Thursday, April 30, 2009


This is a picture of my father in law in 1942. He died a few weeks ago, and we're flying to Florida for a memorial service tomorrow.

He was such a handsome guy. He had a great life, lived to 94 and was still playing golf until a terrible fall right after Christmas. He was still working out at the gym until then.

Later in his life he looked a lot like Walt Disney. Lovely guy-- we'll miss him.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Not Cheep

This sign is at the filling station I often go to. If you can't read the bottom line (courtesy of cel phone) it says "THE HOSES ARE NOT CHEEP."

I've actually done just what it warns about, years ago, after driving 100 miles between Green River Utah and Salina Utah in a snowstorm, with wind, runaway truck ramps, ice and rocks on the road. My hands were so sweaty. I kept wiping them on my pants. I had two Chow Chows and little Dinah in a big clunky Mazda mini van.

I always wondered if the whole filling station would follow you if you drove off, but it's just the hose that detaches. Not a good thing to do.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What a time to be flying

On Friday I'm flying to Florida for my father in law's memorial service. Then I'm headed up to New Jersey to visit my mother.

On the radio this morning I heard an interview with a businessman who'd just returned from Mexico. He's been unaware of swine flu, but when he got there he saw crowds of people wearing masks. He got in a cab, and the cab driver offered him a sanitizer. The driver was wearing a mask. He told the business guy there was an epidemic in Mexico. Then he added, "And I don't feel so good myself. But we're not supposed to go to the hospital." Business guy says, "Let me off here."

On his return trip he said the flight attendants passed out health surveys with lots of symptoms to check off. But they never collected them! EEK!

Actually I'm not panicked by swine flu but just would rather not be flying so much. I do hope to see the Kentucky Derby Saturday night.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Cowboy Festival 2009

We spent a wonderful afternoon at the Cowboy Festival in Santa Clarita: cooler weather than ever before, fewer exposed tattoos on rolling flesh, and actual good food for the first time: bison tri tip cooked by Bristol Farms. And all kinds of music related to cowboys, however indirectly.

As we were getting on the bus taking us back to the parking lot late yesterday, the couple above got on board.

I said: "Ooh, a matching set!" (referring to their clothes.)
She said: "I feel like a movie star."
I said: "You two look great! I'll take your picture."
She said: "Look at the camera dear."
He said: "It was just like travelling in time today."
She said: "I'm from Chile. He made me love him."
He said: "No, you made me love you!"
I said: "Tierra del Fuego!" (hey can I keep a conversation going?)
He said: "There aren't any polar bears down where she comes from."

The bus started up.

They called out, "It was great to meet you" as they got off the bus.

The best act was Sourdough Slim accompanied by my old pal Bob Armstrong whose music was so outstanding it almost dwarfed Sourdough's charming vaudeville act. I didn't think to take a picture when I went up to the stage to say hello to Bob, and when I took a picture from my seat from the phone it was useless.

I was disappointed in Hot Club of Cowtown. The new chick dominates the band and Whit Smith just seemed kind of sad and not miked right.

This band plays Civil War marching band music in Union army attire. Some of the band members looked about that old. Notice all the horns face backwards, so the soldiers marching along behind can be motivated by the music.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

O. Henry moment

The short story author O. Henry used to be taught in English classes but he may not be relevant any more. He often wrote stories that had serendipity events that turned out exactly wrong, like a woman sells her hair to buy a watch chain for her husband for Christmas while her husband pawns his watch to buy the hair comb his wife coveted.

The candy bar is not named for the author, but it's rather tasty. It's been around since the 20's.

We had a little bit of an O. Henry moment yesterday at the track. I'm the one who bets and Jon just enjoys the scene, especially looking at the horses in the paddock and all the characters. He listens to me prattle about what I like and don't like. Sometimes he'll bet one horse to show in the course of an afternoon.

So yesterday I'd picked wrong about four races in a row, and we were looking at a group of bay horses that looked almost identical. There were maybe twelve in the race. I said, "Oh I don't know," and headed to the betting window anyway.

