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Wednesday, June 27, 2001

That's the Griffif Observatory, as seen from my window.

posted by Greg 6:21 PM

Tuesday, June 26, 2001


posted by Greg 5:56 PM

Monday, June 25, 2001


The Joy of Home Ownership, Part 2: Coyote Urine
Thing's I found out this weekend: Raccoons will come to your pond and eat your fish. They will trample and tear your water lillies. They will rip foam filters to shreds. They will uproot newly planted pretty yellow flowers.
What can you do? Try, or for raccoons specifically, Coyote Urine. Simply "mark" the area around the watering hole using the special urine applicators, and raccoons will think it's a predator's territory and stay away.
Got to pee?

Well, it worked the first night.
What does Coyote Pee smell like you ask? Musky.
How do they collect that Coyote Pee you ask? Very Carefully

rip john lee

John Lee Hooker is dead. When I was in junior high and high school, my dad and I would go to the record store together sometimes. I would get something by, say, the Raunch Hands or Guadalcanal Diary, and my dad would get some jazz or some real blues. Jimmy Reed. Hound Dog Taylor. Nina Simone. One day he picked up a big gray double album with a really black grizzled dude on the cover. "Boogie Chillun - John Lee Hooker" it said. "Hey," I said, "I know that song 'Boogie Chillun' from my George Thorogood record. Cool." How could I know?
Now, after these trips we'd usually come home and listen to the albums he had bought. (I'd listen to mine in my room later.) When my dad put on John Lee, I was shocked. Here was a double album of just a guy with his guitar. Not an acoustic guitar like Josh White or something, but a dirty sounding plunky electric guitar. And he didn't really play on a strict beat, but rather stepped unsteadily from accent to accent, like a drunk walking underwater. And he didn't play strict 12 bar patterns, but instead played 15 bars here, and maybe only 11 next time if he felt like it. And that voice, deep and knowing, wise and hard. It sounded so right, so pure, so raw. Like he just sat down in the room and was pouring his emotions out to us over improvised guitar plunkings. In E, the lowest key for guitar.
So I kept that album in my room and listened to it a lot, and it went to college with me, and now it's in my collection where I took that picture of it that's down the blog a bit. For me it removed all the boundries of how gnarly you could get with music. Here was a guy just moaning and plunking, perhaps even making it up as he went along, and yet it was undeniably powerful. It really opened things up for me.
Later I got "Hooker 'n Heat" as well, an album with John Lee backed up by Canned Heat from 1970 that cooks. Here's something nice that the producer wrote about him:
When I first contacted John about making the album, I told him that I had booked a week of time at the studio and he told me, "If you don't already know, I make a whole album in one night; I only do one take and if you don't get it then that's just too bad!" Well, I told John it might be a "double" album and he replied: "If we're gonna make a double album than you're gonna have to pay me double money!"
Thanks Mr. Hooker!

posted by Greg 10:39 AM

Sunday, June 24, 2001

So much to ponder...

Balzac and friend
Hey. My intrepid partner and I went to the great Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena on Friday. Though small, it's a great museum with a very strong selection of artworks. Plus it's easy to park and pretty cheap.
In particular, I was exited to see the Rembrandt portraits, Reubens, Goya, Picasso, several very strong Van Goghs, one great Gaugin, one awesome Henri Rousseau (with monkeys,) Toulouse Laurtrec, Degas, a couple by Emil Nolde, a Chaim Soutine, Oskar Kokoshka, and this great Manet:

Hey, Man.  Man, hey! Go Go Gone

In the bookstore I found a copy of "Between Epic and Dream - The Art of Gustave Moreau," a nice big book I've been looking for for awhile. Many hours will be spent looking at it's pictures and reading the essays:
More and Moreau

Then yesterday I went to Yoga. It was pretty hard, but fun.

I saw "Message to Love - The Isle of Wight festival," a movie about this festival in 1970. I guess there were a lot of problems with people wanting to get in free. Misguided hippies, the end of the 60's idealism and all that. The controversy was interesting for a second, but got very boring. Why not use that film time to show more music? As far as the music, Jimi seemed strung out, not playing his best, Joni Mitchell was goose-bump inducing, Ten Years After totally rocked (though they were faded out for no good reason) and the Who, at the height of their hard rock phase, were incredible and stood head and shoulders above the rest of the rock acts.

posted by Greg 11:48 AM

Thursday, June 21, 2001


Welcome to Franklin Hills

posted by Greg 10:33 PM


J O H N L E E H O O K E R - R. I. P.

posted by Greg 10:01 PM

oh oh

Oh oh. I got a digital camera today. Now I'm taking pictures like this:

Pretty scary, huh. Look out!

posted by Greg 1:26 AM

Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Vin Read a transcription of Vin Scully's radio call of the ninth inning of Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game against the Chicago Cubs. Or you can listen to the last pitch in real audio. It's Fan-tastic!
This is Chick Hearn:

posted by Greg 1:02 PM

Tuesday, June 19, 2001

I Want You - To Rock!

