Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Still Kickin'

Good Lord, I have not put up a legitimate post in a long time! Even as I type, I feel like Harrison Ford in "Regarding Henry" learning how to talk again, how to decipher a square from a triangle. But I am back, damn it. With wine at the ready, calico on my lap, and Jackson Browne on the speakers, I am committing to the act of blog. Does anyone really care? I wouldn't dare presume they do, but for the one person I can confirm, Janene in Wyoming! Janene, this one's for you!

So what's been happening...let me think....

I turned 30. This is a very big deal or so I am told. My birthday fell on a Monday so I, of course, was stricken ill (actually, I was coming down with a cold). I wasted the first part of the day futzing around on the internet, a morning much like those of my mid-to-late 20s. Then I took a nice, thoughtful drive up the coast and had lunch at the Malibu pier, tomato soup encrusted in a pastry shell, grapefruit juice and tea to combat the cold. I took my notepad with me in case I came into contact with any deep thoughts that had been recently reported in the vicinity. I scratched a few things down, but they were far from deep, held afloat by the water wings of expectancy. That was the thing about the whole ordeal, I felt like it was supposed to mean more to me than it did, the 30 part, I mean. I had planned to write this big post evaluating life as I saw it at such a benchmark age, a sort of "here's what I've figured out so far" type of deal. Then I realized my friends are all of similar age and it would probably be self-important to wax like the wise old man. And I could hear the older friends laughing, "Hey, look everybody, Mr. 3-0 is gonna tell us the meaning of life!" I will say this, for me personally, at the ripe age of 30, I feel like I know who I am, I know what I love, what I don't, I know how to appreciate things, small and large, rare and common, and I am never ever bored. That's very nice. The teens and early 20s got nothing on that. One of the nice things about those younger years are the sense of excitement and wonder about what might you become or how your life will take shape. At this point, it's not such a wide open question. Being an astronaut is pretty much off the table at this point, ya know? I do feel like I am capable of much more, but now there is a sense of urgency to get to it already. It's frustrating to think of what so many others have accomplished by their 30th...Kobe had 3 championships...Orson Wells had already made "Citizen Kane"...F. Scott Fitzgerald had already written "The Great Gatsby." Then again, "Annie Hall" and "When Harry Met Sally" were made by Woody Allen and Rob Reiner, respectively, at the shared age of 42. So there is hope yet. I gotta get going, damn it. Another thing I have realized, with no relation to my advancing age, is how conspicuously writing in a notebook or pad directly improves the service you receive. They always think you're writing about them.

After lunch, I got the best massage of my life. Ninety-minutes and I wanna tell you...this woman was a prodigy. She used her elbows nearly as much as her hands! When I walked out of there, I was a six foot pile of Jell-O swaying with the slightest breeze. My speech was slurred. Just awesome.

I returned home and was whisked away for an evening by Nicole and the folks for an evening of fine dining at Spago where I met Wolfgang Puck himself. It was a glorious meal, for sure, but I did feel a bit uncomfortable, like I didn't belong there and every person in the room knew it and was talking about it.

My dad gave me a really nice camera, one of his he wasn't using anymore. I've been really enjoying it so far even though I haven't really seen too much of what I have done since my friggin' back ordered card reader still hasn't come in. I'm thinking about starting a Flickr account because a lot of times I want to post pictures but it takes too long with Blogger and I don't want to pick 3 worthy of the effort out of 50+ pictures taken. File this under: when I have time(!).

I picked out my wedding suit tonight. Exciting stuff. It's really happening, isn't it?

Alright, that's all I got for now. NYE tomorrow, party to prepare for. Annual Freeze Your Ass Off Camping Trip on Friday. Perhaps Disneyland on Sunday. Oy. I mean, Woo-Hoo!

Next I shall post pictures and tell tales of my wonderful Christmas week in the Rockies!

Happy New Year, Cyberspace!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Photo Dump! (Or: What to Do When You're Sitting On Hold For 15 Minutes)

Loving kittens

The Major Award that sits proudly atop my TV thanks to my dear friend Lindsay

Went to a show recently and when they brought the bill, the little leather folder had an illuminated panel inside it! The future is now!

