Travel Theme: Pink

This time on the Ailsa Travel Blogging Network, our intrepid leader gets as girly as she’s ever been with the most garish of colors–at least to the male eye.
Which is why I’m so surprised to find I have so many shots in this category. . .

Typical Degas

Typical Degas

A girl with a pink Daisy. . .

A girl with a pink Daisy. . .

Please don't go. . .

Everyone wears pink on breast cancer awareness day.

Everyone wears pink on breast cancer awareness day.

;o)

Vixen and Paulina Photos

W.S. Gilbert
To everyone’s prejudice I know a thing or two
I can tell a woman’s age in half a minute–and I do!
Sunday was an exhausting 16-hour day, but now that I’m recovered and really looking at the photos, it almost seems worth it. . . almost. UCLA gymnastics photos coming later, but for now, shots from my encore visit to “What Is Art?” as described in a previous blog.

!!!!!!!!!!IMG_7851-2 !!!!!!!!IMG_7847 !!!!IMG_7865

OMG THERE'S AN ANGEL ON HER SHOULDER!

OMG THERE’S AN ANGEL ON HER SHOULDER!

Fire strip

Fire strip

saw Picasso do that once. . .

saw Picasso do that once. . .

Nice mask. . .

Nice mask. . .

Hungry. . .

Hungry. . .

!!!IMG_7934

This is the church. . .

This is the church. . .

Paulina Logan grnadly emoting.

Paulina Logan grnadly emoting.

Paulina Logan being her usual awwww. . .

Paulina Logan being her usual awwww. . .

;o)

Top 15 Songs of 2012

P.G. Wodehouse

To my daughter Leonora, without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time.

 

So. . . title is self-explanatory, right?

15. Halie LorenFeeling Good

As far as I’m concerned, Halie Loren is jazz.

14. Riddle the SphinxOne Man Band

A sad little paean which kicks up into rock ballad territory halfway. Showcases Christiane’s voice and pianowork, as well as Christo’s “world percussion.” He’s the only drummer I know who hits the cymbals with his hands.

13. Paulina LoganRoad in the Sky

Paulina is known for her sad songs of longing, but with the exception of “Shut the Door,” this is her hardest rockin’ tune, incredibly catchy as she sings about the “trip” she’s embarking on. . . and I’m gonna keep on going here just so I don’t end in a preposition.

12. Cindy AlexanderGrow Up

Not to take anything away from the verses, but Cindy’s strength has always been in the chorus–or as they call it now, the “hook”–and this song is another great example. The only other of my fave musicians who is such a master is Kari Kimmel.

11. Shannon CurtisBook of Fiction

If you subscribe to the theory of infinite universes predicated on every choice you make–or counter-factuals–this is the song for you. Still a love song, though; be warned. {Shannon is still giving away her entire new live album, at the link above.}

10. Scout SmithLoverboy

Everything you need to know about Scout’s voice and song-crafting ability is right here in this very heartfelt tune. Can get overly dramatic, but hopefully she’ll prune that as she leaves her teens.

9. Kat ParsonsLove Changes Everything

Kat-nip is the cutest little thing to hit the airwaves since. . . you get the picture. Whereas it was a bit incongruous to see that sweet face singing about her former lover on her last album, this song–and video–is so perfectly Kat. . .

8. Riddle the SphinxProfessional Pretender

After an unintentional laugh at the thought of a lawyer singing about a liar. . . I had no idea my buddy Christiane could craft such elaborate lyrics, or that she knew how much I love internal rhymes.

7. MeikoLeave the Lights On

If there’s anyone who could beat Kat-nip for the title of “cuteness personified,” Meiko is the challenger. Don’t remember how young she was when I first met her, when she was waitressing at Hotel Café, but I am in shock to find she’s in her 30s now, cuz she looks exactly the same. On the other hand, as much as I’ve loved her previous songs, this one shows her evolution as a crafter of fine tunes. One of the very rare songs I loved the first time I heard it.

