Friday, April 29, 2011

Chicken Soup with Rice

No. 1 in a series of complicated recipes. Some with a suggested musical accompaniment.

With left-over cooked rice, a can or two of chicken broth, and as-many-as-you-want Trader Joe's frozen chicken cilantro mini wontons (photos from Asian Dumpling Tips) you can have a very satisfying bit of lunch. Toss in any left-over cooked chicken you might have on hand. Dump all ingredients together in a pot and heat them. The best song to play while you eat this concoction is "Chicken Soup with Rice" by Carole King.  Dancing is optional but recommended,

Dancing with Yo-Yo Ma

We have a young Serbian friend enrolled in the dance program at Shenandoah University. He sends interesting dance videos - here's a recent one. Viewed more than a million times on youtube, it's apparently pleased a huge audience. I tried a few of the moves but my ankles aren't tough enough!!

Dance instruction at the University level interested me - I had no idea what kind of studies such a program would include. At various Universities and Conservatories you can study for a Bachelor of Music, Master of music, Artists Degree in Performance, Doctor of Musical Arts. There are probably 20 more degrees possible. Some of the classes in these programs cover subjects such as Partnering, Dance Composition, Elements of Performing, Anatomy, Acting for Dancers, Voice for Dancers and something called Alexandering.

From the Complete Alexandering Technique Website: Aficionados say that the Alexander Technique is "the technique under all techniques," because it is a process of embodied thinking, sensing, and acting. Through studying the Alexander Technique, dancers can move with greater ease, poise, and accomplishment, regardless of the movement style. The Technique involves three pivotal arms of training coordination developed by F.M. Alexander: the "Means-Whereby," "Inhibition," and"Direction." The Means-Whereby helps dancers pay attention to their whole Self as they are moving. By paying attention to how you are moving -- as you move -- process takes precedence over product. The process of learning or performing movement becomes more important than the goal. Movement becomes freer when dancers focus on sensing the changing relationships of the moving body, not just on positions or steps.

I wonder if you can teach what L'il Buck has.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cyber dog?

I've never been very good at selecting a dog. You can't learn it - either you've got dog intuition or you don't. I don't. Decades ago I went to a breeder to purchase a miniature poodle.  I watched four or five puppies run around and interact (or not) with me. The puppy I selected was active, curious and energetic. We got into the car to go home - she crawled into my lap and fell asleep. Sleeping in my lap turned out to be her favorite activity. Never again was she active, curious or energetic. She was a total couch potato and I was had. As it turned out she was a lovely pet although slightly smarter than me. Despite the difference, we had many happy years together. 

The cats are ever more worried.

The latest suggestion is a plain old gif cyber dog. They run, jump, slobber and eat right on the page - alive on the computer only. No clean up, no problems. 

They query, "What if we end up with some over-enthusiastic fellow brimming over with joie de vivre,  like this? As it is we can simply delete him".  Do it please. 

Or you might pick a perpetually happy dog -  we wouldn't have mood swings to deal with. But that tail wagging? for eternity?

A snoozing dog might be easy to take.... but there's snoring and they flop all over the place. Competition for the meager bed space.

Working dogs can be a pain. Keeping them busy is a real job!

Consider that cyber dogs don't have fleas!!!

Listen up. Avoid a "Ham" dog at all cost - unbearable for cats at our level of sophistication. These dogs will do anything for attention. We had a friend with a dog like this. but he didn't have a hat.

Please, please don't pick a cornball  "laughs at his own jokes" dog.
No over-achiever types either. They never rest until they figure out a more dramatic way to do everything. Make everybody else look bad. 

We cats have dibs on worrying. We do not need a seriously worried dog...always begging and pleading for something. 

 And yuck, the macho dog, - worst of all.

We, the cats vote for this very clever hitch-hiking dog. Maybe he'll catch a ride to some other blog.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Furry Worry

Cat Insomnia
Buster and Pink can't sleep and have spent quite a bit of time on line, searching for dog alternatives - cat - a pulting us even further into fantasy. Some of their ideas......

Junkyard Dog was on the Hammerker Schlemmer website and is no longer available. I wonder why?  Too many cat-astrophes? He sounds great for only $129.00 - particularly the cross-species trick. Constructed from "scrap" this robotic mutt performs a programmable series of up to 80 moves - if he listens, that is.  He cocks his head, twitches he ears, wags his tail, sits, stand and scampers freely. The remote controls 18 different tricks like "shake hands" and "play dead". Programmed to "malfunction" he requires his owner to reset his circuits straight. Whether happy, angry or crazy, his slot-machine eyes express his moods and desires - food, running wild or the call of nature. Entering a code on the mutt's control panel reprograms him as a cat, a junkyard guard dog warning of approaching strangers or rescues him from a breakdown. 

