Monday, May 31, 2004

I worked a ton this week and then had a friend in town over the weekend, thus the radio silence. A quick summary of the past few days would include going to karaoke and performing "Cover of Rolling Stone" to an apathetic crowd, watching multiple third-tier disaster movies, and coming fairly close to a nervous breakdown at work. More about all later (or at least the last 2), but I just wanted to let everyone know I'm alive.

Speaking of which, Bill wrote today letting me and others know that Gage Vandermark was born this week. Congratulations to Bill, Terri, and Gage, and I wish you all sufficient sleep. Good luck with that.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

In addition to any other weirdness this past weekend, I watched just about the weirdest 4-pack of movies on video that you could imagine: Westworld, Rashomon, Russ Meyer's Up!, and Trog.

Westworld was that type of pre-Star Wars '70s scifi that I loved and it was fun, but it totally ripped off the Itchy and Scratchy Land episode. Rashomon was exactly what I'd heard it was--ponderous, interesting, well-made--but that's just my perspective. Up! isn't exactly a cinematic classic, but with Russ Meyer you know what you're getting, and it did exactly what I wanted it to do for me. Um, twice. And then there's Trog.

Here's the pitch meeting for Trog in a nutshell: Joan Crawford was a big bankable movie star 25 years ago, and now she's not, but if spend a low enough amount of money on the rest of the movie, maybe it will make a profit.

In Trog, the game(y) Crawford is sort of an anthropologist, or maybe a biologist, or something, and she runs this scientific institute in Britain. (About one-third of the time she seems to be trying a British accent; the rest of the time, not so much.) Some local biology (or something--it's not clear) students (or something--it's not clear; smell a trend?) go spelunking and find what seems to be the missing link, who is fearsome in spite of being about 5-foot-8 and totally human looking except for a monkey-head that's about as convincing as the masks you'd still find at Family Dollar on November 2nd. One of the "students" is killed, the other in shock, and the third never sees Trog. The third one goes to the institute and gets Crawford to go back in the cave with him, where they lure out Trog (short for troglodyte) and subdue him with a tranquilizer gun. Then Crawford spend the next hour studying Trog, teaching him rudimentary skills, and having a team of internationally renowned scienticians study and do surgery on him. Oh, and she has her eye-candy moron British daughter in short skirts feed him. All the while there's this subplot where one local hates Trog and wants him killed for some reason (say it with me: it's not clear). Then with 10 minutes to go they all realize nothing has actually happened yet, so Trog goes on a murderous rampage for some reason, kidnaps a little girl, gives Crawford back the girl, then gets blowed up by the military. Meanwhile, Crawford makes a lot of speeches that sound like extracts from high school science textbooks and/or beauty pageant speeches about world peace.

Speaking of beauty pageants, The Swan had it's pageant last night. I only watched the last half hour, but I just about swallowed my tongue at one key moment. After winnowing from 9 to 3 contestants, they announce the 2nd runner-up, and then in a ludicrous nod to beauty pageant tradition the host announces that the 1st runner-up (or as Kristan put it when I told her this story at work today, The Cygnet) will assume the title should The Swan be unable to fulfill her duties. What the hell duties does The Swan have? floating on top on water, and giving speeches to average-looking high school girls saying that with hard work, perserverance, and $250,000 worth of plastic surgery and therapy, they too can fulfill their dreams. Provided their dreams consist of appearing on Fox reality shows and crying a lot. But don't worry, The Cygnet is standing by in case that proves too daunting.

Monday, May 24, 2004

I know some people must wonder what it's like living in LA, being that it's LA and all. The answer is that 95% of the time it's just like living anywhere else--maybe a little smoggier, trafficky-er, and crowded-er (yeah i know, not words), but with slight variations you get up, maybe go to the gym, go to work, come home, watch the tube, and do it all again tomorrow. Just like anywhere.

Then some quiet Sunday afternoon your itinerant friend calls you from the West Hollywood apartment of his friend who is Madonna's personal hairdresser and asks you if you want to drive up to Canyon Country to watch the Laker game with his sister and her lesbian partner, and you say "sure" and wait for him to (he thinks) surreptiously do a quick line and then you get out on the road and you hope he doesn't go berserk and drive off the road, and you get there and are very nice to the lesbians even though they give you a Dallas Cowboys glass to drink out of, and you keep to yourself the fact that you are rooting against the Lakers because they fed you 4 separate food items in a meal which is at least 2.5 more than you average when you prepare your own dinner, and also because even though they're very nice something in our culture tells you that you just don't want to piss off lesbians, and then you end up driving home to Art Bell on the radio for some reason and get home just in time to hear Jenna Lewis be more fun in the half-hour of Loveline you hear than she was the whole Survivor series combined.

