Saturday, December 29, 2007

Catch of the Day

It rarely gets cold here in So Cal, but the last week has been chilly. I imagine it was even colder on a fishing boat off the coast of Redondo Beach where father and son spent several hours breaking in Nick's new fishing pole and reel.

Report from Nick - this was the most fun fishing so far. Fun? He caught ONE FISH.

I'm told it's called a Blacksmith Perch, and because it's so small, it can't be fillet'd. It will probably feed Nick. Maybe.
Fortunately, some nice people took pity and gave them some bass fillets and an additional perch, so the rest of us - especially the cook - won't starve.

Apparently, the fish didn't like the cold weather any better than the shivering masses on the fishing boats, so no one caught very many fish, except two asian men who caught more than everyone else combined.

I told Frank he needed to figure out what they were doing right. Frank said his line got tangled a lot, so his fishing time was in knots, so to speak. He claimed his hooks were too big since they got lots of nibbles, but those sneaky fish managed to eat all the squid without getting hooked.

Sounds like a fish story to me.

Shiny Happy Blog

I'm starting the new year with a new look for the blog - experimenting with the existing template so I don't have to learn too much html.

I may change the background photo from time to time to keep things looking fresh - or not. Over the next day or so the colors may change - working this way is like painting a wall in your home with different swatches until you come across something you like.

Stay tuned.

Friday, December 28, 2007

New Year's irresolutions

I've never been one to keep my New Year's resolutions. So much so, I stopped making them. I hated setting my self up for failure, I guess. Not a good way to start the New Year.

Instead, I highly recommend irresolutions. Less pressure. An irresolution is less specific, or less definite than 'lose 20 pounds.' Using words like 'more' makes things flexible enough to mean anything in addition to what is going on now.

So, here are my 10 Irresolutions for 2008.

1. Write in my blog more. Be more creative.
2. Work on more t-shirt designs.
3. Take more photographs - don't forget camera when going out.
4. Learn something about Flash, finally.
5. Learn something new about Photoshop and Illustrator.
5. Walk the dog more.
6. Walk more.
7. Lose temper less.
8. Start Christmas shopping earlier.
9. Eat out less. Eat better.
8. Simplify more.
9. Plan ahead more.
10. Meet with friends more.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Simplify, simplify

I purchased my own blog name so I could simplify the address. Previously, was always at the tail end of the address, which made the whole thing so long that I couldn't even remember it.

Now, the official address is

Mucho easier to remember!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Gewgaw, Christmas Tree

My kind of Christmas tree will never make it into the window at Tiffany's.  I like a tree with character and memories, not rife with good taste. Ours houses a collection of licensed characters, vintage glass ornaments, and whatnots.  Not shown in the picture is the Darth Vadar ornament hanging next to the little vintage plastic manger. 

The artificial tree is one we found on sale at Stats - it's a small Charlie Brown type tree. Perfect for the nutty bunch of stuff that hangs from its spindly limbs.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

RandomMadnessinTorrance T-shirts at CafePress!

The City.

The Blog.

Now the Shirt - available at my store at CafePress!

The Gewgaw, Christmas Bootie Mug

Ah, nothing like a nice egg nog served up in a nice cheery....shoe? Ok, so it's not really a shoe, but a cute little elf sized boot.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Pablo Sez Buy a T-shirt!

Some of my son's weird cartoon characters are now on t-shirts at CafePress, and are available online for purchase - buy one today!! Pablo Sez so!

PABLO SEZ YO Online Shop

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Soup Can vs Dog

Dog won.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Gewgaw, Smokin' Snowman - for Dad

Christmas is almost here - my decorations have been up since Thanksgiving. I figure if I have to go through all that effort to put them up, I want them up a good long time.

I love vintage holiday stuff, especially linens and old glass ornaments - Shiny Brite and the like. I also have a bunch of little holiday gewgaws that only see the light of day for a scant month, then back into the garage they go.

I just found this little ceramic snowman ashtray, a very practical gift for dear, old, nicotine-addicted 'Dad'.

His pipe and top hat have holes to allow for the smoke to waft through. It's hard for me to picture this cute little guy stuffed with a bunch of old butts.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday - Give it a Rest? - Part 2

Another beautiful Sunday - the sky was bright blue, the air was crisp and clean - and, what's that I hear? Another visit from my friendly neighborhood construction guy and his worker.

Same guy as last time.

