Monday, March 31, 2008

I don't own many computer games -- mostly because all that seems to be available are shoot-em-up, steal-a-car, aliens-destroy-all-mankind stories, and those just aren't my cup of tea. Years ago, though, I discovered a strategy game minus the death and destruction that completely captivated me: Myst. And it came at a time when I needed something to focus on. My Dad sat in a hospital bed after his second major heart attack, and after coming home from work and spending an hour or two with him, my own stress level was at the breaking point. I'd read about the game in some magazine, bought a copy and set it into my computer's disk drive. I soon found myself drifting into this amazingly detailed CGI world, filled with wondrous sounds, intricate and complex puzzles, and nothing else. No instructions. No disembodied voices telling me to shoot this or to steal that. Just my character, lost on an island, having to use my wits to figure out what happened and how to leave. It took me a week to play the entire game from beginning to end, and I managed to not completely freak about my Dad's hospital stay.

Since then, I've played the sequel called Riven and bought part three, Exile. I even loaded Exile onto my mac, played it until I became frustrated and let it sit for about 4 years. That changed on Saturday, when I finally dusted off the disks and clicked the desktop icon. Now, I'm totally enrapt by the visuals, the sound and the difficult puzzles. I can't wait to get home to work on it some more....

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bookwhore Chronicles: The Pastures of Heaven
A Spanish soldier, returning from a military project to find some runaway slaves, spots a beautiful valley tucked into the mountains of Central California and vows to live there once his service is over. He never gets the opportunity, instead falling prey to small pox before his service is through. This minor incident that no one remembers seems to have an effect on the people who later move into the valley, and throughout the twelve interconnected stories in The Pastures of Heaven, Steinbeck shows the dark underbelly of life in such an idyllic place.

The Munroe family, in particular, plays an important part in each of the stories. Having taken over an old, neglected farm in the Pastures with the hope of finally breaking their streak of bad luck, the Munroes seem to impart a negative influence on the other residents, either by saying a unthoughtful word here or by taking a careless action there, albeit unintentional. Families are torn apart, lives and farms irrevocably changed, and the idyll tarnishes.

Not bad, for Steinbeck's first book.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Wicked Night Out

My usual Tuesday Night Book Group was cancelled so I met with RG in Huntington Beach to catch up on his new job, to check out the Main Street Fair, and to grab a bite to eat. Main St. was lined with food vendors either selling beef jerky or fresh produce, and scattered here and there in between were a few musical acts: a steel drummer, a bagpiper, and two very hot guys with guitars and tight t-shirts singing to the crowd. The highlight of the fair, though, was the tent sponsored by Wicked: the Musical. Two women working for the show's promoters offered to take pictures of the fairgoers which would enter us in a contest to win two tickets to the show. We didn't hesitate and ran to stand in front of the Wicked banner. One of the women handed each of us a pair of emerald green glasses and a green monkey sporting a Wicked t-shirt and asked us to pose. The result....

Okay, so it isn't the most flattering shots of either of us. But aren't the little green monkeys cute?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Strawberries

After the family breakfast at my parents in Laguna and my usual washing of the dishes before sliding them into the dishwasher, my Aunt filled a small plastic bowl with ripe red juicy strawberries to take with us to visit my Grandma. She hadn't been able to join us this time due to some unhealthy lapses a few weeks ago. (She called my Mother, told her that she was dying so my Mother cancelled her bridge game, sending everyone home, and rushed to the hospice. Grandma looked ragged, thinner, smelled a bit because she refused to take a shower the past 5 days, and refused food for the same amount of time. My Mother made the caregivers call a nurse who in turn called the doctor who examined her, changed some medications and put her on pure oxygen.) "The change to oxygen made a world of difference with her," my Mother said.

But that still didn't prepare me.

She stepped from the restroom, gripping her walker tightly as she slowly hobbled to her chair. Very thin in the face, damp, reddened eyes staring questioningly about the room. Her nightgown enveloping her shrinking frame. Labored breathing as she gruffly sank into her chair. "Ooohhh...ooohhh..." leaked from her between breaths.