Yeah, sometimes it's like that.

Friday, May 21, 2004

In case Memetracker has made anyone else wonder too, not as far as I can tell, but something called University of the Incarnate Word thought about it.

I stayed out way way too late Wednesday night at a quasi-historic Hollywood bar and have been trying to recover ever since. Tonight I opted for a quiet haircut (though the night is young). I'm going to miss Rudy's Barbershop when I move--where in Ann Arbor am I going to be able to wait an hour for a $15 buzzcut from a 5-foot-7, approximately 62-pound Silver Lake hipster?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Over the past several months I've been checking out a good number of CDs from the LA Public Library, generally 6 to 9 per week. Recently I figured out that in addition to the regular media library area, there's something called "Teenscape" that has its own music area. I noticed that a lot of the CDs in regular circulation have this sticker that indicates it's from that section, so I recently wandered up there. So far I've taken 6 discs out of Teenscape, but I'm kind of skeptical about what they consider to be teen fare. Here's the list

OK, I'm not a trained deomgraphician or anything, but I see how maybe Cornershop and maaaaaybe Shonen Knife go in the teen section. Other than that: HUH?!?! Particularly Nebraska--I'm sure L.A. teens of 2004 are all over the timeless pessimism of "Atlantic City" and "Highway Patrolman". Blew up the chicken man in Philly indeed. Yet for some reason I have to wander up into the teen area and be the LAPL equivalent of the Old Guy In The Club just so I can enjoy Poisoning Pigeons in the Park. (The song, not the activity. I'd have to go two blocks down for that.) Ricockulous.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

You know, every once in a while when nothing better is on, turning VH1 Classic on seems like a good idea. But I just got Pump Up The Jam followed by UB40's version of Can't Help Falling in Love with a Richard Marx chaser. So now I'm hysterically blind, hysterically crying for what they did to Elvis, and hysterically vomiting. And the Marx comes one day after hearing Rick Astley's Together Forever in Ralph's. Only in Hollywood does it briefly cross your mind that Astley's current gig might actually be sitting in a booth somewhere in the store singing his old hits. Or, alternately, possibly filling in on Register 7. It was similar to the time I suddenly realized that a Carpenters song was on the muzak in a Pittsburgh supermarket, and I wondered if we were all being subliminally reminded to eat.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

I just finished reading It Ain't No Sin to be Glad that You're Alive: The Promise of Bruce Springsteen. This is the second book I've read recently by Eric Alterman, the previous one being What Liberal Media, which is brilliant.

While I appreciate Alterman's politics and generally agree with them, I don't know what to make of him. He's probably the first political commentator I ever watched on TV, agreed with everything he said, yet still wanted to punch him in the face. He was just so snotty that I felt like he was acting out all of the bad stereotypes about leftists at once. I wasn't at all entertained, I felt condescended to, and I just got madder as he went.

The Springsteen book is totally different, though. Instead of smarty-pants snooty, Alterman is a worshipping fan writing an extended essay to his idol here. I really like Springsteen and have found myself listening to him a lot lately--particularly Thunder Road and Badlands. But I don't have anything of the worshipful fervor Alterman and others portrayed in this book have. Springsteen's appeal is political in some senses--he is a champion of the working-class and the downtrodden, no doubt--but it transcends typical definitions of politics and touches something more holistic in the lives of his ardent fans. This is not a great musician biography, it's not great sociology and it's not a great political analysis. But somewhere at the nexus of those things it is a compelling and heartfelt story of artistic creation and fandom.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I have taken any number of people to Yai since Tim and Kristan first took me there, but tonight I took one of my former advisors, probably the most discerning Asian-food connoisseur I know. She loved it, so I can now say I'd whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone. Do not, I repeat do not, skip the Tom Kha Gai--quite possibly the best soup I've ever had of any kind.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I realized this weekend that I've basically been coming home and playing on the Internet for hours, then going to bed most weeknights for a number of months. Don't get me wrong, I love you all, but it occurred to me that pulling some extra overtime at work might be (literally) a more valuable use of some of that time. So instead of leaving at 5 the last two nights, I've gotten out a 7 and 6:30, and I imagine the pattern will continue as long as I can put up with the extra Ed time. (He managed to say less than 25 words to me in 3 hours this morning and still had me seething, but we'll save that for another time.) We have another one of our silly artificial deadlines coming up soon, so the extra time will be appreciated and productive too. (Even education has fewer silly arbitrary deadlines than law, but that's yet another one for another time.)

