Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Trashin' Sherlock

It's been raining for a few days now so I'm pretty pissy. Usually I love the rain but it makes the house so dark. Not good for bipolar sufferers. So I'm going to complain and whine and complain and whine some more.

Firstly, there's our neighbor across the street. Every Wednesday night or Thursday morning I see this woman, a teacher by professor, slink down over to our side of the street to dump her recyclables. Mind you, she has her own bin because we see it in her garage when the door is open. One time she actually had a pile of flattened boxes on the floor next to her as we were driving into our garage. She just picked them up and pretended that she was just taking a walk instead of dumping her shit into OUR bin.

Don't get me wrong. I love recycling, but this woman - I don't know her name - has her own damn bin. To top it off, she sometimes sends her thirty-something son to do the dirty work for her. The worst part in all of this is Christmas time when gift wrappers fill up our bins. Sure as dice, the teacher and her robot son would shove in their own Christmas crap - probably bringing a stool so they could step on our pile to make room for theirs. Fucking weirdos!

Second and last complaint. I saw pictures of the Sherlock Holmes movie in the works. Sherlock was shorter than Watson and he looks like Charlie Chaplin! What is going on? Fuck Guy Richie, too! Leave my cocaine sniffing, heroin shooting literary hero alone!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Go home

I heard a radio report today about Mayor Blanca Figueroa of South El Monte. For whatever idiotic reason, the City Council didn't think kindly about the looong working hours she clocked, so last Tuesday night the Council approved an ordinance forcing all employees to go home by 11 p.m.

This reminds me of my days with a union job as a State of California employee. Quitting time was 5 p.m., but from time to time I'd stay a little longer to wrap things up. Before long the union rep took notice and gave me The Talk. "You have to stop working right at 5, pal. You're making the rest of us look bad." She wasn't pulling my leg.

What a nightmare. I had management on my case for getting to work late, and the union after me for not leaving on time! I'm so glad I don't work there wonder all the lifers were nuts.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hi Ho Silverado...

This is from last weekend...hiking Silverado Canyon in Orange County.

I know, I know...I could post hiking photos from all over Southern California and you'd yawn and say they all look like the locations where MASH was filmed...

Thursday, December 11, 2008


So Sean Penn landed a Golden Globe nomination for his Harvey Milk portrayal...well deserved, Spicoli. (Interesting how James Franco was channeling Spicoli in Pineapple Express, and here he's, uh, channeling Harvey Milk.)

I saw the film last weekend at the Regency South Coast Village in Santa Ana, which actually markets itself as a Costa Mesa location. Sure, you can see Costa Mesa's South Coast Plaza from the theater parking lot, but I still get a kick outta how Santa Ana is considered the kiss of death.

The audience had a mass chuckle at the ribbing Orange County (ground zero for the Proposition 6 shock troops of 1978) takes in the movie. I doubt many hard-line conservatives would spend their weekend watching a movie sympathetic to gay characters, so I'm wondering if the laughter was "ha ha, we've come a long way since then" or nervous "ha ha, things haven't changed that much in 30 years!" Personally, I was laughing, "ha ha, I had nerd glasses just like those!"

Monday, December 8, 2008

Catching Up Is A Short Trip

Lots happened since the last time I posted. I suppose this is a short version of the good things that've made my life a little easier to swallow. There's BARACK OBAMA winning the presidency, of course. What an exciting time to live in. Can't wait to see what changes he will bring to our country.

There's Pinkberry and Cherry on Top. Yogurt never tasted so good. After 10 years, I've finally kicked that automatic salivation that comes from smelling roasted chicken. For a vegetarian (and Filipino) this is quite a feat.

Listening to old Modest Mouse, Pavement, Jawbreaker, Cadallaca, Heavens to Betsy and all that jazz. Nice time there.

Watching films like Let the Right One In and Milk. Revisiting old shows like Firefly, Deadwood, Freaks and Geeks, and the original Office. And discovering new ones like Dexter.

Taking Penny, our dog, on hikes. It's been a long time since we've given her such an excursion. She's pushing nine now.

My discovery of a stash of anime toys I bought in Japan that I've happily arranged on one of our kitchen shelves.

Family. My aunt is willing to carry my Baddipounded for me if I do decide to have one. How nice is that? And of course, there's BaddicusFinch. We've been biking, cycling, and hiking like crazy. What a great partner in crime.

