Last light, Stone Steps © Robert Sommers 2023

Tuesday, January 31, 2023



Lincoln's Sparrow

Black shouldered white tailed kite

Bald eagle, raven and coot

Swainson's Hawk

Peregrine falcons

national bird


Red tailed hawk

Hello It's Me

The Isley Brothers do a nice cover of the classic Todd Rundgren song, make it their own.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Silver Linings

 Thanks to Michael Calvanese for sending this over.

Blue Heron show schedule

I want to remind you that the Blue Heron Gallery will be exhibiting at two wonderful and prestigious shows this month and then two more in April.

The first will be the Palm Springs Modernism Show. 

I always split a booth at this Spring show with Steve Stoops from Stevens Fine Art, Phoenix.  I like to think we put out a very nice booth together.

The show is, in my opinion, the premier Modernism show in the entire country.

This show is always great and a lot of fun but my promoter Rosemary tells me that this one will extra special. 

Lots of great dealers, lots of buzz. More info and tickets here

If you have never visited Palm Springs during Modernism Week, you need to, lots of events, Woodstock for the Jetsons!

By the way, opening night tickets are not cheap and I can't give you any for free. Sorry.


The following week I am exhibiting in beautiful Santa Barbara at the new Santa Barbara Antique Show, formerly the CALM Show. This show is held at the Earl Warren Showgrounds.
Santa Barbara has always been one of my most favorite events. The public is sophisticated, there is great folk art exhibited that you don't really see at other shows, the town is beautiful and you can always buy the best street tacos at Super Rica.

You can find more information about this show here. Here is a discount ticket you can save and print out with a right click.

Hope to see you at either show or both!

Future dates are as follows in Del Mar and San Mateo:

Score one for Ruben

I thought this was funny. 

Former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R) attacked Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) as the “AOC of Arizona” on Sunday night, a week after the progressive Democrat announced he’s running for Senate in 2024.

Gallego parried back on Twitter with a dig at the failed gubernatorial candidate.

We call Kari Lake the Kari Lake of Arizona and yes that is an insult,” Gallego wrote.

MC5 - Kick Out The Jams

Mere coincidence? I think not. Canine paybacks...

Do you not see a pattern here? Just who is in the doghouse? It used to be, you feed them a little kibble, pat them on the head, throw them an occasional frisbee and you had nothing to worry about. 

Those days are over pal. These days, you get on Rover's bad side and they are bringing the heat. The headlines are more and more frequent. Your basenji just might have a bone to pick or a score to settle and god help you if you don't see it coming...

A good dog having a bad day. It happens...

Dog says sorry, was just trying to scare him

So why was it sold to the nice Korean family then?

Unloaded. Isn't that what they all say? The dog thought the gun was unloaded...

Karma's a bitch...

Wise up, fellow humans. 

There have been way too many of these types of stories lately. 

Vizsla's with vendettas. Great Dane's with grudges. Poodles seeking payback.

Could there be a large canine conspiracy lurking among us? 

Beware, Fido has certainly been settling scores of late and I, for one, do not think he's finished yet.

By the way, only two cases of a cat shooting a human that I can find. Cat shoots man. Cat shoots man with a 9mm handgun. So who's your real best friend?

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sitting In Limbo

Veal chops with stewed roma tomatoes, basil and pepe de acini

Continuing my Sunday evening cooking regimen, I made another nice cold weather dish tonight.  This one was good but did not rise to the level of the osso buco from a few weeks back. I am not a cook and everything is a trial and error, new learning experience for me. When they say add four cloves of garlic and I add six, how was I to know that I really should have added twelve?

I read two or three recipes and then sort of picked and chose what sounded right. I consulted with some chef pals and got varying advice. The biggest concern was the tomatoes. One of the recipes said not to be a cheapskate and to buy the imported vine ripened Italian tomatoes, the San Marzanos. I cheaped out and bought organic romas and cherry tomatoes.

Melissa told me I was making a mistake and maybe I did. She said tomatoes don't taste good until August. Oh well. I followed Dixon's advice and broiled the romas for three or four minutes to bring the sugar up while blanching and peeling the cherry tomatoes.

