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Month: August 2010

Does this count as a staycation?

Does this count as a staycation?

A long time ago I’d planned to go to Europe and visit friends this August.  Due to financial difficulties that plan was backtracked to visiting a national park and/or visiting Seattle again.  Due to further financial difficulties and scheduling conflicts (in Seattle) that plan was scaled down further into a couple of day trips.  The first was meant to be that trip to Pismo Beach which was scaled back itself (see last weekend’s blog).  The second was a trip to Catalina Island this past weekend.  That too had to be changed.  Last Monday when I tried to reserve spots on the zip line tour (really the only thing open that we were excited about doing over there) I found it completely booked.  I also found that they’d raised the price from $35 per person to $92 per person.  Ouch.  With Ferry tickets at $70 each we might has well have flown on southwest to San Francisco or something anyway.   Since the zip lines were all booked up and the “underwater helmet” tour still not in operation yet we decided to do something else. 

After becoming a student again last year I rediscovered the various perks of being in that class.  Discounts on software (windows 7 Pro for $30) packages, discounts on admission to museums, etc.  One of these perks is a discount on admission to disneyland (although I think this is actually only a few dollars cheaper than the already standard online purchase rate).  So, on Sunday we went to Disneyland.

We planned our day out fairly well, knowing when to get fastpasses and for what.  We started off at California Adventure because we knew that it was a park for older customers (as in customers with at least two digits in their age) and they would arrive later than their younger counterparts in Disneyland.  We were right, and we really didn’t have to wait in long lines for much of the day.  We rode Soarin’ Over California first, then got a fastpass ticket to Tower of Terror.  Since we had about two hours before our fastpass could be redeemed we decided to eat (it was already around 11:30).  When I told Sam I was taking her to Disneyland she said we had to have the giant turkey leg.  So, we tried the giant turkey leg ($8) for lunch.  When she showed me the picture online the day before I already thought it was gross, but she was still excited.  The next day, after trying to bite through grease, gristle and cartilage/tendons/something she was “over it.” 

After washing all the grease off of our hands we headed over to the Wharf and rode on California Screamin’, then Maliboomer, which had a half hour wait time due to only one of the three towers being operational and then California Screamin’ a second time before going to the Tower of Terror.  Even with Fastpass the Tower of Terror wait was still a good 20 minutes. 

We then headed over to Disneyland and rode the train around once before stopping in New Orleans.  We picked up fast passes to Splash Mountain, but were a little dismayed that they couldn’t be redeemed until after 7pm (when it would be cold).  On the way back to New Orleans (Sam wanted to eat beignet) we saw there was only a 15 minute wait time for the Haunted Mansion so we checked that out before ordering the beignet.

After ordering the Biegnet we decided to head to tomorrowland to ride Space Mountain.  However, it was about 4:30 and we could purchase another fastpass at 5:20.  So, we decided we’d get an Indiana Jones fastpass at 5:20 which was next to New Orleans.  To pass the time we walked through Tarzan’s Treehouse and took the Jungle Cruise.

When we got the fastpasses for Indiana Jones we were faced with a dilemma.  It was about 5:30 and the passes for Indiana Jones and Splash Mountain were valid at the same time.  The rides were near each other, but Indiana was going to have a much much much much longer line, so we didn’t want to miss our chance at that.  It was going to be tight – but we had a plan.  First we’d go wait in line for Space Mountain.  This turned out to be the longest wait time of any ride the entire day at almost an hour.  I don’t understand that ride.  For an hour they tempt you with promises of some great space adventure, giant spaceships hanging from the ceiling, etc.  Then when you actually get on the ride it is nothing more than an indoor roller coaster in the dark with a disco ball.  What?  Why is this still one of the most popular rides?   Sam’s reaction clued me in.  She had wanted to ride it and I decided to keep my opinion quiet until after we got off.  Once off she admitted that it was kind of disappointing.  I think the reason it is popular is that the memory is better than the experience.  The memory is of zooming through the stars – but the reality is taking a fast trip around an empty dance floor at a cheap prom.  While riding I did get a strange fear experience, as unlike most rides, if this one broke you’d be beheaded and never see it coming since you’re wooshing around in complete darkness.  Perhaps that explains the look on my face:

