Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rock Climbing!

So finally tried my hands at rock climbing. Let me tell you, the hands are SORE. I realized how weak my finger muscles are. Even if I had plier-hands like the electricians in my family, I still fail to see how you can support your weight on a nub the size of a penny. I have much to learn. So this was the first, but hopefully not the last turn on the "mountain."

(Thanks James and Jen for the suggestion)

Dan Osman.
He was basically the most extreme of the extreme.
This 400ft face he did without a rope. Note how he jumps at 1:10 to the next handhold! He was a thrill-junkie and made all sorts of insane ropeless climbs and cliff jumps, falling over 1000 ft before being saved at the last second by a 1-inch rope. In 1998, he returned to Yosemite to dismantle some of his ropes but decided to do one more jump. His friends at the site believe the ropes were old and had been subjected to rain and snow. When they crossed friction melted through, and they broke. Viva Dan.
Up Next: Excalibur

At 121 feet in length, "The Excalibur" at the Bjoeks Climb Center in Groningen, The Netherlands, is considered to be the tallest climbing wall in the world.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In the Studio Part 1

I was lucky to go hang out and shoot some pictures in the studio of producer Greg Wells with my friend Elly who is recording her upcoming album with them. I had such a fun day. Of course when I learned Mr. Wells produced Rufus Wainwright I was already a fan. Rufus is like a string quartet in one voice. As it happened, I was able to hear some live upright bass being recorded at the studio. One of my favorite instruments. 

All of the guys were really nice, artists in the best sense of the word, and generally just very fun to hang out with
The upright bass player and engineer listen to the tracks just recorded.

Their equipment was fasinating. I've never been in a proper recording studio. The knobs and levels were food for my camera, but I most enjoyed hearing them compare a rental mic to one just purchased. The nuiances of sound which were barely noticable, if not imagined to my ear, were blaringly obvious to them and they compared and contrasted the two with a watch-makers accuracy. 
Elly is recording some of the pieces on this amazing vintage upright. The sound is old, rich and creamy. Just kidding. It does bring a classic element that is perfectly matched for the songs though.

It was funny; as they were going over the recording, a phantom cricket appeared in one track. They couldn't find where the cricket was coming from even after isolating all of the sounds. The sound bite kept appearing every once in a while, as if it were a living creature - digitally reeking havoc. I think crickets are good luck.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Addicted to Fresh Air

..in all ways. But this week I've been enjoying fresh air on KPCC.

I'm an npr fan anyway, but lately I've just been listening to Fresh Air with Terry Gross basically every day. I like interviews and interviewing and Mrs. Gross sets the bar. She's so good at bringing out the interesting details and asking dead-on questions, especially with creative subjects like film, music, etc.

Dave Chappelle
His impression of a white person sounds strangely similar to Obama.

Jon Stewart

Toy Story
I felt manipulated by the film and its seemingly constant attempts to pull on the heartstrings, but my opinion softened up a lot after this interview. I love the part where he describes crying and coming out of his office after having just written the segment where Andy gives away Woody. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Biking enthusiasts

I like this guy's work. Bikers rule the roads!

Even though I never invested in spandex, I used to ride a lot. Now that I get off work late and am beat tired, I find it hard to bike the 4 or 5 miles home in the dark. I miss it quite a lot.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Non-GMO Month

Raise awareness around you. We do not know what goes into GMO foods. These products have not been properly tested. They are not natural. Once introduced into our ecosystem, they cannot be removed.

Think about it. We are playing with fire. Let’s get this topic on the table. The dinner table, har, har. They have not allowed for these foods to be labeled. Why? The public needs to speak out before it’s too late.

What's GMO? Don't Know - Start Here

October is Non-GMO Month.* Use this opportunity to take this to task with everyone you meet - at work, at the grocery store, at the gas station, bank, mall, cafe, school, city council meeting. Everywhere.

*Thanks Merk

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy Bday Ma

I can't tell you how much I like these pictures!

Happy Birthday to my Ma! No matter where we are, she's always in my heart. I love her to infinity. And miss her terribly, especially on her special day.

On the topic of mothers, I was having a good conversation with my friend the other week. Conversations often come back to her mother and their tumultous relationship. We mused for a long time about the connection between mother and child. How otherworldly it can all be. Her mother lives in far away, yet she feels everything her mother does and says as if there were no distance at all.  I can understand. But then I am lucky to have such a person as my mother: kind, unique, humble, intelligent, and always loving.

Such a cool little jumper. I just really really like this picture.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Southern Accents and Southern Belles

Opinion topic tonight. Southern Accents and Southern Belles

The southern states in the US retain a very specific culture. In the 19th century, this region was known for its tobacco plantations and the caste system that grew up around these estates. The “new money” enjoyed a lifestyle of extravagant European imports slowed by the warm southern climate and rural pace of life. Slave labor manned the crops, while young girls went to finishing school to learn proper manners and enter society through débutante balls and cotillions.