I added some sugar, as Faro suggested, but in the tumult forgot to add the baking soda to cut the acidity. I thought it came out okay. The basic recipe for this veal italiano called for thyme and while I added it, I used a lot more fresh basil, which my wife said I still should have pushed even further. 

I was going to start everything on the stove top and finish in the oven but realized that I was using a non stick pan so I just stuck with the cook top. I need a Le Creuset skillet.

I sort of doubt you want my recipe but it contained salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, thyme, white wine, olive oil, garlic, shallots and butter. Basil and tomatoes, touch of sugar. Seared the veal, added the shallots and garlic, browned them, removed the chops to a platter and then added the tomatoes and the wine. Reduced it down, covered it and waited for Leslie to make the pasta. Finished it with a touch more olive oil and some lemon zest. Took some intricate timing, fighting as we are for flat surfaces and cooktop in the little room.

By the way, pepe de acini, (I used DeCecco), is one of my favorite pastas. The small ends taste like a grain they are so tiny. I love the texture.

The dish was a bit more subtle than my recent offerings. Missed the killing blow but barely. The next dish, my moose roast, should be better. I do think veal chops should always be grilled but it is drizzling outside so there was no way.

I should mention that cooking in our small kitchen is a bit of a contact sport.

It is my wife's space and she is eyeing the newfound interloper with suspicion. We may be Jewish by birth but we are Italian by disposition and voices sometimes get raised. Luckily nothing is ever thrown. Or at least not yet. Really hard to function together in a tiny kitchen, and for me to be such a rookie. She has her ways and I am not real good at taking direction. Never have been.

It is cool though. We make up fast. She said the veal was perfectly cooked and enjoyed her dinner. She is going to a ravioli making class with some girlfriends on Tuesday. Should be fun. I am going to continue to be the Sunday cook at our home, for a while anyway. Still need to do a scallopini marsala.

Happy eating!



Let your freak flag fly

I had long hair as a teenager. When I finally cut it, the ponytail of my gigantic, curly mane hung 14" long down my back. It was your basic unruly "jewfro." While it was fairly normal to see hair like this in New York City, when I moved back to Southern California in 1974, it was not. People around these parts really didn't have hair like this at this time. I was a full blown hippie pariah.

Kids at school looked at me like a freak. My own little brother John was so ashamed he refused to walk on the street with me because he was embarrassed and asked me to walk a block in front of him on the way back from school. The Vice Principal thought I was a terrorist and told me so the first day he met me at Oxnard High School. Said he was sure that he would see a lot of me at detention.

Unfortunately, no pictures exist of my hirsute period. Or so I thought anyway. Yesterday my friend Pat said she found a picture of me at school on Ancestry. Oxnard High, graduating class of 1975. She said she would send it but I just looked it up myself. Bingo.

That is me bottom center, shades on, knees and arms Indian style. I had a feather earring at this point, I believe. Worked to support my mother and brother during this period, my mom completely incapacitated from a nervous breakdown. 

I wish the picture was sharper but you get the idea. Kind of look like my wife here, honestly. Or a guitar player with the MC5. Some of you might find this shot amusing. I have never seen it before. Never saw the yearbook, never went to a reunion. 

I had dropped out the previous year and hitchhiked across the northwest, living on various school buses and communes but came back and graduated so my mother wouldn't flip out. Got out of Oxnard as soon as I could.

Anyone have more pics of me from this period, please send them over.

New Mexico Blues

Interesting article at Slate: 

What did the Bernalillo Republican Party do after failed candidate and ex con Solomon Pena was allegedly shooting into the homes of four Democratic political opponents?

They elected him to a leadership position as County Ward Chairman.

