Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hetch Hetchy

We've been watching the Ken Burns documentary "National Parks: America's Best Idea." Since visiting all of the National Parks with Bee has become our Thing, we are very much interested in this film. Sparky and I also have a keen curiosity regarding Northern California's Hetch Hetchy. We got lost on a road trip once and ended up there, and thought "What the hell? This used to be a valley like Yosemite? And it ended up as a reservoir to provide water to San Francisco... How could that have happened?" It looked like it was man made, it was rather unsettling. The other night we found out all about it from watching the Burns movie. OMG. 
It was the Great San Francisco Quake of '06 that allowed Congress to turn a National Park into a Reservoir. The businessmen who backed this idea lied, and said that if Hetch Hetch had been dammed in the first place the Quake would not have caused so much fire damage. What? They could have found other sources of water, they didn't have to dam it. Hetch Hetchy is supposedly the twin of Yosemite, it was just as beautiful and awesome - before it was drowned by backward thinking politicians and businessmen. There has been a movement to drain Hetch Hetchy and restore it to its former glory for years, and it has been gaining traction recently. I think I need to join this movement. It would be great if this actually happened one day. Forget about San Fransisco; they can find water elsewhere. Give us back our National Park!

Friday, September 25, 2009

One Of Those Days

Have you ever had one of those days where everything seemingly goes wrong, and then to top things off your small child is acting like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, all nice and sweet one moment and like a screaming little dictator the next, and what you really want to do is run away from home, preferably to some place warm and tropical, never to be seen by your loved ones again, but instead you opt for Plan B, which involves putting the lil' despot to bed, and then drinking copious amounts of wine and watching The Sopranos on DVD with your husband? I thought so.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Bee is very proud of the fact that she can curl her tongue. So can her Daddy. I, on the other hand, am not able to perform this simple feat, and Bee somehow finds this to be hilarious. I originally thought that the ability to curl or to roll your tongue into a tube shape was something that was passed down by your biological parents, but I found out today that it might not be the case! Here are some tongue facts: 

Back in the seventies a study was done involving identical twins and it was discovered that although they shared the same genes, 1/3 of them did not share the tongue curling trait. So now it is hotly debated amongst the scientific community whether or not it is genetically inherited. 

The majority of people worldwide are able to curl their tongues, therefore I am in the minority. 

It is thought that perhaps our ancestors used this ability for speaking, eating, or drinking. That means I would have been screwed. 

In our little family, 2/3 are able to curl their tongues. I am the odd man out. Sparky and Bee are Star-Belly Sneetches, while I am of the Plain-Belly Sneetch variety, sad because I am without a star. I feel as though Sparky and Bee owe me something, but I'm not sure what or why.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Civic Duty

This morning, the Misers got on the subway at Vermont and Santa Monica and headed downtown for a health care reform rally. It felt good to get out there and support this very important issue, but I'm not sure if it makes a difference anymore. Sparky has become very disenchanted with this once mighty country of ours. He thinks it has becoming overrun by moronic right wing nut jobs who don't know their own best interests from a hole in the ground. I have to agree with this assessment as there are just way too many Sarah Palin supporters out there in Jesusland. (Because of the sorry state of these United States, the Misers have seriously been thinking about becoming expatriates.) The rally was at 7th and Figueroa, and although the crowd wasn't huge it was certainly boisterous. The busy business men and women who work downtown could not have been more jaded, and one of these suits actually shouted out "You lie." I kind of wanted to kick him really hard in the shins, but the police officers lurking about made way for him to beat a hasty retreat. Most of the crowd there were older folks and middle aged hippies. I guess most of the young Obama supporters were in school or at work. Sparky and I watched our President on The David Letterman Show last night, and we were both impressed with his eloquence, intelligence, and innovative ideas. It made us want to go out today and help try to make this a better country for all. The Misers are a family of idealists. Anyway, my favorite part of the rally was holding up our signs and getting drivers to honk in support. Sparky's favorite part was the chanting and the hooting and hollering. And Bee's favorite part was riding up and down the escalators in the subway stations. 

Friday, September 18, 2009

Endless Summer

If you have to be a Miser it helps to live in the right place. The weather in SoCal makes it pretty conducive for not having a lot of money, especially when you can go to the beach whenever you want. The beach today was brilliant, the water was sparkly and warm, and we had our usual fun. As long as the weather stays nice and the ocean stays warmish, we can continue our beach going ways well into fall. The Autumnal Equinox is in a few days - September 22nd at 9:18pm, but we are not going to let this stop our oceanic good times.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Giant Chair

