Saturday, July 26, 2008

Since I'm usually selfish...

...and post nothing but photos of cars I like, I thought it only fair to take note of the fact that this was Lamborghini Day at the Saturday car show, an occurrence I suspect will delight at least one reader who shall be nameless (that would be Scott Nameless).

There were at least 30 of the things there (and I will say nothing about computer nerds using their Microsoft dividends to buy Lambos or lounge lizards in satin jackets who lease them)...

...Murcielagos, Gallardos, Diablos...

Sadly, the oldest Lambo at the show -- except for a lone Urracco that I didn't get a picture of -- was this late 80s/early 90s Countach. None of my old favorites showed up....

There were other cars, of course. This Bugatti Veyron was constantly surrounded by onlookers. Maybe they thought if they stared at it long enough, it would do something...

My favorite cars of the day were parked together. I've mentioned that I have big, big eyes for an Austin-Healey "100" (which you can see part of here), but I must also say the old (1950s-vintage) Ferrari 400 SA is perhaps the nicest touring car I've ever driven, as well as being drop-dead gorgeous...

Nice stuff. But a bloody hot day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The gift.

"Just one more," she says, and I smile in anticipation.

Suddenly, the sweet voice of Amel Larrieux fills my headphones with its melodic nectar.

We talk about music often, feeding each other tidbits of song as if they were chocolates in a box. Some are deep, rich and smooth; others are crunchy.

But they are all part of the world of music, and I devour them eagerly. So, clearly, does she.

There is something of a generation gap in our deep-seated favorites. She gives me Lizz Wright; I give her Alberta Hunter.

But that's not simply a matter of age. I carry -- gratefully -- the memories of a father who was a versatile musician but chose another profession for reasons I never learned. I carry the memories of a friend who, like other professional musicians of his day, regularly explored the dives of "the dark side of the Moon" in L.A. to listen to jazz greats (Art Tatum, the Duke, Fletcher Henderson, and more) work their magic in the only places they were then allowed to play.

My life has been enriched by music in ways even I don't fully comprehend. Had I not been able to -- for example -- shake Louis Armstrong's hand as a child, to listen to him up close, to talk to him and learn, for myself, that the great man on stage was an even greater man offstage, I would have been far less than I am.

And nowhere near as happy.

So now she comes along to feed me with even more music. I could tell her I was a Stan Getz fan before she was born, but I won't. The pleasure of hearing him on a CD she made for me is in no way lessened because I've heard him many times before. If anything, it is intensified by shared appreciation.

She says "just one more," and I smile.

Music is food and oxygen to me.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

She said...

...while we were having a conversation: "I still think you need to post this: 'Few women have ever rent my veil of civility; I only succumb to intolerable temptation.'"

So I have succumbed and have duly posted the comment verbatim, without additional explanation....

She understood.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In need of renovation... is getting a new foundation. The other? Looks like a fresh coat of paint might help....

Updateization... which I again mention that I just haven't felt like writing here. Hell, I haven't even felt like writing for work; doing that seems to take as much effort as I can muster up energy to make.

And most of what I would have said would have been muttered threats, hurled imprecations, complaints and general bad-moodedness. Things have not gotten measurably better, though I have not given up trying. Not yet, anyway.

I did have one good moment, though of course I had to endure many not-so-good moments to get there.

Back in early April, the doctor I was then seeing expressed some worry about a couple of moles on my back, and indicated he wanted to refer me to a dermatologist. I agreed, but gave it little thought. I mean, I never had skin like a baby's bottom, unless the baby in question had diaper rash....

So last week I received a letter from the big local hospital -- not the one where I died in February -- advising that I had an appointment in their dermatology clinic for today.

I went. It was only 20 minutes through morning traffic, followed by registration and then a 2 1/2 hour wait in the clinic itself. Since this shares space with some kind of kiddy clinic, it was neither quiet nor especially clean-smelling.

Admittedly, I wasn't worrying about possible worst-case scenarios. I suppose some of this is the last vestiges of "it can't happen to me," even though it has been forcefully proven that it can happen to me.

Finally, I was taken to an examining room, where I disrobed. The doc came in and started looking at the various marks, discolorations, moles and general souvenirs of long life and too many sunburns.

After a moment, I heard him saying "benign, benign, benign..."

The whole exam lasted less than two minutes.

As I was getting dressed, he asked me why I had come. I told him my doctor was concerned and referred me. He asked for the doctor's name, which I told him.

"Oh, him. He's a good guy. You know he's interning in this clinic? Doesn't know much about dermatology yet, but he'll learn."

Hospital visits are like flights on airplanes. Any one you walk away from is good.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

How much worse can it get?

Once again, the morning walk -- we're going a little farther each time, now past the four-mile mark -- was the high point of the day...

My Internet wouldn't connect early this morning. I called AT&T, spent 55 minutes on hold before being connected to "Samir," who got it working after some fiddling and deleting that leaves me stuck with having it on full-time when the computer's on.

I got home from the walk and there was an icon showing me that Microsoft had installed a Windows update and I needed to restart the computer.

Poof. No more internet. Again.

Another call to AT&T. After two hours and 40 minutes on hold, I got a woman whom I could hardly hear. She took me through a bunch of stuff, then gave up and switched me to the "software staff."

PARENTHETICAL I-HATE-CALL-CENTERS THOUGHT: It was painfully clear that these people know damn-all about what they're doing and can only read from prepared scripts. Any deviation on the customer's part -- such as trying any potential fixes before calling -- throws them into confusion. They lose their places and sometimes simply start over.

