Thursday, December 25, 2008

Obligatory Christmas Posting

Let's face it, if you are not that X marks the mas centered, today is just a little odd. I feel a bit confined. I don't really know what's open or closed, and I just assume almost everything is closed. Except the dreaded Walmart perhaps, though maybe even they close for Jesus' birthday, at least for a while. So I feel like a prisoner of the holiday, as I don't really care that much for it this year, and elected to stay in Austin for the day rather than fly or drive home, which wouldn't have worked out so well anyhow, as my sister and the kiddos went to Tennessee to visit Jr's grandmother for good reason, but that's too complicated to explain here.

Here I am, then, having a lazy day. I opened a few presents my family had sent, but otherwise there's not a lot of Christmasness going on. I have fired up the music, my rather large collection of iTunes and other Christmas/Winter gems. That started a couple of years ago when I forced through an unhappy October/November combo with my Hard Candy Christmas self, and it worked. Seems like it was another lifetime, and since it also seems like I've had about five or so different lifetimes so far, I guess I can reflect.

Last year...yikes. Last that link and have a look see! I had just gotten over strep throat, which had been inflicted on me in Los Angeles, where I knew of not a single doctor and very few people, so I had to face that one mostly alone, isolated in the damn garage where the cold wind would blow and the heater worked only if I faced the interior wall. Sometimes I feel like such an idiot for trying to stay there in that room, afraid of offending someone by leaving (like it didn't happen anyhow) and afraid of leaving for a different room because that would have forced me to commit to a longer time frame. Things worked out for the best, though. I was alone last year as this year, but, then, I felt alone.

This year I don't feel alone, and overall there's a base of happiness I'm using as a foundation, as opposed to a sense of desolation. I'll admit the past week hasn't had me doing cartwheels, with the cold and worse cloudy weather, without much rain, and no sun. At least here it's more expected, though apparently it's not that usual in Austin for the bitter cold to hang about so much. But I'm working on thawing my inner bitter cold, and it's a lot easier to do here. So that makes me happy.

Even if I do feel like a prisoner of the holiday today, well, it's just one day, and a better excuse to be lazy than I've had lately. I'm just going to go with it, watch a few movies, unwrap myself from the last strains of Christmas music, and look forward to the New Year. After all, unlike last year, when the one I wanted to spend New Year's with was not available and indeed that lack of availability was a small but not insignificant part of the reason I left LA, well, this year I've already made plans.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Living the Gabriel Style

That title sounds a little bolder, or perhaps more pretentious, than it really is. (So, why don't I go back and change it? I don't know. I'm an enigma unto myself even.)

I thought since things on the apartment front are progressing well, I'd post some pictures, at least of my bedroom and my living room. Both are incomplete, but past the halfway point, lacking mostly new paintings for wall space (which I am to provide, and need to get cracking) and a few details here or there. My office is probably past the halfway point as well, but lacks curtains, an essential element, and I'm close to solving the curtain question (posed to me by myself) so then I'll post some pics.

Until that time, and until I've finished it all, here's a glimpse of my living spaces for now:

The living room, fairly self explanatory.

My bedroom is inspired by the films of Wong Kar Wai, specifically but not limited to In the Mood for Love. The color scheme, use of patterns and textures, and the whimsy, were all the original ideal for my loft room (that is, garage) in Venice, Los Angeles.

Originally I had also planned to throw in a number of industrial elements, taking a cue from the Mood for Love/2046 combo, as that meshed with the whole notion of a garage door being part of a room. For my current apartment's style, and also since the original IKEA bed I planned wasn't available, I left out the industrial elements, so here there is a softer Wong Kar Wai feel, especially in person.

What's interesting is that, taking these pictures without the flash, the room looks very much like a set for one of his films. My good friend Deborah, who knows the films I'm talking about, immediately picked up the vibe, so I was very happy. She's been the best test of what I was hoping to portray. The wall color is less green, more of a blue/green, dusty, but more in the blue than green realm. The way it photographs here, playing against the oranges and pinks, is fun though.

That's all for now, as I've said, as soon as I get the curtain puzzle for my office solved, I'll post pictures of it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pa and the Coffee Cup

I bought this coffee cup yesterday at World Market. It's like one my grandfather on my Mom's side, Pa, always drank from, and so it's a great memory, particularly since he died when I was about 5 and I have only a few recollections of him.

I do have a pink knit cover of his, though. It's in fine shape, though the color has faded a bit, and the satin-like edge on top is gone, and on bottom is headed there. But it's a perfect cover, good in the summer to let air in and out but be enough weight to feel comfy (I need some feeling of cover even in the hot summer). And in winter, as an under layer, it's perfect for keeping me toasty warm (as in last night, when it snowed a bit here in Austin). That cover went with me to LA and back, and there's a wonderful feeling that I'm protected with the warm energy of someone I barely knew, but someone who meant a lot to me.

Some of my recollections are wrong, though. For example, I love snap front western shirts with all kinds of tiny floral patterns on them, largely because I always think "that's a shirt Pa would wear." But one day, while in the store and looking at just such a shirt with my Mom, and making just such a comment, she told me he never would have worn a shirt like that. So I wonder what type of inversion my mind did. But it doesn't matter, because those shirts will always make me think of him.

So, whether or not he actually drank from a coffee cup like this, matters not. The warm thought is what matters.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Photo Challenge

I was looking at Becky's flickr postings and came across a challenge, so here's my pic:

The rules: Take a picture of yourself right now. Don't change your clothes, don't fix your hair...just take a picture. Post that picture with NO editing. Post these instructions with your picture.

Anyone who sees this pic has to do the same thing! Remember Santa's watching! :D

Toys R Oz

Continuing the Black Friday saga, finally, with the note that I'm not referring to the Dorothy type Oz, but the Showtime type Oz.

After the Denny's Breakfast Fiasco we drove back to Mom and Dad's house, because Dad hadn't eaten lunch, though apparently was able to make his own lunch, though it was a SPAM sandwich, so I don't know if it really counts as nutrition. Everyone in my family except, you guessed it, me, loves SPAM and fried bologna. Yeah, fried bologna, which, after I read Fall On Your Knees I learned is actually Cape Breton Steak. Not sure I needed that knowledge, as it's not one of my faves, but it's fun to refer to it as that.

We got to Mom and Dad's after collecting one of Armanae's friends, and, after a brief respite (bathroom, etc.) we set back out on the journey. Eventually the journey would involve the dreaded Walmart (note that they are taking the hyphen away, I guess because it looks classier?). I also hate Walmart, and I think everyone in my family does as well, but it seems to be easy for them to go to. Or else it's just routine. I don't know. Maybe if I had five kids it would make a difference, and my attitude would do a 180 degree happy face turnaround. Maybe not.

BUT the real treasure of the trip was Toys R Us. It really wasn't that busy, though there were enough people with carts full of stuff that it did look Black Friday-ish. As we wandered around looking I noticed blue arrows taped on the floor, but there were no signs indicating what they meant. In fact, there were lots of reasonably clueless employees who didn't bother to make much effort regarding their personal appearance. Basically it looked like they just rolled out of bed.

