Saturday, March 07, 2009

Photo of the day: Always Hold Out for the 64 Box

A new box of 64 cayons. Crayola, of course. The points all nicely pointed. The colors all neatly arranged. None of the wrappers torn, no yellows mixed in with your blues because you never put things back where you got them. For now, it's perfect. So perfect you're reluctant to grab that first crayon and go. But go ahead, do it. You know you want to...

Friday, March 06, 2009


I passed by a ... um....what's a group of mushrooms? A crop? A bunch? Anyway, I passed by a herd of mushrooms on my way to cat duty today so I stopped to take a photo or ten. None of them really struck me, but I had a random conversation with a 127 year old man who was really afraid I was going to pick and eat them. He said "you're not going to eat those, are you young lady?" about a dozen times. While I was amused by his concern for my stupidity, I was also depressed that it's only 127-year old men who think I'm young.

Knowing nothing about mushrooms, except that they come from the grocery store and taste yummy on pizza, I am not going to pick random bits of fungus and think "free food!' Potentially fatal stir-fry is off the menu at our house. But old guy seemed unconvinced. I assured him repeatedly I was just taking pictures -- not taking my life in my hands. But he just kept repeating "don't eat them." Odd, because we were both speaking English, and yet he seemed to not understand my "no, I'm not going to pick them, I'm just taking photographs." "OK," he'd say, "but don't eat them." No, strangely persistent old guy, for the 15th time I am NOT going to eat them. "Fine," he said, "just don't eat them."

I tried to change the subject. Beautiful day. Look how clearly you can see Mt. Diablo. Do you think Oswald acted alone? But he kept beating that poor, dead (because he ate the fucking mushrooms) horse. "Yes, it's a lovely day. Too nice a day to die eating bad mushrooms." Thank you, Mr. Reaper, I wasn't feeling suicidal before but these mushrooms are beginning to look like a quick way of ending this conversation.

I actually wanted to keep taking photographs, but I told him I had to get back to work and trotted back to my car. As he walked off, I swear he muttered under his breath "don't eat the mushrooms."
Cat of the Week: Budda

We seem to be overrun with black cats at the shelter. Sadly there's still this superstition that black cats are bad luck and they don't get adopted as quickly as others. But this guy is a charmer and it would be stupid to overlook him just because some dopes have this weird thing.

Budda (ID #: A442184) is a total charmer. He loves to sit in laps give head butts, and purr. He's also playful, curious, outgoing, sweet, affectionate and easy-going. What more could you want in a cat? He lives in a "condo" with four other kitties and gets along with them so he might be OK in a multi-cat home. He shared my lap with another and started grooming her, when he wasn't busy licking my hand or trying to eat my badge.

You can find out more about Budda and all the other amazing kitties available for adoption at the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA website.

Cat of the week update: Mr. Peabody, a previous CoTW has been adopted! Ob-La-Di, whom I love, has been moved to Petco in Colma and is still available for adoption. I miss seeing him big time. Sigh...
Photo of the day: Puff

While taking this one I discovered it's hard to capture smoke. I'm sure there's some deep, Zen revelation there. But I just meant it took me about a dozen times of lighting and blowing out this damned candle to get the shot and even now I'm not happy with it. Just tired of lighting matches.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Yeah, right...

Stupidity overhead at the gas station.

Man gets out of passenger seat to put gas in girlfriend's car: "Your gas tank is on the other side."
She: "Other side of what?"
He: "Other side of your car."
She: "So?"
He: "So I can't put the gas in."
She: "I'm not asking you to pay for it, just put it in."
(Oh there are so many ways that can be taken..)


Stupidity overhead at the grocery store.
Man to another man looking clueless in the produce section: "Is this garlic or an onion?"
Man 2: "I think it's a potato."


Stupidity overheard at the shelter/
Woman 1, looking at adorable white kitty: "I like white cats, they always look so clean."
Woman 2: "I know what you mean, black cats always look like they're covered in something black."


Seen at the store...
Why God? Why???

Photo of the day: One Man's Trash...

For some reason I was struck by the beautiful green color of this broken bit of glass. The way it contrasts with the pavement. OK, so I'm photographing garbage. But it's pretty garbage.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Photo of the day: The Chairman of the Board

You can keep your King (and definitely your Prince). No offense to the Godfather of Soul, the Velvet Fog, or even Slim Whitman. For my money, you can't beat the Chairman of the Board.

