Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Does Blogger's Dashboard work with Internet Explorer 6.0?

Not so well. I don't think the problem is in the composing of blog posts but in the reading of them via IE 6.0.

Trying to center type or do block quotes in the "compose" mode is an exercise in frustration, and photos that appear at the top of a post often obscure the headline below. It might look OK to users of other browsers, but it looks like hell on IE 6.0.

And type is occasionally not appearing but does show up when you screw with the window a bit.

NONE of these problems happen on the Mac with Safari (which doesn't support full Blogger functionality). Guess I'll have to go back to Firefox, even though the Blogger help pages insist that IE 6.0 works just fine (although the Blogger people all use Firefox, so you know which browser gets all the love).

Maybe I'm missing an IE update.

The troubles of KCRW

Chris Douridas, above, from his Web site.

Famous Van Nuys resident Sandra Tsing Loh guest-blogs for Cathy Seipp on the trouble, past and present, of KCRW-FM, touching on her own firing for the expletive that indadvertently reached the air, but centering on the current controversy surrounding Chris Douridas, who is under suspicion of attempted kidnapping and drugging a teenage girl at a Santa Monica bar. (Note to all: L.A. Times is requiring registration these days, but you don't have to be a subscriber to do it). Sandra's comment was prompted by the break in the media silence by L.A. Times columnist Megan Daum, who I think was pretty darn kind to all concerned. At one insipid point, this happens in Daum's piece:

Others, though, are nearly choking on the drool of their schadenfreude. When the news of Douridas' arrest broke, even the fact that it was buried on page B3 didn't keep people from circulating e-mails filled with catty conjectures about who might be next. What if Daniel Schorr was caught shoplifting at Wal-Mart? Imagine if Terry Gross was nabbed on Sunset Boulevard in a compromising position with Divine Brown. Imagine!
Is she outing Terry Gross here? That aside, the whole paragraph trivializes a serious matter -- potential kidnapping and rape of a child. If I was her editor (and I am not), I would kick that one right back with a "What are you thinking?" note.

However, Sandra hits it right:

KCRW, of course, has a long history of removing people from the air any time for any reason. After (was it?) 10 years, Ruth (Seymour, who runs the station)
recently thought afternoon announcer Cindi Burke’s voice suddenly sounded funny -- gone. Joe Frank has a horrific story to tell about being fired by Ruth just before his new series was scheduled to start, with the twist that KCRW then issued a statement that Joe had decided to take a voluntary leave for health reasons. . .


As I’ve mentioned elsewhere (aka: in LA Times), I came of age in a time when KCRW’s signature broadcaster was Joe Frank, a writer who spoke openly to us, across the ether, about our deepest, darkest, weirdest, most embarrassing, and at times most hilarious predilections. When he satirized KCRW’s own pledge drives ("Do you enjoy long moonlit walks on the beach in Bali? Do you. . . ? Do you. . . ? Sorry--in fact no, you DIDN’T win the Bali sweepstakes"), it was the break in the sonic wash that gave KCRW, for me, a kind of. . . call it a kind of three-dimensional personality. It was something recognizably human.

My "relationship" with public radio in general, and KCRW in particular, is, for want of a better word, fragmented. I do listen to a lot of public radio, but my listening time is divided between KCRW, KPCC, KKJZ and KCSN, and I'm mostly trying to catch NPR news and jazz or classical music (the latter two of which barely appear on KCRW and are nonexistent on the mostly talk KPCC). So I was happy to see Sandra's commentaries picked up by KPCC, including the new "Loh Down on Science" (am I spelling that right?), produced by Loh's alma mater Caltech and which airs at 9:20 a.m. weekdays in the middle of "Day to Day" on 89.3.

I've blogged recently on the salaries of top public radio on-air talent, and I don't know where Douridas falls in this spectrum. But he went from host of the daily "Morning Becomes Eclectic" to a much-lower-profile weekend shift, supplementing his income all the while by doing soundtrack supervising and other record-company work. While not disturbing as alleged kidnapping, the fact that most of the big KCRW DJs (including Nic Harcourt and Tom Schanbel) have outside jobs in the record industry is a giant red flag (as in conflict of interest). Especially if you're dragging in $100k from the station, do you really need to be supervising soundtracks or doing A&R?

