Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I think Obama is doing an amazing job meeting problems of unthinkable magnitude with zest and flair. And I just love when Austan Goolsbee (above) is interviewed. Not only is he cuter than Parviz Musharraf, but his name is straight out of W.C. Fields. A brilliant interview with him here. A classic inspirational professor!
How about the millions of acres preserved as wilderness, signed into law? Go La Bamba.
How about throwing the bum out at GM? But wait, where's the stylist? The new guy, Fritz Henderson, looked like he was going to pick up a banjo at a pizza parlor in 1977 on tv last night. He was wearing a red and white striped shirt with a giant white collar and big blue tie. We were cracking up . But try as I might, I couldn't find man with shirt through google image. But I did come across this picture of yellow cars with snazzy rear ends! Soon the world will be looking like my cartoons!
Monday, March 30, 2009
The track is loud be warned.
I found the original files for "Smiley Face" on an external drive deep in the closet. This is how they look in Flash reduced to about 20% of their original size. (Guess I should have put a stop button on it too.) I'm pleased that the color looks as intended, because on the dvd it looks awful. It looks really awful. It looks so awful I could only look at it one time and then put it deep in the closet. The movie went straight to DVD. Greg Araki was very nice to work for. They wanted the timing that fast-- it wasn't my decision.
This was the last animation job I did, and it was in 2007. Mothers, don't send your kids to art school!
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Nice topiary, huh?
Dinah and I went out to Santa Anita early this morning to see our favorite Derby horse The Pamplemousse work. We met up with blogging friend Mary Forney who very graciously introduced us to some people and talked horses with us. She's really nice! I first became aware of The Pamplemousse through Mary's blog. Dinah had never seen The P. before and was immediately charmed by him.
We got our breakfast at Clocker's Corner and just loved observing the scene with jockeys and trainers we've heard about for a long time all mingling around us.
This jockey had a set of good luck charms tagged to the back of his helmet. I tried to get a better shot of them but didn't want to seem intrusive. Luck is obviously a big part of horse racing life. The jockey to his left is The Pamplemousse's jockey, Alex Solis. Looks as if he's texting somebody. Maybe it's the horse's trainer who's currently in Dubai for one of the world's richest races.
The Pamplemousse means grapefruit in French, but it's easy to remember his name if you think instead The Purple Horse, because this horse is an extraordinary lavendar color-- you can't miss him. The horse is named for a restaurant in Del Mar which some of The P's partners own. I heard the restaurant owner and another guy, maybe a pr guy, talking. "This horse has everything, (yadda yadda)
The early morning light doesn't give you a sense of his amazing appearance. They were returning from their work here.
This horse seems so relaxed until the gate opens and then he's on fire. I was so excited to see him racing past that I took this picture:
oh well. I'm sure Mary has more restrained footage!
I thought Dinah's colors worked so well with the linoleum that I made her pose for this picture.
April 4 is the day of the Santa Anita Derby and The Pamplemousse's next race, last one before the Kentucky Derby. I can't wait.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
There's been a swarm of earthquakes this past week out by the Salton Sea. In the L.A. Times today there was some concern because this swarm bisects the San Andreas fault.
Having lived in Northridge at the time of the Northridge quake, I feel a special commitment to news of possible earthquakes. The week before the Northridge quake, there was a swarm of small quakes in the Santa Monica bay.
We live by the little purple circle. The San Andreas fault is that long line that parallels the coast. You can see there have been 721 quakes recorded over a week. It's usually around 400.
Monday, March 23, 2009
This is an actual oil painting I did long ago when I first moved to Los Angeles. It hangs in front of my computer, though I'm tired of it now. After having a keen interest in the architecture of Berkeley and San Francisco, I was challenged to like the look of mansard roofs on condo buildings in the Valley, and all the cypress trees. The color is a little brighter than in this photo.
I always thought "Condo Conversion" was the title of this painting, though no one has ever asked.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
My German Shepherd Molly and I went to a Fun Nose Work seminar today, and it really WAS fun. It lasted for three hours. Fun Nose Work is a new urban dog sport created by two women who also do real dog detection work for hire.
You can take the classes just for the pleasure of watching your dog get really good at detecting a scent, or you can compete against other dogs at special events. There were nine dogs and about fifteen people at the event today.
Molly's been trained to recognize the smell of birch oil, which is much like root beer. In classes she's progressed from finding a tennis ball in a box to where she is now, finding a single half of a single Q-tip that's been soaked in birch oil. The jar above holds the q tips we practice with at home. I just hide one, anywhere on our property, and she can find it. When people come for dinner we do a demonstration. It's our parlor act.
