Tuesday, December 30, 2008


With the current economy I'm looking around the house and thinking "ebay, ebay". Used to be a Power Seller. Of postcards! (Not pencils.) Anyway, countdown to the New Year has begun I guess. Since Jon's flying out early in the morning, we won't be staying up. At least I have an excuse for it! Got big plans?

Monday, December 29, 2008

More Party

We went to a really nice party last night. The food was great: ham with crunchy burned pieces, home-made macaroni and cheese, even home-made black bottom pie, which is chocolate and vanilla custard layered with whipped cream on top. There was even a bottle of absinthe for the daring, which I wasn't. There weren't too many people, and everyone was friendly.

Our friends had just finished remodelling their house, during the course of which they were robbed, the roof collapsed, and two of their old cats died. But they've got a lovely house now, and a kitten and one surviving old timer puss. Their oven had a keypad with alphabet letters as well as numbers. Was this internet access through the oven? Could you get fried email? Spam?

I met a black couple named Rose and Ernest. ROSE and ERNEST? Those are my parents' names! So I called my new friends Mom and Dad. They were twenty years younger than me, at least. They were really nice.

I ran into a woman I hadn't seen since she came by my house twenty years ago and wanted me to animate "There's a Party in my Pants." Around the same time I was asked to do a slide show presentation on venereal disease. A time when I was starting to worry about my so-called career. It was nice to see this woman. She's very smart and one of the few women directors around.

Another woman I met for the first time was wearing a knee length red and white striped pirate shirt. Her hair was crimson and pink and orange. She was really pretty. She told me she learned how to ride in two weeks in order to play a Barbarian princess in a Roger Corman movie. The Barbarian queen in that movie was Lana Clarkson, Phil Specter's victim. If I call her up I may get to go riding with her. We talked mostly about horses.

Every time I see the hostess she's wearing a beautiful party dress. She told me she's always overdressed-- she loves party dresses. She was wearing golden shoes too, and looked so pretty. Some of the clothes she gets at thrift stores. I used to collect party dresses from the 1920's, so I could identify with the passion. But as you get older, if you wear vintage clothes, people think you bought it new!

If the video says it's no longer available, it ain't so. I just played it, though I got that message first time out. You've probably seen it, but it fit the post.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Jon's father fell yesterday and fractured his skull. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital and is in stable condition. But it's not a good condition to be in.

We went to the racetrack to get our minds off things. This jockey above, who's the top jockey in the country, was on a horse that suddenly tried to jump the inside fence, fell and rolled on him. He survived, incredibly, but with fewer teeth and lots of injuries. I took this picture right before the race. He was walking backwards and laughing.

In the next race a really great filly that was leading had to be suddenly pulled up-- a leg fracture, her racing career over, but will likely survive as a brood mare.

Life is so fragile, isn't it?

Friday, December 26, 2008

I'll have some party

We had a great time. Everything was tasty. The guy at the end with the shiny red bow brought champagne jello in a mold. It was quite effervescent. We had a very jolly time. Everyone got hysterical when the doorbell rang and it was a friend of Jon's who was delivering 6 dead ducks as a present. For years we've talked about having mental illness night and now we think it may be happening in January.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Need Anchovies!

It's still dark out, and raining, and I've already had a pie disaster! The first crust was made of shortening and cracked out in the bottom, and that was the end of the shortening. Googled crust with butter, made a second crust. I know it's the right way to do it but it's even harder than with shortening. It looked great going into the pan and I thought I was a pie champion at last, but it SHRANK- you would have thought I put it in the dryer, not the oven. So I have to break bits off the crappy first crust and slug them into the second crust, and hope the meringue will fool everyone. Hope your cooking or eating goes better. We used to leave a plate of anchovies out for the Christmas penguin. Our menu, and the state of preparation:

Toasts with red pesto

Fruit Cup (done)

Mashed Potatoes

String Beans
Fresh Peas
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Chopped Salad (stray g recipe done)
Roasted Asparagus
Carrots with Mint
Squash Pudding (done)

Spicy Cranberry Sauce & Plop Sauce

Lemon Meringue Pie (EEK)
Huguenot Torte
Gingerbread (done)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

oh owl!

