Friday Art: Cat And Traffic by Wayne Thiebaud (1983)

Thiebaud is a pop artist who mostly paints cakes and pastries and bubble gum in candy colors, but he’s also branched out into other subjects to apply that bright color palette to.

I dealt with one of the elements of this painting for more hours than I wanted to today and not the one I’d choose. Traffic sucks. And I could spend endless hours with the cat.

I like the dreamscape like quality of this – the rising towers based on San Francisco skyline combined with curving traffic lanes and colorful cars that resemble a winding slot car set wrapping around Lego towers.

All observed on that balcony by the little black and white cat. Maybe it is a toy set, and the cat is stalking the moving toy cars. My cat did that to my Hot Wheels cars when I was a kid, after all.

Such a simple and pretty concept well executed, and – hey look! – Thiebaud sold this one for EIGHT HUNDRED NINETY THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS????

Jesus… I really should learn to paint.

The “Experts” Are Wrong, Part Infinity: Cleaning Solar Panels Improves Performance

I’ll pass this along as a public service, since EVERY website I visited asking this question got it wrong. Nearly every website I visited on whether or not it’s worthwhile to have solar panels professionally cleaned said it wasn’t necessary.

WRONG.

The solar panels on my roof would get dirty over time – dust, pollen and the like. Usually I’d just wait for a rainstorm to clean ’em off and return them to their shiny dark blue reflective look, instead of a dusty car finish look. Sometimes I’d hose them off early in the morning after morning dew had loosened the dust and they weren’t heated up yet. After I’d clean them, I’d notice an uptick in performance when reading the numbers on the inverter.

Recently, I noticed my system had dipped in performance, and the panels were pretty dirty – and hosing them myself didn’t really make much difference. Never mind that my hose added hard water marks.

So I hired a local dude to climb up on my roof and clean them with ionized water and a soft mop. Not very expensive, and it only took him an hour or so. He also tightened the clamps and zip ties on the panels, as well as the added bonus of replacing a cracked roof tile for me I had NO idea about, all gratis!

That’d be enough for me to recommend the guy to locals, but the big news is that cleaning the panels did the trick – they’re back to producing the amount of energy they’re supposed to.

The weather has been identical, and the cleaning made a 15+% difference in the efficiency of the system.

So THE WEBSITES TELLING YOU OTHERWISE ARE CRAP. Your mileage may vary, but cleaning the panels will definitely restore the normal efficiency of your system if you see it significantly dipping due to the dirt.

For real numbers – the total kwh/day varies with time of year, but peak production @noontime- 1pm or so is a good metric. My system, on a clear day, will peak anywhere from 3 to 3.2 kwh. It had dipped to 2.6 – 2.7 with the dirt. Now it’s back to 3 to 3.2 with the cleaning.

Not bad!

Battery backup is also on the way. I do not enjoy sweating whether or not those scumbuckets at the electric utility will turn off my power during wind events to cover their ass for fire starting lawsuits.

I’ll practically be off the grid! Here’s a recent picture, too!

I Could Watch This All Day: Cats In Therapy

It sounds like the guy in those “Dear Kitten” commercials. Or maybe that’s what all cats really sound like when they speak proper English.

They probably all are able to speak proper English, too, and simply choose not to. After all, they’re cats.

Zen Graffiti & A Book Safari

Someone painted this on a fence where I parked in downtown Ventura today.

It was like getting a message from God as to the meaning of my life.

Especially after I ordered fish tacos for lunch & got a double order without realizing it until they handed me the tray.

Did I acknowledge the mistake and have them take one order back?

Nope.

I ATE THEM BOTH.

Because…. as the fence says….

Anyway, I trekked to Santa Paula & Ventura today for a nature walk of sorts through library sales and thrift stores, mostly looking for books. Call it my reaction to going to a gigantic estate sale I saw advertised, featuring pictures of over 10,000 (yes, that’s right) books for sale… the vast majority art and music books since the sale was for some old jazz musician… and when I got there, a handwritten sign reading “All Books Have Sold, Sorry” greeted me.

“Yup, some guy brought a truck this morning and bought ’em all,” the guy told me.

I HATE EVERYTHING.

So, compensation today. A nice leisurely drive for a bunch of different stores.

Got a couple of nice cookbooks – another Rick Bayless Mexican book (Mexico One Plate At A Time), a cuisine I really ought to cook more often authentically. I’ve cooked from a couple of his other books and the results were decent, so why not. Also an autographed Chinese cookbook from some restaurant in San Francisco – The China Moon Cookbook by Barbara Tropp – that won me after I read through some of the rather elaborate recipes, but found recipes for Chinese dishes I’d certainly order off the menu that I know I don’t have in other books.

Also a pristine illustrated hardback of a book I’ve got in beaten-up paperback form, Neil MacGregor’s Shakespeare’s Restless World along with a tell-all about the art world book – Tales From The Art Crypt by Richard Feigen.