This is a sign that was posted on our fridge at work shortly after the cell phone law went into effect. No indication yet as to whether drunk driving or vehicular manslaughter are also against company policy in addition to being illegal.

My poor Mister when he was in the hospital

Testing out my phone's different photo features after seeing Jackson Browne at the beautifully restored Orpheum Theatre downtown

Uncle Pete! We went to the Cardinal & Gold tailgate before the....Arizona(?) game. He touched my hand...a hand that has not been washed since.

A lovely panoramic view of the almighty Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home of the University of Southern California Trojans

Okay so how old would you say that guy looks? How about the girl? This was a situation of what appeared to be family friends not adjusting the physicality of their relationship as puberty enters the equation. This girl was all up on this guy for over a half hour. On his lap, whispering in his ear, playing with his cheeks, etc. etc. I'm not exagerrating. It made me uncomfortable. But her parents seemed to be fine with it.

These are the two self-righteous dipshits who arrived at the game midway through the 3rd quarter and seemed appalled that we were in their seats(!). As it turned out, our group had slid down one seat too far. Rather than making thirty more people to my left move, I just took the empty seat one row back. It was at that point that I realized there were no fewer than twelve empty seats to the immediate right of these gentlemen. What's worse--they left the game 15 minutes after getting there. I assume they could have been found making citizens' arrests for jaywalking on Exposition Blvd. I have a camera and I am not afraid to use it! Social Police!

Self-explanatory sky.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sue Me

But I am ready for Christmas, damn it! I'm in the spirit! I'm singin' the songs! I'm burnin' the Yankee candles! Slippers, sweaters, and sweats! The three S's! (For colder climates, see Four S's including scarves) I don't care that it's November 13th! What am I saying? November 13th is the Christmas season in its early prime! I am taking a lot of heat from the holiday fascists here at work, but, screw em, I'm goin' anyway. The bus is leaving with or without 'em. They can go on listening to their Kings of Leon until December friggin' 24th if they so choose. I can't help them if they can't admit that they have a problem. I'm diving into the good stuff! On, Bing! On, Harry Jr.! On, Manheim friggin' Steamroller!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wow. Speechless.

I won't even attempt to talk about what it means for our country. There are enough people describing it today better than I could. I can talk about my personal feelings though. It was an historic moment. I felt like I was watching a man land on the moon. Like The Berlin Wall was coming down. Like I was watching "Star Wars" for the first time. If there had been a way to harness the sex had by democrats and like-minded people all over the world last night, there would no longer be an energy crisis. Seriously though, it's just a truly profound sensation of pride, hope, and awe.


Monday, November 03, 2008

I'm just sayin'

Obviously this is not without exception, but I find it interesting how people that move to LA maintain fierce loyalty and pride for wherever they came from and tend to bash LA in the same breath while people that move to New York are quick to claim their identity as "New Yorkers." I don't really have anything to say about it beyond that. Just find it interesting, that's all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


In the heartless, greedy spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge and Frank Shirley, I have just learned that our boss has decided that the scheduled two weeks off at Christmas will be unpaid. That's right, you read it right, he's decided to not just take away our never-existent Christmas bonuses this year, he's decided to withhold our salary and not pay us anything at all. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! To think, I bought a Christmas CD at lunch, feeling almost guilty about being so in the spirit so long before Christmas. An hour later, I would experience the polar opposite of this whistle-while-you-work optimism and cheeriness as I heard I would need to find another means by which to pay my Christmas rent and bills. This was an inspiration not to sing carols and spread good cheer--no, this was the inspiration to piss on Scrooge's desk and punch him in his smug, insufferable beak. Luckily, there are blogs.

Although...if any of you are actually looking for any last minute gifts for me as my hero Clark W. Griswold details in the clip above, I do have the prick's address (wink).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's only Thursday? Seriously?

It really feels like it should be Saturday already. I swear they snuck a day in on me somewhere. As such, my motivation to work has descended into negative integers. Note my defiant blogging at work. And I don't even have anything interesting to say! Woooooooooo!