"Do you need your oxygen, Mom?"

"No...I'm just so...out of breath." I cautiously walked over, kissed her cheek and said hello. "Hello! It's good to...see you." My Aunt placed the bowl of strawberries in her hands. "What are these?" She lifted the bowl to her nose. "Oh! They smell so good!"

"They're strawberries, Mom. Big and red and sweet."

Grandma picked one up and tentatively took a bite. "Mmm, that's a good one." She savored the berry while my Mother and Aunt talked loudly to her, filling her in on family events, reading a letter with newspaper clippings from her sister Rosa. Soon, her eyes looked troubled, she breathed harder, her face grayed. My Aunt quickly left the room to find a caregiver who hooked a breathing tube over her ears and into her nose, then activated the machine which sounded like a muffled pile driver. After a few inhales and adjustments, the color returned to her face. "It's so terrible...getting old," she said.

"Do you know how old your are, Mom?" my Mother asked.

"Thank goodness, no!" We all laughed at that. ", why should that...pop into my head?" She turned to my Mother.

"Because that's when you were born!"

"Oh!" Her smile faded, being replaced by a tired, frightened look. She dabbed at the corner of her eye with a tissue. "We used to have...a cat and a dog...They would sleep together...on the back porch."

"We only had a cat," said my Aunt. "We had a few cats," said my Mother.

She focused on my Mother as she listened to the different cat names from their homes in Eatonville and Walla Walla. "The dog was a stray."

My Aunt told us all it was time to leave. "What's in...this bowl?" Grandma asked. Strawberries, big juicy red ones. "Oh, that sounds good." She carefully grabbed one, took a bite and closed her eyes. "That's good!"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

AmeriCCa the Beautiful

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail about Culture Clash performing down in the OC, and remembering how much I loved their show a few years ago, I jumped at the chance for tickets.
Yesterday afternoon, after two weeks of waiting, we finally drove behind the orange curtain to catch a matinée performance of "Culture Clash in AmeriCCa". The one good thing: by buying the tickets early, I managed a pretty decent discount for our seats; the bad thing: the theater chose where those seats would be and wouldn't tell me until the day of the performance. (But, a discount is a discount, and this particular ticketing service has yet to give me a bad seat.) At the box office, I handed over my e-mail receipt, and the woman behind the glass tried to tell me through a malfunctioning speaker system where my seats were. After two attempts, she just pushed them through the little slot beneath the ticket window, and I grabbed them, walking back to where CM waited. I almost tripped down the steps when I glanced at the tickets and saw "Orchestra, Row B" -- we would be able to see the sweat dripping down their foreheads, the spittle flying off the stage as they performed their lines. I showed the tickets to CM, and I think he was just as surprised as I was.

Inside the theater, the usher pointed us with her flashlight to our seats. Next to the aisle, stage right. The front row pressed up against the stage itself with barely any room to walk down the row, and I was glad we weren't given those. More and more people poured into the theater, eventually filling every seat in both orchestra and balcony. And finally, the lights dimmed, the curtain parted, and the show began.

"Culture Clash in AmeriCCa" contains a series of vignettes about life in America, told through the eyes of outsiders: immigrants to the U.S. and people who don't quite fit into the "norm" of American society. The backdrop is a gray and white American flag with the stripes leaving the backdrop and continuing onto the stage. Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza step onto the stage to interview a Manuel, a day laborer waiting outside a Home Depot in Costa Mesa, CA for work, about why he's in America. He talks about the opportunity, the fight to bring in money for his family, the threat of deportation. And even with all the odds against him, he still believes in America and what this nation stands for. From that starting point, Culture Clash throws at the audience differing views of America, from a Florida couple to a Cuban furniture store owner in Miami to a swinging sex club couple in Orange, CA, to Adelita, a transgender sex therapist in San Francisco. Throughout the vignettes, Manuel appears in the background, using a broom or carrying someone's surfboard or doing the various odd jobs that no one else will.

