Sunday, August 31, 2008
There are a lot of politicians to blame for warrantless searches and Nazi stormtroopers running amok in America. I'd start with that college campus radical I was in school with in 1970, now Republican Senator from Minnesota, Norman Coleman. Remember, too, the Governor of Minnesota was in theory on the short list of candidates for Republican VP. Are these the people we want in charge of our government?
On a slightly lighter note, I'd like to share my wordsmith husband's reaction to the Republican VP choice over on his blog, WeinWords.
Friday, August 29, 2008
One newscaster I heard this morning said "she's young and she's hot!" Please tell me what the message is with this choice? Do the McCain people honestly believe that women will vote for any woman in the White House? Or is it that men will vote for a hot chick over an intelligent leader?
Thursday, August 28, 2008
This election is about the best of American values: that anyone can grow up to be president, that the promise of America is a better life for everyone, not just the wealthy, and that we help those who are worse off than ourselves.
After eight years of dispair about my country, my beloved Constitution, and the future my son, my nieces, and my nephews will have, I see a light at the end of a dark tunnel.
I am proud that this year two candidates of great intelligence and insight ran for the Democratic nomination (why is it only that the Democrats value intelligence in their candidates?) And while I was disappointed that Hillary Clinton did not win (I was also very disappointed that General Clark did not run), I will be pleased to cast my vote for someone who has worked hard to get to where he is in life, who could have landed a high-paying job with a big corporate law firm after graduation from Harvard Law School, but who chose, instead, to devote himself to public service. That's the kind of American President I want in the White House.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
We had a great trip up to Salinas, and a bit beyond. The drive from Paso Robles to Salinas took less than two hours on Friday and we were able to check into our hotel and head up to Gilroy for a pilgrimage to Garlic World
and the Gilroy Factory Outlets before we were expected to meet with friends for dinner at The Fish House in Santa Clara.
We bought a bottle of blue cheese stuffed olives and some garlic olives at Garlic World, along with the requisite garlic braid. The Garlic Festival was a few weeks ago, but the town does smell of the stinking rose. It's wonderful. Garlic World is a large roadside shop and the 101 is not a freeway at that point, so getting back on the road is an adventure.
The Oneida outlet store at the Gilroy Outlets is no more, so I was very disappointed. I wanted some more serving pieces for my stainless flatware. Len was disappointed because he was hoping to get some additional pieces for our Correlle everyday dishes and the Corning outlet store had sold all but one of the Frost White pieces to some people who got there an hour before us and bought $2000.00 worth of it. Fortunately, there is a Corning outlet shop in what we call "The Assyrian Temple" just south of downtown L.A. It takes about 40 minutes to get there on the weekend, so we might just take a run down Sunday.
Dinner with old friends was great. Len had met Chuck and Jewel about 8 years ago, but had never met my friend Steve, one of the physicists I hung out with at Stanford a million years ago. Steve's wife couldn't make dinner, but Christy and Randy rounded out the party. We saw Christy last month at Comicon, but hadn't seen Randy since they moved up north last year to go to work for the game company. As the evening wore on and the restaurant emptied out, we were able to hear each other a whole lot better. There was a good deal of laughter.
Saturday was our busy day. We had reservations for the Elkhorn Slough Safari at Moss Landing, which is midway between Monterey and Santa Cruz. Breakfast took a little longer than expected, so I felt like we were racing across the Salinas Valley to get there on time. The instructions for getting our parking pass were a little confusing, but we took care of that and still had enough time to use the facilities before getting on a pontoon boat for two hours.
It was quite overcast and damp, but that might be better than a day where the sun beats down. The boat seats about 30 and has a captain and a naturalist aboard. We saw something between 2-3% of the entire population of California Sea Otters on the ride. There was a huge raft of them at the beginning of the tripand a number of solitary hunters as we rode up the slough. It is a very rich feeding area for mammals and birds.