6. Lindsey Yung—Hold

The music can get a little slow and ponderous, and Lindsey’s vocals go a bit drama queen–especially in complete contrast to her Scent of Summer–but in this case those qualities fit well with the lyrics and make the song what it is. {You can get a free download at her website—link is on her name.}

5. RushThe Wreckers

Sometimes it takes me 10 years to get into a Rush song; this one did the trick immediately. I supposed it helps that I understood what was going on in the lyrics right away, as well as the historical background of it. I specifically love the way Neil took a chance by making some of the verses with the same rhyme in all four lines, which is not easy.

4. Natalie GelmanLaugh So Hard You Cry

Speaking of emotional vocals! Natalie has a gift for converting real life into catchy tunes. Check out Streetlamp Musician and The Lion as well.

3. Riddle the SphinxSkies of Aleyeska

Five or six years ago I heard Christiane solo this song at a Borders, and never heard it again until this CD. You can almost transport yourself to the tiny island–Scotland or Ireland, I forget–although I imagine most women wouldn’t find it a compliment to have their blue eyes described as “glacier.” That fact, as well as having been on quite a few of those desolate islands, gives me a chill every time I hear this song.

2. Far Beyond FrailA Changed Man

Speaking of loving a song the first time. . . This duo has always been fantastic with music and vocals, but this time it’s the lyrics that shine the brightest. I can hear the anger and frustration in Sharilynn’s every note as she divests herself of the man she can no longer love. . .

1. Marina VRun

Vaguely stalkerish in the most catchy way; in fact, she almost makes the stalker seem sympathetic, especially if it’s her in the role. If you listen closely there’s a touch of wurly-like keyboard that lightens the tone a bit.

So this is the second time in three years that Marina V has taken the title of my fave song of the year. Wonder how she does it. . .

;o)

Music, Magic, Art, and a Vixen

I hadn’t played Tetris in years—okay, decades—but I found a fun version on the internet and tried to recapture old glory. Took me months to get to level 10, and then even longer to defeat it, but I finally did. . . only to find that’s as far as it goes. Didn’t even break 70,000. A few days later I did it again, this time reaching 74,003, so, feeling all smug and satisfied, I left it there for a while, only to come back to it a few weeks later. . . and I’m having trouble getting past level 7 again. The thing is even haunting my dreams, although there’s apparently a reason for that.

Wednesday

Have you ever bought a footlong at Subway for later consumption and found it completely wet a few hours—sometimes only minutes—later, with the plastic bag leaching all the moisture out of it? This time I was prepared, bringing paper bags. . . except I didn’t have any of the classic brown ones, all I could find was some samples from a zoo, with kiddie stuff all over them. They were a big hit, but not in a way I would have preferred. . .

Just about every time I’m on the bus going down Wilshire—the subway to the sea cannot get here fast enough for me, though I’m fine with it just getting me to UCLA—near the eastern edge of Koreatown I notice a building not all that different from the others, but it has a tiny driveway on the corner, like you’d see in Noo Yawk and especially D.C. It had occurred to me that whenever you see a show featuring such a place—NCIS in particular, now Scandal as well—this is probably where it was filmed. And yep, this time as we zoom by there’s all the huge lights, with a dozen trucks down the side street. It’s called the Talmidge, if you ever visit El Lay and want to see mundane filming sites.

Got to Westwood even earlier than I’d scheduled, so I took my time at the FedEx office, printing stuff, filling out forms, boxing my ailing telephoto lens, and finally sending it off; thank goodness for Tamron’s six-year warranty! I even had enough time to waltz—not literally—to Jamba at the student union, then casually walk back to the blood and platelet center, though it occurred to me my cold mouth might give unusual readings when they take my temperature.

Apparently it didn’t, and the funky guy in dreads I always chat with informed me they’re a lot more worried with elevated temps, due to fever. Ensconced in my platelet-giving bed, I channel through all the movie offerings, finally figuring as a completest I should at least give Quantum of Solace a shot, despite how much I’d hated Casino Royale. Didn’t realize that was Alicia Keys singing, but my spirits were buoyed when I saw Paul Haggis’ name as one of the co-writers! I may have to watch a few episodes of Due South tonight. . . As for the movie, it was better than I expected, which is not unusual for me when Tosca is featured. The main actress didn’t do much for me, but Strawberry Fields was awfully cute. Disappointed to find later the actress didn’t always look like that, but in the in the raincoat and brown boots, and particularly the red hair. . . very hot, very vintage Alison Smith, one of my fave thespian redheads of all time.

