June 29, 2006

reading is fun-da-mental

Okay, another plug for Kathy Griffin's show on Bravo. Watch it, it'll make you chuckle out loud. And God know we need that nowadays. (Your tivo comes in really handy here.)

And a viewing tip: make sure you read the lower third graphics - you know, those things that come up with the person's name on them. Maybe it's because I'm in this business, but I'm so accustomed to them that I normally never read any of them when I watch tv. But I'm the same way with the annoying 'news crawl' too - its invisible to me. When I'm at my folks' house, Mom always reacts to the crawl and I'm always wondering what she's talking about because its not the topic thats on the main screen at the time - so I guess some people do read em! but I digress....

I'm tired. I need sleep. Read the lower thirds when you watch the show. Bonus chuckles. That's all.

June 27, 2006

June 26, 2006

what's my line?

A few weeks ago a friend of mine who is a print designer asked me if I'd have a problem taking a job from Phillip Morris. It was a tough question. He had been offered a project and wasn't sure what to do. My best answer was really that it would probably depend upon the specifics of the project.

I'm in the middle of a project now for a major big-box retailer that has probably the worst image of any retailer in the country. Technically, I'm working for a company that's working for another company that's working for the retailer. That may make it seem better, but I'm not sure if it is. Now, the job in no way is doing anything to claim that they're something that they aren't. But I have to say, the reaction from friends when I tell them what I'm working on is never anything like "oh wow, that's great".

When I did the gig in February for NBC Olympics, one of my jobs was to do the on-air packaging for the "ExxonMobil Energy of the Games" segment of the broadcast. Is that any worse? Why did I feel okay doing that, when I wouldn't have been comfortable doing a spot that said "ExxonMobil, friend of the environment"? I would not accept a job from Fox News Channel (it doesn't look like they've ever hired a designer anyway), yet I would jump at the chance to do some work for the Fuel network, which has some of the best design out there. Fuel is owned by Fox. Is there a difference?

As a consumer, its a little easier. I don't eat at places like Cracker Barrel or Wendy's (or is it okay now to eat at Wendy's since Dave Thomas is no longer around?), but, oops, I bought gas at Chevron the other day. Its hard to keep track. I recycle my plastic and glass and paper, but I drive a 1998 pickup. I give a fair amount to charity, but I don't give to every worthy charity that asks. Where do you draw the line?

My best answer is that I do what I can, but I'm far from perfect. I try to be responsible, and hopefully the good outweighs the bad. But am I only walking the line?

June 25, 2006

pies. filling. station.

A few weeks ago, when I was back in Texas and Oklahoma for the Oklahoma City rodeo on Memorial Day weekend, I wrote about stopping for fried pies on the way up to OKC.

Fried Pies are one of those truly regional dishes that are unknown to most of us, including myself before I moved to Texas. The best way to explain them is to think of the Fried Apple Pies that McDonald's served before they were discontinued in 1992; or to think of the packaged "Hostess Fruit Pies" - real fried pies are somewhere between the two, but still very different. For a few years we stopped at place in Texas on the way, until last year when we discovered "Original Fried Pies" in Davis Oklahoma. These blow the other ones away.

Pull off I-35 at Exit 51. In the Sinclair service station with the dinosaur on the service island roof is a little factory of what seem to be family members around a table making pies that don't compare to others. These pies are handmade while you wait - you can order them with fruit fillings, cream fillings (or you can combine the two)' or they also have what they call "savory pies" with flavors like 'broccoli chicken' or 'comfort food' - polish sausage, potatoes, cheese. The crust is fresh and flaky. Fillings are fresh. This is no Hostess or McDonald's Pie.

Granted the highway between Dallas and Oklahoma City may not be a road you travel often, but if you ever do, be sure to stop for pie.

June 24, 2006

greek western

Martina McBride had long been a favorite of mine before her popularity exploded a few years ago and she started to put a loud 'belt it out' portion into every one of her songs. She's fallen off the scene for a bit, so I bought tickets to her show at the Greek Theatre last night just based on her being a favorite, but not having much connection to any recent work of hers.

I bought her latest CD a few weeks ago without realizing that it was completely covers of old Western hits - hey, it was on sale. cheap. (Contrary to the popular joke, country and western are two very different genres.) While I appreciate Western music, it doesn't speak to me in a way that I connect with. (Maybe much like I appreciate classic realist paintings, but they don't speak to me like abstract expressionism does.) This may be a CD to pass on to Mom.

