Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Freshest of Times

Friends, Southern California is a helluva place. This environment has an effect on the people who can let go of their weirdness about this region. Weather, food, culture, architecture, geography, history, vibe, economic diversity, the Hudsons: All these things will just seep into a person who's open to the experience. I could really see myself out here for a time.

I've been doing lots of relaxing since the conference ended at the beginning of this week. Highlights have included:

1. Eating out a ton. Tacos, outdoor cafes, organic French cafes, Dodger dogs. One can't really live this way forever, but with so much cool food in the grocery stores, that's not a concern.

2. Meeting Hudson friends. Their neighbor, Ben, is 100 percent cool. Really funny guy who can recite whole paragraphs from "The Simpsons." Impressive. He told me I have a good "voice-over" voice for radio stuff. Ha!

3. Checking out this city. I took a wrong turn the other day and found myself up in the hills. What a trip. Narrow roads are crowded on all sides by houses that are more works of art than habitats. The vistas are so impressive that they automatically leave visions burned into your brain. Last night we took a trip up Mullholland Drive and gazed at a lit-up Valley. Only when you're up there do you realize how large this place is.

4. Making friends with animals. I knew I'd be cool with the cats, Kitty and Wallace. But my relationship with the dog, Buckley, is an unlikely story. Buck isn't too keen on humans and I'm not a dog guy. But we've somehow managed to cut through our misconceptions of each other and forge a lifelong friendship.

*****

This weekend will be filled with hanging out with old State Newser Ryan Ward and going to a baby shower for a "King of the Hill" writer. Should be fun.

*****

Tuesday we go out to eat for a blowout meal. It'll probably be at this Asian place partly owned by Justin Timberlake. Hot.

*****

Downtown L.A. is almost undistinguishable from downtown Cleveland. The buildings are ugly, there aren't that many people about, and the place is dead by late afternoon. I think it was just created so L.A. could have a skyline. The only highlight is the library.

*****

Jon Brunt tells me we were definitely shown on the Kimmel show.

*****

All the things Mike has written about Ye Rustic Inn are true. It's probably the greatest bar on the planet. The great thing about California is that you don't ever reek of smoke by the end of the night.

*****

My cousin, Devin Slattery, has a new Web site. You have to have a new version of Flash, which means I'll have to check it out on my home computer. But I'm willing to bet it's pretty cool.

*****

I need some new shoes. Stylish and sporty, yet comfortable and supportive for major walks. Any suggestions?

*****

The L.A. Times is a quality newspaper.

*****

Onward march, everybody. More to follow from the glorious West.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Cheering in Chavez Ravine

Dodger Stadium is cool. It's the most minimalist (minimal most?) ballpark I've been in. It's in the middle of a park, surrounded by vegetation. The architecture isn't stupid and bulky like most other stadiums. I wish the outfield didn't look out on a parking lot, but the rest of the view is a lush green. We sat way up in the "red seats," which offered a great view of the field. Dodger fans are pretty engaged, but they care way too much about beach balls. I think I saw 10 at this game, which the Dodgers lost to Arizona, 3-2.

Mike and Becky are really excellent hosts. I think that this compliment isn't ever given its full due. Folks who are good hosts show great sensitivity to others by making accomodations for people in their own environments. Few people have the touch -- few people "get it" enough -- to be called good hosts. It takes too much intelligence and warmth. But the Huds have had this quality for years -- years before most people learn this skill.

There's an Avacado Street a few blocks from here. If I ever move out here, I want to live there.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I Guess This Is What A Blog Is For

I was in the audience at the "Jimmy Kimmel Show" with Brunt and Adrian last night. Probably should have alerted everyone to that earlier.

Highlights:

1. Guests were Wilmer Valderamma and Ludacris. Pretty simple.

2. The studio is pretty small. Think a small theater.

3. My voice is raspy from cheering so much. They basically make you scream the whole time. Plus my hands almost started to bleed I had to clap so much.

4. Jimmy Kimmel is Pat Muir.

5. Overall, pretty fun!

In other news:

1. Tacos are good.

2. Going to a Dodgers game today.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Avacados

So why didn't anyone tell me there's lots of beauty in this state (and I'm not just talkin' about Becky)?

We took a quick jaunt to the beach in Santa Monica yesterday, which faces these big cliffs topped with palm trees. It was too chilly to actually do anything beachy, so we just walked up and down the sidewalk. Perfect enough.

