Thursday, October 20, 2011

To Be but Not to Be

I’ve noticed that each passing television season brings a greater number of shows dealing with the question of those who cannot die.  
First it was HBO’s True Blood with its Southern Gothic vampire culture. Then it was my personal favorite from last spring, The Walking Dead, a tale of survivors surviving a plague of zombie-ism.  Then Torchwood.  In the world of Torchwood, people suddenly stopped dying. They still suffered wounds and disease and the attendant pain of their wounds and disease but they do not suffer death.  They just go on – in pain.
So what is with all the un-death and un-dying on cable TV these days?  Are our greatest anxieties in the 21st century now spurred not by death-too-soon but by life-too-long?
What is behind this anxiety?  In a post-Cold War America have we created a new foe – the undead? Without an H-bomb wielding, Totalitarian Other, could it be that our greatest fear is now not death but un-death?

When I was a kiddie going to catechism class once a week, we worried about death by mushroom cloud and Everlasting Life meant you went to Heaven to live with Jesus and he stood by your side with his arm around you and you carried a little lamb in your arm and everything was nice for all eternity. 

Now, everlasting life means a Hell in which we all just keep living with each other.

In the vampire tales we fear the eternally beautiful.  In the zombie apocalypse, we fear our own neighbors.  Like the vampires, they feed on us and they make us like them but there is no eternity with porcelain skin and daytime hours spent in repose.  There is only decay and mindless feasting on flesh and plodding, stumbling locomotion.  Mindless motion.  Always mindless.  Always in motion.

But it seems to me that the key difference is not beauty vs. decay or stumble vs. flight or gruesome vs. elegant.  The key difference is stranger vs. neighbor.  The vampire always first comes to us as an exotic stranger.  The zombies are always our neighbors and if not our immediate neighbors then they are people who were once so very much like us – ordinary people who lived ordinary lives until one day they found themselves in the path of a zombie swarm and now they populate a zombie swarm and threaten us and our way of life.

It seems to me that that is exactly what we fear most now in the second decade of the 21st century.  We fear our own neighbors. They are like us but they are not like us.  If we are Blue, they are Red.  If we are Red, they are Blue.  If we own, they rent.  If we rent, they own.  If we are native-born, they are immigrants.  If we are immigrants, they are native-born.  If we are hourly, they are salaried.  If we are salaried, they are hourly.  If we are employed, they are jobless.  If we are jobless, they are employed.  If we have health insurance, they are uninsured.  If we are uninsured, they have health insurance.  If we are the haves, they are the have-nots . . .

The list could go on endlessly. 

Is that where we are?  We fear that life has become an everlasting hell and the source of that hell is the Others among us. Not only do we fear their very “otherness” but we fear that we will become them.  We fear they will feed on us and turn us into them.  Cannibalize and convert.

So who are the Others we fear?  Maybe this person – Melissa Brookstone – a Tea Party blogger and a business owner who has resolved that “I will not hire a single person until this war against business and my country is stopped. I hereby declare that my job creation potential is now ceased.”

Really?  Her plan is to destroy the President by refusing to hire.  She could potentially provide employment to someone in her community but she won’t, even to her own detriment, just to strike a blow against the current administration. 

Wow.  Sounds like cannibalizing to me.  This woman scares me.  In reading the comments of her supporters on her blog, there’s a whole swarm of them out there who scare me.  They’re in mindless motion.  Mindless, completely mindless. 

In ten years we’ve gone to being the most united we’ve ever been to perhaps the most divided we’ve been in a long, long time.  

We fear the divide.

Even Fed Ex is worried -

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rejuvenation! In the Flesh!

Remember back when I blogged about Rejuvenation Hardware coming to my own fair city? Well, tonight was the gala grand opening party and I was there to give you a report.

Let me tell you, I walked in and was so overcome with the need to visit every gorgeous little item, I could barely settle down to enjoy the dippables and savories on hand.  But they did have a very welcoming offering of beverages, of which I was happy to partake -

The first thing you see as you walk in the a lovely, metal Bear of California -


Hello, Brother Bruin!  