I love shiny ornaments. Been cooking and cooking today and will be doing the same tomorrow. So far things are turning out as intended, maybe because this wise owl is watching over me.

Have a great day tomorrow, wherever you go, and stay off the ice!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Interactive Snout

Isn't this goofy? By artist Golan Levin. Not sure if this will embed in my blog or not. The artist uses really serious words to describe his project, the kind typically used only in grant proposals.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Blue Blue Blue Xmas

CLICK HERE to see my latest video, made just for you!

I struggled and struggled to get a file format that would work on youtube, only to discover it looks so much better in Flash, so I've got both versions up. The advantage of youtube is you can stop it at any time, but it's only about 2 minutes long. Actually if you click the high quality button at lower right it looks ever so much better, a new feature of youtube.

Here's the back story:

Sometime in the 1980's the A.F.I. offered a grant program for music videos. I've always loved the way music and animation worked together, and was sorry I never had a chance to make a video. They offered three songs to choose from: I guess they'd gotten clearance on all three. I chose "Blue Christmas" by Elvis. I've always loved Elvis! I forget what the other two songs were.

The competition was judged on the storyboards submitted, and I did a very full and colorful storyboard, (image above from one panel). I didn't get the grant. Later I learned it was because the judges didn't think it used the particular properties of video enough. They were right. What was I thinking?

However, I was very fond of these storyboards. Last year I scanned them all, and tried making a simple animatic, (which is what they call animated storyboards.) But it looked really cheesy, just trucking in and out on still shots, like an underfunded PBS documentary. So when I came back from New Jersey last week I started animating this. It only took a week because Flash is so nifty for animating. A week! And mostly I was doing other things during that week!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hiding Out

I know it's been a little quiet around here, but you all are probably also absorbed in holiday preparations. Mine involve writing and changing the menu, and wondering what I really should clean. I aint wrappin or givin presents. My Visa is finally at $0, and I want it to stay there.

I've finished my holiday video but am completely exasperated trying to convert it to a file format that I can upload to youtube. Probably tomorrow I'll post a link to it directly in Flash. I have so many video/animation programs that you would think this would be an easy thing, but it's not. And you'd find it incredibly boring to read the trail of bread crumbs I have to go through to render my flash animation in a youtube acceptable format.

My mother's condition is yoyoing around. Tonight she said she'd seen the movie "Home Alone" at the Saturday screening and it was extremely frightening and had ruined her day. Last night she sounded okay, but the night before she didn't know she was talking to me and told me how inadequate Sally was around nurses.

But today was a lovely day. We went to Hollywood Park to watch and bet on the horse races. Dinah came too. I've been reading a "for Dummies" book on betting on horses, recommended by a prominent racing blogger, and I SCORED! I won more than $200 on minimal bets, because I'd learned new ways to place bets. I explained some of it to Dinah and she scored too. We also got free fleece jackets that say Hollywood Park.

Actually it wasn't the dummies book that really clued me in, though it explained a lot.

As I was watching the horses in the saddling area (while Jon took the jackets to the car, and before Dinah showed up), a woman much older than me, (is that possible?) came up and told me the secret of winning these races. She said she has a friend who wins thousands of dollars every day with this technique. She kept poking me in the shoulder, and "pickpocket" crossed my mind, except she didn't look that together. Anyway, I followed what she suggested and won $50 on a $4 bet. When I thanked her later, she looked pissed. When I pointed her out to Dinah, Dinah thought she looked entirely crazy. When this picture was taken, I'd already started winning but Dinah hadn't started following my technique.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Got to the Getty

It was a rainy day today and we went to the Getty Museum-- hadn't been there in years. We saw a show of plein air painters circa 1820, a Russian avant garde book art show from the 1910's, and best of all a big show called "Dialogue among Giants" showcasing the work of early California photographer Carleton Watkins, whom I'd never heard of. The picture above is one of seven in a locked tight panoramic series of San Francisco in 1856. The prints are HUGE and hung side by side. Even though I haven't been back to San Francisco in about 25 years, I could recognize parts of the city, and this is all before the earthquake.

