So. . . What A Lovely Weekend It Turned Out To Be

Here’s hoping you had more fun.

Saturday
1:00 P.M.
About a week ago I got a notice popping up on my computer that Window/Microsoft/whatever needed to make a download that would take a while, so did I want to do it then, or hit the snooze? (Yes, it had a snooze button.) Since I was in the middle of a hot writing session, I postponed, but when I was ready I looked for the program that had popped up—assuming it was right there on the task bar, or maybe in settings—but couldn’t find it. Oh well, no big deal, I figured, I’ll do it myself.
But that rebooting didn’t do it after all, as today at around one o’clock it popped up again. This time I set it to do its job at 2, but I finished quicker than expected and this time the settings program stayed open, so I clicked on “Start now.”
They weren’t kidding when they said it was a big one. I have pretty fast internet and at the very least ok computer RAM, but that sucker took FOUR HOURS!
5:30 P.M.
Finally done, I tried to get back to work. . . except my writing program wouldn’t open, or at least it opened a little and then asked me to log in, only to report an error. It told me to fix it by going to my Office program, except it deleted it instead. So on to downloading it again, only that didn’t fix the problem. So, not able to do any writing, which is at least half my work, and the other half—working on photos—wasn’t available because at the moment I had no photos to work on, I read a lot, even more than usual, and watched two hours of Katherine Heigl on TV before going to bed early. . . on a Saturday night.

Sunday
11:30 A.M.
Things got off to a late start, so I wasn’t able to get onto Microsoft’s chat help until 11:30. Wasn’t sure if this was a smart thing to do, as I had to shower and get ready to go to the monthly Sisters in Crime meeting soon. But I did it anyway. First I got Rajesh—I remember because it’s the same name as the guy on Big Bang Theory—who did his best to get Word up and running, only to fail after about an hour.
1:00 P.M.
Once he ran out of options I was transferred to main support, in the body of a pleasant young lady named Adrianne. She told me there’d been a number of people with such trouble after the big download yesterday, and knew just how to fix it. By now I figured I’d be arriving late for the meeting, and possibly with only a whore’s bath instead of a shower. . .
2:00 P.M.
Not exactly a plot twist, is it? Not when you’re expecting it. That solution didn’t work, and she went away for a while to try to figure something out. When she came back a few minutes later, it was to completely remove Windows 10 and then redownload it. As you can guess, there was no Sisters in Crime meeting for me today; was gonna go to In-N-Out, too.
4:45 P.M.
By the time the download finished I’d lost touch with Adrianne, who probably went off to help other people. Luckily when I tried Word it worked. Relief is too small a word. The best I can say is that it was a cooler day than most in the past month, so not too bad spending it in the apartment. On the other hand, would have been a great day to go out, since tomorrow it’s supposed to be hot again and I have to go to physical therapy. . .

;o)

Make Someone Happy

Yesterday, in the middle of a hot muggy afternoon of running around Los Angeles—first bout of physical therapy, visiting my mother at the nursing home, groceries, etc.—I had to go to Union Station to reload my bus pass. There were three people ahead of me in line. One of them left, as though they’d waited long enough and had to catch a train or something. The guy right in front of me asked something of the woman before him, but when she couldn’t answer he turned to me, inquiring as to where he might buy an Amtrak ticket to Oceanside. Simple enough to give him directions, and he looked a lot less stressed out as he headed off.
A couple of minutes later I arrived at the empty middle window, where through the security glass I could see the lady sitting there, looking a bit harried and in need of a break. Starting out businesslike, I placed my TAP card and credit card in the tiny slot while asking for $50 of stored credit. After taking them and placing them on their spots, she turned back to ask me for ID. . . which I was already holding up with a smile as well as my hand. “I’ve done this before,” I chuckled, making her laugh and say, “I love it when everyone’s prepared!”
By the time I left she was sporting a huge smile and thanked me with a brighter tone than I expected. That made me smile too as I made my way up the escalator and out into the bus bay. . . until I felt the humidity trying to suffocate me like a boa constrictor.