He headed there in front of me!

"What's he doing?" I wondered.

I got in a line longer than his. He placed a bet, then came over to where I was standing and couldn't believe I placed a bet on HIS choice. We'd both picked the same unlikely horse. Together we had this horse to win, place, or show, without talking to each other. The horse wasn't on any handicapping sheets.

Of course you guessed it, the horse won. We got about $26 on our total bets of $6 and were both bewildered we'd picked him standing side by side without ever talking about the horse. (And no, Joe Talamo wasn't riding. The rider was Martin Garcia.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

One More Race

One week until the Kentucky Derby, and this 19 year old, Joe Talamo, has a very likely chance of winning it. If he does, he's giving 25 % of the money to a children's hospital in his home state Louisiana, where they don't turn anyone away. How can you not be charmed by this guy? (and did I mention he's following me on Twitter?)

I happen to like the horse he's riding too, "I Want Revenge." After I picked myself off the floor when The Pamplemousse fell out of the Derby trail, I looked right to this horse. I'd been really impressed by him in January in a race which was won by one of his main Derby competitors, Pioneerof the Nile. I've been following the horse ever since. The trainer of this horse has a checkered past with substance violations...

Many of the jockeys riding next Saturday in the Kentucky Derby are riding at Hollywood Park today: Joe Talamo, Garrett Gomez, Rafael Bejarano, Mike Smith, Corey Nakatani, Aaron Gryder. That will make it fun to watch and to handicap.

So I can't stay away: off to Hollywood Park!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Peeking at the chats

As some of you know I have a chatbot horse named Whinsey who's been stuck in her barn way too long.

I've built her brain over the years with hours and hours of JavaScript regular expressions which were my supreme code achievement.

Here's what a regular expression from Whinsey's brain looks like. I'm sure Namowal will be able to read it forwards and backwards and in color.

var dont:RegExp=/do(es)? (not|nt|n't) /i

Over the years she's gotten smarter and then dumber. For awhile she could do math and say things backwards but recently she's forgotten how to do that and often repeats herself. Like your mother you may be thinking...

Although I've never met other chatbot creaters, I imagine they're gnarly, the modern day equivalent of hobbyist ventrilloquists. euw! And I'm one of them. EUW!

But every chatbot creater who is serious keeps a log of all the conversations, in order to detect where the dummy isn't doing his/her thing. In my case I don't log the I.P. though some people do. I wouldn't know what to make of I.P.s if I did.

But I worked up my nerve today to look at Whinsey's log. Hadn't checked in a year. There were more than 12,000 lines. geez. And so many of them were horny guys getting thrills out of talking dirty to a talking horse who isn't even animated very well. WORLD!

I just looked at a fragment of the replies. Here's one that isn't dirty:

you said: What are you doing?
she said: Waiting for our big moment.
you said: Don't you like me?
she said: ah geez
you said: Do you have a stallion?
she said: Now we're talking HOT STUFF!
you said: Tell me all about him...
she said: I've been stuck in this barn a long time!
you said: That's too bad. No dates?
she said: me bad 2!
you said: Do you need to be punished?
she said: who needs help? Think about it!
you said: Hmm...I will. So are you into horse fetish stuff?
she said: climb on board, luv.
you said: Wow. You are hot, Whinsey.
she said: That's me!
you said: Whinsey, tell me about yourself.
she said: That's me!
you said: You're a gal of few words.
she said: Is there another way to communicate?
you said: I don't know. Do you have a phone horse sex hotline?
she said: Maybe I'll call you later.