Then I moved on to the wall of hardware - 

and immediately zeroed in on the picture hooks -

This is the one I deemed most appropriate for my home.  I've got 29 hooks holding up art and a mirror in my house.  At $5 each, the replacement process will be slow.

After seeing these, K semi-regretted not going with push-button switches -


Ooh!  and check out these serving pieces!  

Those green glass bowls could almost drive me to baking! 
Nah, not really.  I just want to own them without 
actually using them. 

Ahh!  I love this deco sconce.  Not right for my 1909 house but gorgeous nonetheless -

I've often noticed in the catalog this quirky little Victorian bat lighting fixture -

Not for me but still charming. 

Here's K playing at the bulb bar -  

Pick a wattage - any wattage.

Outdoor lighting! In colors!

An remember Bruno from the previous post?  I finally found him.  He was discreetly placed -

I relocated the sweet little Bauer pitcher so she 
could share the picture with Bruno. 

I'm still  considering Bruno, but in reality, his shade is larger than it appeared in the catalog and now I'm really at a loss for where he'll fit.  But he's still a beauty.

As we were leaving, this caught our eyes -

It's a tower of little triangular drawers, 
each marked for a different size screw.  

Owning this would mean the end of hoarding all 
those little pot-bellied soup cans from Trader Joe's.  
I repeat, a different drawer for each size screw.  And it spins.  Spins!  I don't even use tools and I want this cabinet.

And if you read the comments to my last Rejuvenation post, you'll remember Nicole from Rejuvenation.  She was kind of enough to invite me to the gala (and to give me the source of the name for the light "Hood." Well she was there!  And we met!

Nicole was awfully gracious, as was her colleague, Jason.  Apparently, nice people work at Rejuvenation.

That was my evening.  Thanks, Rejuvenation!  I'll be back!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Woo hoo!  A Rejuvenation store has opened in Los Angeles!

No longer must my drooling over reproduction vintage lighting and fixtures be limited to a catalog.  Now I can slobber in an actual store.  Life is looking up.

I haven't had a chance to actually visit the store since its September 17th opening but I hope for the same well-detailed, thoughtfully-planned layout as the catalog's.

I can't wait to meet in person the delightfully designed (if unfortunately named) "Hood."

 Oh, Skyport!  How I long to breakfast with The Jetsons under your polished nickel reflections! 

(Skyport also comes in an "Old Brass" finish, though I'm not sure why.)

And you, saucy little Dorena!  You remind me again why Deco is my favorite of all design eras.

And yet, how ironic, now that Rejuvenation has arrived in the flesh, I am really not in need of lighting fixtures.  Although, Bruno here is an adorable little desk lamp -

And who among us couldn't use an adorable little desk lamp?

It's probably just as well all (most) of my lighting needs have been met.  Lamps from Rejuvenation are a little on the pricey side - but, they are made in the US.  See this previous post.

Maybe I can content myself with replacing all my plain pictures hooks with some scrollier ones -

At $5 per hook, and eight pictures hanging from picture rail in the guest bath alone, I might as well buy myself a lamp.  Oh well.  Since when does shopping mean I have to buy something?

Watch them hand-craft your fixture here -

Go ahead. Buy American. They're skilled craftsman.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Passing It On

Buy Marvin

No, not Marvin Gardens - Marvin Windows and Doors.  This article in Sunday's New York Times tells how the family-owned business has struggled since the Collapse while refusing to lay off workers.

Good for them.  This is a company that understands the value of its workers.  I also notice that the company is privately held.  This is the difference between a private company and a public one - acknowledging its debt to its workers.

I'm done buying windows.  With the exception of one tiny little window that does no harm,

every horrid, crappy, aluminum-framed, louvered window in my house has been replaced, mostly with Pella.  Pella is also a family-owned American company.   It was pricey, I admit but I'm happy, more than happy, thrilled with the windows I have.  I have no tolerance for cheap windows, I never have, even as a child (seriously).  Our one non-Pella window was also American-made but I don't remember the manufacturer. I think it it's from Jen-Weld, also American made. It was our first window replacement and we bought it for the fancy-schmancy 12-pane framing. 

Easy to do that for the first window.  When it comes to a whole house, the authentic, separate 12-pane business gets pricey.  Later windows have the fake over-laid muntins.