The archetype of these young girls has somehow managed to live on well after the existence of the Old South. They are known as Southern Bells and are loosely judged to be calm gentile and hospitable, with a simple mind and a charming naiveté. The idea has retained its appeal for young men still today, who frequently call to name the ideal of this almost mythical creature. Now that gigantic dresses are gone, social etiquette out the window, and courting replaced with sex, one of the only remaining traits of a would-be Southern Belle is her accent. Slow and twangy.

The southern accent has withstood chiding and not so tacit disrespect in the intellectual circles of the North and Midwest. A sly comment here and there says that a southern accent cannot sound intelligent. One has to wonder, why?

Great minds are alive and well in the region, but still the reputation has been hard to shake. Current southern culture is characterized by its people: former farm hands, working-class, the brawny Scots-Irish immigrants and their penchant for fighting and rebellion. Perhaps the rise of great subcultures like the Nascar racing population have carried the torch. An article in this month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine is fuel for the fire. With a potpourri of ridiculous quotes, those approached for the story did not give any reason to reconsider the stereotype. Has the southern accent forever been pigeon-holed?

Care to weigh in?

Back to the Southern Belle, with the only thing left to identify her being her accent, what does that mean? Does it say she is less intelligent than other girls? And most importantly is that the appeal?

i102fly list

 From Life Magazine Feb 1952

My head is full of theories, and my life is full of stuggling dreams.

I am hoping to make this corner of the internet more about ideas and my art and less about whatever else is clever. I am hoping to get out some of this brain clutter and rediscipline myself to finish the artistic ideas that jump into my head. To give my own art priority.

We are hoping for some big life changes soon. They are still clogged in the pipelines and have been for some time, but my frustration should not get the better of me. I know hoping is sometimes nothing more than dropping pennies in a fountain, perhaps useless. But if hoping implies faith, we at least benefit from that goodwill.

Ten things that for whatever reason I have an insatiable interest in...
i102fly list

1. Alpine Mountain Climbing
2. Khmer Script
3. Pilot gear from turn of century
4. Russian Literature (esp. Tolstoy)
5. Folk Music
6. Rain & Trees
7. Maps & Geography
8. Eastern Medicine
9. Mysticism
10. Sketchbooks

Coffee break

I don't drink coffee in the morning or on an empty stomach. But there is nothing better than a cup of coffee in the afternoon. It's like a mid-day dessert. I never drank coffee at all until Cambodia. My coffee drinking ritual there clearly took root in me. I feel so content whenever I get a chance to take a mid-day coffee break now. In Cambodia, it was the most relaxing occasion to take a half hour or so in the shade, alone with a sketchbook or with a friend and let the pace of life sink in, talk about the meaning of life, its peculiarities, make plans and disect thing. Sometimes I would sit for hours writing Cambodian and praticing with the people passing by.  

Coffee lovers laud the likes of Central American and East African beans, but I've been around the coffee block and there are none better to me than a nice cup of Cambodian or Vietnamese cafe. They are not as flowery or aromatic as the coffees you get in a speciality shop; they seem less delicate too. Coffee from this region seems grittier and much more earthy, like the people's coffee. For some reason, I've come to identify with that. And now I must go brew up a good batch before work!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Geo Game

The Traveler IQ challenge ranks geographic knowledge of cities such as: Asheville, Charlotte or Punta Cana by comparing results against 6,097,389 other travelers. Brought to you by TravelPod, a TripAdvisor Media Network member
Hey, this is cool. You can play right here, right now! My favorite geo game. The only one I know, but still. It get's pretty tricky.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fever Ray Forever

I finally went out and got the Fever Ray album after surviving for weeks off of youtube clips. Such a work of art. And these photos too, by film director, photographer and fellow Swedish musican, Johan Renck.


If I Had A Heart
When I Grow Up  **
Dry and Dusty
Seven  **
Triangle Walks  **
Concrete Walls
Now's The Only Time I Know **
I'm Not Done
Keep The Streets Empty For Me  **
Coconut  **

** (my favorite : D )

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Food absurdities

Have you ever wanted to dump all of the oaty pieces of a cereal in the trash and just pour some milk on to your chalk-mallows? Now you can. Cereal mallows for sale. 95lbs. for only $400.00

What makes this sandwich by chef Martin Blunos so expensive? $172 dollar sandwich expensive?
100-year-old balsamic vinegar, quail's egg, heirloom black tomato, epicure apple, figs, sourdough bread sprinkled with gold dust, and the guest of honor - $140-dollar white truffle cheddar cheese which Blunos made specifically for the sandwich.

I always did want to eat those slides in Anatomy class.
The nuts over at Forkable made them into candy.
(with a tutorial for Halloween.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

1984 - Not Big Brother, but Little Brother

Happy Birthday to my Hermanito!
Acting foolish is always more fun with you around.

 June Lake Pictures!

 Tree Hugging

Enjoying the water side

The three: reading, banjoing, and writing

Throwing dirt and dust, stretching her limbs

Freezing in the morning!

Cooking in the afternoon

Aspens going yellow

Stopped at a Masonic Lodge turned cafe on the way back south. Our curiosity got the better of us.
The absolute worst French Toast in existence!

