Friday, July 27, 2007

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Simpsonize Me!

I made this avatar of myself at this Simpsons Movie site. Not too bad of a likeness. I really do wish I had a 'Topes t-shirt. It is very easy, you just click through the choices of hair, eyes, mouth, etc. and fill with colors. There are games to play, a virtual Springfield to explore.

We pre-purchased our tickets the other evening. We won't be going to any midnight first showings, (we're fans, not insane), just a ordinary, Friday night show...except its SIMPSONS! whoohoo!

It's really unbelieveable how Fox has cranked up the marketing machine for this movie. Homer is on the cover of both the LA Weekly and the Advocate. Marge is having a Paris fashion spread in Harper's Bazaar. Bus kiosks too.

The excitement builds!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Super Music Sunday

Sunday was an awesome, music-filled day. The weather was just about perfect, not too hot, just right for listening to music outdoors.

Take the Green Line to the Blue Line to the Red Line .....

Grand Performances is a free performing arts series held at California Plaza in downtown Los Angeles. It is a beautiful space at the top of Bunker Hill, a water garden set amid soaring skyscrapers. If you know where the top of Angel's Flight is..that's the place. (Note to city...hurry up and fix Angel's Flight! I almost had a coronary climbing the steps!)

Sunday's performers were The Pinker Tones, one of my latest favorite bands. They are from Barcelona and play the happiest blend of sounds around.
We were treated to a special acoustic set first. Mr. Furia and DJ Nino played guitar, Professor Manso was on a bongo type drum, and there was a fourth guy who played bass. They played the title song of the last album "The Million Color Revolution", Love Tape, Pink Freud (in German, with Professor Manso playing a little "washboard tie" for percussion), L'Hero (in French) and finished off with Rock and Roll Star (originally by The Byrds). This set was pretty interesting in that they seem to be pretty accomplished musicians and singers. It's always hard to tell in electronica bands what are samples and what are original sounds.

After a little break, the three were back (no bass guy) with the electronic set. Wow!
This was high-energy and they were really having fun. In between songs from TMCR they mixed in Kraftwerk, FatBoy Slim, Queen, The Hustle, Beach Boys, Bob Marley to name a few of the songs/artists I know. A small area had been set aside for dancing (a great foresight) and there were plenty of people out there shaking their booties. Quite a few families were love to dance. There was an elderly black man there wearing a Miles Davis t-shirt who danced the whole set! Just made his own little groove. That was great. On the last song, the guys came into the dancing area and did a little "photo op" which I thought was really cool of them to do.

AUG 2 UPDATE: I snatched these photos from The Pinker Tones newsletter that I just received.

This was my second time to see them. I don't know if it is the venues they are booked at (last time was at JC Fandango in Fullerton) but not that many people show up. First time, maybe 200 people at the night club, and this time maybe 200 again. When you look at pics of their shows in Spain and the rest of Europe, the audiences seem much larger. I wish them more success, cuz they sure put on a fun and entertaining show.

This little clip is from a review in the LA Weekly...couldn't have said it better myself!

The Pinker Tones at California Plaza

Barcelona’s Pinker Tones are just flat-out unbelievably fucking great. The beat-happy crew, spearheaded by enigmatic pop geniuses Mister Furia and Professor Manso, work an interstellar brand of electro/new wave/funk/Latin/flip-out groove that’s downright irresistible. Put over with lacings of robo-vocoder, mysterioso Devo atmospherics, Furia and the good Professor are also constantly plucking exotic tidbits from a wild spectrum of international influences and coloration that are so deftly assembled and executed that they rate as one of the finest exercises in pop confection currently working in the known universe. The Tones are sharp as hell (check their “Sonido Total,” “Pink Freud”), and it’s painfully difficult to accept the fact that this free 3 p.m. shindig is their only Los Angeles appearance — they oughtta be selling out huge venues, not sweating their asses off for unsuspecting passersby. (Jonny Whiteside)

Red Line to Hollywood and Highland

Hopped the shuttle bus for another evening at The Hollywood Bowl.

The performers were Groove Armada, who I am a fan of, and Cafe Tacuba, a band I had only heard of, but not listened to before.

Groove Armada was up first. I thought the band was just two DJ's, but there was a full-on band...with real instruments! They played a great high-energy set that had everyone dancing in the aisles. The songs I recognized were "I See You Baby" and "Superstylin' ". Gramma Funk was not with them, instead two singers..a male and female that were great. They also have a new album out, so I'm sure they played songs from that.

Next up was Cafe Tacuba from Mexico City. They were all over the map as to style: rock, rap, slow songs. The program mentioned that the band takes inspiration from The Cure and Violent Femmes, which I could agree with. Everything was "En Espanol" so I'm not sure what the songs were about. But, man, they sure do have a solid fan base that sang along with every song.

Back on the bus and a relaxing ride home.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bonne Fete Nationale!

France's National Holiday commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison by the citizens of Paris in 1789. This act set in motion the eventual end of the monarchy and the abolition of feudalism in France.