This time, I thought, I'm going to have to get mean. Yup, I called my friendly neighborhood law enforcement official. He asked to see where it said that the guy couldn't work Sunday (currently, in Torrance, you can work everyday, including holidays and Sundays). Fortunately, I keep my paperwork in a file, and showed him the minutes from the planning meeting.

Pays to keep your paperwork in order.

So, once again, I'm sharing a lovely photo of the offender's truck. If the owners of the property, Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth (Sandra) Tokita of Irvine are listening, please ask your general contractor, Scott Manfredi, and/or the subcontractors to be a bit more respectful of the neighbors, and meet the conditions of your permit?

I'd appreciate it.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Landmark Camelot Drugs Closing

One of the last themed commercial buildings in the South Bay is closing its doors. Located next to a Big Lots store at 2159 Pacific Coast Highway in Lomita, Camelot has been selling medicines, gifts, cards and money orders for at least (from its appearance) 40 years.

Although to many Camelot Drugs is just another strip mall eyesore, I've always had a fondness for the castellation motif, and the uncial script sign. The interior harkens back to another time and place when stores weren't sterile, and the employees were long standing neighbors and friends. I suspect the plethora of CVS and Walgreens on every street corner spelled doom for this medieval drugstore.

My guess is it will be replaced by something less chivalrous.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sunday - Give it a Rest?

A couple of weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, there was work going on behind my home where a three unit condo/apartment is being constructed. A caveat for getting their permit was that there was to be no construction on Sunday.

Apparently, the owner of this truck either didn't get the message or decided to ignore it, so I had to make a call to the appropriate folks at City Hall. I also snapped a photo of the truck, for posterity. I've decided I'm going to post photos of any issues that crop up. Just for giggles.

Fortunately, not too many have cropped up lately - other than I get to wake up to pounding and banging every day at 7:15 in the morning.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Gewgaw, Cache of pulp paperbacks

I don't collect paperbacks, but I ran across a bunch of these at the local thrift store and couldn't resist - I'm selling them on ebay for next to nothing.

I have a friend who's had the hots for Richard Chamberlain since he was in the mini series 'The Thornbirds'. She'd kill for this 'wallet sized photograph'.

Kildare's arch nemesis:

Good morning Mr. Phelps -You ever seen a grown man naked?

I preferred Debbie Reynolds in this role:

Sandra Dee was too cloying. And what the heck is she doing on that fence???

I really dig the crazy font on this book. I don't remember this show too much - I watched 'Time Tunnel'...I really liked Lee Meriweather.

Just try to ignore the phallic symbolism here.

My Brush With Tom Selleck

This is a very old story, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

Many years ago, a friend and I went to "The Battle of the Network Stars." This was a television special that featured various television celebrities competing in psuedo olympic type events. The whole circus took place at Pepperdine U, near Malibu. I'm not a groupie, nor am I a starstruck fan - it was just something to do, and hey, I was 20.

My now-husband-then-boyfriend was (and still is) pretty terrific - in spite of the fact that my friend and I were going just to oggle the rich and famous guys, he loaned me his very expensive camera, which had a big telephoto lens and an auto-winder - pretty expensive stuff in 1980. He gave me a quick lesson how to use it.

When we got to Pepperdine, I managed to wiggle my way into great viewing spots at every event. The camera looked so professional, security thought I was with the rest of the paparazzi. So, there I am, oggling and clicking, and having a pretty good time with my friend. I didn't really take that many photos, as there weren't that many celebrities I was interested in - I just held it up once in a while so it looked like I belonged there.

One of the last events was a diving event. A new star named Tom Selleck was introduced. Yup, this was pre Magnum P.I. (giving away my age here...) My eyes bugged out - I recognized him from his modeling days for 'Chaz' cologne, which I recall didn't smell all that great. His picture appeared in ads and posters at the department stores where they carried the stuff - I remembered him - he was, in my opinion, pretty darn hot, especially compared with the actor from 'B.J. and the Bear', who was all of about 5'2" tall. Feh.

So, there is Tom, looking pretty damn striking, standing on the high dive, dressed in a really good tan and a pair of short- shorts. Red ones, I recall. NIce amount of body hair. Mustache. About 6'4". wow.

Good diver, too. Nice form.

After the event was over, most of the stars headed off to their trailers or tents, just stopping to give some obligatory autographs and posing for a few pictures. The BJ and the Bear guy had an entire entourage trailing him off to his tent. That's when I spotted Tom, all by himself, tying his shoes on a bench. Alone. Fully clothed (damn.) Not a soul pestering him or a photographer snapping off a few. I made a beeline...