Feels more like a Disneyland day than a work day. Except for the fact that's 90 friggin' degrees outside. In October.

Had my show on Monday night. Thanks to the two of you who showed up! Hahahaha...Seriously though, I'll get over it in a couple years.

I think it went pretty well. I think we, as a class, really stepped up, especially considering how far we had come in eight weeks of class. I am sure of one thing regardless--I had a great time doing it. It was an incredible feeling to be up on the stage, looking out into the lights, seeing nothing yet knowing the people are there, staring back at you expectantly. I was fairly nervous before the show, but it was a really good nervous, more anxious than anything else. Nothing like what I have felt before softball games where my stomach feels like it's about to revolt. In this case, I felt much more confident, the fearful mantra "please don't hit it to me" never once entering my mind. And then to be out there and feel that sense of highwire danger, that a lean one way or the other could have me plummeting to death by humiliation...and yet to be okay with that potential failure made me more confident that I would do just fine. I'm not gonna lie, it was a great feeling--call it a spiritual flutter--to be out there with no idea what I was going to say until I heard myself say it and then to hear people laugh...really, truly exciting.

Also, it was weird how it really wasn't until the show itself, I think, that we really bonded as a class/team. I would have guessed that with a class like this with such feelings of vulnerability running throughout we would have bonded much earlier, like people in a hostage situation or something. But after class we said our cordial goodbyes and scattered. After the show though we were ready to go drinking together. I can think of a lot of explanations for it, but who cares at this point. I was just happy to see it.

Alright, duty calls. Grrrrrrr....

Monday, October 20, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Throwing Down The Gauntlet

Every Friday, I eat lunch at this place in El Segundo called The Richmond. Love it. I've often how thought how it reminds me of one of the greatest places in the world, Joe Jost's in Long Beach. Well apparently The Richmond is well aware of Joe Jost's and their famous pickled eggs because as you can see on the Specials Board today, they are claiming to be better than the reigning champ. Who's ready for an Egg-off?

Still Kickin'

Wow, it's been a while. And to leave off with such a downer no less. The problem is, in the good ol' days, I would blog at work. My current situation doesn't really allow me to do this as I am out in the open with my monitor on display for all to see. Still, I don't want to leave that long, downer of a post up there at the top any longer so here's a short anecdote from my visit to the Whole Foods this morning. Have a splendid weekend!

So I stop at the Whole Foods because I need cash for lunch today. I figure I'll pick up an issue of "The Atlantic Monthly," pay with debit and get cash back. I'm considering subscribing to the magazine so it was to work out perfectly. Except they did not have "The Atlantic" on this fine morning and I have no need for "Yoga Magazine" or "Martha Stewart Living." I wasted the next ten minutes frantically wandering around, searching for something--anything--that I really needed. Gum? Nope, used that one last Friday. I had decided on a cookie until I saw that it was three whole doll-hairs. Three fucking dollars for a single cookie? I won't pay it. Finally, I settled on a lemon. I'll cut it and squeeze it into my water today, I thought. Great. Get to the checkout, cashier rings it up at 99 cents. The dreadlocked guy behind me chimed in with what I was thinking.

"A dollar for one lemon? I could have sold you one for a quarter," he said.

The cashier quipped, "Is it organic though?"

"I grew it myself. Yeah, it's organic."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Earlier this week, one of my neighbors committed suicide.

I find it interesting how the first question that usually comes to mind is "How did he do it?" Thankfully, I don't have all the details. All I know is that it involved a sealed room, a BBQ, and that he had been there long enough for the gruesomeness of the scene to overwhelm the responding fire fighters.

I didn't know this man, but it saddens me to think that he was in such utter despair. He lived in the building, but the two buildings have their backs to each other so it's not really fair to say that he lived next door. The buildings on this street are designed in clusters of two with a courtyard area in between. I wonder how this has affected the neighbors in his cluster.

