Tuesday, October 30, 2007

art, life, finis

The local county sheriff was indicted today on charges of federal corruption (a classic case of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours"). Generally, I pay no particular attention to my county sheriff - in fact, I find it laughable that this place still has one.

Anyway, I noticed this news only because I had seen it before - recently, in fact, in TV land. I happened upon a series months ago about a young woman living in some unidentified - but completely obvious - southern California county inhabited by scads of slovenly rich people living side-by-side with the great masses who worked for them. I think this show was aimed at teens because the central figure was in high school, but the writers overshot their audience. I liked it not just because the central character is very clever and is an ass-kicker. I also liked it for being very dark and because every plot seemed to turn on the great disparity between the "haves" and the "have-nots." The former always preserved their unmerited advantages and the local, yokel sheriff backed them up. It was pleasantly unrelenting - which made me hope that it was a huge hit among its target audience. Alas, it wasn't. The show got the ax this season. I seem to always find entertainment at its final moments. I will have to find solace for my frustrations with this place by watching previous seasons on DVD.

(Oh, the show was Veronica Mars)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

blows hard

The Santa Ana winds make for an eerie October. At this time of year, I am used to winds with cool weather and falling leaves. But Santa Ana winds are incredibly dry, dusty, hot and, now, filled with soot and ash. They suck the moisture out of everything and have pushed temperatures into the upper 90s all week. There is a thin layer of grit everywhere in the house; there is ash in the air; and everyone is sick from the smoke and from breathing this dry, dry air.

Last weekend, weather reports foretold of the winds and the tinderbox they would whip up. And, lo, with the first gusts Sunday morning came news of canyon fires. In fact, all day on Sunday, every local news source delivered blow-by-blow accounts of the Malibu fire to the exclusion of all else. Over the course of the day I came to despise the media. Admittedly, it was awful that residents were evacuated and some even lost their homes. But the sympathy the media tried to extract for these "refugees" was obscene. It didn't work. These people aren't me; I can't identify. They live in multi-million dollar trophy homes that they decided to build out in some ocean-front canyon so they could live far, far from the rest of us. Reporters failed to mention these people wouldn't seek refuge in a public school gym, a church or the YMCA because they could flee to another multi-million dollar trophy home and arrange for their multi-million dollar insurance payout.

Malibu was the only fire any of us could get information on until Monday evening - when we discovered that a quarter of a million people had been evacuated from San Diego and there was a 13,000 acre fire 12 miles away! (This explains the thick smoke and ash hanging in the air all day.) Like everyone else in the region, we got ready to evacuate. Now that most of the danger has passed and reporters have discovered more worthy stories, I'm still annoyed. What faith I had is utterly destroyed. They're such pets of the wealthy.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Being a graduate student at my advanced (though somewhat traditional) age gives me the sense of putting things on hold. Of course, I haven't put everything on hold (to which my family can attest). But this feeling of being on hold contributes to a general sense of urgency. I need to finish so that I can stop paying tuition, so I can find a job, so I can stop throwing money into the black hole that is rented housing. All of these are fine reasons for urgency. Yet, sometimes, I let the urgency to end the "holding" get out of hand. It grows to monstrous, all-consuming proportions.

I realized again today that the day-to-day is not "on hold." Everyone moves on whether I've written another page or not. So, I decided this Sunday to live in the moment (rather than the urgency). I didn't try to squeeze in the source that has momentarily stumped me. Instead, I cut S's hair and then we went out to look for her Halloween costume.*

This, my reality check, doesn't end the general sense urgency, but it contains it and reduces it to more realistic (and livable) proportions.

*After many weeks of consideration - and about a half dozen totally different ideas (ranging from a lizard to a princess to a "kissing snake"), S decided she wants to be Hermione (from HP). This evening, we found a Hogwarts robe and made a wand. (The wand has magic coming out the tip!)

Sunday, October 14, 2007


After leaving Ohio three months ago, we finally arrived in Los Angeles today. And what an arrival it was. We headed straight to Union Station and the old Pueblo de Los Angeles. Along the (rejuvenated)* old Plaza runs Olvera Street where we happened upon an open-air market. Olvera was decked out for dia de los muertos and the market included vendors of appetizing plates, all manner of decoration, and dancers and live music. It had all the visual and aural elements that seduce an "urban-phile" like myself.

Since we were in a real downtown, we walked around a bit and wandered into Little Tokyo. This place fascinates me and I can't wait to return. (Among other little tidbits that will keep me coming back is a time-line embedded into the sidewalk documenting the commercial and domestic history of each building.)

Our experience made me think that there is a reason to live in/near Los Angeles; and one could find a rationale for remaining here for some time. There are aspects to this city (admittedly, historic aspects) that save it from becoming dully predictable and stale. I think I will survive life in my entirely unremarkable corner of Orange County with a downtown like this one close-by.

*This renewal occurred under questionable circumstances where certain (white) Angeleans decided to "celebrate" the Hispanic origins of the Pueblo over its Mexican roots.

(Even though I lack a reliable camera and the photographic genius of E, I had to share these 'urbvana' vistas of Union Station, from the plaza, and Olvera Street.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


We are in the eye of the birthday storm. Last week both my sweeties had birthdays. R was first then S turned five a couple of days ago. And mine is coming up next week. This gives us just enough time to finish the cakes from the first two before heading in for more treats. (Coincidentally, we're all Libras.)

Even though the big mouse is a mere 10 minutes away, we drove almost 30 miles to take S to the aquarium in Long Beach. This was her "special birthday trip," and she really enjoyed it. We did too. The aquarium is new, so it had everything a modern zoo or museum should - gift shop, cafe, programs (that ran one after another), and hands-on tanks. It reminded me of my classes in museum studies because it used every trendy new trick (exhibits are so 19th-century). Even though this place also trades in sensory overload, I am still pleased that we chose it over the mouse. We will, no doubt, be visiting him soon enough.