There were hundreds of sea lions and seals,
many brown pelicans, a great blue heron and snow egrets.We saw lots of people in rented kayaks (which we might try sometime) and even saw a boat of fishermen land, and then pitch back, an orange ray fish.The wind was stronger as we went back toward the landing, and that's when we found out why they recommend wearing hats that are attached to you in some way. When we docked, there was a woman selling fresh fish from her boat next to ours. If we'd been closer to home, we would have made a purchase. As it was, we bought the cutest stuffie of a brown pelican. I have a good collection of California Sea Otter stuffed toys already.
We went back to the hotel to get showered and changed for the surprise party and managed to beat the guest of honor's arrival. My friend Terri was duly stunned by everything and kept walking around the room calling out people's names as things clicked. She was stunned that we would drive up from Los Angeles for a few hours of party time. Her son Sam was still a teenager when I left Washington, D.C., and now he's 6'8" tall, with degrees from Tufts and NYU, married, and in his thirties. He used to keep Michael amused when we went to Terri's for dinner, even though he is seven years older than my son.
I enjoyed meeting some of Terri's other friends, about whom I had heard much during the many years we've known each other. We got together for brunch on Sunday with Terri, Sam, Rachel and one of Terri's college classmates and her husband, who had flown up from Orange County for the party and were staying in Carmel. Here are Terri, Sam, and Rachel at the party.
Len and I headed for the Steinbeck Center in Salinas for a few hours before starting the trip home.
John Steinbeck was raised in Salinas (his family's home, below, is now a restaurant where I must go for tea sometime) and so many of the locations in and around Monterey County play a part in his works.In fact, the road Terri lives on is plays a part in The Pastures of Heaven. I bought that book to read next, followed by Travels with Charlie. In the exhibit, Steinbeck is quoted as saying he went on this 10,000 mile drive around the country with his dog and was not recognized once. I think that would be impossible today. Writers are recognized, as we have often experienced. Someone like Steinbeck would definitely be noticed.
It did not take long to go thorough all of the exhibits at the Steinbeck Center, so we used the remaining time on our meter to check out an antique shop before getting on the road again. It was a short walk down a wonderful street in old town Salinas, a reminder of Victorian days.
We were in San Luis Obispo before 6 p.m. and checked into the hotel before going in search of dinner. We had no luck in finding a movie afterwards (we had similar bad luck on Saturday night in Salinas) because they started while we were eating and we weren't up to a late show. We did get a good night's sleep, finally, because we didn't have a loud fan blowing all night nor motorcyclists revving their motors at ungodly o'clock in the morning.
After a light breakfast, we loaded the car and headed into town for a stop at the olive oil shop where we had an oil tasting on Thursday night. We did a second tasting (the owner seemed to so want to do one) and bought two bottles of what he called "finishing oils" to take with us. One has a blood orange infusion, which would be bad for both my son and our friend Lorien, who are very allergic to orange. It was just too good to pass by.
I also found some really nice horse socks at the sock store. Since I've gone through the toes of a number of my older socks, these were great finds.
We headed to Buellton, where Len could satisfy his jones for Pea Soup Anderson's pea soup. There used to be a Pea Soup Anderson on the way to San Diego, but it is no longer. This is the only one left that is relatively close to us, but we don't get up that way very often. The soup is good (mine is better) and we ordered it, even though I think of pea soup as a winter dish.I got Len to stop at Flag Is Up Ranch, Monty Roberts' home base outside of Solvang (and only a few miles down the road from Pea Soup Anderson's.) Monty was in Australia, but the ranch is open to visitors every day. We signed the releases and walked around. On my last visit, I went with a group from Pierce College. The now-retired head of the horse program is an old friend of Monty's, so we actually got to see Monty work with a horse. Len and I did watch a young man work with a quarter horse in the round pen and now I've got some questions to ask Gayle tonight about some of the equipment that was used. Shy Boy was at home, but it was impossible to photograph him behind the lattice of his stall gate.We went into Solvang and realized we had reached the end of our ability to walk around. We groaned a lot as we got out of the car and started down the street. Solvang is a Danish-themed-and-designed town, with faux windmills and lots of bakeries and gift stores.
