Sunday, January 25, 2009

O.J. - 1993-2009

In the spring of 1994 Leslie befriended a young orange tabby cat living in the parking lot of her museum. When she heard rumors that animal control had been called Leslie used her Volvo "spaceship" to abduct the cat and transport him to an alien laboratory where he underwent orchidectomy. She then brought him home and he ended his space journey on our bed, something we were pretty sure he had never seen before.

OJ on his bed- mid nineties
He settled down on the bed and made himself quite comfortable. "I like this bed thing." he seemed to say. From then until yesterday he lived with us, sleeping with us in that same bed every night. A good cat.

OJ on a rug mid nineties
Last month OJ stopped coming upstairs and climbing into bed. That change marked te beginning of the end. The process had its ups and downs and we tried to give him as much dignity as we could. We buried him where flowers will fall on his grave. We will miss him.

OJ in a window stretches and yawns at the same time
I've finally updated the Animals We Live With page at my pre-Mixed Meters website, A Complete Waste of Time. It shows pictures of all our living pets and all our departed ones plus as many neighborhood wild species as I've been able to photograph. I will try to add even more cat pictures there in the near future, including some which show a much younger David and Leslie.

To read all previous Mixed Meters cat entries click here. In one entry, The Good Cat which is about the death of our black cat Batty two and half years ago, a process I called "euphemizing" a pet, I said that because of her passing:
A great void has been created, filled only by a vacuum of sadness.
OJ's death feels exactly the same. Here's the last good picture of OJ before he became sick.

OJ on stairs 2009
The pictures enlarge if you click them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sea Creature Calendar

This picture is the head of a tiny sea worm. It comes from the 2009 SCAMIT calendar which was designed by Leslie Harris. Get yours today.

2009 Scamit Calendar - Nereididae Epitoke - (c) Leslie HarrisClick the worm for a better view.

Mixed Meters is interested in worms because I'm married to Leslie. She studies them and she takes a lot of great pictures of them. She discovered this one while on a voyage in the middle of nowhere.

(See a picture of her in mid-ocean here. Some pictures of the ship she was on are here.)

This particular worm is Miss September and is called "Nereididae epitoke". That name would mean something specific to a marine invertebrate taxonomist like Leslie; rather less to a musician like me.

Here in Southern California marine invertebrate taxonomists started their own group - the Southern California Association of Marine Invertebrate Taxonomists. Or SCAMIT for short. I love that name. They study more than just worms. Any spineless animal that lives in the sea is fair game for SCAMIT. (The SCAMIT website is here.)

The calendar Leslie designed - and which includes a number of her own shots - is offered for sale to support SCAMIT. You can view thumbnails of all the months and purchase the calendar here. Other SCAMIT-supporting merchandise (like a BBQ apron, a T-shirt for your dog or a beer stein) is here. I think the t-shirt would be too small for Chowderhead.

Click here to see all the Mixed Meters posts which mention Leslie.

Click here to visit the worm section of the website of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County where Leslie works and where you can see more of Leslie's cool pictures.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Doo Dah Parade - Pictures Were Taken

Through bad planning I managed to watch most of Pasadena's Doo Dah Parade on Sunday. The Doo Dah Parade is Pasadena's answer to Pasadena's Rose Parade. It is many things which the Rose Parade is not - like silly and chaotic. I was bored.

It works like this: some people dress up in strange costumes and ambulate in strange manners or are conveyed on strange vehicles down the center of a major public thoroughfare and they do strange things while lots of other normally dressed people stand on sidewalks and take pictures of them.

I took pictures too. Mixed Meters prides myself on finding a different angle. So here are my pictures of other people taking pictures of the Doo Dah Parade. Boring.

Pasadena CA Doo Dah Parade 2009 people taking pictures
Pasadena CA Doo Dah Parade 2009 people taking pictures
Pasadena CA Doo Dah Parade 2009 people taking pictures
Pasadena CA Doo Dah Parade 2009 people taking pictures
Pasadena CA Doo Dah Parade 2009 people taking pictures
I wanted to get a picture which showed someone else's camera's LCD. This last shot is the best I could do - and I had to enhance the lcd section using Photoshop.

Pasadena CA Doo Dah Parade 2009 people taking pictures
Clicking a picture enlarges it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Ocker Scale

This piece is nearly 2 years old. I remember, back then, that I still wanted to change some things about it. So I flagged it in my mind as "unfinished".

Now, however, I can't remember what I wanted to change. And since it was written in an earlier version of Sibelius I imagine that working on it again would require more remedial effort than I'm willing to expend.

So, here it is, just as it was when I left it.

The Ocker Scale by David Ocker
The text of The Ocker Scale defines the steps of the Ocker Scale, a subjective measurement tool for music listeners. It can be used to succinctly express personal reactions to new works of music directly to the composer or to other listeners. It would be perfect backstage after a concert. Or you can use it in a comment to a blog post. Only a number need be given. Lower is better.

