2006 January at John Mackey's Blog



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  • How I Spent My Teen Years
  • New stuff for Fall 2014!
  • UTWE Tour : Shenzhen
  • Wine-Dark Sea – the video
  • Wine-Dark Sea – recording and score
  • “Wine-Dark Sea” – the program note
  • We’re buying a house!
  • Symphony for Band – an update, with audio
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  • Cats: LA Cat Show
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  • Design: Dining Room
  • Design: Family Room
  • Design: Front Door
  • Design: Kitchen, pt.1
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  • Design: Kitchen, pt.3
  • Design: Kitchen, pt.4
  • Design: Kitchen, pt.5
  • Design: Living Room
  • Design: The Austin House, part 1
  • Design: The Austin House, pro shots
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  • January 28, 2006


    Yes, I know, I swore I wouldn’t do this, but I started a MySpace account. Why? I’ve no idea. But since I put it up — with no content — about 3 days ago, several people I know (but haven’t heard from in ages) tracked me down on MySpace to say hello. So, maybe it works. But it does feel a little weird being roughly 15 years older than anybody else on there, I must say.

    If you have a MySpace account, go to my page and become my friend.

    Wow, that sounds completely pathetic.

    But to tempt you at least a little, I’ll tell you a little secret… There’s a recording of the original orchestra version of Redline Tango on my MySpace page — and it’s nowhere else. Shhh…


    January 26, 2006

    Send Money Now

    There’s an open house this afternoon around the corner from us. AEJ and I stopped by to see it, and, sadly, it turns out it’s our dream house. The reason this is a sad fact is that the house is $1.5 million. It was built in 1953, has views of the reservoir, and is in immaculate condition. Did I mention it’s $1.5 million? But the move would be easy, as the house is a 30-second walk from where we live now.

    If anybody wants to send us, say, the downpayment (in the area of 90%), we’d be fine with that.

    Here’s a link to the site dedicated to the listing.

    Wouldn’t AEJ’s Feathered Chandelier look amazing in there?


    Dining Design

    If you tried visiting the site overnight, you probably saw a message about it being down because I’d “exceeded resources” or some such thing. My monthly bandwidth limit is 30 GB, and I passed that sometime around 9pm PST yesterday, so the site shut down — mail and all. It was corrected this morning. The site is now receiving over 1500 visitors per week, more than double what it received in an average week back in September (when I added the new stat info counter). Keep visiting!

    AEJ and I have been working on our dining area this week, in anticipation of having dinner guests tomorrow night. Everything all came together within the past few days (many months after placing orders, returning items that were incorrect, etc.). AEJ’s “inspiration” for the dining area — which is part of the living room — was to mirror the view of the reservoir, visible through the wall opposite the dining wall. AEJ took herself literally, and decided to mirror the reservoir with just that — a mirror. But not just any mirror. She wanted to bring the blue color of the reservoir to the wall opposite the windows in an even more pronounced way, so she ordered a custom blue-tinted mirror. Here’s Loki, saying hello to the blue-tinted kitty on the other side. (Check out the freaky distortion caused by the mirror!)

    “Heeeyyy….,” Loki said. “What the hell is that crazy feathered thing above the table?!”

    It’s a true AEJ creation: the feathered chandelier. She ordered the regular suspended lamp, ordered bulk feathered boas somewhere else, and we spent several hours yesterday gluing the feathers to the lamp. The result: pure friggin’ brilliance. It’s both funny and incredibly hip at the same time. Wow, that AEJ is amazing. I told her that she should sell The Feathered Chandelier for, like, 4 grand. It almost feels like Liberace designed it.

    As you can see, Loki loved the lamp covered in feathers. We hoped it was just out of reach for him, but he did manage to snag it once so far. (Edit: Make that twice, as of this entry.) We’ll see how long it takes him to pull it from the ceiling.

    And here’s a photo of the whole setup: the AEJ Blue Mirror, the AEJ Feathered Chandelier, the Saarinen “Tulip” dining table, and Eames “Potato Chip” chairs.

    It’s all pretty darned cozy. And fuzzy. But I think we’re going to be finding feathers all over the house for the next three years.


    January 20, 2006

    Palm Springs

    Before I get to the Palm Springs photos, here’s a little update on our “guests for dinner” plan. As I wrote last week, AEJ and I tried making filet mignon, but it was disappointing, especially considering the cost. Then AEJ got the idea that we could serve my slow-cooked pork burrito meat, but rather than serve it as a burrito (which is a bit messy for company), we could serve it over cornbread. We made one of the Cook’s Illustrated cornbread recipes, and the dish — slow-cooked pork with chiles, served over cornbread with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream — is pictured below. (Sorry it’s a bit dark.)