There was a "Jule" shop, which we went into, and I bought a carved wooden horse for our Christmas Tree and a gold-toned horse with rhinestones pin for my collection. We sat drinking water and the man from the visitors' center came out and chatted with us about the antique car show that had been there on Sunday. There was a trolley pulled by a pair of Belgian draft horses going down the street and a group of tourists peddling a multi-rider contraption with a canopy. It was quite laid back.We stopped at a Hallmark shop and discovered several ornaments we wanted for this season. Rather than risk being unable to find one in L.A., we grabbed this year's Star Trek prize: The Trouble with Tribbles ornament. David Gerrold, who wrote the episode, is the person who introduced Len and I to each other. I'm planning to have David autograph it, to go with the Harlan Ellison created "Guardian of Forever" from several years ago.
We managed to drag ourselves back to the car for the ride home, stopping briefly at the Camarillo Outlet Stores where we discovered that the Lenox outlet is no more. I'll just have to wait for the Christmas china to go on sale at Macy's, I guess.
It was really nice to sleep in my own, not too soft and not too firm, bed last night. But I'd be just as happy to be back on the road again today.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
We left home just before noon and headed to Santa Barbara where we expected to catch lunch and do some walking. We made great time, getting there in about 75 minutes. So we found parking and went in search of a restaurant. I had a thought about seeing if a New Orleans-style place we had eaten at a number of years ago was still around. It was right across the street from the parking structure and we did eat there. First though we went shopping.
We discovered a great clothing store called The Territory Ahead. I'm not much for clothes shopping, but this place really had great clothes for travel--in some ways like Banana Republic used to be 25 years ago. Len wound up buying 3 leather jackets--they were having a 75% off sale, so we got some great bargains. Best kind of shopping there is.
We also went into a couple of antique shops on the main street. There used to be a lot more of them. I found a stirling silver "spirit horse" pin to add to my collection of horse jewelery. In another shop I saw a spectacular horse-head gold-tone pin about 3" x 3", but it was $195--for that kind of money, it should be real gold. I don't care what kind of an antique they claimed it was, it couldn't have been older than about the 60s. So it still sits in the display case.
We drove on to San Luis Obispo, where there's a huge farmer's market on Thursday night, so we found parking and walked the length of it in both directions. I bought a bottle of raspberry vinegar and one of blackberry as well. They tasted wonderful. We also went into an olive oil shop for a tasting, which was interesting.
I've been struck by the number of vineyards which line the 101. There are so many more than there used to be. We saw a new one going in over what looked like several thousand acres--brand new plants just starting to climb the guide posts that went on as far as we could see from the road.
We're spending the night in Paso Robles where there's a stock horse show going on right across the street from our hotel. I'm hoping to see if there's anything that looks like a shopping area before we head on to Salinas tomorrow morning. We'll be missing the olive festival that's going on here on Saturday, but we'll be having a good time on the Elkhorn Slough Safari that morning and going to a surprise birthday party for an old friend of mine that evening.
I am very annoyed that my pocket camera's battery was low and I didn't realize it when I left home. It died on me in San Luis when I tried to take a photograph of the line of olive oil bottles in the shop. I didn't pack the recharger, so I'll be using the "real camera" for the rest of the trip. The photographs will be better, but it doesn't slip into my purse quite so well.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I spent two summers traversing the United States and Canada with my camera and my now ex-husband in an old Dodge dart that had over 100,000 miles when we bought it (when we sold it, it had almost 180,000 miles on the odometer.) I did photograph big horn sheep, mountain goats, prairie dogs, elk, coyotes, bears, birds, buffalo, and moose. Some of those photographs have even been published (not, unfortunately, in National Geographic.) But I've got to say this video of a mama moose and her twins in somebody's back yard is better than anything I was able to get in Yellowstone National Park, where a pair of bachelor moose tromped by our tent every morning for eight days.
