Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weekend Forecast

All week, I could hear everyone saying.  Snow levels down to 500 feet.  Cold, winter storm headed our way.  Oooh! So by Saturday morning, I was just itching for snow flurries and figuring out how to make do-it-yourself ice-scrapers (old credit card?).  But the weekend came and went and as of Sunday evening, the snow level looked like it's a good 3500 feet -- nowhere near the forecasted level.  In fact, it was downright sunny Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday.  So, why is the public more tolerant of errors in weather forecasting?  I doubt they even come close to a 90% accuracy.  Nonetheless, the weekend weather brought some amazing cloud patterns to the Los Angeles basin as can be seen in the photo above taken on the 210 freeway somewhere in San Dimas.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oil Portrait

Something about portraits done in oil just capture my attention.  I found this at an antique store in Pomona last weekend for $25.  The framing alone would cost that much but this painting of a woman, who looks between 20 and 30 years of age is very striking.  There is the all-black top that she is wearing and that sliver of a red chair on her back just projects a certain melancholy about her face.  What was she thinking at the time she sat?

Found Paintings

One man's junk is another man's found art.  To my surprise, I found these two acrylic paintings in the "Free" pile in my Pasadena neighbor's front yard.  Geometric and apparently done with masked patterns using some form of tape, these 16"x20" paintings are interesting and retro cool.  Looks like they were done back in the 60s or 70s given the yellowing of the canvas and the wooden frame.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Just Like Riding A Bicycle

Summer 2009 was the last time I rode the bike in any capacity so putting on my helmet (albeit the skateboarding kind) and my bright cycling jersey was with a bit of hesitation.  It was raining off and on all weekend and the temps were downright cold (51F is cold for anyone who grew up in the tropics).  My road racing bike was replaced by my 3-speed Bianchi cafe racer and my Look pedals with New Balance tennis shoes.  The 7.5 mile loop took me to the top of Day Creek Blvd and down to the corner of Etiwanda and Victoria Street before going west on Victoria Park Lane to hit Rochester Ave back up to Banyan and home. Without the efficiency of clipless pedals, I suffered through the ride in a decent 30 minutes, spinning my way mostly.  Gone was the anaerobic recovery, the power up the hills was not there and the top speed in the flats, well, is not so fast.  However, my spin was still somewhat ok and am encouraged that if I had extra time, I could probably do this loop twice next week.  For old, ex-bike racers like me, my spin is probably the only skill that won't go away (thankfully).  Just like riding a bike, right?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Mechanic (2011)

There are a few movies that I can remember my dad taking me to as a kid and "The Mechanic" was one of them.  The original 70s version features Charles Bronson as the assassin who liked to worked "cleanly", leaving little trail of his job.  Tonight, I took both kids to see the 2011 remake of "The Mechanic" as the highlight of this rain-soaked Saturday.  Jason Statham is probably my second best choice for the role of highly efficient killer (Daniel Craig being a colder, tougher version) but he did more than adequately kicked ass.  Different targets, different weapons, different geography than the original but Mechanic v2011 stayed pretty close to the theme of the Bronson flick except this time, Statham survived the attempted killing of the teacher by the student.  Probably would not have even bothered if I hadn't seen the original but Battle: Los Angeles won't be out for another 3 weeks.

"Bubble Gum Alley Alphabet" (2010)

I got this idea for an art series when the kids and I first visited Bubble Gum Alley in San Luis Obispo last year. They helped me find the letters as I snapped away with the camera but had a bit of trouble looking for a "Z". So, we made the last letter on the spot, I stuck the diagonal and each kid stuck the upper and lower horizontal leg to complete the alphabet. The bubble gum was fresh (clean) after a week's worth of rain washed away the dirt on this artwork of the masses just off Higuera Street in SLO.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Stingray Project Update 2/18/11