Today it is celebrated with a huge military parade on the Champs-Elysees and parties and picnics pretty much like how the Americans celebrate the Fourth of July. One thing I think is pretty interesting is that the festivities on the eve of Quatorze Juillet are sponsored by the firefighters. But I guess it makes sense if you are commomorating an event that involved burnin' down the house, so to speak.

This year France elected a new president and today was his first Fete Nationale as such.
Here is a link to TF1 which has many cool videos of the events. I especially like the air shows.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Happy Friday the 13th!

Break a mirror as you walk under a ladder with your black cat!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Thank You! Please Come Again!


I went to the Kwik-E-Mart!

As a promotion for The Simpsons Movie, 7-11 is converting some outlets as Kwik-E-Marts, complete with Squishees, Krusty-O's and the trademark pink donuts.

It was pretty amazing. The facade had been repainted to appear as it does in the cartoon. A plastic form covered the top of the building complete with the Kwik-E-Mart sign. Even the tall sign in the parking lot said Kwik-E-Mart.

Once inside, there is a shelf that is lined with boxes of Krusty-O's. (Actually, they were out when we were there, so they filled in with Simpsons action figures.)

There is a huge donut case filled totally with pink-frosted Homer donuts....complete with SPRINKLES!

The Slurpee machines have been changed out to be a Squishee machine. I had never even had a Slurpee before, so the chance to get a Squishee was really exciting. The flavors were Whoo-Hoo blue vanilla, Orange, and Cherry. No chutney! Dang! I chose Orange, and I have to say, it was pretty good. I also got a donut, which I saved to eat at home with a cup of coffee. Hmmmm....not the best donut I have eaten, but...I just had to do it. (well, half of it anyway!)

We were there at about 9:45am on a Saturday, and there was no line, but probably 20 people in the store. A few people were there getting their 7-7-2007 lucky Lotto tickets too. I have heard there is a line later on in the day and evening. The store clerks (and the owner of this store) are of Indian heritage and they totally were having fun with this. They had special Kwik-E-mart shirts. too!

Now, I'm really getting excited to see the movie. It's been 17 years in the making, and the show is a staple of my life.
See it!

The front facade

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

...and the rocket's red glare!

....the bombs bursting in air!

Happy Fourth of July everyone!


Let's set the stage a little: I'm a child of the Fifties and grew up in the Sixties.
Hopefully I don't sound too hackneyed when I say...those were great times to be a kid. All the promises and extravagances of the post-War era were resting on our little boomer shoulders. The privations of war and its aftermath were over and the dawning realization that the American Dream really did not extend to all Americans was just a faint mosquito's buzz.

Hula-hoops, big cars and cheap gas, The Beatles! Life was good.

The Milwaukee area was a great place to be a kid in the Sixties. The remnants of the Socialist what-can-your-government-do-for-you ideal was still a reality. We had some serious kid services. The West Allis-West Milwaukee Parks and Rec was unbelieveable. In the summer, all-you-can-create Arts and Crafts programs, sports teams, swimming, you name it...and it was FREE! None of this Proposition 13 shit. (Non-Californians, just Google it) Community businesses underwriting community services?...YOU BETCHA! Be on a baseball team (with a coach)?...Free. Wanna learn to swim?....Free. Feel like making a lanyard or fingerpainting?....Free!

This abodanza of stuff and services was put over the top on The Fourth of July.

My little village of West Milwaukee (don't quote me, but I think mid-60's population was 5000) had morning-to-evening programs for the whole community.

The parade would begin at City Hall in the late morning. Various civic organizations (although I do not remember any Shriner-go karts!), usually the Saint Matthias Drum and Bugle Corps, maybe the WeMiHi band too. Then all the decorated bicycles and buggies! This was a BIG DEAL in kid-land. You had to totally deck out your bike with some patriotic theme. Weave crepe-paper in your spokes. Make red/white/blue tassels for your hand grips. Dress like Uncle Sam! Grandma/Grandpa W. had gone south on a vacation and brought back African-American dolls for my sister and me. Mom sewed-up some cool red/white/blue dresses and Dad made a sign "Liberty and Justice for All" and we attached our new dolls and an old Anglo "baby-wets-a-lot" to the back of the bike. Well, I did not win any prize, but sure got a lot of lookers. (West Milwaukee definitely not winning any prizes at that time for progressive thoughts on integration)

The parade would wind down Beloit Road to 52nd St. and on to West Milwaukee Park. The line of parade participants/families would stretch from the north-west corner of the park, around the baseball diamond in the south-west corner all the way to "The Pavilion", where you would get: a Giant bar, a cup of ice cream (complete with the little wooden "spoon") and a toy (based on your age group). One year, we actually got a olive drab pump gun that would shoot out ping-pong balls!

After that, the bikes and buggies would be judged and prizes given to the lucky participants. Next, games would be played and MORE prizes given out. Three-legged race, balloon toss, peanut in the spoon. You get the idea.