It's ok.  I still love them.  And they're easier to clean. Or theoretically.  That's another story. 

This story is not about how we indulged ourselves with good windows.  If you're planning to purchase windows or doors, check out the article.  If you're considering saving money by buying products made outside the U.S., check out the article a second time. Yes, products made in the U.S. are more expensive than products made outside the U.S.  There's a reason for that.  U.S. manufacturing has living-wage standards, environmental standards and safety standards that manufacturers elsewhere can ignore.

In our day to day lives it's hard to avoid products made in China. Clothing, electronics, small ticket  stuff, all seems to be made in China or another low-wage country.  But you do what you can, when you can.  The good stuff, the enduring stuff - like windows, doors, cabinetry, furniture - can still be found from U.S manufactures if you look for it.  I'm advising a friend on redecorating his condo.  He's committed to buying La-Z-Boy furniture for the sole reason that it's made in the U.S.  On almost all other issues, this friend and I are opposite sides of the political spectrum, but we can agree on one thing, American jobs depend on the American people.

The Marvin family is doing what they can.  If you're buying windows any time soon, see if you can help them keep jobs in their small community. 

Don't ask the President, Congress or anybody else where the jobs are if you're not doing all you can to buy American-made products.  The jobs go where your money goes.  There's no other way around it.

Do what you can.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Channel Your Inner Carrot and Stick

This video showing Matt Damon confronted by a "reporter" has been making the rounds among my Facebook cohorts:

The woman suggests that it is the threat of job insecurity that inspires Damon to be a better actor and that the same insecurity might give us better teachers.  Then the cameraman goes on to make the statement that 10% of all teachers are bad teachers (ignoring that it's likely that over 10% of all actors are bad actors - so much for that logic).

This theory is part of the same thinking that says if we were forced to pay more in taxes, why would we work any harder?  Why, they always ask, would we be better at what we do if we have to give up more of what we earn?  Why would Joe the Plumber want to own his own company if he had to pay taxes on it? (as if Joe the Whatever were paying his taxes anyway; which he was not.)  Gee, Joe, maybe the satisfaction of being your own boss? Of doing things your way?  Of meeting the challenge? 

Will job insecurity really inspire us all to be better at our jobs?  Would it inspire you to be better at your job?  I think it would only inspire me to always be searching for another job. Why can’t we all just be as good as we can be at what we do?  Do threats or fear really make anyone better at anything?  Will it make us more creative? More productive?  More ingenious?  Or will it only make us more manipulative? More kiss-assey?  Better ass-coverers?

It does not occur to the idiot interviewer that Mr. Damon would strive to be better at his profession because he loves and respects the art form and wants to honor it by doing the best job he can do.  It does not occur to her that he takes pride in himself and in his work and that alone could motivate him to be better at what he does.  Similarly, there are teachers who do their best just because they want to be good teachers.  This does not occur to this half-wit with a mic because she subscribes to a paradigm in which everybody is out for themselves and out to screw everyone else and that any effort that does not result in an outward-focused, self-serving reward is not an effort worth making.  It is impossible for her to perceive that everyone is not like her.   

And what kind of future are we creating when we raise children in a culture where everybody gets a medal or a bumper sticker just for showing up, only to later toss them into an adult society where we reward only the most aggressively greedy?  Give those kiddies enough video games and we've got cannon fodder for decades.

It doesn't surprise me that she doesn't respect actors or teachers.  It's common.  Both professions are, in practice, much more difficult than they appear to be.

But the end-result of this belief that we are all only motivated to do things to benefit ourselves is that in the end, as a society we will all end up doing things only for ourselves and we'll do nothing for the common good, nothing to benefit society - like teach.  Is it possible that they are so fearful of anything that even hints at socialism that anything and everything (even teaching) must be motivated only by selfish gain?

It goes back to the tax question.  If we are not willing to pay more in taxes as our income increases, then we are saying that we truly have no concern for the common good.  We are saying we don't care about the educational system.  We are saying we don't care about infrastructure.  We are saying that we don't care about the environment, law enforcement, our fire departments, food safety, the FAA, the FBI or NASA.  We are saying that we don't even care about the things so many of us say we care about, like homeland security, military defense and border patrol.