I don't know Ruth Seymour or any other KCRW employees for that matter, but it's pretty clear from listening to the station and reading about it that the whole operation is basically Seymour's personal fiefdom. It may be a "public" station, it may be housed at Santa Monica College, but Seymour is firmly in control of it. One thing's for sure, the station's profile has risen tremendously under her tenure. It's a big business that drags in a lot of money from listeners and corporations. I don't know if this is good or bad, and I don't really doubt that the public interest is being served to some extent, but I sure do miss Cindi Burke and Joe Frank.

I also miss the great jazz shows I remember from the '80s -- "Smoke Rings," and "Straight, No Chaser" (although I can't for the life of me remember which one aired on KCRW and which was on KPFK). I also think it's a crime that Marian McPartland's excellent "Piano Jazz" has no L.A. outlet.

But it all comes down to this. I don't have cable TV, so for news it's all about NPR in the car. As long as the "Morning Edition," "All Things Considered" and "Day to Day" keep flowing, I'm reasonably happy.

Other things I love about public radio: Chuck Cecil's "The Swingin' Years," on KKJZ and KCSN (no, I'm not 80, I just act like it), KPCC's Larry Mantle (he deserves his $100K) and Kitty Felde, Les Perry's "British Invasion" show on KCSN, Chuck Southcott's KKJZ bop program on weekend mornings and afternoons, those "Car Talk" guys, Terry Gross (gay or not) and "Fresh Air," the fact that "Day to Day" is produced in Los Angeles (or is it Culver City?), the entire KPCC news team, KCRW's "Left, Right and Center" (so that's where I know Robert Scheer from).

Monday, January 23, 2006

Modular, baby

Andrew at Here in Van Nuys has this ultra-cool Van Nuys-manufactured KitHaus entry. These prefab structures are so freakin' cool, it hurts -- you can make lots of different dwelling configurations and bolt them together. A bit pricey though, the free-standing one-module model is $59,500, and that doesn't include all the work you have to do to get electrical and plumbing in there.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I'll see YOU over on the couch

I turned on the charm, laid back these flappy ears and wagged my tail, and damn if someone didn't spring me from the joint! It's very exciting. I hope they have a decent couch, or at least sprung for an Isaac Mizrahi dog bed from Target. Funny thing, though, I went to lick my nuts this morning and they're gone! What do you make of that? Oh well. I have to concentrate my efforts on finding someone's bed to sleep in at night, and endearing myself into some really expensive chow, or even better, table scraps. Then I can go look for my nuts. See ya!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Get me outta here!

I'm at the East Valley Shelter, ID #A771906, and you can find me at, East Valley Shelter site. I will be ready for adoption in 2 days. TWO long days. I was found with no tags, and despite signs no one has come for me.

I'm part Chihuahua, part dachsund and maybe some mini-pinscher, which accounts for my outstanding good looks.

I have my jingle bells, they need to come off because at the moment I would hump absolutely anything. The shelter will be taking care of that. I love everyone though. Well, except cats, and birds, and well, the idiots who found me weren't pleased that I tried to chase and eat their pets. They won't let anything bad happen to me and are monitoring me, but who needs them anyway, they can keep their overgrown bastard of a cat and little yellow bird. Take me home, feed me something, hold me because I like that, and I will be your best buddy. I am housetrained, very well mannered and love every person I meet. Look at this face, would I lie?

Chainsaw Chick

Check out Cherie Currie, formerly of the runaways, on the cover of the Daily News, doing chainsaw sculptures. Rocker chick wielding a chainsaw, now THAT's how you get the 18-24 male demo, ladies and gentlemen.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Ilene is here

Thanks to Ilene, my much better half, for writing about Vista Ford and the Woodland Hills area way back when. Anything past Encino seemed like a foreign country to me in the 1970s, and there were certainly no pastures of any kind in Van Nuys and North Hollywood at that time.

Look for Ilene's other blogs, Drawerspace in a Cluttered Mind and Food Smack for more good writing, including her master's thesis on antioxidants in rooibos tea, a noncaffeinated beverage from South Africa. (Nothing is perfect, unless you don't like caffeine -- and in that case, what's wrong with you?) Rooibos is surprisingly good-tasting, especially the unfermented or "green" kind. Since rooibos means red bush (at this rate I'll be speaking Afrikaans by morning), green red-bush tea, as a beverage name, would seem to pose a marketing problem. I also say this because we can only find one kind of green rooibos on the shelves, and that is a rooibos-honeybush blend made by Numi that Whole Foods carries. Try it -- it's probably one of the best herbal teas out there.

