Monday, April 22, 2002

L.A. Stories

Hey kids, what time is it?

No, not Howdy Doody time, it's update time! A fairly small issue this time, not a lot has happened yet. Anyway, here we go!

4/3 - 4/10 - Spent the week in Houston. I had a great time, even though it seemed kind of soon to be back. Oh, well. To all those I got to visit, thank you very much for your hospitality. To all those I didn't get to visit, I apologize. Start saving your pennies so I can drink beer on your tab next time!

4/12 - Went to The Roxy to see Echobrain. The Roxy is a cool rock-n-roll club almost as famous as The Whiskey-a-Go-Go (which I'll be going to May 15, but that's another story). Echobrain is the new band put together by Jason Newsted. Jason Newstead is the former bassist for Metallica. If you don't know who Metallica is, well, shame on you. Why anyone would leave Metallica is beyond me, but there he was. I wanted to write quite a bit about the opening "band," but I'm not sure if I'm up to it now. I'll give it a shot. Picture two guys on stage, one wearing what appeared to be a Domino's Pizza delivery jacket, running feverishly between two synthesizers. No, not musical instruments, but keyboards hooked up to computers. It was as if playing pre-recorded techno music was actually a performance. It was very strange. But they were definitely enjoying themselves, unlike the audience who seemed to be oblivious to anyone even being on stage, much like I was for the first 5-10 minutes.

Anyway, on to the main act. Echobrain was not very good. Jason Newsted was definitely playing his heart out, and was fantastic, but he had an enthusiasm that seemed totally out of place. It was sort of like seeing Mike Ditka coaching a little league football team. Sometimes a great performer can elevate a band, other times the band can degrade the performer. This was definitely an example of the latter. On the plus side, I was able to get a few feet from Newsted, which is about 1/100th the distance I could expect at a Metallica show. Also, as Marie noticed, we didn't smell like smoke after the show, since people can't smoke in the bars in L.A. Definitely a bonus.

On another note, I have to mention something just because I was out at a club on a Friday night. Many people have asked me about the famed "L.A. Woman." You know, bleached blonde hair, blue eyes, big... basically just picture Pamela Anderson, except with more... or with less... ah, just picture Pamela Anderson. Well, anyway, yes, the stereotype does exist, and is actually quite plentiful. I would start a count much like the PAP (Phonies Against Phonies. I need to get a better acronym), but I'm afraid there just wouldn't be a point. My LAW (L.A. Women) count would be far too high. I've seen at least one almost every day I've been here. So let's just say the LAW factor for this particular show was pretty high. Perhaps I should consider myself an anthropologist studying them in their natural habitat. Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and be able to experience their mating rituals.

4/13 - I finally had a chance to go to the beach. Woo hoo! It was a beautiful sunny day, and I took a drive on a great canyon road all the way to Santa Monica. However, what I was unaware of was that the climate and temperature at the beach is very different from what it is at my apartment. I expected it to be colder, but it was overcast and rainy and not good. I watched "surfers" on the ocean. I use quotes because I rarely got to see them surf. They were more like "waiting-to-surfers." Dozens of black wet-suited dudes floating off the coast waiting for the Big One. Boring.

Next I went on to walk along the Promenade, which is not the same as the Boardwalk. The Promenade is a street closed off to cars so that people can promenade among the shops. I've also discovered that almost all entertainment in L.A. revolves around shopping, but I guess that's to be expected. Of course it was littered with people, tourists, homeless people, and street performers. This included a 10 year-old kid playing Hotel California on electric guitar (almost as cliché as hearing House of the Rising Son in New Orleans).