;o)

Travel Thursday Snapshot: Time to Rostock Up

Northern Germany was not known for heat, most of the time anyway. Perhaps being on the water, humidity and such, made it feel so much past balmy today, except the breeze coming in from the north was cool.
Or maybe it was the long bike ride. . .
Rostock’s port was basically like all others, only older, with the centerpiece—not literally—being the lighthouse. It didn’t have the same old-brick charm as the Campanile in Venice, but in a way was more fun to photograph. The wondering if people were allowed up there so I could take some photos was quickly tempered by my knees shouting for my brain to shut up, so I got back on my bike once I’d had my fill of the tall scenery and made my way to the next destination the gorgeous blonde at the tourism office had recommended.
On the way I looked at the surroundings as much as I could while also keeping an eye on cars and pedestrians, thinking this was a kinda strange city when compared to its Baltic neighbors but not able to say why. Language differences were always fun, and right now as I waited at the red light and perused a billboard, it occurred to me that the double dot accent, which I’d always thought was more Scandinavian, looked a bit funny. In fact, when on the Ö, they kinda looked like eyebrows, making the letter look surprised. . .
The Kröpeliner Straße had a bit of a fairy tale vibe to it, with its tall old skinny buildings that looked like something out of animation. With all the photos I stopped to take—it is my job, after all—it took a lot longer than expected to get to the Fountain of Happiness, or Zest for Life, depending on who was doing the translating, where soon enough other tourists were wondering just how many angles one guy could shoot. This being University Square, in what the beautiful tourism blonde had told me was the oldest university in Northern Europe—take that, Sweden—I indulged my hobby of exploring bastions of higher education, and not for checking out the lovely female students, as vicious tongues have wagged in the past. The red and yellow buildings were the most fun to shoot, nothing like my education stomping grounds at UCLA.
After a while I stopped to examine a wall that the gorgeous tourism blonde had told me about; part of me was wondering if it was the right wall, while the other part thought about going back to the tourism office to thank her. Having photographed every inch of the temples at Khajuraho, I considered myself an expert at walls, so it didn’t take me long to find what she’d been hinting at: while it really wasn’t all that different than most little demons seen carved into buildings all over Europe—helluva lot of them in Paris, for example—this little imp was squatting, arms folded in his lap, head down on his arms, looking remarkably bored with the view. You could almost hear him sighing as I wondered who he’d ticked off to get this guard duty for eternity.

;o)

Book Reviews: The Whole World Is Graphic

“Do I have to carry you?”
“Would you? Careful on the steps, I’m fragile everywhere except emotionally.”

Red Team: Double Tap, Center Mass
After whiling away the hours in traffic talking about her relationship—and chasing after a guy who runs into a pole—the two cops who’ve been punished for something that happened in the first issue come across an entitled brat with gang bodies in the trunk of his speeding car, which of course leads to all kinds of red herrings and tangents and conspiracies before they finally discover what’s up.
In case you ever wondered, being shot in the head will not stop someone from having sex.
My fave scene was him gently ripping into the SWAT guys for failing to clear the crime scene. On the other hand, I’m getting tired of the cliché of cops not clearing crime scenes due to lazy writing. . . just sayin’. Another highlight was the stroll through the art gallery, which was all kinds of awesome.
The sex scenes are intentionally hilarious. For instance, that’s one happy voyeuristic dog on the couch! There’s funny usage of arms and legs to block naughty bits, and how can she not be the perfect woman when that kind of “pillow talk” gets her hot?
I’m surprised that such a convoluted story actually wrapped itself nicely at the end. Still a tough ride to get through, and there were a few plot holes that would have brought it to a screeching halt if they hadn’t been ignored, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared after the slow beginning.
As far as the artwork goes, these are some really bright colors for this genre.
Over twenty pages of sketches and scripts.
3/5

Lady Stuff: Secrets to Being a Woman
A series of cartoons about. . . well, you already know if you read the title.
Since this isn’t a story, it’s much easier to simply say there were a lot of hilarious moments here. This may be the funniest thing I’ve read all year. Some highlights:
The matching eyebrows (it literally made me laugh out loud).
“Pick a color” at the manicure place.
“My bed is warm.”
*Hugs sweatpants*
She lost me at “guac.”
“Summer cuddles”—not a name—is spot on.
How not to eat cookies.
Talking ice cream, no matter how cute, is friggin’ scary.
See, this is what I’ve been saying about garlic all along!
Sometimes when she’s in the blanket she looks like the cute little seal girl from Song of the Sea, but other times she looks like a nesting doll.
It’s all done in really simple drawings, but then this is about the humor, so it doesn’t matter.
4.5/5