I heard about the ordeal from my upstairs neighbor. I know I have commented before on the unique community of my two-building cluster, but I was reminded again by it when I found out. In most other apartments in LA, I'll bet I never would have had such a conversation about something that occurred outside my four walls. This poor soul would have grossly taken his own life less than one hundred feet from where I sleep and I never would have known the difference. He must have thought so or at least that no one would care. It makes me think about two levels of loneliness, physical and emotional, specifically, how physical affects emotional. Does a person stranded alone in a desert hurt more than a person living in a big city surrounded by millions of people but without any meaningful connections of his own? My personal feeling is that it hurts more, or in a sharper, more damaging way to feel alone in the company of others. If such a state had a capitol, it would have to be Los Angeles.

Yet, if you're open to it, there always seems to be a surprising, hopeful yin to the solemn yang, a friendly face whose looks at you are absorbed rather than caromed off to a safer landing. Last night as I was getting the mail, I saw a flier posted above the boxes. It was an invitation to a community cookout on Sunday. It said, "It's time for another community gathering! Bring something to drink and a cold dish if you like. Live music starts at six. Free, free, free..." I checked the name and address, some guy I've never met from a building across the narrow but busy street. Wow, I thought. I did not see that one coming. There is hope for us yet after all. I only wonder if my unnamed neighbor had held on a little longer. I wonder if I could have met him at this Sunday community barbecue. What are the chances we might have toasted a couple of beers together? Would we have liked each other?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Annual Whining-About-Fall Post!

If there is a good thing about working in the middle of an office building without an easily viewed window, it's that you can imagine the outside world to be whatever you want and you might actually start to believe it. According to me, we sit firmly in the Fall.

When I'm not in my bubble at work and my imagination is tested by the sunny skies and 78 degree days, I must work a little harder. Luckily, Starbucks has armed me with the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, a seasonal delight. I've got the Fall Playlist fresh on the Ipod, ready to go. There is a tree-lined stretch of street in my neighborhood where the leaves actually change colors and, get this, fall to the ground. Right now, all roads pass through, if not lead to, this street. I've got football. I've got the "Peanuts" gang. I've got the Land's End and LL Bean catalogs. I've got soup.
I can get through this.

Monday, September 15, 2008

You know why I'm the coolest kid in school?

'Cause today I brought my lunch in this:

Boo ya!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Feelin' the flow, doin' the Buffalo Dance...

I feel like I am entering a good time in my life.

I had my first improv class last Thursday. It went terribly in the sense that I was overwhelmingly nervous to the point of uncontrollably smiling throughout. I couldn't stop doing the nice, nervous, neurotic guy sch tick. Not sch tick in the sense that it was an act. It wasn't an act, but it was a front, a defensive stance. Still, it went well in the sense that I was inspired to do better the next week. It felt great just to be there doing it, even if I wasn't doing my best right out of the shoot. It was a jolt of energy to be doing something, for a change, that felt like it had some sort of purpose for me. And yet, it was completely and utterly exhausting. I went to bed at eight o'clock the night following that first class. Not to sound like the loser constantly trying to match his peak back in high school, but I really need to find my way back to where I was in high school. What I mean is that I need to find the courage to not be nervous or the ability, at least, to not let that nervousness affect my behavior or performance. I need to get back to that place where I can just effortlessly be myself and enjoy the moment, however it turns out. Now that the first class is out of the way and the ice has been mostly broken, I am hoping I can talk myself into it.