Vista in the Valley

Woodland Hills, 1949, courtesy the CSUN Oviatt Library digital collection.

Steve Shuken, the founder of Vista Ford on Ventura near Canoga, has died. In his obit, it says that he opened the place in 1974. I was raised in the West San Fernando Valley, and it must have been funny to open a place in that spot back then.

It was pretty damned nice, but fairly rural. I was still a squirt in 1974, and we'd hop on the traffic-free 101 for a few stops to the Canoga exit to get to Topanga Plaza. At the bottom of the exit there were horses in a very large pasture (now the Warner Center apts that were just converted to condos with some more fabulous sounding name). Kaiser Permanente's rather large campus off DeSoto was a corn field. Pierce College had more acres of unencumbered farm land.

Topanga Plaza, now in the process of becoming a behemoth Westfield Shopping City was a big deal -- an enclosed, air conditioned mall that featured (to us kids) a "fountain" that dripped beads of oil down large strings suspended from the ceiling. It was surrounded by a circular rainbow tiled floor (!) and my sister and I pondered it a lot as kids after a trip to The Jolly Roger, where it was dark, foreboding and at one time they even had a magician who my sister called "The Man Magic" after the Heart song (She was 3 at the time).

As you can see, 25 years or so before Steve moved in with his Fords, it was pretty much farmland. Our house in the Van Nuys went up that year. Thirty-two years later and it's a suburban metropolis by comparison. I'm not entirely against progress, but a little nostalgic about the open space. Let's hope that they keep Pierce from becoming some horrible development. Meanwhile, Burt Boeckman might be rubbing his hands together over at Galpin Ford. We bought a car there, and the employees were swell, but I hope Vista stays open because Mr. Shuken ran his service dept. a bit better. Bye Mr. Shuken, we're glad you came to the party.

Dutton's North Hollywood is closing

L.A. Observed reports via the Daily News' Dennis McCarthy that Dutton's Bookstore in North Hollywood is closing after 45 years in business.

I remember spending many hours of my youth at this great, unkempt mismash of books on the corner of Laurel Canyon and Magnolia boulevards. I'd pedal a mile and a half or so from our North Hollywood house, lock my Schwinn 10-speed out front next to the boxes of stuff they were trying to blow out the door, and head in to see what I could discover. I wouldn't call the layout logical, and it certainly bore no resemblance to a modern-day Borders or Barnes & Noble.

At Dutton's, books were (and probably still are) stacked on the floor in such a way as to allow minimal passage for a human book-seeker, used volumes mingling with new and shelved two-deep in a chaotically beautiful series of corners, warrens and nooks. (If there's a difference between a warren and a nook, I'd sure like to know, but it just is so English-languagy to use both, no matter what they mean.)

I discovered Charles Bukowski among those shelves, as well as numerous (and more dubious) authors in science fiction, along with everything from impenetrable literary criticism and philosophy to music, science, history and more. I'd also pick up the New York Times Book Review there for something like 50 cents. Yep, I was more high-minded in those days (but no so high-mined as to have any interest at all in the New York Review of Books).

Owner Davis Dutton was a nearly constant presence at the store and didn't seem to mind the hours of browsing that only led to a few minutes of actual buying. You really could get lost in the store's far back recesses.

The North Hollywood never got the publicity that the other Dutton's in Brentwood (independently owned by Davis' brother Doug) sought, and that's too bad, but they really were different kinds of stores, the Valley one being a whole lot more scrappy and just simply packed with books.

I'm not much for used-book buying these days -- it's more about getting rid of stuff then acquiring more, and the North Hollywood area isn't exactly on my current itinerary (which runs more through Van Nuys' Bargain Books, which I hope stays open a long while), but for the whole Valley, the closing of Dutton's is a loss, to be sure.

Seems like nobody was crazy enough to buy Dutton's, but I somehow wish there was such a person. Guess if you're rich, you're not so crazy as to get into the retail book business ...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Ernani Bernardi is dead at 94

Via L.A. Observed.

I especially love the part about him being a working alto saxophonist in the big bands during the 1930s. He played with the Dorseys, Benny Goodman and Kay Kyser.

As a Los Angeles City Councilman representing Van Nuys, he served eight terms, retiring in 1993. I moved (back) to Van Nuys in 1995, so I missed out on getting an Ernani Bernardi potholder.