January 31, 2007

doggy treat

This is Georgia. One of my favorite dogs that I've never met.

I first saw Georgia on a dvd from design firm twothousandstrong in Venice. She was on a hidden secret "easter egg" feature buried on the dvd. Many times when work got overwhelming and I got cranky, I'd pop that in and I'd feel better. You can see that original video at the tail of the 'inspiration' piece on my website.

The next year, twothousandstrong featured this clip as another hidden "easter egg" on their new dvd. I was pleased to run across a (great new) redesign of their website the other day, and even more pleased to find Georgia's clip featured on it.

I never had the chance to work with twothousandstrong - they were on my short list for some upcoming projects when the plug was pulled at Fine Living, but everyone I've talked to there before and since has always been incredibly nice. Maybe its Georgia's influence.

So next time youre having a bad day, go to Georgia.

  • twothousandstrong's Pawpet Theatre: Jowls
  • January 30, 2007

    here kitty kitty

    Oh I can only imagine the kind of hate mail I'm going to get for this one. If youre a cat lover, you may just want to not read any further.

    I'm a dog guy, and though I don't really have anything against cats, and would never do anything mean to one (or any animal), I'll admit that I do chuckle at anti-cat jokes. I know, not very pc of me. Maybe I'll have to check into rehab - it seems to be the thing to do nowadays. Anyway, I've always loved the "Goodbye Kitty" series of products from David and Goliath. Then last week I stumbled across the Kitty Pet Spa video on YouTube [YouTube has since pulled the video, but I've relinked to it on iFilm]. I went into a laughing/coughing fit and almost peed my pants. I've sent it to a few friends, no one seems to share my amusement. I'm a bad person. I still think its funny.

    It turns out theres one of the these Pet Spas in Long Beach. Even though all the videos of dogs in the machine show them sitting there like "ho hum", I don't think I could ever bear to put my dog in one, much less my cat. So, be nice to all those cats out there. But enjoy the video - the music is classic - and no kittys are harmed by viewing it now.

  • iFilm: Kitty Washing Machine

  • David and Goliath Goodbye Kitty products

  • Goodbye Kitty traffic game

  • Pet Spa at LaunderPet in Long Beach
  • January 28, 2007

    rewind ii

    More best of shots from Europe last year... this is all stuff I've said before, but worth saying again. I hadn't been overseas until about 4 years ago, and not to Europe until this trip last year. I never should have waited that long, but it was just one of those things I figured I'd do someday, eventually. It was really only luck that allowed that trip to happen. NBC allowed me to book my return at a later date, I had no obligations that forced me to come back immediately, and I had the cushion of a severance package from when Fine Living shut down. Its easy for me to say "go travel", but having the means or freedom is a lot easier said than done.

    That said, if you have the opportunity, or you can make the opportunity, do it. The perspective you gain on the world is something I can't describe. Its truly eye opening, and a good reminder of how new and how small we are - in a good way. I didn't even have my rail tickets or a plan or any hotel reservations a few days before the job in Italy ended, I was flying by the seat of my pants from one place to the next, though a fair amount of time in each location was spent searching for a hotel in the next one. But the point is, its doable. (and if you want my hotel recommendations, the link is below for those - plus other Europe travel tips.)

    There was a plaque that I saw when my friend Mick took me to the Tinkertown Museum in Albuquerque: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely... broad, wholesome, charitable views...can not be acquired from vegetating in one's little corner of earth." - Mark Twain, 1869

  • Jon's Europe travel tips
  • January 27, 2007


    A year ago today I was landing in Milan Italy during a snowstorm that shut down the airport not long after we landed. From there we trekked on a bus to Torino, where I began my European adventure for almost two months. The first month working for NBC Olympics, and the rest of the time touring around on my own. It was the best thing I've ever done.

    If you weren't following along at the time, you may want to click on the links to the right under archives - February is mostly my time in Torino, and March is mostly touring around Europe. It was easy to write interesting daily blog entries when you're seeing fascinating things every day; and when traveling alone, it was kinda nice to be able to share it with family and friends that way.

    January 25, 2007


    crazy busy lately, so heres a gallery of recent slivers...

    January 24, 2007

    go nuts

    Today was my friend Heith's birthday. (Happy Birthday Heith!) He had a pot luck dinner/party, so I took my famous pecan pie. I made this on Thanksgiving, and it ended up undercooked (Since I use the oven so rarely, I'm only now learning that my gas oven seems to cook slower than recipes call for). I may have overcooked tonight's a little in an effort to overcompensate. I only had a taste of someone elses, so I don't really know!

    This was a recipe that Mom used and we always loved, so years ago I got it from her. Tonight I couldn't find my recipe, so I called her for it. It turns out that she got the recipe from Ann Landers. I'll post it below, but here are my slight twists on it to make it just a little better: First off, when mixing the ingredients, make that dash of Vanilla a pretty huge dash - more like a pour! I end up using more then double the amount of pecans that are called for. I mix in the called for amount. Then after pouring that into the pie shell, I load more pecans directly into the pie. I keep putting more and more in until when you push down on the top layer of pecans, They don't dip down much into the gook because the shell is so full of pecans that theres nowhere for them to go. I like a pecan pie where the gook is only between the pecans, not a layer of gook topped by a layer of pecans. And finally, I cook the pie longer than called for. Watch til the top just slightly begins to burn and carmelize. That very slight burned pecan taste is the finishing touch. (by the way, the pics above are before cooking!)