Last Sunday, I ran in the Nike Human Race 10K in downtown LA. I never would have considered it if The Doug hadn't pitched the idea, selling it with the free shoes he could get me by running under the umbrella of his team. I needed some new shoes and I've been running pretty well so I figured, what the hell. It's funny how sometimes you stumble upon the great things before you ever knew you really needed them. I was a little nervous about the distance. Even in my best shape, I've never been much of a distance runner. I'd been running about 3 miles, four times a week around the neighborhood so I figured I could probably stretch it into 6.2, especially if it was going to be flat. The first third or so, I was stuck in the pack, without the option of going much faster than a mild jog. I had Obama's speech from the DNC inspiring me on the ol' ipod. Then it got to be a bit frustrating. I was a third of the way through and it wasn't the least bit challenging. I know this will sound terrible, but, screw it, I'm not perfect. I looked around and I felt like I should be doing better than the pack I was running in. No offense to my man Barack, but I skipped out of his speech, got to the music, and got moving. It was night. The music kicked in and I felt like a character in a movie, entering his third act and chasing full steam that which he had only just then realized he wanted more than anything in life. As I passed the kilometer and mile markers, a smile spread across my face as I realized I was really doing this thing that I was not sure I could do and it felt like I was doing it well. Water stations appeared a few times on my right, but all I thought about was moving to the outside to avoid the pack slowing down to drink. I was in the zone. My legs felt great, my heart and lungs felt strong. I was working shit out. Bystanders began to appear along the railings along the sidelines of the course. I figured they were out there to cheer someone they knew, not because this was entertaining, but I pretended they were cheering for me. As I made the final turn and started the home stretch, I tapped into an attitude that a passive-aggressive guy like me rarely sees. I was going for it and loving every second. Finally, the start/finish gate came back into sight. The crowd had swollen now and there were bright lights shining on us. I felt a certain rush from this but I don't think I understood until later that it was a feeling of pride about being on one side of the railing versus the other. I never played youth sports. This was me doing it for once rather than watching someone else do it, wishing it were me. I crossed that finish and I felt like King Kong. To put it in perspective, my time was not impressive when compared to actual runners. Hell, my time didn't even sniff what Matthew McConaughey had put up in Austin earlier that day. But that was not the point for me. Mine was not a race against anyone but myself and my own expectations for what I could achieve. It felt good to surprise myself.

I haven't run again since that Sunday night. I've been far too sore. I'm not planning to suddenly devote my life to the sport or even think about running something like a marathon. But I do have the clear memory of the place I was at mentally that night and I can now use my daily morning runs to try to feel that again rather than to simply try to get some exercise.

And I might do the Westside 10K coming up in October for shits and giggles.

Aside from that, I'll be getting my video camera back from my uncle soon and I'm gonna use it to do a short film. I went to film school, damn it. Why the fuck have I been talking myself out of it for so long? I'm also feeling like I'm ready to start writing again. Or at least start seriously thinking about the things you have to do before actually writing, which is often the most difficult part.

Yessir, I'm feeling good. I'm in a place where I can relish in the process without the constraint of worrying about the result. If only I didn't have that 40-hour-a-week nuisance known as "work" slowing me down. Cheers!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Paul Simon is Trying to Get Me Fired

--Got my first improv class tonight. I'm currently running on a fantastic blend of nervousness, excitement, and Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Stay tuned...

--Speaking of Dunkin' Donuts coffee....Today marks Day One of the Dunkin' Donuts Coffee Challenge here at the office. Ya see, two of my coworkers are Dunkin' Donuts coffee snobs, always perpetuating that tired old bit about Dunkin' Donuts being the best and why don't they have them out here when they have the commercials and, God, I love the east coast, bla bla bla....(I'm not bitter about this or anything) So I have challenged them to a bet. Every day, we will make D.D. coffee here in our little bullpen....until the day I slip in a ringer. If, on that fateful day, they do not discern the difference, I win the challenge. If they get an itchy taste trigger and accuse me of making a switch on which I have not made one, I also win. Twenty dollar buy in. I can't lose.

--So I'm listening to my ipod on my little ipod speakers and just cruisin' along here at work when all of a sudden there's a loud record scratch in my head. Was that the N-word that just came flowing out of my speakers? Yes, it was. From Paul Simon. "Adios Hermanos" was the song. I'm sure there's an argument to be made for the context of the song, but that's beside the point when you're listening at work. I can't have racial epithets popping out randomly. What the fuck, Paul? Same thing goes for you, Randy Newman, when your song "Rednecks" came on later in the same damn day, using the same fuckin' word. You rock and roll legends trying to get me fired or what?