Today, as I was doing an errand in downtown Los Angeles, I was startled to look up and see a Giant Chair. It was just sitting there in a parking lot on Hill and Washington. What the hell? Where did it come from and how long has it been there? At first I imagined that it was a Claus Oldenburg, but it wasn't nearly pop enough to be him. I googled it and discovered that it was created by an Italian artist, Giancarlo Neri, it's 30 feet tall, and there is a matching table that currently resides somewhere in London. The work apparently is a comment on the loneliness of writing, but I think it might just be about really big furniture.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Though I've always been a fan of musicals, Sparky hasn't been, but he is starting to not hate them - believe it, or not. A couple of years ago we saw  "Across the Universe" and we both enjoyed it immensely. Of course, in Sparky's case, it helped that he really likes the Beatles. I mean, you can't go wrong with that picture if you are fanatical about the Fab Four. The other night we watched "Singing In The Rain". Although in the past Sparky has seen bits and pieces of the movie, it was the first time he watched it in it's entirety. He mostly liked it. I think he preferred it to "The Sound of Music" which I made him watch a few months ago. He just thinks it's queer when people start to sing for no apparent reason, but he does like the insane dancing that often accompanies these numbers. He was quite impressed with both Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor's hoofing abilities. And the crazy psychedelic technicolor sets. Our dear Sleeford was a musical buff, and he and I would spend hours talking about our favorites. We both liked Danny Kaye, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and all the fabulous dancers of yore. Sparky would never participate in these conversations, and he thought we were both nuts. Bee also enjoys musicals, and I have loaded several onto the iPod for her. And for me. And maybe even a little bit for Sparky. We may get him on our side yet. Next on our musical agenda: "Westside Story." Sparky says he can hardly wait!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Sparky has started a great new series of paintings whereby Bee tells him what to paint, and he incorporates her incongruous ideas onto the canvas. These paintings are colorful, and have a wonderful, happy loopy feeling to them. The latest one he is working on uses imagery of giraffes, peaches, and the Kentucky Derby. It reminded me of our last visit to the Woodland Park Zoo with my parents a couple of weeks ago. Bee especially loves elephants and giraffes, and we always have to see both whenever we are at a zoo. The elephants were especially charming this time around, as one of them, a young Asian female named Bamboo, peeled and ate an orange with her trunk, and then proceeded to pee and poop copious amounts of urine and dung for the entertainment of all the kids. They hooted and hollered as she peed what seemed to be a rather large river: this big stream of urine went on forever. And the poops were enormous. It was pretty amazing, and we all clapped when she was finished. Bee still talks about it. Next, we stopped in to visit the giraffes. The zoo has this program in place where you can pay $5 to feed the giraffes from a platform. We showed up right before this feeding took place and the giraffes seemed to know it was almost time. One of them walked up to us, stretched his head in our direction, almost touching us as he smelled for food. Then he'd back up and do it all over again. It was kind of weird, this poor giraffe just kept repeating this process, like a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I felt sorry for this poor OCD giraffe. I would much rather the animals were in their natural habitats instead of locked up, but some zoos were better than others, and Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo is pretty nice. And the giraffes had plenty of room, lots of friends to socialize with, and probably enjoy being hand fed by adoring zoo patrons. I recently read an articles in the Los Angeles Times about Jane Goodall. And although she would rather see animals in the wild, due to several factors (shrinking habitats, some animals being endangered, some being hunted), she feels that  zoos are often a safer place for them, and I have to agree with her.  (One of the interesting things about Jane Goodall is that she suffers from Prosopagnosia, a.k.a. face blindness, which is a memory impairment for faces and patterns. Oddly, she cannot recognize peoples faces, but has no problem recognizing her beloved chimps. How strange! It is mentioned in practically every article about her, but I always forget about it, and then I'm amazed by it all over again.)
Anyway, Sparky's new paintings are psychedelic both conceptually and physically, and have a wacky immediacy to them, and I can't wait to see this latest one finished. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Two of my all time favorite hot sauces are King Taco's Salsa Roja and Malo's Burnt Haberno and Creme Salsa. Yum. They are both muy delicioso: smokey and spicy with a nice bite. The Salsa Roja is a top secret, closely guarded family recipe. And the Burnt Haberno might be one as well be because I can't find the recipe anywhere. The ingredients for Malo's supposedly are: canned chipotle peppers, lime juice, orange juice, and creme fraiche (according to a food server who works there [according to]) But I have no idea how much of what goes into it. Also on the Chowhound site are various attempts at recreating the King Taco salsa, but not a single person has been able to capture it in totality. 
I'm thinking of both of these salsas right now because I'm craving them at the moment, and because Sparky's big mess of chilis are almost all ripe and we need to do something with them. We'll have to play around with them and see what we can come up with. We need to explore further.  

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

It's funny, but I've been working all Labor Day Weekend, and I have a lot more to do today. Labor Day! Wheeeee! I'm actually spending it laboring away, although I know that's not what the socialists who invented this holiday had in mind. Their intent was to allow the worker bee a day off from their normal five day a week, eight hour a day schedule - which they also came up with. What's happened? As far as I can tell, the normal eight hour a day, five day a week thing has gone the way of the platypus. If you are lucky enough to have a job these days, most likely you are spending way more more time doing it and getting paid way less money for your endeavours. What has happened to all the socialists?  And why do Americans hate them so? We have become a country of whiny, self-centered capitalists who complain about every single little tax. As long as we have ours, what do we care about the rest of humankind who may need some help? Who wants to live in a civilized society anyway? 
I remember hating Labor Day when I was young. It symbolized the end of summer vacation, and the start of school. Not that I hated school. It's just that I loved summer, as did every other kid I knew. Also, no Labor Day was complete without watching a bit of  The Jerry Lewis Telethon. It is the Mother of all telethons. And it's still on. And still just as boring. Jerry Lewis looks to be about 100. But he is doing something for those less fortunate, children nonetheless, so you've got to commend him for it. Anyway, have I mentioned that Labor Day is not my favorite holiday? I want to be a good socialist and enjoy it, but I guess I'm just too radical. Oh, well. Back to the grindstone.   

