Monday, September 29, 2008

Blue Doodles

I scanned five of my old doodles and altered the background color using Photoshop to create a sequel to the earlier Mixed Meters post entitled Branches Before Blue. Pick your favorite.

Blue Doodle 1 (c) David Ocker
Blue Doodle 2 (c) David Ocker
Blue Doodle 3 (c) David Ocker
Blue Doodle 4 (c) David Ocker
Blue Doodle 5 (c) David Ocker

Bloo Doo Tags: . . . . . .

Monday, September 22, 2008

Old Word Power

A link to this article: Collins dictionary asks public to rescue outdated words appeared in my email thanks to Scott, Mixed Meters' reader in Boston.

Apparently English lexicographers must jettison some old words from their fixed-length dictionary in order to make room for all the new, hip jargon you and I wince at every day. They're asking people if they might like to make use of those antique words before they're lost forever.

Word Power
Here's a list of twenty words on the chopping block. You could adopt one or two if they strike your fancy.
Astergent - cleansing or scouring
Agrestic - rural, rustic, unpolished, uncouth
Apodeictic - unquestionably true by virtue of demonstration
Caducity - perishableness, senility
Calignosity - dimness, darkness
Compossible - possible in coexistence with something else
Embrangle - confuse or entangle
Exuviate - to shed (a skin or similar outer covering)
Fatidical - prophetic
Fusby - short, stout, squat
Griseous -streaked or mixed with grey
Malison - a curse
Manseutude -gentleness or kindness
Muliebrity - the condition of being a woman
Niddering - cowardly
Nitid -bright, glistening
Oppugnant - combative, antagonistic or contrary
Olid - foul-smelling
Periapt - combative, antagonistic or contrary
Recrement - waste matter, refuse dross
Roborant - tending to fortify or increase strength
Skirr - a whirring or grating sound as made by wings of birds in fligh
Vaticinate - to foretell, prophesy
Vilipend - to treat or regard with contempt
Yes, the article gave the same definition for oppugnant and periapt. Maybe the niddering, agrestic author vilipends the olid verbiage or embrangles it with recrement. He or she mispelled mansuetude.

These are exactly the sort of words about which I am most likely to consult a dictionary.

Word Chard
A comment to the article by Belinda Webb provides a few more gems:
Alabandical: stupefied from drink
Aquabib: water drinker
Auturgy: self-action
Barathrum: an abyss
Cancrizans: to move backwards
Farrago: confused mass of people
Gombeen: trader or moneylender who exploits the disadvantaged through unfair practices
Growlery: retreat for times of ill-humour
Gurrier: juvenile deliquent
Students of music history probably have heard the word cancrizans.

Old Word Tags: . . . . . .

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ice Cream Wishes

A lot of this post deals with Yoko Ono.

One night many years ago when I was a freshman in college I spent what seemed like hours, stoned out of my mind, standing in front of the menu board of the school's late-night snack bar, The Tea Room, trying hard to pick the perfect munchie-crunching taste treat.

Suddenly There It Was - Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream!! I knew instantly that it was my favorite flavor even though I can't remember ever having tasted it before that night.

And so it was - Chocolate Marshmallow was indeed my favorite flavor of ice cream for many years afterward. When I arrived in California I found that chocolate marshmallow ice cream was called Rocky Road and made with bits of real marshmallows. How bizarre. Yuchh. It had been the swirls of sweet marshmallow creme inside the chocolate which sealed my passion. Life went on and new flavors replaced chocolate marshmallow on top of my fave list.

Tutti Gelato Pasadena CA
Years later -- many years later -- at Tutti Gelato, a small ice cream spot hidden away in the corner of an off-street courtyard in Old Pasadena - I again studied the menu, completely straight this time, searching for the perfect after-dinner taste treat. Here's a picture of the menu. Click it to enlarge. What would you have picked?

Tutti Gelato Pasadena CA flavor board
My choice? A combination of mascarpone and sour cherry gelato in a cup. In my mind the smooth creamy cheesy mascarpone and the tart bright citrus sour cherry instantly became the perfect flavor combination - just as chocolate and marshmallow had years before. I decided that I must have it.