Today we worked outside at first on a big grassy field, then along two sides of the street. When Molly is released to find the q tip, she nearly pulls me over, she's so excited to find it.
We also worked inside, and that was the most interesting part for me because I'd never tested her in a new interior. This warehouse building had many small laboratories and offices off of one big space. They make airplane parts in the building, so there were all kinds of mechanical odors and strange equipment to work around.
The q tip was hidden in a bathroom drawer, then in a toilet paper roll in another bathroom, then behind a night light that plugged into a wall. There was a bathroom we were supposed to go in that had no q tip. All the dogs figured this out very fast.
Then we moved on and found it in the laboratories, inside cabinets, inside a drawer, one room after the other.
The dogs at the seminar, aside from Molly, included a Rottweiler, two Cairn terriers, two border collies, a poodle, a Malanoix and a mix. All the dogs were superb workers with success every time.
I think the next scent she should learn to find is the smell of my keys.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
A neighbor catty cornered used to be the local gossip-- when you'd run into him you felt everything you said was being reported to Devonshire Division. Or at least to his wife. He was fun to talk to.
But in the last year or two he's stayed indoors more, with 3 SUVs parked in the driveway, all black vehicles, and no communication. His two kids are now in high school. Not sure if he has a job or not.
Even though this sounds negative, we had some great middle of the cul de sac conversations. He'd grown up Jewish, in Atlanta, with a warm and friendly neighborhood life, and was so disappointed in the remoteness of our street, even though we'd shared a big earthquake together.
Two days ago this huge blue container was dropped in front of his house. Big enough to contain 2/3 of his house at least. Jon passed him on the street and asked what was up.
He said, "Now that the kids are in high school, we don't need the stuffed animals and shit."
Woah, I'd say it's going to take a lot of stuffed animals etc. to stuff this dumpster! Like maybe a part of the stimulus package times x the unknown?
Do you think this blue container is some kind of threat to his kids, or his wife? "If you don't" <>", I'm going to get a great big dumpster and throw everything... "ya ya ya.
Even Dinah, who had stuffed animal toxic overload, could never have filled this bin with stuffed animals etc! (Can't find the mighty Beanie Babies photo to demonstrate.)
Or is our poor bud just losing it altogether? Geez, do you think he views this blog? He used to be such an awful snoop! But you were a great neighbor, Sc--t, really! Good for you to purge. Makes us all want to clean up our acts, or garages, or stuffed animal resettlement areas.
How are your neighbors doing?
Friday, March 20, 2009
This is the first appearance of Anita and Quasi in color. It's another tiny watercolor. Notice the chocolate cake is already in place, Anita has pretty blue hair and Quasi's cap is like a red and white circus tent.
Today's my mother's birthday. She is now officially 94, born on the first day of spring.
I wandered into a Hallmark store earlier in the week to look for a card. The copy on greeting cards is so yucky-- maybe it always has been, but I couldn't find any card that didn't irritate me. Well at least I know no one will ever send me a card that says "You were always there for me," or I hope not, because I hate that expression. I don't think the sentiment fits me, anyway!
I found one card that was almost okay, though the writing was small and hard to read, but at the counter it was $4.00 plus tax. I actually put it back and left the store. Went home and made her a card from an old postcard. Is Hallmark the next one heading for bailout? How can they sell cards at prices like that? And such ugly cards too!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I had a dream last night that I had a job selling a product called Nutritious Oil . (hey, catchy name that!) I was selling it door to door. It came in a spray foam bottle.
You could spray it on any food and turn that food into something nutritious. It was a white foam. But best of all, it doubled as an all purpose cleaner.
What the brain does...
Image is a tiny watercolor sketch for "Quasi at the Quackadero" that I came upon today while looking for something else. You can see how influenced I was by carnival and circus poster art from a long time ago.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I've been struggling with this computer virus all week. It's a Humpty Dumpty event, trying to put things back together again. I didn't lose any files, because they're on another drive, but I lost programs, bookmarks, cookies that help me sign into sites. Because I use gmail I didn't have the worries of it ripping through my own email addresses, or of losing email.
Right before we went to lunch yesterday it started falling apart again. In a weird way I admire the nefarious nerd who coded this virus, because it is so detailed and far reaching. For instance, it blocks you from typing any name of any possible anti-virus software into google. If you do manage to download any anti-virus software, it makes sure it corrupts the file during installation so you get nowhere with it. It sets up google to go to an advertisement everytime you enter anything! Any anti-virus software you already have installed just skips through a scan in 30 seconds and declares all is fine.
