Monthly Archives: January 2007

The magic of tungsten light…

I have always loved the glow of tungsten light. Magritte, one of my favorite artists as a teenager, apart from his fanciful subject matter drew me by his treatment of light (featuring tungsten light in may of his paintings). It gives me a warm fuzzy inside… not sure if this is something peculiar to me, or whether others feel this too?

Gabriel and I had dinner at Britta’s Cafe again last night. We got there just in time to nab one of the two little barstool tables for two. The place was completely booked and the wait was well over an hour for a table… and I was starving. In fact, I’d decided that I’d wanted to go there for dinner quite a bit earlier during the day, since I hadn’t eaten a whole lot and was craving another one of their little 3oz filets. Like butter! Gabriel is feeling rather poorly again. He’s come down with another cold and is congested and snorfling.

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We got back last night and watched some TV. I don’t PMS like most… rather than turning into a raving bitch, I simply become weepy, and even the most innocuous things (like the animated Stitch film) will have me reaching for the hanky. I just wiped all the spots off of the inside of my glasses created by my exploding tear ducts. Fortunately the melancholy is of short duration, and doesn’t linger on, so I feel just fine.

Now that I’ve gotten this post off of my chest, perhaps I can fall back asleep once again.

Writing… "thought kernels"… and Neil Gaiman

Pencil sketch – Neil Gaiman channelling
Keanu Reeves (or vice-versa?)

During my lunch hour I like to surf the web and catch up on my blog reading. I usually cycle through the ones that I have listed in the links section of my own blog. One of my favorites is Neil Gaiman’s. I marvel at how prolific he is. This led me to pose a question to him (I elaborate below).

Invariably, when am at work, or at the oddest of times (like the middle of the night… I’ve been know to get up to jot down a thought), I get these little flashes of inspiration. I’ve dubbed them “thought kernels” because they usually are not complete in and of themselves, but much like seeds could potentially be planted and grown into complete works. I had such a moment at work yesterday, and proceeded to email myself with the thought. As much as I hate to postpone working on these ideas later, I often have to set them aside because of other things I have going on. Not necessarily writing projects, but rather things like work… or the dishes… or laundry… etc.

I also tend to start on a bunch of things, when the inspiration strikes, and then allow the sparks to burn themselves out, always moving on to the next brightly burning project instead of completing the previous one. Quite honestly, this is an aspect of myself that I find really annoying and would love to change. In any case, I asked Neil how he deals with these obtrusive “sparks” and how he kept on task with projects when he still had a “day job” (assuming he’s had one at some point in time).

I struggle with these things. I’m at a starting point in this industry at a point in my life where my would-be peers have pretty much already established themselves, and do not have to deal with the “beginner” issues that I am faced with. By the same token, those who are at that starting point are usually quite a bit younger, which also means that their responsibilities differ from mine. I have a family… a job that provides us healthcare benefits. A 401K plan. Our level of comfort depends on the portion of income that I generate. I can’t just live out of a suitcase on a friend’s couch and eat ramen until the something fabulous materializes. So… I try and do as I am able, as time and energy permits… and hopefully someday it will pay off. Until then, may the journey be worthwhile.

Birthday celebration(s) in review…

Moleskine journal entry – Pencil sketch of the livingroom at the Chateau Marmont

Party’s over… not that there was much of a party, but I definitely rung in the new year of my birth in style. I went to see David Lynch and Donovan at the Kodak Theatre. The theatre is impressive with its central spiral staircase and the architectural elements it comprises of. The event itself was interesting, though not quite what I’d imagined. David was introduced and the format for his portion was basically a Q&A session collected from various audience members and written onto index cards. Laura Dern joined him on stage to ask the questions. A pianist, whose name I can’t remember, interpreted each question and response musically, stroking the keys in tiny little snippets. The questions (and their respective answers) were rather repetitive, and mostly quite evasive. David was quite funny… warm… real. He seems to be a delightful man… I’d love my own Q&A session with him, one-on-one.