Alas, they were out of one flavor (or the other). I returned to Tutti Gelato many times over the years - okay it was about a half dozen times over two years - and either they were out of one flavor (or the other) or they were too busy or I was too stuffed after dinner or something.

But then, a couple weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, just at opening time, I scored the perfect cup of gelato: half mascarpone and half sour cherry. Here's a picture I took just before my first highly anticipated bite.

Tutti Gelato Pasadena CA sour cherry and mascarpone gelato
Disappointment. The mascarpone wasn't cheesy enough. The sour cherry wasn't terribly sour - more like a watered down cherry soda flavor. My taste bud imagination had let me down big time. I was highly dissatisfied. Plain old chocolate would have been so much better.

To be fair Tutti Gelato serves great ice cream and sorbet. I would not hesitate to suggest that you try it. The problem was that I had imagined such a high level of unobtainable perfection in the synthesis of flavors.

Disillusioned, I wandered around that off-street courtyard (click here for satellite view). In the courtyard there's a Crate and Barrel at one end, a trendient Italian restaurant at the other. There's a micro-brewery and a Johnny Rockets and a sushi bar. There's a movie multi-plex. There are a couple more even more trendient boutiques and a sculpture of plexiglass workmen digging a trench. Click on the next picture for a panorama shot of the whole courtyard.

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA
What I found in the middle of the courtyard that Sunday was an ongoing interactive art project by Yoko Ono. It's called Wish Tree. Here are Yoko's old fashioned fluxian instructions:
Wish Piece by Yoko Ono (1996)
Make a wish

Write it down on a piece of paper
Fold it and tie it around a branch of a Wish Tree
Ask your friends to do the same
Keep wishing
Until the branches are covered with wishes

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA
Each tree has a little set of steps so the top branches can be reached. Pencils and little tie-on cards are provided. From a distance the trees look like they are blooming a lot of white flowers. In my imagination the cards were provided in many different colors: chocolate, sour cherry and the like.

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA
Here's some description of the project at Yoko's website. She tells of tying wishing papers to trees as a young child in temples in Japan. The notion of supplicating the higher powers with a words on a small piece of paper probably exists in many religions. Here it is, in action at the Western Wall, serving an important function in the religion of U.S. presidential politics. The ancient Jews didn't have many trees to tie their wishes to. But they had plenty of rocks.

Barack Obama making a wish at the Western wall
I wandered around the courtyard reading peoples wishes. No one folded their cards as Yoko instructed. Most, as is predictable, ask for health or wealth for themselves or for loved ones. Peace for the world. Love. A few, however, were much less predictable. I snapped photos of my favorites.

I wish I had a rocket propelled corgi! Adorable.

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA rocket propelled corgi
I wish for my sunglasses to make me look sexy!

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA sexy sunglasses
I wish to swirl forward

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA swirl forward
I wish I had another wish - Nathan

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA wish I had another wish
I wish I wans't dyselxic

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA wish I wasn't dyslexic
I wish for the chance to make a difference with
my music and go to music school - Melinda

(Poor Melinda. Someday she'll find out how little effect music has on the real world.)

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CAmusic school
A lot of ice cream!
(I suggest you avoid combining mascarpone & sour cherry)

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA lot of ice cream

How to make marshmallow videos: here (yuchh) or here (yuchh yuchh yuchh)

Search for the phrase "chocolate marshmallow ice cream"

Mascarpone and Sour Cherry Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . .

Friday, September 12, 2008

Herbert Hoover Jr. Worked Here

Here's a picture I took in October 2002 from the Hill Street Pasadena Starbucks looking east.

Not long afterwards this lovely building was torn down and replaced by a Tommy's Burgers. For those not from around these parts, Tommy's is an oft-imitated Southern California chili-smothered hamburger institution. My fave!

Here's another picture, taken from the same general direction, which appeared in the March 2006 pages of Mixed Meters.