--Ever since I was thinking about biking to work, I have been more aware of the cyclists I come across on the streets and it really bothers me...Why are only 10% of them wearing helmets? Not only is it The Law, but isn't that common sense for personal safety? Would you go on a roller coaster and elect to not put the lap bar down? Would you dive head first into murky water of undetermined depth? Would you chow down on a yogurt with a compromised seal? It's just basic self-protection, isn't it? I almost want to give them a little car-to-bicycle love tap just to teach them a lesson.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Separated at Birth Pt. Deux

U.S. Beach Volleyball Superstar and Olympic Gold Medal Winner Misty May-Treanor

Jeff Tweedy, Lead singer of Wilco

Here ya go, Conrad.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I'm watching "The Office" at the office! Thank you, Netflix Instant Play!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Separated at Birth?

Political pundit Rachel Maddow

Angels first baseman Mark Teixeira
I love them both, by the way.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tag, unfortunately not Laser-

Tagged by Valerie.

My mission as I've chosen to accept it: list 3 joys, 3 fears, 3 current obsessions/collections, 3 surprising facts and then tag 5 other people. Leave a comment for the people you tag so they know they have been tagged.


1. Travel. A joy often stifled by the rarity of opportunities to do it or the limitation of having to choose only one trip. Still, there's nothing like getting away, touching down in a new city. Also, I love airports and everything about air travel. To me, it's the best time to finally sit and think.
2. Lazy Sunday mornings with the local paper.
3. Singing loud in the car with the sunroof open, windows down, driving along the beach.


1. Never escaping from my current field of work.
2. Alzeimer's Disease. Ever since I saw "Away From Her." Other diseases are surely more painful (though not to the loved ones of the afflicted, I imagine), but I can't think of another that is more cruel.
3. Sharks.

1. Music. I've been doing a lot of exchanging with friends which has no doubt saved me hundreds. Bitch of it is, I've got too much! I was just telling someone what I really need is a 5-day road trip to soak in all the new music I've brought in in the last couple months.
2. Online window shopping. Camera, clothes, ties, books, TVs, home theater systens, airline tickets, Christmas gifts, upcoming concerts.

3. Wedding planning. Seven months and nary a date nor venue! You'd think it was a government project.


1. I sometimes wish I wore glasses (not just reading ones). I know it's vain, but I like the way they look.

2. I will learn how to play guitar. Someday.

3. Eating apples makes my face sweat.

Bonus fact: The movie "Once" is NOT a love story. I am prepared to argue this to the death.

Tag Five People:

1. Cruiser
2. Cruiser
3. Cruiser
4. Cruiser
5. Cruiser

Monday, August 11, 2008

19 Days and Counting...

I am so friggin' fired up for college football season, I could wet myself.

I haven't been this excited since the day I earned the name "Kettle-part." I intend to ration my enthusiasm a bit better this time around.

Uncle Pete. God bless him. I love this man. This picture is getting framed and put on my desk.

Dear IPhone Owning Friends (a.k.a. ICult),

You guys are insane. For the last time, I don't want an IPhone. I'm not going to get an IPhone. No, I do not feel left out because you psychos are surrounding me and trying to make me envious of an electronic device. It's just a fucking phone, folks!! The fact that you "love" your cell phone scares me. I imagine you petting it and cuddling it as you sleep at night. The idea that you will gain some level of satisfaction or pleasure by my personal cell phone choice is rather disturbing. Please, and I really mean this, my answer is No. NOW BACK OFF!!

Friday, August 08, 2008

4 Reasons Why It's Fun To Work In This Office Today

1. Tie Day Friday participation is catching on. We are three strong now thanks to new guy Brandon.

2. Block Party Friday! On Fridays, T-Bone and I go tit-for-tat with the upbeat, carry-you-into-weekend type music. It started way back when when I would play "Your Love" by The Outfield at 5:55 on Fridays and grew into an all-day 80s/90s/old school hip-hop/rock & roll extravaganza. As of today, we are upping the ante once a month with Block Party Fridays. On days such as this, I will play a song by Toto, for example. T-Bone will then have to answer by playing another song by Toto and then a song by an artist of his choosing. It goes back and forth. So far, so awesome.

