Arts in the Family: A Family of Artists Just Trying to Make a Living in the Wilds of Texas


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Night Doodles

This evening's entertainment  had it's share of stars. On Batman, Vincent Price was the guest villain Egghead. Later, on Star Trek, Robert Lansing (4D Man) and the one and only Teri Garr (Young Frankenstein, Tootsie)starred in the 2nd season, time travel (a favorite subject of mine) episode "Assignment Earth". This was a pilot episode meant to become spin-off series but unfortunately never did. This episode also had Spock trying to hide his ears using a couple of hats the last of which was a ridiculous looking fishing hat. Fun stuff. Anyway, the evening is almost over and I'll count the hours until next Saturday. Next week Svengoolie will be featuring "The Giant Mantis". Tune in if you can. Hasta manana!

T.V. Night


Tonight's the night we indulge in all things adventure. It's t.v. night at Rancho Ramirez and it couldn't have come a minute sooner. It's been a long week and we look forward to making some yummy, fun, comfort food to enjoy as we watch Batman, Lost In Space, Star Trek and Svengoolie.

Last week's good "eats" were these tasty chili dogs. Drool.

This evening's culinary delights include burgers, stuffed mushrooms and cupcakes. Pammy also bought a bottle of white wine too. We're in the process of decimating that bottle right now. White wine goes well with 1960's sci fi t.v. 

Weekends are family time here at Rancho Ramirez and we're having a good time. I hope your making it fun a Saturday night too.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Roundup- All You Need Is Love

Props to be repaired for the ballet "The Snow Queen".

This was a most excellent week here at Rancho Ramirez. There were several Doc Ed shows, Pammy continues work on bringing the finest pastries in San Antonio to the eager tummies of the gastronomically picky and we both worked on repairing props for the San Antonio Metropolitan Ballet's upcoming production of the Snow Queen which opens November 4th at the Carver Community Cultural Center.

The show had been done a few years back so they had most of the props and set pieces in storage but a few needed some new life breathed into them. The prop letters for the word "love" needed a little love plus a bit of the Ramirez imagination to make them a little better than the previous version. We should have them completed by late next week.

I finally got around to making myself an art business card. I'm moving steadily toward making the visual a bigger part of my life just as it used to be twenty or so years ago. It feels good. My portfolio keeps growing and with a lot of work I should be able to set up at a convention before winter's end if there is one taking place at that time. I still have to do further research on that. I've started a list of comic book type conventions but they don't seem to start until early spring. There's bound to be something in the winter. I've got to continue my search.

Pammy and I have also been talking to one of her old theater friends about putting up a puppet show in early November. at a local theater. It's still not definite but it looks hopeful. It's an original production conceived by Pammy that we've talked about doing for that last five years but simply haven't found a theater company that's right for us. With so many theater companies in town you'd think that would be an easy task but such has not been the case. Anyway, we're very hopeful that this will work out. Keepin' my fingers crossed.  

From the Sketchbook- Amphibian Rhapsody Sketch

The gritted teeth seemed kind of odd especially with all of them doing it at the same time and then looking up that way... as if "nature called" and they were defying that call. The Ninja Turtles were usually gritting their chompers, especially in the first few issues, but for this particular piece that just wouldn't do.  Hence, the mouths were closed.

September Sky # 6

This was my view yesterday morning at Live Oak Park where I presented several Doc Ed shows for Crestview Elementary's Science Day at the Park which is now in it's seventh year. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Guest Blogger: Rik Gern Remembering Circus Bill Poster Ralph Gifford

Today's post is a very special one courtesy of my friend and fellow clown Rik Gern. A few weeks ago we spoke to each other over the phone about a lot of different things as we usually do. At a certain point in the conversation Rik started relating to me the story of a very interesting fellow named Ralph Gifford (pictured above) who worked as a bill poster for many circuses including Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. 

It was such a great story about someone who was just as important a part of circus lore and history as anyone else associated with that wonderful world that I thought it a shame more people weren't familiar with his name, his life and the work to which he was so dedicated. 

Rik was good enough to put it all down on paper in order to post it here. Thank you Rik for sharing such a wonderful tale of a person who's place in circus history deserves to be remembered. Well, without further ado, here is Mr. Gern spinning the yarn as only he can. Enjoy.

