Friday, December 30, 2005

See Ya, Christmas!

*****

We had a great time last night catching up with Naz, who's back from an extended stay in Florida. Thanks to Warren, who bought us our second round at the Authentic Cafe. Mike came over after watching Cal thrash USC at the Staples Center. Good food and drinks were combined with conversations about the nature of creativity, how much we'll pay for blue jeans, good movies we've seen lately (two of which I discussed with Warren on Christmas night but forgot about: I blame Jack Daniels), Macintosh software, and the peculiar joys of quitting a job.

*****

Two of Lansing's finest will reunite in a few weekends when I travel to San Diego to share good times with Ryan W. Ahrens, otherwise known as Friend No. 1. I can't wait.

*****

Happy New Year's, ever'body! Don't pull a Y2K Gaines, and don't wear stupid party hats. I for one plan on making snide remarks to the TV from the safety of the apartment after spending the day with my uncle's family down in Anaheim.

Holla!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

High Heat

I did laundry the other day.









Wednesday, December 28, 2005

On Charles Barkley and Eating Ribs

Upon watching a few minutes of a 1997 Western Conference final game between the Houston Rockets and the Utah Jazz, I'd like to offer a fresh appreciation for Charles Barkley and the lost art of the post game. I watched the first few minutes of the first quarter, maybe six minutes of game clock. The Rockets continually kicked the ball out to Barkley on the wing and let him back down his defender. In the four possessions I watched, Barkley made one basket and was fouled three other times. He put Karl Malone on the bench with two fouls and drew two more from Malone's backup (can't remember his name right now). In those scant few minutes, Barkley had completely disrupted the Jazz and gotten deep inside his defenders' heads. He complimented his tough game with his masterful sense of theatrics, repeatedly making eye contact with his defenders and loudly clapping after each foul.

A lot has changed in almost nine years. I can't think of one player in the league right now who's known for this kind of game. The perimiter dominates, and it's a shame. It seems lots of fans and the league love the transition game and tons of 3s, but I'll take a competent half-court set any day.

*****

We had ribs at work on Tuesday, an odd choice indeed. And I'm not really a rib man, myself. But it occured to me while tearing at the meat with my incisors that ribs are the most primal of meats. Unlike with steaks or even pork chops, you can't gussie up a rib. You can't hide the fact that, when eating ribs, you're a human eating the roasted flesh off the bone of a dead animal. Neat.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Happy Days

Well, children, I hope most of you had a good Christmas and some of you are having a good Hanukkah. And are any of you celebrating Kwanzaa? Actually, does anyone out there even know anyone who's celebrating Kwanzaa? Let me know if you do.

I, for one, had a great Christmas. The Huddies and I opened our gifts the night before, in true Becky fashion. We both loved our gifts: a California state flag for them, a coffeehouse gift card and the Monk-Coltrane at Carnegie Hall CD for me. We were going to go on a hike to the Hollywood sign on Christmas morning, but then remembered the Pistons were on at 9:30 a.m. So instead we watched the game while munching on my delicious scrambled eggs. We burned the rest of the daylight hours with phone conversations back home, more basketball, and general laziness.

Then, as the sun began to set, Mike and I picked up Ryan Ward and we sped out to Santa Monica in attempts to catch the sunset. I was going to lie about this part, but I have to keep it real on Rocket Fever: It was cold and cloudy at the beach. Happy, Midwesterners?

After Santa Monica, we headed for the old homestead: Ye Rustic Inn. The rest of the night was spent drinking, talking, drinking, meeting up with Becky, drinking, meeting up with Warren, you know, and have an uplifting and out-of-the-blue phone conversation with Pat Muir. I can't tell you how good it felt to talk to that guy. See you in Vegas, Pat.

The night ended with a ride home from Warren, who had only one drink, me running up and down the street with my shirt off, and Mike kicking me in the leg -- hard -- for some reason.

All in all, a memorable first Christmas in L.A.

*****

It was only a matter of time before the papers began to pick up on "Lazy Sunday."