One practical upshot of all this is that I'm checking out various transportation options, since my bus becomes much less pleasant after 5--more crowded, and runs much less frequently. So I ventured, for the first time, onto the Metro Red line tonight, a.k.a. the L.A. subway. They've managed to accumulate an impressive amount of dank in a relatively small number of years of operation, but it's a smooth, quick ride to Western/Wilshire, and a short bus ride home from there. It's not as good as the direct bus ride if I can catch it quickly, but it beat the hell out of waiting more than 15 minutes in Pershing Square.

The Mayor of Ames is playing a prominent role on arguably the best team in the NBA--the #1 seed in the West anyway. The hell?! Wasn't he the Pacers' 12th man for about 17 years?

Sunday, May 09, 2004

I went to one of my true Happy Places today for the first time in eons. A couple years ago the trainer I was working with suggested I get some variety to the walking I was doing at the time, so he told me about the Westridge Sullivan Canyon trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. The first time I went I walked for 15 minutes and had to turn around. The next time I walked for about 25, and pretty soon it was 40. Note that each of these time increments was one-way, since I needed to get back down off the trail too. And each time I went I was exhausted, because the trail was uphill the whole way.

Once I got past the 40-minute mark it turned out the trail leveled off for a while and even went downhill a bit. Finally, on probably my 20th try I made it to the top—the “top” meaning the long-abandoned Nike missile launch site that is now the northern terminus of the trail. At that terminus I also got some information off the signage, which is more ample at that end just off of Mulholland Drive than the obscure Westridge Road site from which I started. It turns out that the trail is an 8.2 mile round trip with a 550-foot climb in elevation, all of which made me feel pretty damn good about the walk.

For the third or fourth time but the first time in at least two years, today I made it back to the launch site. My feet will kill me tomorrow, but it was worth it. Five minutes into the hike you might as well not be within 100 miles of LA; two quick turns, and you don’t see or hear the city for another hour. (Note: your mileage and time may vary, especially if you are a runner or biker rather than a walker.) I know of no more peaceful place in Southern California, and I only wish I could get there more often.

Other notes:

  • I got an interesting email from “Lindsey”, a reader and fellow blogger now linked to the left. Suffice it to say, Lindsey’s blog is now my only permalink to a professional escort. At least as far as I know, and in most of your cases I probably don’t want to know.
  • I finally watched Stagecoach last night. This is only a big deal because it’s one of a handful of movies I’ve taken out of the LAPL at least 5 times without watching. That’ll happen when they’re free and there’s no consequences to returning them unwatched. Now if only I can get through The Apartment sometime. Re: Stagecoach, though, I liked it for a couple of reasons. One is that I’ve watched a zillion of those 1960s-onward anti- or revisionist Westerns, but very few just plain Westerns. Secondly, I love The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, which I can now see as a revisionist Stagecoach—even to the point of employing a lot of the same character actors. Finally, Stagecoach is also a proto-disaster movie, right down to the motley crew of characters with disparate useful skills.
  • I recently joined Friendster, and we’ll see how that goes. One bit of weirdness: 4 people list Mysteries of Pittsburgh or Mysteries of Pittsburg (sic) as one of their favorite books. I’m three people away from all 4 of them, and through 4 different people. Odd.
  • Finally, gotta pull for fellow Pittsburgher
    Amber Brkich (or as I now think of her, "the wicked haht smokin' Ambaaa") tonight. Most importantly, though, is Jenna L. not winning, because she's annoying and useless and I'm not sure why she was on there in the first place. They could have called this season "Survivor 17 All-Stars And For Some Reason Jenna." Unfortunately, I'd imagine anyone would want to face off with her in the final 2 for exactly those reasons, and who knows what could happen from there.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Those of you who were at TRASHionals no doubt remember Richard Cheese, nay can't forget him despite extensive therapy. Well, he was on KROQ's morning show yesterday for Cinco de Mayo (as "Ricardo Queso"), performing among other things, your own Personal Jesus (HAY-soose). Here's a montage of everything on his current CD, "I'd Like A Virgin".

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

DEK has posted some pictures of TRASHionals including this one of yours truly resplendent in ABA-wear, and this one of what appears to be the demon spawn of Opus the Penguin and Madame of "Wayland Flowers and" fame.

