Monthly Archives

November 2008

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Design Dialogue: Keep Calm and Carry On

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Husband and I have an “inspiration” board, where we tack on clippings of things we want to do or places we want to go. Sometimes we attach inspiring words to remind us of what’s important in life. “Be calm” ended up on the board, and I think it’s for this reason that I’m so attracted to these reproduction WWII propaganda posters that have taken the Internet by storm.

Originally crafted by the British government during the war to evoke an “attitude of mind” before the bombs started going off, I think the message is poignant and relevant today.

You can get your very own poster here.

Thanks for the Pumpkin Soup

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If you had told 21-year-old me that I’d have a signature holiday dish, I would have laughed in your face. Back then I was sure I had no cooking talent whatsoever, that I was a fraud in the kitchen. Husband even went as far as filming me cooking scrambled eggs because, in his words, “this is an event.” Now I enjoy spending time in the kitchen, tossing together ingredients and hoping they work out OK. Sometimes I follow a recipe, sometimes not. Most of the times I butcher the recipes until I’ve created something new. And voila! Now I bring homemade pumpkin soup to Thanksgiving dinner instead of some store-bought pumpkin pie.

The base recipe, courtesy Rachael Ray:

1 medium onion, finely chopped and sauteed
3 cups vegetable stock
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans
2 cans pumpkin puree
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbs curry powder
1 1/2 ts ground cumin
1/2 ts cayenne pepper
Salt
Chives

I won’t give away all my secrets, but suffice it to say that I alter the amounts of the ingredients above, switch out tomatoes with Rotel and add a secret ingredient. Good served with lime chips, but I forgot them yesterday, and no one complained.

The Hippo That Almost Went Unnoticed

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I was sauntering through the fiction section of Borders the other day, snaking through the alphabet as is my custom, when I nearly had a heart attack at the sight of this shiny new hardback. I was beyond stoked to snatch up the book and coddle it home with me, but one question remains: How did I not hear of this majestic event?

Any self-respecting follower of the Beats knows about Lucien Carr, who stabbed to death a man who had been lusting after him. Carr then asked friends Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs for help. The next summer, Kerouac and Burroughs wrote a novel based on these events, alternating chapters and alter egos. I had read about the existence of this manuscript many times, but now, 60 years after it was written, it has been published in its entirety … apparently as of Nov. 1. Wow. Have I been living in an underground bunker? I might as well have been! This is huge!

He told me that after they had left Dennison’s, they started out for the Empire State Building.
“Why the Empire State Building?” I asked.
“We were thinking of jumping off. I don’t clearly remember.”
“Jumping off, hey?” I said.

The best part about this book is that it’s a chance to study these Beat greats’ early writing styles. Kerouac’s voice isn’t as energetic, as poetic as his later works. It’s almost Hemingway-esque in its brevity. But his wry sense of humor shines through in the dialogue above.

I Love a Rainy Day

Angeles Weeps

As a child, I was accustomed to Mother Nature’s delights, including but not limited to wind, rain, snow, sleet and tornadoes. I thought it was just a given that, from time to time, these things would show up and ruin my good hair day or, on even worse occasions, my car. When I moved to the coast after college, I nearly squealed with glee that weather would no longer be the main topic of conversation with strangers (i.e. “how’s that weather treatin’ ya?” and “windy enough for you?”).

  • The first coastal dwelling lacked snow. When flakes would actually dare to fall from the sky, the locals would hit the local grocer, put chains on their tires and call in sick to work because they thought the roads could get bad. Never mind that the ground wasn’t cold enough for snow to stick to it; these people were seriously tormented by the possibility of a snowman.
  • Now that I’m on the opposite coast, rain is absent. Wait, scratch that. What’s really absent is real-life driving experience on wet pavement for SoCal residents. It starts to sprinkle, and the freeways are a flood of wrecks and brake-footed drivers going 30 mph to avoid hydroplaning. Then come the flash flood warnings and the freakouts about landslides.

    Sorta makes me glad that I’m familiar with Mother Nature and her various tantrums. That, and the absence of them makes the heart grow fonder. Sunshine is nice and all, but after 360 days of it, I welcome rain with open arms.

  • Tune Time: Little Joy

    To continue my streak of highlighting bands with a distinct island flavor and the word “little” in their names, may I present my latest obsession: Little Joy. I admit it was the familiarity of Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti that first compelled me to give Little Joy a listen, but I stayed for the gorgeous tunes and the dreamy voices of Rodrigo Amarante and Binki Shapiro. The album released earlier this month was recorded just miles from me in Echo Park, but many of my fave songs sound like they could’ve been recorded in the 1940s on Waikiki Beach. What can I say? I love a band not afraid to whip out the ukulele.

