Saturday, June 27, 2009

I Won!

This morning, I received a pleasant message on my phone: I had won the weekly drawing at our local grocery store for using my own canvas bags. The prize was a $25 gift certificate! I decided to do something un-miserly and spend it on a decent bottle of wine. Then Sparky asked me to buy a bottle of A-1 Sauce also. Apparently A-1 Sauce is expensive - $6 for 15 ounces. I never use the stuff myself since I don't eat meat, but Sparky and Bee enjoy a nice grilled steak every now and then, especially in warmer weather. (Sparky buys his steaks on sale; he can ususally find great deals on Mondays.) And both of them HAVE to have A-1 Sauce with it. So now I'm buying A-1 Sauce and a little bit less decent bottle of wine with my new found wealth. And I must say that this Miser is happy to be a winner for a change. 

Friday, June 26, 2009

Where Were You?

It's inevitable that fans of Michael Jackson will always remember where they were and what they were doing when they first heard that the King of Pop was no more. I'm not a fan, but I did download a couple of Michael Jackson hits about a year ago into iTunes. I don't think Sparky knows about it as none of them have come up on random play yet. I did know a huge Michael Jackson fan - one of my roommates from school, we were in the theater department together. Char loved him, and played "Thriller" quite often. I barely tolerated it at the time, and probably said disparaging things about him, but when we had parties I was always on the dance floor shaking my groove thing to "Billy Jean". I'm sure that since Char was such a fan, that she'll always remember where she was when she first heard about Mr. Jackson's demise. I already can't remember where I was. (Actually, I was at home and saw it on the news.) I was shocked because it was the same day that Farrah Fawcett died. Wow. I had heard about Farrah Fawcett earlier that day as I was driving out to Santa Clarita for a job meeting. I thought to myself that it was too bad, she was such a lucky person in so many ways, and yet she had the misfortune to develop such a rare form of cancer. What rotten luck. 
I do remember where I was when I heard about John Lennon. I was driving home from a part time office job that I despised, and the radio station announced that John Lennon was shot and killed. I couldn't believe it. I drove home, and I remember watching the news with my sister. None of us nor or friends could believe it. My sister, brother, some friends and I took a bus to the Showbox in downtown Seattle, one of  our favorite alternative music venues. The Showbox was showing all of The Beatles movies, news clips, interviews, etc, for free for all of the fans. We were all in disbelief and feeling pretty numb, and it was good to be with others who were feeling the same way. It enabled us to share our collective grief. 
I also remember where I was when I heard about Kurt Kobain. Driving to work once again, this time to downtown Los Angeles, where I had a temporary part-time job barcoding the books at the main library. This job also sucked. (I wrote a song about it for the band that I was in at the time, Pouch. The song was called "666", and it went along this lines: "Barcode, Mark of the Beast. 666 in your library book. Most assholes can't even read...) That's all I can remember, which is probably for the best. Anyway, as I was parking my car, the DJ on the radio announced Kobain's suicide, and I was shocked. I called Sparky (from a payphone), who already had heard about it, and we commiserated together. Later that night, we played Nirvana CDs and got drunk. We were sad!
My parents and their generation will always remember where they were, and what they were doing when they first heard about JFK, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. We all partake of the shock, and in some way grieve for these famous people even though we don't know them beyond their public lives. Then everyone is left with these sort of death markers in their lives: the sign posts of eternity that daily existence is ready to float on past until called out when least expected. And then they are never forgotten.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


The Misers are very happy that it is finally summer, and we have been searching for some fun, cheap and/or free things to here in So Cal. Today we thought that we would check out this park near Chinatown, the Los Angeles State Historical Park, located right behind my friend's old art gallery. I used to work at this gallery right up until Bee was born. The gallery is sadly no more, a victim of this New Depression. Anyway, the park used to be the Cornfields, an artist's installation of 23 acres of corn, which was pretty cool mainly because of its location. It's been a couple of years since I've seen this place, so we thought we would visit it and see if it was finished. It's not. In fact, I found out that it'll be a couple of more years before the "real" park is even started. In the meantime, there are 13 acres of temporary park. Its an open, beautiful grassy place with not a lot of shade. It should be a lovely 32 acre city park when it is finally completed, hopefully sometime this century. While we were there, we spied a big tent on the eastside edge of the park. Maybe it was a circus, a place we could take Bee! So we drove over to it to see what was what. It turned out to be the "Cirque Berzerk", which is a transvestite circus. Bee is not ready for that, nor do I think, am I.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Daring Dogs Of Durango