Now before you think I'm being horribly elitist again, or that I'm a spoiled brat (only my Mom can call me that) let me remind you that I worked at BEALL'S, America's Small Town Specialty Retailer, for five years. And in those five years, I had a few early Black Fridays. How did I look? Spiffy. Polished. Sometimes I'd have raging sinus infections (Midland does that to me) or flat out colds, and I might be cranky to everyone right before the doors opened. But when the doors opened and those glorious customers came looking for the cheap ass jr girls watches prominently featured in the ad, of which we maybe had 10, I was a pretty boy for them and loving, caring and considerate of their needs. It may have been 5 years of acting (not always, I do like some people!) but it was a damn good acting job!

Ok, so, back to Toys R Us. I found some Cars cars for Mom, who is still collecting the new ones, and then she found a black baby doll and fell in love with it, because it reminded her of a baby doll from her childhood. (Another sister has always been multicultural in her approach to baby dolls, both girls and also the boys have had dolls of various ethnicities, which of course still turns heads in Midland, Texas.)

Anyhow...we rolled up to the front to get in what didn't look to be horrible lines. Well, while there, another just rolled out of bed employee, a woman with a walkie talkie, pretty much accosted us "what are you doing?" and we're like "going to buy these" and she's like "well you have to get in line" we were like "we're going to the registers, the line" and she's like "no you have to get in the line" and my Mom's like "where is the line?" and the just out of bed walkie talkie empowered employee says "you have to get in the line back in the children's department" at which point we sort of all look at each other incredulously, because there were not enough people shopping to justify this lock down, and I tossed the merchandise on the nearest table.

This too is against all my training, I typically make anyone I'm with go and put something back where it belongs, because I also know how it is to find a woman's bra hanging with track pants for young men. But in this case, because of the lock down, and the rudeness, and the sheer Alice in Wonderland Queen of Hearts stupidity, I didn't mind.

Then we were just going to leave, and we all seriously thought she was going to frisk us or something. I've been through LAX a few times, and didn't feel that intimidated!

I don't know what it was all about, but, seriously gang, it's a TOY STORE. You can't make it hell for people. You can't put them in solitary. And, again, a good attitude will go a looooong way, no matter what the situation. Also it helps if employees look professional. But, above all, don't act like you're security for the president-elect.

It's just a toy store, dammit!


Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Catch Up

I got back from my Thanksgiving trip to Midland yesterday at about 2:40 pm or so. The return drive was mostly, well actually wholly, uneventful, which is always a good thing. I made a straight shot, other than stopping in Llano to pee at the Dairy Queen, and while I intended to buy some fries or an ice cream to tide me over for the next hour drive back home, let's just say Llano was a happening little town on Sunday and the DQ order counter was backed up. They are not super fast there, either, so I just mentally noted that next time I stopped I'd buy a little more than usual. So maybe I'll get a Dilly Bar to make up for my peeing and running.

Beyond that, Llano's a little scary on Sunday, with hunters galore. Which reminds me, I can't remember which town it is, maybe Eden?, that has a large banner over the street as you pass which says "Camouflage Cotillion." It makes me imagine large flowing dresses with camo tulle and tree bark tiaras.

Anyhow, I left Llano and whilst driving through Burnet called David to let him know I was less than an hour away. Keith had driven up on Saturday and, surprise for me, they were looking at apartments and indeed filling out an application for rental! Best of all, they stuck to the plan I had made for them, and if all goes well will be very close to South Congress and just a short taxi ride to downtown. Later I'll fill in the reason for this plan, but I want to get to my Thanksgiving Holiday and the following days first.

I'd have to say it's hard to detail Thanksgiving itself, because it's warmth and family, and all the tastes we've known through the years, headlined with Nene's stuffing, Dad's Mom's fruit salad (which is almost an excuse just to eat cream) and the other delights. Suffice to say that, barring any family drama (has happened a few times, but not too many) and my absence (has only happened once so far, not a good thing for all) Thanksgiving at the Lewis Home is uniformly excellent.

The following Friday, that Blackest of Fridays, I cannot say the same about, and that's the real adventure of my trip. I decided, this time, to get up early (6:00 am) and go with Mom, Chan, Simon and Armanae on the trek to Retail Hell. Why? Well, more time to spend with them really, and, while my sister is the shopaholic (OCD is dealt with in many different ways, shopping part of her way) in the family, and though I will admit I do enjoy shopping though I'm good at looking and not buying, I wanted to go just to see all the crazy people.

We went to KOHL'S first, as did, apparently, the other half of Midland that wasn't camped out at Best Buy. The line at KOHL'S stretched, lines I should say, all the way to the back of the store, each line almost meeting the other at the end. I thought, well, we will look, but no, my sister decided to buy stuff. Had I known that going in, I would have parked in line and waited for her to bring me things,. Instead after her shopping she and I got in line with her selections, then I told her to go look more and just bring things to me. That worked well enough, though we were probably in line for 45 minutes, maybe more. The nice thing was that everyone in the store seemed friendly and not cut throat. All in all KOHL'S was mildly amusing, a long wait, but a fuss free start to the day (a day that started way too early, anyhow).

Next we went to Target, where there was only a crowd in the electronic and toy sections, but no overwhelming lines at the registers. We looked a bit, bought a few things, left uneventfully, but of course that was three hours into the day, and we had planned on meeting the rest of the kids, my Dad and Jr for breakfast at IHOP.

Well, everyone who stayed at home basically decided to stay at home, so we went to IHOP as assembled, and there was a wait, of course, 45 minutes or more, so we thought why not make the drive over to Denny's, where surely no one else would have such big ideas?

Yeah, well, they didn't, but, Denny's had about 3 people working the restaurant. After I walked past a purple clad bitch troll from hell woman, trying to see if there was a list and not appear to be cutting in front of her, I asked her "I'm seeing if there's a list" to which she replied with a scowl and no Christmas glee "we're waiting in line" to which I replied "well, yes, obviously, but is there a list?" and she scowl growled "no" again and at that point my faith in humanity began to wane.

My faith didn't increase as we waited with only a few people in front of us, but hey, this is Midland, right? Not enough employees, this is how it's done. We finally got seated, after a scowl from the waitress and some unintelligible "uhhhhh" from her, and ordered coffee, which eventually came. At this point I realized, well we realized, being a big sugar and cream in coffee family, that there were no sugar packets on the table. Rather than ask for them, I decided to go on a hunt myself, knowing it would be faster. And yet across all the empty tables, of which there were many, and still a line backed out the door to get a table, no sugar packets were to be found.

I came back from this hunt unsuccessful, having spied the condiment station and having seen no sugar packets there. I had to announce that I believed they were out of sugar. This made our coffee selections moot. Hey, if I'm tasting coffee at one of Becky's tastings, I will drink it sans sugar and cream. But if it's me, for joy and not snobbishness ;) drinking it, it will have sugar, cream and only a little coffee. :)

(Oh, wait, I'm still a coffee snob, David sneaked Folger's into the house and when I realized it, there was the solution to the mystery of the icky smelling morning coffee. I had to call him out on it.)

However, I saw our waitress bring a small bowl of sugar to another table, so thought, perhaps, not all is lost. We asked for sugar after we finally got to order our Grand Slam Variations, and eventually she brought us some (not enough for a heavily sugar/cream/coffee oriented family of five) and as that resource was depleted I noticed what looked like hardened chocolate pudding near the bottom of the bowl. Fun.