*****

Interesting story in USA Today. Wonder if it'll create any buzz.

*****

I usually hate celebrity stories, but this one is right up my ally.

*****

This is why I love reading The Roanoke Times. It has great detail and captures the voice of the folks down there so perfectly (although, in true RT fashion it's just a bit too long).

Friday, December 23, 2005

Becky Hudson, Hostess Supreme

Rebecca Hudson set a new standard in hosting holiday parties last night. I came home at 8 to a beautiful apartment, good music, and spellbinding food. Add in a group of good folks and a wicked punch, and you're setting yourself up for a classic evening. Becky prepared everything, with assists from Mike and Ben Callet, using recipes from the L.A. Times. I could write more, but just check out the photos.

THE FOOD

The roast beef was incredibly tender and simple. The horseradish sauce complemented the dish wonderfully, and didn't drown it in too much horseradishosity.

Ben cuts the meat.

This tart had more greens than the German Bundestag.

I'd like to thank the punch for helping me overcome my awkwardness and boost my self-confidence.

The salsa and shrimp dip helped kick things off.

What, did you really doubt there would be cookies?

I actually hand-crafted this Boddington's for this party. I have to say I did an exceptional job.

THE PEOPLE
Neighbors Helen and Eishi (it's EE-shy, and I know I'm spelling it way off; my apologies), Hud, and other neighbor Glen, who we're going hiking with on Sunday.

Mike just said something really amazing here.

I am a magical Christmas elf, and I am drinking magical Christmas punch.

I don't remember giving anyone the fangul, but I did have a lot of punch.

THE DOG
Santa Buck, tuckered out after a long night of keeping watch over all the strangers. All in all, though, he was a very good dog.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Portrait of the Artist as A Young Woman, With Masterpiece

Becky is throwing together a little dinner party for the apartment complex on Thursday. My contribution is the shrimp dip, pictured above with a photo of its author, Ida Gaines (the photo was taken when she was in grade school in Pennsylvania). It's quite simply the best damn thing I've ever tasted, and I encourage everyone to give it a shot. When you do, devote a toast to Grandma Gaines.

2 cans shrimp (drain, pat with paper towel)
1 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup cocktail sauce
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. horseradish
salt and pepper
Stir, then chill overnight. Serve with potato chips.


Meet Me at Hollywood and Las Palmas

My favorite intersection in Los Angeles is that of Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas Avenue in Hollywood. I stop at this point every day on my way to work; the Weekly’s building is two blocks south on Sunset. There are a couple restaurants, a souvenir shop, and a tattoo place on the corners. But the storefronts or scenery isn’t what I love, it’s the people. And these aren’t punked out, bean-skinny Anglenos, either. They’re well-fed, pale, and wide-eyed Midwesterners. This intersection is deep in Tourist Town. And I treasure being able to observe them every day.

Bless ’em, the tourists are easy to pick out. They walk in packs, usually in nuclear families or four or five. Dad has at least one photographic device strapped to his person. He is wearing a baseball hat and shorts up until a few weeks ago, when “winter” hit L.A. Dad is mindful of the litter, but can’t help swiveling his head from side to side, taking in his Tinseltown surroundings. Mom walks at Dad’s side, just as wide-eyed. But she keeps a slightly closer watch over the kids, yelling at them if they get too far ahead. Her discomfort at the kids brushing against the pierced and painted punk walking past is palpable. Sis and Bro keep a healthy distance away from the Rents, because they are so lame. The kids’ heads don’t move about nearly as much as their parents’, but they do sneak a glance or two at their surprisingly grubby surroundings. Sis might be dolled up ever so slightly (you never know …), and Bro very often has his head crammed in headphones.

I feel a deep kinship with these folks. They come from the same place I do, and I’ve walked the Family Tourist path many times. The coolness of living in a place where families herd themselves will never wear off for me. I can’t wait for the day when one of them comes up to me to ask for directions. I’ll have a big smile on my face and tell them exactly where to go, maybe even point them to a little out-of-the-way place only the locals go to. And I’ll be completely honest about how much CityWalk sucks.