"I met Ralph Gifford in 2005, when I was working as the Advance Clown for the Gold Unit of The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. Ralph was a bill poster; the guy in charge of making sure any town the circus was going to appear in was inundated with posters, and that as many shops as possible had their checkout counters equipped with cardboard display cases full of discount coupons for the big show. 
        My first impression of Ralph was that of a crusty old road-dog who’s speech was a cross between a growl and a mumble, and who didn’t have much to say to anybody. Within minutes he confirmed the first part of my impression, and blew the second half out of the water. Ralph was quite the raconteur; he loved his job, he loved the circus and all its attendant lore, and he loved talking about it!
        I didn’t know how old he was, but “older than dirt” didn’t seem too far off. It turns out he’d been a bill poster for practically every small circus in America, and could have been living in retirement had he chosen to, but he wanted to end his career by getting the final feather in his cap and working for the Big One, “The Greatest Show On Earth”. Even though his job entailed spending most of the year living in hotels, driving from town to town, and managing an ever changing crew of people who ranged from eccentric and highly intelligent to eccentric and “out there”, he gave the impression of loving every minute of it, and treating every town as a new adventure. Even when he’d grouse about a person or territory, he’d do it with a gleam in his eye that let you know he enjoyed his work so much that he even liked being pissed off about it!
       I left the road in 2006, but continued to see Ralph every time he came thru town. He’d tell stories of his mud show days, and catch me up on the latest Ringling gossip (his version of it, anyway!), and by the time he’d moved on to the next town I’d feel like I’d been steeped in Americana and had been breathing the sawdust-scented air of generations past.
       The last time I saw Ralph he did something that exemplified his irascible aged/youthful spirit, and that I’ll never forget. After dinner, we headed to a local WalMart so that he could get some supplies. It was the end of a long day, and he was weary, so he took advantage of one of the motorized scooter carts that the store provides for handicapped customers. As we made our way around the store we noticed—you couldn’t NOT notice—a pack of aggressive teenagers who were roaming thru the isles and intimidating the docile shoppers. After witnessing their belligerence towards an older woman, Ralph started scowling and muttering obscenities before turning to me with a twinkle in his eye and saying, “Watch this”. Slowly and subtly, he started slouching in the scooter and twisting his body until it looked like he was doing an impression of the crippled physicist Steven Hawking. Once his metamorphosis was complete, he started zig-zagging his cart towards the young punks in a herky-jerky fashion guaranteed to elicit nothing but pity from anyone who hadn’t seen him just a minute before he’d transformed his appearance. He then proceeded to “accidentally” bump and crash his cart into each of the offending youths and effectively chase them down the isle until one of them crashed into a stacked display of paper towels. The store’s security personnel arrived on the scene just as the kids were beginning to figure out Ralph’s game and starting to speak aggressively and threateningly towards him, so they were promptly hustled out of the store as Ralph received expressions of sympathy from onlookers who’s attention he’d grabbed. He kept up the “poor old man” act while we checked out and all the way to my car. Once we got in the car he looked at me, burst into a big sly grin, and started cackling and laughing like a naughty teenager. The senior delinquent had outfoxed the juvenile delinquents! “Ralph”, I told him, “you make me want to grow old!”
       Seeing Ralph had become a highlight of my circus season, and as usual, I sent him an email a few weeks before the show was due to arrive this Summer. My email was returned as undeliverable, so I tried calling him, but all the numbers I had were disconnected. That’s when I did some Google searching and learned that he passed away earlier this year. I’m glad to know that Ralph lived a long life and did what he loved until the end. It was an honor to have known him, and the circus just won’t seem the same without him! Thanks for the memories, Ralph!"

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Slapstick Theatre- Carrot Top

Sunday Morning Matinee- Robin Hood T.V. Series (1956)

Saturday Night Doodles

Another fun Saturday night has come and gone at here at Rancho Ramirez. Normally it begins with hotdogs, popcorn and ice cream as we watch Batman but on this evening we tuned in a little earlier to watch Hogan's Heroes. Start things off with a laugh, I say! 

Dinner was especially delicious because Pammy decided we should have homemade chile on our "dogs" and boy was it yummy! Chili dogs, chili dogs, chili dogs. Oh, how I love chili dogs. When I was a kid you could get a chili dog at most any theater in town. In later years they weren't as common but when I moved to San Antonio they still served them at the Mission Drive In Theater. And my kids love chili dogs. That's what I'm talkin' about!

We wrapped up our evening with our favorite horror movie host with the most: Svengoolie, who was featuring the 1950's classic: "The Mole People", starring John Agar (Sands of Iwo Jima, Tarantula, Revenge of the Creature), Cynthia Patrick and Hugh Beaumont( Leave It to Beaver). Alan Napier, t.v.'s Alfred the butler from the 1960's campy version of Batman, played Elinu, the high priest of the subterranean,albino,Sumerians. The film was produced by William Alland who also produced The Creature from the Black Lagoon, It Came from Outer Space and This Island Earth among others. My favorite line of the movie: "Last night we had cave rat for dinner." Wonderful!

All in all it was a great family night. Next week's Svengoolie will be showing "Dr. Cyclops". We can't wait. 

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