Wednesday, January 31, 2007

This clock was made in 1776. The guy who maintains this clock says that clocks in general are becoming a thing of the past. I myself haven't worn a watch for years (I look at my cell phone.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Amazing story of how Joey V. got his drums back

Hi friends,

As y'all know my Slingerland bass drum was stolen on
Friday night. Last night my Dad, Carlo, told me to
say a prayer to Saint Anthony. I didn't, he did. What I did do is make
two huge reward signs and put
them up in my neighborhood, "reward for stolen drum
and 2-child stroller".
I received multiple calls offering to replace the
stroller at no cost. Yes, the "good guys" are still
out there, OUR team is intact! I did not, however,
get any response regarding my drum. I very
respectfully declined the offers for a free stroller
because a homeless man collecting cans found my
stroller in a dumpster and returned it to me after
seeing the sign. Angels are everywhere! He also told
me that the dumpster he pulled it out of is behind a
I went to the motel this morning and gave the manager
one of my business cards and told him my story. He
knew who had my drum. Unfortunately the guy had
already checked out. The manager did give me copy of
a copy of the man's drivers license. So I decided to
go check out some similar motels in the area.
I called the police on the way to another motel to
follow up on the report I made. As I'm talking to the
officer, I pulled up to the office and look over and
there's the guy! I told the officer to please stay on
the line, that I see the guy. The officer was totally
in shock, but he said, "of course". I walk over to
the guy, ask him is he is Shaun Daniels, the name on
the DL. He says yes.
Now my heart is pumping hard and I'm in full
adrenaline mode. So I says to the guy, My name is
Joey Ventittelli, you stole my drum and I want it
back. His jaw hit the floor. You could see in his
eyes he's asking himself "how did this guy find me". Priceless!

Without any protest he goes back into his hotel room
and brings out my drum, still in the case. I'm
freaking out, so I says to him, "thou shall not
Now the guy's looking at me like I'm crazy, and at
that moment I was so high on adrenaline I probably did
look a little crazy, but I GOT MY DRUM BACK! SUCKAH!

Needless to say, I am on cloud nine. And it just goes
to show, prayer + dilligence = results!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

FOUND magazine

This is an example of a note sent in to Found magazine, the website and magazine of stuff that people have found in used books, on windshields, on the ground, and everywhere else.
Book sorting 1-28-07

Today we handled hundreds of donated books at the library bookstore. As usual, we couldn't resist taking a dozen or so home, including a companion book to Michael Apted's Up series... I have the whole series on my Netflix queue.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

This salad spinner, a wedding gift 22 years ago, finally broke. Time to renew our vows with a new spinner.
We were walking the dog in the library park and saw a mouth guard like this on the ground. Coincidentally, mouth guards are our dog's favorite(and most expensive) chew toy. He's grabbed a couple of Jennifer's.

More postal lore

My customer told me that there are far fewer blue mailboxes than there used to be because of vandalism.
Mail carriers used to find balls of masking tape inside blue boxes all the time. A thief would make a sticky ball of tape and drop it into a box at the end of a piece of string, fishing for letters. The Postal Service responded by installing jagged teeth inside the box to cut the string.
Some thieves broke into the boxes. Others unbolted the entire box from the ground and set it up somewhere else as their private piggy bank. Unsuspecting citizens would come by and put their mail in.

Friday, January 26, 2007

One of my favorite podcasts is Fair Game with Faith Salie. She's the Amanda Congdon of public radio.
She has a great catchphrase... when someone else on the show makes a good quip she says, "Look what you did!"
I'm going to use that whenever possible. I recommend that you do too.
One of my customers today works for the Post Office and I found out some shocking news: the US Postal Service and UPS deliver each other's mail. USPS uses UPS planes to carry interstate mail, and UPS sometimes delivers mail to local post offices and lets them go the final distance. It's like finding out that Rush Limbaugh and Hillary Clinton are secretly doing it in motel rooms.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I can tell you from personal experience: despite the name, do not put this tea in your computer.
I tuned in St. Paul's Episcopal Church today — the oldest congregation in Sacramento. I was last inside twenty years ago, when I played piano for a vocal recital. Jennifer brought Rachel, who was just a baby. I think it may have been the first live performance that Rachel ever saw.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My customer has an Official Lottery Ball... I have to admit, it makes my Chinese knock-off lottery ball look like dog meat.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mystery sculpture

This sculpture and pedestal appeared without warning in the little room outside the restrooms at Espresso Metro. No one seems to know who the artist is. It keeps growing and changing.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pop the champagne!

The two years of worrying are over: Rachel got Honors in Costume Design. This means she will get to design the mainstage show in her senior year. Pizza and beer for everyone!
This is Peter's drawing of me.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I made two color masks today. This is of Hal Stemmler.