Simon's food came first, and ours followed 5 or 10 minutes later. My hash browns were cold, but otherwise, it was a tasty for what you expect from Denny's breakfast. (I must interject that for Midland's fine restaurant choices, there are not a whole lot of good breakfast places.) But still, having asked for more sugar in a not tainted bowl, none arrived. I drank a little coffee creamed with no sugar, but I didn't like it. Or didn't love it, like I love sweet, creamy coffee (you've probably gotten that point by now).

It's clear to me, by this point, no sugar for us. It was also looking like the check wasn't going to arrive either, so I went up to the serving station again and waited for the check there, and when she gave it to me, I politely said that, since we had little then no sugar, the bowl was dirty, my hash browns were cold and the food arrived at different times, she should do something about making the coffee charge disappear. She didn't argue, though she turned to a guy just emerging from the back with four sacks of purchased sugar and told him never mind "they're already pissed." Well, probably mind, because other people throughout the day might accidentally want sugar, so the purchase was well made.

Still, I wasn't caustic or anything, and she noted that they were short handed and I noted that I was aware of it, and my sister intoned that it wasn't our fault, and of course that's true, no matter the situation we don't go to restaurants expecting to be wholly inconvenienced by the experience. But I told the woman that even without a full staff, a positive attitude goes a long way in helping the situation. Which is to say, had she just been friendly at the start, and told us there was a sugar shortage which was close to becoming and became a sugar outage, we could have amended our plans (Mom had also ordered grits, and won't eat them without sugar) and went without the coffee that we barely drank and so forth.

All in all, though, she wasn't rude about taking off the coffee, and it was an equitable solution, as the breakfast wasn't horrid, or even bad, as far as the food went. Of course, we were quite hungry by then, so cardboard with ketchup might have been tasty.

You'd think that would qualify as the worst Black Friday experience, but there's more, and worse, but I'll add it later. The breakfast fiasco is enough to digest, for now.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back in Midland for Thanksgiving

I haven't posted much lately, just poodle speculation and such. Things have been good if busy here. David makes me get outside of my shell and shelter, so it's good. I've probably seen more movies in the past month than the past couple of years. Keith was down a couple of weekends ago and we saw Dame Edna, which was hilarious. And we've definitely been sampling a lot of new restaurants, and in fact went to Kenobi's today for some Asian food and it was delicious. Didn't have sushi...I guess that's such a mood thing for me, I'm not always up to it.

As stated above I'm headed to Midland for Thanksgiving. It's our major holiday, since being Church of Christy as a kid we didn't do Christmas (it was a Catholic Holiday, Christ's Mass, Jesus wasn't born on that date, the tree was idolatry, etc., etc.). And though we recovered from that business, we're not that big on Christmas even now, mostly still, as a matter of habit (and overindulgence on the first one we had post C of C, and my five years of retail service for the season).

We still do stuff for the kids, and I did throw that legendary Christmas Cookie and Zabaglione Semifreddo party (was it two years ago?) when I was the Christmas Magic Man. The theme of course: "Hard Candy Christmas" which was just to say, buck up, push on through and make yourself happy. Interestingly enough, it worked.

I can't even remember if it's two or three or more years ago that Figgie died as well, very close to Thanksgiving. He wasn't there at the table shuffling his sweet feet around for scraps (knowing anyhow that he'd get a plate later for himself). But now he's busy exploring the stars (more on that eventually) and also, ironically enough, without realizing it I posted that picture of him lobbying for a poodle close to the anniversary of his death.

We don't really have pets, we have family members who happen to be considered pets, and each of them are remembered in different ways.

YAY though, it's time for Thanksgiving, Nene's stuffing (continued by Mom's memory, thus Nene's presence at the table is also always). It's a very warm, fuzzy time for me, and I love it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

First Pooch

Currently all my political energy is going toward following what type of doggie the Obama's will get. So far I glean from internet rumors and perhaps semi-factoids that there's talk of a Golden Doodle, which I find to be an excellent choice, they are so darn cute and in fact, I want one as well.

Perhaps a Standard Poodle would be in order? I'd definitely recommend one. Hypo-allergenic and smart enough to help run the country--what am I saying, to run the country, period.

An aside--I remember back when 9/11 first happened and everyone wondered what was going to become of the world, Figaro, our black standard poodle, was trotting about and by. I looked at him and said "Figaro, why can't you run the world?" because I know he'd have made it the best possible place for everyone to exist side by side. A good memory from a bad time.

So Barack Obama's words from his press conference today are the best:

"With respect to the dog, this is a major issue," he joked. "I think it's generated more interest on our Web site than just about anything."

"We have two criteria that have to be reconciled," he said. "One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic.

"On the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but, obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me. So whether we're going to be able to balance those two things I think is a pressing issue on the Obama household," he said.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post Election Observations

Well I stayed up until 4:30 last night/this morning. I had to make sure nothing was going to sneak on the radar, so that when I woke up this morning (after what was, I guess, a nap) I could hit the NYT app on my iPhone and there it would remain, the headline: President Elect Barack Obama.

It's still sinking in. There is so much mess in this country that Bush and Co. have made, it is no easy task to clean, but for now, I just want to note some of the fun stuff, and the positives. (Also I'm quite sober now, that drinking is "historic" for me, it doesn't and won't happen often.)

--Obama including all of America in his acceptance speech, but not by saying "my fellow Americans" but by listing, black, white, gay, straight, disabled, not disabled. Inclusion is the magic that happened here.

--Minority turn out making a difference. That's America!

--My nephew Paladin calling me to share the news, he was apparently transfixed by the process, with me saying "I know baby but we can't talk about it because I don't want to jinx it!" (Yeah, I was one of those superstitious lots.)

--Biggest smile of the night on my face, the wide eyed innocence of Obama's daughters, Sasha and Malia (what beautiful names!) and especially the moment when he said "you have earned the puppy that's coming with us to the White House." I wonder what doggie will get to go? I'd say a standard poodle, but I'm biased that way. A rescued dog would be awesome, though. Or maybe Ted Kennedy will offer a Portugese Water Dog pup, those are also some beauties.

--Carol Keaton Rylander Strahorn, or whatever her name is now, pretty much gushing about Obama; this is Texas folks, but wasn't totally in the tank for McCain as the numbers bear out. In fact, if you look county by county, there's a blue invasion from the South and West, with a creamy Austin Blue center, and I think Dallas was blue or close to it. That's not unusual, but if you pair it with the large Hispanic turnout, and see where that went, there could be a promising pattern.

--The picture that will inevitably be painted in the media of Bush hosting the Obama family at the White House, where the Obamas can really start measuring the drapes.

--I probably should have bought some stock in paper shredders last night. Anyone else wonder if the Repugs might be a little jittery on that front? They've had no oversight for so long, the blank check of the Bush executive branch is over!

--Oprah in the sea of people last night. Not because it's Oprah, but because in that setting, she was just one of the people, one vote. That's the beauty of Democracy. I thought it a potent reminder of the power of the people together, not just one.