Herbert Hoover Jr - Tommy's Burgers and rainbow Hill Street Pasadena CA
It's dangerous for me to live too close to such marvelous chili-smothered burgers. I've limited myself to one Tommy's trip per year - usually around my birthday. And so it was this year.

As I left Tommy's to walk home I noticed a brick plinth in an otherwise empty cement planter in the outdoor courtyard and smoking section..

Herbert Hoover Jr plaque at Tommy's Burgers Pasadena CAHerbert Hoover Jr plaque at Tommy's Burgers Pasadena CA
On top of this pedestal I discovered a brass plaque. I don't believe it was there last year. It certainly has been installed since Tommy's arose in Pasadena. You can see a satellite view in Google Maps here and the column is visible in the Google Street View here.

Herbert Hoover Jr plaque at Tommy's Burgers Pasadena CA
Click the picture to read the plaque yourself. Google's robo-trolls can't read it unless I type it in:

On This Site
170 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena
Son of the 31st President
of the U.S.A.,
Operated Consolidated
He made a discovery
which led to the use of
Mass Spectrometers
in soil analysis for the
oil industry; Circa 1937.

This struck me as strange. Apparently, seventy or so years ago the son of a president ran a company at this spot. That's where he made some unmentioned discovery which enabled the oil industry to analyze dirt in a way so important that it deserves a brass plaque. Heaven only knows how dreary and difficult our lives would be now without this ... er, thing - whatever it is.

I resolved to do some Internet research to slake my curiosity. Here's some basic info about Herbert Hoover Jr.

The best resource about the first son of the 31st President is the Time Magazine archive. Herbert Junior was Time Magazine's cover boy on July 14, 1930. This was during his Dad's only term in the White House.

This paragraph from July 10, 1939, Time is close to a biographical sketch:
It was natural for Herbert Jr., a graduate of Stanford and Harvard Business School and since then a radio engineer, to get into seismographic oil prospecting, not only because his father has prospected off & on all his life (and still does), but because the sound technique leans heavily on radio principles. Herbert Jr., at 35, is a prospector in a big way, employing 200 men in five laboratories. He lives with his wife and three children in a secluded whitewashed brick house behind Pasadena, rides and plays a little tennis, but has little time for social doings and no time for country clubs. Most of the time he works. Unlike Jimmy Roosevelt, son of another U. S. President, who lives only 20 miles away, Herbert Hoover Jr., has no interest whatever in politics.
He figures heavily in this July 14, 1930, Time article about aeronautical radio.

Wikipedia has this article about Consolidated Electrodynamics Corporation (although the name was different when Herbert Hoover Jr. owned it). It says CEC was bought up and eventually went out of business. However this company in Covina says different. Wikipedia has a copy of the patent diagram for a mass spectrometer. Possibly it employs the discovery on the brass plaque.
Mass Spectrometer patent Herbert Hoover Jr.
Later in life, H.H., Jr. became UnderSecretary of State under Dwight Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles. This paragraph shows him over 50 years ago dealing with an international situation that has not been solved even today.
Demanded, in the face of two previous turndowns, that Syria cooperate to allow repair of the Iraq Petroleum Co.'s pipeline cut by saboteurs during the Egyptian hostilities. Declared Under Secretary of State Herbert Hoover Jr.: "Unless work begins immediately . . . the oil situation will be aggravated, which means in human terms cold and hunger not only in Europe but in Asia and South America." (from Time Magazine, 1956)
And this quote compares our hero unfavorably to his successor.
After the often grating brusqueness of Herbert Hoover Jr., his predecessor as Under Secretary, Herter's unflagging courtesy and willingness to listen boosted departmental morale. (from Time Magazine, 1959)
If anyone knows a story behind how this magnificent mysterious brass memorial came to be outside of a fast food joint, please leave a comment.

Here's a picture of the Hoover family: President Herb and Mrs. Hoover and their sons Herb Jr. (with his wife) and Allen.

Here you can buy a Herbert Hoover Jr. Hoodie.

Here, for $1000, you can buy a 1956 Washington Redskins souvenir Christmas booklet autographed by Under Secretary of State Herbert Hoover Jr. and Vice President Richard M. Nixon.