Other highlights include lots of good food, some time at UCLA for the Festival of Books, and a surprise dinner with RYAN WARD!

More to follow.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Sellebrity Siting No. 1

Helen Hunt, getting out of a limo on Hollywood Boulevard.

I was cool about it.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Hi All (Or Hi Y'all?)

'Sup.

Things are cool out here. Just had two great sessions, one about blogging, the other about fact-checking. Best day so far.

Check out my hot bod on the ACES Web site (near the bottom [the site's bottom, not mine!]). I really am having more fun that the pic suggests.

Live! From L.A.

Hey, kids. I'm playing hooky from today's last seminar portion to bring you guys an update from Hollywood. News 'n' notes:

1. Attention Midwesterners: Los Angeles is not exclusively full of rich, beautiful, snotty people. The folks here are actually really nice. It's a very diverse lot, with tons of Latinos and Asians. I've really been struck by how simply courteous people have been. The drivers observe the wave rule, and sometimes even throw in an extra wave.

2. Mike and Becky's place is great. It's a two-story apartment with a great view of the skyline nestled in this neighborhood called Los Feliz. If you look behind the apartment, you're looking up into the mountains where the monied folks live. The housing is pretty dense, which creates lots of energy in the neighborhood.

3. The conference has been OK so far. I've had some good seminars and bad ones. I just skipped out of one about entertainment editing that was really just going to be a bunch of writers and editors name-dropping celebrities. Not valuable. What's been great, though, is the little reunion we're having. In addition to the Hudsons, I'm hanging out with Leslie Rotan, Jon Brunt, and Adrian Rogers. I've also met a few good folks, including Detroit Newser Heather Burns. All add up to a great time.

4. Congratulations to my mom, who had successful eye surgery yesterday. She told me last night that while the procedure itself was freaky -- they WERE shooting lasers into her eyes -- her new eye sight is amazing. This is something she's been wanting to do for years, and I'm really happy she's finally going it. Way to go, Ma!

O.K. I guess since I'm paying my own way here I should go try to pay attention to another one of these sessions. Play nice, everyone.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Me Postin' Via Wi-Fi

Rocket Fever is taking a quick pit stop in Grosse Pointe, and it's a bit of a special day in our history: I'm posting wireless. If you can't tell by now, I don't have much to say.

Sister and I are with cousin Moll-Mell at Panera, suckin' down iced tea and surfin' the Web without the help of an Internet connection. Here I come, 21st century!

The girls and I are planning to eat some vegetarian grub later and catch up on junk 'n' stuff.

Tomorrow, the westward push begins. My wheat crackers are packed, and Sister's MP3 player is warming up.

Next time you hear from me, I'll probably be running away from a burning mudslide in the middle of a riot. Sweet.

Happy trails, me. More to follow.

Monday, April 18, 2005

My Bags Are Packed, My Shoes Are Blue

Rocket Fever takes its award-winning show on the road tomorrow with a warm-up act in Detroit before hitting the big time in Los Angeles. I just want the little people to know that I'll never forget them.

Sister and I will see our grandparents and cousin Molly Mellinger tomorrow in Grosse Pointe. Molly, who lives in Connecticut, is a published poet and is heading to college in California next year. We haven't seen her in a long time, so it will be good to reconnect with this long-lost blondie.

After that, I'm hitching a comet (Northwest flight 433) to LAX for a big dose of Hudson hospitality and copy editor shop talk. I can't decide what I'm more excited about: getting boxed about the ears by Mikey or discussing "Copy Editing Business Stories for Fairness" with Becky and my other nerdy friends.

Let's go to the weekend wrap!

1. Friday: KCos and I chomped on some fine Ethiopian food at Altu's, took a quick nostalgia tour of Lansing, and then watched "The Big Lebowski" (we were going to watch "The Professional," one of my other all-time favs, but the effin' DVD's audio wouldn't kick in. I tested it yesterday and now it works. Funny [NOT ha-ha].).

2. Saturday: The Rexrode family and I sat roasting under the April sun watching the Green and White scrimmage during spring practice. No. 16 had some great hits, and there were a few long bombs to the crowd's delight. I guess John L. was grumpy about the backup QBs sucking it up.