--I thought McCain's speech was gracious, save for the touting of Sarah Palin, which perhaps was deemed necessary to keep some hope alive, but that's not exactly the brightest beacon on the horizon I'd think, but ask the masked avengers (giggle). If we talk about shattering the glass ceiling, can I be honest and say that Ms. Palin seemed to hold more positions that indicated a caulking effect on those cracks. Maverick!

--Uh, I got off track on the last question, McCain's speech was gracious, so my question there is where was that man during the campaign? Is that the McCain people say is the real one? Or is the overly plump Nosferatu bloodsucker the real one?

--The Clintons. Maybe they did their part without media attention, I don't know, but they never seemed to have much enthusiasm. They are not royalty, and nothing should ever be considered as an inheritance in the United States. Hillary is brilliant, but she didn't run a brilliant campaign. I don't know if they would have thought to make an H app for the iPhone.

--Speaking of...what do I get to replace the O app? I'm going to miss seeing that...or will they keep it updated with post election stuff?

--Talking to my Mom today...during the Bush administration, my Mom's been putting the flag stamp upside down as a small protest. She told me today she mailed the taxes and turned the flag right side up! I thought that was beautiful, you know, because it is patriotic to pay taxes and now we can be proud of a huge milestone in American history, and the end of a millstone around the neck of American history. So her act was small but beautiful protest, but now is no longer needed. She also put up the battery of flags outside the house.

Alright, undoubtedly I'll muse on this stuff later, but for now, I think we're going to do some celebrating. Maybe I'll buy some star spangled underwear.

Oh My God!

I think I'm going to be able to talk about this without jinxing it, particularly since I'll be up most of the night to make sure I'm not dreaming, and nothing shifty goes on.

Tonight we, the majority of Americans and the majority of the electoral college (whatever the hell that is), elected the first black president of the United States. I'm speechless, happy, tearful, and (to confess) was a little drunk earlier because it was the only way I could survive the night. I took a (large) shot of some pomegranate vodka when most stations called Pennsylvania (that was scaring me) and then another when they called Ohio, and then another when they called the race.

I never, never NEVER thought I would see this in my lifetime. I expected a woman to be elected, sometime in my life. I never, never NEVER thought I would see a black man in office. Why do I say this? Because I've seen racism from the ground up, in my life working with so many people during my laboring time who were so clearly, fully, completely racist. I think it's bigger than anyone realizes, except for those who've lived it (and I obviously haven't lived it, but I see it).

I did have an odd sense of hope when my Dad's Uncle, while my Mom and Dad were visiting him, called Obama the "n" word but, in the same breath (which could have been his last), hoped that he would live to vote for him. That amazed me and made me wonder...I guess I thought of it as the reverse Bradley effect (which, knowing what that means, illustrates how much time I've secretly given to this campaign, in my online research).

BUT (confession) I've been scared ever since that bitch Sarah Palin gave that fetid, nasty Republican Convention speech and everyone fawned over her. (Not everyone, but you get the gist.) Only has kept me sane (and tonight, liquor, but that's rare, and it was self medication, you can't believe how tightly wound I have been today, the bathroom is beyond spotless, ask David).

I didn't think I'd be feeling this good tonight. And, to mirror Michelle Obama's words, which I understood back when she said them, and though not for the first time, I am proud of my country. It's definitely one of the best prouds ever!

Even better because from what I hear and read, President Elect Barack Obama has not been elected with much relation to his status as the "black man," but because he was the best man, the best person for the job. Because he was steadfast and amazing, and God (that's not in vain) the man gives speeches I don't just hear, but feel (did you hear his acceptance speech, again, my God!), and I think when the world looks on him they will be stymied, STYMIED that we did this, we put a different face on the world map, one that reflects the best of who we can and should be. It's no longer just a long line up of white men! Now it's the America I want!

It's just amazing. And I'm sober now. And I've definitely had a lot of tears.

More later!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Year Ago Today

The first anniversary has arrived. Hard to believe, but, indeed one year ago today I was on the road and headed to Los Angeles for what I thought was going to be the new life there. As it's about 10:42 AM right now, I don't think I was even in El Paso at this time last year. If I'm totally honest, I have to confess that as I left Midland behind and made it past more state borders than I've ever driven in my life, I wondered if I was doing the right thing. But I needed to see if the feelings were going to be there, when I took the Lincoln exit, turning at the Tasty Goody shopping center and down Vernon Ave, and further on when I walked to the ocean and felt the salt air on my face. It was supposed to be transformational, but as I confessed a few sentences ago, for that whole drive and amidst teary eyed sentiment, I wondered often about that place LA and in tandem wondered about "Austin."

And one year later, having escaped the inverse of expectation, the chill of body, mind and heart, here I am in Austin, where in the past (almost) two months I already feel more at home than I ever did in the Golden State. (Note to self: Florida is the sunshine state.)

Now how about that for drama? I've probably logged over 10,000 miles, easily, in my year-long quest to figure out what I wanted and where I wanted it. Now I think I know where I want it, and I finally have some ideas about what I want, I just need to solidify them, steel my spinal cord, and go. Funny, for so long it was Go West, when East was the better West. ;)

Last year was also bustling with post-Halloween thoughts, at least on the first of November. Those goings on are well documented close to the beginning of this blog, when it was titled "Le Soleil est Pres de Moi," or the sun is near me, if I've translated loosely albeit correctly. There was the contest, the kids, the home spun carnival as created by my Mom's magic realism. The loading and the leave. Wistful much, Gabriel?

This year I spent Halloween away from the kids and my family, yet somehow closer to their hearts. They went as sideshow freaks, and my sister sent pics, I'll have to post them later. But I was here in Austin, where David and I decided to take in the 11:15 PM showing of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. While the theater wasn't packed, there were a good number of people there to appreciate the film. Also, PWK productions (headed by P. Kellach Waddle, a local bassist) presented new compositions and some film favorites by Mr. Waddle. He strives to bring "classical" music to unique locations and broaden the appeal, so it was great. Plus you can eat while you are watching the movie, and it doesn't really detract from the experience as I thought it might. I had a yummy root beer float, though I was done with it before the movie started.

We definitely enjoyed the movie, as did the appreciative audience, which I suspect would have been bigger on any other night, after all Baby Jane is not exactly a Halloween type movie, but plays beyond that genre. Still, it was great fun, and we didn't get home until about 3:30, the movie and music having finished at 2:45 or so, and the Garmin having directed me badly such that I wound up caught in post-club downtown Austin traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular.

That's how the weekend started, as we moved into November. A contrast of time and space for sure. I just returned to edit this post and add the finish, so, this time last year I was probably about to go to bed after a long drive from Midland to Phoenix, AZ (a place I'm not terribly fond of, preferring Tucson). The next day would find me in Los Angeles with a chill in the air and the beginning of a chill in me, despite a few warm people in my life, and they know who they are, and the others who added to the chill well, they know who they are. But, blame it on that lucky old sun, I guess, he hid too much.

