August 31, 2011

Battening Down the Hatches

Due to an impending tropical weather system (the so-called Hurricane Irene), it has been necessary to forego this week’s Note as the Recent Paterfamilias has found himself far too preoccupied with news coverage, meteorological updates, and personal preparations to donate even the scantest amount of time toward any and all literary pursuits, which thusly would prohibit his making any and all musings or observations on the current state of art, design, or fatherhood, as he, the Recent Paterfamilias, as might be expected, is engrossed with televised weather coverage, forecasts, predictions, et cetera, so there is little of amusement for him to write on for this week’s column, no pithy, yet inspired, comments, no farcical anecdotes, although the Recent Paterfamilias is proud to report that he procured a case of liter water bottles at his local pharmacy, at the self-checkout counter (which is important), for $2.38 (as the bar code on the side of the case was programmed for the individual bottles contained within and not for the case itself), and the R.P. must say, he is proud of his pilfering, his minor act of civil disobedience, he took advantage and he is unapologetic, he has beaten The Man once again, the Corporate Overlords be damned, but on a separate subject, he unfortunately must announce that the Coleman lantern which his wife, the New Matriarch, quietly absconded away with from the film set on which she has been working in recent weeks requires D-cell batteries in order to operate properly, a power source of which the R.P. needs four (he currently has one), so should his loyal reader, his concerned public audience, his adoring fans, be in the possession of three (3) D-cell batteries, please, and in post-haste, send said batteries via airmail to:

The Recent Paterfamilias

Upper West Side

New York, New York 10023

(Please send only the requested batteries. All fan mail and memorabilia/autograph requests will be disposed of accordingly.)

August 29, 2011

August 24, 2011

On The Use of Proper Language

A Note from a Non-Linguist (or would it be “A Note from an Un-Linguist,” or “from not a Linguist,” or “not a Note from a Linguist”?)

The Recent Paterfamilias has a favorite book he likes to read to his infant daughter. It’s a weird book. It’s a well-illustrated book, the artist of which was clearly heavily influenced by Picasso’s early-20th century newspaper cutout work, as well as by the paintings of Basquiat, as Jean-Michel’s iconic gold crown is featured fairly prominently. But the stories themselves are even more inventive. They’re parodies. Stories like: “Little Red Running Shorts,” and “Goldilocks and the Three Elephants,” and “The Boy who Cried Cow Paddy,” and other nonsensical fairy tales of this nature. The name of the book is The Stinky Cheese Man, the seminal work of John Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith, as I am sure my well-read public is already aware.

But as has been noted above, the stories in this book are weird ones. They are unorthodox. And they’re threatening to turn my little girl into a social pariah.

I have grown marginally concerned that exposing my offspring to fairy tale parodies might affect her inadvertently later. Like when her friends say something like, “Well, you know what happened to the ugly duckling, don’t you?” and she replies, “Yeah, sure, he grew up to be an ugly duck,” one can appreciate how she might be humiliated when the other conversant says, “What did you just say?” “Um, uh, ugh, nothing…?” And then I would have to hear about it when she got home from school, a teenage tirade about how, unlike she’d heard her entire time growing up, the ugly duckling, the true ugly duckling, did not, in fact, turn into a really ugly duck, but instead grew up to be a beautiful (see: vain, and intolerable) swan.

This is a real concern of mine.

My daughter’s mother found herself in a similar situation when she was about eleven. She was holding a conversation with some of her fellow middle schoolers and she, my wife, when referring to Xmas lights, mentioned a little something about “teevee dites.” Silence immediately set in and abounded. As one might expect, her friend said, “What did you just say?” “Um, uh, ugh, nothing…?”

When she got home, naturally she wanted some answers, proclaiming, “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me they were called Christmas lights and not teevee dites?!!” The answer from her parents, of course, was what one might expect: “I’m sure we told you they were called Christmas lights.” “No, you didn’t.” “I’m certain we told you.” “I think I would have remembered something like that!” Naturally, my wife, even two decades later, is still annoyed about the teevee dites incident.

Everyone knows that families have their own terms for things, part of their own dysfunctional private language, but, if not informed, kids might very well go running off thinking that the term that’s used at home is, in fact, the term that’s used colloquially.