Mr. Sinatra. From his MGM years when he danced with Gene Kelly, sang with Betty Garrett, and won the hearts of a million women. To the serious years of Manchuarian Candidate and From Here to Eternity when he proved he wasn't just a pretty boy with a voice, Sinatra was always the definition of cool.

Sliding onto a barstool, cigarette in one hand, trading quips with Dean and Sammy, Peter and Joey as they filled some huge Vegas mega showroom with the sound of friendly insults and fabulous music. Older now, standing solo in the spotlight as he begins to sing "My Way" in a way he couldn't have done when he was only a boy. Knowing the music. Knowing there are some songs you have to grow into, just as some roles actors have to grow into. No King Lear as a fresh-faced 19 year old from New Jersey. And while he aged, the music grew. Sometimes he tried to adapt to the new sound, but it never quite worked. Disco Frank, bad idea. But even in the tasteless 70s, he still epitomized cool, strolling elegantly across some Casino showfloor in a tux with the tie just sexily left dangling. Sipping martinis (probably just water) and telling stories that were always, but not quite, a bit too off-color.

Frank was the star. And I still love him.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Why she runs

For Finny, and for kick-ass women everywhere.

“I must be a fucking masochist,” she said to herself. Well, actually, she said it out loud. What’s the point of being not just awake but actually running at fucking 6 am if you can’t talk to yourself and cement the impression that you are Crazy Lady.

“Why?” She’d left a husband in that blissful half dozing-half awake state to pull on tights she was afraid made her ass look like you could show Lawrence of Arabia on it just to leave the warm, cozy house. And run.

She knew the first 10 minutes always sucked. It was just something you had to force yourself to do. It was cold, it was painful, it was really fucking stupid. No sane, intelligent person would forego that last, delicious hour of sleep to put herself through this kind of punishment. And, to add insult to injury, it was starting to rain.

In spite of Elvis Costello warning her that accidents can happen, she wasn’t really paying attention to the world around her. She was too busy swearing at the hill that looked like a bump when she drove it but which felt like Denali when she ran.

“Think about something else,” she instructed herself, forcing herself to notice the neat lawns and the leafless trees of the neighborhood. The ugly gray house that she once threatened to paint herself because it was such an eyesore. The classic Mustang parked in a driveway that badly needed to be repaved.

Was it just so she had free reign to eat cheesecake? Was that why she ran? She pondered the importance of cheesecake in her life and decided it was not to be underrated. Was it vanity? The desire to be able to wear shorts in the summertime and not look seriously white trash? Well, that was a point. Health? Yay, maybe, in some “I don’t want to be too much of a grown up but not being a fat, heart-diseased slob is a good thing” sort of way.

Suddenly though, the hill was crested and she made the gentle turn down her favorite street. Long and flat, lined by Crafstman style homes with charm and not too much pretense. No nasty cracked sidewalks to beware of. No yippy dogs. No traffic to dodge or bicyclists to swear at. Just a smooth run where she could kick it up, kick it in, and get all Zen about the run.

Her body was no longer cold with the memory of that warm bed. Her legs were no longer protesting the indignity of being asked to work so hard. Her body and mind finally getting into the rhythm they'd been looking for since she'd left the front porch. Even the right music kicking in on the iPod, playing beats in perfect harmony with her legs. She felt the cold air fill her lungs, heard her feet slapping on the pavement in tune to the music in her head and found, at last, that perfect running moment. Focused enough to keep track of pace, rhythm, breathing; comfortable enough to note the fat black crows on the power pole and the ass on the cute bicyclist passing her in the street. She was hip Zen running chick.

"Oh yeah," she smiled to herself, "that's why I run."
Judging by a Cover
OK, so you can't judge a book by its cover. Supposedly. I think that phrase only worked when all books were bound in brown leather and didn't have cartoon poodles on them. Or the bottom half of a cartoon woman walking the cartoon poodle on 4-inch cartoon heels. That book, I don't want to read.

The same is with CDs, I find. In my role as World Music Director at KZSU I see a lot of CDs and some of them you can tell just by looking at them that they're going in the crap pile.