On the other hand, Donovan was quite phenomenal. He spoke a little of his background, of the evolution of events that led him to TM and how it affected his life and more specifically his music. Then he played… a lot! It was quite wonderful. I noted his green guitar and the stag image on it. He also quite gleefully greeted “all the witches” in the audience right before he played “Season of the Witch” which was met with whoops from some of the audience members. Interesting… perhaps he is a TMer with a penchant for wicca?

In any case, the concert was the highlight of my evening. Afterwards I cabbed it to the Chateau Marmont for a very late dinner. The osso bucco and the gingerbread cake with poached pear and whipped marscarpone (along with the glass of muscat) that I had were phenomenal.

I wasn’t in the mood to get to sleep immediately afterwards and ended up watching a Naruto movie on DVD which one of my co-workers (thanks Henry! *smiles*) gave me… it’s a Japanese movie (with English subtitles) called Naruto and the Snow Princess. A bit different than the TV show (I was pretty impressed at the lack of “censorship” in that Kakashi Sensei at some point says “Oh shit!”). I am definitely a cartoon geek, my current favorites being Naruto and The Avatar.

The next morning my friend Kelly Kilmer and I met for a breakfast at the Marmont, taking up residence on one of the sofas in the “living room” to exchange our Christmas gifts (and I got my birthday presents as well). Amazingly enough, we both purchased things for each other without duplicating anything, which is saying a lot (since both of us are absolute *ahem* book whores). I scored big time… the whole “Black Orchid” comic series, minus an issue here and there… Barron Storey’s 1996 Watch Annual… the three issues of the “Death” series… the Japanese version of Yoshitaka Amano’s “Fairies” book, which I’ve picked up and put back down countless times at the book store.

After parting ways with Kelly, the rest of my day was spent slumming with the Hollywood crowd in the Marmont “living room,” typing away at my story on the laptop. I am such a slow writer. I suppose we all work differently. I have to carefully churn the words around in my mind and come up with a perfect turn of phrase. It will take me an eternity to write out this story, but oh well! Kelly read the stuff I’d had in the morning and was quite impressed (and I don’t think she was just being polite, but perhaps).

While I took up residence there, a fellow came in with two men, looking for a place to settle into. He was also accompanied by the largest black wiry-haired dog I’d ever seen. “Miniature horse” were words that entered my mind. They found a good spot and sat down; the dog seemed to have disappeared. Throughout the afternoon while I was banging away at my story, these folks were in talks discussing what I’d assumed to be a movie project of some kind. The theme of the story they were discussing was very similar to something that I am working on, only my treatment is going to be different than what they are planning. In any case, after their meeting was adjourned, the fellow with the dog came over to me, asking “Would you like to meet George?” Sure I would… George (the dog) sauntered over and proffered his tail end for a rub. I obliged, to which I was told that the dog dug me because he only did that if he liked you. Phew… what a relief! Wouldn’t it be nice if all humans did this? How much simpler life would be. (“Hello! You smell good and I like you… would you rub my rump please?”) In any case, George’s owner, Steve, introduced himself by his first name and I have no idea who he was in the big picture of things. And I’m a big picture person if there ever was one.

Afterwards, I went over to Book Soup for some perusing and whiled away some time. For dinner I had decided on eating at Le Clafoutis. I must admit, I was somewhat disappointed in the food. I ordered a chicken with penne dish… the chicken was diced into these tiny little cubes and appeared to be pan-fried; the penne was in a lemon creme sauce. Not bad, but the chicken really threw me for a loop… the whole dish tasted somewhat fatty and despite the lemony sauce, very… indistinct and rather unmemorable. Can’t say that I’d ever choose to eat there again.