Click here to hear The Ocker Scale - Copyright (c) (p) 2007 2009 by David Ocker 258 seconds

Leslie Harris, in her Mixed Meters debut, is the narrator.

Please leave your Ocker Scale number in a comment. Be honest. I can take it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saving the World

One night in 1980 my friend John Steinmetz couldn't sleep. Instead, he drew pictures of blenders, those friendly, familiar kitchen companions. But these blenders came with unexpected labels on their buttons in place of the boring Whip, Frappe or Liquify.

Soon John shared his ideas with me and together we created The Blender Book, a xeroxed holiday greeting for our friends and families. The reactions ranged from baffled amusement to confused bemusement.

Push Poke Prod Press Blender Book - John Steinmetz and David Ocker
The back cover of The Blender Book showed a blender with four buttons marked Push, Poke, Prod and Press. We thought "What a good name for a publishing company." and so the imaginary Push Poke Prod Press was born. John and I hired each other as "Assistants to the President" and we awarded ourselves fictional startup grants from General Malaise, makers of the Electric Bowl, and the National Appliance Foundation.

Each holiday season for six years we produced a different book. The books, in order of publication, were:
  • Your Souvenir Guidebook to REALITY WORLD
  • HOW TO SAVE TIME (Special Condensed Version)
  • Amazing Stories of SIDEMAN
A magazine called Science Fiction Review even reviewed a couple titles. Here are quotes:
If you've ever wondered about the Metaphysics of Blenders, this is the booklet for you ..... I'm not sure it's worth $4.50. (The Blender Book, price $4.00)
Clever, often devastating satire on Disneyworld-type amusement parks and our absurd civilization. A 58-page half-size booklet, it may subjectively be worth $5, but not in 1957 money (inside joke --- see the Guidebook.) (Reality World, price $4.00)
Saving the World , billed as "A FULL LENGTH Push Poke Prod Press ADVENTURE, starring BENNY the BLENDER! and featuring The LITTLE SHIM", was a comic book.

cover page of Saving the World Push Poke Prod Press comic book John Steinmetz David Ocker
Our hero, Benny the Blender, is featured in the masthead of this very blog, look at the top on the right. He was a blender of few words but with a good heart and bad eyesight (notice the thick glasses) who should never have been given a license to drive an air car. The Little Shim, Benny's sidekick, was an early personal computer - some sort of sentient, mobile Apple III or Commodore 64 with two floppy disc drives for eyes and a penchant for getting into trouble he can't get out of.

Here's a sample page from Saving the World. Click on it (or any illustration) for enlargements.
Saving the World Push Poke Prod Press comic book page 10 John Steinmetz David OckerYou can download the entire Saving the World in PDF format here. Happy Holidays, everybody - even if is a bit late.

The two books which featured John's stories about Sideman, a mysterious super-hero L.A. studio musician, were the most popular. John wanted the stories published under the pseudonym T. Simpson Parker, ostensibly an old studio musician himself, now retired to Palm Desert where he raised succulents.

Imagine my surprise to discover T. Simpson Parker listed in an online library catalog. Click here to see that. Four of the six PPPP books made it into a certain university library under the category Nonsense Literature, American.

Finally, here's a clipping from a Los Angeles Weekly of February 1986, written by Jonathan Gold. Yes, the same Jonathan Gold who went on to win some very important journalism prize or other and will surely be mortified to read this bit of doggerel online. Marvel at just how deeply a tongue can push into a cheek; probably the sign of a good food critic, huh?

Sideman T Simpson Parker Jonathan Gold LA Weekly John Steinmetz David Ocker

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Betty Freeman

Read Alan Rich, eloquent about the life and recent death of Betty Freeman, here.

Betty Freeman - Thank You Letter 1991

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Left Behind After The Rose Parade 2009

Through bad planning I arrived at the Rose Parade, a short walk from our home, in time to see the last few entries. I snapped some shots.
.Rose Parade 2009 - Brass Instruments
Rose Parade 2009 - Hooves
At the end of the parade I videotaped two units that many people don't know about. The Tow Truck Brigade Horn Band and the God Squad Camp Followers Precision Drill Team. If you watch them, I suggest turning up the volume.

Then I walked backwards along the route looking, in the Mixed Meters tradition, for trash to photograph. (Trash pics from 2007 are here.)

Rose Parade 2009 - trash confetti poppers in gutter
Rose Parade 2009 - Starbucks Cups
Rose Parade 2009 - Spilled Salsa Con Queso
Rose Parade 2009 - Barricade Ends Against Toilet
Rose Parade 2009 - Big Red Balloon & Christ Died for Your Sins (yeah, right)
Pre-parade pictures from 2008 are here.