Monday, June 26, 2006

I really don't want to turn this space into nothing more than YouTube videos and dishing about my latest celebrity sighting, but I do have a good story today. (My best celeb story of the weekend is not a sighting per se, but I'm not posting it here; I'll tell people about it privately by request, maybe. Actually it's not a good story, but it's a treeeeemendous first line of a story.)

Los Angeles has an amazing variety of food, but for reasons that I can't explain it's really bad at two things--Chinese takeout and real pizza. You can get brilliant upscale Chinese food, but the takeout is inevitably painful. Pizza is its own rant. You can get shit like the inexplicably popular CPK, and you can get Domino's or (thankfully now) Papa John's. But if you want pizza that is plausibly Italian and has the toppings God intended you to put on a pizza (pepperoni and maybe extra cheese), it hard to come by. And don't throw the "health food" thing at me--the city has the best fast food burgers on Earth three times over, and you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a Denny's and a donut shop.

Given all that, I've been wanting to try Mulberry Street for a long time. The backstory here is that actress Cathy Moriarty had the same gripe I have a while back, and so she decided to open a New York-style pizzeria. She opened it right in the heart of Beverly Hills. So I went looking for it today. I have to say that it's pretty cool to have that kind of dive-y pizza place right there on Beverly Drive, and it's cool that Moriarty works there herself. There was a woman taking phone orders who was plausibly but not definitively her, and I didn't feel like taking the chance and saying the only thing I'd want to say to her. ("Soapdish is one of the most underrated comedies of all time, and I loved you in it.") The other cool thing about Mulberry Street is that they've got really high-quality headshots of celebs on the wall, and not just has-beens and never-weres.
But even better, there are some cool juxtapositions--my favorite being the Michael Jackson headshot, displayed right next to (and only slightly less prominently than) Hillbilly Jim.

Anyway, this is simply a long way of getting around to explaining why I was walking down Beverly Drive tonight after parking, and how I therefore ran into (not literally) Pete Sampras waiting outside another restaurant. Normally that's a pretty good sighting, but it was even better today when I realized it was the first day of Wimbledon. I also loved the fact that he was wearing basketball shorts and gave off a vibe that suggested he wears them everywhere and no one says a goddamn thing about it.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I'm looking to finally enter the portable music generation. I've been planning on buying an iPod sometime this summer, but now I'm hearing that they don't play WMA files, and I have about 8 gigs of those on my laptop. So that's a problem, I also have a fair number of MP3s, including about 50 purchased through the iTunes store. That's less of a problem, since in a pinch I can burn CDs and rip them as WMAs. But still a mild pain.

So what should I do? Is there an easy way to make buying the iPod work? If not, does anyone have any recommendations for or against any other brands or products? Having never had one, I have no preconceptions or features that I'm wedded to.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Random thought I meant to post like a month ago: If she uses Vasoline, then she does use a kind of jelly...

Monday, June 19, 2006

So I had all sorts of stories from the weekend and the Bruce wedding and whatnot, but today I went out to lunch with the managing partner of the firm to a notable Beverly Hills locale, and about halfway through the meal he turns to me and the other lawyer who came along and said, "Now you can't see this, but Betty White just walked in." She ended up sitting at the nearest table to us, maybe 10 feet away. Then he proceeded to say, "She's someone your mother would know." I spent a several minutes worth of the next 2 hours explaining to him why, in fact, she's someone I knew and, in fact, there are maybe 10 celebrities tops who I would have rather seen.

Let's just say, "Awesome!" and leave it at that.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

It may be a little emo for some tastes, and I'm not sure if it's really hit the rest of the country (in my experience L.A. tends to be a bit ahead), but this KROQ tune is my favorite song currently on the radio...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I've been getting up at 5:30 to walk over to the gym before work. It's a pain in the ass, but it has to be done. As you might imagine, the Wilshire corridor is not exactly hopping at that time of day, usually. This morning was WAY different. I heard the drum beats and other loud music from blocks away. Then right across the street from the gym I saw it--a couple of thousand crazed Red Devils, watching a gynormous screen, preparing to cheer for their Asian Tigers. The 6 a.m. Pacific kickoff brought together two of the expatriates' national passions: their soccer team and getting up early. When I left the gym at the half the mood was a bit more somber, but I'm sure Hanmi Plaza was rocking by the end.