And then, my PSYCHIC MOMENT – for no reason at all while shaving this morning, I thought of Steve Martin’s Cruel Shoes, the collection of nonsense writings he published at the peak of his hot-streak-rise back in 1979 – and I found a first edition of it in a thrift store today and figured that the cosmos was telling me to buy it.

How else did the cosmos communicate with me? Well, for absolutely NO reason, two of the thrift stores on my carefully mapped-out and Yelp reviewed list were closed today, and another one was simply GONE, replaced by a ballet studio. BUT – as I drove down those particular streets back in my route, I spotted ANOTHER thrift store that was NOT on my list and stopped in….

…. and it was run by a Cat rescue and adoption charity!

No store cat, unfortunately, but I gave ’em a nice donation and told them to KEEP HELPING KITTIES.

And now I’m home, so it’s back to drinking and sports.

I hope you’re enjoying your weekend. And I hope you’re helping kitties.

Friday Art: Portrait of Theodore Duret by Edouard Villiard (1912)

Vuillard was a member of the Nabis, a group of French painters at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries interested in composing pictures mixing tons of colors and patterns, mostly to create interior scenes inspired by Japanese prints. Later on, he painted more realistic scenes, although he continued to fill his canvases with a multitude of vibrant colors.

Duret, the subject of this portrait, was an art critic who wrote kindly of impressionists and post-impressionists and fauvists and Nabis and other assorted then-contemporary painters. With other critics often savaging them, I can see why Vuillard paints Duret so positively. He’s got his room filled with papers stacked high, some paintings on the wall – including a representation of Whistler’s portrait of Duret as a younger man reflected in the mirror in the upper right.

In a way, this creates a narrative of sorts for Duret’s life – we see that fuzzy mirror image of the portrait of the young man, well dressed in dark tails, hat in hand, ready to go out and review some piece of high culture, maybe. And now he sits as an older accomplished man, dignified with stacks of papers and books across his desk.

And most importantly – he’s got a cat in his lap. The BEST sign of success there is. And a hat-tip to Vuillard for capturing, in those impressionistic brush strokes, the annoyed look on the cat’s face that her routine has been interrupted by posing for the artist.

Dunno… I guess I sorta see myself in that painting. Just an old dude with a kitty, in a room piled high with books and papers. Life goals, y’know? Meow.

Here’s a bonus Vuillard, I like this one a lot because of it’s bright colors – and you can tell he’s gotten a bit more realistic with it, La Salle Clarac from 1922.

Football Picks: Weekend of October 5-6, 2019

Here’s what I often do: Take a 12 oz glass and throw 3-4 ice cubes in it. Then, I add about 2-3 finger widths of Jack Daniels or Bulleit Rye. Then maybe a teaspoon of lemon juice, and top it off with some fresh brewed iced tea. (Then drink, obviously).

After my performance in picking games last week, I might need to do this repeatedly. Good thing I get those giganto bottles of JD and Bulleit at Costco.

Started out well, felt great – got my first 3 picks… and then the remaining 7 went sour. Bah. Season totals are barely above even, at 22-21-2.

So this week, it will ALL TURN AROUND and I can drink my whiskey concoctions in total bliss. My stomach will thank me.

College Games:

Boston College +6 against Louisville (they did it for me last week…)

SMU -13 over Tulsa

Georgia -25 over Tennessee

Navy +3 1/2 against Air Force

Kansas +32 against Oklahoma (I think Oklahoma wins, but does not cover)

Arkansas State -7 1/2 over Georgia State

NFL:

Jaguars +3 1/2 against the Panthers (I think the Jags will win outright)

Vikings – 5 1/2 over the Giants

Saints -3 over the Buccaneers

Chargers – 6 1/2 over the Broncos (risky…. but Broncos are awful on the road)

Cowboys – 3 1/2 over the Packers (great matchup, and I think Cowboys win it)

Chiefs -11 over the Colts (another risky one.. Chiefs might win without covering, but I’ll go for it)

None of these games really jumped out to me as amazingly easy bets, to be honest. If I had to pick my top choices, I’d probably say Arkansas State and the Jaguars, maybe followed by Georgia. But no top picks this week, really.

Here’s a picture of a kitten drinking beer foam. Skoal!

Friday Art: Contentment by Henriette Ronner-Knip

Ronner-Knip was a Dutch artist of the late 19th century who started out painting farms and animals, and after 1870, nearly exclusively painted cats.

Fluffy, pretty cats, too! Just look at that adorable momma cat and her kittens. Cats and kittens playing, or napping, or just sittin’ around looking adorable became her specialty, and she was one of the most widely known and popular woman painters in Europe during her lifetime.

She’d continue to paint cats just as pretty as this until her death. Unlike Louis Wain, an artists I really have to talk about more on here since his descent into CAT MADNESS makes me wonder about my own future, her style of painting them really didn’t change.

But cats’ beauty and elegance is eternal, isn’t it? Happy Friday!