1856! Imagine.

There was an incredible shot of a ship wreck perched on the beach below where the various Cliff Houses have stood, from the 1850's. It was a tall ship with sails, and the most amazing picture. Unfortunately they don't have that posted on the Getty site. Our pal Linda would have been especially amazed because this is where she jogs.

Later we went to the fancy restaurant at the museum and had a very nice lunch. I had a pasta dish with lobster, squash, green beans, apples, and truffle cream. Sounds peculiar but it worked. They had the weirdest martini submenu inside the main menu, including one that was made with pumpkin pie filling and whipped cream. euw.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Chickens like spaghetti when it's warm and moist. I wish I'd gotten the picture when they were running around with long strands like they were worms. When we cook too much pasta, we give them what's left over. They get bored with any one food in about three minutes though and go back to looking for bugs.

And here's a cooking idea, tested today. We had pesto for lunch, made in Cuisinart. The basil was a little brown and winter bitter so I threw in a handful of those little tomatoes that are being grown so sweet these days. They chopped up into little red pieces which, against the green of the pesto, looked like something for somebody's office party. And sweetened up the pesto too.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Office Party

Glad you all made it to my office party today and glad no one fell in the punch bowl-- actually it's just orange jello and gin, but you gals put a mighty dent in it. Guess you're not exactly vegetarians!

L-R: stray g, Namowal, Linda D and yours truly.

Oh, and make your own party here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Krampus time

I think I've posted Krampus postcards before, the weird bad guy who travels with Santa in Germany. He's kind of cute in this pic. This year we're more or less ignoring Christmas, except having people for dinner, and a small tree to decorate.

But, but, I'm animating a song for you guys, just for you. It will probably get pulled off of youtube in a hurry because it's using a famous song, but I figure I'll have a few days before some copyright nut reports me. Since we have a monster storm due in tomorrow, I should be able to make a lot of progress, so stay tuned.

Are you doing the recession xmas this year too? or kwanzaa or hanukkah?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Another Photo Resource

LIFE and google have pooled resources and offer up an amazing photo archive which provides plenty of entertainment as you type in random words. This is from a German pre-Lent carnival in 1967. The photographer is Ralph Crane. There's even an option to order prints of pictures you like.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Something she ate

Whinsey has a lot of food allergies and they cause her to go all Tourettes sometimes. This is one of those times I guess. And the company she keeps-- eek!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Poor Mom

My mother's had a couple of falls in the last month because her knee is giving out. Years ago she was hit by a car while crossing Main Street. She got fitted for a new brace while I was visiting two days ago, but it is a monster brace that goes from hip through foot, locking her leg.

She's in better shape mentally than her phone calls would indicate. Over the three days when I was visiting we had many laughs. But her world has shrunk so much. They had her bed wired with a buzzer so she wouldn't try to get out of bed in the night without help. But everytime we laughed or she moved her hands while talking the buzzer went off. Now they have a different system set up that's less big brother.

She said she wishes she'd never taken vitamin pills in the 70's and 80's. Her basic health is quite good but her vision and hearing are not. At present she's stuck on her bed except when she's wheeled to the dining room. And you should hear the silence in the dining room.

I don't think I want to write more about it here. In six days I visited two top drawer senior homes. The one in Florida is much fancier than my mother's, but hers is also nationally recognized for its superior health care and grounds, started in the 1970's, run by Quakers. Both places advertise in the Princeton Alum weekly, my brother told me.