She addresses her latest album in a really interesting way in her show, by essentially doing two very separate shows in one. The first half of her show is the traditional Western classics, with her own hits following an intermission. It works. What's odd is the crowd - clearly a significant portion were people who had come to know her from her latest album, and they seemed a little dazed by the second half of the show.

I miss the days of seeing her play in clubs in Dallas, but her talent is a constant. She and k.d. lang are the two artists that I've ever seen whose voice cannot be recorded. The difference between their voice recorded and live in person is startling. If you get the chance to see her live, its worth experiencing.

June 22, 2006

field trip

Dodger Stadium from the field - including the new color scheme, returning the seats to their original colors.

June 21, 2006

mick knows wild

I wrote a few days ago about the shadow sculptures thoughout Hollywood. My friend (and western afficianado) Mick emailed to let me know that the scene in my pics was from Sam Peckinpaugh's "The Wild Bunch" from 1969. Somehow I feel like I should have known that, but I didn't.

When I challenged him to find info about who did the sculptures (because all of my googling hadn't brought me an answer), it wasn't long before I had the answer in my mailbox. The installations are part of an environmental design project called the "Hollywood Shadow Project" by Cameron McNall, completed in October 2001. It appears there were originally seven installations, four of which remain. The designs are meant to capture iconic moments or images of movies, and they cast shadow on buildings that are still part of the film production process. It should be noted that McNall's installations, as curator Karin Higa wrote "mimic—albeit in the most primitive form—the basic elements of film: light projection, motion and temporality."

McNall now has a company called "Electroland," which seems to be involved in creating some pretty cool environmental design. Check out their site below and see for yourself.

Thanks, Mick. Now we all know.

  • Electroland's website

  • Society of Environmental Graphic Designers award writeup
  • June 19, 2006

    i am my father's son

    After I wrote about my Mom on Mothers Day, my Dad told me something like "you don't need to do that on Father's Day." Well, its the day after, so all is fair game. (He'd probably do the same thing.)

    The older I get, the more I realize that I'm like my Dad. We both chuckle out loud at the tv, spend too much time on the computer, and are terribly fond of dogs. But the time our similarities really hit home the most was when I lived in Dallas and my parents came to visit. After they left, all my friends said things like " You are just like your Dad! You do the same thing he does - you sit back all quiet and reserved and just take everything in, to the point of seeming like you're not even paying attention, and then 'zing' out of the blue comes some quip that just nails something." Hmmm...yeah, that's my Dad. I never realized I did that before then. "And you both have about a million facial expressions." Hmmm. I've heard that before, but didn't realize my Dad did that too. Sure enough, he does. "And you both walk exactly alike." That one I had heard before.

    I went with my folks to Washington State to visit my Dad's side of the family when I was a freshman in high school. One day my Dad and Grandad were walking down the road. I was a few feet behind them, and I think it was my Mom and my Aunt who were further behind. They were the first to point out that my Dad walked exactly like his Dad...and I walked the same way, too. Its odd, I've never seen myself walk, but I know I walk sorta pigeon toed, and I'm told I have an unusual gait that friends have said they could recognize even before they could see my face. I marvel at how things like that pass on from one generation to the next - especially things beyond physical traits that extend to personality and mannerisms.

    I don't know how it happens, but it makes me proud. I wouldn't have it any other way. Happy Father's Day, Dad.

    June 18, 2006

    precious medals

    I worked a different kind of police shift today. I volunteered to help out at the Special Olympics. I thought I was going to spend the day manning a recruiting booth or handing out stickers or something like that. Instead I found myself spending almost all of the day giving medals to the athletes. I'm next to actors and real olympic medal winners and other athletes, and people are coming up to me saying "I have a request for you to give this person their medal". And these kids aren't shy! From the girl who blurts out "I have a crush on you" as I place the medal on her, to the other who says "Thank you, Baby!" as I give her hers, to my friend Anna pictured here who insisted I take a picture with her to send her after giving her her medal. With my camera. Talk about an ego boost.

    If you ever want to see true heart, go to a Special Olympics. These kids (average age of 30!) compete with everything they've got, are thrilled to be fifth place (much less first), and are so happy and thankful to everyone they meet. Smiles and smiles and smiles. for days. I wish I could be as good a soul as each of them is. They zap you of all your energy, but its worth every bit of it. This was rewarding work.