After getting off the ride I had a $6.50 slice of pizza.  Ironically, although all the food was very expensive, the water was still under $4.  Eleven summers ago a concert promoter in Rome NY couldn’t figure out why a quarter million young people started “riots.”  I was there and I can tell you it probably had something to do with being 18 years old, dehydrated and seeing water more expensive than it would be at Disneyland 11 years later.  This of course got my internal economist mechanisms going… How does Disneyland set their prices? Clearly they’re much higher than outside ($4.50 for a tiny size naked juice smoothie, for example), but not so high that people balk.  Clearly though, from the woodstock 99 example, there is a point where high prices not only cause balking, but literal anger towards the seller.  This is an equation that I imagine Disney spends a LOT of time on as they have to make money – but at the same time keeping consumers not just satisfied with the experience, but HAPPY.  Something I probably wouldn’t have thought about as much before getting an MBA.

But this was actually supposed to be an escape/reward from/for school, so I forced my mind to shelve that conversation.  We were headed back over to Frontiertown to ride Indiana Jones, but we still had about half an hour before our fastpass would work – so we rode Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blaster, which had a minimal wait time.

On the way back over to Indiana Jones we passed the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean and stopped in our tracks when we saw the “5” minute wait time.  We ran inside under the arch, thinking we’d fit this ride in too.  Of course the wait wasn’t actually five minutes, but more like 20.  However, we still thought we’d be able to hit Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones on time.  Then we came to the last bit of the ride, when “Captain Jack” sits in his treasure room and gives his Johnny Depp soliloquy.  Ordinarily the boat would go up the ramp past this display and come out at the end of the ride.  Our boat sat at the bottom of the ramp for a minute.  Two minutes… Five minutes went by.  There was a line of boats behind us extending all the way to curve in the ride (and who knows how far back behind that).  The guns and cannons kept firing behind us, but now their noise was joined by crying babies and screaming teenagers.  It was at least ten minutes sitting down there in the dark before our boat got moving again.   We rushed to Indiana Jones and bypassed at least 90 minutes of waiting time to get on the ride with very little wait at all.  Running through the corridoors was amazing as I remember waiting at least 90 minutes in 2006 to ride this ride, and now I was running through the same area that used to feel like an eternity. 

When we got out of Indiana Jones and started running to the left towards splash mountain I looked at our fastpasses and the time on the expiration matched the time on my watch.  If we hadn’t got stuck in Johnny Deppurgatory we’d have made it.   We had an hour and ten minutes until the fireworks show would start (and we were going home after that).  We decided to try and fit in one more ride – the Matterhorn.  It turned out the wait for the Matterhorn was only 15 minutes.  Here we are at the bottom:

We still had another 45 minutes before the fireworks would start so we headed off to Big Thunder Mountain.  25 minutes later we were out of there and realized we could maybe, just maybe, fit in Splash Mountain too before the fireworks.  We ended up seeing the beginning of the fireworks from the top of Splash Mountain before getting completely soaked.  I don’t recommend ending your day on a cool summer night by getting soaked through and through (as you’ll see, we were in the front of the “boat”).  Walking in squishy itchy drenched socks got pretty annoying on the long trudge back to the trams, and then the walk back to the car.  The fireworks were over by 9:50, but we didn’t get to our car for another half hour.  Of course, Sam, by sitting in the very front with a jacket over her body and feet tucked into the front of the boat apparently escaped most of the water.  Look at my shirt below and you’ll see I’m already wet before we even hit the water on the “big” splash. 

And one more photo from the slow march out of main street.

I didn’t get home until after 11:30pm.  We went on a Sunday to avoid the Saturday crowds, but now we’re stuck with the “no-sleep-Monday.”  Not sure which is better/worse.

another Friday night

another Friday night

Los Angeles ranked #7 on a list of global cities that was just released.  Curiously behind New York City (#1) and Chicago (#6, who organized the study… biased??).  I have no idea how they ranked them, but Art and Music probably didn’t factor in as much as other things like financial markets.  If ranked on GDP alone, in this study, Los Angeles has the third largest GDP of any city on the Earth, and the second in the US.