A typically random snippet that stays clean:

you said: You know I actually want ice cream, even though I'm full
she said: I have my ways
you said: Maybe a little milk would do it
she said: Let's just say no moo foods for me.
you said: Sorry
she said: I'll get over it
you said: I had a sort of bad day today... my own fault probably. A boring day
she said: TERRIBLE!
you said: I need to take control of my destiny
she said: It takes a lot to control me.
you said: are you my destiny?
she said: a horse of course
you said: "You're on your own again..."
she said: everybody has more than they need in California.
you said: Maybe I should go there

I had wanted to introduce the horse racing world to Whinsey but she may just be too much of a slut. Besides, I'd have to code in all this year's horses and jockeys and that almost sounds like work. Meanwhile, back to Lexulous...

Thursday, April 23, 2009


This is a picture of how an octopus sucker works. This is a story of a sucker who bought a new skin cream product: me.

About a week ago the local news did a feature on how you could get really good skin products for much less money at your local drug store. They had a dermatologist interviewed as she shopped, and she especially liked the ProX line made by Oil of Olay, an old time company of dubious value. The dermatologist was so perky and cute as she loaded her little shopping cart.

Then I saw in the L.A. Times an ad signed by three yes three dermatologists certifying that using this cream would make a big difference in six weeks. Or rather if you buy the three creams together. They love to do that.

And Clinique has gotten so pricey. I fell for the line. I bought two of the three products. They cost more than Clinique when you combine them. And Oil of Olay? It's not just a weird old time product. It's part of Proctor and Gamble.
Pro X.. oh yeah...

The products have way too much surround packaging. Deep red seems to be the new color of beauty virtue products.

Today on the way to the track I kept rubbing my hand over my face- it felt strangely sticky, as if a thin layer of glue that hadn't quite dried was all over it.

And then I thought, could it be?

That they've created some kind of "high tech" appealing glue that holds the wrinkles together until you stop using it? That's what it feels like. It doesn't soak in, it's just this weird gel glob on top.

Sucker! me! yes I admit it. Make your own shopping choices, but don't trust the cute dermatologists on tv, even if it seems to be tv news.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Looking for my Missing Cult

whew, hope I don't pick up that telephone when it rings! Might be Werner Erhard!

This self portrait was taken in a motel room in Sarasota Florida at a very far out film "festival" around 1981. A wealthy young guy invited a small group of artist filmmakers to come to his motel for a goofy get together. Films were projected on a raft on the gulf. We were all supposed to get along, as Rodney King might have said.

It was awkward, it was fun, it was weird. It was all paid for by the host. Southwest Florida at that time was a very sleepy place, strictly seniors and locals and miniature golf. 16mm films. SERIOUS artistes in a silly place. Films you'd watch and try not to look back at the projector to see how much more was still on the reel.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

San Francisco in the 70's

The 1970's in San Francisco really was an odd decade, though I didn't see it as a signifigant decade at the time.

When you think that not only on the world stage was there Patty Hearst and the SLA but also all the people who went down to South America with Jim Jones and drank the killer Kool Aid, and the Zebra murders and Harvey Milk and then there was Werner Ehrhard, the creepy guy pictured above who formed a personality transformation cult called EST.. His followers got to clean his big Victorian house. I admit they look like they're all happy in the picture.

This former car salesman, Werner Ehrhard, was very popular at Snazelle Films, where I was working. Even my boss signed up with him. Suddenly weird little mottos were appearing on other people's desktops, sayings of Werner Ehrhard. I remember there was one woman especially devoted whose name was Cyndra Ravelle. She wore dresses unbuttoned almost to her waist . Bet she didn't have to clean the bathrooms. There was definitely a feeling of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" to the whole thing.

Ehrhard still has followers. I poked around a site with lots of quotes.

Here's one of his quotes: "Icing mud pies requires energy. Icing mud pies requires work. It's work remembering which mud pies are iced. It's work maintaining icing."

Actually a kind of funny quote, but the est philosophy seemed decidedly unfunny and self absorbed. Unfortunately I can't find the link to the quote I just posted. It must be the icing is getting in my way. Or melting in the rain, or something.

And the Mitchell brothers opened a sex club that had tracks in it, an x rated laff in the dark style ride with surprise porn events as you went around a corner in your little car. I never saw this but sure wondered about it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Did we all Look like Patty Hearst then?