We thought the car was finished and we were stranded an hour and half away after the car started smoking and oil spewed all over the freeway. After some inspection, it turned out that a hose busted. J mended it with gum and a wrapper, which got us to a store. But the store did not have hoses either, so he rigged up a patch from a vaccum cleaner hose! We drove home! Which was a miracle seeing the truck a couple hours earlier. Well done J!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Seasonal Rants

Apple Season! For the past few weeks, it has been apple season in good ole Cali! You can’t top it! There is no fruit better than a good crisp apple. And likewise, there is nothing worse than a soggy chalky apple.

Vendors are kind of thick to think that they should be carrying apples when they are not in season. Every once in a while, I buy an apple in spring, forgetting that it's not season and end up sorely disappointed. Those impeccably shaped apples are fool’s gold. Why not just wait until they are good again, instead of trying to always have everything at the store? I get kind of annoyed by this idea that we should have whatever we want, when we want it, even when it is not practical or good for the environment. Because someone might say, I want an apple in February, they try to grow them year around and for what? A ball of chalk? And then in order to get those apples in February they ship them from a location where they actually might naturally grow in that time of year, and yet by the time they get to us.. chalky.

This is one reason California trumps. Because there are local markets, and we aren't relegated to the mass food industry here, we get to know what's in season. Enjoy Rainer Cherries in the summer. Apples in the early fall. AND I can hardly wait - persimmons and pomegranates on the way!

For now, an apple a day!

Must Watch This

"in terms of education, I have....A MASTERS IN COMMUNICATION"

Just another night, a guy looking to get that nomination to run for treasurer. At first I felt really embarrassed for him, but now that he has made my day on numerous occasions with this speech, I have to take my hat off to him. It's quotable and genius. I'm a Phil fan! Get it done!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rain today

It rained today in Los Angeles! I was telling my co-worker: in most place you would take off of that sunny day, but in Los Angeles you get your "sick day" when the day is nice and rainy. You want to stay in by the window, drink a hot tea, read you Russian novels, and tuck your toes under a soft blanket. Can you see what we dream about in the perpetually sunny state?

Russian Classics

It's long been a goal of mine to read all of the big Russian Classics. Why you ask?

Maybe it started when I read Fathers and Sons in school - one of my favorite required reading. Most recently I thought about it as I was reading The Diaries of Etty Hillesum. This book is my favorite all time book. Etty was a Russian Jew living in Holland at the time of WWII; her diaries detail her amazing journey into spiritual awareness before she eventually volunteered to go with her family to the concentration camps.

Etty worked as a Russian tutor and translator in Amsterdam. Throughout her journals she mentions the Russian authors and books she is translating. For much of her last years she was translating The Idiot, by Dostoyevsky. 

painting by Ivan Kramskoi

My mother loaned me her copy of Anna Karenina for the plane ride back from VA. It's an old paperback from 1960, with a little index card inside with her maiden name on it. For this, I especially like it.

I thought these dense classics would be a chore to work on, but I was quite surprised to find it's a "page turner." I read the entire way back on the plane. It's still as thick as a dictionary, but I think you get so absorbed in the story that you don't even realize you've read for 5 straight hours and are only a millimeter through the book.

Now I am almost finished, and I can safely say that the characters are constructed better than any other book I've read. Even The Adventures of Cavalier and Clay, which was lauded for its characters, pales in comparison. I was telling J the other evening about the story and about the characters and he stopped me and said: how can you possibly get that much out of a character in a book. Tolstoy writes the character’s thought processes so convincingly, you fully understand why a person acts as he does. It’s a feat of genius; I honestly feel like I know them. The most ironic part for me is that the most elusive and least painted character (in my opinion) happens to be Anna herself. Her transformation from admired society woman to depraved adulteress is almost instantaneous. I wonder if this is on purpose.

 Sophie Marceau as Anna Karenina (1997)

This picture captures so much what I imagined Anna to look like as I was reading the book: the expression of strength covering fear and her beauty. Unfortunately, it appears the rest of the film does not follow suit. The French actress, Marceau from any other angle doesn't look Russian at all and from reviews it looks like the film is without any depth, just a parade of perty costumes.

Leo Tolstoy as a young man (1848, 20 yrs old)

Back to the book, I particularly like the character of a landowner named Levin who finds more joy with the peasants and hard labor than with his fellow noblemen. I found after research that Levin was loosely based on Tolstoy himself. This, of course, sent me on a biography hunt. Here are some things you might not have known about Tolstoy.

1) We share the same birthday. Kindred spirits. 2) He hated Shakespeare. 3) He wrote War and Peace and Anna Karenina while he was happily married. 4) His book, The Kingdom of God is Within You about non-violence became a fundamental influence on Gandhi. 5) The bookw as banned in Russian because it was anti-government. 6) Tolstoy wandered off to live as an ascetic when he was 82. He died at a train station a few days later. (They made a movie about this The Last Station) 7) Tolstoy had a great beard.

 (Bottom left: with wife Sophia Andreevna Bers)

 Russian Classics to Read:
  • Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Brothers Karmazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
  • A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov
  • Eugene Onegin by Alexaander Puskin
  • Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakob
  • Doctor Zhuvago By Boris Pasternak