In contrast, as I mentioned, today we had Sunday lunch outside, after a Universitarian outing (I'll have to blog about that later), and it was a beautiful day, warm with just a perfect cool breeze to keep it comfortable. I love the little bit of blue in a red state that I'm in.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just Visiting

I was back in Midland this past weekend. Before I went, and partially the reason I went was, one night while talking to my Mom on the phone she mentioned that my Dad said "wasn't it time for Gabe to visit?" Now, my Dad and I get along more now than we have in the past, but for anyone who might have read the old blog you would know we've had issues. Those issues include him wanting me to be a cowboy, listen to only Country and Western music, and wear Wranglers. Not exactly in that order, but close. Thankfully he never wanted me to be a Republican, because he's not, and seriously that has made my entire life a much, much easier journey. Whatever jokes the universe plays on us, collectively and individually, that was not one of them.

Anyhow, so I know all the family misses me even though it's been a short period of time, and I decided to visit for a bit, and it was good because I got to see the kiddos and spend a lot of time with them. We had a good time, doing nothing really, but talking, coloring, oh yeah and I drew my sister a rough draft for a house plan, and here's hoping her husband, who I won't talk about much at all because there's definitely nothing glowing to report in that history, gets it built for her. I told my Mom if I could win just enough money in the lottery for my sister a house, that would be perfection.

After the visit I drove back on Sunday, this time with David in tow, luring him to Austin and eventually Keith will follow (most likely sooner than he thinks, because I have a feeling when he sees the size of this apartment, and the totality of Austin once again, he'll want it to be sooner).

Of course, I didn't Svengali him. Everyone I know wants to move to Austin now, I think even my Mom wants to move to Austin! I also have to get Amy here eventually. Who can blame them. For me Austin combines all the best of Texas hospitality with almost all the best that LA had to offer (and there was some "bests" it offered) including a bunch of Obama voting bleeding heart liberals. There's no beach and ocean, and I do love that still, but, driving backhere, and passing Lake Buchanan, I got almost the same feeling, so apparently it's a large body of water thing for me. That's not even to mention Lake Travis, also nearby.

But the large body of water thing's not in the cards too soon--it's about 54 degrees now, as a cold front blew in on Sunday night. Supposedly there's a warming trend for the next few days though. Funny--I thought today that it was like LA with the chill this morning, if it were raining, in that odd inversion of expectation vs. reality.

Yesterday was also chilly, though not quite as bad. I took David around the Northwest Austin area, so he could get an idea of the everything surrounding my location. Of course (why do you even ask) I took him to the Church of IKEA. I needed to pick up some things for my Mom and sister, and of course found some other stuff for me. The best thing regarding my religious affiliation with IKEA is that David has a truck right now, so I can plan excursions that involve larger truckbed sized purchases, thus I made a mental note of the items I might need as I passed them yesterday (as if I haven't had a mental inventory already going). Saves the IKEA delivery charge.

I'm also happy to have a solid friend in Austin now, as David will make me cast off my shell, at least sometimes. I jokingly (or maybe not) told him that he and Keith cannot move into my complex or Northwest Austin, and that, indeed, I had already made plans for them to move to South Congress for us to be strategically located. In this way, when they want to come shop in the retail heaven that is my area, they can stay here after an exhausting day of shopping. And when I want to go downtown, I can stay with them on South Congress, and just take a taxi to and fro, not worrying about having to park my car.

Yes, I have it all planned.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Because I should be sleeping

Instead I'll write something. I'm not sure the iPhone business was of tremendous import, but then again I've never really figured out who I'm writing this for, possibly just me, so, I'll write what arrives in my head.

Earlier I was thinking about the changes in my life, quite a few, with not even a year gone by since the "onset" of the changes. Eek...sounds like puberty. No, of course I'm referring to the fact that it still hasn't been a year since, after 3 or so years of plans, I took the plunge and moved to Los Angeles. Within the space of that not quite finished year I spent 6 months trying to make it work, alone and in tandem with others, but mostly alone. Then the Baldessari dropped and I decided yeah, that gnawing, dark, moody feeling really was unhappiness, and since I didn't have anything like a support group, and since LA wasn't the place I thought it would be, I made the decision to make Austin my new home.

So the LA move was November the 2nd, 2007. Around this time last year I was wrapping up my Halloween Saints contest, which went pretty well, though I think it's the first and only "annual" contest, I'm just not caught up enough with myself to do it again, and I don't know if I'd get any responses anyhow.

Also around this time last year, well, actually I couldn't even tell you if I'd committed to the "loft room" (GARAGE not even properly converted dearies) or not at that time. But by the 2nd I was there, gosh golly gee.

Come First of May, 2008, my stuff was headed back East to West (there's another story, the movers, urgh) and then so was I right behind. Hard to believe I did that LA move business to and fro, or that I made the move so quickly out from West to East to Austin as solidly and quickly as I did. I say that since I'm not Mr. Intrepid, and I can sit on an idea or plan for a long time.

In fact, confession here, lots of things in the world scare the hell out of me, more than they should. Undoubtedly I've got some neurons that misfire quite a bit, and they sometimes keep me safe, but too safe, and that fear is far from a crutch, it's a deadbolt on this side of the door, the one that keeps me in the beautiful room of my mind where I hide.

To be sure, this works to create some fantastic realms (at least to me) in my mind, that have been manifest physically. But still, I know the problem I need to solve is unlocking that deadbolt and getting those ideas out. I will say I don't believe LA was the place for them, as my creativity was (deer in headlights blink blink)! Here's hoping Austin sees the better part of that raging creative madman, the one who kept Sarah, Nick and Becky guessing as to what in the world, or out of the world, he was gonna commit from his head, to paper, next.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I woke up yesterday and my iPhone was dead. It's happened at least once before...usually the push mail hangs up or something, and runs the battery down trying to get the new mail it thinks is out there. That had happened once back in Midland, on the Edge network.

The funny thing is I had thought that previous night (two nights ago as I write this) when I went to bed "hope that doesn't happen again." And it did. Uh-oh, is that "the Secret" looming it's ugly head? Meh.

But I didn't panic. Actually I don't panic much anymore. That's another story.

Didn't panic...just figured that it lost all its juice overnight, no big deal, I'd recharge it that morning. Well when I plugged it in and came back to check it, there was no green, the battery indicator was staying red. So I thought, well, the battery's not taking a charge. I tried it out in other places, and no luck.

So I made an apple store appointment to replace it with the new 3G iPhone, which I planned on getting a little further down the road, but since it was on the radar, I thought, go ahead. I'll wait a few weeks more on the iMac purchase. Then I thought, well, let's make sure that it's a real problem, and so I made a Genius Bar appointment for that day (my iPhone appointment was for today, which was not yesterday, at least yesterday it wasn't today). :)

Went to the Genius Bar at the apple store in the Domain at about 3:45. The Domain is a sort of retail/urban utopian trial concept or something. There are high end stores with apartments above and around them. In reality it looks like a movie set, a sort of excluded from reality slice of life. I saw those apartments online, and they were like $1500 for 300 or so square feet. Very LA I thought. Also very SIMON management, and that's another story, but suffice to say SIMON malls are very "Godly" for lack of a specific term, as we found out they don't usually let Hot Topics in their malls carry music or scary Living Dead Doll type things. I'm serious. An interesting inversion of Capitalism, really, sort of like the irony of a Republican administration moving to partially socialize banks. Welcome to Bizarro World, the world is a cube!