So, of course I don’t want my child to go off to school and, in all seriousness, refer to “The Story of Little Red Running Shorts,” or talk about how someone or something was acting like “a sacrificial koala” (a personally-invented idiom, not one from the aforementioned book). This is sure to draw a deafening silence, and then promptly get her laughed out of the lunchroom. Or, at the very best, looked at sideways. Thusly, because of this little book, my wife and I have felt it necessary to go out and get the real fairy tale books, or as many of them as could be found. If I willingly allow my poor baby to go off into public talking about “Jack’s Bean Problem” or “The Princess and the Bowling Ball,” I’m afraid I’d never be able to forgive myself.

A parent is obligated to tell his children the truth, as well as tell them the true stories, because otherwise he’ll have an idiot running around the playground and the amusement park and the college campus talking about Goldilocks and her elephants and sacrificial koalas and Little Red Running Shorts, and nobody in her entire Psych 101 class will have any clue as to what she might be talking about, but these same classmates will be sure to comment, when hanging out with their friends in “the quad” or “the commons” or “the cistern” that there was this crazy girl in their 9 a.m. lecture going on about “Cinderrumplestiltskin,” as though this were a normal thing and people were supposed to know what the hell she was talking about. “Oh, I know that girl,” they’ll reply. “She thinks that Christmas trees are covered with teevee dites.”
Laughter naturally follows.

August 23, 2011

Finding a Chair for the Nursery - Part 2: Choices

Let me start by giving you a bit of background so you know what we are looking for.  The room is painted a shade of white.  The furniture has a decidedly Mid Century Modern flare (see Young American Mix collection).  The rest of the house has a modern, sophisticated and stylish decor.  After a day of searching and testing (see part 1) Sunshine was able to narrow down what she wanted:
Price: Under $800 including Ottoman (budget was originally under $500 but she soon realized she had to change that)
Style: Fully Upholstered. No bare rockers, Eames Rocker or wood gliders need apply
Features: Glide = Yes.  Swivel = Ideally.  Recline = Not necessary
Color: Neutral - a soft brown, grey or maybe Ivory*
* All advice received stated that the chair will get dirty and Ivory  may not be the best choice, but we figured we could get a cute throw blanket to put over the back to help protect it.
Look: Modern - we saw a few great chairs that were very comfortable but they didn't really have the right "look". Sunshine wanted something with a sleek look, clean lines that would fit with the room's aesthetic.

After days of going to every store in LA and checking out every internet site this was the dream chair:
Jennifer Delonge Daddy Glider
However, it was not the dream price. $1000 for the chair plus an additional $450 for the Ottoman.  It has been weeks of back and forth on whether it is worth spending the money.

In the meantime.  We checked out the Gus Sparrow Glider.  $799 (on sale) + Ottoman - found it not so comfortable and a lot narrower in the seat than expected.

So that leaves the current front runner as the Luxe Glider in coffee which is  available at Costco.  At $799 INCLUDING ottoman it seems like a good deal.  The shape is right, the color is great and the price is spot on.  They sent out fabric samples super fast, and if for some reason we order it and hate it, it is 100% returnable to any store.

As of last week, it seemed like a done deal.  And then in my thrift store travels I found this monstrosity:

I don't know what made me sit in it, but once I did, I was sold.  $20 for the most comfortable chair we (sunshine concurred) had tested to date.  Only problem is that it needs a little face lift, and a lot of wd-40 (it's got quite the squeak).  We are going to take it in to an upholsterer this week to get it checked out and see if she it's worth fixing up.  If it is ... well fabric hunting we shall go and I guess now there will have to be a part 3 to the chair saga story!

August 22, 2011

New Skart: Jump!

Featuring Arty, the Skårtshop bear!

This is my biggest piece yet, measuring a whopping 34" wide by 15" high.  It was made to go over a change table in a certain room you might remember with a custom argyle wall (Finished room reveal pics coming soon).  This piece is available at Skå in 4 color combinations (Turquoise pictured below), or request your own combination to match your decor.

August 17, 2011

Why Animals Should Dress for Dinner

My wife and I (as our infant daughter’s proxies) received a gift from a very well-meaning relative. It was a stuffed Teddy bear. A white Teddy bear. A Teddy polar bear, to be specific. He arrived wearing a sweater. And he smelled. Again, to be specific, he stank.

He also came with an itemized receipt. For one Bloomies (ie. Bloomingdales) Xmas Special Edition Polar Bear. With sweater. Dated late-December. 1996.