    The verdict: This, with a side salad, will be the meal we’ll serve our guests when they come next week, but we need to improve the cornbread recipe. It was good with the pork, but a bit bland on its own. We’re hoping for something a little sweeter, so we’ll try that this weekend.

    Speaking of sweet, for dessert that night we had homemade molasses spice cookies (with, of course, milk). We enjoy cooking. And eating.

    Off to Palm Springs! (Yes, I realize there are no photos yet of the visit to the LA Zoo. That will be a separate entry, as it’s a whole story / rant.) After checking in at our hotel (The Orbit In — yes, that’s spelled correctly), we headed to lunch at Spencer’s. This place is classic Palm Springs, a throwback to the era when the Rat Pack would hang out in Palm Springs. As such, it felt appropriate to order a bloody mary with brunch. It was yummy, but later that day, I decided that it’s not a great idea for me to start my day with vodka.

    AEJ ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with a side of onion rings. Greasy, but yummy.

    I had the portobello mushroom on toasted focaccia sandwich, served with homemade potato chips. It all tasted just great, but the sandwich was on the oily side, and this, combined with the bloody mary, made for a rather icky-feeling afternoon.

    In addition to a Bentley that we saw when we entered the restaurant, Spencer’s valet parking section had this sharp old-school Ferrari.

    One of the best things about Palm Springs — at least for me and AEJ — is the architecture. We bought an architecture map and drove around town looking for the famous architectural landmarks. First stop: this sweet house where Elvis and Priscilla spent their honeymoon.

    I’m sorry this photo is crooked (it was taken from the car), but here’s another cool looking house by the same architect — Robert Alexander.

    That night, we went to a restaurant called The Match Box for dinner. Our appetizer was this plate of 3 mini-cheeseburgers. Very yummy, but not as mini as they should have been. You could have made a meal out of these. Have you ever seen any onions?

    Main course: brick oven pizza with pepperoni and banana peppers. Delicious.

    AEJ’s dessert: molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.

    My dessert: chocolate chip and banana bread pudding with a rum-based sauce. I don’t know if it was an off night in the kitchen, but this was the weak link in the meal, as the rum had not been reduced nearly enough, causing the alcohol flavor to dominate the entire dish. Boo.

    Back in our room — decorated almost entirely with mid-century furniture — here’s a photo of our very old (and barely working) lava lamp. This Alien-like goo is apparently what happens to lava lamps after 40 years.

    Breakfast the next day was outside with a view of the mountains and, of course, palm trees.

    AEJ and I would love to someday own a house by the architect John Lautner. (Our view from our house is of another famous Lautner, Silvertop.) This house — called “Elrod” — was used in a scene in the James Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever. I just read, while searching for a link to photos, that the home can be privately rented — for $3600 per night. You can’t even get to the street where the house sits, as the entire community is gated. (Bob Hope owned another Lautner house on the same street.) You can barely make out the house from this photo, so I direct you to this site for lots and lots of photos of the interior — as well as private rental information for those with $4000/night to spare.

    Speaking of Silvertop, here’s a funny picture I just found — of a view of our house — from the deck of Silvertop!

    But back to Palm Springs. Before we headed home, we drove up the mountain to check out the view. Here’s a view back down the road…

    And although you probably won’t be able to make it out, here’s a view up to the top, where you can almost make out the tram. No way am I getting on that tram. Me no likey the heights.

    When this was built, it was a gas station. It is, without a doubt, the coolest gas station ever. Now it’s the Palm Springs Visitor Center. (I’m just happy they didn’t tear the thing down.)

    And those tiny white things in the distance are windmills! There are hundreds of them in vast wind farms in the area. And all of them are used to power my stereo.

    So, that’s Palm Springs. It was a great 24-hours away. Lots of great vintage (that’s 1950’s and 1960’s vintage) furniture shopping, amazing architecture, sunny skies, and great food. It’s lovely in January, when it’s 70 degrees. August, when it’s 115, might be a different story.


    January 17, 2006

    R & R

    For the first time since arriving in LA in early September, AEJ are heading out of town for a little R & R. Other than a small amount of work travel — which was, of course, work — it’s been pretty-much non-stop writing since we moved here. So, since “Turbine” is done, and “Strange Humors” is done, I’m taking a week off before I start the next project.

    Today we spent the afternoon at the Los Angeles Zoo. (It was a fun time, but let’s just say it’s no Columbus Zoo.) I took lots of pictures, and will try to post some soon. Tomorrow, we head to Palm Springs. Because we don’t know anybody here to watch Loki, we can only stay out of town until Thursday, but even that 36-hour trip seems luxurious.

    And don’t worry — I’ll take (and later post) lots of pictures.

    See you in a few days!