For me, some of the more compelling stories involved Adelita the transgendered sex therapist (performed wonderfully by Herbert Seguiza); a Puerto Rican man (played by Ric Salinas) who tells people apart by how they salsa, not by the color of their skin; Richard Montoya as a Muslim immigrant talking about raising a family in the U.S. after 9/11; and, my favorite vignette, a Viet Nam vet living in Tijuana, Mexico, telling of his lack of faith in America while two new U.S. Citizens - a Ugandan and a Philippino - express their happiness at all the new opportunities now available to them. Culture Clash also adjusted the show to fit both Orange County with many stories told by residents and to be very topical with references to Elliot Spitzer and Mike Carona. But by far the funniest moment: Montoya and Salinas portrayed two Bay Area white women, very much into politics and smoking pot. At one point, Montoya took a hit of the (fake) pot while the audience waited. And while Salinas waited. Monotya finally said "I must really be stoned because I forgot my next line." Everyone, including Salinas, began laughing, and true professional that he is, Montoya managed to save the scene by riffing with a man in the front row.

A fantastic, hysterical, moving experience. If Culture Clash ever comes to your area, GO SEE THEM!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Recovery and Congratulations

Thanks to everyone for your well wishes concerning my "pain in the neck". The antibiotics seemed to have kicked in wonderfully: I can talk without my voice fading entirely, the rock in my throat seems to have dislodged, and last night I slept from 11PM until 6AM without waking or coughing -- the first time in almost a week! I still have quite a few days worth of those big yellowish pills to take, and like a good patient, I will finish them all.

As for the second part of the post's title, congratulations go to my friend RG who was laid off from his job in the mortgage industry last November. Earlier this week, he finalized the details for a fantastic new job set to begin on March 31st. Way to go, RG!!!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Pain in the Neck

I've suffered with an on-again/off-again sore throat for the past two weeks, but during the last few days, the pain seemed to concentrate itself into one side of my throat, the right side, almost directly behind where my former wisdom teeth once were. I called my doctor to make an appointment. "The next available slot is Tuesday." Tuesday? To check on a sore throat that lasted much longer than normal? "Well, you can call tomorrow morning around 9AM to see if we can get you in same day." I told her thank you, that I would call tomorrow.

As the day continued, the pain grew in intensity, swallowing felt like a sharp rock being lodged in my cheek and throat, my voice fading in and out, and my tongue feeling swollen. When I arrived home last night, CM could tell I was in pain. I told him what the doctor's office said, and he suggested an Urgent Care. "Your health plan has a directory, right? Maybe there's an urgent care nearby." I spent about 20 minutes online trying to understand how Bakersfield, Rohnert Park and Sacramento were zero miles from my apartment whereas Signal Hill was at least two miles. So I threw caution to the wind, grimaced as I swallowed some water, and decided to try the clinic in Signal Hill.

In the waiting room, I completed my "new patient" paperwork, handed over the $50 co-pay and managed to read two pages of my book when the nurse called me back. In front of a waiting room filled with crying babies and older folks who had been seated much longer than me. The nurse weighed me, took my temperature and blood pressure, asked a few questions about my problem, sat me in a room and disappeared. I opened my book to read a few pages, remembering past experiences with waiting for a doctor, and managed a few lines before she returned with a long cotton swab. "Open wide and say 'aaah' really loud." My mouth opened, and she jabbed the swab into the right side of my throat before one "aaah" was uttered. I have a terrible gag reflex so just imagine me coughing choking trying not to throw up on her while she keeps saying "Wider...wider...."