Both places are encountering big problems: they need fresh blood, as in new residents. At the Florida retirement resort 100 spaces are empty out of about 600, where formerly there was a long waiting list. The problem is the fresh blood can't sell their houses to put down the big down payments. And people are living longer, and spending longer parts of their lives in Assisted Living. The huge number of skilled and vetted nurses needed costs these places a lot. Another problem that's going to hit us old baby boomers.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Out of here

We're getting up at 3:45 to fly to Naples, Florida via Chicago to visit Jon's parents. Then on to New Jersey on Monday to see my mother who isn't doing so well. When I called tonight the nurse answered. My mother was in a panic because she couldn't find Carol's phone number. Carol died 17 years ago. But after I talked to my mother for a while, she was laughing about it.

But you can see, things aren't going well. I'm not taking a computer so this blog will be quiet until after Wed. night when I return.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Pneumatic tubes and Razor Blades

I woke up thinking about pneumatic tubes, those amazing compressed air shuttle systems that somehow suggest a means of time travel. When I googled them for an image, I was amazed that the Swiss Swatch store in New York City has an ultra cool pneumatic tube system to deliver the watches. Almost enough to make me want to visit New York again! There used to be a large department store in Berkeley that used pneumatic tubes for all the cash transactions. In fact it's the store where Patty Hearst was working before she was abducted. Did I tell you I always worried the police would mistake me for Patty Hearst? What a nutcase I was.

And then non sequitur I remembered how in our old house there was a slot in the medicine chest for throwing out razor blades. So they went through the slot and into the guts of the house, where they must remain till this day. Ever see one of those slots?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Snake Birds!

Lake Balboa is teeming with bird life right now, I think they must have stocked it again. I always think these cormorants look like snake birds. A little splash by a pelican in lower right.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

1941 Carnival

I renewed my flickr account today and discovered a new feature, called "The Commons" which consists of photos with no copyright attached to them. This beautiful color is from a slide taken in Vermont in 1941.

Like the L.A. Public Library collection I mentioned some time ago, this one uses tag entries to pull up material. In this case I entered "carnival."

I love color pictures from long ago where the color is still in range. Such a window into the past. I just realized there's a whole set of these pictures here.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Lisa Frank and the Slumdog film

I used to love the Lisa Frank merchandise at Target, stationery and party supplies in garish gradients and intense colors, popular in the 80s and early 90s, especially with those under age 8. I checked out the Lisa Frank site recently and it had lost its uniqueness. Formerly it was all about sentimentalized animals, especially horses, dogs and penguins. Wonder why I liked it? A weird Chinese LSD look now lost.

I came upon a bunch of unused stickers from the early 90's today and was admiring them. Then we went to the Galleria for a matinee of "Slumdog Millionaire". We had free passes. Otherwise the tickets would have been $11.50 ea, or $13.50 at night. Plus you had to pick your seat. How do you know what seat, when you haven't seen the height of the person in front of you? Popcorn was $5.00 for one large. Fortunately they didn't sell any of the candy I crave. They were also selling gift art books in the lobby. Kind of nutso, considering you may get your greasy paws on the cover, or even worse spill your drink. eek, and you haven't even given it yet.
And please don't say "gifted it yet" or I'll press the eject button. They had a person with a name tag hanging on her neck to introduce the movie, in person! Guess I don't get out often enough, all seemed goofy to me. I kept thinking, "Where's my seatbelt?" It was an Arc Light CinEEma. How can they get away with these prices??

Oh the movie's alright and some of you will love it but I'm a bitchy critic. The colors were terrific, and it sure makes me want to cancel any travel plans to India. I got really disjointed by the lack of a horizontal composition line, but to others this will feel like setting yourself free. I thought a whole other story line was going to kick in near the end, but I dare not tell. Enjoy it. At least it's not boring, depressing and mostly about medical troubles, like Sch? the Charlie Kaufman movie I mentioned a few days ago.

Oh I forgot to write that there are connections between the Lisa Frank aesthetic and the Slumdog aesthetic, and it's not dogs, horses or penguins. (Idea: it's over the top and happy about it.)

Would have rather read another Lee Child novel but the library wasn't forthcoming. They seemed to have more books in the Korean fiction section than in the mystery section in English. Hey, I can sound as cranky as Sandra Tsing Loh if I keep at it.