*****

What's your favorite intersection?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Current Obsessions on Commonwealth

"Crazy delicious!"

and

"... and 12 blocks."

Meet the Parents Vol. II

Here are some more images from the Parental Trip That Was. I had one of Mom and Joe, but that one was lost in the ether. My apologies.

Look at those pearly whites.

Speaking of pearly whites ...

Detail from the highway barrier across from Neptune's.

The Puma store on Third Street in Santa Monica figures prominently in the Gaines-to-California narrative. Ask me about it sometime.

Heh heh, part 1.

I love the Getty.

More Getty.

And repeat.

Another flower shot from the Descanso Gardens.

Heh heh, part 2.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Proud of Detroit

Photo by Detroit Free Press

I wish the Lions fans' civil disobedience Sunday had been a bit more energetic, but I'm still jazzed about the message they sent. And for all I know, the papers and TV haven't fully conveyed the scene there. Early looks at the Freep and News don't reveal much. But there were lots of orange shirts there, and there was at least one point where a "Fire Millen" chant could very clearly be heard during the CBS broadcast.

Though things were quiet, this could end up being a very important day in Detroit Lions history. Hud and I said at separate times Sunday that we may look back on this game in a few years as the turning point for a franchise in a league where making a turnaround is quite possible (for reference, see the Lions' opponents, the Bengals). The Lions are so close: Talent at important positions, a top-notch stadium, and an obviously engaged fan base. A competent and disciplined executive could transform the Lions within three seasons. And don't despair too much about the Ford family, Lions fans: Before the Bengals turned into league darlings, it was widely agreed that Cincy had one of the worse ownership-management situations in the league. In the parity-drenched NFL, miracles do happen.

*****

Closing Note: Mitch Albom's column on the Fire Millen movement has undeniably confirmed his place in outer space. In a world of seat licenses, multimillion-dollar bond issues for stadiums, and contract structures that allow teams to jettison players with the utmost ease, how can Albom expect fans to relate to his childhood world of "We'll get 'em next time"? He says the people buying the tickets and protesting at Sunday's game don't qualify for the word "fan" -- and maybe he's right. Fans are increasingly becoming stakeholders in their teams. This doesn't have to be an unromantic notion: It can be inspiring and empowering. Sports long ago became a highly corporatized endeavor. The more fans realize that fact, the more they can protect their interests and do their part to restore a bit of fun to athletics. What's wrong with a little watchdogging?

*****

For those of you bored with the football talk, chew on this.

This is Amazing

On Friday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Pistons center Rasheed Wallace joined fans in the ["fire Millen"] chant during a late timeout in the game against the Chicago Bulls.

More on this later.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Fire Millen

I'm all for the Fire Matt Millen movement that Lions fans are taking up. We'll see how it plays out this Sunday during the Bengals game; I'd be disappointed if either it turns out to be a dud or if things get out of hand. But I can't see how they could -- as long as Shawn Rogers doesn't go rushing into the stands, things should stay peaceful.

This movement, however real it is, points up the exceptional nature of the Detroit sports landscape. I never thought about it because I've been a Lions fan since cognizance, but Michiganders stick with the Lions through years of misery. Aside from the team's playoff win in 1991 -- goddamn right I was there -- the Lions have been mediocre or awful since before I can remember. But for as much as people, including me, talk about giving up on the Honolulu blue and silver, we just can't stay away. It's a combination of living in a fertile sports landscape -- what else do you do when there's six inches of snow outside? -- and tantalizing possibility -- there was always Barry, then there was the sick intrigue of the post-Barry seasons, now there's the bizarre Joey circus and the three-headed WR monster. The team is rarely good, but always worthy of interest.