This is what Sparky's been working on lately for Annie James, Inc, an art poster company. The dogs are a new direction for them as it seems that people like images with dogs, the nuttier the better. They crack me up, those crazy dogs. I think the little guy at the top is going to win as he seems to have the best form.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Its official: my brother and his wife are having twin boys! My family is beyond excited as these are the first ever twins in our clan. Twins seem to run in Sparky's family. He has twin nieces, twin cousins, and one of the twin cousins has twins. Plus, Sparky's sister's husband's sister has twin boys. So now Sparky and I'll have twin nieces and twin nephews. That is a lot of twins. I'm going to have to knit them something special. 

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Baby Toes & Orchids

The Misers are in much better moods these days because the June Gloom has finally vanished. In its place we've had three days in a row of sunny, sunny weather. In celebration, I painted Bee's toe nails orange. There is just something about baby toes. Also, we were at Home Depot the other day and we picked up a white orchid. It was cheap! June Gloom Be Gone!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Elysian Dog Park

Today the Misers went for a walk along a trail at Elysian Park. It's a great walk, especially on grey days. It feels as though we have gone some place else besides L.A. We always run into other people with small kids and dogs, and the dogs are usually off of their leashes. It sort of a lawless dog park for people who live in Echo Park. It's great because most of these people understand the social need for dogs to interact with their own kind, and they don't flip out when they see our big Rottweiler/Doberman mix bounding up to their little fluffy dog. Glenn is very friendly, loves all mutts, and enjoys sniffing butt. And there are other dog lovers out there who get that, and a lot of them are on this trail at this park. And we are all there in the middle of a weekday. I guess it's because none of us have jobs anymore. But the very best part of this walk is when the trail ends at the grassy hill, and we are rewarded with a view of downtown and fields of trees.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


It's that time of year again. The Miser's Meyers lemon tree is bursting with almost ripe fruit. And even though this crop is late in coming, we will have a ton of lemons. I'm planning to make my very potent limoncello. I will also have to look up The Los Angeles Times article "100 Things To Do with a Meyer Lemon." Our problem is that we always get way too many lemons, but what a great dilemma to have.

Friday, June 12, 2009


I was very happy today when I discovered that Trader Joe's had peonies, my favorite flower. I had to buy myself some. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Today The Misers went to the movies, a matinee showing of "Up". The price was right: bargain tickets for Sparky and I, and Bee was free. It was good to get out and get rid of the June Gloom Blues for a bit. Plus, the movie was very enjoyable - we laughed, we cried, and talked a little bit to the screen (that would be Bee, who pointed out various things to Sparky and I as we were watching the movie. Luckily, the theatre was practically empty.) We did this as a test run to see if Bee could sit still that long in a movie theatre. She could and she did, and the three of us will be back this summer to see more films. Sparky and I used to always go to the movies pre Bee and pre this dang New Depression the country has been mired in. Dinner and a movie, that was our preferred date of choice. We saw everything and it was great. Now we usually watch Netflixed movies from the comfort of our own home after Bee has gone to bed. Which is not a bad thing, but it does mean that we have to wait forever before seeing a film we really want to see. No more going to opening weekends like we used to do. But the up side of all of this is that I'm really tired of big Hollywood movies anyway. We saw "Doubt" last week and I was not impressed with it. How on earth did it garner an Oscar Nomination? Meryl Streep's accent was very strange, and we spent most of the movie trying to figure it out. Was she supposed to be from Minnesota? Boston? No wait, was she Eastern European? I think she was trying to do a Bronx accent, but it didn't sound like it. It was more like a combination of all the accents she has done over the years, a sort of hodge-podge accent. But her acting made me realized how much I really hate Hollywood big budget movies anymore. They suck. Sparky and I talked about the movies that we have enjoyed the most recently, and they have all been either independent, foreign, or smaller pictures. For example, Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino", which we saw the other night. I have always loved Clint Eastwood (although I could have done without the Orangutan movies), and I liked his directing style in this film. It was spare and awkward and you could tell that most of the scenes were done in one take, which gave it an immediacy. It did not have a huge budget, big time actors (besides him) or special effects. And an added bonus was that he sings over the end credits. He sings a song about a Gran Torino! 
Sleeford was a huge movie buff, but he eschewed Big Time Hollywood pictures. And now I agree with him. I'll go and see some BTH movies, (like "Up") but for the most part  Sparky and I are on an Anti-Hollywood movie spree. There are a lot of great movies out there that don't come from the Hollywood Machine. See "I've Loved You So Long"  and "Happy-Go-Lucky" if you haven't already. Both are brilliant. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June Gloom