    Website: Little Joy

    Media Minded: Angels and Demons

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    A few months ago, Husband was shooting overnight on the set of “Angels and Demons,” starring Tom Hanks. He indicated awe at the huge set backed by green screen. He relayed the repetition of shooting and reshooting a certain scene that forced all five hundred actors to throw themselves onto the ground oh, five hundred times (I might be exaggerating). He told me stories about how Tom Hanks would ride onto set on a bicycle and crack jokes with ease at 3 a.m. He told me that he was playing an Italian photographer. “I’m gonna get tons of face time!” he said. So naturally we were excited to see the first stills released from the movie, now in post-production. In case you need more ID, Husband is framed by a light teal starburst. I would say, “Look at his handsome face,” but his face is a gigantic SLR camera. A gigantic SLR camera wearing a hat.

    Naturally, he’s hoping for more real “face time” when the movie comes out, but I’m interested in the implications of having a camera for a face. Over the weekend, I tried carrying my Olympus with me everywhere. It was an exercise in stamina, to see how long it would take for it to become an extension of my body. So far, no good. I felt the camera the entire time. To have a camera affixed to your face = no shoulder pain, no lag time in getting the camera out of the bag. True, the first prototypes would be clunky, scary-looking, even. But the possibilities, oh the possibilities!

    Easy, Easy, Etsy


    I did it! I finally took the plunge and listed my first prints on Etsy. I know, I know, you’re clicking on the photo above and you’re like, “What? Only three prints to choose from?!” Just hang onto your britches, friends, because I will have nearly 20 up by this time tomorrow.

    It’s weird: When I started working on sizing down my photos and writing my shop policies, it was a decent hour. Now it’s 2:00 a.m. and the Food Network is trying to fatten me up with all these mouth-watering Thanksgiving images. I don’t know what happened to the time, but I have my suspicions that Picnik sucked up a lot of it. I love that photo-editing program, but my Macbook doesn’t. It just throws up the spinning wheel of death until I have no choice but to force quit Safari. Le sigh.

    But I digress! This is a time for celebration, not rumination. Come on over to my Etsy store and tell me how good I look.

    Photoshoot: Hawaiian sunset cruise

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    On a sunset cruise this summer in Hawaii, Husband and I were feeling pretty happy drinking our mai tais, so we posed for each other in an impromptu photoshoot on the boat’s deck. The wind was high, whipping my dress around. I’m pretty sure I flashed a few people, but I was “hanging loose,” as they say on the islands, and, well, you can’t get hung up on stuff like that when you’re hanging loose. In the past, if you were to ask me, “Hey, how can I take a photo that elicits that ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ look?” I probably would’ve countered with, “I dunno. Get rich and famous and see what happens.” But now, dear friends, I can give you the recipe for success: A tiki shirt, a boat, a sunset, a chilled beverage. Voila! You get above photo, which I’m sure Robin Leech would agree is very rich, if not yet famous.

    Screenwriting via Handwriting

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    Up until a week ago, I lamented the fact that one can’t just burn a disc or email a file of one’s script or novel because agents inevitably want you to send them loose-leaf, foolproof-formatted pages. It seemed like a humongous waste of money and time, not to mention our valuable woodland resources and always-dwindling inkjet supply. But I am now converted. Armed with a blue felt-tip pen, I did editing damage to our printed-out screenplay in record time. Plus, it forced me to relearn what my handwriting looks like. It was like seeing a unicorn, only it was real. My longhand has been defunct since college. The mark I make on credit card slips has even suffered, for crying out loud. I can’t even be bothered to finish my last name anymore. I often just trail off with an em dash and cross my fingers that the bank doesn’t think my identity has been stolen. As you can see in the photo above, my handwriting isn’t quite what I’d call cursive, but it is somewhat legible. Victory!

    Tune Time: The Little Ones

    I had the pleasure of seeing this hometown band at the Echo last Friday. Hands down, the song “Tangerine Visions” was the best of the evening, creating a downright party atmosphere in the typically aloof L.A. crowd. And how can you NOT start dancing when you hear a Little Ones song? It’s like bottling up sunshine and putting it in your pocket, and this video is candy for your eyes. I’d like to make a pillow out of the patterns.

    I was trying to describe the band to my dad but it was like trying to describe a rainbow. He asked me to name my favorite song, and I found myself struggling to answer because their songs, packed with infectious harmony and melody, blend into one another like the colors of a rainbow. I like to play The Little Ones on my iPizzy when I’m stuck on the freeway. They instantly transport me to my happy place, aka Hawaii. Speaking of Hawaii, you should check out this ukulele version of the same song.

    Website: The Little Ones