Remember, if you see a moose in the wild, keep your distance. They have poor eyesight and nasty tempers. They are very big and very fast, even at a walk. And don't ever get between mama and her babies. I still cringe when I think of the idiots in Jasper National Park in Canada who told their kids to run out into the field with the moose so they could get pictures. Some god was watching over them, because it was an incredibly stupid thing to do.
Many thanks to Janis Gelb, who passed the video on to a list serve on which we're both members. I promise it will make you smile.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
We saw Bottle Shock, based on the true story about how the California vineyards blew away the competition in a blind taste-test against French wine in 1976. Alan Rickman is, as always, wonderful. The film has a nice little score, plus a good selection of 1970s music. There are beautiful shots of Napa at sunset. The actor who gets to play young Captain Kirk plays Bill Pullman's son in the film. We really enjoyed it, although it did bother me to see the ways the wine bottles were handled after one of the characters actually says something about how they needed to be transported carefully.
The trailer for Viggo Mortensen's next film, Appaloosa, ran before the film. It's the first trailer I've seen for it. I think it opens in October. There was a big article about the The Road, the other Viggo film schedule for the fall, in today's L.A. Times. That one's going to be a whole lot harder to watch, I think. It appears to be covering some of the same issues as Kevin Costner's The Postman, without the upbeat ending. I've heard the young actor in it is amazing.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I've got a theory about this: women do better with the partnership concept that is so important to dressage.
So why do I have to be up at 4 a.m. to watch this stuff live? You folks on the east coast have it easier than we do. I'm not complaining too much: I love the fact that we can watch all of the horse competition for the first time ever. And I did get to watch the final four riders and the award ceremony this morning at a reasonable hour. Good thing I went into work early. The high speed internet at home has had a few hiccups when I've tried to watch there.
Last night, I noted with annoyance that the Oxygen recap only showed portions of the first day of dressage, with the exception of the U.S. rider. Since she's in 7th place going into finals, that was not such a bad decision.
I'm planning on watching the many hours of replay of team dressage because I want to watch some of the other rounds, like that of the 67 year old Japanese rider. He had the team's top score, but he didn't make the finals. That's o.k. It gives all of us hope--and an argument when family members (like my mother) think I'm too old to be messing around with horses.
I think they should put medals around the necks of the horses. They did all the work. I'm just saying....
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
He still had a couple of nails in the hoof wall and a chunk of hoof taken off the inside. At first I was afraid that I had missed him throwing a shoe when he was turned out on Sunday night, but then I found the shoe in his stall. When Gayle got there with some tools a few minutes later, we realized he must have caught the hoof in the rail to his neighbor and yanked. I'm really lucky he didn't do more damage, since the shoe hadn't been loose in any way and the other one was solidly in place. I also felt really lucky when I reached my farrier and discovered that he had just gotten back from Colorado, so he could come out on Tuesday morning to reshoe my boy. Since I had expected Tim to come out on Saturday or Sunday anyway, it only pushed up this month's shoes by a few days.
Tim is the second farrier I've had for Ace since I got him seven years ago. My original farrier, Mike, was great, but he got pissed off when the barn manager at the college threw one too many arbitrary rules at him. It went from me scheuling Mike's next visit at the beginning of the shoeing session to him telling me that he wouldn't be coming back again as he packed up his things.
It can be really hard to find a farrier. Horse owners don't want to share names, it seems, and out here farriers can pretty much pick and choose their clients. I think I'm a pretty good client: I'm there when feet are done, I've always got my checkbook, and the checks don't bounce.
Fortunately, about six months before Mike quit on me, What's My Line Live on Stage had a farrier as a contestant (the panel didn't guess his occupation.) So I got in touch with director Jim Newman and asked for contact information. The farrier had stuck in my mind because he identified himself as being from Binghamton, not far from where I'm from. It has turned out to be a really good match.