While I was sitting there through a slow scene, it occurred to me: what if there was an emergency, like a fire? What if all the patients had to suddenly be unplugged and moved out? What’s the procedure for getting that needle out of the vein as fast as possible, stemming the flow, and then moving on to the next one? Alas, I forgot to ask. . .

For once I had a perfect hour and a half there—not even feeling the need to hit the restroom—but things are never simple with me around. As I’m getting off the bed my left calf cramps. . . and I was being so damned careful with it, just for that reason! Luckily one of the doctors had experience with that and knew just what to do, so it didn’t go full-blown; I could have done it myself, but there was no wall handy. Gotta figure out a way to get out of those things without it happening! And even though I know I’ve said how much I love Kirsten’s perma-smile, I really didn’t need to see her grinning as I winced through the pain. . .

Okay. After partaking of the snacks and the newly-available orange Gatorade—those juice boxes always fountain on you when you stick them with the straw—I headed off back to Wilshire, already doing the return trip. Caught an empty 20 in stride, even though there was an express right behind it. Still well ahead of schedule, and it only took 50 minute to get to Western, definitely not bad for rush hour. Since this is the starting place for this spur of the subway—for now, hopefully—I had no trouble getting a seat, though it filled up quickly. The same could be said as I got on the light-rail to Pasadena, only I definitely chose the wrong seat there, finding my knee stuck against the very hard thigh of a woman who didn’t feel it. This is why I always sit on the sideways-facing benches.

Finally survived that, if barely, then had to wait a lot longer than I expected for the last bus of the day, but finally I was warm and sorta safe at the Coffee Gallery, for Jimi Yamagishi’s Songnet Showcase. I usually would not have bothered to show up after such a long day, but my buddy Paulina Logan had mentioned she’d be playing tonight, and I love listening to her songs almost as much as photographing her. Since she’s an aspiring actress I asked her if she wanted to play a Bond girl, only to find she wanted to BE Bond! Jane Bond, I assume. As mentioned in the previous blog, she’s one of my music models. . . or muses. She debuted “Won’t Be Still For Long” without any obvious mistakes, then launched into the always touching “Lovely,” of which more later.

As for the rest of the evening, I was. . . annoyed by a distinct lack of rhyming ethics. . . or maybe it’s just laziness. In general things were the same as most times, the usual suspects, but we did get some new blood. Fernando Perdomo always brings it, and this was my first time seeing Al Sanchez, who is a genuine guitar wizard, doing things on the strings–hey, there’s a rhyme!–that I’d only seen Alex Lifeson do. Another new guy with some good singer-songwriter chops was Mark Baldonado, while Thomas Valle-Guatemala impressed with a 12-stringer this time. Melissa Thatcher was her usual cuteness-incarnate self, and Diana Green brought the old-time jazz. . .

Which was quickly shattered by Jimi Yamagishi’s debut of “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” As he said, “If you’re offended by profanity. . . well, fuck it.” I’m sure most musicians have had loud crowds and an unruly audience, and no doubt wished they could get away with this. . .

With two thrown-in acts and only one no-show, it was a more impressive night than usual, and really, what more can you ask? With the telephoto lens out in the ether of the parcel service, I only had my standard to shoot with—wasn’t about to bring the film cameras—but it was okay since we were in the starry front stage, close to the action. Still got 299 shots, of which I kept 86, a ratio I will take any day. . .

 

Sunday

Such a languid day I didn’t want to get up from my comfy chair in front of the computer and TV. Felt that way on Saturday too, but the event downtown I wanted to see was free, so I wasn’t losing anything by not going. But for this thing on Sunday evening, I’d already bought my ticket, so I had to go, you know?