Heart and Brain: Body Language
First, as far as the author’s pen name, I would like to point out that I’ve never met a Yeti who wasn’t awkward.
Second, I’ve read a previous collection of this comic strip, so I’m coming in with full awareness as to the brand of humor.
And most of all, Heart is so cute! And an airhead, of course. I have to assume there are plushies available.
Highlights:
“Pandora’s Web Browser.” That’s a thing.
“Give those back! I was making a point!” “Point taken.”
“They grow up so fast.”
“Protagonist!”
“Ssssshowtime!” and “Taste Buds!”
“Just song lyrics and movie quotes”. . . Yep.
See what happens when you roll your eyes. . .
Plenty of crazily humorous moments, well worth a perusal.
4/5

Renegade: Martin Luther, the Graphic Biography
Yes, someone did a graphic novel on one of the biggest names in the history of religion. And it goes in-depth, with plenty of stuff that isn’t in a quick look at his life, if we assume all this is actually true, especially the lightning bolt incident. Did you know he played the lute? I didn’t. Now we both do.
Some high points:
The whole story starts on a high note, as the first illustration is a Bosch painting. Later on there’s a panel that’s right out of Escher. Bonus points from me.
For a monk, he sure knew his spycraft. Junker Jorg indeed.
There’s a Groundhog Day page to show how bored he is in exile, funny despite the repetitiveness.
“The gospel should be told as if everything just happened yesterday.”
“God. . . was absent during the bloodbath.”
The downside, at least for me, is all the religious babble. To the end he holds to his simplistic, even childish views. “There are innocent people among them. God knows well how to protect and save them. . . if he does not save them, then it is only because they are villains.” Ugh. And even if a lot of the Catholic rituals haven’t changed in over 500 years, I still don’t understand them.
As for how historically accurate it is, I can’t help but wonder. I looked for any representations of him with the hipster beard, and couldn’t find any. The wedding: tuxedo and white dress? Hopelessly anachronistic, obviously trying to appeal to a younger generation.
“Assumes a pastorate.” Some of the language sounds silly to modern ears.
I will admit I learned a lot from this, if indeed it was all true; I have my doubts on that score. He was neither a saint nor a sinner, or perhaps he was a bit of both. If this was pitched as a story, no one would buy it, but as a history lesson it works.
3/5

Poe: Stories and Poems
Seven of the master’s most famous works rendered in visual form. Being a huge Poe fan might skew my opinion, but since my very favorite story isn’t in here, I don’t think it’ll be a problem. Was going to try to keep my comments to just the graphic novel’s depiction, but as usual my questions about the stories crept in when I wasn’t looking.
Masque of the Red Death:
Starts, appropriately enough, with a depiction of what the plague does to a human body. This is easily the most colorful of the stories, as it should be, considering the party rooms. This is also the most straightforwardly told, but that may be because it’s the first one.
As I’ve wondered in the past, why did Poe name this protagonist Prospero? And how did the plague enter the sealed fortress after a few months had gone by?
Cask of Amontillado:
I will say the coloring in these scenes, particularly the burial basement, are accurate if not beautiful to look at: mostly darkness, with only the harsh yellow of artificial light to illuminate it. And I always thought Poe was being ironic, or sarcastic, in calling that unfortunate character Fortunado.
Annabel Lee:
This is the first story where the characters are dressed modern rather than period. This artwork makes the whole theme seem even sadder, from the shot of him on his knees sobbing into the ocean to his finished fortress of sand. It feels like no woman has ever been mourned more.
The Pit and The Pendulum:
The story is all black with white lines, since he’s trapped in the dark, until he finds the pit. The rats were a little too realistic for my taste. And this has always been one of my least favorite Poes, as I’m not a fan of the “saved in the nick of time” trope.
The Telltale Heart:
This has always been the go-to when it comes to showing the power of guilt. If anything, it’s a little too on-the-nose here, not subtle at all, but then there weren’t that many pages to work with.
The Bells:
Really isn’t much you can do artwise to show bells. Bells can be happy or sad, but they’re just the tool. The bright orange of the fire looks nice, though.
The Raven:
The protagonist looks just like Poe in these grayscale drawings. The raven is exquisitely drawn, with patterns in its wings. This poem isn’t as visual as the others, so not as much to work with here, though I thought the artist could have made more use of the references.
Ends, rather fittingly, with his grave.
The artwork is more picture book that graphic novel. As you’d expect, it’s literally and metaphorically dark. But I do have to admit that the images make the reading go by faster.
At the end the author explains some of his choices, accidentally answering some of my own questions.
4/5

;o)

Poetry Tuesday: The Battle of Maldon

By the ever popular and prolific “Anonymous,” c.991.