The Physician's Assistant walked in perusing her clipboard filled with my information and asked a few more questions as she felt my throat and shined her thin flashlight into my mouth and ears. "You seem a little swollen. What does it feel like when you swallow." I described the lodged, pointy rock. "Hmm.... You don't have strep or a fever, which is good. It feels like one of you lymph nodes is a bit swollen." She scribbled onto a note pad. "This is a prescription for amoxicillin. We're going to work on the infection in the lymph. The antibiotic should bring the swelling down." She flashed the light into my mouth again. "if you haven't noticed a change within 10 days, you need to follow up with your personal doctor they can run more extensive tests. Okay?" I swallowed, grimaced, nodded. "Good. You're all set, Mr. C-. You have a good night." And she ushered me through the small hall to the door.

The waiting room was now empty, save for CM who rose from his seat by the door as I walked out. I showed him the prescription. "I think there's a CVS just up the street. Let's head over there, and then are you up for some dinner?" I swallowed, grimaced, nodded.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bookwhore Chronicles: The Gilda Stories
In 1850, A runaway slave hides herself in the cellar of a seemingly abandoned farm. She falls into an exhausted sleep only to be awakened by the white woman who owns the farm. But instead of throwing her back to the men chasing her, the woman -- Gilda -- hides her, provides shelter and a home for her at her brothel near New Orleans, educates the Girl as if she were family, introducing her to her lover Bird, a Lakota woman. Together, the three women form a strong bond, strong enough that Gilda decides the she has finally found the one for Bird, to replace her when she takes the true death so that Bird won't be alone in the many hundreds of years she has before her. The three head back to the farm where Gilda asks the Girl if she wants the life of a vampire and all that goes with it.

From that point, the Girl's life changes, she takes on the name of Gilda and learns from Bird and from her new, extended family what it means to be a vampire, to take a little bit of life from a human in exchange for life: pushing them to fulfill a dream or to just ease the mind. No death, that's not what the vampire family is about. Through 200 years, beginning in Louisiana, traveling through the early pioneering days in Yerba Buena, protecting friends and family from her hair salon in the South End of Boston to being hunted as the world lies in ruins due to global climate changes brought about by neglectful politicoes in 2050, Gilda strives to find herself, to uncover what it truly means not just to be a vampire, but to learn what a family really is: the people you care about and who care about you, no matter who or what you are.

What impressed me most about this novel was the humanity of the vampires. Not the typical, cut-throat blood-thirsty fiends from 'Salem's Lot nor the whiney aristocrats from Interview with the Vampire. Instead, they helped those in need, taking only what was necessary to survive, and creating their own family in a world that doesn't understand them. A great book for those who want something other than the typical vampire story.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

It's All About the Customer

For Christmas, our landlords gave us each $25 gift cards to Boston's, The Gourmet Pizza so we decided to finally give them a try this afternoon. We drove to downtown and used the parking structure at The Pike, directly across the street from Boston's, so we could take in a little shopping after lunch. The restaurant itself sat at the right end of a long chain of restaurants all within spitting distance of one another: Chili's immediately next door followed by the Outback Steak House, P.F. Chang's and a few others.

Once inside the glass doors, a tall waiter/host asked how many in our party, would we like to sit on the patio, in the bar (through a glass door to the right, with the basketball games blaring from every TV set) or the dining room (directly ahead and to the left). We chose the dining room, and the waiter/host lead us to a booth back in a corner next to the walkway to and from the kitchen. The comfortable seats were not exactly close to the table so for most of the meal, we both sat at the very edge so food wouldn't have the opportunity of falling into our laps. The walls were painted grey to go with the black carpet and table tops, and pictures of chefs in various states of kitchen disaster were nailed to them. "What are you looking at?" I pointed to a picture with one chef running, carrying a long, brown, flaming object much to the horror of the other chefs and wondered why the owners would hang a picture with flaming poo in it. CM just laughed and looked down at his menu, but I think the same question was nagging him, too.

The bubbly waitress took our drink order, asking if we needed more time to browse the menu. Which we did. She said she would be right back with our drinks.

We didn't see her again for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, while I drummed my fingers on my closed menu, two waiters stopped by to see if anyone had helped us. We told them both that our waitress had taken our drink orders but we hadn't seen her since. And neither of them checked to see if where she happened to be. I prepared to aske CM if he wanted to leave when the waitress appeared, carrying a tray of drinks past us, set most of them down at another table, took their order, then brought our drinks. We just smiled and ordered and waited.