It's that dreaded time of year again in Southern California when the Pacific Marine layer descends inland, settles down and refuses to leave. It's dark and gloomy and The Misers haven't seen the sun properly in days. It makes everything look so dreary and bleak - Los Angeles really needs bright golden light to remain its sunny, optimistic self. It wouldn't be so bad if it actually rained. When we were in Indiana there were a couple of spectacular lightening and thunderstorms, where a hard rain pounded down on everything making a terrific amount of noise. These storms came from seemingly no where, and disappeared just as fast. When they were gone everything seemed so green and clean and fresh and smelled so good. And the sun came out! We really could use some rain here in L.A. right about now. That's about the only thing that would chase the June Gloom blues away from here.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Every since The Misers returned from Rushville, Indiana, Bee's been sleeping in bed with us. She refuses to sleep in her bed anymore - or crib, I should say. I think she may be ready for a big girl's bed. Although I'm afraid she might roll out of it like she did in Rushville, while she was sleeping on a tiny twin bed high off the ground. At least she landed on a thick layer of carpet. Poor Bee. When I went to check on her, I found her curled up in a ball on the carpet, whimpering and grunting in her sleep. My mother-in-law has these queer beds that we sleep on every time we visit her, and they have not gotten any more comfortable in the twenty years we have been going there. I found out on this trip that they were her parent's beds - the very same beds in which her mother and her father shared their married lives together! Twin beds that are actually smaller sizes than real twin beds. They are made out of Cherry wood, and are quite old. I also have reason to believe that they still have the original mattresses. I always wake up with a backache when I sleep on those things. We once offered to buy her a larger bed (for us, of course, as we are the only ones who have to sleep on them) but she turned us down because she didn't want to have to purchase new bedding, which I immediately offered to buy her as well. The truth is she is very attached to those beds as they belonged to her parents, and she will always keep them, no matter what. And make us sleep in them. It's rather sweet, really - unless you have to sleep in them. And every since we've been back in L.A., Bee's been mostly sleeping with us. I put her to bed before us, and pile pillows all around her so she won't roll off in her sleep. When we do go to bed, Bee is usually turned around on the bottom, lying in a rumpled heap,  and I pull her back to the top. But sometime in the middle of the night she'll invariably end up at the bottom of the bed again, on top of the comforter with her "Lammy" (her nick name for her blanket), curled up between our legs like a warm puppy. 