I don't know if this concept is catching on or not (the Domain stuff, not socialism and banking, that remains to be seen, it's usually a scary thing for Joe Six-Pack Plumber when progressives suggest degrees of socialism, ignorance being fear, but I don't know how it works when conservatives are planning it...can you tell I'm spending too much time in politics?)...but I do know if you can hear the canned music from below in your apartment, well, I'd jump out the window and land splat in front of something high end. I'm too susceptible to music I can't control, it messes with my mind (5 years at Bealls with their mush for music mostly--I'd learn the cycle--and had to listen to mind numbing country tunes about wife murderers escaping prison with the help of horny bloodhounds while the Dixie Chicks were banned for suggesting what we've all come to know, even those who pretend it's not so!). Whew.

Any-how, it's nice to have an apple store because they're better than AT&T at the service thing. And I have 2 choices in Austin, but the Domain is literally just down the street. The Genius Bar is where you go up and the apple-store-proclaimed geniuses sit with you and go over your device's problem. Well, it turns out that mine was a bug, it was charging, just not showing it. The Genius guy said he'd seen it once. I should have known--he just reset it and all was well--and I should have done that myself, but this bug wasn't on my radar (I do keep up with some of the news on the iPhone, never saw anything about this).

But I have to admit an ulterior motive: I had already decided to upgrade. In fact, I made the genius bar appointment mostly to see what I might have to do in case I wanted to keep the classic iPhone and use it mostly like the iPod touch (it still works, the apps and stuff, with a WiFi connection, just no phone capabilities). I also made that appointment because it got me there earlier (a genius bar appointment was available for yesterday, the iPhone purchase appointment was for today, don't ask me how that works).

So I upgraded, as I'm sure I had decided to the moment I thought the battery was gone, and as I had planned to eventually anyhow. Thus I'm up to date with the apple iPhone technology, and we'll see how the 3G network acts. It wasn't showing up at the Border's that's at the Domain, but maybe it's not strong in North Austin. Doesn't really matter, most of what I use in that realm I use here at home, and since everything connects to my wireless network now, I'm good to go.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wonder Woman

Wow! As if we (collectively I speak for all geeks of every walk of life) didn't already love Lynda Carter, the original (or new original, or whatever!) Wonder Woman of TV, whose Wonder Woman portrayal in an admittedly (now) campy series is still outstanding and casts a long shadow which any actress (should a Wonder Woman film ever be made) will have a hard time getting out of, now comes this:

Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman on television in the 1970s, slammed Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin as the "anti-Wonder Woman."

"In your satin tights...fighting for our rights!"

So as you might guess, this info just made my day!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Apartment

I've been busy of late getting my new space completely livable. That's a big deal for me, I know that part of getting my art going is also having a space that makes me happy, which is a happiness that's different for everyone (imagine that, diversity, and imagine that when you go vote, early voting starts October 20th I believe). Actually that happiness can be totally different for me each time I make a new space...or rework an old one. In fact, I'd say it's as much making art as anything else, because what you surround yourself with sends out the vibes that help with creativity.

Hmmm...looks like some clouds are rolling in's really humid right now, one of those "drinkable atmosphere" days. I actually love it, though. I'd rather undress than layer, that's for sure. ;)

Sorry for the break. I was talking about the new apartment, and have already exhibited the couch and coffee table. The bedroom is just about done, I need to hang some things on the wall and make a new piece of art to go there. That's a challenge I set up for myself: I didn't bring anything I've drawdled or painted in the past, and, as I stare at bare walls, I realize I need to make some new things. I've already put color up on one bedroom wall (a color called "Emperor," which is about the same as "Meditation Blue" and works perfectly for the Wong Kar Wai In the Mood for Love ideal I have going there). I'll have to post some pics.

I also painted three(ish) walls in the living area, which is large in this apartment. I say three(ish) because the layout of the room is interesting in that it has lots of corners and angles jutting out, and a vaulted ceiling that slopes into crown molding. If I tried to compare this with any apartment that I've known in Midland, I couldn't. Unless those new ones they are building are better than the usual, this type of apartment I'm in now doesn't exist in Midland. Austin is another world.

In any event, I'm not big on crown molding, but obviously it wasn't a deal breaker. And while my dream is a loft, open type space with light hardwood floors, and this has carpet, well, it's perfect for right now, and I'm not living here (at this apartment) for the rest of my life. I am happy, very happy with it as a starting point.

So I've slapped "Sea Lavender" and "Limeade Green" on the three(ish) walls, and because of their location and construction it actually modernizes the place. As you might guess, I'm going with greens and purples, and all colors of wood in the living area. I was inspired long ago by the silver green-gray, vivid green and light to deep purple of sage in bloom. One thing I will say about Midland is that Loop 250 is well landscaped, and when those sages along it burst into bloom, it's pure magic. I often thought about that when I felt captive in LA. Texas Sage.

My parents also have sage in front of their house, and it's the same magic. When I was picking colors I actually used the leaves and open flowers. The lavender I painted with is a bit grayer, but as I plan to mix some metallics and grays for neutrality, it was a perfect transition.

So, isn't that thrilling. :)

For this evening I have in my sight the Red Room, otherwise to be known as the DogStar room. DogStar? Ah, yes, more on that later, when I get down to updating my website. I have some new, fun stuff, having immortalized my family's beloved but departed pets (I use "pets" for the specificity, but to us they are quite simpy family memebers).

I hope to get updates done soon--as soon as my space, or at least the basic foundation, is set.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Official Stuff

Ok another way that this is quite different than my move to Los Angeles...I've already changed my driver's license. Yes indeed, it arrived in the mail yesterday. Same old picture with the bigger glasses and spikier hair, and Ares from Xena type chop/goatee combo, which is only about 10 or 15 years old (argh). BUT new address, and since I've also changed my voter registration (those were the first two things I did, this election is pretty damn important) I think I'm officially an Austinite!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Austin Realities

This move is a lot different than the move to California. I feel like I have a long tale to tell, not a tall tell, just a lengthy discussion, and as is typical, I was about to let that get in the way of blogging. I'm such a control freak/perfectionist in that regard, thinking everything has to be staged and timed and calculated perfectly for maximum effect. So I end up procrastinating.

But instead of attempting to tell the lengthy tale and thereby not telling it, I'll just shut up and write.

Today my sofa and coffee table arrived. Yesterday I went on an all-out sofa hunt, determined not to leave some furniture store in Austin unless a sofa of some type, preferably one I loved, was going to be on the way for delivery soon. So I went to a place called Urban Living, very nice store, lots of sofa options, and it was also in a strip mall with four or so other furniture places. I checked out Urban Living for a while, and settled on a couple of couch ideas there, then went to another place and found another option (though the supposed selling feature of "any fabric you want on this sofa--in 5 to 6 weeks" was never going to work considering my determination to get one by this week).

Before I made the final choice I decided I'd drive to a place called motif furniture, which is off of I-35 just a little north of the San Marcus factory outlets. I'd been there once before and had a particular couch fixed in my head, and maybe even a coffee table. So I thought, since it was a mission, I'd use the gas and see about it once more. I checked out the couch again, and really liked it again, pulled out my paint chips (based on the colors of purple sage in bloom) and wouldn't you know it, this couch fit nicely with the two greens I had on hand. It seemed to be a sign. Plus I went to check out the coffee table, and I think I love it as much or almost more than the couch now that I get to live with them. At first it looked like that coffee table might not be in stock for delivery with the sofa, which was (yay!) available for next day delivery. But Stephen the co-manager pulled some strings and made it happen so I bought the couch and table, and indeed as you might guess, they are sitting out in the living room right now, just begging to be accessorized!