So today I spent two hours wiping clean my C drive, 3 hours running a scan from Malwarebyte, which didn't find any trace, so then I started the long hard business of putting it all together again.
Another bummer-- my Sony Vaio is four years old, so in effect I'm going back through time to 2005. Some of the programs I've depended on since then require Windows Service Pack 2, always a controversial update, but Microsoft doesn't include it in their updates anymore, so the programs won't install. I'm sure there's a work around, but do I have to become an amateur IT to get my hard top back?
Yesterday was our 25th anniversary. Jon sent me these beautiful red roses. We went for lunch out in Agoura Hills, at an Italian restaurant he'd been talking about for a year but I'd resisted.
I imagined it was going to be modern and white and pink because that's what nice Italian restaurants are like around here. Like crisp and skinny bread sticks in soda straw wrappers. Instead it was in a house by the side of a big green hill. (And green hills are only around for at most a month a year in Southern California.) There were dark couches in booth formations. A big beamed ceiling, a friendly feeling. Although it was dark inside you could see a flowery garden out back.
Right before we headed out, Jon had spoken to his broker, who works at Citigroup. This is a guy who went to the San Francisco Art Institute when I did, in the mega goofy days of the early 70s. (Somehow he resisted the pull of the artist's life!) Jon casually mentioned where we were going for lunch, because his broker likes to know about restaurants, and he hadn't heard of this place.
We were led to our table. There was a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne on ice in a bucket!
We were sure they'd taken us to the wrong table, but it was a gift from the broker and his assistant. There were little cards by our napkins. Jon was as bewildered as I was till we read the cards. Until then he had thought, "Boy, this restaurant is kind of aggressive."
We shared a plate of calamari. It included a small fried zucchini that looked like a baby elephant seal- euh-- and I had gnocchi with chicken, mushrooms and pesto sauce. Not a pretty dish, but tasty. Jon had some fancy meatball special. The food was quite tasty. At the next table six women and their boss were having a multi martini lunch, shades of the 50s.
The reason I mentioned Citigroup: you don't suppose the champagne was comped on the bailout money, do you? EEK!
Monday, March 16, 2009
I got one of those bad, bad very bad computer viruses today, the kind Mac users gloat about. (Not you guys though.)
It came in an email from someone I like, and was loaded with those kinds of cute :))))))))))) symbols that let me know of course it was from her, and indeed with this kind of virus the friend doesn't send it-- it just sucks up the Outlook email addresses and sends it on to everyone in the address book. I don't use Outlook. I even looked at the cc names on the email and thought gee, this must be something really outstanding. duh.
I have all kinds of virus and cookie tracking detectors plus Firewall on, so I didn't give it a thought, except that it was sort of naive of her to send an .exe file when everyone knows they can be dangerous. Um, everyone? Guess not!!! Sally says so!
Right away I could see that something was very wrong, and I struggled along, downloaded a program that detected it but after trying to remove it the computer restarted with less than a full deck. I had to do a clean wipe of my C drive, so now it's back like brand new in 2005-- kind of weird and a giant pain.
It could be worse though. I'd made the restore discs when I bought the computer and never had to use them until now, but there they were in a drawer. All my files are on a backup drive or the D drive, so it's just that now I have to reinstall every program I use and hope I have the id numbers saved for them.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I went to Santa Anita today because a horse named Sally Says So was running, and I can't miss opportunities like that. Alas, she came in fourth, and Skinny Dip won.
I meant to bring my camera but left it by the door.
Maybe because the "Jockeys" show is quite popular on Animal Planet, there are now more and more young teenage girls showing up at the track. But think about it-- the jockey guys and gals featured are very attractive and just the size of these young teens.
I spotted two teens? tweens? maybe 13 years old, sitting together with a fashion look that took me by surprise-- not long straight and horse tail perfect hair, but rather total Sarah Palin with rectangular glasses and a big old pile of hair pinned on top of their heads. They weren't wearing fancy suits but the hairstyle screamed Palin. Not your typical teen fashion, and it takes work to get that big bun just so. Remember, you heard about it here first.
It was really fun to stand in front of a crowd of people who were all screaming "Sally Says So!" (She was a favorite in the race.) You know it, crowd, you know it. Can I hear it one more time?
Saturday, March 14, 2009
For a while I was actively posting my pictures to Flickr, and adding location tags. Eventually I stopped. Too many places want your info-- the hive thing wears me down. It's a big enough deal just downloading the pictures.
When I started with Flickr, though, I (regrettably) chose the screen name Big Chicken. Have you ever picked a user name and really regretted it?