From Amazon for only $2099.00 (money is no object for cats), the Genibo QD Robot dog  can walk around on its own, recognize its owner with its own eyes, respond to spoken words and touch, play tricks, and cuddle up to the owner as if alive.  Scratching the ground, standing on front paws, dancing, Taekwondo, etc. The Genibo expresses its feelings through approximately 700 emotional actions, the emoticon LEDs in its eyes, and puppy sounds. It can recognize human faces, such as the owner's face, through the camera on its nose. As it gets closer to its owner, the Genibo becomes happier and better at finding and following its owner. Genibo is a dog-like four-legged robot which has 15 motors and an intelligent robot algorithm. It can be operated by two cats working together. 

The Martha Stewart Make Your Own Dog

A can-ine aluminschnauzer is a real stretch of the imagination but the cats figure we could do it with their supervision. They suggest using a cat food can for the head and finishing him off with a bit of wardrobe - perhaps a sturdy pair of pyjamas to reduce the shine. The sleeves could be pushed up -  no problem. This little item is available at Wal Mart where dogs cats prefer to shop. Could we call these "the cat's pyjamas"?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cat-a-log Find

The cats were looking through their favorite cat-a-log, Viva Terra and they found another two candidates for the household DOG.  These two, Rover and Rascal, are made out of recycled newspaper so the only accidents they might have are of the newsprint variety. The cat-a-log folks say they are certain to make you feel doggone happy. 



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cat Facebook

Cat Nightmare

Cat nightmare

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The cat's story

She doesn't let us near this blog but she's asleep and we've figured it out. Not so hard. They think we don't know anything. Ha!

The dog thing is getting serious. She's going to ruin our lives bringing some slobbering bozo in to share the food and the bed and who knows what. A Clumber Spaniel with impacted anal sacs? Is she nuts?

This is me, Buster - doing all the car work as usual!
I'm Pink. I supervise the avocado work.

Sometimes they don't appreciate all we do around here, so we're keeping track. Here's the way we spend our time.

There's no room in this schedule for some annoying, yapping -  DOG. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

The final Drive Thru

In the LA Times on Sunday there was an article about paying ones last respects via drive-thru. In Compton, the Robert L. Adams Mortuary offers this service. The Times reports that "the Adams funeral parlor brings to the business of death, the convenience of the living". Adams is the only funeral company in Southern California that recognizes the need for this service: "a speedy way for well-known community folk to be viewed en masse". Those who can't walk or aren't very mobil or just dislike funeral homes, are able to roll through quickly and avoid all that.

Call me a stick in the mud, but I don't get it. If you care enough to get into the vicinity of the funeral home, why wouldn't you drag your sorry butt inside?

I found this photo of a Florida funeral home drive thru on an amusing website called My Undertaking - "the last one to let you down". Doesn't look currently active. My Undertaking
There is a comment on this blog which claims the funeral home added this feature because of gang violence. I guess you're never safe in that neighborhood.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Concert at Disney Hall

The concert, Elgar and Tchaikovsky, at Disney Hall was wonderful. I've never heard better performances, but then I'd never heard the two selections before so probably would have been thrilled to hear them no matter what. Richard has seen/heard the Tchaikovsky performed several times and he thought it was excellent. Just watching Nickolai play anything on the 7 million dollar fiddle was a thrill in itself. He's a very controlled player - didn't break a sweat until about 15 minutes in and even then it was blottable sweat not the pouring, splashing sweat I've seen violinists produce in the heat of the thing. 

Early bird reward...all alone on the stairs

The fabulous delft fountain - Richard serving as perspective
We paid $165.00 each - and the hall was full. 

We go so rarely, we splurged using up our entertainment budget for the quarter. Now we have to stay home, eat ramen noodles and watch On Demand until July. Where do people get the money?? The heads in the 7 rows in front of us were mostly grey and at intermission we were surprised at the number of walkers parked outside. Old money I guess, literally old. 

Of course, the hall is beautiful - inside is wrapped in doug fir (I think for acoustics) and the organ, which is the visual centerpiece of the theatre (before the orchestra files in) - is just stunning. Once the orchestra is in, it's like putting a diamond in a ring - the whole setting is complete.  

Hall interior
In the Tchaikovsy, one whole movement is plucked, but they didn't exactly pluck - they rubbed the strings and created a kind of orchestral sighing which they were able to increase and  decrease in volume. It was just unbelievably good and I guess the interpretation of the guest conductor, a very competent Russian dude. Dudamel wasn't there (he's a brand new Daddy) which was a disappointment initially but after a bit, we started thinking  we may have lucked out to hear/see this Russian. But who knows. I haven't a clue how critics compare these performances because at this level of orchestra, there's no bad playing - it's going to be  a choice of best, really best, amazingly best....or something like that. Superlatives all the way.