Hasn't ridden this horse in ten years

Here's an email from Peter:

Thanks for that, Mark! It's one of many great birthday presents I've gotten this weekend. It's true, I really haven't been keeping that blog up anymore -- I don't have much time to sit at my computer to draw, and haven't gotten around to buying myself a scanner since moving away from the one at my parents' house (can you recommend a nice fast flatbed, by the way?) Rest assured, though, I've been doing lots of drawing offline, including a few pieces on the big dry-erase board above my cubicle (example attached) and also a few design projects including doing advanced production on a graphic for an Australian clothing line (also attached.) Next up is a redesign of our family photographer's portfolio site (you can see the current, crappy version at, but my improved version is still in planning stages.) Tomorrow I'm out shopping for a bigger rental house so I can move in with more of my friends, and after that I'm going to cook something from the Armenian cookbook that one of my new housemates got me for my birthday -- but after THAT I'm definitely planning to draw a few of those goofy faces.
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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Peter Soloway

My talented nephew Peter has a blog called Peter Draws Daily. He does a portrait exchange with his friends. I did the drawing above of him and sent him some photos of me. If he does a picture of me, I will post it on this blog.

Stories with no picture

Yesterday at the hospital I saw a bulletin board with a wonderful ad for a truck.

1996 dodge dakota
V6 magnum engine
smogged and regisistered(sic)
first $2000 takes it

I had a customer this week who had a chessboard on the coffee table in the living room. I asked if he played a lot. He said sometimes. I said that I read the chess article in the San Francisco Chronicle every weekday. He said that he did too and hadn't known anyone else who also played.

Then he told me about how he almost won the All-City title in San Francisco in fourth grade. He had a won position and was about to checkmate his opponent, but then blundered into a stalemate.

Friday, January 19, 2007

In honor of the recently deceased Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant noodles, I had ramen for lunch today.
Today Jennifer had her ERCP, which is a high-tech roto-rooter of your insides. The doctor successfully dilated four branches of her biliary tract, which means that she should be feeling a lot better soon!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

For her birthday, Rachel gave Jennifer a golem that she got in Prague. In this picture you see the Prague golem next to an earlier one that Rachel made in high school.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Today I came to the gym to find that someone had broken into the office. All they were able to take were keys.
Another mask of a barista at Espresso Metro.

Monday, January 15, 2007

On the shelf at Walgreen's.
Also prohibited: skinny fat people, loud mimes, and polka-dot zebras.
An American River College student made this sculpture ("Joe Gil-ram") in honor of ARC professor and jazz pianist Joe Gilman. There is a music box inside that plays a classical piece.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Krishna Copy Center, at the corner of Telegraph and University in Berkeley.
Steve and I went to Berkeley last night to see the Berkeley Symphony. Steve mainly wanted to hear them play the Sibelius violin concerto.
After we got inside, Steve realized that he'd lost the ticket stubs. But we found them soon after, on the floor just outside one of the stalls in the men's room.
There was a kid two seats away from me who spent the whole concert sleeping on the (unoccupied) seat between us.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

This guy took the mask I made for him and set it up at a table at home wearing a hoodie and scared the shit out of his mother.

Getting married today

I went to a spinning class at the gym, and Kathy, who always takes one of the bikes in the front row, had a picture attached to the back of her bike seat: GETTING MARRIED TODAY, with a photo of herself and her husband-to-be. I didn't have my camera with me, unfortunately.

Memorable quote from the movie Transamerica: "I'm a fourth-level vegan. I don't eat anything that casts a shadow."

Friday, January 12, 2007

Art table

My customers commissioned this table from a craftsman in Portland. They specified the images and the inspirational phrases.
After tuning a piano at the Sacramento State student union, I went into the game room hoping to find an old-fashioned pinball machine (dream on). Instead, I found some kind of virtual reality room! If anyone knows anything about this, please comment.
I almost slipped on the ice this morning on the way to the gym. I thought I was back in Philadelphia.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

These people have a lot of kitschy objects in their front yard. They also used to have a brick arch over their driveway, which their neighbors forced them to remove. Now they are painting the bricks on their wall — and taking forever! I am tempted to come by in the middle of the night and finish it for them.
As far as I can tell, "FUNGA HIHIFO" is Tongan and it means something like "The Hihifo people rule!" Any help?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Monday, January 08, 2007

Another mask of a barista at Espresso Metro.
A piano that was attacked by a vicious dog. Thank God they had a keyboard cover.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Friday, January 05, 2007

A tiny part of Tracia B.'s huge — and still growing — collection of Darth Vader collectibles. Immediately in front of the Star Trek photo is the Mr. Potato Head variant Darth Tater.
Nothing enhances a piano like an air-hockey table, and vice versa.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Packaging the Yamaha way. A tiny piano part inside a bubble wrap bag, inside a bag, inside a bag, and all of that inside a mailing envelope (not shown).
On Monday at midnight I picked up Elaine Lord at the airport. She, veteran of many national tours and Broadway, has flown in from New York to play drums in a community theatre production of Chicago. Behind her, the motley crew of jetblue passengers.

Monday, January 01, 2007

One of the regulars at the gym has all of these clock faces inside his locker showing the time in cities all over the world.
He told me that the landscape painter Greg Kondos used to come to our gym. My friend thought he was another kind of painter and once said to Kondos, "I'm going to be painting my house soon. Do you want to bid on the job?"
The view from the stage of the Elks Lodge.