We then joined up again a few hours later with everyone's favorite Oscar to watch "Ocean's 12," which was enjoyable enough. Joe, Dan, and I then stayed up to watch "Saturday Night Live." That show is simply awful. Jiminy Glick's appearance on the news segment was the funniest part. I really hate Horatio Saenz.

3. Sunday: I took a long walk on the River Trail (which I'll have to write more about later), missed a call from old Virginny friend Hunter Armstrong -- how's that for a Southern gentleman's name? -- and finally watched "The Professional." If you think too much about nitpicking that movie (there are some cheesy lines), you're not getting the point.

And if you don't get it, you're just not cool.

Happy Monday. More to follow.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Special Powers

During the walk I just took, I composed a list of special mental powers I have:

1. I can round any number in the blink of an eye. If you yelled out "1.75!" I'd say, "Well, do you want that rounded to the tenth or to the whole number?" Then you'd tell me, then I'd round the number in a flash.

2. I can guess the time with amazing accuracy. I don't even have to use the position of the sun. For example, just a few minutes ago I was like, "I bet it's about 2:45." Know what time it was? 2:49. I know!

In other news:

1. I'd like to welcome Joy Sarnacke to the world of blogging. She doesn't have much up there right now, but just you wait. I'd also like to give shouts to all my other friends new to the delights of blogging: Amy B., Amos, Sister.

Blogging: Pretty cool.

2. It's really nice outside. During my walk, I noticed that my neighborhood is one of the world leaders for "Beware of Dog" signs.

That's all for now. Keep up the good work, everybody.

Go Craig! It's the Weekend!

Happy Friday everyone. Pat yourselves on the back; you made it through another week.

The weekend will be a mix of fun and business in Rocket Fever Land, as I eat Ethiopian food with Kate Cosgrove tonight, watch spring football with the Rexrodes tomorrow, inject my dad's cat with insulin while he's in North Carolina, finish a few assignments, and get ready for L.A.

A spectacular Rocket Fever HAPPY BIRTHDAY to everyone's Ferndale Favorite, Amy B. Amy might be the best story-teller I've ever met, which puts her in very rarified company. She's also the best karate kicker (retired), best wine drinker, and best maker of cheesy-pickle dip. To Aim: All my love!

Here's to walking on the sunny sunny side of the street.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Darkness!

Zawacki sent me this story.

This One's For MLJ

So how'd the haircut go? Oh, glad you asked:

It went OK. The problem with dear Samantha is that she's a terrible conversationalist. She'd make a few attempts, asking me how's it going or what kind of writing I do. But then after I did my bit, she just let the conversation hang there in the air. She'd reply with things like, "Oh, that's good," or, "Uh-huh."

I deserve better than "Uh-huh."

But the cut isn't bad. I've learned that it takes a couple days for it to come together. And her poor front work is taken care of with a little push to the left.

Such it is with my hair. I still miss Nikki. What it is I miss about Nikki is up for debate, but there's the facts.

In other news:

1. The weekend looks to be coming together quite nicely, as I'll have Ethiopian with K. Cosgrove on Friday and watch spring football with the Rexrode family on Saturday.

2. Had a gyro (pronounced YER-oh) for lunch today at Jimmy's Pub with mom. Not bad. Mom's getting ready for the laser eye thing. She's quite surprised. Everyone wish her well. And donate to her breast cancer walk.

3. Touch your toes!

More to follow.

The Joys of Working at Home

There's nothing quite like interviewing Michigan's agricultural statistician while your cat retches up her morning meal 10 feet away.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Catching Up With An Old Friend

I had a couple beers with old high school friend Dave Wellfare last night at the Mayfair. It was good catching up with Dave, who's trying to make a living in the radio industry, which seems fairly difficult. He has a great story about he got into the gig -- basically, he called into a morning show one day and they told him to come in for a tryout. Pretty cool.

Right before we left, we caught sight of MSU AD Ron Mason. Craig Schmidt tells me Mason is a Mayfair regular. Who knew? Speaking of Schmidty, I also chatted with everyone's favorite marathoner for a few minutes last night. He seemed calm, "Eye of the Tiger" calm, just a few days before the Boston Marathon. Rocket Fever sends good vibes your way, my friend.

And speaking of friends and talking and yesterday, I ALSO chatted with intrepid Inside Business (now Associate!) Editor Sara Lepro. Slepro and I compared notes on the magazine industry and swapped a few tales and a bit of gossip. Sara's a young firecracker, which means she'll probably be my boss someday. I just hope I was good to her when we worked together.