I read somewhere that Tchaikovsky used to hold his hand under his chin when he conducted because he had a psychological fear that his head would blow off. Sitting in this audience and keeping still - I had a similar feeling...well, not that my head would blow off but you had to fight the urge to sway and bob, tap the toes, clap your hands....the music was so emotionally engaging. Lest you think I'm totally nuts, Richard was fighting the same thing.  

Oinkster menu board
Pulled pork Oinkster
As we had appointments all day in Glendale and had to grab a quick lunch, we chose to visit the highly praised Oinkster on Colorado in Eagle Rock. It's been on Jonathan Gold's essential L.A. list for a couple of years. Truly a joint, the ambiance is funky and the place is very popular with a constant line out the door. We didn't like the food much the first time we tried it and sadly, our opinion hasn't changed. Good Belgian fries made from Kennebec potatoes- currently the rage,  were flavorful and crispy, but the pulled pork is dry and disappointing despite a generous soaking in a Carolina barbecue sauce. No expense has been spared on ambiance - it's authentic joint, through and through. They make all the sauces, even the ketchup. Too bad they aren't very good. 
Oinkster ambiance

Before the concert we had a light drunch at Bottego Louie:  burrato cheese (thanks Robert) and tomatoes, prosciutto, fried calamari and a lobster manicotti...all small plates. The lobster manicotti was a total waste of lobster; the calamari was fine; the cheese plate and prosciutto plates were excellent. The crashing, bashing din in the restaurant was almost unbearable for me and we noticed even the young and trendy were leaning into each other to hear. Service was perfect and the chocolate creme brulee we took home from the bakery was superb. We'd go back, with ear plugs. 
Bottega Louie from LA Weekly
Prosciutto at Bottega Louie

Fading Peonies

Richard took this photo of the just-faded peonies at the Huntington Gardens. They are so old-fashioned and remind me of ladies who smell like lilies-of-the-valley perfume, carrying parasols and fluttering lace hankies. Picnik makes the editing so easy.
Original peonies Huntington Gardens

Crop and slight blur

Added black vignette

Focal blur
Paint effect added with Pixenate

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dog Match

Gripped with dog fever, I fall in love with almost any dog that crosses my path. Out of curiosity I filled out a form on a canine/human matching web site - a kind of dog version of While I wait for their suggestions I'm considering this breed - I have many friends with these dogs and they seem to be smart, affectionate and loyal. 
Australian Shepherd

I've had friends who've been happy owners of these dogs and after all, the Queen has a couple of them:

King Charles Spaniel
 And then there's a group of adorable small dogs I like all of whom have advantages and disadvantages -
maltese, shi tzu, poodle, bijon frisee.

Dog Match came up with a number of inappropriate dogs - almost all too large!! The Clumber Spaniel was the worst pick of the lot. They are described as liking to eat and sleep, not very good at listening to their owners. drooling because of their dew laps and subject to many health problems.  
Clumber Spaniel

Only 300 were registered last year so they're not very popular - I wonder why they thought this dog would be good for me! The list of potential problems with them is so long and so awful, that I couldn't believe it, one of the worst of which is this from wikipedia:
  • ... common condition that the breed suffers from are impacted anal sacs and the dog may require them to be emptied by a veterinarian

A reddish-brown dog nose with similar colored markings on the fur around it.
Apparently the best thing about the dog is it's nose. And I have to admit it's a beauty when considered separate from the dog. I'll just admire it alone -  in the abstract, disembodied on the page, like Woody Allen would. 

Meanwhile I'll take the cat's suggestion and stick with the very safest and least demanding dog of all:

Cats' pick: Knit version of Moose

A disappointing fortune

The fortune cookies arrived along with the bill, as usual. When I cracked mine open, instead of a fortune, I found an ad from American Airlines. "Visit" and a code. What???? The waitress laughed, "They gave us those cookies free!" Then her English ran out and Richard stepped in with Chinese. She literally jumped when he started to speak. This is a common reaction as Chinese people rarely expect "round eyes" to be Chinese speakers.

I checked out the aa connection to get my cheesy fortune. Chinese food digestion is only partially complete until I read the message. On the site is a kind of "instant win" thing where you enter your email address and if you are a "winner" you get from 200 to 1000 miles posted to your frequent flyer account. The promotion is part of a launch of new service including non-stop from LA to Shanghai. 

Clever marketing - they reach a pre-selected audience - people who eat in Chinese restaurants are probably more likely to be interested in traveling to Shanghai than other populations. The surprise of finding the ad on the fortune may enrage you (it did me), but still send you to the website to see what's up and then perhaps engage you even further. The net of it is that I now am aware that American Airlines flies direct to Shanghai. Mission accomplished.