I was a pretty shy person, but I couldn't resist. I went up to him and asked if he'd pose for a few photos. I actually told him I'd seen his picture before, and thought (I can't believe I said it, what a goofball) he was by far the best looking guy there (which he was), and he was going to be famous (inspite of Myra Breckenridge). He looked a little embarrassed, but also thanked me sincerely. He was very obliging, posing with his foot up on the bench, putting his hand on his hip, doing the modeling thing - what a natural. Nice teeth too. I tried to look cool, and like I knew what I was doing, but I was so excited, I'm surprised the camera didn't fog up.

After about 5 minutes or so, his agent told him he had to go, but Tom was really gracious and excused himself - I thanked him. He waved. The day couldn't have ended any better.

The first thing I did when I got home was to rush my film out to the developers. Would you believe it, NONE OF THE PICTURES OF TOM CAME OUT - which explains why there ain't any pictures up on this blog. It was pretty devastating. I don't know what happened, and neither did my hub-then-boyfriend. I almost cried. My brush with fame was nothing more than a story with no pictures.

Ah, the rest is history. As an aside, I think Tom would have made a very good Indiana Jones.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Turkey Day!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hillside Ordinance Human Comedy

In case you were wondering how it is that a condo or car lot can be built behind your home in spite of your objections, it's because our city's Planning Commission spends half its time dealing with the fallout from the Hillside Overlay Ordinance. Frankly, I think our commissioners are worn down by the time one of these rolls through a meeting, and simply lack the energy to deal with any other issues.

The following is a case in point - I copied it from the September 5, 2007 Planning Commission meeting minutes (public record). This and one other HIllside project is discussed for most of the 3.5 hour meeting that began just after 7pm. My comments are in (bold italics)




Planning Commission consideration for approval of a Precise Plan of Development to allow first and second-story additions to an existing two-story, single-family residence on property located within the Hillside Overlay District in the R-1 Zone at 602 Paseo de la Playa.


Approval (that's what you think...)

Planning Associate Martinez introduced the request and noted supplemental material available at the meeting consisting of correspondence received after the agenda item was completed.

Michael Guzman, 602 Paseo de la Playa, applicant, reported that he had met with the Youngerns (536 Paseo de la Playa) to discuss their concerns as urged by the Commission at the last meeting. Submitting renderings to illustrate, he contrasted the revised project with the original design, noting that 407 square feet have been eliminated, of which 75% percent was removed specifically to address the concerns of the Youngerns. He noted that the project meets or exceeds all setback requirements; that the maximum roof height is 16 inches lower than the existing roof; and that the project will be built according to the City of Torrance green building initiative.

Commissioner Browning noted that he was not present at the previous hearing, however, he had reviewed the audiotapes and visited the site and surrounding area several times (more than once?) and believed he was qualified to participate in this hearing.

Commissioner Browning stated that he would have appreciated new elevations along with the revised plans, particularly of the front the home, because when looking at the silhouette he felt it overpowered the residence to the north. He noted that even with the revisions, the FAR (floor area ratio) still exceeds 0.50.

Mr. Guzman related his belief that the bulk of the project was mitigated by breaking up the fa├žade with a courtyard rather than building lot line to lot line, noting that the front door is 60 feet from the property line.

After a show of hands of those who wished to speak, Chairperson Busch requested that speakers limit their remarks to four minutes. (the neighbors showed up in droves).

Tim Youngern, 536 Paseo de la Playa, submitted photographs of the revised silhouette taken from different areas in his yard and maintained that the proposed project would tower over his home impacting light, air and privacy (remember this comment the next time the city approves a three story condo next door to your house). He reported that Mr. Guzman did not share the revised plans with him and contended that the changes were made to appease the Commission, not neighbors.

Mr. Youngern stated that the revised project would still act as an airfoil and block cooling ocean breezes; that it would take away light from the south side of his home; and that it would detract from the value of his property (why should he be any different from everyone else in this city?). He further stated that privacy issues have not been mitigated because windows could be changed and the roof garden/green roof could be turned into a balcony. He maintained that street noise will reverberate off the north wall of the residence into his yard and voiced his opinion that the proposed architectural design was not in harmony with the neighborhood. He urged denial of the project, noting all of the surrounding neighbors oppose it. Responding to a question posed at the last hearing, he reported that his home has an FAR of 0.32.

