Saturday, June 9, 2012

Arthur Everywhere

I like how Margaret Finnegan has been including her blog readers in the creation and promotion of her wonderful novel, The Goddess Lounge. We'll do some fun stuff like that here, too, when the time comes.

In my novel Camelot & Vine, a Hollywood actress with a penchant for dishonesty loses her job, her married boyfriend and perhaps a modicum of sanity at the approach of her 40th birthday--though she's never told anyone her real age, not even the IRS. She has a romantic fantasy about King Arthur, so in a fit of pique (or panic) she flies to England to take a vacation and visit Arthurian sites. When a car accident sends her flying into the night, she lands in the sixth century and accidentally saves King Arthur's life.

It's not exactly what she'd planned for her vacation. Arthur is not the handsome romancer she'd imagined. The Dark Ages are dangerous. And dark.

The king's helmet, by the way, looks nothing like this one. And this blog is not about my novel, it's about Pasadena. So what does all this have to do with Mr. Teeth here?

Maybe it's because I've got knights on the brain, but I find stuff like this everywhere. There's a suit of armor in a barber shop in Altadena. Another one stands outside Pink Plum Antiques in Pasadena, and a half suit perches at an auto mechanic shop at Orange Grove and Lincoln. Over in Studio City, the Psychic Eye Book Shop has long been guarded by armored sentries. Knights--not to mention castles, swords, shields and all things medieval--advertise all kinds of businesses. We love these things because they appeal to our romantic side.

What that has to do with Mr. Teeth (and Margaret Finnegan) is this: I'm collecting pictures for my website and blog. Please let me know what you see in and around Pasadena and I'll head out to photograph it for the blog. Or if you'd like to send in a photo, please do. I'll post it on the website and give you credit.

There was no historical person named King Arthur, though he's probably based on a real person or persons (historians debate this). Whoever he was (or whoever they were) predates the medieval period by a few hundred years. That means my king is a Dark Ages guy, post-Roman and before the British kings (the first being the eighth century king Offa). When so few people in Britain knew how to write, little is left to us but the archaeological record.

Although he probably would have dressed more like a Roman soldier, it's fun to imagine Arthur stomping through the forests of ancient Britain wearing a scary-looking helmet, wielding Excalibur and making the world right.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Our Elderly Toddler

Today marks the end of nine years of our life with Boz. Better yet: the beginning of ten. It's not his birthday, as far as I know, but I think of it that way. It's the anniversary of the day he came to us, when he was already about five years old.

That's not quite right. He didn't come to us. We plucked him out of Boxer Rescue and took him home. He had no say in the matter. He was scared, maybe even terrified. He didn't know who we were or what our house was or what we wanted him to do, but at least we were nice and the house was bigger than the cage and we gave him a soft bed. The food was also pretty good. He could have done without the bath, but that was a deal-breaker.

From the beginning he took the attitude of "Please don't kill me. Whatever you require, I will attempt to obey." He was and still is easy to train. We've never had to do anything but ask. (I've said this before: you can teach an old dog new tricks.) He walks off leash, stays on the front porch unsupervised, and has recently learned to "show me" when I need him to communicate what he wants. He never barks, though I wish he would. He has, or had, a beautiful bark. He might have lost that part of his voice in an illness a few years back. We haven't heard it since then. Like people, dogs go through stuff that changes them.

I'll stop here. We all love our pets and, like parents, we can go on and on about them. I love him more than I can say.

Boz is about fourteen now. I hope he will stay with us long enough to enrich our lives at least another year.

Another dog needs a home. I've posted about Coco on my Facebook page. If Coco's not for you, a variety of pooches await at your nearby animal shelter, wanting only to be your love bucket.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Commute, 7

Last week Karin asked to see where I work. (Her exact words were, "Can we see the innards?") So this isn't really commuting. It's being there.

There are several rooms at Bell Sound Studios. This is Studio B. Sound engineer Aaron sits at the console. Aaron's moved to Australia since I took the photo; now I work with Alfredo. Behind where the engineer sits is an area with a sofa and a desk for the client (should the client wish to attend the recording session). Through the door at the left of the picture is the booth, where I stand at the microphone to record. I almost never sit when I record. Something about staying on my feet keeps my vocal energy up. I need that, because the commercials I record are upbeat.

Each week I record voice-overs for Stater Bros. Markets. If you're local, you know about Stater Bros. In case you're not from around here, I'll tell you: Stater Bros. is a chain of grocery stores here in Southern California. They're located mostly in the Inland Empire and Orange County. The nearest store to Pasadena is in Santa Clarita--that's a bit of a drive. One has to cross a mountain or two to get there. I've made the drive and I'm glad I have, because I found that what I advertise (high quality at low prices) is actually the case. (When John and I picked up a deli lunch there before visiting Vasquez Rocks, we were goggle-eyed at what we got for our ten bucks.)

Actors perform in commercials all the time. It's part of what we do. When I get up to the microphone, nothing makes me more enthusiastic than touting a business I actually feel good about. I only wish they had a store in Pasadena.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Transit of Venus

John and I wanted to view the transit of Venus yesterday. We had missed it in 2004 and there's not going to be another one until 2117. (Why isn't it regular? I don't know why. Go ask an astronomer. This town is lousy with astronomers.)

When Venus transits the sun you can almost see it with the naked eye, except as we all know you're not supposed to look at the sun. John and I were trying to remember how as kids we had made solar eclipse viewers. We agreed that cardboard boxes were the main component. John said you had to cut a hole somewhere in the box. I thought there was tin foil involved but couldn't remember in what capacity. And sticks. Weren't there sticks? You propped your box on sticks and angled it toward the sun, and you laid on your stomach on the grass and looked into the box. Am I close?

Just in time, the Facebook invitation appeared. Susan Kitchens would be holding a Transit of Venus Viewing at Peck Road Park in El Monte--with her telescope--her specially outfitted telescope--through which we could look at the sun.

It was just as thrilling as I'd hoped it would be to watch through Susan's telescope as the small, black spot appeared at the edge of the large, yellow spot. Venus took its sweet time and crossed the sun like a round, black ship sailing a round ocean of fire inside the round lens. Then Susan pulled out the solar viewing glasses and I put them on.

You can't see a thing with those glasses on until you look up, directly at the sun.

I have never looked directly at the sun before, not for more than a fraction of a second. Through those little scientific miracles I watched the event itself, breathless, with not even a telescope to separate me from it.

Venus, the sun, the sky, the air, the ground, me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mental Oz

You know those things that you had all along, but didn't see them until you smacked your ruby-slippered heels together and said, "there's no place like my brain"? I find these things when I take a different route, or take the usual route at a different time of day.

These old steps were a result of the latter. I often walk down this street with Boz in the late afternoon, but this time it was a morning walk. The steps appeared like magic. I had never seen them before. They're about four blocks from my house.

Does this ever happen to you? I don't know whether that's good or bad. Bad would mean I'm woefully unobservant. Good would mean I can allow for pleasant surprises.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Zen Monday: #199

Today: Zen. Thanks for commenting.

It's Zen Monday #199. That means next week we'll hit a milestone (ouch!) and that requires prizes.

In keeping with tradition, there will be no criteria. You can vote for whoever you want to vote for. The winner will receive a Lowepro EXS 160 Photo/Video bag (navy blue) and adjustable camera strap. The runner-up will receive a lovely City of Pasadena square chrome key chain. I'll add a poll here so everyone can vote. We may have to wait until Tuesday to do the voting, once all the comments are in. I haven't figured that part out yet.

That's next week. I hope you'll comment today and come back with your Zen brain next week for the non-competition.