Picture of Patty Hearst from before the kidnapping.

Mimi Pond and I were talking about how weird the Patty Hearst history had been, how strange the reaction at the time, how much power the S.L.A. had briefly. I was living in Berkeley when Patty Hearst was kidnapped. I worked at Snazelle Films near where they gave away all the butter and cheese as part of the S.L.A.' s demands.

I told Mimi that when I used to walk around Berkeley after the kidnapping, I tried to look merry and unconcerned and swing my arms a lot so no cops would mistake me for Patty. Talk about nut case reasoning. Although there was a certain resemblance...

Then I got an email today from my old pal Jane who worked at Snazelle too, but I couldn't remember if she was working there at the time of the kidnapping. Here's what she wrote back:

"I was not in SF then. In fact, I was driving with my mother near Chapel Hill a few months after her kidnapping, and was stopped by the police. I was doing nothing wrong, and my mother hypothesized that the police thought I looked like PH, and wanted to do a check. The excuse for stopping my car was pretty feeble, as I recall."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Memory Song

You may have already heard this, or maybe you don't remember. Cracked me up. Tom Rush, the performer, was an early 60's folksinger. As a teenager I owned a couple of his albums. My sister was living in Boston then-- we may have even gone to hear him at a coffee house, but, um, I don't remember.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My New BFF

(whatever BFF means) Yesterday I met marvelous cartoonist MIMI POND at Santa Anita and we had a great time. How great?

So great that I had more fun talking and laughing than betting on the horses-- in fact I hardly paid attention to them. (except when I won, which we celebrated with a second beer.)

We know a lot of people in common from long ago and find the same things weird and funny: there was so much to talk about and laugh about that it was kind of wondrous. She says we met before but my memory cloud hasn't lifted on that one.

When I told my mother about meeting Mimi she was thrilled-- it made her day too. She's very aware that our family sense of humor isn't universally shared, and to think I had a new friend who's in on it was just too good.

On top of that I got to watch the World Cup in Las Vegas on my computer last night, and Richard Spooner had a perfect ride.

If all days were like that I'd be a total goofball.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Espeakink Spanich en Macy's

M.K. Brown is another fine cartoonist. For awhile we were in touch on line but I lost her email address. Her strip cartoon here, "The Singles Bar" is especially funny.

Back in the 80s M.K. Brown, Matt Groening and I were all in the running to do animation bits for the Tracy Ullman show that was just starting. Guess who didn't get the job?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wacky Days of LP covers

This is a detail from an album cover: Les Baxter Space Escapade." You can see it on ebay. We were listening to it last night. The music didn't do much for me, but the cover was quite amazing.

And notice how the girl resembles the tunaphone below!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On the Tunaphone

This is a Charlie the Tuna Telephone. From 1987. Why was this popular? Who wants to talk into a fish?

Last year I got fired up with the idea that cel phone animation was the coming thing. But you know what? I don't think so any more. I don't think people want to just look at their phones. They want to do things with them. Just sitting there looking at your phone seems kind of sad, doesn't it?

That's why the iphone games are taking off. That's what I think.

But I'm getting emails from art students who've decided animation is what they want to do, and they want advice. Sounds as if animation is a popular course of study on campus these days, the way marine biology was a few years ago.

I don't know what to tell them. The way the world is now, it seems like a terrible choice to me. (Have you considered entymology?) There are so few ways to make money with animation, other than teaching more students.

But sometimes a bubble of interest can be foreshadowing some new format that we can't quite identify, and maybe these students are right in front of the wave. I don't think it's just more games on phones that will be coming along, but maybe some whole new manner of interactive animation. I usually tell them to learn Flash, because it's a way in to interactive animation, even if the code language has become a bear.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Closet Surprise

I thought this painting never left my Berkeley apartment when I moved out around 1980, so I was quite surprised to find it in a stack of unhung pictures today, deep, deep in the front hall closet.

It tells a story but I'm not sure what that story is.