As everyone knows, it is not polite to look down upon well-meant gifts, so naturally we welcomed the bear into our home.

But as was previously mentioned, Teddy smelled. Teddy had come from the smelly basement of a rather smelly house. The Recent Paterfamilias is familiar with this house. The smell is an old one, like that in an antique shop, mixed with decade-aged mold and the aroma from a 1984 house fire. And this particular perfume had embedded itself within Teddy’s sweater as well as Teddy himself.

I took them both, one wearing the other, to my local dry cleaners. They laughed me out the door, but not before suggesting that I might have some luck with one or two gallons of spray Lysol. So, I Febreezed the hell out of the poor bear as well as his sweater. Bear came out OK. Sweater didn’t fare as well. The stink remained.

It was necessary for an executive decision to be made. The sweater met an untimely death in the trashcan.

But now, as was pointed out by my infant daughter’s mother, Ted the Bloomies Polar Bear was hanging out in our nursery naked. Well, this just didn’t seem right. Ted needed some clothes.

Alright. Fine. But what does one get for the Bear who had everything?

The answer was obvious enough to make one feel idiotic: A bow tie, of course.

So I ran out and picked up a bow tie at my local discount retail joint. It was a pre-tied job (although I’d been hoping to find the hand-tied alternative) and it fit nigh perfectly.

Great. Problem solved. Toy Ursus maritimus was no longer naked.

But now our other stuffed people were seeming a tad underdressed. So I ran back out. I bought more ties. I came back home and tailored them accordingly (other stuffed necks in the nursery failed to possess the…how shall I say it?...the girth of White Teddy’s).

Before long, I was living in a world of well-dressed beasts. Another Teddy, a pony, an alligator (or is he a crocodile? it’s so difficult to tell), a gorilla, a drunk-looking monkey, et cetera. But now, our possession of this crew in their custom-made neckwear was threatening to make my wife and I look like “silly people.” And even silly people, like my wife and me, don’t enjoy looking like silly people.

So I needed to come up with an excuse.

And the easiest way to avoid appearing a silly person? Manufacture a justification for all recent silly actions. That was certainly simple enough. We decided, when asked, “Why are many of your daughter’s stuffed animals wearing preppy bow ties?” we would simply reply:

“Well, obviously, they are all dressed for dinner.”

There. Silly people persona cleverly avoided. Excellent.

August 16, 2011

Skårtshop's First Music Video

Okay, it's not a music video about Skårt. 

But I did work on it.  And if you have eagle eyes you might spot a little Skårt in the background here and there.  Oh yah. I did I mention The "lil" rapper was only 8? And the mini rock stars are all under the age of 10?!!! SERIOUSLY?!!!

August 10, 2011

A little Custom Cushion Goes a Long Way

A small piece of advice from the Recent Paterfamilias: Do what rich people do—have your cushions (toss, throw, or otherwise) custom made.

My wife and I recently bought a particularly stupid piece of furniture. Naturally, we didn’t know this when we bought it. It was for our nursery. It was cute. It was on sale. It was online.

As it turns out, the stupid thing was stupidly designed by stupid people. Who, in their right design mind, puts the cabinet hinges for the doors on a small storage cube right in the middle of the door? To store anything of any size in the stupid thing, it is necessary to open both doors of the roughly 18 inch cube, and then, whatever it is that’s going inside, packs of diapers, say, or stacks of hard-page Sandra Boynton baby books, must be finagled past pivoting doors through a four inch gap instead of a foot wide expanse. This cube was not something a rational person would design. This cube originated in the imagination of a sadist, the kind of lost soul that makes button fly jeans, or golf courses.

And, of course, our new cube was non-returnable.

The top of the cube was recessed, which, as a seat, made it uninhabitable. So, I did what I had to do, what any rational person would do. I went and made the measurements and ran out and had a custom cushion fashioned at a place where my prop person wife has frequented for cushions used on many a film and TV job. Of course, I did this only after I’d picked the fabric (which, frankly, isn’t all that interesting, save for the little anecdote that accompanies it, being: we found the pink toile fabric at the Ralph Lauren flagship store, and it was on sale, which was fortunate because, as my father-in-law put it, the fabric only cost a measly one million dollars instead of an ostentatious two million dollars—an exaggeration). The custom cushion makers did a nice job and the custom-made cushion made the stupid piece of furniture worth keeping.