The article was pretty chilling. Here is a snippet:

When someone shot up Linda Lopez’s house, the truth is: She didn’t even know it, and she was there. Lopez lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The shooting happened on Jan. 3. That night, she’d stayed up late with her kids, and then they’d all went to bed. It was about 1 in the morning when Lopez heard the bangs. And she assumed she knew what they were: fireworks.
Lopez’s 10-year-old daughter, Cherish, came in to her room. Cherish had her own theories about what had woken her up. She thought maybe a spider had plopped down on her face? They’d had spiders before. She’d felt something, she knew that much. “She said she’d felt some sand or dirt on her face and on her nose,” Lopez said. “And I told her, ‘Sweetheart, maybe Mom needs to clean the fan on top of the bed.’ It’s not like I’m the best housekeeper in the world, so I thought maybe that’s something that needs to happen.”
Then, they went back to sleep.
“About 6:30, quarter of 7, I woke up and proceeded to turn on the bathroom light. I looked toward my bed, and on the wall, you could see what had happened. There was a hole in my wall above my bed. And then I looked to the left, and there was a hole through the closet door—12 bullet holes total. My daughter’s room is right next to mine. And the trajectory that the bullet had, it could have grazed her head if she had been sitting up.”

Is this really what it has come to? 


Postscript: Alb Journal says he was elected two days before his arrest. Still:

“He was elected, and I wish our rules allowed us to fire him – but they don’t,” said Janice Arnold-Jones, a former state legislator and Albuquerque city councilor.

Several top county party officials this week declined to answer Journal phone calls and emails about the matter, including county party chairman John Rockwell.

Shades of George Santos. People elected him, nothing we can do. Makes you wonder what actually would be disqualifying for the GOP? More at the NYT.

He was demoted twice during his four years in the service and left the military in 2004 at the lowest possible rank. The Navy was unable to provide the reasons for Mr. Peña’s demotions.
Mr. Peña ran on a platform of cracking down on crime, despite his own criminal history. He served nearly seven years in prison in New Mexico on charges including burglary and larceny after being part of a “smash-and-grab” crew that slammed vehicles into retail stores, including a Kmart in Albuquerque, then stole items, according to court records.
After being released from prison in 2016, Mr. Peña tried selling cars at a dealership in Albuquerque but lasted less than a month before he was fired for showing up late, court records from a lawsuit filed by Mr. Peña in 2017 show. (The case was dismissed.) 

Great candidate! 

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Shannon Stirnweis

Backed Off!

I have always loved great illustrators. Some of the greatest artists in American history have been illustrators, think N.C. Wyeth, Pyle, Parrish, Leyendecker and Rockwell. I used to fight with a certain art professor in college about this. F.J. said that anything that was used to sell a product could never be "fine art."

This is absolute bullshit, of course. Most illustrators could paint circles around the so called "fine artists", but I digress.

When I was in Mesa I saw several paintings on the floor by an artist I was not familiar with, Shannon Stirnweis (1932-2019).

I was immediately taken with the high quality of the work and bought two of them. Sold one almost immediately and bought another. The vendor I bought them from was representing the estate, which possesses several hundred paintings.

I did a little research and found out that Stirnweis was one time president of the Society of Illustrators and had a long and illustrious career.

From his obit:

He was a member of St. Patrick's Parish in Jaffrey. Serving in the Army in 1954, he was stationed in Germany where he illustrated for the Army. Working as an Illustrator in NYC, he was President of the Society of Illustrators and one of the founding fathers of the Graphic Artists Guild. Shannon illustrated over 35 children's books as well as 3 books for Grumbacher Library, "The Art of Painting Dogs", "The Art of Painting Cats", and "The Art of Painting the Wild West". He recently published a book on his life as a painter, "80 Years Behind the Brush". He wanted to be remembered most for painting scenes of the American West.

An Art Center graduate, originally from Portland, he started out doing book illustration and pulps, including a lot of work for Argosy. 

He also did a lot of movie work which I am told included work on Lonesome Dove. 

He won numerous medals and had at least three solo exhibitions, one at the Jaffrey Center in 2015 which resulted in the publication of the book Shannnon Stirnweis, 80 years behind the brush.

My mother, Adelle Fisher, was editor at Pinnacle Books when I was a kid.