Tuesday morning was an unwelcome intrusion to the churning ocean of creativity that I’d been floating in since Sunday. I ended up taking an additional vacation day, and instead of staying at home I stole away to a local Starbuck’s with my laptop and wrote in the morning. I worked out the text for the visual story that I mentioned earlier, and will work on the sketches for the illustrations this weekend. I plan on making 20 hand-bound art books. There will be 20 images to accompany not a whole lot of text. I’ll be making the prints using my Print Gocco, and then hand-tinting the pages with watercolors, walnut ink, acrylic paints, or any combination thereof, so essentially, each of the prints will be slightly different due to the hand-coloring. I haven’t yet decided on the binding technique I plan on using, but I suppose it would be a good start to at least get the 20 drawings completed… or begun. 😉

After work on Wednesday I met with my friend Bonnie for some dinner followed by a show at the Barclay. Dinner was at Britta’s Cafe. The food is absolutely delish. Not cheap, though, but worth dishing out the money for the quality of the food, and the interesting menu items/ingenious ingredient combinations. I’d say it’s right up there with Le Girafe (in Santa Monica).

The show at the Barclay was fantastic. We watched the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble perform to a Hungarian Concerto Homage to Béla Bartók. It was fabulous… the music… the costumes… the dancing… made me feel… Hungarian. 🙂

‘Tis "the day"…

Adulthood is over-rated… if I could crawl my way back into my childhood, I’d do it. Not because it was so wonderful, but the sense of security I felt at KNOWing that I would be taken care of… that’s wonderful… and fleeting. Both my parents are gone now, and I am a parent now too, of a wonderful 11-year old boy. Today I turn 43 and still feel much like a child in many ways… hopeful, loving, expectant, young (even though someone who really *is* young would laugh to know that I think that), and beautiful (even though the mirror -or camera- tells a very different story) … although all of that has been tempered with life experience, some of it not so good, and leaving me disillusioned as well, like those things that I’ve always thought would materialize as a child are so much fairy tales and not the substance of real life. So… I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing, even though I make a great pretense of doing just that.

So… today I am going into Hollywood and spending the day loafing around WeHo, looking at books in bookstores and sitting in coffee shops… and this evening I’ll go to the Kodak Centre to see David Lynch speak about his new book and movie and listen to Donovan play some music. My gift to myself will be to go spend a night by myself in a hotel in West Hollywood, and hopefully get some writing done and maybe some arting too, and enjoy myself with little things like book shops and sipping coffee at my leisure, and not feeling the sting of being ignored or uncherished because, hey, I’ll be alone, and will have no expectations from strangers.

In any case, dear readers (whomever you are)… I hope this year that stretches before you will bring you all of the things you desire, and even those things that you might not think yourself worthy of, because I have these same hopes too.

Celebrations… of birthdays and other things…

(Click to watch video)

Let me just say that I’ve spent waaaaaay more time messing with this video stuff than I had planned (or even intended) to, but for someone who never RTFMs and was plugging away at something without having a whole lot of clue as to what I was doing, this vid turned out a lot better than I thought it would.

Gabriel turned eleven earlier this week, but I decided that Friday night was a good night to celebrate his birthday party. Ever being the procrastinator, I was ill-prepared this afternoon, and a half hour late by the time I finished work, went to the bank, picked up the cupcakes for the party and got to Boomers. Nevertheless, a good time was had by all (kids), as can be witnessed by the above Quicktime show. While Steve followed the kids around with his camera, I held down the fort, guarding the gifts, balloons and left over cupcakes. I was thankful that I’d brought a book to read.

In fact, my Friday was quite impressive as well. Our birthdays aren’t even a week apart, and I am turning 43 this year. (Turning… like a leaf? What a funny expression…) In any case, my friends at work honored my birthday with gifts of books and flowers and giftcards and even a delicious (made from scratch) lemon ring cake. One of the gifts, a book, is from Sanaz, whose name, ironically, is the name of a character in the book she’s given me called Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books.It’s an interesting book, though I’ve only read 24 pages of it so far. I’d picked it up and put it back down countless times at Borders, as it’s been on the 3 for 2 table. Glad I am finally getting to read it.

The author speaks of the works of Nabokov, which I’ve never read. My mother used to read him as a young woman but I’d never been curious enough about him to do so myself… until now. Of course, she read them in the language in which they were originally written. Hopefully not much will be lost in translation. She loved his works and perhaps reading them now will provide me with a glimpse of my mother that I haven’t been witness to yet. I only wish she was here to share the moment with me. So… this weekend (with my Barnes & Noble giftcard that I received from Claude), I will purchase one or two of Nabokov’s books.