I went back to my cushion makers with more fabric (wool tartan, from Ralph Lauren home), with pillow inserts I had lying around the apartment taking up space, for more cushions. They all ended up exactly like I wanted them. They were exactly like I asked for and they’re nothing like what anybody else has. They’re originals, and it’s nice to have original effects in the apartment without having to pay a fortune for it. It makes a person feel rich. Plus, should you need an insert, it helps you make unwisely purchased furniture pieces less unsightly and considerably more useful.

(It has been brought to my attention that, should I like the Ralph Lauren, or any other company’s, fabric choices, it might behoove me, in the future, to wait until said preferred company’s sheet sets go on sale, and then run out and scoop up all the flat sheets of desirable patterns that might be available in the local area. It saves the consumer considerable cost while not having to buy bolts of fabric outright. In retrospect, probably not a terrible piece of fiscal advice.)

August 08, 2011

Feeling a little Cagey

Would you believe I found this in the dumpster behind my studio.  What is it??? Just wait and see...

So much going on, I don't have a second to talk/write about everything.  I will say this:  I've entered the forum of reality TV and it's crazier than I could have ever imagined. 

August 04, 2011

Finding a Chair for the Nursery - Part 1: Shopping and Testing

Three Bears Revisited print available at SarahJanestudios on ETSY

I recently accompanied my friend Sunshine on the hunt for a the perfect chair for the nursery for her soon to be arriving little boy.  Notebook in hand and photographer by my side (thanks Devin), I still was not quite prepared for the onslaught of information that we were to be bombarded with during our outing.
There are chairs that rock, chairs that glide, ones that swivel and ones that recline.  Some do all of those things some can only perform one of those functions at a time.  Then there are ottomans that match, some also glide, some do not.  There are big chairs, little chairs, high chairs low chairs.  Expensive chairs and cheap chairs ... well, actually most of the chairs we looked at were pretty expensive. 

So You need a Glider for the Nursery, Where do you Start?

Any blog will tell you (and I will not dispute this advice) Step one: Go out and try some chairs yourself.  This is one item you do not want to order online.

Our first stop was at The Rocking Chair Store on LaBrea.  They had a little bit of everything  and we got a crash course on what to look for in a good chair for the nursery. They were super helpful and nice, and we learned the importance of a high back for neck support, solid arms for elbow support, and I how if the chair has too much glide it can make you really feel motion sick (blech). The big problem was that none of their chairs really matched the decor style of Sunshine's nursery.  And lets be real.  These chairs are not cheap and ideally you want something that looks good enough that can last to have a life outside of the nursery. 

On we went to high end stores, low end stores and everything in between.  By the end of the day Sunshine had a pretty good idea of what she wanted (and didn't want/or need) in a chair.

The problem now is deciding which one to get which really comes down to how much to spend.  How important is it in your nursery decor? Is it worth spending a little (or a LOT) more money for something you like the look of? Which features are most important? Do you really need to recline and swivel? How did YOU choose your Nursery Chair?

August 03, 2011

Rubber Ducks Redux: Another Note from the Recent Paterfamilias

I have to admit, it’s a little frustrating.

Alright, let’s be perfectly honest: it’s downright infuriating.

But please, allow me to explain.

My loyal readers will recall the previously related tale of the Recent Paterfamilias’ Great Rubber Duckie Hunt. For weeks on end, the tireless hunt endured, culminating in mostly naught for much of that time, forcing this intrepid sportsman through the most difficult of urban terrain, including toy stores, convenience stores, and most harrowingly, one place that was at least loosely akin to a sex shop. And almost nowhere were those dastardly reclusive rubber ducks to be found. All in all, it proved a rather trying adventure.

Well, apparently, hunts of this sort are no longer the status quo. I have been stumbling on rubber ducks of all sorts and all sizes almost everywhere. Hanging above the soda section in my neighborhood supermarket. Next to the Phillips head screwdrivers in my local hardware store. Between the Cole Haan driving loafers and the Fit Flop Flip Flops in the shoe store. In the dentist’s office. In Pottery Barn. One might start to suppose that those ducks are beginning to multiply like rubber rabbits.