Another 15 minutes seemed to pass, and with not many guests at the tables, I was surprised at how long it took to get an individual pizza and an order of nachos. But the food arrived, we were hungry so we just dug right in. I enjoyed my pizza with cheddar and mozarella cheeses, smoked ham and tomato slices; CM's nachos, however, were a different story. Each large chip was individually loaded with beans, cheese, tomato bits and olives. And each chip was not really a chip but a piece of flat bread or a cracker. The nachos didn't taste like nachos, and no amount of salsa or guacamole could hide that fact.

The waitress stopped by only once -- when we were both in mid chew -- to ask how we were doing. Such timing...I wonder if they teach them that?

When it came time to pay, I slid one of the gift cards into the check holder, thanking goodness that we didn't have to pay for bad service and so-so food. The waitress stopped a final time to say that she couldn't ring the gift card through as only a manager could do it.

CM and I talked on the walk back to The Pike. I doubt we're ever going back to that restaurant.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bookwhore Chronicles: Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand

Before I get into my bookwhorishness (is that even a word?), we experienced two very minor blackouts last night. The first occurred around 7:30, lasting for a few minutes. Before we had time to pull out candles or the flashlight, the lights flashed back on so we continued with dinner preparations. Around 8:30 while CM and I were munching on homemade turkey burritos and watching a repeat of Ghost Hunters, Diesel jumped from the couch, sat on his haunches with head raised toward the window, moving his head about as if trying to see around something. Then, silence and darkness. I ran to the kitchen for matches and started lighting candles while CM searched the medicine cabinet for the flashlight. Stepping outside, a few neighbors stood on balconies, holding candles and chatting happily to other neighbors. "Do you see any lights up there?" "Why is the block across the street all lit up?" "I was talking on the phone to my girl when the phone just went dead." City lights remained ablaze up the hillside into Signal Hill and west toward downtown Long Beach, Orion's belt twinkled in the night sky, but we didn't linger too long outside (started a small coughing fit thanks to the slight breeze). CM headed for the bathroom while I picked up my Steinbeck and read a few more pages by candlelight until the power clicked back on.

On to the book....
In the very distant future, the government of the planet Rhyonon is gently persuading the uneducated and slow-witted Korga to undergo Radical Anxiety Treatment (RAT) in order to purge him of his tendencies toward lawlessness and, subtly, homosexuality. The procedure is over in the blink of an eye when they finally get the okay from him, and he finds himself working as slave labor though he doesn't care one way or the other how he got there or what he's doing. Years pass with very little outside world contact, and while working in an underground tunnel, his whole world literally collapses around him, burying him under dirt and machinery as his former world is destroyed.

In another part of the universe, Marq Dyeth, an intelligent industrial diplomat traveling the different worlds, first hears of the destruction of an entire planet and wonders at the possibility of survivors. When he tries to search the Web for information, all records of the planet have been deleted, as if the planet never existed in the first place. Marq almost succeeds in distancing himself from further thoughts of the destroyed world when a distant friend reveals to him that someone did survive the destruction. And that someone is a perfect erotic match for Marq.

In this engrossing novel by Samuel Delany, these two characters -- Marq Dyeth and Rat Korga -- try to understand their singular attraction to each other in a universe of open sexuality, where gender doesn't come into play unless two beings become intimate, and where multiculturalism of not only differing genders but differing species is commonplace. But their being together also threatens to brink Marq's world to the brink of a Cultural Fugue which could bring about the end of his world.

I'm not a big fan of sci-fi books -- with the exception of Philip K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut -- and I attempted another of Delany's books a few years ago, finally setting it aside as I could not follow a word of it. This book, however, kept me glued to the pages, feeling Korga's amazement when he started to read the information cubes and did not want to stop learning, marveling at the elaborate dinner (and dance, if you will) that Marq's "family" throws for the unappreciative Thants, and smiling at how closely to two dissenting factions in the novel's universe -- the conservative Family and the liberal Sygn -- resemble almost two much the society in which we on Earth live. Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand truly is a remarkable book.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Not Feeling It


I seem to have hit a snag in my blogging. Either that, or I'm working much too hard.