Matthew Kadlick, 606 Paseo de la Playa, submitted a letter detailing his opposition to the project. He reported that he and Mr. Guzman are involved in a property line dispute and that overgrown trees on the contested property have disrupted his phone service. He contended that the project would impact his privacy and adversely affect the value of his property and that the design was not cohesive with the rest of the homes in the neighborhood.

Marjorie Hill, 539 Camino de Encanto, voiced objections to the proposed project, contending that it does not comply with the Hillside Overlay Ordinance. She expressed concerns that Torrance could go the way of other beach communities where towering structures have spread like a contagious disease choking out smaller homes (sorry honey, it's already happened, just not on your street).

Robert Hill, 539 Camino de Encanto, Marjorie Hill’s son, indicated that he still has several concerns about the project, including the bulk and mass. He stated that according to his interpretation of the Hillside Overlay Ordinance, remodels are restricted to the preexisting limits of the structure, meaning that the proposed second story should be confined to the bulk and mass of the existing second story. He requested confirmation that the three transom windows would have sill heights of 6 feet and explained that modifications to the windows had not mitigated the privacy impact because the transom windows could be converted to full size windows in the future. He expressed concerns that the addition could create a wind tunnel due to the Venturi effect (this is more likely in big cities like New York, but it sure sounds impressive). He reported that Mr. Guzman did not contact his mother until after she submitted a letter of objection to the Planning Department.

Commissioner Fauk requested clarification regarding Mr. Hill’s claim of view impact at the last hearing, noting that the silhouette for the proposed project cannot be seen from his mother’s property due to trees and shrubbery.

Mr. Hill responded that they enjoy a filtered view of the sunset at the fence line (in other words, if you peer through the shrubbery and over the fence), as well as a blue sky view, that would be blocked.

Albert Ortiz, 620 Palos Verdes Boulevard, voiced objections to the proposed project, citing the impact on the Youngerns’ property (wait a minute - is this guy is no where near the property in question?!).

Pamela Moran, president of the Riviera Homeowners Association, stated that it does not seem fair or reasonable that the enjoyment or value of one person’s home should be sacrificed to increase the value of another person’s home, noting that residents treasure their privacy in an increasingly crowded world (meaning the other 90% of Torrance). She related her belief that the burden was on the applicant to prove that a project would not adversely impact other properties in the vicinity and urged the Commission to use caution when considering a project that could potentially harm neighbors (Too bad there wasn't any of this outrage when they approved the Wilson Park McCondominiums - oh yeah, hardly anyone knew about it...)

Ruth Vogel, 114 Via la Soledad, noted that she is not directly affected by the project, but has lived in the Riviera area for 47 years. She related her understanding that no one has been allowed to “piggyback” onto an existing second story due to the “grandfather clause” in the Hillside Ordinance and maintained that allowing this project would set a bad precedent. She also expressed concerns about the precedent that would be set by allowing the rooftop garden. She reported that she reviewed the Hillside Ordinance § 91.41.6, but could not find the word “significant,” as it mentions only that a project may not have an adverse impact on other properties in the vicinity.

Planning Manager Lodan clarified that there is no “grandfather clause” in the Hillside Ordinance that would limit a project to the footprint of the existing structure, noting that there have been numerous cases where first and second-story additions/expansions have been approved. He explained that there may be the perception that it’s easier to gain approval for the expansion of an existing second story as opposed to starting from scratch but there is nothing in the ordinance that addresses this issue.

Commissioner Fauk conceded that the word “significant” is not in the Hillside Ordinance, but noted that it has long been the practice of the Planning Commission and the City Council to look at a project’s impact in terms of significance, especially with regard to views. (yes, we'd hate to ruin the views they have of the congestion on Crenshaw and Hawthorne Blvds. He explained that the Commission commonly considers the quality of the view impacted, as well as the degree to which the view is impacted considering the totality of the overall view.

Monte McElroy, 108 Via Mesa Grande, provided background information about the Hillside Overlay Ordinance, which she helped formulate (ah, so YOU"RE the one responsible for this mess...), explaining that it was meant to discourage second stories, allowing them only after all other options have been exhausted. She stated that she visited the Youngerns’ residence and observed that the proposed project would shade their house and denigrate that their yard. She maintained that there was a way to minimize the impact of the project, eliminating the bulk of the square building, so that the Guzmans could still have a beautiful home without ruining their neighbors’ view and enjoyment of their property.