Naturally, it causes a person (namely, the Recent Paterfamilias) to ask himself certain questions, such as: What the hell? Why couldn’t I find these ridiculous floating things three months ago, and now, seemingly, they’re everywhere? Why is this? Is Spring really “that time of the year”? And is Summer “that other time of the year” when all the fruits of Spring’s “plantings” are due to spring forth, so to speak? Perhaps it’s an enormous conspiracy to keep any and all rubber ducks out of the evil hands of the prodigal Recent Paterfamilias. Perhaps I am not worthy to handle such floating fowl of an ersatz nature. Perhaps rubber duckies simply do not like me. Or maybe they are purely the most cloistered beings on the planet, and thusly tend to avoid all paterfamilial contact unless absolutely necessary. Who can say?

And why are they everywhere now? Was I that blind? Was I already suffering from sleep deprivation even before the infant’s arrival? Was I not looking in the right place? Or places? Or were they hiding? And are they now following me? Waiting around corners in locations where the normal and the otherwise sane might least expect to find rubber duckies? Like my local Barnes and Noble? Or the barber shop? Are they, indeed, stalking me, these silent, smiling, little yellow freaks?

Who can say? And will I ever know?

At any rate, these aforementioned silent yellow freaks are now everywhere. And when I see them hanging there, with those smug looks on their puckered orange beaks, they make me mad. They avoided me when I was looking for them, and now they’re all over the place. And when I did manage to find them before, during my hunt, I collected all I could, but now, due to my previous compulsion, I am finding it increasingly difficult to keep from acquiring them and adding them to my already unwieldy twenty-member flock. At a certain point, should this continue, I will have too many ducks, I will run out of room, I’ll have to get rid of furniture, I’ll have to forgo closet space, I’ll have to climb over miniature yellow mountains just to make it into the bathroom, I’ll be nothing but that crazy rubber duck man who lives on Rubber Duck Lane in an oversized rubber duck house that’s filled to the rafters with little rubber ducks. I’ll be forced to change my nom de plume from the Recent Paterfamilias to the Mad Duck Enthusiast (actually, has kind of a nice ring to it).
Photo found on (an article featuring crazy collections)

August 02, 2011

I'm a Wannabe Street Artist

Well... except for that part about  painting on other people's property without their permission and sometimes getting arrested.  I've always been slightly enamored by spray can art.  Every now and then I get to work with Graffiti artists for sets I design.  Like this piece I designed as an underground Vodoo lounge for the film New World Order.
 But enough about me and my secret art obsessions.  Last week I went to check out the "Art in the Streets" Exhibit and the Moca.  If you are in LA I highly recommend checking it out (I think it closes at the end of this week). 
What is so amazing about it is not just the sheer volume of art, contributors and photographs they have representing all sorts of styles past and present but the amazing retrospect and historical time line documenting the history and evolution of street art. 

One exhibit that blew me away was two walls covered floor to ceiling in photographs of tagged New York City Subway Cars from the 80's.  I was awestruck and amazed by the volume of cars that had been decorated (or defiled - depending on your perspective on the matter).  Sharon Mitzota, from the LA times  says it perfecty, "In the end, the show is not just about showcasing street art but about recovering in some way what has already been lost. Henry Chalfant’s installation of hundreds of photos of graffiti-laden New York subway cars is oddly touching, not just for its nostalgic look at the past but because it’s a testament to the sheer volume of work that has been erased."

And of course I ♥ Banksy's work.  His backdrop and canvas is the streets but he is clearly in his own category and will perhaps one day be remembered as a one of the great artists of the new millennium.  His artistic parodies on culture and politics astound me.  To see them in person brought a smile and sense of awe to my face.
I stared at his painting for a long time.  A comment on the brutal Rodney King beating, painted in a pointillism style to look like a fuzzy video frame.  But he has replaced King with a pinata. The humor and irony struck me first, then the artistry amazed me.  Akin to standing in front of an original Van Gogh, I felt blessed to be able to experience this work of art in person. 

After a humbling day at the museum I went back to my little studio feeling part inspired and part drained.  Next stop -- The Lacma to see the Tim Burton exhibit.

August 01, 2011

New Skårt: Sunshine!

This piece was designed for a friend who is decorating her nursery with a Mid Century flair.  The inspiration for this piece came from a the Small World Ride at Disney (see work of Mary Blair) and the George Nelson clocks.
To keep with the Mid century feel, it's printed in a Sunglow yellow on a walnut stained wood panel.  There is currently one available - ready to ship in my Etsy shop.  Soon to be released in a paper version with customizable colors.