    June 17, 2006

    mission impossible

    I went to the Kenny Chesney concert tonight at the Home Depot Center. Its my first time there, and have to say it was a really nice venue. Because its set with a college campus, its strangely comfortable, almost intimate, which is odd considering its a stadium.

    The show was actually pretty good. As 'America's Gay Cowboy', his show and his band have gotten a lot butcher since the last time I saw him. He put on a great show and even sang a lot of his older stuff (like "Back Where I Come From", which always hits a nerve). I prefer that to his beach-era recent stuff, all of which seems to sound the same. I'd have rather heard more from him than the cameos from Uncle Kracker and Van Halen, but that's part of concert going in LA. From the design side, its one of the better uses of video screens and animation (well-designed animation even, not the typical cheesy concert stuff) that I've seen in a long while. They really take advantage of live multiple cameras and screens at some points with synced up pre-produced video and animation at other points.

    I ended up having to go to the show by myself. My friend that I was supposed to go with ended up having to still work (he's a feature film editor and works insane schedules). I spent the day calling pretty much everyone I knew that might be open to going to a country concert. No takers. I gotta say, it does make you feel like you're a big loser. It's a sore spot with me about living in California.

    Despite the silly California "cowboy" outfits everywhere, spotting the genuine ones in the crowd made me wistful for Texas. The warm night in an open stadium only added to it. It felt like one of countless concerts I went to when I lived in Dallas. Finding someone to go with there was never a chore. And certainly never impossible.

    It was a good show. It was a nice night. But it left an empty hole that I'm getting tired of.

    June 16, 2006

    cowboys up

    I remember reading an article about these when they were erected, but I havent been able to find anything online about them or who the artist is. These are rooftop art installations on buildings throughout Hollywood designed to cast shadows at particular times of the day. This one is on the south end of Cahuenga, casting this posse's shadow around 630pm.

    June 15, 2006

    slice of life

    I had surgery today. Oh relax, it's not as dramatic as it sounds. Its no big deal and I'm fine. (lets just say it was private and personal more than it was serious, so no, you don't get any more details than that.) What's actually amazing about it is how much of a non-deal it was.

    I can only guess that this wasn't this way ten years ago. And certainly not twenty. I walked into my doctors office, waited thirty minutes, sat in a room for ten minutes, endured a procedure for 5 minutes, and then walked out. Done. Period. Now true, what I had done was pretty minor, but still, its just amazing how technology has advanced to make things like this so minor that they're nothing.

    I jumped in my truck and went and got a haircut. Then off to a police meeting. Then dinner with friends. It was just one of a day full of errands. Who'da thunk?!

    June 14, 2006


    a wall I spotted on the side of a restaurant.... I don't know why I'm so fascinated by patterns in architecture. But I am.

    June 13, 2006

    d-list viewing

    I'm still wrapped up in my reel. I was having writers block til I took a break for some tivo. Funny thing about life with tivo is that if you don't know about a show to put it in your list, you may never see it. That doesn't say a lot for guys like me who spend a good part of their living doing work for television promos... Anyway, I never saw the first season of Kathy Griffin's show on Bravo "My Life on the D-List", but now its on my tivo for season two. She just plain cracks me up. I am suprised to find myself laughing out loud more often than during the Daily Show. And the cutaways of her dog Chance are priceless.

    "That guy needs a cookie more than I need to be f-ked tonight," Kathy says of a nutrionist that comes to see her. And her parents are just as funny. My favorite was this one from her mother about Kathy's house guest: "He didn't like any of the food...and I think most of the food that he had while he was here, I think anybody - much less a gay - would love it."

    Good tv? who knows. (who cares?) Fun tv. Hell yes.

    June 12, 2006

    hemmed in

    I'm continuing to be completely wrapped up in my project. After having so much trouble making any good headway for so long with it, its hard for me to stop. That's a good thing. If it weren't for my buddy Casey showing up at my house in the evening to go to the gym, I probably wouldn't even leave the house. Kind of odd, because after several weeks of what we call 'june gloom' - overcast cloudy grey skies that never clear - today was a clear beautiful perfect beach day. I found it matched perfectly with the music by "Hem" who I discovered from the Liberty Mutual commercial. Great stuff. Still, I never abandoned my post. It helps to have a view that you don't want to abandon. I never tire of it. Knock LA all you want, but there are a million ways to find your own "place" here.
  • Hem's web page (link to their myspace page for music streams)