All in all, it's been a good year. I've never been so fit in my life...and I got to visit Civil War battle sites and see the homes of our founding fathers as well as visit my favorite authors' homes.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Rise river rise

After almost five years of living a stone's throw from the Santa Ana River, EzraPounded and I have only recently started taking advantage of the paved bike route that runs along it. Just about every weekend we'll either cycle south to Huntington Beach or north to Yorba Linda.

Nice times...reminds me of my days in San Jose, where I grew up riding the bike trails along Coyote Creek (home of a secret colony of albinos...but that's a story for another day). In those years the path rolled through open expanses of orchards and farmland, but by the early '90s the area was dotted with tech campuses. I'm glad to see that the Coyote Valley (the most southern portion of San Jose) is still mostly open space...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good Riddance, Ralphs

Like everyone else, I've been scouring the news for updates about the Obama cabinet appointments. All the political shuffling is fascinating, and I like to keep an eye on who's tapped to fill the vacancies opened up by upfilling other posts.

So far no biggies from California. In the Clinton days we saw Warren Christopher, Leon Panetta, and Norm Mineta pegged to work for the administration. Could it be that ever since California became a safe blue state, there's no need to reward us with coveted top spots in Washington?

My other eye is focused on local supermarket succession. The old Ralph's supermarket at Santa Ana's Bristol Marketplace is finally getting leased up. The cramped Northgate Market down the road on 17th will be relocating to the larger digs.


That was the worst Ralph's anywhere...horrible food selection. Northgate's going to liven up the retail center. They're a class act.

I gotta wonder what market will now take up the Northgate Market lease once they move out of their current building. In my fantasy world, a Primo's market will expand from their Oceanside territory into the Northgate location. Primo' salsa ANYWHERE!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Clarence Darrow, My Ultimate Hero!

What can I say? Ever since I read Inherit the Wind in high school, I've been fascinated by Clarence Darrow, the attorney of the people. I recently finished reading his autobiography and I am floored by his sense of justice. He took on clients no one would touch, like John Scopes of the Monkey Trials who had the audacity to teach Darwin in school, or Dr. Sweet who was black and dared defend his home against a white mob.

There was the case of Leopold and Loeb, the Massie Trials, and of course his defense of Eugene V. Debbs who had a hand in railroad strikes and who was later imprisoned by Wilson (he's my most hated president!) for being anti-war.

Darrow worked with the NAACP, was an atheist, a humanist, and a man who defended the undefendable. I LOVE HIM SO MUCH! In this day and age we truly need him. Palin's freaky belief in creationism needs to be counteracted by one of the best minds of the 20th century...Clarence Darrow.

I wish I could travel back in time, put on my white person mask (I wouldn't want to be lynched), and watch him in action during the Scopes Trial. I wish, I wish.

Monday, October 27, 2008


More uncanny similarities...Santa Ana Mayor Miguel "Invisible" Pulido and "E" from HBO's Entourage.

As anyone with a passing interest in Entourage knows, Eric Murphy is the most dull, unremarkable character on Entourage. He belongs back in Queens managing the night shift at a Sbarro pizzeria.

Pulido has been in office since Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" topped the Billboard charts, and his accomplishments are looking rather slim these days. Try pinning down an opinion from him on any semi-controversial'll be hard pressed to even find him! He belongs out of the public sector and back at his muffler shop.

I early voted last week for his main opponent, Michele Martinez. I'll track down her twin one of these days, too...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chills Over Veggie Pinoy Food

I heard from a Facebook friend that a vegetarian Filipino restaurant sat in the heart of downtown El Segundo. Being a vegetarian and a Filipina I just about died. I ordered BaddicusFinch to drive me there pronto. We found Papillon restaurant and had to wait around an hour until they opened. In the meantime, we wasted time at the local yogurt shop which charged by the ounce (we didn't know this).

The moment of truth came. The veggie menu and dishes I've seen my relatives devour countless of times swam before my eyes. You see, Pinoys are meat eaters just like most Pacific Islanders...and there's no room for someone like me.