Roberta Blowers, 621 Camino de Encanto, voiced objections to the project, citing the impact on neighbors’ view, air, light and privacy, as well as the impact on her view. She noted that the Hillside Overlay Ordinance simply states that a proposed development shall not have an adverse impact on other properties in the vicinity and it does not specify how much or how little and offered a dictionary definition of the word “adverse.” She voiced her opinion that the project’s FAR was too high and expressed concerns that the roof garden over the garage could easily become a deck and that obscured glass in windows meant to protect privacy could easily be replaced with clear glass at any time.

Responding to audience members’ comments, Mr. Guzman contended that Mr. Kadlick’s opposition to the project was based solely on the property line dispute. He reported that the only view affected from inside the Youngerns’ home is from a kitchen window that faces an 8-foot high wall; noted that this window didn’t exist until the home was expanded two years ago; and voiced his opinion that this view does not deserve the same protection as a view from a preexisting portion of the house. He maintained that any impact on light and air to the Youngerns’ property was mitigated by the revisions, which eliminated 20 inches along the entire north wall, including from the existing structure, and 36 inches from the rear of the home adjacent to their property. He noted that he was raised in this neighborhood and is committed to responsible development. He stated that he believed he has made substantial concessions and compromises and urged approval of the project as submitted.

James Meyers, Lean Arch, Inc., project architect, noted that he has won awards for his designs, including an award from the Los Feliz Homeowners Association for best renovation project. He reported that his firm focuses on the environmental impact of land uses and related his belief that this neighborhood was a good example of an area where homes were not being designed to take advantage of natural resources, therefore, consuming much more energy than necessary. He explained that the roof garden was not meant to be used as exterior space, but rather to provide more greenery and cool and oxygenate the air. He suggested that the proposed residence should serve as model for future development and contended that the structure’s deep overhang and rectangular wings were much more in character with the ranch-style homes in this neighborhood than the Spanish-style homes being developed.

Commissioner Browning expressed concerns about the project’s impact on light to the Youngerns’ property.

Mr. Meyers noted that he submitted a shadow study which indicated that project would only impact the Youngerns’ property very late in the afternoon during winter months. Mr. Guzman pointed out that that shadow study does not reflect the revisions which moved the north wall of the residence 20 inches further away from the Youngerns. (pardon me, but logic has no place in this meeting!)

Commissioner Weideman questioned whether the roof garden could be accessed from the deck on the southeast corner of the residence.

Mr. Meyers explained that the roof garden will not have safety barriers around it and will not be used as a deck and that it was simply meant to mitigate heat gain on the south side of the residence and act as a view enhancement from windows within the residence as well as from neighboring properties. He reported that the roof garden will be maintained by professionals and access would be via a gate on the deck off the living room.

Commissioner Fauk related his understanding that only one window in the Youngerns’ residence would be shaded by the project. Mr. Guzman confirmed that the only window affected is the Youngerns’ kitchen window (where they stand for hours, sunworshipping).

Commissioner Uchima questioned whether a one-story design was considered (wait a minute - isn't this already a two story house?).

Mr. Meyers explained that expanding on the ground floor only was not feasible due to the way the existing house is designed because it would result in a massive first floor with a small penthouse on top.

In response to Commissioner Browning’s inquiry, Planning Manager Lodan advised that the area called out on the plans as a deck could technically be considered a balcony because it’s accessed by living space on the same level and confirmed that it would be required to have safety railing.

In response to Commissioner Horwich’s inquiry, Planning Manager Lodan confirmed that the FAR of 0.529 listed in the staff report was correct.

The Commission recessed at 8:20 p.m (One hour and 15 minutes later...) Fire Marshal Kazandjian asked everyone to exit the room, so he could rearrange the chairs to provide more seating. The meeting reconvened at 8:35 p.m.

Commissioner Fauk asked that Mr. Yourngern be allowed to provide clarification regarding affected windows.

Mr. Youngern reported that two windows in his home would be affected by the project, one in the laundry room and one in the kitchen/family room, however he was not concerned about the window in the laundry room (how magnanimous).

At Commissioner Fauk’s request, Mr. Meyers confirmed that the transom windows would have sill heights of at least 6 feet.

MOTION: Commissioner Horwich moved to close the public hearing. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Weideman and passed by unanimous roll call vote.

MOTION: Commissioner Browning moved to deny PRE07-00013 without prejudice. (was there ever any doubt) The motion was seconded by Commissioner Weideman and passed by a 5-2 roll call vote with Commissioners Fauk and Gibson dissenting.