Travel not any kind of issue—for once—as I got off the subway at Hollywood and Vine, noticing the marquee of the Pantages promoting Catch Me If You Can: the Musical. That just sounds silly to me, but since in recent years I’ve enjoyed Dangerous Beauty and Spamalot, I’m not about to complain about this trend of turning movies into musicals. Heard Somewhere in Time was also musical’d, but since I haven’t seen it, it doesn’t count. . . and I always feel grand after inventing a new verb.

Interesting walk down to the Ruby Theater, made less interesting by how hard it was to munch on fries—dinner—while using a cane. Luckily the heel pain never got too bad, but I was surprised by the amount of people who deferred to me because they thought I was crippled. . . and then later how many didn’t, but that’s another story. Zigzagging down to the infamous Santa Monica Boulevard—it’s not called S&M just for the initials—I accidentally found the Fireman’s museum and memorial, which I’d hear about but was luckily closed, keeping me from having to make a tough decision. As it was I got to the theater way early, as usual. The guys there were pleasant but not all that talkative, so I sat in a corner reading a trade magazine while a couple of arias from Carmen blared.

Tonight’s show was called What Is Art? making it a catch-all for a number of pieces, starting with art on display on the stage, once we were allowed into the seating area. As it was I spent more time perusing the dresses—one slutty, the other Aztec warrior—than the paintings, though there was a memorable one of a Spanish Inquisition-type scene, with a Nazi, a KKK, and other evil villains smirking, and the Statue of Liberty in background, looking sad. The couple of b&w photos showing protest scenes were no big deal at all, rather pedestrian, so that’s that. . .

On to da play, an apparently famous piece simply entitled Art. Basically it features a white painting. . . as in all white, blank; it has some wrinkles, but come on. The first guy we see, Serge, just paid 200,000 francs for it, and invites a friend over to see it. . . turns out to not be a great idea, and even his saying, “You gotta see it at the right angle!” didn’t help. At this point I’m reminded of a cartoon I saw years ago, only this painting was black, and called Midnight in Paris Through the Eyes of a Dead Man. That put me in a better mood for the insanity that was to come, especially when the characters came to the front of the stage to deliver spotlighted soliloquies, like a character lesson in a 70s sitcom.

When we meet Yvan, he’s frantically looking for his pen cap, establishing his character. Everyone thinks the others have lost their sense of humor, so we know this isn’t really going to be about art, but rather a meditation on friendship and understanding. Marc, who is clearly the antagonist of the piece, reminds me of the Mentalist, all snooty and obnoxious. There was enough humor to make me like it; after a long discourse about how horrible a time he had with his fiancé and mother, Yvan does not look happy when Serge asks, “Then what?” Yvan is wearing an orange shirt, socks, even shoelaces; despite the color coordination, he comes off as quite a spineless individual, so it’s no shock when he’s called an amoeba. {Interestingly enough, I later looked up the bald actor and saw a photo of him as a gangbanger, so awesome range, bro.} After a few turns of “Read Seneca!” Yvan storms out of the apartment, making us think the friendship is over, only to come back a few minutes later with the proclamation of “Yvan returns!” You can never go wrong referring to yourself in the third person, right?

There’s a piece on how Marc’s wife or girlfriend waves cigarette smoke away with a disdain the others don’t like, which leads me to believe these actors enjoyed the script and wanted to do it when they saw all the emotional screaming they’d get to do. . .

So, very nice; I’d see it again.

Nice fast piano piped in during intermission, but I forgot all about that as from the rear of the stage the curtain parts to reveal. . . Vixen DeVille! Hoo boy, I’m glad I was sitting next to Paulina Logan’s mother, thereby forcing a modicum of restraint on me. As if she wasn’t absolutely gorgeous, with my favorite quality in a woman—a devious and amazing sense of humor—it turns out she’s a fire eater! First she runs the flame along her arms, then flicks it along her waist and it. . . undoes her coat! Amazing, never seen anything like that. . . plus it leaves her in a corset and stockings, yum! Don’t tell Paulina, but this was more than worth the price of admission for me: a gorgeous, hilarious, sexy Brit. . . as longtime readers know by now, I am the living epitome of my friend Cheryl B. Engelhardt’s lyric, “I fall in love at least four times a day.” This lady will be taking up at least a week’s worth!