Now we get to the good part. I stopped into a resale shop, although this is not the good old Salvation Army kind, but a vintage clothing shop where they buy stuff at resale shops, re-price it and sell it as classic clothing. By habit, I immediately head to look for Hawaiian shirts. Much to my surprise (and delight) they had a whole *rack* for nothing but. Score! But as I looked through this goldmine of gaudy garments, I saw something that would forever change my life. Ladies and gentlemen, there I found The World's Ugliest Hawaiian Shirt. Many of you are probably shocked to hear me, of all people, use the concept of "ugly" and "Hawaiian shirt" in the same sentence, but there it was. I will try my best to describe it, though I'm afraid the words may not exist. It was startling. This was a shirt that in the sunshine looked like other shirts do under a blacklight. There were colors that could not possibly exist in nature. They probably shouldn't have been created by man, let alone placed next to each other on a shirt. There were five shades of green, three shades of purple, reds, yellows, oranges, and a pink which was far beyond what would be called "hot." The pattern, maybe I shouldn't use that term because it implies consistency, was somewhat symmetrical. The design included flowers, paisleys, spikes, stars, ovals, spikes, and swirls. It was by far the most hideous thing I have ever seen. In the end, all I can say is thank God it was in my size.

4/15 - 4/18 - I started my job at The Transcription Company. That's capitalized not for emphasis, but because that's actually the name of the company. I would like to go into more detail about it, but this update is running longer than anticipated and more importantly, I'm still in training, so not many tales to tell yet. I'm sure it is going to be very interesting.

4/19 - We found it! Finally, after very little searching, we have discovered our neighborhood bar. It's called Duffy's, which alone is good because it reminds me of Homer Simpson's favorite beer. Second, and best of all, the bartenders gave us free shots as long as we drank them with them! Ya gotta love a bar where the bartenders drink with ya! The shot was called an Irish Car Bomb. I'm not really sure what was in it, but it was made by dropping a shot glass of something into a cocktail glass of Guinness. It is then necessary to slam this drink, which tastes amazingly like a chocolate shake. That's a bad thing for me, but I managed to struggled past it.

That's enough for now.

LA Survival Tips - This Issue: Grocery Stores

The main grocery store chain here is called Ralph's. It's a pretty pleasant place, like any grocery store, but there's more:

-They carry Shiner Bock. Granted, it's not my favorite beer, but it was surprising to see it nonetheless. It was a pleasant connection back to Texas when I first arrived.

-They sell liquor. Though this isn't a draw for me, they have probably more selections in the straight alcohol department than beer. You name it: brandy, vodka, rum, whiskey, tequila (well, not good tequila).

-They have 13-inch color LCD displays in the check-out lanes. Not for the cashiers, but for the people waiting in line. There's a main pane that shows cartoons and quick cooking recipes, there's a bar on the bottom that has the current sports scores, there's a part on the side that has the weather and news headlines. I should have known that in L.A. it would be impossible to escape from television, even while standing in line.

-They have the good old fashioned conveyor belts. You get to unload all your groceries yourself, which I think is great fun! People are quite serious about the divider bar, too. On a side note, I heard a story about a cashier who actually tried to scan one of the divider bars. After trying very hard to find the bar codes, the customer saved her and just said he didn't want it.

-The sackers are just as terrible as everywhere else. What happened to job quality in the sacker profession? When I was a member of this proud trade, we were actually instructed how to pack the perfect bag. Now, I'm happy to get more than four items in a bag. I've tried everything. I've tried paper and plastic. In paper I've had placed a 12-pack of Coke. In plastic I've had a bag with nothing but a loaf of bread in it. I've even used the conveyor belt to my best advantage by ordering the items as they should be placed in the bag, but to no avail. It is a sad, sad comment on the youth of America.

Now here's the part you've all been waiting for, Movie Quote Trivia! Good luck!

Number 1: "Jeff, do you think a murderer would let you see all that? That he wouldn't pull the shades down and hide behind them?"

Number 2: "Is that... is that hair gel?"

Until next time, be good.


Movie Quote Answers:

The first to correctly identify *both* quotes was Patrick Reilly.

The first was from Rear Window (one of my all-time favorites) written by John Michael Hayes.

The second was from There's Something About Mary, written by Ed Decter & John Strauss, and Peter & Bobby Farrelly.

Thanks for playing, good luck next time!

Monday, April 1, 2002

Californy Away We Go

Howdy howdy, kids!

I'm sending out a supplemental update because I'll be in Houston some of this and next week (4/4 - 4/10) and I wanted not only to let you know I'd be around, but also so that next week you wouldn't think I'd forgotten about my audience. (I won't use the word "fans" until I've made it big. Then I can forget all about you.)