The exciting conclusion of 10.5 did not disappoint last night, as we got all of the following:

  • Ivan Sergei continuing, for some reason, to take precious time asking his dad what's going on in high-level secret government affairs while his dad is busy, you know, trying to save millions of live.
  • The declaration, according to a TV news crawl, of "Marshal Law".
  • Extreme levels of the most manipulative music possible.
  • Fred Ward riding a nuclear warhead deep into the ground Slim Pickens style, getting impaled with the thing, and getting pep-talked into pressing the last button in the manual override sequence.
  • The discovery that everything in the movie takes place in one day, from the pickup basketball game in DC at the beginning, the assembly of a crack team of geologists (ha! crack!, anyway...) in L.A., two of those geologists flying up to Redding to explore, those geologists flying back to L.A., the evacuation of the entire West Coast to tent cities inland, those geologists flying back out to the Kern River, those geologists flying back to Barstow, and most curiously, John Schneider and Kaley Cuoco hitchhiking from Redding to Barstow (where all of Southern California is converging) in apparently about half an hour or so.
  • The earthquake apparently HUNTING DOWN all of the survivors as it redirects itself directly toward Barstow where it SPLITS THE TENT CITY IN HALF!!
  • Beau Bridges explaining how, even though we've gone through this horrible tragedy (presumably the earthquake, not the movie), we're going to get this this together and move one and get stronger and BLAH BLAH BLAH

That said, if it started again tonight, I'd probably be watching it again tonight. Except that the season finale of Scrubs is starting momentarily, so I'd better wrap this up.

Monday, May 03, 2004

I hope no one out there is missing the TV event of this or any other season: 10.5, or "Those Who Deny the Theory of Earthquakes May Be Earthquakes Themselves," or "In Order to Stop an Earthquake, Kim Delaney Will Have to Become.....An Earthquake!" If you like disaster movies, bad movies, really really bad movies, still worse movies, even worse geology, that hot jailbait chick from 8 Simple Rules, $100 million movies with $14 million budgets, and special effects scenes prominently featuring Matchbox cars--then you'll LOVE 10.5! The highlight of last night was when Kim Delaney came back from investigating the spot where her version of events is supposedly happening, and Fred Ward's FEMA director says something like, "I ask you to get me some evidence and you bring back what, gas bubbles? Soil samples?" Leading Jeff and myself--not exactly trained geoloticians or anything--to wonder just what might constitute geological evidence OTHER than soil samples?! Oh and in the opening scene when the President tells Ward's character during a pickup basketball game, "I know you're desperate when you start going for the longshot." Again, we turn to each other and say, "we're going to need that information later on." We did.

If you missed it, watch it when (if) it's rerun this summer, and if you miss it again (or if they don't), by all means get yourself the DVD. It'll be the best $7.99 remainder bin purchase of your life.

Oh yeah, also, sometime in the last 24 hours this site surpassed 10,000 hits--that means I've gotten at least 6,000 hits that aren't me checking to see if I've gotten more hits. Thanks to all the regular visitors (and constipated visitors) who've made that possible!

Saturday, May 01, 2004

As I'd been threatening for a while, I went to Miss Kitty's Parlour last night, which is a weekly event at the Dragonfly nightclub in Hollywood. Roughly half the people who show up are in some sort of fetish or particularly sexual get-up of some sort. I was in the other 50. I think I could have a real blast at this place under the right conditions, the right conditions specifically being that I didn't drive and thus was able to get pretty drunk and lose some inhibitions. As it was, I pretty much watched, did a little bit of that lame no-touch dancing, and hung out with co-worker Shanna and her brother Jim. Apparently it was a particularly gay night there too, so maybe I'd have a better time on a different week. I think I'll probably go back, if only because I have some social issues I really need to work out imperically. Basically, I tend to be skittish about L.A. nightlife because I always expect someone standing out front of each bar with some kind of "You Must Be At Least This Cool To Enter" device that will leave me too short like a six year old trying to get on the Thunderbolt. It never happens, but that hasn't changed my expectation. But if I can start to feel like it's OK to go to even some of the more bizarre L.A. nightspots, when I get to Ann Arbor I shouldn't be afraid of anyplace!

After way too little sleep, I helped Other Joe and Karen move today. In the process I also found out from Solid Acquaintance Jameson that his site has moved to thanks to an extremely obscure Jack Handey quote. Jameson still writes a damn fine website that I don't read nearly often enough, and he's a genius a the Tetris/Jenga game that is filling and unfilling a U-Haul.

I'm watching some sort of rock countdown right now on MTV2. They just showed a flashback to the #1 video seven years ago today and it was The Verve Pipe's Freshmen. And the part of my brain that is constantly telling me how old I am cackled...