I am excited about my birthday this year… not because I’m a year older, but because I will be spending it alone. That’s right, you read it right. Alone. If I could have afforded more days, I would have taken them, but as it is, I am escaping from my motherly and wifely duties for part of Sunday, Sunday night and most of Monday (which I am taking as a vacation day off from work) and spending it in WeHo. I have a “thing” to go to on Sunday night with David Lynch and Donovan at the Kodak Theatre. David will discuss his new book Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativityand his new movie Inland Empire and Donovan will perform some of his music. I am on the Laguna Beach TM list and was able to get a free ticket through them. It will be a wonderful way to spend part of my birthday. Incidentally, David’s is on the 20th… we are several decades, and a day, apart. I thought that was funny when I found out.

On Monday morning I’m planning on meeting my friend Kelly Kilmer for breakfast, and finally exchanging those Christmas gifts we haven’t been able to exchange until now. It will be good to see Kelly, and for a change it will be close to her home instead of closer to mine (we usually meet for breakfast at the Gypsy Den in Santa Ana before she teaches her classes at The Art Bar). In any case, I plan on lounging, reading, visiting the bookstore, walking around, and hopefully will have some time and inkling to write. Good times.

What has been keeping me from my art…

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Homework… not mine, but Gabriel’s. Every day he drags ass to get it done… every day it’s a major panic session right around bedtime (which is later than *I* ever went to bed at that age), because such-and-such homework hasn’t been completed and it happens to be due “tomorrow.” So… I helped Gabriel make his heritage doll… in fact, I pretty much dressed him by myself. He was busy doing other stuff… like math homework and such… you know, the important stuff. He took (correction: he forgot the f*n thing at home, so Steve had to drop it off at the office) the doll in to school today (it turns out it wasn’t due until next Tuesday *grrrrr*) but the teacher was so impressed with it that she kept showing it off to everyone… the fifth graders… the kindergardeners who some of the fifth graders “tutor”… the teachers… everyone in the vicinity got an eyeful of Gabriel’s heritage doll, which was met (by Gabriel) with a mixture of pleased embarrassment. Well… I’ve done my job as a parent then… I am able to both win him brownie points with his teacher AND embarrass the heck out of him, all at the same time. Yay.

The tribe grows… and the banana peels of life…

Debra Shilanec has a wonderful website called Reach-Dabble-Shine. Every so often my mailbox is graced with an e-mail from Debra with a link to one of her posts. You can subscribe to these delightful morsels of insight and inspiration if you are so inclined. Click on the leaves (above) and you’ll access the one about slipping on a banana peel… you’ll have to read it to understand the rest of my post.

It’s odd how one person’s experience and perception can so closely mirror my own. I loved this particular post… having done the exact same things, and coming to the exact same conclusions. It’s tough to find the tribe… especially in the corporate environment, where “accountability” is really “finger pointing” and “resolution” means “protecting the bottom line”. But… somewhere, out there, there are others, and it is comforting. And… it’s not that I’ve achieved this wonderful self-consciousness all of the time… many, many times I fall back into the usual (almost hard-wired) behavioural patterns, and only after a little while do I realize “oh, there I go again… time to stop this insanity NOW!” But, at least I get there, which is more than some (if not most) of the people I know get to. And… maybe it is the wiring… maybe it’s this insatiable need to be better than I am, not in my accomplishments but in my doing… my journey there.

Moments gone in a blink and other meanderings

Every year I plan on sending out Christmas cards. With the best intentions, I actually purchase boxes of cards before the holidays (at full price) and plan on getting them written and sent out. These days I don’t even delude myself with the hopes of getting them out before Christmas, but I do have the expectation that they will go out somewhere around the week between Christmas and the first of the year, or at least close to that. As you can see, they sit in a pile, haunting me every time I walk by, and we are now several weeks into the new year and it seems hardly appropriate for me to mail them now.