I'll think of something to post.

Oh, I know.....

Because of this wonderful cold/cough/hacking death, I postponed my impending tooth extraction. The final two Wisdom teeth were to be removed on Friday, but I felt it best to reschedule. I had hoped for next week, but the dentist wanted more time with me just in case, and next Friday was full. "What about the 28th?" No can do; the boss is out of town leaving only two of us in the office. "How about...." I withheld my gasp when she suggested April 4th -- mere days before CM's and my trip to Florida.

We finally agreed upon the 18th of April.

So one more month of prolonged anxiety.

Yea, me!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Movies To Recuperate By

I've been a bit sick during the past few days. Stuffy nose. Sore throat. Congested cough. I think it's due in large part to the recent Santa Ana Winds which wreaked havoc with my allergies, but thank goodness, the worst seems to be over. To help speed along my recovery, I stayed at home this weekend -- no trips to Disneyland or to nearby musuems -- only books, TV and a few DVDs.
Saturday morning, I didn't want to disturb CM while I endured one of my coughing fits so I moved to the living room and popped in a DVD: 1937's The Life of Émile Zola. Paul Muni portrays French novelist Émile Zola, from his early days as a starving wrtier in Paris with his roommate Paul Cézanne through his triumphant novels describing the struggles and hardships of life inthen-modern day Paris to his ultimate battle with the French government thanks to his letter condemning the military's coverup in the Dreyfus Affair. The film earned three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and though I found it to be a wonderfully crafted and acted film for its time, I can't help but wonder about much of the story. The film itself focuses little on his opus of novels, instead spending much effort on the single letter that Zola wrote "J'accuse" and the effects and consequences it had on his life and the French attitude toward their military. In only a very minor flash, not lasting more than a few seconds so if you blink you might miss it, does the fact of Dreyfus' being Jewish come into play. (I seem to remember from my history classes in High School that his religious beliefs were a major factor in the military's selecting him as a scapegoat for the German spy Colonel Esterhazy.) But, it was a Hollywood film, and the 1930's Hays Code may have had something to do with that, in my opinion.
This afternoon, while CM visited with his sick mother, I finally watched a movie that I'd neglected to see when it was originally released: Memento. Leonard Shelby (Guy Pierce) tried to stop his wife from being raped and strangled, but found himself smashed head first into a mirror. That's the last thing he remembers because he no longer can create memories, instead having to leave himself little memos, tattooing notes onto his body, or snapping Polaroids as he seeks revenge against the man who killed his wife and left him brain damaged. This expert piece of film making from director Christopher Nolan tells the story of what happened to Leonard, using flashbacks that slowly gradually show us his story, leading us backwards incrementally through time. As more information was revealed, my opinions of characters changed, and I began to feel as confused as Leonard, never really sure who or what to believe. A smart roller coaster of a film.

Friday, March 07, 2008

One Month To Go

In all the hullabaloo with my office's renovation, Diesel's tummy troubles, CM's cold (and mine), and my teeth extractions, I almost forgot that we're going to Disneyworld in April! I visited Disneyworld way back in 1997, thanks to a friend who worked at Disneyland here in California. She convinced three of us to travel with her during an employee travel month so for $500, we enjoyed roundtrip airfare, a week's stay in one of the resorts and access to each of the theme parks for free (because she could sign us in). Nothing but fond memories of that week -- well, except for the incredibly gaudy redecoration of Cinderella's castle to resemble the ugliest birthday cake on the planet.