We would go home after this part, since we just lived a few blocks away. The old memory banks are pretty foggy on this part of the day. In the early evening we would meet up with the K. family (who lived right next door to the park-those lucky stiffs!) and gather once again in the park where there would be live music (an accordion band, perhaps and then some pimply-faced teens playing that rock-and-roll stuff) and culminated in a super-cool fireworks display.


In 1963, the "Great Schlitz Circus Parade" came to town. It was a part of "Old Milwaukee Days", which happened around the Fourth holiday time and was a precursor to the "fests" of today. I remember there were events all weekend on the Lakefront in front of the War Memorial. Was the early Lakefront Festival of the Arts held at that time? I do remember checking out booths with "artsy stuff"...My sister and I got rocks painted with our initials.

I remember going up to 61st and Beloit Road to the train tracks a few days see the train carrying the circus wagons. That was pretty exciting to see. Not the usual boring old box cars for once!

We attended this lakefront shin-dig with our cousins...weirdly, the non-Schlitz cousins....but whatever... Of course, not much money changed hands (i.e. NO TREATS) and we probably had the ubiquitous "cheese and sausage", and PBJ's from home, but one of the things I remember was Uncle J's Kool-Aid Concoction: two cans of lemonade and one can grape juice in a big cooler of water and ice. MMMMM. Now I know where Jim Jones got his idea! (Actually, I really liked it!)

The Circus Parade itself was on July 3rd. That year, I remember staking out a corner on Michigan and ??? (now it is the south-east corner of the "real tall" building...First Wisconsin? ) There was a gas station there at the time. Come to think of it....the damn TRAIN STATION was still on the Lakefront! Wow, those are the OLD DAYS!

Of course the circus wagons and the exotic animals were exciting to see. One group that fascinated me was the "Mummers"--lots of freaky feathers and stuff (think Mardi Gras), Shriners with their fezzes doing their thing, Milwaukee's Finest doing their thing too. Clowns up the wazoo. For some reason, my sister and I were wearing our "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" tap dance outfits.

In the evening, FIREWORKS!!! These were the most awesome fireworks. They seemed to last forever. This was before Veteran's Park was filled in, so I am guessing they were shot off from a barge. This was a major cool aspect of Milwaukee fireworks--they are on the 3rd! Ostensibly, you go to the Lakefront on the 3rd, then attend your neighborhood show on the 4th.


In subsequent years, I remember going to the circus parade with Grandma/Grandpa W. and sitting across from the Arena. For a while there, the parade was on hiatus I think. (Funding and Schlitz going under, etc.) Old Milwaukee Days morphed into some fest or another. The last time I went to the Circus Parade was in 2001. I was visiting from CA with my BF and one of his daughters. My cousin Tom saved us a rockin' spot near Zeidler Park. It was like a thousand degrees, but the out-of-towners were duly impressed! Good old West Milwaukee park probably stopped fireworks in the 70's. Who knows when the daylong festivities ended....?
My last (as a citizen) fireworks was 1980, and I do remember attending the 3rd fireworks in 1984-1985 or so. M+A were "pull 'em in the wagon size". I guess now the fireworks are a part of Summerfest.


When I first moved to California, I was appalled that there were no fireworks! The answers I got were ...Prop13 and "oh they had them at Redondo, but everybody went nuts, so it was stopped". Torrance has had a great lil' Fourth Celebration since about 1988 or so (when Wilson Park was built). Food and craft booths during the day, and a nice fireworks at night. Our new house is only a half mile from the park, so if we sit in the middle of the street, we can see them OK. Unless the fog rolls in. Then we're screwed. And you can't blame Prop13.

Artwork by Jade

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Sunday Grab Bag


July 1, 2003 we moved into our home. Wow, four whole years. When I look at milestones like that I'm amazed at how quickly time seems to pass. That was four years, huh?

Even though those four years have passed, there is still much to be done on the home front. There have been some major accomplishments already: tearing up the carpeting and exposing/refinishing the hardwood floors in the dining area and studio. The kitchen was painted, cabinets refinished and painted, and a new linoleum (yes, the real deal) floor put in. The fireplace was repaired and makes for a cozy winter season. We had to re-roof over the family room. Dale really fixed up his "command central" in the studio, which also got a fresh coat of paint. The master bedroom got new furniture: a Case Study bed and Heywood-Wakefield dressers.

On the to-do list: family room paint and furniture, new kitchen counter, and master bedroom paint. My "command central" needs to get going too. A new bathroom would be nice, but let's not get carried away! I just wish those lottery tickets would come up winners for once and then all this stuff would get done.

The tomato plants had a growth spurt while we were on vacation. Here is the first specimen.

The peaches are going nuts. One branch broke off under the weight of its fruit. This year it seems that there is a lot more fruit. I think that might be due to the cold snap we had back in the winter. However, the size of the peaches is smaller. We also did not get this weird leaf "disease" like last year. The bugs, squirrels, and birds don't seem as hungry either. So, more for me!

Here is the first thing I made with this season's crop. I had been making the Rhubarb-Strawberry Pudding Cake during the spring, and just swapped peaches and raspberries for the rhubarb and strawberries. Worked out great, and the leftovers were great this morning.