Saturday, November 24, 2007

Savannah's Savannah

"You wan'a spend 60 hours in the next 4 days doing a mural for me? You wan'a?" Yes I do, little Savannah. In fact, that 3 year old girl could get me to do nearly anything by flashing those big brown eyes at me, grabbing my hand, and saying "You wan'a?" in that sweet little voice. You wan'a watch a show with me, you wan'a jump in a circle with me, you wan'a eat oatmeal with me, you wan'a jump off the Golden Gate Bridge with me? Anything you say. Yes. When the coffee and the diet cokes and the whiskey and the corndogs wore off, that was the voice that kept me going in the 18th hour of the 4th day of this ridiculous project.

But let me start by saying that customer service at airlines and airports in the US is at an all-time low. I know. That's obvious to anyone who flies these days, but they really took it to a new nadir on this trip. I won't go into the details of the way in which they screwed me on my flight to San Francisco on the way over a week and a half ago, because they were many and varied, but let's just say that it took me a cool 15 hours to get to my destination. Once I arrived, everything was great though, as akboognish and wife sc showed me a great time and some first class hospitality. We got some quality Cali-Mexican food and hit some fun hip spots in the Mission before calling it a PST night. The next night, we headed back down to the Mission (an area known for its murals, incidentally), met up with a handful of former Massholes, and partied it up at the bars and at a hopping house party. After a couple nights of partying, we were happy to take a leisurely drive up to Napa to hang out with MCSmackdown and his lovely little lady.

The room is 11 ft x 12 ft x 8 ft high and MCSmack had primed it with a metallic paint that was going to allow magnets to be hang all over the mural. We weren't sure how well that was going to work with 2 coats of semi-gloss on top of it (that was back when I thought I was going to be able to do two full coats of the entire mural in 3 days and change) but MCS'down thought it would be worth it to try. Here's what it looked like when I got there:

On my 4th day in Cali, I got right to work on the mural (well, after eating oatmeal and playing house with Savannah - can't say no. can't do it). She was in and out, being run around on errands and playdates, but when she did pop in, she was happy to identify the animals I was penciling in on the wall and didn't seem to have a problem with what I was doing to her room, despite not really understanding it. She even helped by drawing a bird on the wall, which I later painted in (see the photo at the top of the post). Later in the day, she came in to give me a big hug goodbye (she was going to her mom's for a few days), and she asked "wha's that?" about the drawing on the wall at her eye level. I told her that it was a rhino. She looked at it, gave the wall a hug, and stomped out of the house shouting "klop a pop pop! klop a pop pop!"

the exact moment that my heart disintegrated.

at which point, I resolved that she was going to get a kick ass mural no matter what. Well, I don't know if it's "kick ass", but the "no matter what" on the mural turned out to be 60 hours over 4 days, including an epic 18 hour painting session that spilled into 4:30 AM on Thanksgiving morning (which was the last possible morning I could leave to go back to SF). Here it is:

If you want to see what it would be like for a 3 year old to walk into the room, including my impression of how she would say "Wan'a see a mural?", view here:

I could've easily put another 10 - 12 hours into it to get it to a point where I would've been satisfied, but that's all the time I had, so some of the things I wanted to do didn't get done, or got done insufficiently. But I got it to the point where all the animals were done to my satisfaction and all the mistakes and drips were touched up. Hopefully, Savannah's going to "wan'a" hang out in her room. I'm pretty sure she'll like it. MCSmackadoo said that she's not scared of any animals so that wasn't an issue and he was very happy with the final product so that's that.

Postscript: A few hours later, I was back in San Francisco, physically and mentally exhausted, with a 15 person Thanksgiving dinner on tap. Good company and free flowing beer and wine assisted me greatly in making it through that. Not that it was particularly stressful. But it's the holidays. And I was 100% out of gas. But I got my wind (fumes?), and the next day brought a little leisure (including a stop at the mystery book store pictured at right) until I decided to go online and reconfirm my 9:39 PM red-eye, non-stop, first class flight back to Boston at around 3:00 PM. I couldn't seem to get any results from my search of the confirmation number so I called the 800 number. Turns out that they had cancelled the 9:39 flight and I was supposed to have been on the 1:30 PM flight instead. A solid 8 hours earlier than my flight. And they didn't feel the need to inform me of that in any way. Moral of the post: airlines suck, murals are hard, Savannah is cute.


Duffless said...

Wow, thats great!
good job

Kristin said...

Amazing! Love the Rhino - I'd hug him too.

Dan said...

thanks and thanks. Kristin, are you ready to commission me to do that giant mural of you and Jim naked riding a tiger? Let me know.

Kristin said...

I bet you've painted thousands of portraits of Jim and I naked on all sorts of animals just from your imagination. Just send me the pics of the 10 best ones and I'll make you a deal.