Ryan sent me a couple pictures from the Charming Snakes gig. Pretty keen.

That's Otis Redding, who rules.

posted by Greg 11:20 AM

Sunday, June 17, 2001


This book, a collection of short fiction and non-fiction pieces, has a great essay called "Pravda means Truth" which makes fun of Russians. Written during the height of the cold war, it's a fascinating view of international politics as they existed then, through the eyes of Robert Heinlein. Here's what this guy wrote about it:
In his articles, " 'Pravda' Means 'Truth' " and "Inside Intourist," Heinlein had portrayed himself as capable of using apparent anger for tactical purposes, and also recommended the practice to others. He'd declared, "It is better to pretend to lose your temper before things have grown so unbearable that you actually do blow your top; it saves wear and tear on your ulcers and enables you to conduct your tactics more efficiently."
Kurt Vonnegut If you think I'm crazy for liking Heinlein so much, read what Kurt Vonnegut has to say about "Sranger in a Strange Land."

posted by Greg 2:35 PM

Saturday, June 16, 2001


Wow. I don't usually like to rag on things in my blog, but I saw Pearl Harbor last night, and boy did it suck. OK, the CGI was awesome, but the rest of the film was an embarrassment to the craft of film making. I agree with Ebert. If you go to the web site, you have to register before you can see anything. fuck that

this is ugly

Speaking of Roger Ebert, check out what he wrote about the lame World War II Memorial that just got approved. If you watch the official video about it, they spend half the time talking about how you won't be able to see it.

Luckily my faith in art was restored this morning when I saw Kendra's first grade class perform a great play she'd written for them about America. Actually, it was a musical, and it was awesome!

posted by Greg 3:21 AM

Thursday, June 14, 2001

Photo by Carol

This is a photo of the sunset taken by my aunt-in-law up in Alaska. It's pretty, huh? She lives there.

"We're in a tight spot." - I saw my new favourite movie "O Brother Where Art Thou" on the DVD last night. It just came out on Tuesday. It's so great and funny, and has such good pacing. Plus the music is outrageously great. I highly suggest that everyone go out and get this one.

Jan ever get used to it.

Above is a painting by that guy Jan Toroop that I was talking about. Click it for a bigger version.

Suits me just fine! Keep your lab real safe with products from Lab Safety.

posted by Greg 11:45 AM

Wednesday, June 13, 2001

This is a good movieThis is a good movie

Last night I watched the DVD of "A Bridge Too Far (1977)," the movie adaptation of Cornelius Ryan's book about the Allied operation Market-Garden during World War Two:

The movie is pretty great, especially cause it makes the English look very foolish. And because of the gratuitous James Caan going psycho scene. And the best part, Gene Hackman as a war-worn Pole who always says "General" with a hard G and a sneer.
when I went to Europe after college I stayed one night at a youth hostel in Arnhem and visited the awesome Kröller-Müller Museum on the advice of my Aunt. It's a cool museum situated inside a big park where they don't allow any cars. Instead there are lots of white bicycles around that you can use to ride in to the museum for free. It's really flat and there's tons of thin white trees.
These are the white bikes

They have a ton of Van Goghs and Jan Toroops and other low country symbolists, as well as modern sculptures set up all around the huge park.
Van Gogh painted this, and it's in the kroller muller.

I remember walking though Arnhem on a weekday evening and checking out the rhythm of life there, wondering at the strange 50's style department store buildings, and getting some pomme fritte. All the buildings were modern of course because it was flattened during the war.

posted by Greg 12:44 PM

Tuesday, June 12, 2001


So I got to go to a great Dodgers game on Saturday against the Angels. It was a day game, a hot mostly clear day, a sell out crowd, and most importantly, Kirk Gibson Bobble Head Doll day. It was a close game, not too action packed, but it all came down to the bottom of the ninth, score tied at 1. The bases were loaded with no outs, and it looked good. The Angeles pulled their center fielder in to play in the infield. They managed to get one force out at home, but the next batter was Mark Grudzielanek and he drove a fly ball over the head of the right fielder (who was playing very far in so as to be able to throw out a runner at home base) and won the game. Altogether a satisfying outing.

This picture of Jupiter was taken through a webcam

Check out this animation and this cool site about a guy who takes pictures of space with a telescope and a webcam. Check out this picture of the International Space Station:

Want to know more about varnish? I did too.

File under Brass Pajamas:
I'm on a huge Ray Charles kick, as in that's all I've listened to for the last two weeks. Then I go to his website and find out that I can book the Ray Charles trio for my coorporate event. Tempting. Another great thing about him is his autobiography.

File under Western Mystery:
Ever read Emily Dickinson's poems? She's real good. Molli just read me this one:

This is the land the sunset washes,
These are the banks of the Yellow Sea;
Where it rose, or whither it rushes,
These are the western mystery!