This sat in the Pasadena garage for years. And I was determined to be driving it to work by March 2011. I've replaced the clutch, all 4 caliper brakes, new master cylinder but with my job and being a full-time single parent, I finally gave up and had it towed to McJack's Corvette in Santa Ana on 12/30/10. Almost an admission of defeat, I will pay him to restore it for me. (I bought this old car thinking it will be the product of my sweat and labor...well, shit happens.)  Today, I visited the car at McJack's and heard for the first time the 2 1/2 inch exhaust pipes emptying into these new mufflers.  Low and throaty, I am encouraged with the progress - after all, it took almost a month stripping off the old paint with a flat sander.  Hoping to get a call in two weeks after a coat of primer had been applied.  In the mean time, color choices are just going back and forth in my head.  Red, deep red, white, pearl white...I have time to decide.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Witch Puppet" (2008)

Weave (2010)

This is a series of 5 drawings titled "Weave" I made in 2010. The drawing is to be viewed in progression similar to watching 5 quick frames of a motion picture. Then go back. And the cycle repeats. As the viewer moves through the frames, the intended effect is to zoom in and zoom out of the weave.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Death Star (Mother-Of-All-Legos)

It was a brief phone conversation.  I called the Lego Store in Glendale Monday afternoon to inquire about the Death Star and said they expect some coming in later in the week.  Call back Thursday or so, the guy said on the phone.  Tuesday, I just had this nagging feeling that I should call again -- just in case. After all, the Lego Store in Ontario said they don't expect any more any time soon.  Are these Death Stars that popular?  So I called around 11am today just to see if a shipment of Death Stars came in.  "We have one" she said.  Trying to decide if I should go now or after work was a really easy choice -- go now, fast --- and actually was a wise one.  When I got there, the salesperson said I am getting the last one, they've already sold four this morning.  Am I underestimating the number of geeks out there who can afford these $400 Lego sets?  I'm getting this one for my son who just turned 11 last week and got enough Christmas and birthday money to get Darth Vader's mother-of-all-Lego-sets.  This one will take a while to build.  The instructions alone is a thick 262 pages (below) and the set contains over 3800 pieces.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The MOCA Cap

When I stepped out of the plane from Oahu in July 2009, I knew that something was not right but didn't quite figure out what it was until we got home.  I have left my dear old black baseball cap I bought in 2008 from the MOCA store on Grand in downtown LA in the Boeing plane.  Too late -- and although it's just a silly piece of head gear and I have several baseball caps, this one was special.  I went to MOCA a lot in 2008 when life as I know it changed forever.  The museum, a mere 20 minutes from Pasadena was a refuge from life's harsh realities at the time and when I returned a few times last year, the museum store was no longer selling the cap.  And although I can go to any mall and have a similar one made, it's just not the same as the original.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Real Prosperity

A rich man asked Sengai to write something for the continued prosperity of this family so that it might be treasured from generation to generation.  

Sengai obtained a large sheet of paper and wrote "Father dies, son dies, grandson dies."

The rich man became angry "I asked you to write something for the happiness of my family!  Why do you make such a joke of this?"

"No joke is intended," Sengai explained.  "If before you yourself die your son die, this would grieve you greatly.  If your grandson should pass away before your son, both of you would be broken-hearted.  If your family, generation after generation, passes away in the order I have named, it will be the natural course of life.  I call this real prosperity."

-"Zen Flesh Zen Bones"

Photograph: "The Three Phases Of Life" (2004)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sumi Doodles On Rice Paper

The strongest elements known to man are primarily the metals and other solids. However, the power of fluids had always been underestimated. In this series of doodles, I start out with flat paper and as I apply the sumi ink, the paper just bows to the ink's will to pull it into any direction it so desires. The resulting texture after the ink dries is forever represented in the simple doodles. They say the pen is mightierl than the sword. My corollary to that is behind every pen's power is the ink that flows through its veins.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Last Drawing Of 2010