BFinch ordered chicken adobo, Sonia ordered pansit, and I ordered pork adobo and menudo, a meat stew. I ate quite a lot, but as I was chewing my food I realized that the dish I was eating was crap. I could make better adobo than the one they served us. And worst of all, the supposedly tomato-based sauce of the menudo had more than a hint of melted velveeta cheese. Gross.

Anyhoo, I'm glad we tried it anyway. At least it's out of our system...hopefully the velveeta sauce as well. Yuck!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Miguel PuliDope

A couple hours ago we pulled the early voting lever at Santa Ana's Main Place Mall. Sure, it's an important presidential election with the usual long list of state propositions latched on, but I was also eager to cast my vote against Santa Ana's forever mayor...Miguel Pulido.

That guy's been in office since 1986 (when Police Academy 3 and Karate Kid II were in theaters), and we're still short on parks, down to one real library, neighborhood streets are crumbling, crime is up in comparison to the adjacent cities, we're running a $28 million budget deficit, and my street gets flooded every winter because somebody forgot to plug in storm drains!

So my vote went to Michele Martinez. Out with Pulido, please!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pavement and Otra Yell Japanese Style

Pavement would have to be the band I've seen the most in concert. I've watched this indie band a whopping six times. I've seen them at their worst and at their best. They sucked at Lollapalooza, stumbling through their set in the early 90's but thereafter their performances gradually got more solid.

When BaddicusFinch and I were in Japan teaching English for the McDonalds of English schools, we learned that Pavement was performing. Of course, we just had to go. BaddicusFinch, being nearly 6'-3" pushed us through the skirmish lines to the front row. The usually introverterd Finch began chanting, "Otra, otra, otra," when the band came on stage, flailing his thin arms in the air. Unbelievably, the Japanese crowd started imitating chants of the giant lanky man and followed his lead, arms raised with a fist. They probably thought that it was a quaint Westerner thing to do.

A couple of days later we saw them at the airport terminal. We were on our way to S.E. Asia and they were headed who knew where. Of course Baddicus and I were too chicken to approach them so we just stared at them behind our magazines.

Anyway, it was hella fun and a great memory since we've stopped going to concerts because of our advancing age. Otra to you all!

Beth Sholom, Frank Lloyd Wright, and a Pest

I was a pest in Philadelphia. I had a list of things to do and constantly bothered my sister who happened to be the driver. There was Betsy Ross' house because they had a squished penny machine, Independence Hall, The Philosophical Society where they carried Louis and Clark journals, the Liberty Bell, and all kinds of to do.

Finally, after hours of walking, we sat down for lunch at a Chinese fusion restaurant that was pretty much alright. No big whoop. Then I sprung it on her. I said, "After we see Edgar Allan Poe's house, can we swing by Beth Sholom?" I told her it was the only temple Frank Lloyd Wright ever built and that it was his last project before he died. It was imperative, I said.

It took an hour and a half to get to our destination using Stephanie's talking GPS contraption that freaked me out. BaddicusFinch adamantly refuses to use one of those. Once there, a line of police cars flanked the roads. They were ushering in well dressed Yom Kippur celebrants and there was no way I could pass in my t-shirt and jeans. Suddenly, I was wishing I was Sammy Davis, Jr. So we parked across the street and took some pictures.

The temple was very impressive. It looked like a Samurai headdress with lots of spikes. Thank you Stephanie for fulfilling my wishes!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


It's election season, so naturally I get a crapload of political mailers. Anyone ever notice that Carlos Bustamante, gunning for Santa Ana City Council re-election, eerily looks like Parkman from Heroes?

Brooms and Airplanes Don't Jive

My sister's Russian mother-in-law, Olga, requested that I bring with me two Asian-style brooms when I visited them in Maryland. This request was made on a Sunday, a day before my trip. BaddicusFinch and I had a hell of a time finding them on a day where every Asian store seemed to be closed. Like a dufus I was hoping I wouldn't find any. I didn't want to lug a stick with fringes.

Alas, we discovered the brooms at Dalat, the low rent 99 Ranch Market. The very spindly sweeper with coconut hair-looking fronds was bagged to hide what it was and carried the next day on the plane as my hand carry.

I swear, every Filipino and unknown Asian checked out my witchmobile and smirked. Some even chuckled. Very embarrassing. But all ill feelings left me when I saw the joy in Olga's face. She said she's been looking in Maryland for two years now and failed miserably. So I ate her delicious food and sat back and contemplated my heroism and sacrifice.