In any case, Los Angeles was out to prove the pull it has with Art and Music this weekend.  On Friday Sam and I went to a free concert in Pasadena featuring Budos Band.  The show was great – but I think the ambiance at the Echo, where I saw them in April 2009, was much better.  Can’t complain about a free concert though.

There was an official city worker blowing bubbles…

The next day we’d intended to go to Pismo Beach with a bunch of friends to ride ATVs on the beach.  Slowly over the last few weeks every last one of our friends cancelled.  We decided to stop for lunch in Santa Barbara and then just turn around and go back.  We stopped at the Pepperdine main campus for a little while before heading to Fern Dell trail in Griffith Park. 

Fern Dell was actually very small (only a 1/4 mile trail) and completely man-made, which was odd for Griffith Park.  However, it worked perfectly because we had to go over to the Burbank side to watch a free performance of Othello by the old Zoo rock cages (if you’ve been there you know what I mean).  They told us not to take any pictures (although when you’re performing in a public park I’m not sure what, if any, authority you have to say that) so I snapped some on my cellphone during intermission and during the “curtain call.”

Because we arrived right as everything was starting the only space left for us on the grass was behind the light stands.  It blocked our view, but not terribly:

Here is a photo from the side as the cast is bowing to the audience:

Art Walk August

Art Walk August

I was going to this art walk by myself, so I decided to wait for the traffic to die down to make my way downtown.  Of course, this also meant the crowds would be bigger and the parking would be harder.  The regular parking lots have been increasing their prices every time.  One that used to be $5 was now $8 and full by the time I got there.  Others further down on Spring that used to be $5 now expected an ungodly sum of $15.  Ten minutes of cruising around netted me a completely free parking spot on 5th and main.  Of course, it came with a catch.  As soon as I put the car in park my passenger door opened and an old strange looking woman with a cigarette proceeded to insert herself (with my pushing her out) in my passenger seat.  When she was nearly all the way inside she finally stopped babbling and looked to her left and jumped out.

After getting over that trauma I locked up and made my way one block south.  Actually – not even an entire block south as the entrance to the “Art Fair” is on 5th halfway between main and broadway.  Inside it was largely exactly the same as the past few months, except with more people now.

Apparently cheaply made artwork sells better if sitting on chairs….

Down the street I decided to go to the “upstairs” gallery (no idea what it is really called).  There was a bit of a line to go up when I got there – but nothing compared to when I left.  In fact, we had to wait in line just to leave.  After exiting the building I took a shot of the line to get in (below).

Across the street I took a shot of the line to get in.  The entrance is on the extreme right in the photo below – and you can see the line of people waiting to get in extending all the way to the left down the block.  You can see people IN the gallery in the lighted windows on the second floor.

So the art up there must have been really great for all those people to wait in line to see it, right?   …. judge for yourself…. (photo below is from inside the gallery)

One of the huge corner galleries was bought up by condo renovators (or something) a few months ago, but this month half the gallery was opened back up – although (as you’ll see in the below photo) it looked like the building was still in some state of construction.  The art was bad (as to be expected) but I had to laugh at the artist below.  Not only is his art horribly simple line drawings of sex – but he had the audacity to try and run around (in an all-white suit, no less) and stop people from taking photos of it.  With thousands of people on the art walk – stopping all cameras from shooting was going to be tough – and he didn’t catch me. 

Down the street another gallery (or coffee shop?) had someone dancing in the window and huge crowds starting to show up.  When I looked closer I saw it was one of those gay nun guys.  The same guys that we saw on the art walk last month.  These guys are part of some equality organization – as they’ve started travelling and showing up at the NOM counter protests.

On the other side of the street a gallery that used to be flush with pieces (although usually not good) was dark.  I walked in to see these three guys fiddling with guitar distortion (the guy on the left has a guitar) while projecting a web site (or something) onto the wall with a motorcycle sitting in between them and the wall.  Not good.

The “arts and crafts fair” as I’m calling it was back across the street from the Regent. 

Further down the street there was a note on the window of the bank building that the “vendors” had moved to 333.  I never found 333, but on both sides of the street were parking lots filled to the brim with food trucks.  On the south side of the street there was a new apartment/condo/lofts building opening up with a large patio area with tables and chairs – which made things very convenient for the food trucks.