I'm avoiding talk of other sports news until a few more facts are in and the situation going forward seems clearer. Bad times, but not the bad bad bad bad times it seemed at first, when I got 2 calls and 2 emails from 4 separate people within 10 minutes.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I've done this pub trivia with 2 different Masons the past 2 Wednesdays; act quick and you'll get to see me in a fez.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Tonight's event was interesting. Public Counsel is a big ol' pro bono, good guy law firm supported largely by all the big money-making law firms, and they had their annual banquet. Our firm is a big supporter and bought a good table, and had room for some summers, so we went. There was a silent auction and videos and speeches and some dude from Channel 2 News hosting, but really you only need to know 2 things. One is that Robin Williams came out and did about a 20-minute set, which was a whole lot of fun. Two is that the event was held at the swanky Beverly Hilton.

Yes folks, entertainers who were enormous 20 years ago and the Beverly Hilton: I now know what it was like to be a guest on The Mike Douglas Show!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

When I was at USC I used Bank of America for checking, and they were ok but not great but convenient at the time. When I moved back here the second time I used Washington Mutual and they were fabulous.

Fortunately for WaMu their fabulousness built up a lot of political capital with me, because they are current driving me fucking insane.

I opened a new checking account with them on my first full day in town, May 24. They told me I would receive my checks and card within 7 days, and from experience with them I figured that meant 3-4. When I didn't have them by yesterday, I called to see what was up, and the person on the phone somehow convinced me to wait another day and then call again if necessary. Tonight it became necessary.

So it turns out that they sent those things to the address they had when they closed out my last account as opposed to, you know, the address I now have, put down on the form, and told them to send it to. This is upsetting to me, but it's just the start. The person on the line finally sorted this part out, and then told me it would be 5-7 days to get my new card.

I said at this point that I guess that's ok, but if they wanted to make me happy, the only way to do it would be to overnight my new card. He got a supervisory person on the line and actually got me close to satisfaction. She said they could Fedex it to me, that it would probably arrive Thursday but maybe Friday, and she even agreed to send it to me at work given that no one would be home to sign for it during the day. I'm flying high at this point.

Then the kicker: "So, it'll take us about 7-10 days to send you your new PIN number, there's no way to recover the one you requested, and no way to speed up that process."

Oh WaMu, we are not amused at your taunting...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Now that I've received, watched, and returned my first 3 Netflix movies, I got the folowing message, or at least I should have...

Dear Netflix Customer, We generally send out one of those "If you liked these, then you should try this" messages at this point, but that's not going to work in your case. See, most people order some kind of new release, or classics, or movies from some genre they like. On the other hand, you ordered Manhattan, The Impostors, and A Boy and His Dog. Dude, WTF? I mean, WTF?! Unless your cat walked across the keyboard, we would suggest therapy. We're not sure what kind, but just try something. In the meantime, thanks for your business. Freak.

I enjoyed them all. A Boy and His Dog is in no way a good movie, but how can you argue with a post-apocalyptic wastland-type movie that nevertheless has that mandatory '70s cheesy countrified theme song?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I knew that in the process of obtaining housing while 2,000 miles away, I would forget at least one crucial question. Since that question was, "Does it have air-conditioning," I spent much of the weekend driving around the city moving from place to place to avoid sitting around my apartment. Also, I take a certain joy out of what mastery of surface streets and shortcuts I've obtained in my years in the city. In my mind, the real heart of L.A. is not in any particular neighborhood nor in the freeways, but rather in the major thoroughfares--Sunset, Olympic, Wilshire, Hollywood, La Brea, etc. Even though it was primarily an exercise in getting from one coffee shop to another, I truly enjoyed reconnecting with the city in that manner this weekend; it also didn't hurt that I finally got an In N Out Burger in my system.

I spent a fair amount of the coffeeshop time reading Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon, a heavily praised 20th-century political classic. I highly recommend it if you like checking classics off your personal list, because it checks in at a mere 216 pages. As for its contents, I don't see it as a book to love, but it is certainly a book worth thinking about--it portrays the Stalinist purges, yet with some sympathy (or at least empathy) for the original goals of the Bolsheviks, and with no great love for Western bourgeois capitalist democracy. Admittedly it was written in the late '30s, a pretty easy time to be cynical about all ideologies. It's a book that I'll probably continue to think about for a long time, which in and of itself is high praise I guess.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Week one of my summer associate-ship (-ness? -thing?) is now in the books. Everyone says that what with confidentiality and employer monitoring and whatnot, it's best not to say anything on a personal blog about what goes on in a firm. So I may or may not have some assignments that may or may not involve clients, I may or may not be going to fancy lunches on a daily basis, etc. Sorry I may or may not be able to be more specific.

Given these restrictions, you should read up on a more typical law firm.