She was responsible for a lot of pulp titles, including the Executioner, Destroyer and Edge as well as a lot of racier stuff with her Bee Line line.

So I sort of grew up in this world and was well acquainted with many of the illustrators, including my favorite, Tony DeStefano.

So it was hard for me to pass these by.

When I got home Tuesday I went about finding frames for the pieces. I tried to call Summit frames but found out that they have stopped making them.

But fortunately my friend Joan had the exact Summit frame in the exact size I needed, 24" x 18" and she gave it to me yesterday. Thank you, Joan! 

I think the train robbery painting is really spiffy and could not look better!

I have ordered a different frame from my framer Jennifer for my snow scene. I think it will look fabulous, as well. There is some really good brushwork here.

If these sell I think I will arrange to buy a few more. I look forward to discovering more about this great illustrator.

Behavioral shaping

So your three year old son wants to dress like a pink unicorn, what do you do? Well, I am not really qualified as a parent and am admittedly way out of my pay grade here but I think the one thing you don't do is immediately cut his wee wee off. Give him a few years, he might find a use for it.

I do not know the author but she seems positively giddy about the whole experience. I would not be surprised if she was providing junior with lots of unconscious reinforcement and shaping regarding his chromatic color choices.

She certainly sounds like she has her own agenda here.

I am not daft about the realities of a society that has thrived on categorization. Recent attacks on transgender rights at schools and legislation discouraging any education on gender identity until fourth grade, as adopted in Florida, represent an increasingly fervent backlash to broadening gender labels and norms. The idea we should stick to our own corners, like 1950s segregation, is one as old as human existence, but one that’s been proved to hinder society from thriving.
My suggestion is, let little Johnny have some time to think about whatever lies ahead. If he enters his late teens and still wants to dress like tinkerbell or even make anatomical corrections, god bless, him/her/ they. But who knows, it might be a temporary color choice, he may be in his blue, macho period by then, hope mom can handle that possibility. 

Hominids have been evolving for about 6 million years, male/female attraction is not necessarily abnormal either and those that follow that paradigm should not be ostracized or otherwise persecuted. If the child turns out to be a heterosexual who favors traditional male attire, I hope that she can come to accept him in time.

Phil Lesh

I was listening to channel 23 on Sirius the other day, the dead channel, when I had the realization that you never hear any Phil on the channel. Why is that? I have to suffer through a lot of Dead & Co ( I really don't, I change the channel) but no Phil. I assume that it is a personal decision that he made but don't get it.

Phil Lesh is one of the greatest bass players and most brilliant musicians in the world. He was a major developer of the lead bass approach. Admittedly he has lost a lot on his fastball, but who hasn't? I personally find his music much more listenable these days than having to deal with Bob's blown out vocal chords.

Hope the 49ers win tomorrow. I love the quarterback story.

Don't ask, Gym

Friday, January 27, 2023

Lost our edge

The views are still running very strong on the blog, over 5600 today. Our new guests are apparently checking out a lot of stuff I wrote around 2010. I haven't looked at a lot of these posts in years and one thing genuinely stands out in rereading them; the commenting was much more robust in the early days. And my writing was not nearly as politically correct.

today's top ten
As irritating as Kerry could be, he kept the pot stirred. Ditto Grumpy. The blog has never quite recovered from Window Dancer's exit. MMWB was a great contrarian voice. As was Jeff from Nebraska, Stan in New York, my dearly departed Uncle Norm. All sayonara.

Now in our sixteenth year, I miss a lot of our early participants. I would often get intellectually challenged in the old days and honestly I enjoyed it. Pilpul, we call it in yiddish, the back and forth.

Frankly, you people have gotten soft or just don't care anymore. Too much pickleball, too much television, too much me, I can't really say.

But I look back at some of the hot and heavy go-rounds we used to have and think we really lost track somewhere along the way. 4,222,428 views down the pike and now we have gotten flabby around the middle.

Can't we all "not get along?"

Honestly, I think it was much easier to have a frank political discussion ten years ago. Arguments now tend to fragment towards the extreme fringe and people are scared to consider a middle or differing position that might lump them in with the opposing narrative.