I kept thinking “a prius and a palm tree” when I saw this girl… like a long lost Dr. Seuss book.  Over at the Bang Gallery the Where’s Waldo Troupe was performing their smash hit: Looking like idiots opening and closing umbrellas while jumping up and down on a crowded street.

Inside Bang things didn’t get much better.  The main attraction was this thing…

Back up the street (heading west now) this fellow parked his truck and was trying to make some sort of point (I think).  His truck says:

God made ape (something)

Ape makes gun

Gun makes ape (something)

Ape guns God down

–>  I took this as a sign from god (for what I don’t know, but I’ll find something later) since I’m currently reading The God Delusion and there is no such thing as a coincidence!

“POEMS – your poem your price”

This alleyway band had a more expensive set-up than most.  There were a lot of bible thumpersstanding around.  It was unclear whether they were associated with the band or not – which scared people away from dancing, which is why there was a large space between the band and crowd.


The number of people on this art walk was more than any I’ve ever seen.  Every little shop owner made sure they had something to sell.  Many little teeny tiny galleries are springing up.  Most of them, as usual, had nothing of any quality to offer.  One little one called (not realizing the irony, I’m sure) “Immortal Gallery” had this painting by Ryoko Yokohama which I liked.

Above is another band I saw on Spring heading west.  Every month the band in this space seems to have drag queens.  Even down at the Hive the crowds were still strong and strangely extending beyond that point, which is what I’ve always considered the very end of the art walk.  The Temple of Visions didn’t have many new paintings (they must keep each show up for two months at a time).  The painter below was trying to do a live portrait in a very cramped space.

Temple of Visions decided to use their large open space in the front to sell hipster clothes. Not sure how I feel about this.  It kinda cheapens what they’re supposed to be about and draws the wrong crowd in my opinion.

Over at the Hive there was lots of good stuff.  The show was supposed to be about eroticism – but most of the art didn’t go for shock value (thank goodness).  Of course there were a few pieces that tried to shock (as if anybody could be shocked by sexuality in 2010) like a dildo gun (didn’t Giger do that 40 years ago??), a large photo blowup of a exposed girl that looked like a minor, and so on.  Unfortunately my piece was NOT in the show.  I was notified a few days before the opening that my piece would have to wait until next month as it was just too big.  And it was true.  There really weren’t any other pieces in the group room (or even in the front rooms) that approached the 2’x4′ size of my painting.  I know I need to start making smaller work for the Hive – but … I always end up making bigger pieces… I can’t help it.

The following two paintings were in the front rooms.  They were done by Janet Kim, who I can’t find a current web site for.  I found a blog of hers from 2007 where she complained she was terrible at painting.  I think she’s come a long way since that blog…

Walking back on Spring towards 5th to go to my car I passed more bands.  This one was performing with no space at all but managing to do some very energetic Led Zeppelin covers.  It was hard to take a photograph as the sidewalk was packed.  This photo was culled from a string of photos taken standing on the street with my hand as high up in the air as I could get…waiting for a slight break in the crowd.  In fact, in the other photos – you can’t see the band at all!

Lastly I passed through the Latino art exhibit.  Again, there didn’t seem to be any art in there, just vendors.  Speaking of which, it is becoming habit forming this whole free jarritos thing……

Something’s Fishy

Something’s Fishy

On Saturday, the 7th, I cleaned my room and, more importantly, the fish tank.  This was the first time I’d actually taken the tank out since putting it in the wall.  I decided to ditch the stones and rocks.  I cleaned off the shells and put the big rock back in.  It looks much more modern and “clean” now.  Cleaning it should be much easier since the poop has nowhere to hide any more.

This goldfish is getting very large.  When I bought him he was a tiny black moore.  Now he is a big goldfish.  Apparently this happens to them with stress and artificial light. 

The funny thing is, I was all worried about how I was going to get this guy out of the tank to clean it.  I figured he’d thrash around and make a mess like the catfish I used to have (or any other fish, really).  To my surprise this fat lazy fish just acted oblivious to the fact he was getting lifted out of the water by a giant hand from nowhere.  Turns out you can pet this fish and he doesn’t care. 

Of course the white snails in the tank are getting bigger too, but you can’t see them in the photo because they were huddling near the top of the tank.