They're doing their best to make the whole idea of tax increases seem treasonous.  Sure, let's reward the rich at the expense of everyone else.  Give them tax breaks.  Why should they pay taxes on the money that they earned with their money?  If our schools are failing, then according to their logic it's because tenure makes teachers too cocky and lazy.  It's certainly not because schools are underfunded and undervalued.  How is it the fault of the no-new-taxes crowd that educational resources are becoming increasingly limited, forcing young people into military service just to get by?  It would be convenient to think that the anti-tax supporters have all their kids in private schools anyway.  But they don't.  It's just that they all drank the no-new-tax Kool-Aid and would rather let their kids get a sub-standard education than add to anything that might suggest social good - 'cause it's got that nasty word "social" in it.

In their world, taxes are always job-killers.   A bad system of education never is.

In the world in which this reporter-wannabe  lives, having more wealth is not inspiring enough to create more wealth.  Only massively more wealth is worth the effort. 

Strange how tax breaks for the rich have not been enough to inspire me to be rich.   Maybe a bigger break will finally give me the kick in the pants I need to accumulate a massive amount of wealth.

The Right is cultivating a culture in which it is not enough to be good at what we do simply because it is satisfying to be good at what we do.  Every day, more and more, we live in a society in which the prime motivators are fear and material reward.  Should we be like circus animals in cages, responsive only to whips and chew bones?

It's one thing to have actors and teachers motivated only by career advancement, when our elected officials go to the extreme, we get the current crop in Congress.  We all know the Republicans have long cared for nothing other than keeping their own party in power.  Recent games with our financial situation resulted in losses that will be very hurtful to a lot of people. Does anyone think the leaders of the Republican party cares?  They don't care.  They only care about staying in power through convincing a bunch of people a lot less fortunate than themselves that their tax money might be given to someone who didn't work quite as hard as they did.

Maybe right-wing politicians don't do anything for the people because to do anything for the people reeks of socialism.

If you're still thinking that greed and career advancement is the best of motivators, wasn’t it greed and career advancement that led to the Madoff debacle? The housing market collapse? The Enron scandal? The savings and loan crisis? Teapot Dome? The Yazoo Land Scandal? 

Does anyone look forward to more of all that?

Don't listen to them.  Do whatever it is that you do but do your best to do it well and not because you just want to keep your job but because you want to do your job.  Do something for the greater good, not for your personal good.  You'll be dead soon enough anyway.  There will still be a world left when you're gone. 

And the those others?  Let them eat their young.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I’m baaaack

For a while anyway.  I went away.  I did a play. 

It’s done.  It was good.  Doing it made me happy.  For a while anyway.

My house isn’t quite done yet.  We still haven’t replaced the crappy aluminum siding.   The backyard needs redoing. 

There’s some interior stuff that still wants doing. 

For instance, somebody needs to build some doors or something to hide the stuff we store on the shelves on the wall in front of the stairway. 

People really don't need to see where we keep our booze, the cat food, a jar of pennies and the back-up mayonnaise (in the event of a lapse or failure of the first mayonnaise.)  Now that I look at the picture, someone also needs to dab a bit of stain on the end of that stair step.

And somebody needs to complete this tile in the kitchen (site of an unfortunate failure to communicate.)

And then somebody else needs to get started on her next play.

The House on Red Hill is supposed to be a house blog (and a little bit more).  And for seven years I was obsessed with my house.  But when my obsessions change, how does my blog change?

I guess we’ll see.   Qué será, será.

 I hope you keep reading.  But more, I hope I can keep writing.

Friday, July 15, 2011

How the Middle Class Got . . .

Just something to think about.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Small Houses

The occasional commercial is not a bad thing . . . if it's clever enough.

And this one is in keeping with our theme of houses. We were talking about houses, weren't we? And homes? And what makes a home a home???

Monday, May 2, 2011

Good Riddance, OBL

I don't like to advocate or celebrate violence.

But in his case, I'll say, it serves him right. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Making Excuses - Again (and a pitch)

I'm busy. Too busy for the house. Too busy to clean the house. Too busy to put away piles of shoes all over the house. Too busy, certainly, to write about the house.