Boathouse for the Gods

I visited my brother in Boston last week and he kindly humored me by following the itinerary I printed out for my east coast trip: John Adams house, Walden Pond, Salem, Nathaniel's Hawthorn's Seven Gable House and so forth, not to mention stopping by every squish penny machines in Massachusetts to add to BaddicusFinch's collection.

As we chugged along Nonatum Road in Brighton, I spotted a very interesting looking building that seemed to be made out of wavy wood. I shouted, "Stop! Make a right and go to the parking lot!" Again, an imposition to my brother and the other passengers in the car.

With a promise that I wouldn't take long, I proceeded to take pictures of the structure. It turns out later that the building was a new community boathouse where people could store their rowing boats for unlimited use for $400 a month. The exterior is wood laminate and was designed by Anmahian Winton Architects Inc. of Cambrige.

I swear, this building, though still under construction, is so easy on the eyes. I wonder what the interior will look like?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Buck the clucks

I had heard that public schools maintain student cumulative files for years, so the summer after graduating from high school in San Jose, I decided to check the damage. I have no idea why the administration reacted so defensively, but man, I practically had to make a Freedom of Information Act request to look at my own records. They finally relented, and some chump pencil pusher sat at the same desk watching my every move as I pored over the file. Oh yeah, for kicks I brought along a couple friends, Dave and Ted, and had their files pulled, too.

What was the big secret? I have no idea...there was hardly anything in there but a couple report cards and a goofball photo. The whole mystique of looking up top secret files was shattered.

This Friday my inner snoop compelled me to check the City Hall records of my little piece of the earth in Santa Ana. Again I found myself sitting across from a bureaucrat eyeing my every move while I paged through documents...public tentative tract map and conditional use permit documents in this case.

Guess who came along? Dave! Hehehe...he stared down the city worker and checked the plummeting Dow numbers.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


This is the former site of the iconic Ambassador Hotel, where Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated after his 1968 win in the California Democratic primary. The steel bones are coming up for an LAUSD elementary school, middle school, and high school. A few token elements of the hotel will be preserved and integrated into the school buildings, like portions of the Cocoanut Grove nightclub and the coffee shop designed by Paul Williams.

Hard to argue with the need for new schools in an area where kids are bused miles out of the neighborhood, but I still find it painful to see the historic buildings leveled. An adaptive reuse of the hotel could've worked, with historic building tax credits and foundation funding paying the slightly higher tab. Too late...but that's Los Angeles for you.

Can you believe that California ended up helping Nixon get elected in '68? (Seems nuts considering he lost the governor race just six years earlier.) We gave that crank a whopping 40 electoral votes. We've come a long way, California.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Garden Grove landskimping

One of these things is not like the of these things just doesn't belong...

Ok, these aren't the most exciting apartment buildings in the world, much less Orange County or even Garden Grove. Very ho-hum designs for what should've been an excellent opportunity to reinvent this small stretch of Garden Grove Boulevard between Harbor and Haster. Goodbye Me-N-Eds Pizza, demolished to make way for these housing projects...I never even gave you a chance.

My biggest axe to grind is for the weak(er) landscaping in front of the most recent of the three developments, the Harbor Grove Apartments at 12777 Garden Grove Blvd. The front setback is entirely unwelcoming, with boring six-foot high metal fencing crammed up to the sidewalk. Behind the fence and in front of the building, only accessible from an awkward side gate, is your standard sod. I guarantee nobody will ever go in there.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that this is "luxury" senior housing. (Location, location...walking distance to the hospital!) Rather than choking the residents with pesticide and allergen-laden grass, wouldn't setting aside areas for organic gardening be a better use of open space?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Mike Leigh and a Cropped EzraPounded

Two Dollar Tuesday matinees at the LACMA would reel me in to the dark side, making me ditch work to watch old movies. Speaking of old, I would be the only youngster in sight. Octogenarians populated the Bing Theater, and there would often be fights. The hard-of-hearing would say, "What did he say?" and some termagant oldie would scratch out a venomous "Be quiet!" I once forced BaddicusFinch along for a movie ditch day to see Hitchcock's I Confess, and he witnessed the mad bickering, so I'm definitely not making this up.