3. The Office Wager White Board has arrived!! Now we have a central source on which to keep track of all our off-track betting. The only current bet on the board is on how soon our boss will get a ticket for non-hands-free cell phone use, but it's still new. I'm sure we'll have more action going very soon.

4. The bells!! Thanks to Office Depot, T-Bone and I finally have our bells. We're talking your hotel reception desk bell, as used by Bean from Kevin and Bean. This has been the best part of the day. Melissa bashes LA or waxes on about Boston or New York? DING! Someone mentions an attractive woman? DING! J.C. comes looking for his check at 9:01 Tuesday morning like he does every week? DING DING DING! Man, I wish I could carry this thing with me everywhere.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

You Make The Fall

Would it be alright with everyone if we just skipped August and went right into September? I've got some chai tea here and I am reeeeeeally feeling like I'm ready for Fall. August is kind of a 'tweener of a month anyway, isn't it? July is the peak of the American summer with 4th of July and vacations and what not. September is school back in session, college football in full swing, the weather dropping a few degrees (except in Southern California). Let's just get straight to it, shall we?

Friday, August 01, 2008

In My Mind I'm Gone...

Saw James Taylor Wednesday night. If you know me at all, I know I really don't need to say much else to convey what that means to me. I was thinking though as I watched him for never-enough-teenth time how his songs to me are a lot like old friends in that we've been through a lot together. Obviously, it's a little different in that I am a human being and while you could argue that a song is a living thing, it's not like you can buy it a beer. Anywho! My point is just that I was thinking about how I have been listening to JT's music throughout so many different stages of my life, how throughout all the ups and downs and changes, I have always gone to his music for peace and perspective.

My favorite JT song is probably "Carolina in My Mind." A lot of times when I hear it, I remember listening to it one particular day when I was back in New York. I hadn't been living there for very long so I didn't have any real friends yet and I was having kind of a tough time regardless. I remember going to Central Park one day by myself and sitting up on a hill, against a tree overlooking the Bethesda Fountain. I sat there with an apple, a pad and pen, and "James Taylor Live" on my Discman. I remember feeling like I was taking my first deep breath since I had been there. I started to feel a little more at home. Here's looking at you, JT.

There was one little nugget of information I can relay that sets this particular concert apart from all his other shows...I saw Helen Hunt. I. Saw. Helen. Hunt. I shit you not. Can you imagine? I am lucky I didn't faint on the spot given the perfect storm that JT and HH are to me. There she was, talking to some assumed friends during the intermission, a mere six rows in front of me (cue "Dream Weaver"). Luckily when we all took our seats again, she was not visible as that would have been a tremendous distraction.

James and Helen at once. To paraphrase Clark W. Griswold, Jr., I would have needed plastic surgery to remove my smile.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Portland, Sweet Portland

This is how every day began and ended. Bill and Bubbles peeing outside.

We touched down on Day One in the area I believe is called the Park Blocks. This is the Portland Art Museum. We would later return to this area for BrewFest

This is the park directly across from the museum. Trees everywhere in this city! It was like one big outdoor oxygen bar!

It's a fact, Honest Abe loves Portland.

The MAX Light Rail! Public fucking transportation that works! A clean, inexpensive alternative to driving in that horrible Portland traffic! Wait, there was none of that anyway? Coincidence?

It was a city of many neighborhoods, each with a slightly different feel. Sometimes I felt Boston, sometimes Seattle, sometimes Napa. Oddly enough, never once felt LA.

The Portland Saturday Market. This was pretty cool, but also a disappointment. I was picturing a much more relaxed atmosphere but it was congested and kind of loud. I think it could be cool if I had nothing else to do that day, but as it were, we only had time to stroll it for 45 minutes or so.

Because donuts were a callin'! Voo Doo Donuts! I am seen here eating "The Butterfingered," with its Butterfinger shavings on top. We would return to Voo Doo on my last night in P-Town to take the Tex-ass challenge. The Tex-Ass is a donut the size of, you guessed it, Texas and/or a very large heiney(sp?). If you can finish it in 80 seconds or less, the donut comprised of six donuts' worth of dough is free! Upon serving us the Tex-Ass, the cashier also set down two cups of water in front of us and told us if we puked, we had to do it outside. Hey, this is not 'Nam, there are rules. Bill and I took one bite and knew we didn't have a chance. It was the most dense pastry I have ever encountered. Then the lady started talkin' shit. I quit on the Tex-Ass and ordered the donut I really wanted. She made me show her the money first. Do I look like a donut deadbeat to you?