    Heres the recipe as written by Ann Landers (and Mom!):
    1 Cup White Corn Syrup
    1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
    1/3 Cup Melted Butter
    1 Cup Pecans (heaping Cup)
    3 Eggs, Beaten
    Dash of Vanilla
    Pinch of Salt

    Mix ingredients well.
    Pour into unbaked 9" pastry shell.
    Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

    January 23, 2007

    black tuesday

    I went to a really great seminar tonight on Financial Management for Designers focused on new small businesses and freelancers. It was a great presentation by Errol Gerson, who teaches this to students at ArtCenter. Thanks to him and the folks at AIGA for putting it on. (Why didn't they teach us things like that in my design school? Sure seems like a better way to take care of our math credits than that Apple IIe graphics programming course we all took... but I digress...) I had to snap a couple pictures and chuckle as I sat down, though. Like most meetings of designers, it was a room of people in grey and black. Didn't we wear black as kids in some desire to be a little different from everyone else?

    Oh, and what did I wear? A black shirt.

    January 22, 2007

    air tight

    Dulles Airport in Virginia is a beautiful piece of architecture by Eero Saarinen. Like most airports in recent years, it outgrew its space. In 2003, they did a renovation and expansion that I think would make Saarinen proud. It is hard to tell which part is new and which is old. They're curently doing a second expansion, I hope they hold true to the same for it as well.

    I always liked the type in Dulles, even as a kid, but I could never place the typeface. It turns out that it was lettering designed by hand by Saarinen for the signage in the airport. For the 2003 renovations, type designer Christian Schwartz was commissioned to create a typeface from Saarinen's type. I noticed when I flew home for Christmas that the "jetblue" signage couldn't be original - jetblue didn't exist then. Yet, you can't tell. On Schwartz's website, he says "This face was drawn for an architecture firm working on a restoration and renovation of Dulles Airport. If I did my job well, you won't be able to tell which signs are old and which are new."

    Job well done.

  • Christian Schwarz's "Eero" typeface
  • January 21, 2007

    moving panes

    I've written about this building twice before, but its probably my favorite building in Los Angeles. (The Caltrans District 7 Headquarters by Morphosis - for more on it, including more pics, see the link below.) While on my errands downtown the other day, I especially liked the way it was reflecting City Hall (another fabulous LA building).

  • all jbd:blog posts on the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters
  • January 20, 2007

    million dollar history

    I ran an errand downtown the other day, and drove past these signs that I've always loved. These are on top of the Rosslyn Hotel. The Rosslyn was built in 1913 by the Hart Brothers, and then followed in 1923 by the Rosslyn Annex across the street. A marble tunnel connects the two beautiful beaux arts buildings, once the center of urban life and commerce in Los Angeles. I love how the signs capture the optimism of the day, heralding features like '1100 rooms' 'fire proof' and best of all, the 'million dollar hotel' moniker. Even the heart shapes (representing the Hart Brothers) seem to speak to that optimism.

    Searching for some history brought all kinds of interesting things. Apparently there was a movie made in 2001 called "Million Dollar Hotel" by Wim Wenders, the same Director as "Paris, Texas". It focused on the (fictional) residents of the Rosslyn as it had become essentially a (non-fictional) flop house at the time. And though I couldn't tell in my quick driveby, it looks as the the Rosslyn is now being converted to lofts. The website says that only the 11th and 12th floors are now open, but it doesn't indicate when that was written. Also, the Rosslyn was designed by architect John Parkinson, who also designed Bullocks Wilshire, Union Station, City Hall, and the LA Coliseum. Way to leave a mark on a city.

  • Wim Wender's 'Million Dollar Hotel' (film)

  • The Rosslyn Lofts

  • The Parkinson Archives: Downtown LA Parkinson Buildings
  • January 19, 2007

    eating arizona

    While in Phoenix, we managed to find some pretty good places for some good eats.

    Friday night, we went to a place I found last year, Texaz Grill. I love this place. Its a true athentic Texas food joint plopped down in the middle of Phoenix. Everything is good there, but I can't resist going for the Chicken Fried Steak, because they do it right. Its fresh, and its huge. I barely ate a third of it. The walls are covered with, again, authentic posters and 'stuff' from all over Texas. It, like the food, is the real thing. Dont miss the bread pudding as well - very different than the traditional bread puddings you find. Well worth the calories.

    Saturday, we went to the Barrio Cafe. It has been getting lots of raves and press, as we could tell by the pretty crowded waiting area. Barrio is your typical trendy funky restaurant, and you do get a feel of haves vs have-nots as you notice people walking on the street outside with their bags coming from the lavenderia vs everyone inside in black leather jackets. The food is really great, though. Guacamole is made at your table, the pomegranate seeds being a tasty ingredient I haven't seen used before in guac. I went with a seafood dish at the waiters recommendation and wasn't disappointed.

    Sunday I met my old boss from when I lived in Dallas, David Wells, who I'm also currently working on a project with. We had a quick lunch at a place he found called Zoe's Kitchen. Zoe's is a chain that seems to be, oddly enough (given the modernist sorta hip decor), mostly in Alabama and the southeast. For a quick counter service eatery, they were pretty good. Wanting something different, I went for the grilled feta cheese sandwich.

    And, while we did manage to get a stop in at a Whataburger, I unfortunately didn't make it there during the taquito hours (11pm-11am). Still, since we don't have em in CA, anything at Whataburger can seem like a treat for me.

    So if you find yourself in Phoenix, there are some options to try instead of the Applebees or Chilis of the world...