Commissioner Weideman stated that his vote was predicated on the fact that he believed the project would have an adverse impact on light and air and he still thought the FAR was too high even though the applicant had made great strides in reducing it.

Planning Manager Lodan noted that a resolution reflecting the Commission’s action would be brought back for approval at the next meeting. Chairperson Busch advised the applicant of his right to appeal the decision to the City Council.

The Commission briefly recessed to allow the room to clear.


There you have it - another 'fruitful' Hillside Ordinance meeting. Next on the agenda: Two other projects in other areas of Torrance that took approximately 5 minutes of the board's precious time.

But wait - another Hillside project is on the agenda... pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little...

...another 45 minutes - an hour ? later, a continuance is issued.

The meeting adjourned at 10:45pm.

A majority of the 3.5+ hours was spent on projects related to the Hillside Overlay. This is pretty typical when a Hillside project is on the Planning Commission agenda.

To quote the one lone voice of reason at this meeting "...the Hillside Overlay process tears neighborhoods apart..." In all fairness, having some control over rampant development is a good thing. Unfortunately, the rest of the city of Torrance doesn't enjoy the special privileges given to a select group of homeowners.

Yet, we're paying for it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Taste of Torrance, This Old House, R.I.P.

This is a memorial to a nice old farmhouse near Van Ness Blvd and 171st St. in Torrance that couldn't convince anyone to love it as is - It's now an empty lot.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Taste of Torrance, Cool House

I've always liked this house - it could use a little TLC, but I just love the butterfly overhang, two PV stone chimneys (count 'em), the sputnik light, and even the privacy fence - I'm a sucker for this kind of mid century home, even when they put green indoor/outdoor carpet on the front steps. If I were braver, I'd ring the doorbell and ask for a tour.

I felt a little icky photographing it - I didn't want anyone to think I was staking it out. But it's the only house quite like it in this area, so I overcame my anxiety.

I did it because, sadly, another favorite home of mine was torn down - it just broke my heart. The stately old home was located on Van Ness Blvd, just north of Artesia Blvd. It was an old farm house, across from what use to be a dairy. They'll probably put two ugly stucco faux mediterranean/tuscan/villas there. Mark my words.

I was lucky enough to capture the original home on my cell phone camera - when I figure out how to download it, I'll post it. I realized that if you like an old home or building, and you live in Los Angeles county, you'd better get a picture of it, because chances are, it'll get torn down.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Heart Pound Cake

I will put my mum's pound cake against anyone elses. It's my favorite cake with coffee. It's not a dieter's delight - it's got a pound of butter, a pound of sugar - hence, its name. But it is outstanding.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Gewgaw, Chinese Clothes Sprinkler

I remember when my mom used a clothes sprinkler to do her ironing - hers was a plastic bottle with a corked nozzle. You'd shake the water out on the shirt and iron away. No steam iron in those days. My job was to iron all my dad's handkerchiefs. I think the job would have been more pleasant with this little ceramic sprinkler, although I don't see my chinese mom buying one of these.

Pop out the rubber stopper on his head, fill 'er up, and voila - if you look closely, you can see the words 'sprinkle plenty' debossed on his pants.

What, not 'splinkle prenty'? Anyway, he's far too cute to get too upset about.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Taste of Torrance, Cooper's Hawk, dining

As I was about to start my car, I noticed this hawk dining on a pigeon right on the wall of my yard. Above him (out of view) was a crow, harrassing him. He seemed completely unbothered by the crow or me, so I snapped several pictures. He didn't leave until a man rode by him on his bike - I caught a magnificent view of his powerful legs and talons as he flew off with his prey - remarkable.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Gewgaw, Pitalito Timana, or Colombian Bus Lines

This is a little hand made terra cotta bus I picked up at a flea market many years ago. It's a broken down, albeit it colorful, bus loaded to the gills with people - including two men sitting on the bumper (one playing the guitar). The top of the bus is packed with fruit, bananas, sacks of coffee, gas, baskets, sodas, and even a little pig. The driver is looking under the hood. Everyone inside looks very patient. This is obviously no American bus.

Maybe someone can translate the words written on the side: Carzon Timana Pitalito, Colombia Teinvita, Pitalito Huila, Colombia Queriya.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Costumes from the 1940's

I have a book of novelties chock full of old goodies, circa 1940-1950. There's a whole section on costumes, thought I'd share some of my favorites, for better or worse...

Perfect for the hoi paloi:

Costumes for the homely...