Imagine my surprise getting an email from Schmap, an offshoot of Flickr, congratulating Big Chicken because they'd chosen my picture to represent Hollywood Park on their Schmap map, as part of places to see in Los Angeles. In my picture the wondrous filly Zenyatta is walking with her devoted groom who's always a few feet away. (You'd think they could have found a better picture!)
Strange intersection of image and life. Only this week I was horrified to read that developers are trying to turn historic Hollywood Park racetrack into a shopping mall. Let's hope the economy stops it-- our grovelling mayor Antonio CallmeGuv Villairaigosa surely won't.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Do you remember Tamagotchis? These egg shaped mini computers were a huge hit with elementary school kids around 1997. They were made by the Japanese company Bandai and released in the US I think when the Japanese got sick of them or all their little eggs died. Dinah was the right age, and got hooked, possibly because her mother (ahem) was already a Tamagotchi fiend, struggling to obtain a wondrous computer egg. Their packaging was desirable too, if you like that sort of thing.
These keychain conquered eggs came in various colors. This gold egg was already a commemorative edition when it was released, but there was a time when I craved it. You set them on life's trail by hatching the digital egg on the screen, then had to keep on feeding them and cleaning up after them by pressing those tiny buttons at the bottom of the screen. You had to press those little buttons very often. Their state of happiness registered. The characters changed into different growth forms if you did it right, but if you forgot them, they, uh, died... OH NO!
I really think these eggs trained a generation for text messaging as they had to hold the egg in their hands in the requisite state of constant partial attention and keep feeding or cleaning up the poop.
At a certain point children weren't allowed to take them to school because they were looking down at their little eggs just as if they were, uh, texting in the future. So I became a Tamagotchi guardian. I was feeding many little eggs. I was the Nadya whats her name of the Tamagotchi world.
And we found an off brand with a penguin that I think was named Dinky. Dinky the Penguin was so cute. Far cuter than any of the Tamagotchi brand characters. I remember being especially devoted to Dinky. One day, while Dinah was taking a riding lesson, Dinky died. On MY WATCH! I was devastated. I pressed the food button madly, but Dinky flew off into the sky.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Many animals like to take dirt baths, especially birds and horses. Horses especially like to take dirt baths right after they've had human style shampoos.
Chickens like it best when the dirt is warm. These two had just finished an extensive dirt bath, and were just sitting around like yard ornaments. When they actually are in the throes of a dirt bath they look really strange and half dead. They lie all flattened out and still, with just one wing wildly throwing dirt on their backs.
I'm cooking chicken tonight. (Not my own) But it's hard to reconcile my love for these birds with my taste for the entree.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
About a week ago my old Sony Vaio XP got hit with amnesia and couldn't remember where all the programs I use most were found (Flash, Photoshop, Word, Note Tab Pro.) This happened a few months ago too.
I managed to patch it all together, (no thanks to Adobe support), but in the process my Wacom tablet isn't working in Flash the way it used to. I prefer to draw with the brush, not the pencil, but in spite of adjusting every setting I can find, the drawing on the right shows what I'm experiencing: a smoothing and redraw which isn't what my hand is doing.
The drawing on the left is no beauty, but at least it's tracking my hand moves. The one on the right has stylin in mind.
Any suggestions on how to fix this? It wasn't doing the "stylin" thing before the amnesia hit.
You may have seen this appealing commercial for Comcast. I saw it on a fuzzy tv while I was in New Jersey and liked it but couldn't remember what product it was advertising. (which wouldn't please the client.) Then a friend sent me a link.
From extra info in his email I ended up at Comcast world, where they have a nifty Flash app where you construct your own room, and can give dialogue lines to all the furniture. I set mine up as a musical chairs game, with each chair saying something, as well as the squirrel phone (yes that's what it is.)
It all works really well as you move things around, but I couldn't get the sign in to work for me, am still waiting for the approval email, and by this time I'm kind of sick of the whole thing. If the sign in doesn't work it suddenly erases everything you've created. Not fun. But it's nice to see an interactive piece like this, even if it is trying to sell you something and plugs into Facebook as part of their nefarious take over the world scheme. (just kidding, but they do urge you to hook it up to Facebook and all your friends.)
Still not sure what Comcast is but I guess it's like ATT and Verizon.
Oh, and here's a link to a picture of racetrack Rosie, the breakfast cook at Santa Anita, and a nice post about her birthday.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
(okay, so they're chipmunks, but--)
We're having a dinner party tonight. We're not serving squirrels. But yesterday when I went to Albertson's I talked with Robert, my favorite checker at Albertson's. He has Tourette's Syndrome and his meds don't work very well. He quacks a lot, mid sentence. He's very friendly and seems smart, though he has some odd ideas.