Tim was trained at Cornell University and is a big believer in keeping horses barefoot whenever possible. We did it with Ace for almost a year until he got another nasty bruise on that problem left front hoof with almost no heel. The vet insisted that shoes were in order, pads were up to Tim. So, we've gone to shoes with pads in front (he's always been barefoot on his back feet) and we haven't had a bruise since.
A horse is his feet, and I don't mind paying for the pedicure that keeps Ace in good shape. Thanks, Tim. I'll be lost if your acting career takes off.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Before anyone asks, Len's cane is an affectation--until about day 3 of the convention. It has the head of the Geiger -designed creature from Alien as a handle.
Friday, August 8, 2008
And I love seeing the "Hank as Rocky" Budweiser Clydesdales ad.
"Massive scope, minute precision," says the commentator as the type makes the symbol for harmony. Exquisite.
Date: Program–Time (EST) on Channel
Aug. 9: 3-Day: Dressage–2:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. on USA
Aug. 11: 3-Day: Cross- Country–6:00pm-8:00pm OXYGEN
Aug. 12: 3-Day: Stadium Team Gold Medal Final–6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. on OXYGEN
Aug. 13: Dressage–6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. on OXYGEN
Aug. 14: Dressage Team Gold Medal Final–6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. on OXYGEN
Aug. 15: Show Jumping–6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. on OXYGEN
Aug. 16: Dressage Individual–5:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. MSNBC
Aug. 17: Show Jumping Team Gold Medal Final 1st Round–10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m on NBC
Aug. 18: Show Jumping Team Gold Medal Final Round–6:00pm-8:00 p.m. OXYGEN
Aug. 19: Dressage Individual Gold Medal Final–6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. on OXYGEN
Aug. 21: Show Jumping Individual Gold Medal Final–10:00am-1:00 pm on NBC
Friday, August 1, 2008
As promised, here are some of the hundreds of photographs I made during the five days we were in
We managed to get green "Exhibitor" badges on Wednesday, which got us onto the floor an hour or so before it opened for the preview. In years past, the preview was limited to the professionals in attendance. Now, unfortunately (she says in an elitist manner) it is open to anyone who has a four-day membership. It is just as crowded on Wednesday evening as it is on Saturday--at least it feels that way. Because we got in early, I had plenty of room to back up and photograph Len against this mural of the X-men. Len co-created Wolverine (behind Len's left shoulder), Nightcrawler (lower right), Storm (upper right) and Colossus (the metal man at the top of the mural.) I call them my step-children, since they all predate our marriage.
I ran upstairs to the mezzanine where I knew I could get a photograph of part of the showroom while it was still pretty empty. The
The next image shows the Sideshow Collectibles booth. They are no longer doing any Lord of the Rings pieces, so my credit cards were safe this year. I own several of the pieces Sideshow did, including the fairly large Aragorn on Brego at the Black Gates. Len was given the 1/5 life-size
The picture below is a view of the DC booth. In the lower left is DC Publisher Paul Levitz, who was given the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award at the Eisners, well deserved for his work at getting recognition and recompense for creators who preceded the days of creative profit sharing in their comic book creations.
Here we have Len with a Wolverine soft toy. If it was a DC character, we'd see royalties. In fact, if it was a DC character, we'd have half a dozen of them sent to us on production. But Wolverine is a Marvel property. Oh, well.
We had gotten word that we should be at the Fox presentation on Thursday morning. There were special tags for us to get to the Studio Seating section and our friend Jeff Walker got Len a backstage pass and made it quite clear that Len needed to be there. We also got the word that there would be a special appearance that we didn't want to miss. Len cut his autograph signing at the DC booth to get there on time. Fortunately for him, a mishap with the curtains in the auditorium delayed the start of the presentations.
Before the special appearance, we needed to sit through the presentations of promotion for the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, starring Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly. In this picture they are on the panel together, followed by a solo shot of Keanu.