It's not as yellow as this jpeg and the colors are intense. I painted it around 1974. At the time I was very inspired by watercolor paintings being done by a group of smart women in the East Bay. One of them, Lulu Stanley, is still painting, though I got stuck trying to find an image with google just now.

Can you believe I painted every one of those beads in the beaded curtain? Computers have made me so lazy about results.

Painting measures 8.5" x 11" and is for sale, framed already, for $600.

and speaking of cakes

I will never forget this wondrous chocolate cake which Linda sent me on April 7, 2007.

Wow, zow, thank you LINDA!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Cake

I sure hoped Albertson's would have mini coconut cakes when I stopped by to pick up some cheese this afternoon, but all they had was teenagers being chased in the parking lot for shoplifting.

I intended to post a militaristic postcard with chicks and guns from 100 years ago, but I got wrapped up in reading Guthrie's "The Big Sky" and did nothing Easterish at all aside from picking a few winning horses on line at Santa Anita. Um, how is that Easterish?

My mother was feeling depressed today, because she couldn't get out and do anything. She went to an Easter Egg roll at the White House in the 20's when Calvin Coolidge was the prez, and was amazed by what an automaton he was, "How do you do, I'm pleased to meet ya."

When I was little one Easter my mother baked a wondrous coconut Easter cake: it may have been shaped like a lamb. Easter morning I went into the dining room to admire it, and it had turned into chocolate. NO! It was covered with black ants.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Whinsey up close and personal

A friend sent me a link to a whole bunch of crazy horse hairdos this morning. This one looks a lot like my horse chatbot Whinsey, don't you think? I spent about three hours fixing Whinsey's television this morning. Whenever google image changes its code, the tv stops working. Hadn't checked it in about a year. Sometimes the image looks a bit wide, oh well.

Haven't read the logs of Whinsey's chats in about a year either. That's always a bit scary!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Dream Thoughts

Are there any fish that have hair?

I had a dream last night that I was having a really good night's sleep. I woke from the dream and thrashed for two hours. Dream within dream. Lots of not so good family stuff going on...

Afternoon at the track, five races, got them wrong and wrong again, except the first race. We met up with a friend who's raised race horses in Florida. He was following a series of races in Kentucky and cashed a ticket that cost him $16 and got $256. We saw him cash the ticket.

Hot dogs were still $1 and so was the beer. I love the great green castle of Santa Anita. The meet closes next weekend.

Didn't have time for a picture today.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Neat Image

I came upon this funny image of Molly as a puppy in my pictures folder . I don't know what had spooked her. The image below is what it actually looked like, but it had so much noise, something that's been bugging me with my digital pictures, those multi color speckles especially in black areas.

You can see it better here

Anyway, I still use Photoshop CS. Later versions of Photoshop have built in filters to remove noise. But I downloaded a free program called Neat Image which is how I got the nicer looking picture on top.

You all probably know how to do this already but it was new to me.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Francis Coppola is 70

I heard on the radio today that Francis Ford Coppola was 70. Made me think back to this party I got to go to 30 years ago for his 40th. My friend Diana Pellegrini got me invited, because she was working for him as an assistant sound editor. The guy with the flat rear end in khakis is Francis. I'm the one about to say, "Um,... interesting..", "Weally?" or something... The guy talking to Francis is Robert DeNiro, who was incredibly handsome with pale skin and red hair.

It was a party at his casa grande in the wine country, at the time he was at his financial peak I think, and all sorts of famous people were wandering around eating the free food and drinks and enjoying amazing entertainment, like a Japanese drumming band all sumo wrestler size. I wish I could remember other acts performing, but it was a long time ago. The hospitality was truly amazing. It lasted a whole weekend.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Hey, Mom, sell that one

That's what Molly thinks. I've been revising that little gallery to the left of this post with new art, since a couple of pieces have sold. (not on line yet.)

