Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My First Five Digital Pictures Ever

I bought the camera on my birthday, October 4, 2001 at the Best Buy off Halstead and Foothill Blvd.  I didn't get to use it until the following day when we had a small party at the house in Pasadena for my birthday.  The camera was a 3 megapixel Olympus C3000Z that I still have today and working just fine.  It's interesting to see the first ever digital pictures I ever took.  Filenames indicate the order taken.  It's only 10 years ago but digital cameras had always seems to be around.

PIC00001.JPG (Maura in the Pasadena kitchen)

PIC00002.JPG (Nanay in the Pasadena patio)

PIC00003.JPG (I gave her another chance to smile)

PIC00004.JPG (JJ in his usual dirty self playing in the backyard)

PIC00005.JPG (Sam in the plastic playset)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wish I Was Here

Hanauma Bay, Oahu (2011)

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I've been staring at this drawing I did this week and am trying to decide if I'm done with it.  This is the first large scale drawing I've done all year (20"x26") and the problem with being out of practice is difficulty coming to the point where I think I've done all I can with a certain piece.  I like the space between the ink but at the same time I feel this urge to fill this big, empty piece of paper with ink.  I guess, for now, I'll sit on this one. As is.  (At least until I change my mind.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

January 14, 2006

It was a typical Saturday.  Since we had kids, Maura and I pretty much stopped doing the Montrose ride every Saturday.  What stood out about January 14, 2006 was the fact that I took some pictures that seemed ordinary at the time but in retrospect, they did capture life as I knew it just a little over 5 years ago.  It seems like an eternity since I've been to the Pasadena Farmer's Market in the parking lot at Pasadena High School but this photo of JJ (below) says a lot about how life was simpler back then.  The farmer's market  was a typical Saturday morning activity with the kids back then.
I can't even remember what we bought but typically it was citrus fruit or some tamales.  Our house on Harding Avenue was a little over a mile away but stopping by Victory Park was typical.  The kids grew up at Victory Park playgrounds and later on, as they got a little bit older, we would drive there just to play on the monkey bars.  Later that day, we would go to Twin Palms Restaurant on Green Street to go to my cousin's daughter's wedding reception and that is where I caught this playful photo of Maura while we were waiting for dinner to be served.
I do remember at that reception, my cousin Jimmy, who was undergoing chemotherapy at the time dropped by.  Obviously weakened in body but not in spirit, it was great to see him for the first time since his diagnosis.  It was an evening of spending time with the extended family.  I snapped away with my camera as the evening went on and was able to capture Sam as he was working on this custard-filled dessert.
He's always had a sweet tooth for as long as I can remember -- like mama and papa.  We stayed until about 9 pm, which was really late for a 6 year old and an 8 year old.  Thankfully, home was only 5 miles away so it wasn't too bad of a drive.  I think I had a couple glasses of wine or champagne.  And finally, when we got home, I photographed some more, especially since we went home with some flowers from the wedding.  I think I worked on several shots (like the one below) until midnight or so.  It might have seemed like a typical Saturday at the time but thinking of it now, I was extremely lucky to have captured life on that wonderful day in January.  I was reading a lot about Robert Mapplethorpe at the time and wanted to see if I can copy his style of photography.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

TDAP Booster Phobia

JJ made this drawing a doctor administering a shot to a person sitting on a stool.  Earlier this summer, both kids got their TDAP shots, which are now required by the State of California for kids entering 7th grade.  He was really anxious about getting the shot but when the nurse offered the "cold" stuff to numb prior to getting the actual injection, neither he nor Sam hesitated with a yes.  With the cold stuff, basically you don't feel the prick.  What I like about this drawing are the details of the cabinets, the stool and best of all, the doctor's outfit.  His drawing have always had all the pieces -- it's just that he needs to adjust proportions, perspective, depth and texture.  Nonetheless, I think it's funny he sketched his trepidation.

Duke Kahanamoku's Lagoon

I got up early enough to take this picture at dawn during our July trip.  The lagoon sits just outside the Hilton Hawaiian Village and is a great place to learn how to surf paddle.  Place gets really crowded with tourists (like us) staying at the Hilton but there was quite a bit of locals just hanging out. Speaking of locals, they stage for surfing at a parking lot just to the right of the last coconut tree.  That is where I saw this trash bin with a really cool sticker (below). After watching the locals hit the surf, respect is only natural.  That is what Duke Kahanamoku, the father of surfing, would have wanted.

Friday, September 9, 2011

JJ's Bass Guitar

As a child, one of my most vivid memories with my father was listening to records.  I remember putting marching band music on the turntable and just enjoying the music.  I picked up early on an appreciation for music of all kinds.  That affinity for music is one of the gifts I really would like to pass on to my kids, for I know it's a life-long passion that only grows with time.  My kids and I share plenty of music listening these days from radio stations to live concerts.  However, I definitely would like for the three of us, someday, to play together -- guitar, bass and drum.  That dream just got a little closer this week when we picked up this used bass guitar from a craiglist ad.  Mind you, this bass is just a few inches shorter than JJ but he goes at it anyway.  He already plays guitar and trumpet and I think he'll find the bass a little bit challenging.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Overheard At BCAM

I've had this in my journal since July 2008 when BCAM opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA):
A month after BCAM's grand opening, I overhead this at the gallery housing Damien Hirst's "Away From The Flock" piece.
Guard: "You know, these exhibits ain't for everybody."
Couple of gray-haired museum visitors, seniors, continue to observe sheep encased in formaldehyde. No response.
Guard walks closer, "You know, these exhibits ain't for everybody."
Older gentleman: "Excuse me?"
Guard: "They aint' for everybody."
Older gentleman: "They ain't for me either."
Guard smiles, obviously proud of the affirmation. They all walked away to look at Hirst's more colorful but equally dead butterflies instead.
I walked toward the sheep thinking, would they have liked it better if I had some red ink with me?  Hmm.