My New Favorite Mafia Boss

I’ll read anything that’s all about Rhode Island mafia. Hell, I’ll write one of my novels about Rhode Island mafia.

I just finished getting through My Life In The Mafia, a 1973 confession by Vincent Teresa, who’d been a major player in the Patriarca organization before turning government witness. Spotting it in some thrift store one day reminded me how my parents had a copy of it for years and I’d neglected to pack it up with whatever I wanted to save from the widdle house I grew up in when I moved out west and everything got packed up, sold or trashed.

Teresa, through writer Thomas Renner, recounts his life in the mob and the various scams and crimes he’d committed over the years. Mostly stolen goods, bookmaking, loansharking and some stock and bond scams. A lot of the crimes he committed are truly dated – the various forms of check cashing and bank fraud would be nearly impossible now.

But in a story about his time in prison before turning informant, he relates a tale involving Carmine “Lillo” Galante. Lillo, a Bonnano family capo, basically ran the mafia section of the Lewisberg federal prison they dropped Teresa in for his securities fraud activities. And much like we saw in Goodfellas, mob guys have different prison lives than the rest of the population, to a degree. Lillo’s prison job was to run the greenhouse, where he grew his own vegetables and set up a nice grill for cooking the steaks and such regularly smuggled in for him.

And don’t put too many onions in the sauce, etc.

Teresa tells a story where Lillo kept 3 cats as pets inside the greenhouse and in his general realm. Evidently some strays had gotten into the prison yards somehow, and Lillo decided to adopt them.

From page 302:

“Lillo had three cats, and they ate better than most of the prisoners. Every morning they had pure cream for their breakfast with an egg beaten in it. The cats were sort of a symbol of freedom to Lillo. He used to say ‘At least they can get outside – they go outside the wall.’

The hacks almost never came to the hothouse, and when they did, it was just to be sociable. None dared tread on Lillo. I remember one problem came up with a hack because of Lillo’s cats. It was a Friday, and we were having fish in the prison dining room. Lillo sidled up to me and said “You’re not eating your fish, are you Fats?”

I shook my head. “I wouldn’t eat that crap.”

“Well, I want to take it for the cats,” he said. He walked up the row to the hacks and announced “I’m taking Vinnie’s fish.” Then he put it in a plastic bag with his own fish. The hack didn’t seem to mind, so Lillo sort of added insult to injury. “Those cats are pretty hungry. I’ll take two pieces.”

The hack was standing behind the row where the prisoners went through the food lines to eat at the tables. “Hey!” he shouted at Lillo. “You can’t take two, only one to a man.”

Lillo turned around. He gave him a look that froze him in his tracks. “Hey, I said I’m taking two or three pieces for my cat.” His voice was low and soft, but he had ice at the end of his tongue.

The hack stared back at him. “I said you can’t take them,” he snapped.

Lillo’s eyes narrowed, and that sneer of his looked worse than ever. His voice was soft, but it was menacing, It made my blood run cold the way the words came out. “You got kids at home?” he asked.

The hack looked startled. “What?”

“I said, you got any kids at home?” Lillo said again. “You want to see them?” He sort of paused for effect, letting the words sink in. The hack seemed to nod. “Good… then shut your mouth.” Then Lillo took five pieces of fish slowly, one by one while the hack looked, and he put them in the plastic bag. What he said he meant. He wouldn’t have hurt the kids, but the hack would have an accident one day in prison. He wouldn’t have lived to see his kids, just because of a couple of lousy cats. But that was Lillo. No one defied him.

Continue reading “My New Favorite Mafia Boss”

Friday Art: Cats by Franz Marc (1910) + A Pair of Peter Cushing Films

Marc is considered a German Expressionist, although this work, with its super-bright colorful thick swirly brushstrokes, suggests a lot of Van Gogh and general post-impressionist influence.

Marc loved painting animals with a wild color palette. Most of his works depict animals and wildlife. He got drafted into the German army in World War 1 and put into the infantry. By the middle of the war, Germany realized artists were valuable and started transferring notable ones out of the army. But before the orders reached him, Marc was killed at the Battle of Verdun, along with lots and lots of other people.

It’s best to think more about the kitties, isn’t it?

I visited a local pet supply store today just to pet the black cat who lives there. Turns out he’s got a case of the fleas, since one of the tiny little bastards bit me on the hand. If I die from bubonic plague, let it be known that I went out the way I wanted to – petting some lazy ass cat.

I’d like to think Marc went out the same way. It’s the romantic in me.

And yes, more cat pictures and stories. I can’t help myself. I’m fascinated, hypnotized and soulfully owned by the furry little bastards, I admit it. I’ll even watch stupid movies if they’re centered around cats, like my review of “Eye of The Cat” a while back. This time, cats led me to a Peter Cushing film which was not that good, and then another Peter Cushing film that was out and out excellent.

Continue reading “Friday Art: Cats by Franz Marc (1910) + A Pair of Peter Cushing Films”

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