It amazes me how quickly time goes by… another year has slipped by and I have barely accomplished anything that I truly wished to. I’ve accomplished lots of the mundane… hours of sleeping, eating, working, doing household chores, parenting, taking care of basic bodily functions. All of that sprinkled with a little bit of reading and writing… and the creating of some art. Nothing substantive or organized. I keep saying… “next year I’ll [fill in the blank]…” but when push comes to shove, it’s so easy to fall into the same old patterns of complacency. Maybe it’s time for me to invest in another “self-help” book… the greatest self-help book of all time, which will kick me in the ass and get me onto the right path. Just need to figure out which one it is…

Gabriel and I were watching TV today and this “short” came on… he said it was one of his favorites and “I wish we could get a video of it.” I went on YouTube and voila… there it was. We chuckled throughout several rounds of viewing and then decided to move on to other things.

I really liked the weird, large eyes and decided to doodle one of my own…

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Good? Maybe not so much… but silly? Yes!

I’ve done tons of laundry this weekend. My hands could use some softener. I still have two loads of linens/towels left. Ack!

I did manage to get a very long shower in… the kind that drains the hot water heater. I turn off the bathroom lights, turn on my CD player (blast some Delerium, and probably drive the neighbors nuts), light a couple of candles and shut out the world… or rather, pull it all in. I do a chakra meditation in the shower. So here you go… instructions for an unguided shower meditation, just for you:

+ place self under shower stream, so water is beating down onto top of crown, facing outward (it will become apparent shortly why the outward facing stance is preferable)
+ breathe deeply through the nose (aha! see? that’s why…), feeling your belly expand with air and then exhale through the mouth, your belly shrinking as the air is expelled, several times
+ stand with your feet comfortably apart, knees slightly bent, with your body comfortably centered over your feet
+ imagine the soles of your feet growing roots, and those roots going down, down through the tub and through the foundation, down through the earth, wrapping themselves around the core of the earth
+ imagine that the top of your head is open, like a pitcher and that the water streaming down upon you and through you is pure, white universal light. Pouring into you, flowing through you, clearing, cleansing and purifying as it goes, down through your torso and your arms, hands and through your fingertips, down through your chest cavity and through your mid-section and hips, flowing down into your legs and your feet, and down through your roots, into the center of the earth, with it all of your dis-eases and impurities
+ now, imagine the earth’s energy rising from the center of the earth and up through your roots, through your feet and into your body, activating your lowest (red) chakra, situated where your genitals are
+ as you breathe in through your nose, imagine that you are breathing in this earth energy, and upon exhaling through your mouth, that there is a red beam of light shining out from within your first chakra, the red light clearing any blockages as it radiates outward
+ feel (smell, taste) the earth energy rising to the next chakra, with the clearing of each as it progresses. The colors corresponding to each chakra, as well as their “energy” and location is as follows:
+ base or root chakra – red – survival, physical needs – location: genitals
+ sacral or second chakra (don tien) – orange – emotional balance, sexuality – location: a few inches below the navel
+ solar plexus or third chakra – yellow – personal power, self will – location: between navel & base of sternum (where you feel butterflies sometimes)
+ heart or fourth chakra – green – love & relationships – location: center of chest
+ throat or fifth chakra – turquoise – communication, self-expression – location: base of neck
+ third eye or sixth chakra – indigo – intuition, wisdom – location: above & between eyebrows
+ crown or seventh chakra – violet – spirituality – location: top of head
+ breathe the color in (through your nose) as you fill your lungs with air, and as your expel the air out through your mouth, imagine the color beaming through each of your chakras, all the way to the top of your head. Breathe your way through each chakra as many times as you feel the need to
+ now, imagine once again that pure, white, universal energy is being poured into you, through your crown chakra
+ breathe the light in as you inhale through your nose, and as you breathe out, starting from your sixth or third eye chakra, imagine that a beam of white light projects through each chakra, purifying, cleansing and healing as it flows
+ imagine on each exhale the white light of the pure universal energy spiraling (like a helix: think DNA) with the color of each respective chakra
+ once you have reached and cleared the root, base or first chakra, imagine that as you inhale through your nose and fill your lungs with air that you are filling your whole body with pure, white universal energy
+ as you exhale through your mouth, imagine that the light you’ve just inhaled is now being expelled throughout every single pore, in all directions
+ finally, give thanks to both the earth energy and the white universal energy and close your crown chakra and pull up your roots from the earth’s center

Well… now you know why I drain the hot water reservoir. Enjoy!