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Some Like It Hot

Today, The Misers added to their garden. Sparky planted four different types of chili plants: Thai Chilies, Serranos, Habaneros, and a chili called Floral Gem. The chilies that Sparky grows are very hot and spicy, muy picante. He makes BBQ sauce out of it, a hot sauce, and a relish. He gives some away and we use the rest. Our dear Sleeford was a huge fan of these sauces, and Sparky always ran out of it because of Sleef's voracious appetite for it. I am also a fan of these chilies, and also somewhat of a braggart. I can seriously eat really, really hot spicy food - I am quite macho about it actually. I can out heat everyone I know. I could even out heat Sleeford, although he definitely came in second place right behind me. I don't really know why I can tolerate such spiciness. It's not like my taste buds can only enjoy extreme foods. I also like delicately spiced foods and subtle flavors, so its not as though my tongue doesn't work properly. I was not raised on spicy food, but rather the normal, bland North American diet. I never did find Mexican food to be very hot, and Tabasco sauce always seemed like a joke to me. My sister and her husband came up with a theory that I think might actually be true. When I was little, I was a thumb sucker. I sucked my thumb until I was almost six. I would pull the fuzz off of my red blanket, rub it on the side of my nose, and suck my thumb. My parents tried to get me to stop. Nothing worked. They even put anti-thumb sucking stuff on my thumb, but I sucked it anyway. This anti-thumb sucking stuff was hot sauce! Thus, my love for heat might have grown out of that incident. I eventually stopped sucking my thumb sometime before first grade. First graders didn't suck thumbs, so I had to give it up for good, and I remember I was kind of sad about it. But at least I will always have my chilies. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

Lowered Expectations

Remember that bit they did on Mad TV years ago about a video dating service called "Lowered Expectations"? I have the theme song in my head right now. I loved the opening of it that featured an overweight couple holding hands as they gazed out through a chain linked, barbed wire fence at a dried up L.A. River - very un-picturesque and unromantic. These days, that is pretty much been how I've been feeling about opportunities here in La La Land. Probably because there are so few. What once was the land of anything and everything now feels like a land of desolation and fiscal irresponsibility. I'm fed up over our Government's lack of governing skills - how did Arnold the action hero get elected in the first place? And how can there just be no jobs anymore? Even the bad ones are hard to get these days. And the same holds true for other parts of the country - like Indiana for example. The folks out there who are working are just happy to have jobs, and they don't expect much from them, and probably never have. We seem to be a Nation of people who have all lowered our expectations, and are happy to just be looking out at a dried up old river bed. At least it has the potential to be a river, we tell ourselves. I know I'm happiest these days just hanging out with my little family, and conversing with Bee. "Hi Mommy. I have two eyes!" she'll say to me. "Hi Bee. Guess what? I have two eyes, too!" I'll reply. And so our conversation goes. 
My mother-in-law Joyce (or Mommy Nanny as Bee so fondly calls her) always talked about how Mel, her youngest child and only daughter, is her Sunshine. I never really understood what she meant by that, and always thought she was being sappy and slightly corny. I secretly wanted to bitch slap her. But now I get it. Bee is my Sunshine. And she is the one thing that Sparky and I have not lowered our expectations over. She helps make us happy and enables us to care a little less about the lack of money and everyday stress as we try to weather this New Depression. It sucks, I've got to tell you. It really, really does.  But as the world goes to hell around us, and we may have all lowered our expectations as a country, at least The Misers have our Sunshine. 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Home Again, Home Again...

Today The Misers are all back in Los Angeles, having returned from our Indiana trip last night. Bee did amazingly well on the plane. I taught her how to tug on her earlobe in order to reduce the pressure to her ears when we landed. Our trip was both successful and uneventful, and we saw Hoosiers galore. They are for the most part a kind and cheerful people, and fun was had by all. Sparky swears that Bee grew up before our very eyes in the short amount of time we were there. You can actually see her brain grow bigger as she gets smarter, I swear to god. It was good for her to be in a different setting in a different land, with a bunch of new people - it's great for her to experience new things; she is really turning into a social butterfly. Anyway, Rushville was very green and lush and in the full throws of late Spring. They now have Daylight Savings Time in all of Indiana and it did not get dark until about ten at night, which was pretty exotic. We didn't spend a lot of money while we were there as there is really not a lot on which to spend your money, which is always a plus for the Misers. Overall, we had a good time visiting the Homeland in the Heartland of America.