Okay, time to scrape myself off the ceiling and watch the acts—good thing I’m allergic to alcohol, right? First on the stage was Corporal Punishment, who comes out in Marine Corps uniform, but is sporting officer insignia. He’s singing—talking, really, with piped music, so karaoke—as he strips off his shirt to show off his sparkly chest; dust flies. The tearaway cammo pants are next, leaving him in a g-string and shoes. . . and socks with holders, which I will always find hilarious. When he turns to walk off stage his entire ass is hanging out, which I really didn’t need to see; hope the floss irritates his ass crack. . .

Didn’t catch the name of the Japanese girl singing next, whom I would guess is from Brazil; Vixen tells us the song was originally in Portuguese, then done in Japanese, and now English. Didn’t enjoy it at all, not the least because the voice was high-pitched and squeaky, but it wasn’t horrible, so there’s that.

Poet didn’t show, so Cat–I mean, “Vixen”—is filling the time with audience participation storytelling; thankfully the mic cord didn’t reach me! The story featured Compton, an upper-clas-Brit twit, a monkey, a cop, an Australian, wind, mud, a distant train, and possibly other things I’ve forgotten. At one point she’s tugging on the mic cord, looking like she’s trying to reach me, when she jokes, “Does it reach? Story of my life. . .” Damn, she’s good. Then the guy in front of me whines, “You promised you wouldn’t tell!” to which she replies, “I tell everything at my shows.” Later on there was a line about “Simultaneous climax not always possible,” which I missed the context, probably a good thing. I did notice she does a really good valley girl accent. . .

On to the real reason for being here, a second serving of the one and only Paulina Logan, who did “Lovely” again, and even though I just heard it Wednesday, it sounded so heartbreaking this time; she seemed to like that when I told her after. You know the audience feels it when there’s a pause after the song is finished, as though they’re trying to gather themselves or wipe away the tears, before the thunderous applause starts.

As it turned out, I would need those two performances, for next was Alice in Wanderlust, exactly what you’d imagine from the title. A cutesy doll-like blonde is totally Alice’d out—though I doubt the original wore such garish blue eyeshadow—as she comes up to the crowd to sing, so close to me that the bottom of her short dress is tickling my arm, close enough for me to see the tattoo on the inside of her wrist. Couldn’t crane my neck up to see her, so instead I watched the slinky green caterpillar with the hookah strip all the way to a thong—not a very attractive woman, with cellulite and short hair—then strip Alice all the way; that gal shaves, and both of them had way too many tats to be convincing in their roles. For a guy who takes photos of the most beautiful women in the world for a living—and especially with Vixen around—color me not impressed. Things perked up a bit when a submissive-dressed Cheshire Cat—male this time—comes in, saying, “Some people go this way, some people go that way. . . I go both ways.” He dresses her up, and they leave. . .

Micah Cover ended the show, doing a bit of standup to start, shoutouts to the previous people, then a trick with butterflies and hand fans, which did indeed look cool. He pretty much summed up the night: “If it’s good, it’s magic; if it’s bad, it’s performance art.”

;o)

Paulina the Musical Model

There are certain musicians I photograph so often that I call them my musical models, of which Paulina Logan probably has the top spot right now. {Amazing how many shots don’t come out because I’m singnig along and the camera shakes, but that’s not important right now.} These shots are from Wednesday, at the once-a-month Songnet showcase at the Coffee Gallery in Altedena, California; if you saw my best of 2012 photos, you’ll recognize the starry background.

!IMG_6341 !IMG_6347 !IMG_6356

Starry-eyed. . .

Starry-eyed. . .

Does full length work. . .

Does full length work. . .

Or is cropped better?

Or is cropped better?

As smug as she gets. . .

As smug as she gets. . .

Note: it’s amazing how the house lights turn her pepto-pink guitar into some sorta grapefruit-ish-like thing. . .

 

;o)