Anyway, we were there last night to see Mike Leigh, one of my favorite directors. We saw a sneak preview of Happy-Go-Lucky, his new film with Sally Hawkins (she played Anne Elliot in Jane Austen's Persuasion). It was a hilarious movie...but I'm not going to review it for you. Just take my word for it. It was good.

I've always been drawn to Leigh's films because they are so real. His work is described as British realism. He hires actors that look like us...funny, without makeup, fat, pimply, lower class, and what have you. No perfect Hollywood rework here. He spoke after the screening ended, and he was pretty gracious. He was old, and I felt nervous that he might go the Newman way in the near future, so I, a photo phobe, swallowed my fear and asked for a picture. It's the one above but of course, I cropped myself out. Anyway, here is a list of my favorite Mike Leigh films:

• Home Sweet Home
• The Naked
• Career Girls
• Bleak Moments
• All or Nothing
• Life is Sweet
• Secrets and Lies
• Abigail's Party
• Meantime

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cylon Invasion on the 22 Fwy

Sure, driving on the freeway can be a real drag, especially when mired in the quicksand of SoCal traffic. When listening to talk radio nut jobs isn't quite doing it for you, or Radiohead and Silversun Pickups make you yawn, there's nothing left to do but to look around other sorry dufuses in their respective cars.

And when the usual nose pickers make you gag and the food-stuffing herd guts your nerves, there's nothing else to do but look at freeway wall art. You'll find tiles with California native flowers, orange indentations on concrete, as well as the rudimentary palm trees. Admittedly they're nice and they sure make a difference...unless of course, they're tagged up, but that's another story.

On the Garden Grove Freeway (22), something completely different bedecks the edges of the freeway. They are monstrosities that you kind of like...well, sort of. They are concrete slab panels that resemble Star Wars stormtrooper helmets or Cylon raiders from the Battlestar Gallactica series with crazy visor eyes. Real headturners these things, but I like them since they're so unique...only found within a ten-mile stretch. Cool.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gehry Ga-reen

I should be arrested for taking this photo while driving 80 mph on the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5).

This is Frank Gehry's Team Disney building in Anaheim, housing the crack Imagineering creative crew. Unfortunately, the usual elegantly crumpled Gehry designs are reserved for the interior side of the building. But...on clear days when I drive northbound and L.A. County-bound to work, I'm showered with an amazing green glow reflected off the treated stainless steel panels. Love that. It's like opening the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, or opening the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Meandering Nothings of People I Admire

Jesus was a least I've always thought so. He didn't discriminate and he hung out with the dregs of society; prostitutes, tax collectors and so forth and put stuck up Pharisees in their places. He influenced Ghandi who influenced Martin Luther King, who influenced Cesar Chavez and countless other people.

What's my point, you say? I have none. This is a tribute to one of my favorite actors and humanitarians, Paul Newman. When I was a kid, I used to watch whatever old Newman movies shown on TV. (Thank you, KDOC, KTLA, and KCOP!) I saw the stinker, Silver Chalice, where Newman in toga talked like a thug the entire film, and I saw gems like Hud, Cool Hand Luke, and the Hustler. It wasn't until I saw Newman in Somebody Up There Likes Me about the life of Rocky Graziano that really made a fan out of me. And of course, there was Slap Shot which made me laugh my guts off.

Then I saw a documentary about Martin Luther King's famous speech about racial equality in Washington in 1963 that sealed my worship of PN. He was there, marching with MLK at a time where the klan and tons of other kooks bludgeoned those who dared participate in demonstrations for equal rights.

On a stupid note, our birthdays were only two days apart, and I'd always thought we were sorta kinspirits. We were both liberals and aquarians to boot.

Anyway, I admire Jesus' grit and Ghandi's quiet persistence. MLK's staunch belief in human dignity bowled me over as did Cesar Chavez' persistence (though he was one of the first Minutemen). Newman doesn't quite make the list of the above heroes, but he is up there with Muhammad Ali and Aung San Suu Kyi, Clarence Darrow, and the Doctors Without Borders volunteers.