In personal grooming news, I'm getting my haircut today. And I'm going back to the same place I visited a month ago. Even though it inspired me to write an epic poem about how bad the cut was, I actually really liked it a few days later. Let's hope Samantha can make it two times a charm. I HAVE to look good for the Hudsons in L.A.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Best E-mail Ever?

From: Beth Jones
To: "cbgaines@gmail.com"
Date: Apr 11, 2005 5:27 PM

The RT is hosting a mustache contest and this lady from Bath County just came in to ask whether she could enter her deceased husband. An extremely loud opera played in the background.

Beth Jones
Features
The Roanoke Times

Capital is Back in the Capitol

Fruitport is dead. Long live Lansing.

House-sitting ended up being much more interesting than I thought. I may share some of my meditations on the subject with you, I may not. I'm just cold like that.

Spent a slow weekend in Lansing puttering around and not doing much of any consequence (although, a trip to the Barrel is always worth writing home about).

Today has been productive so far, what with tape transcribing and tire buying going on. I got some off brand that probably means "Yankee Killer" in Korean. Mourn me when I'm gone.

Tonight I'm having a brew with former Eastern High School swim team co-captain (guess who was the other) David Wellfare. Dave works in radio, and his voicemail message sounds like it. Should be fun catching up with the old boy.

Finally, I promised a Rocket Fever All-Tourney Team, and I'll still deliver on it, even though no one will care. But we keep our promises here at RF, no matter how untimely or nonconsequential they are.

Arrivederci, babies.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Grand Rapids: Where the Sushi is Fine, And Takeout Isn't Really Takeout

After doing next to nothing during the day yesterday, I put on my out-on-the-town shoes for some food and conversation with all-time friend Joy Sarnacke.

I met Joy at her office, a creative firm in downtown. The office is exactly what you'd expect: exposed brick, hardwood floors, spiral staircase, open floorplan, funky couch at the reception area. The pièce de résistance, though, was Joy's chair. It's one of those ergonomically correct chairs that only people on TV or former Internet billionaires get to sit in. It was pleasant to the eye ... luxurious to the touch ... coy in the sweet nothings it whispered to me. I was in love. I think I sat in it about five times in the 10 minutes we were there. That chair will not soon be forgotten.

We then strolled around downtown GR, a much more pleasant experience than I'd always imagined it would be. It was clean and quiet, as most Midwestern downtowns are after work, but there was a moderate number of people out. We went for drinks at the BOB (Big Old Building), which is very similar to Cleveland's Powerhouse.

After a watery martini for me and a beer for her, we went to a little sushi place a few blocks away. The day was so nice, though, we wanted to eat outside. So we asked for takeout and were told that wouldn't be a problem. Then all the food was served at the bar where we were waiting. "Brilliant," I thought. "Takeout that ISN'T takeout. Yes, it all makes sense." Being a good-natured coupla kids, we didn't let it get in the way of a perfectly pleasant evening.

And that's just what it was. Thanks to the Sarnackes for being excellent ambassadors for GR during this trip. They've possibly put this fair burg on my long list for Craig's Next City.

Stay tuned ...

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Help the Fight!

OK, guys, my mom is almost at 50 percent! Thanks to all those who've chipped in so far. Who's gonna be the one to put her over the mark?

This Is Not a Cool Web Link

Found this on the Eric Umansky blog. Neat.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Dogs

My old friend Pat Muir says that the purest form of happiness you'll ever see is a group of retarded kids meeting their favorite professional wrestler.

I think a close second may be a couple of dogs that know they're about to run around outside after being inside all day. It's pretty cute.

For the record, I don't like dogs.

Can I Pick a Neighborhood Or What?

After getting confirmation from Rocket Fever Southern correspondent Beth Jones, I've learned that the street I used to live on in Roanoke (Day Avenue) was the center of a prostitution bust recently.

And I thought all those women asking me to party were just displaying that famous Southern hospitality.

Question

If I have a bunch of applications open on a Windows PC, is there a shortcut for minimizing everything and getting to the desktop?