I said "How come nuts have gotten so expensive?" The small bag of walnut pieces I bought cost almost $5.00 and I'd noticed pistachios were climbing the price ladder too.
He said, "It's because all these people are feeding rodents, especially squirrels. They're feeding so many nuts to the squirrels that there aren't enough to go around for the rest of us."
I pondered that. Blog pal Namowal may be at the heart of this problem, because she's been known to feed squirrels. And wrecked it for the rest of us.
One time Robert told me the rawhide bone I was buying for my dog was probably made of dog, because it was from Vietnam. He's got opinions on everything, QUACK!
Monday, March 09, 2009
I was very lucky on my last trip East to bring along three books to read, each of which was very good, all quite different from one another. With the help of my Amazon change jar I've read a stack of books since the start of the year, but most of them were heave ho's aside from these three:
The Bad Seed by William Taylor. This is the second time I've read this scary story of a charming little girl who kills people because of her greed. It was a huge hit in 1953, also a movie, (which I haven't seen), but the author died before it was published. Set in the high social world of a small Southern town, the writing is careful, beautiful and memorable, and so is little Rhoda...
The Trees by Conrad Richter. This wonderful book, recommended by my friend Ann V., is the first in the author's "Awakening Land" trilogy. I've just ordered the second book. Published in 1940, it's the story of a pioneer family settling in Ohio in the early days of this country when Ohio was still the frontier. Richter was particularly interested in capturing the language of the pioneers which he believed was unlike the formal speech you imagine, and which trickled down in dialects of country people.
Roseanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. This Swedish detective novel is I guess the groundbreaker for all the Swedish crime books which have followed over the years. The lead character is detective Martin Beck. It even has a well written introduction by Henning Mankell, the best of all these writers, who seems to have stopped writing his great Kurt Wallendar novels, although a group of short stories about Kurt Wallendar's early years is coming my way.
A friend gave us The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, a very short and charming satirical book about reading and the royal life. The main character is Queen Elizabeth. I haven't quite finished it.
The heave ho's are stacked in the back: The Torso, Sunstorm, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Princess of Burundi, Alice Waters and Chez Panisse. The first four are all Swedish crime novels, highly touted, just not very good.
Because of my years in Berkeley, and because I grew up in Chatham and my brother dated her, I enjoyed the Alice Waters book. I only ate in the restaurant twice though, and it certainly wasn't the world I was living in, in Berkeley.
What have you been reading lately?
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Saturday, March 07, 2009
I returned last night from a short visit at my mother's retirement complex. This time I stayed in a guest room in the basement. ("Don't Go in the Basement.") My mother was in a wonderfully clear frame of mind, and we had many laughs and good times together. Because I was in the complex so much of the time, residents started mistaking me for an employee. "Miss, miss, I need to go to the bathroom." "Are you one of the P.T. people?"
Speaking of P.T. and O.T. (physical therapy and occupational therapy), I had to go to a session of O.T. with my mother that was not stellar. There were only two patients at the table, my mother and a woman named Biz who looked as if she might bite, and was clearly much less with it mentally than my mom. James, a young man from Seton Hall College who was training to be a therapist was conducting the session, with a legit therapist standing by. It started with a cornball "let's get to know each other" round the table we go.
Then James dealt a full deck of cards on the table sideways and face down, and told them we were playing a game, but no one was going to win, it was just for the fun of it. These two old timers then had to turn over two cards at a time to try and match red or black. You remember it I'm sure, concentration. I've always hated the game because I'm not good at it.
Even in my mother's best days she wouldn't have been any good at this game either-- it's not how her mind works. Add to that the numbers and the faces on the cards were totally distracting from the simple red/black matching. Biz was convinced she had telepathy and would stare at the back of the cards for a long spell and then consult the sky, before turning any card over.
They would have done better with my card game above. The flash file for it is here. It's from 2001. If you press the orange button it starts a new match game.
After the game was over both elderlies looked bewildered and James wanted them to share their feelings about what they'd just done, and suggest ways they might apply it to their lives. YUCK!
Friday, March 06, 2009
This goofy serious postcard is a tribute to aviation. I'm flying back to California today. This seems to have been created in some amazing form of Photoshop in 1912. The figures and airplane are elaborately sculpted. The airplane looks three dimensional. Apparently the whole shebang was created just to sell as a postcard!
The signature is in clay. Wonder how big this thing was.
The background appears to be painted in.
I'm selling it on ebay today. Tonight I hope to be back in Northridge, Ca.