Night after night her purple traffic
Strews the landing with opal bales;
Merchantmen poise upon horizons,
Dip, and vanish with fairy sails.

posted by Greg 3:17 PM

Wednesday, June 06, 2001


I guess I should explain why that Ryder painting bellow is so dark. See, Ryder was an eccentric, as in, he was a recluse and a slob and could never truly finish a painting. There are stories about his apartment being piled 4 feet deep with trash, with paths to the bathroom, his bed, and the easel, which had a hot plate next to it. He would keep his paintings on the easel for years, constantly going over them, then varnishing, then painting more, then varnishing. Friends would have to beg him to sell them one. He would also do strange things like mixing dirt or food in with his paint, or try to make his own pigments out of crushed up flowers or whatever.
What is paint? Paint is simply pigment suspended in a medium. Pigment in it's raw form is colored powder. The medium for oil paint is oil, generally linseed oil. (acryllic paint is just pigment in acrylic, or plastic, that has been formulated to dry relatively quickly. And not turn yellow.)
Why do paintings crack? There is an old rule for oil painting that says you must paint fat onto lean. This means that once you paint one layer, your next layer should contain more oil, or fat, and so on until you are done with the painting. This is because oil takes a long time to dry out, and the more oil the paint has, the longer it will take to dry. Painting crack because the top layer dries before layers underneath it dry. When the deeper layers dry, they shrink a tiny bit, causing the dry shell on top to crack apart. Kind of like brownies or something.
So Ryder ignored all these rules, and used cheap pigments that turn black, and cheap varnish that turns yellow, and painted lean onto fat and so forth, so that his painting started deteriorating during his lifetime. Some have been stablized by art restorers, but others are too far gone. But this deterioration kind of gives them an otherworldly glow.
Interestingly, the great wacko British painter Francis Bacon lived like Ryder, a complete slob who would live in an apartment for a couple years until it was wrecked and then move on. He's also famous for painting and then scaping it off, over and over until it was right. And being drunk. But what a painter!!!!!:
Francis Bacon Rocks

If you want to get a cool big catalog with all kinds of art supplies and information about them, sign up for one at Dick Blick. Other good art supply catalogs are Utrecht Art and Pearl. Because as you know, everyone's an artist.

posted by Greg 3:24 PM

Tuesday, June 05, 2001


Here's yet another reason why the web is great: I have to prune some trees, and I was wondering how I should do that. A couple clicks and a few pages later and I'm practically an expert. Check out all these tree links:
This brochure is one in a series published by the International Society of Arboriculture as part of its Consumer Information Program. You may have additional interest in the following titles currently in the series: Insect and Disease Problems; Mature Tree Care; New Tree Planting; Trees and Turf; Benefits of Trees; Tree Selection; Plant Health Care; Avoiding Tree and Utility Conflicts; Recognizing Tree Hazards; Why Hire an Arborist; Buying High-Quality Trees; Tree Values; Pruning Young Trees; Pruning Mature Trees; Why Topping Hurts Trees; Avoiding Tree Damage During Construction; Treatment of Trees Damaged by Construction
Quite a treet! Hope I didn't leaf one off.

Above is a painting by Philip Evergood, an American working in the early part of this century who's stuff I really like. He's a little obscure though, so it's hard to find stuff on him. This is probably his most famous painting, "Lily and the Sparrows," and it's quite creepy.
He's not nearly as famous as Albert Pinkham Ryder, another American who was a very strange character and awesome painter:

The Temple of the Mind

Ryder wrote this about the above painting, "The Temple of the Mind:"
The theme is Poe's Haunted Palace ... The finer attributes of the mind are pictured by three graces who stand in the center of the picture: where their shadows from the moonlight fall toward the spectator. They are waiting for a weeping love to join them. On the left is a Temple where a cloven footed faun dances up the steps snapping his fingers in fiendish glee at having dethroned the erstwhile ruling graces.

posted by Greg 11:08 AM

Monday, June 04, 2001

Don and Jen Frances

Don't miss Tony's coverage of Don and Jen's wedding this weekend! It was big time fun!

And don't forget his piece on Charlie and Bonnie's Memorial day BBQ.

Hank Pitcher is head of the art dept. at CCS

The guy that did this painting didn't like my art when I was a student in his program, but other teachers there did, so I passed anyway. I always really liked his art though.

posted by Greg 6:44 PM

Sunday, June 03, 2001


R I P Anthony Quinn


Above is a painting I did about 6 years ago over a photocopy of a picture of the great actor and recently deceased Anthony Quinn playing Paul Gaugin in "Lust For Life," Vincent Minelli's movie adaptation of Irving Stone's book about Vincent Van Gogh.
Vincent Van Gogh painted this

posted by Greg 11:51 PM

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