BaddicusFinch gave me the book, In Pursuit of the Common Good: Twenty-Five Years of Improving the World, One Salad Dressing At A Time by Newman and A.E. Hotchner years ago, and it cemented the importance to the world of this one particular hero of mine. What a humanitarian. What a stalwart citizen. I love you man!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Adventures of Big Boy in Downey

As a kid I loved Bob's Big Boy. I could care less about the food, and I wasn't the type to run up and hug a plastic statue with a pompadour. I was in for the free comic book, the Adventures of Big Boy. I'd grab a copy on the way into the restaurant, and I'd read front to back. I even read the letters to Big Boy...funny, I remember one from a girl oddly named Keith.

You don't see too many Big Boy restaurants anymore. Aside from the historic Bob's in Toluca Lake, you won't find too many thriving locations. And last month the one on Wilshire in Los Angeles was demo'd to make way for a BMW lot.

But...Bob's is coming to Downey, on the site of the Johnie's Broiler restaurant that was almost completely demolished without permits January 2007. The restaurant will be rebuilt to recapture the original Googie design, and with luck should be up and running next year. The mess is finally cleaned up, but those pesky taggers have had their way with the chub sign.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yucca do it!

Our pal Lizette showed us her spiffy hillside house in Oceanside a couple weeks back. She cooked up a batch of delicious yucca with a tremendous garlic-onion-olive oil-lime (G.O.OO.L.) concoction, and ever since we've been on a huge yucca kick.

Yesterday I was in Hollywood for a conference, and I had some time to stroll the neighborhood. Couldn't miss the newish 54-unit condo development at 6735 Yucca Street. You know, it actually looks like our yucca dish. The concrete walls remind me of the yucca, and the redwood siding would be the GOOOL. Somebody really needs to keep up the landscaping (the side salad?) there...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sherlock Holmes Doused by Guy Ritchie

Dunno about you, but a pet peeve of mine is seeing film stars in magazines dripping in bucket water looking all sexy. Madonna's done it, so has Mel Gibson, Christian Bale, and even Viggo Mortensen. How embarrassing is that. And my point is...that style of corniness should pass like gas and never be seen again.

When I heard that Guy Ritchie was going to direct a new Sherlock Holmes movie, I rolled my eyes. I read and reread the complete volumes when I was eleven, and I feel that I ought to be heard about this subject. Sherlock, after all, has been my father for years (in my head) even though he was a dope fiend. My mother, incidentally, was Irene Adler, the only person that ever eluded the great detective. Then I read that Robert Downey, Jr. was going to play the great sleuth himself.

At this point, I started picturing my father lathered in sea water, his houndstooth hat dripping over his nose and cape. Holy fuck, I though, they're going to ruin my main man. First of all, Robert Downey is SHORT and he is American. Secondly, Jude Law is going to play Watson who is TALLER than Downey.

Sherlock Holmes is over 6 feet tall. His nose is aquiline or hawkish. Downey is too pretty. Jude Law is even prettier. Watson was a military guy stationed in India. He was kinda old already. Sherlock and Watson didn't meet until they were already in in their 40's.

Please don't massacre my little world of 221B Baker Street, Guy Ritchie. Stick to your imitation Tarantino and Scorsese movies. Leave my dad alone! Don't let him roll around in the sand while you douse him with cold ocean water until his sex appeal is milked out of his pores.

Meet the Mathlete

We often wake up on weekends and take in a morning run at the Santa Ana College track. Today I was feeling kinda under the weather, so I tagged along and brought a book. Instead of reading I looked at the new (well, about a year old) athletic complex. As I admired the row of exterior metal fins, I was struck by the mathematical soundness of the design. Equal spacing, structurally correct. Maybe I was having a Beautiful Mind moment...

I used to be a math whiz. Numbers and new mathematical concepts would come easy to me, and I actually had fun solving equations. My last hurrah was probably in 9th grade when I won a tricked out HP calculator in a math competition held at Stanford University. Then I can only chalk my stagnation to laziness...spent too much time listening to the radio, fell behind on my homework, started taking long naps after school. I coasted my way through high school, and in my undergrad years I didn't take a single math class. I tested out on day one, and never looked back.

And that calculator...EzraPounded sold it on eBay a year back for about $15o. Even my depleted, laughable mathabilities of today figure that's not bad for a 20-year old contraption.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bananas for Santa Ana

Santa Ana is the Barney Rubble of Orange County. You know, after about five television seasons in the '60s, the producers never even bothered to tell the viewers where poor Barney worked. No respect.