BrewFest!!! What could be better than three buddies beer sampling?

Powell's City of Books. A city of books indeed. The place was yuge and really cool. I purchased this little beauty there, used, for $9.95 out the door. No sales tax!! Bill bought me "The Alchemist" and insisted I read it. I could have spent at least six hours in there. Legend has it that a Powell's devotee has his cremated remains entombed in that column there.

This is in The Pearl District, the new, upscale-ish area of P-Town. I loved all the areas for who they were, but I think The Pearl was my favorite. We went to a place called Henry's Tavern here a few times for beers and appetizers. Nice place, comparable to the Yard House, I would say. Great appetizers for 2 bucks during Happy Hour!!

What's any vacation without a little karaoke? This is my last song of the night, "Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon. I was pretty hammered at this point. Apparently, I was a good second or two behind throughout the whole song, except the chorus. But I left it all out there on the floor, damn it. I am told I spent the entire ride home arguing that I wasn't the least bit drunk. Fate would use the next day as its own personal bitchslap against me.

What's a guy to do with a vicious hangover in Portland? Wine tasting!

The view from atop the Portland City Grill.

On my last day, Bill had class in the morning so I touched down and hit the streets for some nice alone time with the city. This is yet another one of P-town's many parks.

Stumptown Coffee. Nickel Creek named a song after this coffee so, of course, my interest was piqued. It did not disappoint. The Stumptown House Blend is only the second coffee in my life that I have thoroughly enjoyed Black. I brought some back with me.

The Central Public Library, another east coast-y moment for me, except for the incredible weather.

Lots of beautiful old churches there.

The Edgefield. Not sure how to describe it because it's got so much there. Restaurants, bars, reception halls, etc. This is on the picturesque pitch-and-putt golf course they have, The Pub Course. Good times, and I don't even know how to golf. We were missin' ol' Conrad right about here.
So that's the picture tour of my pilgrimage. I took so many pictures that my memory card was overloaded and I had to edit some out. I wish I would have taken more pictures of the area around 23rd Ave., the home of the minor league Beavers--PGE Park, the Eastside and The Doug Fir, a really cool restaurant/lounge/venue where we saw a show (that sucked) on Monday night. It was a truly great trip. Bill and Sarah were hospitable, thoughtful, fantastic hosts (best eggs benedict I've ever had) and Bubbles and I shared a few laughs too. I think I was able to check off almost everything I wanted to see and do. Almost. I missed out on the brewpub movies, the First Thursday Art Walk. I'd love to go back in the winter to get a sense of The Perpetual Grey that from what I can tell is the only knock on this fine city, if you can even consider it a negative (I love grey).
So the big question is, of course, now having been there am I still as gung-ho about living there. Well, I'm in a lease until at least May of 2009. And Nicole is still far from excited about the prospect of moving out of LA yet still no closer to her family. Technically, it is 100 miles closer, but I digress. Portland turned out to be pretty much exactly what I had expected and hoped for. I couldn't quite get a strong sense of the people--there was a weirdness I had not anticipated--but it's hard to do that in three days anyway. I think for now the short answer is that definitely could live in Portland. If I actually will remains to be seen.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Who, me?

(this image brought to you by Conradical--he has the technology)

In case you missed it or did NOT set your Tivo, I am apparently now a major television star. Huge. That's me in HD, folks. Yeah, my phone should be ringing any minute now with an invite to some swanky party in the hills or on "The Hills."

Hmmm....Oddly, still quiet. I'll give it another five minutes...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Set Your Tivos!

Whoooooooo are you?

Look for my special ladyfriend and I in the front row on the left side of the stage (Stage Right).

Thank you, Thank you...

Really, I'm just honored to be nominated.