Dan said...

You think you love the rhino in this mural, you should see the one with -- well, I'll just send it to you with the others.

Hey, when are we going to the track? Do horses run in the winter?

Kristin said...

We have to go. I totally don't understand how to bet on horses but it's a skill I'd really like to learn. Also, we should definitely wear track suits (velour, obvi)

Dan said...

I guess we'll have to swing by Saugus to shop for track suits then.

Joel said...

This might be helpful,


Dan said...

why do I feel like horse betting sites might traffic in spyware ...

Anonymous said...

Savannah hasn't taken a nap since..."and another giraffe...and now a rhino....and now a lion...and look! it's eating a leaf...and now an elephant...and now a monkey...."

I can't say enough and savannah can't either... Are you all booked up for next November?

The shear amount of work, joy and pain endured show the dedication and desire. You are artist hear you roar!


Dan said...

thanks, MCSmack Daddy. I'm glad she likes it. Who knows what November brings? I live no further than 3 or 4 months ahead these days.

Josie said...

Actually Dan,

That horse betting site was quite informative, and so far no spyware here.

Thanks Joel,


Dan said...

"Josie", eh? You don't work for that website, by any chance, do you?

Kristin said...

Why Betting on Horses is Confusing
Kristin Brenna

ok, so I've been reading the Spyware / Horse Betting site and I'm already confused. Some questions:

If you bet:
PLACE - You bet your horse to finish second. If your horse finishes first or second you win.

If you bet:
WIN-PLACE - You bet your horse to win and place. If your horse finishes in either of the first two positions you win.

Is it just me or is there no difference in these 2 descriptions?

Another tidbit I learned: "At some racetrack Exactas are referred to as Exactors."

Overheard at those high class snooty tracks: "Henry, please pour me another glass of Pinot and kindly place a $2 ExacTOR on Evil's Revenge and Crazy Pants."

Overheard in Revere: "Lenny get me anotha Millah and thow a douce ExacTAH on numbahs 3 and 5."

When are we going, we should study up and try it on for size? What's the worst that can happen?

There's a dog track at the Twin River's Casino in RI. Jim and I have been a couple times but we didn't bet on the dogs - just played the penny slots. In fact, they only have penny slots and dogs - it's quite ghetto, I'm sure they don't say "Exactor" there.

Is dog and pony betting the same anyway?

Does the phrase "Dog and Pony Show" come from race track parlance?

So many questions, the mind reels.

Joel said...

Thanks Josie,

No spyware on my machine as well,
Kiristin,you can place your bet at the window for horses to win,place or show in any order thats called a "boxed trifecta" and if you just want to bet on a horse to show then your only betting on the show horse to come in 2nd.

Well anyway good luck at the track,


blythe said...

that is totally sweet and awesome!

Dan said...

hmmm, methinks "Joel" and "Josie" are in kahoots. Watch your velour covered back, Kristin. Though, I have to say, Joel would be a great recruit. Unfortunately for you, I think he probably makes more money at his job than you could offer to entice him to yours. But if he does cross over, I'll be expecting that headhunting fee. Maybe Josie will be looking for work if this website gig doesn't work out for her.

I bet on 40 to 1 to win at the Preakness when I was in Vegas. It came in second. If I had bet to place (or apparently to show), I would have won big bucks. Which I would have promptly lost on something else.

thanks, bee-spot. Such is the VTK, that the post is about a sweet mural for a little girl and the comments section is about betting on the ponies at the track. Sometimes blogging just pays for itself.

Dan said...

oh. wait. blythe, were you talking about the mural or the boxed trifecta?

Josie said...

Hello Dan,

Please exuse my faux pas for first not commenting on your mural it is quite beautiful and I especially like the rhino.




I don't know Joel and I have never worked for a horse betting website.

Dan said...

My mistake, Josie.

And my apologies.

And my thanks for the compliment.

And my welcome to you to VTK. We're a sarcastic bunch and it wouldn't be unusual for some of us to use a fake name and persona.

Incidentally, if you did need a job and were looking to sell Spring Break trips for a company based out of Northeastern MA, please let Kristin know. I am her unofficial headhunter for the job and get a commission from anyone who she hires through this website or through my discovery of talent at the track.

Josie said...


Thank you for that gracious invitation to your blog. The content of character that resided in Maria von Trapp is to be admired. although I never met her I am sure she would be happy to know you honor her with your namesake.

With regard to your job offer I don't feel that the travel and hospitality area is piticulary well suited to my skill sets but thank you for your consideration.

I look forward to more of your posts.

Kind Regards,


Dan said...

You're most welcome, Josie. It'll be nice to have someone to add a touch of class to this joint.

VTK Curator