Here is a photo of “the studio” with the “sky pilot” painting in the foreground.  On the easel is another “astronaut” piece with a female “astronaut” descending into/onto some bright volcanic planet.  This new painting looks in my head much like a Julian Callos piece (long arms and limbs, thin body, etc.).  Or perhaps I should say – I wish I had Julian’s skills to create this thing – as it seems to me like something he’d do.  Alas, I do not have his skills – so we’ll see how this turns out….

Again – here is the sketch for the “sky pilot” painting.  I think the helmet ended up looking more like a motorcycle than a space helmet… but maybe it doesn’t make a difference.

octopus culligan

octopus culligan

Back in May my friend Garen asked me to work on a painting for his album (now likely an EP) that he’d complete before he moves to Michigan for UM’s engineering PhD program.  I’ve always known Garen as a driven and talented musician, so I was pretty happy to do something in collaboration.   We started off with a bunch of rough sketches and from those we whittled it down to this sketch:

Note: not the actual title – I didn’t know what the actual title was at that point.

Garen liked the sketch, but wanted the Octopus to be up on a stool almost as if he was a standing man, and it should be more of a profile view than this.  This version also seemed too wide for a CD jacket, so the new sketch would have to be more of a “box” format.  Early on Garen envisioned one arm “picking his butt” – but we both agreed that dipping a quil in his own ink would be more interesting.

Here is the drawing that Garen approved for the painting.

Now we had to have discussions about what would go in this Octopus’ room.  Where was he?  Garen decided he should be in a somewhat ambigous space.  A wood cabin kind of interior, very stark.  If there was a window it should look out upon the ocean, Garen was adamant that there should not be trees or a forest of any kind out there.  So, I got to work…

This is the “final” painting.

Since this is on raw wood it looks quite different in person than in a photograph.  After showing the final painting to Garen he admitted it wasn’t quite what he was looking for.  Previously his direction was that he wanted it to look like an “old portrait.”  I wasn’t really sure what that meant, but I soldiered on anyway.  It turns out he wanted something more abstract, like a Monet landscape.  To try and compromise we’ve been going back and forth on different photoshopped versions of this photo in which I try to make it look like it is on an old weathered piece of wood pulled from the sea.  For the last six weeks or so the entire project is on hold though as Garen was too busy recording the album, and also rehearsing with Ken and I was too busy finishing up with my summer term classes.  With Garen leaving in September we don’t have a lot of time to get this done – and at this point the project may be put in a permanent state of limbo.  I wanted to share this though as it was an interesting project to work on.

Not only did I get to work on the album art, but Garen asked Aaron and I to jam with him a few times in the past three months to work out the kinks in his songs.  I played bass for the first time in eleven (or twelve) years.

New old stuff

New old stuff

This past weekend a friend showed me how to get “xp mode” up and running in Windows 7.  It actually isn’t already in the install – you have to jump through a few hoops and download some files to get it to work.   I’m experiencing some other problems with W7  (had to buy a new TV tuner for one thing) – but this post isn’t about that.  What this is about is the sketches from the last three or four months that I can scan in at home and put up on the site using my old CanoScan from (put on your space helmets, grab your flashlights and dim the lights!) the Year 2000 in xp mode.  So – here are the “better” sketches from (the first half of) moleskine #2.  These are all now in the “Drawings” section of the site as well.

 Obviously someone with less imagination would want to call this “the collector” – I plan on calling it…    ….dammit… “the collector” =(

  For some reason I keep coming back to two things in my sketches – “the noble savage” and “monsters vs. astronauts.” 

 This guy reminds me of some sort of Flash Gordon wizard… or something….

That last one “sky pilot” was turned into a large painting – which I guess I’ll call done at this point.  I took it off the easel yesterday and started a new painting, but it just doesn’t seem finished – so I’m going to take a break from it.  I struggled (as I always do) to come up with a background.  You’ll notice none of my sketches ever exist in any particular space – so when it comes time to paint I have to plop them down somewhere – and it is very tough to figure out what to do.  With these fellows I decided to have them skimming across a large body of water with “misty mountains” in the background.  Not sure if that came across in the actual painting (not sure if it matters).   I will probably put up the painting in a few weeks.

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