Instead, I'm focusing on another kind of house, a house of cards.

It's fragile. Like life.  It could come tumbling down at any moment.

Read about it here:

Order tickets here:

I look forward to seeing you at the El Centro Theater, Hollywood, June 10th to the 25th.

In July, I hope to blog again. Until then, I'm just hoping to keep it all from tumbling down.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Great idea!

This is what happens when inmates of The Madhouse get together.

I hope to see you at Costa Alegre in Echo Park on February 26th at 7pm.

It's a benefit - - for Uranium Madhouse, though one could be forgiven for hearing "Geranium Madhouse."  There are no geraniums involved in our company - only pure, fissionable, yellowcake uranium.  Mmm.  Yummy!

Come in.

Melt down.

Play a little Balderdash.  Like the bear says,  it's a game.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Home Depot Wants YOU!

I saw this article in today's New York Times:

Revamping, Home Depot Woos Women

I'm not sure it will be enough to make me switch from HD to Lowe's.

I just hope it doesn't mean they'll be selling pink power tools.

I hope it DOES mean that they'll have a few people on staff who can answer a few questions.

That's all I'm asking for.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Here's a house in my 'hood that went from this:

to this:

Brava to the flipper who is undertaking this challenge.

One small blessing for us is that we don't have stucco to contend with - just some godawful aluminum siding. Maybe this'll be the year? Keeping my fingers crossed.

See the story here at The Eastsider LA.

Though this be Madness . . .

. . . yet there is method in't.

Uranium Madhouse Presents Exerpts from "Conversation Storm" by Rick Burkhardt from Eric Ulbrich on Vimeo.

A tiny glimpse into my mad, mad, mad, mad world.

Check out more at

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I saw this home featured in today's LA Times. This kind of creativity makes me feel like the artistic cretin my kindergarten teacher saw me as. If there's any justice, Mrs. Chandler is reading this blog from Hell now, but that's another story.

Anyway, the homeowners in the piece are really creative, especially when it comes to tile.

When we first bought our house in 2002, friends gifted me with a mosaic tile workshop. I spent one afternoon working on a tile plaque with our house numbers. I didn't finish it that afternoon and over the past 8 years, haven't managed to complete it yet. Perhaps I've judged the wicked Mrs. Chandler too harshly after all.

In any case, have a look at this slideshow:,0,1063989.photogallery


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I know you don't want to hear about it but . . .

. . .  it's been really nice here this week.

I guess not so much in Atlanta.  

But here it's nice.  Really nice. Insanely nice. You'd be lucky to have this kind of weather in June, nice.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I still don't have much time to post anything in length but I will tell you this much - very soon, this chair will look completely different -

if only I can get her to vacate.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

7 Billion of Us? Really?

Kinda scary.

But not my fault. I had nothing to do with it.

(and all would fit in the city of Los Angeles? no thank you. traffic is bad enough as it is.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

You Know It's True

You can deny that you know it's true.

But then you would be a liar.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Reports Of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated.

No need to call the authorities. Don’t search the streets and alleyways. For God’s sake, don’t dredge the river. I’m here. I’ve just been busy, engaged in other pursuits.

I have a tiny brain, no greater in size than that of a marmoset.

And while I can be quite obsessive in thought, I can only entertain one obsessive thought at a time. For the past few months, that one thought has been that other pursuit. For seven years I obsessed about the remodeling of the house. When that was done (or done enough for now), I was free to obsess on the obsessions that I entertain more naturally, the obsessions of my natural inclinations, if you will. Sometimes this other obsession entails prancing about in front of people, saying words that are not my own.

And when I am obsessing about that other thing, I cannot write a blog about my house – or about my neighborhood – or about my property – or about my conflicted feelings about my property.

And when I am trying to learn that other thing or create that other thing, it leaves me little or no time for your thing.

Believe me, I do care about your kitchen remodel. I care about your dining room. I definitely care about your master bedroom re-do and your beloved little terrier.

But I just can’t keep up with it all. So please forgive me and allow me some time to catch up.

I’m only one blogger, with too little time and way too many interests for one lifetime.

Still, not to worry, I haven’t left this lifetime yet.