Courage shall grow keener, clearer the will,
the heart fiercer; as our force faileth.
Here our lord lies leveled in the dust,
the man all marred: he shall mourn to the end
who thinks to wend off from this war-play now.
Though I am white with winters I will not away,
for I think to lodge me alongside my dear one,
lay me down by my lord’s white hand.

;o)

Moonlit Kit Video Shoot Photos

So last Saturday I found myself heading to what eventually turned out to be a small horse ranch near Vasquez Rocks, north of Los Angeles. There was a small stage, a rickety gazebo, and a few horses along with some fans and friends of the band who’d come to help shoot the video for Moonlit Kit’s new song, Simple Ways.
I volunteered mostly because I thought it’d be fun, and because I haven’t been on a shoot in a long time, but also because Kit Nolan is Lindsey Stirling‘s keyboardist/guitarist whom I’d briefly met at her concert last year. Seemed like a cool guy, and I liked the song, so why not? I didn’t expect Lindsey’s drummer Drew Steen to show up as well, but that just made for all the more fun.

Okay, on to the visual beauty:

This band has both flair and flare.

Director Christine likes close-ups

Too many jokes to settle on just one.

Daniel often has to duck under the bass.

Drew chillin’ with Kit’s replacement should Moonlit Kit hit it big.

Kelly doing her strut to the stage.

Violin Bass Guitar.

Kit showing off the heroic chin.

Gazebo decorations.

Ryan into his jam.

Tyler workin’ the bun.

;o)

Travel Thursday Snapshot: La Plaza Mexican-American Museum

Today’s travel only took me an hour from home, but since I went after visiting my mother at the nursing home, it felt like a lot longer.
This museum is located across the street from the Plaza in downtown Los Angeles—itself across the street from Union Station—which is most famous for containing Olvera Street. If any of you bothered to read my one and only food review, you’d know that place was Juanita’s, right here on Olvera Street, so that had to be the first stop. It’s easy to tell when you’ve been to a restaurant a lot when the moment they see you they yell to the kitchen, “Bean and cheese burrito!” I had to straighten them out: “That’s just my nickname, not my real name.”
After some talk with the owner about missing Comic-Con, I set off for my usual after-burrito soft serve, then on to the museum, which is across the street from the gazebo, almost next to the church, if you count the open area between them. The first thing I found out was that it’s free, though there is a donation box. The young lady behind the desk smiled and told me what I could expect and to make sure not to use a flash if I took photos. Sounded a little rehearsed, but I wasn’t going to hold that against her.
So on to the many displays on the first floor, reminiscent of the museum style of the Autry Museum of the West in Griffith Park. The first part deals with social issues, like racism in the 40s and school segregation.

After that it’s more about the history of the area, including videos and sound bites. Also on the ground floor is a space for art exhibits, the current one concerning art works from those who refer to themselves as Latinx artists, which is a term I’m unfamiliar with but apparently stands as either gender-neutral form of “Latin” or LGBT for Hispanics. . . or possibly both. There were a couple of particularly intriguing works, as well as quotes; the one that really made me laugh was the guy calling Frieda Kahlo the original Queen of Selfies.


On the second floor is a space, again reminiscent of the Autry, made up of store fronts, the most popular for me of course being the photo studio; now I know what my professional life would have been like 100 years ago. The other favorite was the book store—remember, kiddies, in Spanish Liberia does not mean Library; that’s Biblioteca—which also sold music. The grocery store was fun too, as I looked for things I might like and had to settle for vanilla—spelled differently here—chamomile, and cinnamon.


So, overall not a bad way to spend a couple of hours, especially in the heat of summer. I might have to cross the street and get another soft serve from the lady that’s always reading. . .

;o)