The last one for 2010.  Red and black gel pen ink on 16"x20" paper.
I kept thinking last night how this drawing is all about random choices in life and how that choice affects others. After I made the outline in pencil, I picked out an area to shade in red ink. Going by a simple rule that all other areas adjacent to a specific area must not contain the same color, I pretty much set the fate of what colors every other area can have. It's actually a pretty powerful thought. Not hard to imagine a universe, governed by the simple rules of physics, where a seemingly irrelevant event affects the big picture of how life evolves.
The scary thing about this extrapolation of thought is that all life as I know it already has a set outcome, that "decisions" I make today are not real ones because I am forced into this decision by a prior one. Life would really suck but I suppose, since its outcome is unknown to me, it could still be quite a ride.

Three Found B&W Prints

 I was supposed to work until 3 pm but we got called off so I had some free time.  I got these three untitled and unsigned 9"x6" silver prints today from a dealer at the Pasadena City College flea market.  There were several other prints (mostly fashion and nudes) but these stood out.  Haven't been to PCC is at least 6 months and as usual, I find interesting stuff.

I'm calling this set "The Tattoo, The Revolver And The Veil"

Saturday, February 5, 2011

29 Palms

This is one of those times when I just have to find out. I bought the used DVD at least 3 years ago but just could not get myself to watch it. The description looked interesting enough but just can't commit 93 minutes of my time to watch "29 Palms". It was a low budget flick but it was also full of desert shots- which I'm impartial to. Empty roads, empty towns all make for set of very interesting sequences. Everything and everyone and every scene in the movie revolves around a bag of cash. From Baker to 29 Palms, several characters who all want this bag of cash chase it along various twists. The movie, although full of improbables, got me to watch for all its entirety.  Like certain characters showing up at the exact place and time to make the story move along. Fast. Someday, I might watch it again and maybe I get to appreciate it a bit more.

Bill Pullman deserves special mention for his role as a disturbed shotgun-wielding bus depot employee who partakes in a shootout with an Indian casino boss' crew.  Not sure how hard Pullman has to work to do these roles but he looks so natural in playing oddball characters.

Elvis Is In The House (2011)

Long live the king!

Before And After

Sierra Madre Villa and Sierra Madre Blvd. 

Studio, Rancho Cucamonga home

Linkin Sighting - Goldfinger

Linkin Continental sighting from the last part of the best of all Bond flicks "Goldfinger".

Thoughts On Drawing

I have always been envious of anyone who can meditate.  Over the years, I've tried several times and ended up a complete failure each time, instead falling asleep -- not the intended goal of an altered state of consciousness.  So it's really disgusting when I read earlier today that director David Lynch (in his book "Catching The Big Fish") has been meditating for over 33 years!  The goal to keep centered is an important daily routine for everyone in this modern world and of all the things I've tried, only one activity has worked for me -- drawing.  Picking up a pencil, pen or ink brush and hacking away at empty piece of paper, notebook, board, canvas.  Within minutes, I am transported to a place that is anywhere but where I physically am.  Hard to describe but I think it's as close to where TM can take anyone.  I've done it at home, at work, in hotel rooms and in the car.  For me, drawing is meditation.

Man And Bike (2011)

Sometimes I wish I had more time to ride my bike again.  I still dream of being in bike races even though I have not raced in years.  "Man And Bike" is a 14-second dream about cycling.

Acrobat Reader (2011)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What I See

Sometimes, when I look at an object to photograph, I see reflections of what my eyes do not necessarily see. The subtle becomes the obvious, the subject becomes the background and the photograph becomes life.

Reworked Modi

Picasso once said that bad artists copy and good artists steal. So in my drive to become a good artist, I stopped copying other people's works. This was the last painting I ever attempted to copy.

This photo was taken in the Pasadena house while the windows were being replaced.  The contractor did all 16 some odd windows and a door in a day.  The stash of books is Maura's desk and obviously, remodeling left things somewhat chaotic.