The Day the Earth Stood Still starring Michael Rennie is one of my very favorite science fiction films. I remember the first time I saw it, on Saturday Night at the Movies, the day before my 11th birthday. I do not believe that it needed to be remade. There is so much good science fiction which has not been made into film, let alone made into a classic film, that there's plenty of opportunity to do something new. Unfortunately, Hollywood fears new.
Following the presentation for The Day the Earth Stood Still, we got to see the very loud presentation of Max Payne, based on a video game and starring Mark Wahlberg and Ludicris, who appeared on the panel and are in the eighth picture. We were invited to a party that night where Ludicris was supposed to perform, but we passed on it in favor of staying at a dinner with friends and good conversation where we could hear each other.
The photograph of Hugh is from right after he went back to the stage after coming into the audience to shake Len's hand. He was still addressing Len from the stage, which is how I was able to get such good eye-contact in the photograph (believe me, I would have waited all day for the moment!)
Following the presentation, Jeff Walker pulled Len backstage to talk to Hugh. Jeff's wife, my fellow photographer Kim Gottleib-Walker, got me past the security guards, so I was able to get a series of shots of Hugh and Len together, one of which is the tenth picture of this set. When Kim gets back from
Later in the convention, Len appeared on a panel about working in comics in the 1970s. Here he is with Bernie Wrightson, the artist who co-created Swamp Thing. Bernie did the covers for Len's Batman-Edgar Allen Poe Else-worlds miniseries a few years ago and it looks like they will be doing some work together again in the not too distant future. Bernie's a terrific horror artist. He also does design work for
On Friday night, we went to the Eisner Awards. There were a number of surprise presenters, including Samuel L. Jackson, soon to be seen as Nick Fury in a full-fledged movie. For those of you who have seen Iron Man, you've already seen him show up as the character. One of the Go-gos made an appearance, accompanied by a platoon of Stormtroopers, but I don't seem to have exported one of those images.And here is rocker Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, picking up his award for writing. He loved Len's dress coat.
The next picture is Len again, soon after he got back to our table after receiving his Eisner for his induction into the Hall of Fame. He's already adjusted things on our mantle to make room for it among the statues of the X-men and Swampy. He certainly earned the recognition after 40 years in a business where he has had a huge impact. If you skip down a couple of blog entries, you can see his acceptance speech.
After Friday night, our schedule was a little less hectic. Len did a spotlight panel on Saturday, which only managed to get through half of his career, so the moderator plans to do the second half next year. On Sunday, he appeared as the captain of the professional team in the Pro-Am Trivia Tournament, but the pros got trounced this year. It is supposed to be all in fun, but the questions have gotten absurdly difficult, making it not very much fun for the audience to watch.
As things wound down close to 5 p.m. on Sunday, when the exhibit hall shut down, I sat in the DC booth watching people walk by--like these far-from-home Spartans....
and the Wicked Witch of the West.
I managed to get this photograph of Dave Gibbons as he was signing in the DC booth on Sunday. Dave is the artist who created Watchman with writer Alan Moore. Watchman, which has been made into a film directed by Zak Snyder, who also directed 300, will be released in March. Len was the editor of the graphic novel, which was published as a 12 issue maxi-series about 20 years ago. Len finished writing the video game which is set up as a prequel to the movie just before we went to San Diego. It will be released around the time the film is. Len always pronounces Dave's name as "DIve," in deference to Dave's British accent.
The last photograph is of the banner which hung in the Convention Center foyer during the weekend. I had this strange desire to take it home with me, but this is the best I could do under the circumstances.
Looking over my pictures makes me want to go out and spend the money for the 18-200 VR lens for my digital camera. It won't do me any good on the new D700 I'd like to buy, but it will work just fine on my D70 or a D300. The problem with the 28-200 I was using is that it is just too slow in low-light situations, like the stage shooting, and I really needed to be able to use a faster shutter speed or something which would minimize camera shake for me, as a VR (vibration reduction) lens would. My fixed-focus lenses, which are faster than the zooms, are not auto-focus and have limited auto-exposure features with the digital body. Upgrading is just too darned expensive and I can't really justify the cost right now.