Happy New Year and all that…

Well, it’s been a while since my last post. Holiday mayhem ensued and I spent my time (and quite a bit of money at that) preparing for Christmas. I was bitten by the anti-Ebeneezer bug and the pleasure of giving far outweighed my budget sense. Hence, I did some “unshopping” this weekend and returned several of the “one for me” portion of the “one for you” holiday shopping spreeing.

I also upgraded my blog to Blogger’s new template, and am wrestling with my stat counter now… grrr… but it does have a few new added features that will simplify things.

Christmas was good to all (perhaps a little too good)… Gabriel got a guitar, a skateboard and other various and sundry items… Steve got an iPod (to replace the one that was lifted during the Jeremy McGrath Invitational, right from under our noses, in the press room, no less) and a wallet and other various and sundry items, and I should no longer be directionally challenged now that I have a Magellan Roadmate 2000. Which way to the bathroom???

The only down-side to the holidays is that Steve’s mom and dad were not able to join us for our December 25th constitutional. Steve’s mom still has not fully recovered from her heart valve surgery in May/June of last year and continues to ail. We drove over to Hemet on Christmas Eve for dinner with the intention of going to the candlelight mass afterward but mom didn’t even make it through the meal–she had to lay down. We skipped church and headed for home shortly after, not a single one of us particularly distraught at missing mass. They ended up not coming over for Christmas, mom instead heading for the hospital with what seemed to be gall bladder trouble. We’ve since gotten news that she’s much improved, though she is eleven pounds lighter.

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The few days off between here and there were a welcome respite and I am grateful for them, though I would have liked about twice as many as I got. Vacation time accumulates very slowly when you only get two weeks a year (and use them up as quickly).

To ring in the new year, I decided to host (yes, you read it right… the very thing that I *swore* I wouldn’t do, under threat of bodily harm) an on-going Color Postcard Swap. There are nine of us participating and the main criteria is that we stick to the monthly color themes as picked out monthly by the players and that all the art must be original (read: not a photocopy) works. I was so sick to death of getting color copies of stuff, or just layered bits of fluff-as-art that I am hoping the colors will speak to the players and make everyone produce some cool stuff.

The color theme for January is black and white. Fortunately (or not), I’ve never met a color I didn’t like… colors by their very nature seem to make concepts “pop” in my head… for example, with black and white, I’m already thinking: “newspapers… read between the lines”… “old b/w photos”… “b/w prints”… “mardi-gras & pierrots”… black lace & pearl buttons… wrought iron… see what I mean? I sketched a bit in my moleskine yesterday, prepping for more imaginative work this weekend. I plan to work on some thick watercolor paper and then cut them into eight pieces as well as create an accompanying piece the size of the uncut sheet and keep that one for myself.

I also got a phone call at work today from Pascale, one of my hometown friends, who confirmed that she and her two boys will be out for a visit shortly. I haven’t seen them since returning home for my mother’s funeral, which was three years ago this past September. Her older one, Simon, is now a strapping six foot one, while the other, Emile, is closer to Gabriel in both age and size.

This past Saturday was a superlatively cool day for me… Gabriel and Steve both left at around 9AM and I had the whole apartment to myself the whole day… I did just about nothing except pick up a bit, the dishes, and watch the Discovery Channel all day long. Quantum physics holds a great fascination to me, and I greatly regret not applying myself to mathematics early on… numbers (and equations) truly do hold the key to everything. I also didn’t know that there are satellites floating around in space taking x-ray images of our universe, and how different a picture it is when taken into that context. Utterly fascinating…

Well… after a fine dinner of garlicy toast, I think I’m ready to tackle the stat counter once more, and if I still can’t figure it out, I think I’ll retire to bed with a book.