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Aloe Vera

Yesterday at the beach I made the rookie mistake of not putting sunscreen on my back. I can't believe I did it, but I did. I just forgot. I put sunscreen everywhere else but since I couldn't reach my back I was going to have Sparky do it, but I forgot to ask him and he forgot to offer. I made sure Bee was completely covered, and Sparky wears a short sleeve surfer top so he was covered as well. I have a pretty nasty sunburn on my back right now. The first sunburn I've had in years because I'm usually very diligent about sun protection. Thank god Bee is not burned anywhere on her still perfect creamy baby skin. Last night Sparky clipped some aloe vera from our yard, and rubbed the jelly of the freshly picked succulent all over my back. Fresh aloe vera is amazingly soothing, and works like magic on various skin woes - especially sunburns. Sparky first used this wondrous healing salve some time last century, back when he was a hippy hitchhiking across Florida. He had been standing in the sun all day, trying to hitch a ride somewhere and got horribly sunburned in the process. That night, after managing to catch a ride to where ever it was he was going, he ran into a woman who clipped some aloe vera from her yard and made him rub it on his sunburn. Who was this mysterious, wise and ancient shaman? Who ever she was, she was surely knowledgeable in the healing arts. At the time Sparky thought that she was so old, but now he says she was probably in her 40s. Jesus. Why do young adults always think people my age are so damn old? I don't feel old, just seriously sunburned. Sparky rubbed more aloe on my back today, and it is actually looking and feeling better. The lesson I learned is to always remember to coat yourself in sunscreen when spending a day at the beach, and to always have plenty of medicinal plants at the ready.  

Friday, September 4, 2009


Today after the Misers spent the BEST DAY EVER at the beach, we came home and grabbed Glenn The Dog to bring him along to an healthcare reform rally at the Los Angeles State Historic Park (a.k.a The Cornfield) in beautiful Chinatown. (Sparky and I have both decided that when we finally move away from Los Angeles, Chinatown is one of the few places that we will actually miss.) Dianne Feinstein was to be at this rally, and it was going to be huge! I received a phone call last night about this event from a lovely elderly woman from Chicago. She was a great gal, and we chatted about the sad state of healthcare in this great country of ours, and the crazy yahoos who oppose reform. I told her that I would be there for sure, and she said I could bring my dog and to tell my friends and neighbors about it as it was to be the last such event. When we ran home after the beach to get Glenn The Dog, there was a message on our home phone (in both English and Spanish) reminding us about the rally. We were on our way!
When we got to the park, we were surprised to see hardly anybody there. What? The? F? Where was everybody? We stopped and asked a Park Ranger about it and he informed us that it was actually yesterday. What? The? F? Why did that lady call me last night to tell us that it was TODAY, and why was there a message on our phone TODAY reminding us not to miss the rally TODAY? Was that old lady from Chicago really a Republican working for some insurance company purposely feeding me misinformation? How could that be possible? She seemed so nice. I just don't get it.
On the way home from the missed rally, we drove past Elysian Park where we saw a large gaggle of people. Maybe this was where the healthcare reform rally really was. We pulled over to get a closer look. It seemed odd that all the men and young boys were wearing kahkis, and all the women folk were wearing skirts. All of them. And then we spotted a "Vote Yes on Prop 8" sticker on a parked pickup truck. Whoops. Wrong rally. Feets, don't fail me now!  

Thursday, September 3, 2009


The beach today was great. The air there was a million times better than the air here in Echo Park. We walked along the beach with our shoes off, and Bee was fearless about running into the ocean. Then we strolled over to the Santa Monica Pier and had ice cream cones. It was so agreeable that we plan on going back tomorrow for an all day outing. We're going earlier this time, and I'll have a nice run in some clean ocean air. We'll play in the waves with Bee, picnic, boogie board, and then return home before rush hour. Sadly (or happily), working tomorrow does not fit into our scheme which means I'll be working all weekend. But it can't be helped because we absolutely need some salvation from the apocalyptic atmosphere that currently exists on our side of town. It's really grody here. 

Back Home Again

Bee and I just got back last night, having been up in the Great PNW visiting my family for the past two weeks. We left poor Sparky behind in Hell A, and as half of it is on fire, it really does seem like a level from Dante's Inferno right now. No Paradise anywhere as far as I can tell. What the hell has happened here since we've been gone? I walked outside this morning and my eyes stung from the air. There is a layer of ash on my car. The sunlight looks murky and strange. I had been planning on working today, but it is so gross out that we have decided to take Bee to the beach instead. Probably the air is better by the ocean. Sparky is amazed by how much Bee has grown in the short amount of time we've been gone. He missed her! Me, not so much. Well, maybe a little bit... Anyway, to the beach we go.