Drawn To Watching Bad Movies

"The Miracle Mile" is a bad movie (1988) in terms of all the individual attributes typically considered when reviewing movies -- acting (average), script (below average), plot (depressing), cinematography (made-for-tv) etc. But every time I put my 15-year old worn-out copy in the VCR, I cannot stop watching the bleeding thing from start to finish.  The movie was way before Anthony Edwards made it bit with ER (on NBC) and certainly before mobile phones were actually portable (and weighed less than 15 pounds).  The premise of the story is that of nuclear holocaust getting in the way of Harry (Anthony Edwards) meeting the woman of his dreams, Julie (Mare Winningham) and living happily ever after.  I suppose anyone familiar with the Miracle Mile district of Los Angeles would appreciate all the landmarks that they showed in the movie -- Johnnie's on Fairfax and Wilshire, Park La Brea, the tar pits, etc.  Maybe it is the appeal of driving through the deserted streets of LA at 2 am and the calmness of Wilshire Blvd. as shown in the movie that somewhat gives it a dream-like texture.  And this is before nuclear war (sort of like before gridlock hits the city). I mean how many movies are there that show the end-of-the-world from a local LA neighborhood perspective?  Maybe it's some kind of fascination with the macabre in figuring out what to do when you only have a couple hours to live. The only curve ball the director, Steve De Jarnatt threw is how the story of Harry and Julie ended -- sad but very poetic.  De Jarnatt went for the jugular in opting to portray the deaths of these lovers by sinking a crashed helicopter into the La Brea tar pits.  Yes, those dreaded tar pits. So after all, maybe this kind of ending (not necessarily cinematic) is enough to pull a bad movie by its bootstraps into the video store shelves for cult classics. (BTW, I find it somewhat spooky that this movie was released on Sept. 11, 1998, exactly 13 years before the attack on the World Trade Center.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Views of Kusama's "No. C.A.9"

From LACMA's permanent collection, Yayoi Kusama's 1960 piece "No. C.A.9". Love her work and she doesn't look a day over 80. This collage is from several photographs I took at different distances from the piece during a recent visit. (They do allow photography of the permament collection.)

How To View A Modigliani Painting

Do ya think she likes the colors Amedeo used in his portrait?  I can't help but take this photo during a visit to the Norton Simon.  There aren't enough Modiglianis in the Los Angeles area museums.  A couple at LACMA and at the Norton and that's about it.  In fact, I can't even remember a Modigliani exhibit in LA ever.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Some Thoughts On Online Taxation

One of the attractions of using to purchase anywhere from books, videos, office supplies to sporting goods, clothing and music is the fact that I don't have to pay any sales tax on any online purchase and if the total exceeds $25, shipping is free as well.  There is this ugly fight in the State of California over Amazon customers and sales tax collection.  Where this showdown is headed, who knows but I did look today on my Amazon account activity and I find it hard to believe that it's been at least 11 years since I made my first online purchase.  In 2000, when I'm just starting to get comfortable with the concept of online shopping, here's what I ordered:

1) 7/19/00 - "Richard Scarry's Best ABC Video Ever" - Ok, to me it's obvious, Sam just turned two and Richard Scarry was a well-worn videotape by the time we donated it to Goodwill a couple years back.
2) 8/18/00 - "The US Intelligence Community" by Jeffrey Richelson - This was a good, fun read for anyone in the aerospace industry.  Richelson was the author of another popular book that a co-worker recommended at the time.
3) 10/5/00 - "The Red Violin" DVD - I saw the movie at the theater but decided that I should get a copy for my birthday.  I had seen the movie at least a dozen times and at some point, I think I ordered the soundtrack as well.

Fast forward to last month when I placed my latest Amazon order and obviously, the kids are now 11 and 13 and I've already bought several art books online.  Gone is the VHS videotape format, DVD is now the predominant movie format and mp3 is the audio format of choice.  However, the printed book is still king, despite electronic books and such.  My last 3 orders are as follows:

1) 8/8/11 - "Art In The Streets"  by Jeffrey Deitch - I had to get this book discounted at Amazon after seeing the MOCA Geffen Contemporary exhibit of the same name.
2) 8/13/11 - "Geek Wisdom" by N.K. Jemisin - Some things don't change, ok.
3) 8/13/11 - "The Complete Twilight Zone Collection" DVD Box Set - Sometime between 2000 and 2011, we got the entire X-Files TV series on DVD.  The kids are just beginning to appreciate the simplicity of the Rod Serling and the Twilight Zone.  Each episode is a bite size 20min of TV that the kids and I can watch.

As some point, I should probably calculate the overall taxes I would have paid in the last 11 years based on all these Amazon purchases.  And I can see why Amazon is fighting this sales tax law because, I for one will think twice about online purchases if I'm taxed for every item.  However, I can also see why the mom-and-pop stores are for the sales tax in order to level the playing field. Only time will tell who wins but I have a hunch, it's not the consumer.