Richard Nixon comes up a lot on Mixed Meters.

Junior Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Vocal Sampling

If you think this post is going to be about computerized musical instruments called samplers, cousins of the synthesizer which play back little bits of real sounds (like maybe people singing), then you've got a big pleasant surprise ahead of you.

Vocal Sampling - Cambio de Tiempo
In this case Vocal Sampling is an a cappella male sextet from Cuba who sing (and occasionally clap or whistle) entire fascinating salsa arrangements.

I'm no expert on salsa music - but I know what I like when I hear it. And I like this. All five Vocal Sampling albums live on my iPod. This music makes me feel good. (Fortunately I don't speak Spanish so I don't have to worry what they're actually singing about.)

Vocal Sampling - De Vacaciones

Imagine the early Mills Brothers singing uptempo music by Tito Puente.

One of the five albums was recorded live - as are some of the YouTube clips I've embedded for your enjoyment.

Vocal Sampling - Live in Berlin

Surprisingly I was very taken with their version of Hotel California - not because I like the song but for the guitar solo at the end.

As a side note I discovered that Hotel California really exists - it's in Palm Springs.

Hotel California - Palm Springs CA

Of course, the fact that all six singers are heavily amplified is essential for live performance. The poor guy who sings the bass part couldn't possibly project enough without a microphone. And clucking out the continuous clave rhythm seems like it would be very tiring.

Vocal Sampling - Una Forma Mas

This clip is a sung electric guitar solo. A tenor couldn't do this.

Thanks to my friends John & Kazi for loaning me three of the albums. I've give them back ... someday. All the albums seem to be available on Amazon although Akapelleando costs a whopping $61.99.

Vocal Sampling - Akapelleando

Here's Vocal Sampling's website. It says they'll be touring Germany this fall. The final clip is a (Cuban) music video. If anyone can explain what's going on, I'd appreciate a comment.

Vocal Tags: . . . . . .

Friday, September 05, 2008

My Fifty-Year Long Commencement

Here's a year book page. Click it for full size.

David's Yearbook Photos - 1950 through 2000
Yes, these are all me! My face done up as typical yearbook photos according to the fashion of such things starting in 1950 and ending in 2000. A couple of them look a lot better than I ever did.

Go to armed with your own picture and work this trick on yourself.

For comparison, here's my 1972 yearbookyourself shot cheek by jowl with my actual 1969 high school year book photo.

David's Yearbook Photo - fake and real
Here's the source photo for my eyes, nose, mouth and sometimes chin - taken about a year ago.

David in sunroom
Thanks to Paul Bailey for indirectly suggesting this particular waste of time. He twitters.

ADDENDUM - Sept. 10, 2008

I was a bit taken aback by this school sign near me. But it's correct - there are six grades in one school - and the students entering now will graduate high school in 2015. What will they be wearing? What will their hair look like?

Welcome Class of 2015 - Marshall Fundamental School - Pasadena CA

Yearbook Tags: . . .

Monday, September 01, 2008

Gloomy Bear Solar Figurine

Here's a polar bear picture which I took here in Los Angeles.

Polar Bear diorama at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Notice that the bear looks pretty happy, with kind of a sly smile on its face, probably because it is just sitting down to a fine repast. Notice that no blood is visible.

Here's a little video of my birthday present from Leslie, a Gloomy Bear solar figurine:

Notice the splotches of blood on Gloomy Bear's chest, paws and face. Gloomy's pretty vicious, as cute cuddly anime figures go. Notice our cat Crackle who seems oblivious to the danger.

Never heard of Gloomy Bear? Neither had I. Here's a video from something called Japanorama that explains his origins, sort of a pop follow-up to Hello Kitty:

The stuffed polar bear picture is part of a diorama at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, where Leslie works. Here's a Mixed Meters article about imaginary animals which stalk the museums noisy vaulted hallways.

Here's an article about a previous birthday gift from Leslie. Thanks, honey.

Polar Bears meet Penguins?

Gloomy Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . .