Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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2/4/2007

Guide Dogs

Filed under: — stan @ 9:09 pm

Last year, Cathy found a little article in the Auto Club magazine about a school near San Francisco that trains guide dogs for the blind. It said that they had an open house that we could visit. She loves dogs, and she wanted to take a trip up there to go to it. I thought that surely in a city the size of Los Angeles, there must be something comparable. So I went looking, and found Guide Dogs of America. It’s in Sylmar in the northeast corner of the San Fernando Valley.

They have a graduation and open house every three months there, so we made plans to go to one. And today was the day.

The graduation involved the class of dogs that are being given to their new masters, as well as the people who fostered the dogs as puppies. The puppy raisers do the basic training and socialization of the dogs, and then some specialized trainers teach the dog how to be a guide dog before they are matched up with blind people in need of dogs. It’s a pretty amazing process, and it was very obvious that the blind people were very happy to have the dogs to help them. Apparently, the entire service is free to the blind, and it’s largely supported by donations and volunteers.

We got to meet a lot of dogs in training. The foster families are encouraged to bring them to events like these so that they can get used to the environment. We also got some information about possibly having them do a presentation at Lucinda’s school, and also how to sign up to foster a puppy. We may or may not do that soon, but we probably will some day.

2/1/2007

Varla’s Anatomy

Filed under: — stan @ 11:38 pm

Tonight we went over to West Hollywood to see Varla Jean Merman’s latest show, “Varla Jean Merman is Anatomically Incorrect”. The show was at Ultra Suede, which gave us a strange sense of deja vu, since we went there to see a comic cabaret show with the Amazing Pink Things back in 1987. But the inside had been completely redone, and looked totally different.

We met another couple in line who were also big Varla fans, so we joined up to take one of the tables right up by the stage. They have been going to see Varla for longer than we have, and they even visited Jeffery in New Orleans, which puts them easily in the Varla-inner-circle. We were suitably in awe.

When the show started, Varla came out in fine form. She sang and danced, and also had video to go with the song. She sang “Tequila Make My Clothes Fall Off”, which was done with the special Varla touch.

The theme of the show was the human body and all its parts. Varla did a parody of “Hair” about feet. That was pretty hilarious.

The old-time Varla fans also got to enjoy a couple of her classics. She sang “Talk to the Genitals” as part of the show, and also did her “Schoolhouse Rock” medley as an encore. That was a treat, even though she didn’t do “Dream a Little Dream of Cheese” and eat the Cheez-Wiz.

The finale for the show found Varla in a giant squirrel costume and holding a pair of giant acorns. The song was about how memories are like nuts that we squirrel away in our heads. It was deliciously goofy and very funny.

After the show, Varla was selling her new video collection, so we got a copy, and she signed it for us. Overall, it was a very fun evening.

1/28/2007

Tammy Faye Starlite’s Born Again Again!

Filed under: — stan @ 12:00 am

Tonight we went to the Renberg Theater at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center to see Tammy Faye Starlite’s Born Again Again! I’d seen a short review of her show recently, and it sounded like a hoot. She was described as being as “If John Waters and Pia Zadora had a love child”. It was also the first time we’d been to the Renberg to see someone other than Varla Jean Merman.

The show was a send-up of both country music radio and Christianity, and it was tremendously funny. The format of the show was the “KKOK Hoedown”, where Tammy was making a personal appearance on the radio show, being interviewed by the DJ, and singing songs for the listeners. She talked about her joy in being “born-again again”, and sang a rousing song:

“If you’re comin’ down sweet Jesus
won’t you come all over me!”

She also reminded us that “1 cross plus 3 nails equals 4-given”.

She told a story and sang a song about one of her many marriages. And we all sang along with her:

“Did I shave my vagina for this?”

But then she told us about her most recent marriage, and how she was “with child” again. She came out into the audience and had people put their hands on her stomach while singing “God Has Lodged a Tenant in My Uterus”.

This was all tremendously funny and entertaining.

1/22/2007

Decorating

Filed under: — stan @ 1:23 pm

Cathy and Lucinda were decorating the house for Valentine’s Day. Lucinda went around and stuck little hearts on just about everything that didn’t run away. Being that Ripley is 12 and very mellow, she didn’t run away.

1/21/2007

No ’sexy-time’ in America…

Filed under: — stan @ 10:09 pm

Today we went to the Center for Inquiry in Hollywood to hear a talk by Marty Klein titled “America’s War on Sex: Why the Christian Right is Obsessed With Your Sexuality”. This talk came highly recommended, since Nina Hartley said he was a good speaker when I’d mentioned to her that we were going to go.

His talk was very good and very entertaining. Sadly, it was also a bit depressing, but that wasn’t due to his delivery or skill. It was just the subject matter. The most memorable quote:

“Conservatives want to make government smaller. They want to shrink it down until it can fit under your bedroom door.”

Anyway, it was a fun time, and afterward, we went to Babeland and bought a new sex toy. That seemed appropriate in some way.

And Nina was right. Marty Klein is a good speaker, and if you get a chance, go see him.

1/6/2007

Magicopolis and a trip to the beach

Filed under: — stan @ 9:43 pm

Today we took Lucinda out to Santa Monica to Magicopolis. They have an afternoon show on Saturdays.

Inside the theater, I was glad to see that the building had been retrofitted for seismic safety. And in between the steel beams, they had had various famous people sign their names on the bricks. That was kind of fun. David Bowie’s note was just behind our seats.

The show was a lot of fun. They did most of the standard magician’s tricks, but with their own spin. The show stars Steve Spill and his wife Bozena Sparrow, and part of the act centers on her being from Eastern Europe. In one bit, she comes out on stage with a box labeled “Acme” and talks in her fractured English about how she ordered a trick from Acme Magic. It is the ‘disappearing bandanna’, but then she pulls out a banana. She follows the intructions, folding it over and totally squishing it. Then she makes it disappear. This was a new twist on an old trick.

Overall, this show was a lot of fun. They also have a little magic shop in the front of the theater. Lucinda got a set of foam balls, complete with instructions on how to do a few tricks with them.

After the show let out, we decided to walk down to the beach. It was a nice day, and it was only a few blocks away. When we got there, Lucinda ran around in the surf and collected shells until the sun went down. Then, on the way out, we saw a seagull resting on the sand next to an empty malt-liquor can. We figured he was sleeping it off.

At the top of the bluff, I got a nice picture of the sunset over the beach. Then we went home. It’s days like this where I just marvel at how much I like living in Los Angeles. It’s really and truly my most favorite place.

1/5/2007

Queen Mary and the submarine

Filed under: — stan @ 7:35 pm

Today we went down to Long Beach to see the Russian submarine and the Queen Mary. Cathy and I had been there to see the submarine once when Lucinda was a baby. Now that she’s big enough to climb through it, she wanted to see it. And we hadn’t been on the Queen Mary tour since 1988. When we got married, we spent our honeymoon playing tourist in Los Angeles.

The submarine is tied up next to the Queen Mary. There is a little building with an exhibit and gift shop by the entrance. They were playing Russian martial music, which the sign said they have available on CD. Just in case you’re missing the old days of the Soviet Union.

We took the tour through the submarine. Lucinda was amused at how small it was inside, but climbing through small spaces is easy for a kid.

After the submarine, we took the tour of the Queen Mary. It was interesting, although I kind of think the computer in the radio room was not original equipment.

We stopped for lunch at one of the onboard restaurants. They had had an exhibit of Hurrell glamour photographs of Hollywood stars from the 1930s on the walls. That was interesting, and it also fit with the whole art-deco theme on the Queen Mary.

Continuing the tour, we headed up to the bow. Lucinda was amazed at how heavy the anchor chain links were. We also saw a pelican flying among the seagulls overhead, which is a little unusual. Then we headed down to the engine room. I loved the 1930s control panels. We also saw the propeller, which was interesting, since it’s something that’s not normally visible on ship like this.

Of course, I also took a bunch of pictures of Lucinda. They are in her photo album.

12/27/2006

Goodbye Bella

Filed under: — stan @ 11:38 pm

Our little puppy Bella died last night. We have no idea what happened to her, but yesterday morning Cathy found her burrowed into the cushions of the couch. She was alive, but comatose. Cathy took her to the emergency vet and they said that she appeared to be suffering from liver failure.

When our regular vet opened, Cathy took Bella up there, and they put her on an IV to help her blood pressure and they confirmed the diagnosis. They said that it looked like she had eaten something that poisoned her. They kept her there overnight, but they said that there wasn’t really anything they could do. She would either recover or die. And she died last night.

We’re all very sad about this. Bella was a sweet and loving dog, and we’re going to miss her a lot.

When Cathy took Bella to the vet, Lucinda told us that she didn’t want to talk about it, so she doesn’t know yet that Bella died. We think she probably knows on some level, but she just can’t deal with it yet.

This is a very sad day for us.

12/25/2006

Our annual report

Filed under: — stan @ 11:14 am

Corporations put out an annual report. We put out our holiday letter. I always see lots of hits in the server logs around this time of year from searches on “Christmas letters”. So just in case you’re curious, here’s the condensed version of our year.

11/25/2006

Art and tar

Filed under: — stan @ 9:44 pm

Today we went over to West Hollywood to meet our old friend Jenny for lunch. She lives in London now, so we don’t get to see her very often.

We met at the French Market Place and had a major lunch feast that involved absolutely no turkey, which was very nice. Lucinda looked at the koi fish in the pond there, and we also browsed around in the shops for a bit.

After lunch, we headed down to Hancock Park to the Tar Pits and also the L.A. County Museum of Art for Magritte and Contemporary Art: The Treachery of Images. I always thought it was kind of funny that the art museum is at the tar pits. After all, ‘art’ and ‘tar’ are anagrams and all…

Lucinda had some fun playing around the tar pits. She climbed a tree and got some tar on her arm. As always, a visit to to the tar pits is just not complete unless she gets tar on herself. One of the pits was making big tar bubbles, which were kind of fun to watch. There was even a palm tree growing like a weed in the middle of one of the tar pits. We also saw some people playing croquet on the grass. Playing on the grass in that park is always a bit dicey, since you never know where there might be a new tar seep hidden in the grass.

After playing in the park, we went into the art museum for the Magritte exhibit. I’d seen some of Magritte’s work in art museums in New York when I was on a school field trip back in 1974 or so, and I like the surrealist style. So we went through the gallery and looked at the paintings. We even saw the two works that I remember seeing way back when. It was a lot of fun.

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