On Wednesday, a thick envelope arrived from Walt Disney Travel containing four bright yellow baggage clam tags and instructions for when we arrive at the airport in Orlando. Yesterday, an even bigger and thicker envelope arrived with our itinerary, vouchers for free stuff at Planet Hollywood and a round of mini-golf, two luggage tags (pictured), and our resort reservation. (We're staying in the Port Orleans - Riverside resort which was called Dixie Landings when I stayed there way back when.) I also purchased the 5-Day Park Hopper tickets to allow us access to all four theme parks at any time during our stay.

The excitement is building! I can't wait!!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Technicolor Yawns

Poor kitty....

Mr. Diesel, our cat, is suffering through some terrible tummy troubles which have plagued him for the past two-three months. When either of us feeds him, he gulps down the food, possibly forgetting to chew at times, then within an hour to an hour and a half later, an horrific yelping meowling sound erupts from him. His back hunches up and down. We quickly try to place a paper towel on the carpet beneath him, but he backs away and turns his head just as the liquified remnants of kibble spew forth, hitting the carpet.

The vet ran an ultrasound and a blood test about a month ago without any visible negative results. She prescribed a hypoallergenic brand of food, which switches the chicken or fish protein with duck and venison, and for a while, Diesel seemed alright. However, a few days after starting the new food, the vomiting returned. Both of us checked numerous website, and everything points to Irritable Bowel Disease, which is fairly common in cats.

We have an appointment for the vet this Saturday to run more extensive tests. In the meantime, CM switched Diesel back to his original soft food, holding off on the kibble until we know for sure what the problem is, and also bought a small container of Cat Grass which has already been chewed and chewed. So far, no surprises. We'll have to wait and see what happens.

Update - 3/6/08: CM fed Diesel Science Diet cat food, and he seemed to be fine. No vomity surprise packages when we returned home for work or an hour or so after eating his dinner. Keep your fingers crossed!!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Holy MoLAA!

CM was spending Saturday and Sunday in a conference at the Long Beach Convention Center and not wanting to spend my time cooped up in the apartment, I convinced my friend RG to visit the Musuem of Latin American Art with me. The museum is less than a mile from the apartment, but I had yet to see the collection. (The only other time CM and I stopped by the MoLAA was World AIDS Day last year, and we only saw a few paintings before the security guards locked us out.) So, after a nice lunch at the Park Pantry, RG and I strolled along Broadway and up Alamitos until we reached the MoLAA.

The MoLAA opened in 1996 on the site of a former silent movie studio Balboa Amusement Producing Company, a roller rink known as the Hippodrome and a senior health center. The museum's design incorporated much of the old Hippodrome, using the high-ceilinged space for much of the gallery. Outside the museum were a few sculptures, including the one in the picture, as well as a reflecting pool and a white rock garden with succulents to complete the desert feel of the building.

Inside, the first part of the gallery, known as the Long Gallery, featured artwork from each of the 20 Latin American countries, ranging from a Botero painting to a tattoo and encaustic Felix the Cat ink print on paper by Venezuelan artist Irene Presner. The larger section of the gallery featured two exhibits, the first called "A Bridge to the Americas" and displayed many of the pieces from their permanent collection. We photographed a few of the pieces, which you can see here. For me, the paintings that intrigued me the most, so much so that I returned four of five times to gaze at them, were a pair of untitled portraits: two white, smoke backgrounds with a subtle figure at the center of each. Neither figure had a head or feet, but seemed to float like ghosts in the haze. Very ethereal and beautiful. And I can't remember the artist's name except for Delgado. The final gallery displayed works from Brazilian artist William Goldfarb, in an exhibit call D+Lirium. Large canvases with the images embroidered and painted on, with the art sometimes jumping from the canvas to spill out onto the floor and wind into the rafters above.

After finishing with the galleries, we tried to find the sculpture garden, following the signs and arrows but confronting dead end after dead end. RG finally asked an employee about the garden, and he told us that it was to have opened that morning after a long refurbishment, but the construction crew arrived earlier only to say that more work needed to be done. So the garden was opening the next day.

Well, that's just another excuse for us to return in the near future.

Information about the museum is from the Musuem of Latin American Art official site.