Monday, April 04, 2005

One Less Knock Cleveland Has Against the PD

Congrats to The Plain Dealer, which finally has a Pulitzer honoring its writing. Among the many complaints I heard about the PD when I was a Clevelander, most of them unwarranted, was that it was one of the few big-city papers to have won a Pulitzer. I guess it won 50 years ago for an editorial cartoon, but everyone always treated that like an honorable mention.

And if you're wondering whether I read this award-winning journalist when I was in C-town: no. Not my style. Nothing personal, I just don't read human-interest stuff. My interest in humans is fairly low.

In other news:

1. I had a pretty productive day writing, e-mailing, and conference calling. That earned me a nice walk this afternoon up and down Fruitport Road. It's not the nicest walk in the world, but the weather is too damn nice to stay inside all day.

2. What should I have for dinner?

3. Never trust a neighborhood with no sidewalks.

4. Let's all hope UNC gets Craigy the big money and the Spartan ladies make us proud!

As always, more to follow.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

How Could I Forget?

I never gave a proper review of my visit with the Fabulous Slattery Women. For the uninitiated, the Slatterys are my aunt and two cousins who live in Grand Rapids (for the time being).

I went over on Friday to my Aunt Sarah's tastefully appointed home and had a tasty meal of curry chicken, potatoes, and salad with her and cousin Devin. After enjoying a couple gin and tonics with aunty and spending a few good hours catching up about where everyone is and may be going, supercuz Devin and I headed out to an East Grand Rapids (or was it Easttown?) bar called Mulligan's (younger supercuz Caitlin had to work at the deli late, so I didn't get to see her; better luck next time).

There, D.K. (the pride of Kendall College) and I bonded as family members have for centuries -- in a smoke-filled bar over a few beverages. After being sufficiently impressed by my cousin's maturity, sense of humor, and great promise, I hit the road to let the dogs out one more time before bed.

One Down ...

So I just finished the first "Lord of the Rings" movie. Any idea when Frodo is going to quit bitching and just accept that he's the ring boy?

No Shame In This Game

Be proud, Spartan Nation. I am.

Proud of a team that didn't quit trying to learn how to use its abilities. Proud of a team that kept its composure under conditions that would melt most mortals. Proud of a team that played hard and well even in defeat, to a team that I think will end up winning it all.

So let's cheer on the women and get ready for a momentous Final Game on Monday.

If I had to watch this wild ride end, at least I got to do it with good folks. I headed over to Grand Rapids to watch the Final Four with old friend Joy Sarnacke (nee Chastain), her husband, Scott, and various other Sparties. We commandeered some tables at a local sports bar, ate tons of bar food, and drank from pitchers big enough to comfortably fit Jackie Rexrode. Thanks to the Sarnackes for preventing me from watching the games with no one but the dogs. It was a great time.

In other news:

1. You know you're in West Michigan when you pass a church sign on the highway that reads, "Thank God it's Spring! Seriously -- Thank God."

2. I'm starting to like these dogs, which worries me. They just get so happy to see me whenever I enter the room. That really feeds my ego.

3. I'm reading Russell Banks' "Continental Drift" right now and might try to kill it off by the end of today. Anyone else reading a good book?

Thanks for reading. More to follow.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Fruitport Report

Life as Fruitport's Cato Caelin has been going smoothly so far. After an orientation and tour of the area from Chris, the happy couple left for Key West and I become a dog guy. [As in just now when I had to go into the other room to adjudicate a dispute between Sam and Allie. I handled it like a pro, telling them, "Hey! No! Be nice! Allie, sit! Sam, sit! Now, let's get along. OK? Good."]

It should be known that I don't like dogs. They smell, especially when wet. They also require tons more attention than cats. Just last night, at around 3:30 a.m., Sam started doing all this whining (oh, I have to let them sleep in my room, too), so I figured she needed to pee. I got up, slammed into a couple walls, and let her out. She took about five paces, turned around, and came back inside. I won't fall for that one again.

I also have to look in on this lunatic parrot named Kita. I've been instructed to not go anywhere near Kita lest I lose a finger. Pleasant animal.

Other than that, I'm doing a bit of maxin', a bit of relaxin', and even a little free-lance work. I'll be visiting my Aunt Sarah and possibly a cousin or two tonight, which should be a great time. Tomorrow I'll be drinking in the Final Four action with Joy, Scott & Co.

Off I go.

Those Wacky Google Guys

This did have me going for a split second.

I'll give a Fruitport Report later today, you fools.