But this meant I had to go into my old Flash code which I haven't worked on in a long time... And this was one of the hardest things I ever coded because it was in ActionScript 3 and involved video cue points, Paypal, sound off and on, images loading, text files, you name it. And all the old fonts had taken a dive when my computer took the virus.

I didn't have much luck with my photography, because it was a sunny day and the animation cels are so glossy-- I couldn't figure a way to get the picture without streaks and reflections. But it's supposed to rain tomorrow, so maybe I'll be able to put it all together then.

It's funny when I start getting into code again-- it's very addictive, and I just don't want to take a break from it. Just want to keep going going going till it's all done. It wasn't as hard to figure out as I'd thought, but when I first looked at the code I thought, what, huh, what part of your brain ever figured this out.

Here's a function from it:

function b5go(event:MouseEvent):void
var myhigh:int = numChildren

buzztalk="Giddy Gluey, $275.";
ummtalk=buzztalk+" "+a5;
var image_mc:Loader = new Loader();
var pictURL:String ="bigarab.png"
var pictURLReq:URLRequest = new URLRequest(pictURL);


Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Pamplemousse is off the trail

I just learned The Pamplemousse will not be a part of the Kentucky Derby this year. They discovered heat in a tendon yesterday before his big race at Santa Anita. He'll be laid up for a while. I've been feeling so sad and disoriented since. I didn't realize how much emotion I'd attached to this horse.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Big Day at Santa Anita

Saturday's the Santa Anita Derby, and the showdown between my favorite horse, The Pamplemousse, who's thinking about winning above, and Pioneerof The Nile, a less impressive horse to my mind. Is The P thinking about extra carrots? Or Kentucky grass? He's already got a sure spot at the Kentucky Derby.

I went for my Friday dollar hot dog and beer and was getting into some betting trouble until the horse I came to see, Aggie Engineer, came in first and wiped out all my losses and then some.

He was ridden by Alex Solis, who rides The Pamplemousse tomorrow.

Here he is walking back from his win, as I called out to the horse like a crazy bag lady.

This is Garrett Gomez, the best jockey in the country. The colors were this intense. I had to get the picture.

He's riding Pioneerof the Nile tomorrow.

Neither horse nor rider was hurt, but I hate seeing things like this. I couldn't believe I got the picture actually. The jockey walked away and the horse kept on racing. I was hoping this horse was going to win, before the race started. I never get action shots. I wouldn't have posted this but I was just stunned that I actually got the moment.

Here's to The Pamplemousse. Let's see him win tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Keyed In

I lost my keys Friday.

I drove home from the track by myself, so my search area extended from the car into the house. I didn't discover they were missing until late Saturday because I stayed home waiting for Dinah. I went through every bag of trash by hand... euw! On hands and knees I saw what a poor housekeeper I am.

It really worried me that someone might have found them and could just come in the house any time, or drive off in my car, though it's not very desirable.

Yesterday we had creepy hen wars. The one eyed chicken, Pirate, was attacked by her sister Stormy who wanted to lay an egg where Pirate was brooding. I was lucky I caught it in time. Once chickens get going on each other, cannibalism isn't far behind. I isolated Pirate and have cleaned up the ookiest part. I think she'll survive it.

Jon went to Boys Night Out last night, where they run old movies and eat Thai food with cheese on it. I cooked a cheese souffle which turned out strangely. I was still thinking about the keys, and the chickens. I got tired.

I turned off the lights in the main part of the house. About a minute later there was a phone call. "Hello, hello?" No answer. Was it the key thief?

I almost never get scared being alone, but I felt uneasy last night, after that call. The timing was too precise. I got in bed and read two boring pieces in the New Yorker, first by David Sedaris and then by Woody Allen. I was glad I didn't live in New York. I fell asleep.

When Jon got in he said I sat up and said, "Who won the race?" He answered "Seabiscuit," and I fell right asleep again.

In the morning it was cold when I went to walk Molly before dawn, so I grabbed a jacket I don't usually wear. You guessed it, the keys were in the jacket. Glorious keys.