom. In a dark green, button-down shirt. Hoodah thunket? (Photo by Kim Sherman-Labrum)

So I signed up for the graduate level book arts class. (My favorite joke, which I wore down to a nub, I’m sure, was that the undergrad class was Introduction to Book Arts and the grad class was Defense Against the Book Arts.) It was that class that taught me that I might actually be an artist, for certain quantities of art.

I don’t know what to say about any of this. I’m just rambling, now. The newspaper article calls him mischeivous, says he didn’t suffer fools, and there’s nothing I could say that would be more accurate.

I wonder if Tom ever figured out who made the Ethiopian scroll to protect against Professor Trusky. I’m sure he got the joke. It would have been even more obvious if he’d known – and maybe he did, probably he did – about evaluation day at the end of the undergrad class, when I went ballistic on some of the students who were too lazy and self-absorbed to understand what Tom was trying to get them to do. I guess I can have a really short fuse when it comes to defending “my” people. He probably liked that scroll better than the one I turned in.

Hey look, another dark green button-down shirt.

He was creative and restless and exhausting and whimsical and brutal and messy, oh so messy. I mourn for those who get stuck trying to clean out his office. His nest atop the Hemingway Western Studies Center is an enormous workshop piled high with paper, thread, needles, old work, old comic books, half-assembled galleys, student work, posters, paintings, t-shirts, buffalo dung, books upon books upon books… It’s like a physical manifestation of his right brain, all jumbled and bouncing like an abstract-random stand-up comedian. I can’t do him justice. Here; read a portion of an email he sent, lambasting a local book repair shop:

Many 19th century Bibles have highly sculptured boards, cheap leather-covered.  They look opulent as hell.  Unfortunately, such surfaces are prone to injury and damage and the leather used is often of a lesser quality or thin as Saran Wrap.  The self-proclaimed Rabbi Word-binder showed us one of these shiny, “restored” Bibles; providentially, he was also at work on a dingy, battered sculptured Bible.  A student, eyes wide as a Shari’s pie pan (Banana Cream), asked “How can you make that look like that!” while he pointed at the Before and then the After. “Simple,” said Rabbi.  He opened a cupboard, pulled out a can of Mop-‘n’-Glo, unscrewed its lid and dribbled what makes your wife’s kitchen floor gleam across the damaged cover. A miracle!  As with your wife’s floor, you may now eat off this Bible.  However, in terms of restoration, the demise of this Bible has been certainly assured.  (I know not the fate of your linoleum.)  My point being:  in checking with two or three other binders–in addition to the aforementioned two–about this restoration technique, all either chortled or fainted.

Yes, that plaid shirt is dark green. Just in case you were wondering. (Photo from the University of Alabama Book Arts Program)

I don’t like losing people. It’s the only thing I know of that makes me want to put my fist – sometimes my foot – through a wall. I don’t like feeling like that, particularly about people who inspired me to create rather than destroy. Now, maybe if I put my fist through a wall, and then turned my cast into a book – that he would have appreciated. As long as it wasn’t cute.

One more, just because I like it, of Tom (in navy and yellow, WHICH MAKE GREEN) with Enver. (Photo from the Manitoba Museum of Find's Art Flickr Page)

A nice tribute here that mentions some of the other facets of Tom’s fulfilling – and, I think, very full – life.

Tom’s website.

A flyer advertising his most recent book edition.

How do I end this post? Just keep publishing and editing it until WordPress explodes?


State of Shock?

It’s 3:27 PM on December 1. Yesterday – about 24 hours ago, actually – I crossed the 50,000-word mark.

I won NaNoWriMo, for the second time ever!

Despite the fact that the celebratory balloons seem oddly phalic (uhm, Writertopia guy? intentional?) I think I have to post this again, just in case anyone missed it:

I’ve got excuses, stories, and photographs, but I also have one last NaNoWriMo commitment before I can collapse. Tonight is the TGIO Party for the Young Writers’ Program, and it looks like I may be going it solo. I’ve got everything I need (except that I lacked the energy to dress up as much as I would have liked, but oh well) and now just need to get it all organized and ready to go. I’ve got certificates, prizes, snacks, slideshows…. Now if the kids and their parents will just show up, it will all be perfect. 🙂 Anyway, I’ve got a lot of stressing out to do, so I’ll save the recap post for a little later. Wish me luck.

Regarding the “end” result… There’s a lot of not-good in it, and a lot of stuff that was written that will NEVER see the light of day but that served its purpose in getting me to my goal, but it’s there. Fifty thousand new words of Wyrd. And the story is just heating up… 🙂