One of OC's more depressed cities, Santa Ana is also one of the most neglected. We have one library, for instance, and we have to pay $2.oo to rent video tapes - that's right, 2 bones for VHS! But BaddicusFinch wrote extensively the library issue, so I won't spend any more time belaboring our sad state of affairs.

While crime has let up in most OC cities, Santa Ana's went down from last year but at a lower rate compared to other cities. A few high visbility shootings have rocked the town in recent weeks. This may all sound depressing, but I have to say that I love this city. I'd lived on the Westside most of my adult life and when we moved here I was depressed as hell until we started exploring.

There's downtown Santa Ana where the Artist's Village, the Spurgeon clock tower, and my favorite pupusa spot are located, Santa Ana College where I run the track every morning, the wild parrots I see and hear everyday, and sundry other joys this city brings me.

I have to say that I despise two things about SA. One is the Bowers Museum which charges New York museum rates and screws Santa Ana residents by not giving us enough free days despite millions of dollars in grants they're getting from the city.

The second thing I hate are the stupid taggers the make our already messed up streets more crappy. I don't mind tagging - good artistic tagging like the Urban Guerrillas type with giant eggheads and such. But just ugly initials for pissing territory, forget about it. BaddicusFinch has the graffiti hotline programmed on his phone. The first sign of tagging, he calls them up.

Anyway, enough about the negative. We're near all sorts of good places like Little Saigon, a Korean enclave in Garden Grove, the Middle Eastern hub along Brookhurst in Anaheim, and a lot more. For foodies this area is Mecca.

So don't despair, Santa Ana. You are loved like our friend, Barney Rubble.

More Cityscapes...Cuz I Miss L.A.

Here they are...Two versions of Clifton's Cafeteria on Broadway in the heart of Downtown, Machos Tacos in Los Feliz, and a painting of our dogs that hate each other.

Vodie to the max

I'm sure I'm not the only one who tosses the yellow pages phone book straight to the recycle bin when a new edition appears on the front doorstep. Strange how the more obsolete the hard copy phone books have become, it seems we're bombarded with more and more versions - the "original", the Spanish language edition, the chamber of commerce book, etc. etc.

This might sound nuts, but when I was a wee lad I couldn't wait for the replacement phone books to arrive. I was fascinated by the write-ups on the local San Jose attractions, and wondered which photo would land the coveted cover spot. I'd read up on how to telephone strange sounding countries, and flipped to the z-section of the yellow pages to check out the listings under "zoo."

When I was really young and still illiterate, I'd page through the yellows browsing for ads that caught my eye, like that creepy Buster Brown and his dog, and my favorite, the auto bears. I'm pretty sure the first time I ever picked up the phone and dialed out was to the auto service shops that advertised with that damn cuddly bear. "Do you sell toys?" I asked the workers who must've thought they were getting cranked.

Here in Sana Ana we have the surviving Vodie's bear sign specimen on 17th Street, just east of Bristol. The site was developed in 1956, which fits for this type of happy bear sign. The property was on the market earlier this year, so our bear has dodged another bullet for the moment.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Santa Ana Library doesn't stack up!

As cities throughout California have beefed up their library services in recent years, as California voters approved a $350 million state library construction bond, as the neighboring City of Orange more than doubled the floor area of their main library to 45,000 square feet, the City of Santa Ana has done nothing. Unless you count slashing the bookmobile service.

Santa Ana is the 9th most populous city in California. I compared Santa Ana's library system (focusing on number of libraries in relation to population) with the 8 California cities with more residents than Santa Ana and the 8 cities just below Santa Ana in population.

The result...

The only large city in California with as pathetic a library record as Santa Ana is Modesto. Holy cows, what an embarrassment!

City Population Libraries Residents per Library
Los Angeles 3,834,340 72 53,255
San Diego 1,266,731 36 35,187
San Jose 939,899 19 49,468
San Francisco 764,976 25 30,599
Fresno 470,508 12 39,209
Long Beach 466,520 12 38,877
Sacramento 460,242 15 30,683
Oakland 401,489 18 22,305
Santa Ana 339,555 2 169,778
Anaheim 333,249 6 55,542
Bakersfield 315,837 8 39,480
Riverside 294,437 6 49,073
Stockton 287,245 5 57,449
Chula Vista 217,478 4 54,370
Modesto 203,955 1 203,955
Fremont 201,334 4 50,334
Irvine 201,160 3 67,053

Peace Corps Threatened By Short Funding

What's up with the news of the Peace Corps having to halt their new wave of recruits from being deployed to their prospective countries because Congress hasn't passed a budget? Aren't Obama, Bush, and McCain trying to sell us on the need to expand humanitarian assistance programs?

