Sunday, October 18, 2009

High Holy Days

There is a hint of crispness in the air lately, leaves are changing color and falling from trees, it has been getting dark outside way too early, all of which can mean only one thing - postseason baseball is upon us once again. Sparky loves this time of year, he is the biggest baseball fan I know. The Dodgers are his team, and luckily this year they are in the playoffs. They are playing tonight in Philadelphia, and for some odd reason the game is on cable only. That means that Sparky will be listening to Vin Sculley call the game on his trusty old transistor radio, which is missing its antenna and is held together with a rubber band. To Sparky the playoffs and the World Series are the High Holy Days, as baseball is his religion. Sleeford was also a huge baseball fanatic, and we spent many a night watching a game with him, either on the television or at Dodger Stadium. One time Sparky was out walking Glenn The Dog in Elysian during a playoff game, and Sleeford watched the game from home and called it out to Sparky over the phone. Sparky says he did a pretty good job - it was almost as if he was there. If Sleef were still around, we would be spending much of these playoff games with him, which is what makes this time of year so bittersweet. The Dodgers might actually make it to the World Series this year, for the first time since 1988 - High Holy Days indeed!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


About eight years ago Sparky rescued this Hibiscus from certain death at the hands of our friend and neighbor Aimee  (a.k.a The Plant Killer). There was a mate to this plant, but sadly it did not make it. Sparky says that they were both pretty much goners by the time he saved them, and he was actually surprised that one of them made it. Hibiscus are tropical plants and can be found in warm climes such as Hawaii, Florida and Singapore. They are a pretty hardy plant and apparently difficult to kill, so Aimee's talent must have really gone into overdrive. Red Snapper. I think that is the name of this one, but it's not really that red, more of a deepish pink. Anyway, The Plant Killer didn't even notice that her dead plants were missing, and was quite surprised when Sparky pointed the very much alive plant out to her one day. This Hibiscus seems to be in bloom all of the time, and I'm really very attached to it and am thankful that Sparky rescued it from an untimely death.   

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


A friend of ours told us that playing with blocks helps toddler girls develop their math skill. Apparently, boys are better at math than girls. I'm not sure where she heard that or if it's even true, but I do know that playing with blocks helps kids with their motor skills, which is supposed to help them perform better both academically and physically. We got Bee a set of nice wooden blocks for Christmas last year, and Sparky and Bee play with them all the time. They build towers as high as they can only to knock them down. They build ramps for toy cars, and elaborate castles that they gleefully destroy by rolling balls into them. They are like the Hindu god Shiva. I like it that Bee enjoys playing with blocks so much; she is a girly girl but she isn't afraid to get dirty and she loves "boy" toys such as dinosaur, weird rubber monsters, cars and balls. Good for her. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Sparky forgot to mention the best thing about yesterday's trip to LACMA: we signed Bee up for a FREE child's membership, good until she is 18 years of age. With this membership she is able to get one adult in for FREE as well. How cool is that? I only wish that MOCA also had this incredible deal. Another good thing about yesterday: we parked for FREE at a broken meter. The Misers hate to pay for parking, so the broken meter was a great accidental find. And I have to mention that I liked the Chris Burden installation Urban Light. Sparky says he would have liked it better if the lampposts weren't all painted a flat grey, but I like their uniform color, which seems especially well suited to L.A.'s current rainy fall weather.  

Monday, October 12, 2009

Misers at LACMA

Guest blogger, Sparky.