...and the comely...

For an international flair:

Politically Incorrect to the power of 10:

Glow-in-the-Dark Plutonium Makeup

Harmless. Right.

It's a hat-that-makes-the-back-of-your-head-look-like-a-monkey costume:

Barrel of laughs:

Can't...resist...the power....of the......TIE:

Just. Plain. Wrong.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Gewgaw, Mammy String Holder

In the 1950's, this would have been mounted to the wall of the kitchen. A ball of string would be loaded into the hollowed cavity behind her ample belly, with the string dispensed through the poor woman's bosom.

This is sure to offend anyone of color who steps into my home, so I camoflage it in my display cabinet behind the peon-riding-a-burro coaster holder, fat n' nekkid german woman ornament, and the Injun Tooth Tepee.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dead Trees

There are two dead trees on the corner.

When pine trees die, they become tree-shaped bombs. If they catch fire, they'll explode and send out flaming pine needle shrapnel.

These are two very dead pine trees - they've been brown and crispy for months. I suspect the lack of water did them in. They straddle three telephone poles, and overhang the apartment building - I suspect over the years they've dropped nice big piles of dead needles on the roof. Makes you feel all warm and cozy at night just thinking about it.

Like a bad neighbor, I've called the Evironmental Department at Torrance City Hall - I was directed there by the fire department. I felt really bad calling the fire department to bitch about a couple of dead trees when they've been risking their lives fighting hell-on-earth this past week. I was probably just another paranoid crazy in a line of paranoid crazies.

They're right. I own my nutty. Overgrown kindling bugs the hoo-ha outta me.

Everytime I drive by the dead twins, I give them the evil eye. I should be giving the absentee owner the evil kick-in-the-butt for having neglected them for so long. There isn't a good excuse for the neglect these two trees have suffered. They've never been very attractive, but at one time, they were sort of green. The drought has pretty much taken its toll on what remained of their good looks. This, and maybe a pine bark beetle or two.

My next stop: Southern California Edison. I like their 'no prisoners' attitude - they don't like trees that threaten their lines. They may not get over here for a couple of weeks, but they will come, and they will eventually remove the dead duo.

In the meantime, I'll continue to watch the pitiful pair, and hope for the best.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Gewgaw, Where does it all go?

Where does this crazy Torrance lady put all this gewgaw stuff??

In case you were wondering, we don't live like this guy's mom. That's called mental illness, or 'crazy horder syndrome'. Seeing that nightmare makes me feel quite normal. My house is vacant in comparison. Well, not really vacant. But I do have a few tricks for keeping things under control.

One way to not be overwelmed by little tchokas is to hide them. I have alot of baskets or little wooden boxes I hide things in, like this:

I get to keep little goofy stuff around that I can pull out at a moments notice, but I don't have to dust it, risk vacuuming it up, or look at it - but I know it's there.

Another way to control the clutter monster is to put thing in trays. Trays give the impression that you've made a modicum of effort to get things under control. Here's a tray within a tray:

By definition, gewgaws are the opposite of good design. In good design, form follows function. Does that mean a gewgaw is completely useless as well as tasteless? Of course not. There are always creative uses for things:

Buddha has been reincarnated into a toothbrush holder. In a previous life, he was a planter. By the way, we don't collect toothbrushes. The men in the family open up new toothbrushes without tossing the old - but that's another story.

Theming a group of items make them look like object d'art rather than a bunch of dust collectors:

Please ignore the dust on my object d'arts.

If you run out of room indoors, you can always look to the great outdoors. There, under a shrubbery, ceramic mushrooms feel right at home.

A rubber snake winds its way around cactus.

Oh,'s a garden gnome. What house is complete without a garden gnome?

The best way to cage the collection beast is to relegate it to a display cabinet. If I were really disciplined, I'd get rid of things as I acquired 'new' things - I think this is what a professional house organizer would recommend. I just keep piling things on top of one another. I think of it as an assemblage.

Hopefully, my assemblage doesn't fall out when I open the door.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My SECOND Verbotomy definition!

Holy Smokes, another of my definitions made it on Verbotomy! Ooooh, it's a good one - check it out!


I couldn't be more proud - again, sniff...

... let me take this moment to troll for word for today's definition is : Dejavogue.