So, on with the update.

3/24 - Oscar Night Party! Technically, this should have been in the last update, but technically I forgot. In keeping with a long tradition, my roommate Marie (from now on, I'm not going to make this introduction), hosted an Oscar Party. Normally, it has been a requirement to dress as a character from the year's movies, but I couldn't find my Shrek outfit, so we let it go this year. However, we did have groovy snacks like Lord of the Ring Dings, Gosford Pork Rinds, MeMentos, and of course, Shrek Shots. The last of these were to be taken on any mention of Shrek, but towards the end of the evening we started mentioning it ourselves just to "get rid of them." A fun time was had by all, and I won for most correctly picked winners (Oops, I mean "Oscar goes to's"). Of course, a lot of that has to do with good guessing on categories where no one has ever seen the movies.

3/26 - Went to see the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn again. Craiggers. It's a lot more fun than watching a taping of a sitcom because you're only in there for a couple of hours. The 30-minute sitcoms can take as long as four hours or more. Anyway, they didn't have John Cleese! He had taped earlier. However, they made up for it by having Paul Reiser tape for his show two days early. The mixing and matching of show segments throughout the week is pretty interesting. The stage is so small, they tape the bands before the show, and Craiggers isn't even there. At the end of the show he just says "Let's hear it for" then immediately follows it up with "Wow, wasn't that just great?" Welcome to show biz.

3/27 - Woo hoo! I got the transcription job! I'm no longer destitute (though donations are still accepted) and I get to talk to a computer all day. I just hope it doesn't give me any lip, or heads will roll.

3/28 - Met with Faith, a friend of Marie's. Upon hearing I was a writer, that somehow immediately qualified me to critique her script. Yikes. I'm not perfect, but let's just say I now understand why good writers are sought after out here. Hopefully I can fill that need, or else we're in store for a lot more of the same old clichés in the movies.

Later that night, she took me to a place called the Barsac. An oddly snooty restaurant/bar, considering the name. Anyway, I got to meet a lot of her friends in the business, which was voice-over work. Everyone there worked as cartoon character voices, commercial voice-over people, etc. It was pretty cool. I met one girl, Kimtai, who is the "Voice of Sears." This is apparently a title of great distinction. I asked her all about tools and lawnmowers, but unfortunately that's not her department. I heard that the "Voice of Vonn's" (a local grocery store) was also present, but sadly I didn't get to meet him.

Alright there you go - that's my week.

LA Survival Tips - This Issue: Radio

LA is famous for having cool radio, and it's pretty true. I've been listening to two stations almost exclusively.

KROQ - This is the LA version of The Buzz, or rather I should say the reverse. They play all sorts of cool things that you either haven't hear in 10 years or have never heard before. They are no where near as repetitive, and it's difficult keeping up. They play so many songs before breaking for commercials or DJ's, it's really very refreshing.

KLOS - This is the LA version of KLOL. They are sort of a hybrid of Rock and Classic Rock. Like KLOL, but they play a lot more Rush (yay) and The Who (yay) and Metallica (yay). They have daily blocks of Whole Lotta Led, and Mandatory Metallica. It's cool. But by far the coolest thing about it is DJ Jim Ladd. He's the spitting image of Dr. Johnny Fever, and perhaps even the inspiration for that character. He's been around forever, and when he plays, it's a whole evening. He plays album rock, or Deep Cuts as he calls it, which is the songs you've never heard on the radio from the b-side of your favorite album. That song that you love but you didn't think anyone else even knew about. It's awesome.

Okay, that's it. Here are some quotes. They weren't the ones I wanted to use, but I'm still researching those. See you next time kids!

Movie Quote Challenge:

"No matter what anyone tells you, words and ideas can change the world."

"Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave."

Movie Quote Answers:

Congratulations to Mary Felder, the first to answer correctly (extremely quickly, too)!

For the record, the first was from Dead Poet's Society, by Tom Schulman. The second was from Blade Runner, by Hampton Fancher based on a story by Philip K. Dick, Vance. ; )

Better luck next time!


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