So I say the Fire Millen movement shows up a healthy engagement by the fans. After all, they're stakeholders in this team as much as the Fords or anyone else. They pay the ticket price, they buy the merch, they suffer through the losses. In the increasingly corporatized world of sports (complete with corporate welfare), the customer isn't always right but always deserves to be heard.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Score For XM

Dylan does radio? XM might need a translator.

*****

Chris Solari, you have some explaining to do. Shouldn't we be discouraging people from eating while driving, rather than creating food products for that very act?

*****

Today is the last day with the parents, who are back from a seemingly magical trip Up North. We'll swing through downtown and then GO SEE KING FREAKIN' KONG!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Christmas Becky Says ...


"Only 11 days until Christmas, people! Yesterday I set up the Hudson tree, complete with a tree topper that's been in my family before the days of electricity! Isn't my hat cute? The other gals and I wore them during our regatta last weekend, where we actually kicked major ass. I'm not sure of the results right now, because Craig is channeling my voice and he has a horrible memory! Well, it's off to sprinkle pixie dust on everything and make some hot cocoa (but not too hot, because the weather out here is beautiful!)."


*****

After much mental anguish, I've come to realize that I can't deny Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl." It's just too painfully true: This shit is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

*****

This is either:

A. A vortex into another dimension.
B. The containment unit used to capture the bad guys in that Superman movie.
C. The discarded logo from "A Current Affair."

Discuss.

*****

Should Lansing build a hockey arena? I'm usually dead set against such projects when funded publicly. But this isn't a bad argument.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Great T-shirt

Best last-minute gift idea ever?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Mike vs. Slash

A moment of silence ...

*****

I was audience to a maniac mashup this weekend as Flash Moran and Sara Lepro joined forces with Mikey Hudson for 48 hours of nonstop fun, drinking, and loud voices. The highlight of Friday was being asked to calm down at Ye Rustic. I've witnessed some amazing things at that little hole in the wall, but I've never seen a table of rowdy dorks shushed. We should all be proud. The refrain from that night was, "Here's to free porn!" -- in honor of a temporary beer friend who told us she was a receptionist at Playboy. Here's to free porn, indeed.

Saturday saw the party joined by Ryan Ward, Warren Clarke, Flash's brother and his friend Jen. We had tix for Dane Cook at the Laugh Factory, fresh off his hosting of "Saturday Night Live." He was very funny, a bit tamer than I've heard on CD, but still very engaging and in a good rhythm. Sara and Christine got to take a photo with Cook afterward, which I'm sure was a highlight of the trip. The merry band ended the night at the always-dependable Boardner's in Hollywood. The tavern muezzin made last call all too early, and my GLP compatriots made their way back to their car in preparation for an early flight back to Cleveland.

*****

Mikey and I somehow pulled ourselves together this afternoon and went to a CD signing by radio genius Phil Hendrie. Hendrie did most of his character bits onstage to the delight of his devoted audience. If you can get him on the radio where you live, please check him out. I normally can't stand radio guys, but Hendrie is a man apart. I'd try to explain his thing, but it's better to try and listen.

*****

What do you think would happen if we blew up the moon?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Meet the Parents Vol. I

Mom, under attack from a pterodactyl at the La Brea Tar Pits.

Dad, fending off a seagull at the Turtle Museum in Juno Beach.

Wolf skulls at the tar pits.

Pretty flowers at the Descanso Gardens (thanks for the suggestion, Alethia!).

Prehistoric Texas fan.

The Holy Trinity at Neptune's Net.

Just another shot from paradise.

*****

The parents have hit the road for Sonoma after a very enjoyable week. I hope they're loving their tour of Hearst Castle today. They're heading for a long weekend of fun with Uncle Joel in wine country, a trip I should be making one of these days.

Fortunately for me, the excitement seamlessly continues as I join forces with Christine Moran and Sara Lepro, a Cleveland duo that strikes fear into the hearts of the even the stoutest law-enforcement officers. Wish me luck.

*****

Why did the Tigers sign Kenny Rogers? Why? Why why why? High-priced, not to mention violent, old players never work out there. Sigh and double sigh.