Anyway, Software Boy tried a couple of things before advising me he was getting a lot of problems after the Microsoft update. He gave up after giving me Microsoft's customer service number.

The Microsoft rep told me what I could do as a temporary fix, and it worked. For something more permanent (right now, the computer's firewall picks a bogus setting on startup) I get to call back in a few days.

Total time wasted: nearly four hours.

But I have the internet back. And found that I got no emails from people I need to hear from.

The mailbox was empty yet again, too.

I don't know how much more I can take, but I sense the point when the whole mess blows up in my face is too close.

Next walk, I may just keep walking. Everything I've tried to do has turned out to be pointless.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Aw, ****...

...and you can fill in the asterisks yourself. The word you choose probably won't be as bad as the one I want to put there.

Went for a walk this morning with my favorite walking companion. She's the one who showed me a really nice route past the local marina, and we went that way again today.

I mentioned to her that it's a jolly good thing I don't have a boat. If I did, one day I'd simply vanish, destination Tahiti, or Bali, or -- if I had enough change to pay the fees for the Panama Canal, perhaps Trindad and Tobago. Anywhere, that is, that puts many thousands of miles between me and here...

Today would have been the perfect day to set out on such a voyage. If you accept the old "it can always get worse" line of reasoning, well, it has gotten worse. I am as close to the end of my wits -- not to mention my rope, whatever that is -- as I ever have been.

Yeah, it's the usual bilge. The people who haven't paid me for months are being perfectly money arrived today.

Emails and phone calls? Might as well not have bothered*.

No immediate possibilities of a job (a full-time job, that is) and I don't have the necessary info from a couple of editors to actually plunge ahead with writing.

In a way, that's good. In my current mood, I'd rather rot in hell than write for the shitweasel clients I have right now.

Wait. I am rotting in hell, if you ask me.

There comes a point where all planning, thought and effort for the future seems totally futile. I don't trust anyone to deal with me in even a remotely fair manner when it comes to business.

They didn't tell me in school and church that it would end up like this.

All I have left is bitterness and anger, some of it directed inward. There comes a time when faith in one's own ability just doesn't cut it any longer, and that's where I am on this eighth day of July.

I have more faith that I'll win the lottery than I do in finding someone who wants my professional talents -- and will pay for them -- in time to stave off the seemingly unavoidable collapse.

Some time ago, I read that the most common words heard on aircraft cockpit voice recorders just prior to impact are, "Aw, ****." I dig the impulse, Jim..

* Hard to believe as it may be, I am (and am generally considered to be by others) all professional, polite, focused, cool and collected when in work mode. I seldom complain, never push harder than I should. I'm a freekin' Boy Scout, baby. For all the good it does me.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I was going to post these last week...

...but didn't get around to it. On our Independence Day weekend, however, it occurred to me that there are few things so all-American as hot rods.

No self-respecting German would take so fine an example of his country's engineering prowess as a Porsche 911 and stuff in an ugly old Chevy V8 engine. But an American, knowing the Detroit motor makes more power, is less expensive to service and more reliable, will give it a try. And it works...

There is a brilliant designer and builder here in California called Chip Foose. This is one his "takes" on the classic Model "A" Ford-based hot rods. I particularly dig the nose cone on the radiator, which looks as if it was meant for a P-51 Mustang fighter plane...

Hot-rodders back in the day didn't cotton to the 1936-41 Lincoln "Zephyr" V12 engine -- it tended to overheat and didn't deliver much power -- but it sure looked right under the hood...

Foose carried the Zephyr look over to the interior, using an original Lincoln steering wheel and instrument cluster of the period. The dashboard was shaped to recall the Art Deco panel of the Zephyr, as well...

And here's me, reflected in the spotlight of a '49 Mercury that was considerably hot-rodded...

Independence Day, the Final Chapter... least for this year.

Enjoy the fireworks show...we did!...

The amateur -- that is, illegal -- fireworks continue, to the distress of car alarms and grumpy people all over the area.

It's been fun.

God bless America.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day... far.

Flags everywhere...

...except at the beach, which was packed with people, very few of whom spoke English (which is how it it is here in la Ciudad de Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles in A.D. 2008)...

I'm sure these Civil War buffs, who were demonstrating their cannons, spoke English, as did the police on patrol...

Across the bay, the Navy was holding open house on one of their ships...

I wonder if the next Revolutionary War will reclaim the former Long Beach Navy Yard from its current owner, China Shipping?

Fireworks photos later, if my back cooperates long enough for me to walk back down to the beach....

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Immortal puppy!

Ever since I began reading Joan Perry's blogs -- here and here -- I've come to share her fascination with sidewalk art, those scratchings on wet cement that blend ego, commentary and sometimes simple weirdness.

After much scouring of local sidewalks, I have to admit her concrete fields bear far more fruit than those around here.

I did, however, find a spot where some mischievous puppy (with or without human help) added its contribution to the genre. This was done some years ago, I think, and I suspect said pooch has long since shuffled off this mortal coil...

But it now has a kind of immortality, and I'm hoping it didn't go through the rest of its life with dried cement stuck to its little paw-pads....

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Nothing new going on... least nothing new and good going on, so this'll be a short entry.

Despite the back pain, I've been walking again. Sunday morning I was goaded into a walk longer than any I've done lately. It was good for me, involved a new route, and I repeated about 2/3 of it yesterday.

Did even less today, I admit, but the damn back complained about that much.

Yesterday, I saw an opportunity to make a self-portrait, and did...

You can't see that I'm not smiling. Not much to smile about these days....