For instance, anything that uses the phrase "a musical experience" is bound to be bad. Also "soundscape" and, less reliably but always a red flag, "journey." Most "musical experiences" are new age releases featuring tracks with titles like "Timeless Moon, Part 1" and "Shadow Dream for Maya." The titles are themselves enough of a warning. No one has ever had any fun to a song like "Timeless Moon, Part 1". It's never been cranked up for a road trip down the Great Highway. It's never been fucked to. It's never been anyone's first dance. "Timeless Moon, Part 1" is the kind of thing you hear at the dentist office when they don't want you to hear the root canal guy screaming.

Warning number two is reviews from 4th rate newspapers or radio markets. When "Stu, host of "Color Me Hip" on KRAP, Solvang, raves about something and that rave is listed on the CD It meant the SF Chronicle, the LA Times, the San Jose Mercury News, hell maybe even the Lodi Shopper's Weekly have all received the CD and threw it directly into the "to be sold" pile. No quotes from the big guys? You take what you can get. "A magical journey.....affirming life." (The Sparks Navadan.) So what exactly did that ellipsis cut out? And why do I need my life affirmed, anyway. I have a life, I know this. You seconding the motion doesn't make me any more real and, in fact, your awful music might diminish it in some way.

The cleavage factor is a CD phenomenon that only applies to ladies. The more you show off your tits, the less likely you are to have talent. Sorry, it just works out that way. Gracing your cover of "The Many Moods of Mandy Mellow" with your spectacular 38ds will no doubt get the guys salivating, which just makes it easier for them to laugh when you launch into "Can't Help Loving that Man of Mine." Here's a hint breast girls, covering Billie and Ella is stupid. Covering the crumb-catchers might be smart.

The male equivalent of the cleavage factor is the hair. Oh, the hair! Yanni was just the tip of the iceberg, unfortunately. And, unfortunately, the rest of them weren't buried under the ocean. They some how rose up, flowing locks intact, and put themselves on their music. Blond men with long hair sitting moodily in a B&W scene designed to look like Paris but ruined by the fact that there's a Muni bus stop across the street. Dark men caressing their guitar to show they are passionate and to suggest "if my guitar looks this happy, imagine what I can do with you." Um...I'm guessing what you can do is make me giggle like a schoolgirl when I hear you sing.

Bad astronomy. Why do so many CD covers feature bad astronomy? 70's looking collages with neon colors of planets and stars in some sort of cosmic soup, with the band name written in silver in a font last seen in a Brady Bunch fan poster. Pink comets streaking across pale blue skys while artists with one-word names (Ana, Rainbird, Corrie, Flair) grab the tail and hold on for dear life....the only action the music will ever see.

Now, to be fair, I do not automatically dismiss anything based on how it looks. Everything gets a fair listen. But I gotta say that 9 times out of 10 these judgements hold true. The 10th time I'm always surprised at how someone with musical talent can have so little idea of artistic talent and marketing. I don't think Elvis would have been such a big star if his albums featured inflatable neon green spaceships which he would ride with his exceptionally long hair flowed down his bare back while a bevy of huge-breasted backup singers hung out on Saturn. But then again, he's Elvis. They bought him when he was fat.
Photo of the day: Give Me Moscow x4

I've always wondered about this bank of phones at Stanford. I've never seen anyone actually using any of them. They don't look like pay phones, so what do they connect to? And why are they red? Why do two have red cords and two have white cords? Is this the place we go to when we need to order an air strike? So many few people in need of red phones.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Photo of the day: Happy Graduates

This week's theme is "random" a random sign that I think is funny. An odd license plate I see in a parking lot. The odds and ends that aren't actually that photogenic but, nevertheless, appeal to my visual side and my twisted sense of humor. Like this 1939 ad from Time Magazine.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Angels and Monuments
Another photo from my cemetery trek this past week. For more in the series, check out my photo blog. I'll be doing another cemetery trip soon, so I hope you guys have a high tolerance for angels, headstones, doves, and various other forms of memory.
Photo of the day: Extra Soft

Yes, it's Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm). What can I say? Sometimes she's extra soft. And, in this case, extra stripe-y. I couldn't let Textures Week go by without a tribute to my favorite coat.