After Trump, and I suppose Covid to some degree, beliefs were hardened and people stopped talking with people who did not share their political views. Long term relationships were sadly lost. I hope the blast remains a place where people can agree to disagree and always feel welcome.

Tucker Carlson needs to move to Moscow

Tucker Carlson denounced the potential taking back of Crimea from Russia this week. Russian illegally annexed the peninsula in 2014. 

"Now, wait a second," Carlson told the audience. "At the beginning, they said, 'Let's just push back Russia to pre-February 2022 borders.' That seemed kind of reasonable to most people, including us.

"But taking Russian Crimea from Russia?" the host added. "Russia has said many times, and there's every reason to believe them, that would lead to nuclear war. But that's the new plan? Was this voted on? That's truly crazy."

Carlson has repeatedly drawn criticism for his analysis of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, seen as sympathetic to Moscow over Kyiv. Earlier this January, a Russian state TV analyst said Carlson would be the "one American we wouldn't want to kill."

The man is completely immoral. One does not have to wonder too much what his stance would have been in World War II regarding Hitler?

It is no wonder that he is a favorite of both Putin and the Russian propaganda press. 

I honestly believe that he is a Russian asset. This is a very dangerous man. One has to wonder why Fox keeps a person so toxic and deluded around?

Man at Aviation and Mission


Ten Years After

Thursday, January 26, 2023


I am still feeling pretty rotten but the blog is having a big day for some reason, blowing up in Sweden. With over 4200 views today, well past twice my normal number, Sweden accounted for about 3500 of the total. Välkommen, friends. I hope we can share pickled herring one day and talk about old times.

I no longer have the tools to see what people are reading with too much specificity but newcomers tend to search out my earlier offerings and I track as best as I can. Not sure what brought them in. I have been also getting more African traffic lately then I have ever had in fifteen years, principally from Uganda. I am glad that Africa is getting more plugged in to the internet, welcome friends from the mother ship. I hope to return to Africa one day.

I read some of my old posts earlier this morning and honestly had forgotten many of them, 12,035 posts published as of today. As I always say, what I lack in quality I make up for with sheer volume.

Anyway not much else to report. Feel crappy, Leslie made matzoh ball soup for us last night with both chicken and turkey and made her own bone broth. She is such a talented cook, the balls were light and perfect. She wants me to get well because truth be told, she can't stand it when I am home during the day. I think it is fair to say that she is sick of me or maybe sick of me being sick? I don't know but a little of me goes a long way and absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that.

Luckily I do have time to get well, no shows for a couple weeks and then two in Palm Springs and Santa Barbara. I will leave and perhaps she will like me once again one day. I might even attack and organize my shop next week, which is a total disaster.

I saw my first California poppy bloom on my street the other day, today there were several of them. The neighbor, Steph, reports a new hawk in the nest. Paper today says that they are going to name all the homeless people in the county, not exactly sure why they have to, don't they already have names? I can help them with Fallbrook, Crazy Larry, meet Smelly Pete. Psycho guy who makes odd gestures into the air communing with invisible demons, tip your hat to Tweaker Sally, the woman who likes to scream at Starbucks.

I feel a tremendous amount of compassion for those that are on the street after losing work but for so many of these people it seems more like a self inflicted wound. I have less empathy for those that would destroy themselves with potions or drink or have failed to take any responsibility for their lives.

I have been very poor in my childhood and even hungry, was laughed at for the holes in my clothes when I lived with the alcoholic, brutal, nazi stepfather and I learned early, the first rule in the universe is to wipe your own ass. No one is going to do it for you. Sadly, you are on your own in this world. Try not to crap on my stoop.

Throwing money at mentally ill street people is like pissing in the wind, it might make you feel better but is unlikely to get them to change their behavior in the long run. Or at least that is what I think. (Boy, do I sound pissy!) I hope they straighten out but wouldn't put money on it.

Catch you on a better day.

Bachman Turner Overdrive

Morning captions