Target paid the freight for everyone today, something about Columbus Day, and it made for a good reason to visit an old friend. Actually, some of it was quite new for us as we hadn't been to the Broad wing before, making us absolutely the last people of the art world to attend. All the work was dead familiar, but the shiny Koons gotta make you smile, and Richard Serra proved to be a monstrous force yet again. His giant walls of steel with their fuzzy brown patina almost look cuddly, until you touch them. A blanket only Superman could use. Bee found the maze quality of the piece indistinguishable from a really good playground. We took pictures inside the walls of steel until The Man came along to tell us yet again, "No Photos!" How a tiny digital camera could possibly damage those fabulous walls of rusted steel is beyond me. 
We took a break for coffee and Rice Crispy Treats which simply made our day. Bee even shared the Treats with us. After that it was off to the original LACMA. What we liked best was being able to experience the verve of contemporary art and then steep ourselves in work that has stood the test of time, although a place can never have too many Rothkos for my taste. Funny, though, how so many of the Ab Ex works seem to have lost their mojo, never to return again. My theory is that interior design has so thoroughly co-opted these works as a decorative force (appropriated, really) that when you come face to face with the real deal it seems almost fake. Franz Klein used to thrill me like a Duanne Allman solo, but today it just looked like tired student work. And although I never cared for Morris Lewis or Frankenthaler, I now actively dislike their work. Ellsworth Kelley is another whose works just elicit a profound afternoon yawn. I shook my head trying to remember what used to stoke me about this work, and then I didn't. Win some, lose the rest.   
At the suggestion of some elderly membership ladies, we went into the Korean exhibition where they've set aside a room for kids to paint. That was a gas. The entire Miser trio painted away and were really quite happy with our endeavors. All of them surpassed that massive Frankenthaler that was abusing a wall and wasting space a few doors over. Bee even got a balloon out of the deal - red or white as it was sponsored by Target. 
And so a splendid time was had by all. I was even inspired to start a new series designed to succeed. It will be pretty much all red and white with Rauschenberg variations on the word Target. Maybe I'll be sponsoring a free day at the museum some time in the future if it does well. 

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dog Mural

There is a dog mural painted on the side of an apartment building in North Hollywood. We often drive by it on our way to visit friends there. The poor mural does a decent job, but the setting is rather pathetic. The apartment building is located on a beat up street, across from some large electrical towers and a dog park that once used to have grass but is now reduced to dirt and weeds. The whole place seems dangerous and downtrodden, and every time we drive by it I'm thankful that we don't live there. But Bee loves the painting and talks about it long after we've passed it. Sparky thinks its wacky and he likes it because Bee likes it. I'm just sort of amazed that someone actually took the time to paint it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Knitting Redux

Today I found myself with some free time, so Bee and I dug out my box of knitting supplies and went through it. I have five projects I've never finished, and out of that only three that I am actually going to complete. I'm currently making Bee a sweater, and it hasn't been much fun to knit. I'm not very good at knitting sweaters, I always seem to screw them up somehow. I'm not sure why. I can make blankets, toys, and accessories galore, but when it comes to sweaters forget about it. But the more I knit the better I get, so I'm going to soldier on with the damn sweater. Then I can start on the projects I really want to make: some stuffed animals and toys, a wrap, some scarfs, a couple of pairs of fingerless gloves, a felted bag, and a blanket.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Anne Wee

A guy who lives up the street from us has three teeny poofy white dogs that he walks up and down the alley behind our house. This guy has long hair, a long braided beard, and multiple tattoos and piercings. He does not look like the sort who would have such precious little dogs; instead, he looks like he should have a large,  macho type dog or two. Every time I see him, I am reminded of a comic I drew under the alias Anne Wee for an artist publication of comics way back in 1992. I have to admit that it was a poorly executed comic on my part, and the idea was hardly original, but I still laugh when I think about it. My brother Bruin (a.ka. John Steinbeck), was also published in this same paper, and his comics were by far the funniest. 

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Free Stuff

Lately, for some strange reason, I've been getting free stuff in the mail. Last week, I received a free T-shirt from SPCA International with a picture of a patriotic puppy on it. Yesterday, Vons sent me some free cat food, and today I found a box of free Kotex samples stuffed into my mailbox. As a miser I appreciate it; Lila Mae Cat will enjoy the cat food, spare tampons always come in handy, and Sparky actually wore the T-shirt the other day. Now if only someone would send me some free money. We could use another stimulus check right about now.