"Vertices" (2011) - Gel pen ink on fifteen 3"x5" index cards


"This Is Not A Notebook" (2010) - Pen and ink on 11"x14" board.

Found Photograph

It was a pretty beat up copy, 1977 printing. Scotch tape on the binding and brownish paper from years of oxidation. The lady wanted $3 for it. Sure, for a classic, that's a bargain. Two things of note about my copy of the Sontag classic. It had Art Center College of Design library markings on it ("that" famous Pasadena art school) so it was obviously a way overdue book. The other thing was the bookmark that was inside the book - a black-and-white proof containing two images of a nude holding an apple. (I ended up using the tiny picture as a model for larger canvas painting.) Inspiration comes from unexpected places.

An Inferiority Complex

I've noticed this lately about American car commercials on the radio and on television.  Some guy on the radio ad talks about an American car he just bought that has this and that latest features and so on.  Ok, the ad would have worked for me, giving me the rationale to go check out this car at the dealership.  Until the guy talking mentions that he's owned BMWs and Mercedes Benzs in the past.  Hold it right there!

By including this part about having owned imports and expensive cars in the past, isn't the ad basically claiming that this American car maker is inferior?  Another TV commercial effectively says a certain American car brand outperformed Lexus and Audi on so and so survey.  Again, isn't it important enough to say you're number one?  Instead, the ad say's we're number 1 and that list includes Lexus and Audi.  Again, there seems to be this search for legitimacy as an American car manufacturer.  I guess the Japanese and Germans had been kicking your butt so long, you don't even know how to act when you finally get better.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Reject Obfuscation In 2011

I don't claim to even remotely be an expert on global warming but I do believe in the scientific process without question.  Recently, I heard an interview on a podcast of a young woman (could have been a teenager) who claimed that there is not enough evidence to suggest that global warming is real.  While I do agree with others that the warming trend we are observing could potentially be cyclical in nature, I will argue that there is enough data to suggest that at the moment it is real.  I do not think there is enough historical data nor do we have sufficiently accurate models to definitively suggest that current global warming is permanent.  It would be very arrogant for scientists to think that nature is not robust enough to potentially adapt to man's impact on this planet.  There could be a point of reversibility in the weather pattern such that the trend could be potentially rolled back.  I'm open to the transient nature of the current crisis.  However, I'm also open to its permanence if the data, consisting of near-term past, current and long-term future, shows otherwise.  This is how theories are proven or disproven in the sciences.

What bothers me about the young woman interviewed in the podcast is when the reporter asked if there is anything that can change her position on the issue, the answer is a simple "no".  At that moment , I just realized that there is a high likelihood, that she also does not believe in evolution as a process and most likely, a practicing evangelical Christian.  Nothing, absolutely nothing can change her mind on global warming -- and yet, she uses words like "data", "evidence", "conclusions", etc in her language.  If fact, she even suggested that the opposing viewpoint be presented to 5th graders studying this in the schools.  Opposing viewpoint based on what data?  I say, she's trying to obfuscate her real agenda.  I'm beginning to see that there is a coalition in this country that not only intends to oppose real trends like global warming but also have a more strategic agenda of making sure the scientific process is minimized in discussions that affect human interests.  The church, in particular, had been going after scientists and the scientific process ever since it was proven that the earth is not the center of the universe.

I don't think education of any kind can change people who refuse to accept factual data.  In fact, I think it's an absolute waste of time to even discuss any issue with them. However I do think that educating my kids on the process of hypothesis-data-conclusion is of utmost importance in ensuring that they don't end up joining this modern day version of the flat-earth society.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ode To Avis And Hertz

Never seen a rental car that's not an off-road vehicle
Never seen a rental car that can't do donuts or skids
Never seen a rental car that can't go over potholes at high speeds
Never seen a rental car that has an engine redline
Never seen a rental car that can't go 80 mph in second gear
And for these very reasons...

Never seen a rental car I would buy for my own.