The sofa is both modern and mid-century to me, with a textured fabric I just love. The table is very modern but also a bit zen. (The photo kind of creates an optical illusion, as the table's not just a piece of wood on the floor, but has an edge and a base, though it is low to the ground, which I loved about it, even if it might cause me to trip should I be making cross-room jaunts in the middle of the night.)

Which brings us to why this move is different than LA. Well, lots of reasons, one being that I have signed a year lease, and won't be subject to and admittedly untethered by the whims of a lipstick lesbian whose pit bull tendencies exceed the dear Gov. Sarah Palin, even if both are really just that yapping shitzu you want to kick quiet but are too genteel to do so.

Oh man, I really just wrote that, and I mean it, haha.

Also I'm in full "urban outfitter" mode (not just that store, mind you, but you better believe it's well represented in my bedroom!). In just under a month I have almost finished the bedroom, (including paint and a West Elm platform bed), the dining area, part of the "red room" (my creative and computing space) and now I have the couch and table. Since I just unpacked my surround sound system and TV (and thus the definite need for a couch) I'm pretty close to having the major stuff taken care of, and now I can focus on the little details that will make my corner of Austin space my home, until I find a house and really settle down, and yeah, that's the plan.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Wow, February 1st 2008 seems like another world, another place, another lifetime. Well, it was another place, seemed like a different world, and might as well have been another lifetime. Sometimes, especially in my life, getting to point B involves going through point C first, which maybe I thought was point B, but was indeed point C, and thus life moves in that non-linear fashion of which I am so fond.

It's September 28, 2008, and I am no longer in Los Angeles, California. I left there on May 2, 2008 and had been marking time in Midland for a while, regrouping. Those closest to me know this already. It's a long story, which starts where that trip out West begins, and ends with someone who looks a lot like Dr. Zaius. At least, I'll give him credit as the final straw, such as that cliche goes. To read through this blog, at least the LA part, is probably to realize that there was a downhill trajectory most of the way. Too much rain, not enough sun, to chilly for me, that's not sea mist over the ocean it's smog, no one says hello, oh yes and there were a few atomic lipstick bomb droppings along the way--well they all conspired to make me unhappy in LA. I do love the beach, still, but the trade off is not worth it, being too far from family and even, dare I say it, yes I do, Texas. For, though I might try to be something else for a while, I readily admit now, I am a Texan. I am, of course, a Blue Texan. I think there are more of us than maybe we think, just not in Midland.

I think that, therefore, I am in Austin, Texas.

Weird? Haha.

More later.

Friday, February 1, 2008


So I left it up all through January. I got a whopping one reply from Becky, which I greatly appreciate. Looks like I'll just load up a bunch of goodies to send her way.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Saints and Stars

Well, I thought I'd try something different with a new contest, given all the newness rampant this time of "year." This contest will require little effort, not a great deal of artistic skill really, no drawing or anything other than contemplation and maybe a little research.

So, since I'm in Los Angeles, and Hollywood is just a 20 minute or so drive away from where I'm at right now, I thought the new contest would involve Saints and Stars. Thus your task, should you choose to accept it, is simple: come up with a star whose voice or something about them you think would match any of the Super Saints or Infidels.

(We'll leave the Balloteers out, because I don't like them enough, given their subject matter.)

If you want to get creative and use the Left Wing Liberators, then you should come up with 40s and 50s stars to voice them, they need not be alive. But, for the Saints and Infidels, they should be living stars. Don't know the Saints or Infidels well enough to make a match? Well, go here and find out:

There are no real rules, and you can post as many stars with characters as you like. Each separate star/character combo you post will enter you in a random drawing I will conduct. The prize will be something cool, and if you're unsure what that might be like, just ask the Halloween 2007 contest winners.

I'll start off with one of my own, the very leader of the League of Super Saints...

Saint Catherine of Siena...Emma Thompson

Ok, easy enough, right? Post 'em in the comments section, and the deadline will be the end of January. Plenty of time for you to think of a few suggestions.

FINE TUNING EDITS: Ok, if you read the suggestions and someone already posted a character you wanted to use, don't worry, post your ideas. Even if they are/were the same. I'm just interested in seeing how people perceive a character and which voices they think would go with them, so for example, if you had an idea for St. Catherine of Siena go ahead and post that idea.

You can post once or many times, too, with a long list or just one at a time over numerous comments.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Flea

Not saying what it's for, I'll show it eventually, but I spent a large part of today designing a "cartoonish" yet still gross, but kind of cute, but not, flea.

Usually I'd sketch first, then use Trace to make it a vector in CorelDraw, but for some reason this time I just executed the whole thing on the computer. He/She/It, and where I put He/She/It, reminds me of John Donne.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Gatchaman and Battle of the Planets

I have been on a nostalgia trip for the past few days. Blame it, partially on YouTube, but largely on my incessant memory.

When I was a kid I used to love watching the old Looney Tunes cartoons that came on at around 2:30 or 3:30. Maybe 4:30. I can't remember if they were after school, or if I wasn't in school yet. In any event, one day they replaced Porky and gang (well, Bugs and gang, but Porky Pig was my favorite back then) with something I had never heard of. Starblazers. Where, I thought, are my regular cartoons?

But, I got hooked on Starblazers. It was Japanese Animation, early anime, taken and "softened" for American kids, and obviously dubbed in English. The dubbing and editing allowed the "softened" tone. Still, it was really interesting, Space Opera type stuff.

That opening sort of sums up the subject of the show. Earth was doomed if the crew of the Argo didn't finish its mission in a year, to stop the Gamilon Empire, which had been bombarding Earth with radioactive meteors, which had decimated the surface of Earth and forced humans to live underground. Pretty heavy stuff for a kid. Never mind that they sanitized some aspects...revenge, etc.,...and that the Argo was originally named Yamato, after the WWII Japanese warship.

Here's the opening and another brief summation of the show, the original Space Battleship Yamato subtitled, and an introduction to Leader Desslok (or Desler here, it's confusing). He's a complicated character. By U.S. "W" standards he should be pure evil, dark as night. But he seems to have an odd honor code, and a refreshing lack of appreciation for vulgarity. What? On a world where everything is black and white?

The Argo had a Wave Motion Cannon, which, if it could get in range, would decimate most things in its path. This video on YouTube demonstrates:

"...we used too much power...such power is a great responsibility."

I have no way of knowing if those sentiments were changed or not. Certainly interesting to think about in light of the Atom bomb being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and still definitely part of any US policy discussion currently. I often think it goes like this...we drop the bombs on Japan, they develop Godzilla, anime and some really amazing toys. But a lot of this stuff, if not most, I think directly deals with the psychology of what happened. For a more "adult" account of this idea, watch Akira Kurasawa's Dreams.

So I'm digressing from childhood, though perhaps not, since I remember as a child, for some period of time, thinking every low flying plane was the end of the world. I am, after all, the generation of The Day After and, more horrifying though thank God, seriously, I never watched the whole thing as a kid, Threads.