Well the Peace Corps is the way to go. These volunteers are ambassadors for this country. Each teacher, engineer, or agricultural volunteer represents a view of Americans that differs by miles from the asinine teenage flicks that inundate our movie screens, or the dirtbags in reality TV shows that flood international homes.

They get paid close to nothing and have to live the way their students live. I was a volunteer myself (in the late '90s in Sri Lanka before the Feds yanked us out when the civil war heated up) and was paid thirty dollars a month. I learned to make do with what I had just like the folks I was serving. It taught me humility and understanding which I sorely needed.

To hear that volunteers aren't being deployed because there is not enough budget is unbelievable to me. We spend so much on war where we end up killing and being hated. The Peace Corps teaches a different approach: building wells, ensuring safe water, garden projects, teaching English, job skills, and teaching about AIDS, safe sex, and other health related curriculum.

The Peace Corps supports over 8000 volunteers in 74 countries. To lose a chunk of these volunteers is a true loss to this country.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The DeceptiColonel

Remember the episode of the old Hulk TV series with Bill Bixby when a meteorite radiates the Hulk and he only halfway morphs back to David Banner? He becomes the Dulk, if you will. That's what I'm reminded of when I see the Kentucky Fried Chicken designed by Jeffrey Daniels on Western near Beverly. (Does that make me Mr. McGee?) This may be the most unique looking corporate fast food restaurant anywhere, and the corrugated metal predates the overdone corrugation nation we're living in. I'd say it's a bucket transforming into a chicken. Let's call it a chucket.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cityscapes & Googie Fetish

My husband bought me some paint and canvasses to keep my mind from wandering. I'm bipolar and I tend to be self-destructive at times, but that's another story. Anyway, I've been doing a series on cities so here they are...

Half Baked: Not All Eurasians Come Out Purty

My nephew is a quarter Russian, quarter Korean, and half Filipino. He's so damn adorable. Then I have a couple of friends with multi-racial kids that are super cute. One too many times, however, I've been told by people (experts in their own minds) that if I were to have a little watermelon, it'll look way cute. My husband is a halfy himself - white and Mexican.

Then of course there are those who say, "Half white and Asian kids are always so adorable. Good combination, always."

I say to this...WHATEVER! I've seen a lot of mixblix in my time, and the genetic theorists are frikkin' wrong. There was nothing cute about some of the multis except for their predictable GAP attire. These generalizations and exotic fallacies piss me off. The truth is there are as many plain, average, and ugly halfies than there are cute ones. You end up with the same cute factor spectrum as anyone else, with the same percentage of 2s, 7s and perfect 10s. So chill, everyone. Shut your trap and don't let me hear you say what a great combination Asian and white children are. I will slug you. And no. There will be no watermelons popping out of my delicate apertures.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Library, library, quite contrary

I've heard way too many excuses for Santa Ana's failed library "system", now down to the Main Library and the Newhope Library Learning Center. Apologists point to the housing slump, bleak tax revenue, public safety funding that should override other city services, and on and on. Yes, crime is up. The recent high-profile shootings are horrible. But why can't the city leadership see the direct connection between libraries, literacy, education, and jobs?

A strong library system is a sign of a healthy city. A city council that supports improving libraries - expanding hours, adding services, staffing highly qualified librarians, rehabilitating facilities, expanding libraries, constructing new libraries - is a city council that supports creativity, child development, adult literacy, skill development, gang intervention, safe learning, and employment.

Let's look at the Santa Ana City Council. If the economy is up or down, doesn't matter, the Council has gutted the libraries to fund other priorities. Even the bookmobiles were stripped of their funding! How long do the councilmembers think the current economy will be in the doldrums? They're not even willing to start planning for better times. As long as improving the library system is off the table, we're stuck with another symbol of a sick city.

We need libraries now more than ever.