Of course, you're welcome to come up with your own, darn it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Taste of Torrance, 15 minutes of fame

Ever wondered how many movies, videos or TV shows feature the stylings of the City of Torrance? Ever had relatives visit from back east and didn't know what to do with them for an afternoon? Here's some movie and TV locations I've found at IMDb, and dozens of other sites around the web - I've put links to the sites where I found some of the information:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, TV. Parts of the show are shot at Torrance High School on Carson St. Just a few blocks away is Buffy's house, located on Cota Ave. The Town Hall of the evil Mayor is actually a chiropractic office at 15411 Crenshaw Blvd.

• Torrance High School appears in: Beverley Hills 90210, She's All That, and Not Another Teen Movie, "Skin" (2003), Bruce Almighty (2003), Cursed (2005), Hot Chick, The (2002), She's All That (1999), Whatever It Takes (2000), Wild Life, (1984)

• Skaterdater (1965) This movie was about The Imperial Skateboard Team from Torrance, California.

• American Beauty (1999): South Torrance High School.

• White Heat (1949), starring James Cagney and Virginia Mayo: The last spectacular sequence is filmed in Torrance at a refinery on top of a tanker, known as a Hortensphere. Location was 198th Street and Figueroa, now known as the Torrance P.O. area - no longer a refinery.

• Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The (1984): ARMCO Steel Plant - 524 Border Ave.

• Bad Santa (2003): Filmed at the Del Amo Fashion Center - mostly in and around the defunct Montgomery Wards Department Store, which has since been torn down. Del Amo's International Food Court made appearances in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997) and Valley Girl (1983), starring a very young Nicholas Cage. Comedy Central's Reno 911 has also used Del Amo for shootings.

• Lifeguard (1976), starring a very young Sam Elliot: Torrance Beach

• Swap Meet (1979) Took place at the Rodium Open Air Market, on Redondo Beach Blvd.

• The Student Nurses (1970) Filmed at the Harbor Convalescent Hospital on Vermont Ave., which is actually in Torrance P.O.

• Longest Yard, The (2005): Murdock Stadium, El Camino College

• Television show, The OC: Old Torrance, "The Model Shoppe", 1415 Marcelina Ave.

• Spice of Life, starring Dee Wallace-Stone:Billy's Deli and Cafe

• Bewitched (2005) with Nicole Kidman: Hows Market on 190th Street.

• Fat Albert (2004) South Bay Galleria (ok, not in Torrance, but right on the border in Redondo Beach.)

• Independent film, Dominion 2006, Filmed on location in Torrance.

• Volcano (1997) Scene filmed at Western Ave. and 190th St.

• Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) Shots include the Harbor and 405 Fwys, the Ronald Moran Cadillac (now a Hummer dealership) on Hawthorne Blvd, and a Mazda dealership (possibly the one that was is 190th Street.) Much of the movie was shot around Long Beach, Carson, and Torrance, so you're bound to see someplace in that movie you recognize.

• Deadline Auto Theft (1983) This is 'Gone in 60 Seconds' with additional footage and some editing. (Also the movie "The Junkman" (1982) - some scenes shot in Torrance.)

Batman TV Show (1966), Episode "Surfs Up Jokers Under". Filmed at Torrance Beach

• Huell Howser's California's Gold: The International Printing Museum (ok, actually not in Torrance, but on 315 Torrance Blvd. in Carson.

• Dogtown (1997) much of the film shot in Torrance - although it's supposed to look like the Midwest.

Godzilla (1998)Set of the Brooklyn Bridge was built on a vacant lot near Torrance Airport.

Torrance Rises 1999, Mockumentary. Through sheer determination and a little bit of luck, Richard Koufay leads his dance troupe from small town Torrance, California to the Metropolitain Opera in New York City for the MTV music awards.

Coffins I like

I know this is a little macabre, but what the hey - it's almost Halloween.

My idea of a good funeral is being buried for less than the cost of an expensive meal. I don't want strangers handling me, shooting me up with formaldyhyde, sewing my eyes shut, and putting bad makeup on my face. Nor do I want to be hermetically sealed until my festering gasses explode. Just burn me up, good and proper.

However, I might consider these as possible candidates for my final containment.

"...a tisket, a tasket, I'm buried in a basket..."

Just. Plain. Cool. Would keep it in the garage, and only wipe it with a diaper.

"Fra-gee-lay..." And I would demand they pack me in excelsior with a leg lamp.

Just like Tutankamon! Except cardboard.

Completely biodegradable and 100% groovy.

I decided to live it up - I urned it.

Must be Shaq's.

Finding Nemo - and a little surprise.

And finally...

What, no triple word score?