Anyhow...Wave Motion Gun...very powerful. Leader Desslok was the blue skinned megalomaniac (seemingly) in charge of the forces trying to obliterate Earth. He was terribly dramatic, partly, I'm sure, his voiceover, but also his personality. But apparently (and I don't remember this) there was a legitimate reason the Gamilon Empire did what it did.

After the Gamilon business, there was a Comet Empire for the Earth and the Argo to battle. Seems like the trouble never ended. Also the show had a Star Queen/Princess type, Trelena, who was mysterious and mystical. I don't remember all this stuff, but I'm sure it would be acceptable to use Wikipedia to find out. Fans of comics, anime, etc., are usually more diligent about making sure information is correct there than those who patrol the "real world" stuff.

Another show I loved got the same treatment, or actually, a little worse treatment. Battle of the Planets was originally Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, another bit of anime scaled down and toned down for American kiddos. Basically the American producers made cuts and added new animation with a dorky R2-D2 rip off, to assure viewers that, despite huge blasts, lots of razor sharp objects and guns, and even cities decimated, NO ONE was harmed.

To further confuse things, in the 90s (I think) the program was re-re-done, as G-Force, and 7-Zark-7 was removed. While the tone of the original Gatchaman was apparently restored, the dumb names, bad dubbing, and droning music really weren't appealing (at least to me). It was only a few years ago that I even found out all this remake stuff had been done, and I bought a couple of Rhino releases with the original Gatchaman and the Battle of the Planets, so I could compare. (Also had G-Force, but I never bothered to watch that). Here's the original Gatchaman opening, with a really catchy theme song!

From the couple of episodes I watched, basically the changes were lots of deaths; mass destruction; the fact that this stuff was all happening on a very Earth-like place; the kid was a kid and not a speech impaired robot; the bad guys really didn't care about anyone's life, not even little kids; and assorted other such things. Also apparently the original series had episodes dealing with some dark aspects of Condor Joe and the fact that Zoltar was transgender, or switched gender. I do remember a hint of that in the American version, because he (or she) was unmasked and looked very feminine, at least as far as the long blond hair revealed, I don't think we ever saw his or her face.

What this is all about, if I have a point other than having fun with my memory, is, aren't we all glad we were protected from complex themes and violence like that as kids? Nothing bad ever happens in the world, so why reflect that in your art or entertainment? I just find it slightly amusing or maybe a little scary. It reminds me of my art, always trying to find that innocent peace of childhood and realizing it didn't exactly exist like that.

Meanwhile...I ordered a large number of the Gatchaman original series with subtitles and redubs, to watch and research. Eventually I hope to have the whole was a big part of my childhood, because if we weren't doing Logan's Run or Star Wars, we were playing Battle of the Planets. Transmute!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Memory Stick Purge

I have about 6 months of photos on my memory stick right now, so, I thought I'd go through and post some of the random images while I decide which ones I'm keeping and which I don't need. Appropriately enough, given my last post, they start from the most recent and travel backwards.

Here is the computer desk I finally bought from IKEA, after stalking them for a couple of weeks. That's how I tend to make purchases, and while this wasn't a high end purchase (in fact, for the most part, I love IKEA for that reason) it still takes up room. I was sold on the fact that the white space was magnetic and is a dry erase board. So I have Saint stuff, in various planning stages, posted there.

Here's the first birthday gift I've given someone in Los Angeles. Pretty neat little package, huh? (not talking about Saint Sebastian!). It was well received...more on those developments later. ;) I printed the paper by using my Saint and Sinner symbols, from their monitor board and seen on their info cards on my website.

Here's Benny snoozing on my bed one afternoon. He's such a cute little dog, he really sometimes reminds me of Shaz, our first "dog" but really first adopted four legged furry family member. He particularly reminds me of her when he looks at me and remains immobile if I ask him to move. He loves the warmth and tracks the sunlight across the bed all the day. If I open the garage door, he gets very excited and basks in that sun as much as he can. But then again, so do I.
I took this picture as proof that iTunes offered this Cher song as a ringtone (hmm...there's a theme with Cher and songs going here), even though it disappeared when I bought it. Rather silly of me--I could have printed the screen I guess, but I was just mad because of the whole ringtones debacle. This image doesn't even prove my point, but it does go to my mental state, your honor.

Finally, this wasn't a photo, but I had put the file on the memory stick for some reason. It's a Joker card I made with Jack, which is a pun on his origin, since he was to be a totally insane character like the Joker, but, putting a homicidal madman in Infidels Inc. was antithetical to the overall arc, since no one member was or would be a "big time" villain. His name was always Jack though, and if he ended up more Virginia Woolf than Red Hood, it was a far better thing I had done. Haha.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Standard New Year's Post

If there's anyone out there reading (at all?) who happens to remember the blue bird's blog of old, you would also (possibly) recall that I'm not a huge fan of marking linear time the way we do. This year I'm celebrating the fact that the damn holidays are over rather that the fact that they exist. Not in a bah humbug way, I guess, I haven't been cranky or demanding. I've just been mellow and keen to see the crowds dissipate, as if somehow all the people in Los Angeles who are not supposed to be here, and some may think that includes me!, are somehow getting in the way of my forward momentum. Maybe I'm getting in the way of my forward momentum. I've definitely done that before.

Anyhow, you might imagine New Year's Eve/Day is one of the more annoying times for me, given the previous paragraph, and since I don't drink alcohol. I used to love New Year's Eve as a kid--we got to stay up late, there was still no school for a week or so, and my sister and I spent large amounts of time creating elaborate honey graham/cream cheese type delicacies, and cutting confetti, and arranging the dolls and stuffed animals for their optimal New Year's Eve enjoyment.

But as I grew older, and frankly the more Postmodern I've become thanks to literature and what not, I don't care for the linear marking of time. I'm not fond of the notion that, somehow, everything I do today bodes ill or well for the coming year, when in fact, the problems with any coming day, or any past day, are really in the windmills of my mind, which haven't been turning that quickly of late (that's a confession). They're not rusty or cobwebby, they're a bit apathetic. I guess I keep waiting for Don Quixote to rescue me, instead of rescuing myself, even though I don't need rescue.

Yikes. Sometimes you start writing something and it goes to new places. That just happened, me and Mr. Confessional.

The past two months are my focus of reflection. Some very good things have happened, some things I don't want to jinx just yet. But in other respects, I haven't made things happen. There's the making. It has nothing to do with external forces, I am alone responsible for my ennui in certain areas.

If there is a resolution this year, which I also hate, because perhaps I am cranky right now, and am always writing and re-writing and questioning and revising my goals almost weekly anyhow, but if there is a resolution, it's to move forward boldly. Sometimes I'm still fighting making this Western Expansion my new life, and I know I have to get to a place where I recognize myself in the mirror here and can get things moving in the direction I know they can go, successfully.

So, there. If you must know, today I slept late, worked out on muscle beach, dipped my toes in the freezing Pacific for the New Year, wandered on the beach, went on the Venice Pier, then walked around Venice thinking. If it foreshadows anything in the "coming year," it foreshadows (and aftshadows) my contemplation, and that's always going on, so that the time in my head is more of a spiral. If you looked at it from the top, you'd think it was a circle, but I'm convinced it's a spiral moving...up.