El Refugio

A place on the web for escapism.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Telegraph Road - In Shades of Green and Black and Green

It was raining when I shot these photos, so it might feel a bit wet as you gaze through my camera's rain splashed lens. Driving home from BLS after New Years Day, I made the traditional "stretch your legs" stop at Telegraph Road. I've posted photos from this area, these very landmarks before, so they may seem familiar. What I wanted to show though, was how green the area is again, after the grass fire from July 4th, 2010.

The falling stone walls, chinese-laborer built speak to me of hard-working history. And even in disrepair, they enchant me, reminding of Robert Frost's poem, Mending Wall.

I especially worried about the palm tree after the grass fire; it appeared to have been rather scorched.  But you can readily see the burns on the trunk, and looking closely and you'll see the few green leaves, atop the decay,  testifying to the live status of this old monocot.


The creek winds along Telegraph Road. There's really good fig that grows there too, I think the figs ripen in ... Sept? Mmmm. One year, I worried I wouldn't have tasty fig treats here--the creek had swollen its banks, carrying away part of the road. The fig tree suffered, but slowly recovered in the intervening years. The photo below shows the creek while I crossed it...where it flowed freely over the road. Love It!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Flix - The Last Word

The Last Word (2008)

I have a page with my favorite flix listed here. Today, I'll introduce a film that's a bit of thinker, but not as heavy as I'd anticipated.  The Last Word, (2008). I don't want to spoil it for you, so I'll only give the basic setup: quiet loner Evan (played by Wes Bentley) writes suicide notes for a living, helping out the less poetic on their way to a peaceful grave.  For a lot of people, that sort of topic is probably pretty off-putting. Starring Winona Ryder, Wes Bentley and Ray Romano, the film moves along quietly, thoughtfully, always touching on impending suicide, paired with poetry and  compassion.

As with a mystery, I  tried to figure out who was gonna die a first. I'll be honest, this film deals with issues of death and suicide in a remarkably easy manner. Even when it grapples with morality issues, it is not so deep as to plunge you into the depths of depression. It is neither a comedy, nor is it the downer I cautiously anticipated. Bentley portrays deeply introverted Evan, with Winona Ryder opposite.

Ok, I'm not real wild about Ray Romano. Maybe 'cause I don't really like stand up comedy  and downright hate sitcoms. Romano is at best a third in the acting lineup for The Last Word, though his role is critical in fleshing out the main character, Evan. Romano plays an altogether uncomedic role, with only two real chuckles (one involving "harmless Stress Reduction").  In this serious role, we get to hear Romano swear (mildly), and see a different side of him. 

One of my favorite quotes from the movie was when Romano's character, Abel, says:
Abel: I love music. I just wish I didn't need it to pay the bills.
Evan: Yeah, but if you didn't write music what would you do? Right?
Abel: I would buy a cliff.
Much to my relief, Romano did not ruin this film. 

This movie does use the telephone and answering machines to help move it along, but judiciously, and thankfully--no cell phones. In a couple of scenes, we catch glimpses of LA murals. A local may be able to pinpoint the filming locations based on the murals, but in the movie they are as unimportant bits of backdrop as  the tattoo parlors, XXX shops and dim bars lining the street.

I liked this movie, but I am already replaying it in my mind with Ryder & Romano's parts cast with complete nobodies, who give us as good or better results. Seriously. Winona Ryder is beautiful and plays her part well enough. The vigor of her character, Charlotte, plays well in contrast to Evan's unaffected solitude. Maybe being set in LA, we have to have a truly beautiful leading lady (and Ryder is that), but I am inclined to think I'd like to see a more everyday sort of woman in the role.

On my rating scale, The Last Word rates a full 3.75 stars (out of a possible 5).

Monday, February 7, 2011

One Person's Trash

Might be another person's TREASURE.

Today's Entry reaches out to long-time friend,
"Barney" Bobb, from 2nd Floor Redwood Hall
way back when. 

I just can't help myself! I really like recycled, repurposed quirky things. Take a common material, a punctured inner tube, no longer functioning  in its original intended use and otherwise destined for landfill, and make something useful, creative, interesting or possibly even beautiful out of it.   

I won't expound ad nauseum about Recycling, Repurposing, Upcycling, etc., but for me a big part of the attraction is the transformation of something scavenged. I appreciate people who see a material--albeit used or cast aside--and see a second life. You might recall I mentioned the Alchemy Goods Creative Reuse Inner Tube Contest sometime ago. Yeah? You remember? Good! Well, here's a link to the Contest's Winners. But don't stop there...head over to the  entries tab and check out the Giant Slingshot or the PVC Balloon Organ.

  As long as you're visiting the Instructables website, take a moment to click over to Bikes and learn about such cool projects as a the "Tall Amphibious Couch-Bike" with important design steps that involve a) Beer and b) More Beer. Apparently the mods and makes are endless--you just need a lot of time on your hands and need to create.

And Bobb, Thanks again for the Christmas Gift -- a huge set of discarded old keys discovered while "alley hooking". I love them, and I love it that you knew I'd love them!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

SJ - Carousel @ Arena Green (Detail Pix)

I visited the Children's Carousel in Guadalupe River Park yesterday (See my previous post, here) and shot some photos of the really cool carousel animals. Aside from sporting animals chosen for local reasons, the animals are downright gorgeous, and I wanted to show you the detail decorations.


The detail on the Grey Wolf shows a Red Fox.

The Hummingbird was really quite ornate. Sadly, I failed to get a good shot of the tiny hummingbird nest/fledgling situated below the saddle and above the tail. The two side panels are quite nice, and have rhinestone jewels which dazzled the kids. 

Two panels that adorned the zebra.

This Panel decorates the side of the Ostrich's saddle.

SJ - Carousel @ Arena Green

Doubling back to the freeway, I found Arena Park adjacent to Guadalupe River Park. After two crazy crowded hours at the Chinese New Year Family (FREE) Day at the SJ Museum of Art, it was nice to be outdoors and away from crawling masses vying for position. A lovely day in the neighborhood...and then I saw the Children's Carousel!! Very cool, and it

includes 33 beautifully-painted fiberglass animals, six of which were custom-made for San Jose.  The hummingbird, coyote, salmon and eagle represent species indigenous to the area, and two sharks celebrate the San Jose Sharks NHL ice hockey team.



Arcata Rust

I don't know if this is sculpture, storage or just plain left over. I *like* it. The edge of Arcata, on alliance Rd. near the R.R. crossing. For obvious reasons, Arcata is a great haven for things rusty or moldy.

S'Cruz Sculpture: Oceanic Spiral

Somewhere along the way, Santa Cruz came up with this great idea of adding sculptural installations along Pacific Avenue. [Map of Sculpture Tour here.] I try to visit Bookshop Santa Cruz when I'm in town, and recently found time to enjoy this sculpture that's located right in front of the renown bookseller. A group of Hammerhead sharks encircles a spiral of tasty anchovies. Pacific Ave. at Locust, S'Cruz.

Oceanic Spiral

Here's a good article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel about Kirk McNeil, the metalsmith who created Oceanic Spiral.  McNeil has his own studio, Freedom Forge with a gallery, or find  some good photos of the sculpture on McNeil's Flickr page.