Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sonoma Images

Par-for-the-course beauty in the Valley of the Moon.

Uncle Joel, sky, vineyard, perfection.

Hello, peacock.

I've read it. A good read, but at times long-winded, no?

My aunt's frittata can beat up your aunt's frittata.

*****

Sonoma words to follow.

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In a recent card to Becky Amos, I referred to her as a "human cartoon." Click here to learn why.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Constabulary Notes from the U.P.

I've recently discovered the joy of reading the police briefs from the Soo Evening News. The writing style is, ah, word friendly, but it can't be denied that the writer has a voice. And if you think nothing happens in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, think again:

Odd calling card

SAULT STE. MARIE — The owner of a vehicle parked in the 900 block Lizzie Street reported that someone tore the driver side mirror from the side of a vehicle parked there on the street. Upon investigating, officers confirmed the damage and found several pieces of bologna stuck to the side of the vehicle, reportedly in a smiley-face pattern.

The bologna and smeared small fingerprints on the finish led officers to conclude that kids were the culprits.

No suspect was suggested.

*****

Memorial Day weekend was a dream, my friends. Words and images to follow.

Friday, May 26, 2006

M-Day Bits

1. Joe Frey's blog is back!

2. I'm going to Sonoma for the weekend!

3. I haven't had coffee in weeks!

4. The world is coming back to reality: Some shoot-'em-up movie was on the TV last night in the locker room.

5. A special Memorial Day shout to stepbrother Michael Kirby, who's stationed in Iraq with the Army.

6. I'm going to be a few minutes late to work today!

7. Read this fascinating story about one of the guys who kidnapped Frank Sinatra Jr. Looks like his life quietly ended in Roanoke, which means Mike Allen is all over it!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Two Sure Signs the World Is Ending

1. Oprah was on the TV in the men's locker room at the Y yesterday. What's worse is that a guy was sitting there watching it. She was conducting a heartfelt interview with CNN softy Anderson Cooper. I hate to verbalize unspoken rules, but the men's locker room TV is for sports, news, and TNT movies. Period. And the last two are really just stop-gaps until the next game comes on. Nothing on any of the acceptable channels? Switch to ESPN and watch a rodeo or whatever. BUT NO OPRAH IN THE LOCKER ROOM.

2. One of the commercials during Oprah's show pimped the newest act of musical terrorism perpetrated by Michael Bolton: An album of Sinatra covers. Who the hell allowed this? Isn't there some government office looking out for this type of treachery? If Bolton wants to swing a Sinatra tune while he's the shower, that's fine. But setting his bullmoose of a voice to the Chairman has to be illegal. Didn't they cover that in the Patriot Act?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Plugged-Nickle Sessions

Partially shrink-wrapped high-rise, Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street, Hollywood.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Things That Stick

I just blogged about this over at TOSC, but I thought I'd go a little deeper into the subject here. There's a Monty Python "Flying Circus" sketch I watched as a kid that, odd as it may seem, affected how I view language. The sketch, "Woody and Tinny Words," is of course absurd, and it largely revolves around the idea of breaking the sounds of words into two categories: woody and tinny.

It makes sense if you think about it. Of course, you could substitute those categories with anything: cottony and silky, rocky and watery, glassy and pillowy. But it was profound for me because I watched it at such a young age, early middle school at the oldest. The idea that words had identifiable sounds and images worked its way into my brain, and I've been dividing words into woody and tinny ever since.

My sister and I will argue about which words belong in which categories. We often disagree because we're siblings, but also because this sort of linguistic judgment is so subjective. But I'm guessing that, even if our definitions might incrementally differ, you innately understand the woody and tinny thing without even reading the sketch (which you should do, because it's damn funny).

I sometimes think about the little events in my youth that taught me these internal lessons, and how I might have turned out had those lessons come differently. There's this great common body of knowledge that we eventually come to, but we each take a different path. Do we affect the path, or does the path affect us? I'll put down that it's the latter: Think back on how different you were only five years ago, if you're roughly my age. You were either recently graduated or about to graduate. In only five years, do any of you doubt that you're a substantially different person now? Obviously the large events (marriage and divorce, initial employment and job-hopping, moving from one place to another) mark you, but -- like the blend of winds that affected the Michigan Spaceport rocket's trajectory -- you've also been marked by the smaller events. A magazine article, a change in diet, a new shortcut on the way to work. I believe Geoffrey Sonnabend would tell us that it's not only the lesson that we learn from these events, but also their pitch and altitude. My approach to words has been ever-so-slightly influenced by this Monty Python sketch. And not just the idea of woody and tinny. But also the absurdist British humor, the setting of the sketch, my age and whom I was with when I first saw it.

Think about those little flashes you get while doing the most mundane things (and I encourage you to post whatever comes to mind):

Every time I come to a flashing don't-walk sign, I instinctively look up to the traffic light to see if it's yellow. If not, I still have time to cross. I go through this exercise because my dad told me to do it while we were crossing Michigan Avenue one day when I was a kid.

Whenever I pick up a fork, I remind myself that it's the most useful of the utensils. Why? Because I once stubbornly fought with my mom on the subject. She pointed out that you can stab and scoop with the fork. Case closed.

And so on.

That's why I started this blog. It's not only a record of the big events in my life -- leaving Cleveland, living at home in Michigan, moving to California -- but also a running tally of all the bits that bring my character into sharp focus.

Spaceport Michigan!

I stumbled upon this story a few days ago. As a nerd from Michigan who has a blog with the word "Rocket" in the title, it's right up my alley. So I thought I'd share.

Had anyone ever heard of this?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Also Good as Leftovers!

*****

Cool Web site! If you can't think of anyone to donate to, type "Chrysalis" and select the one in Santa Monica. Good people.

The Rocket Fever Caffeine-Purge Death Match

A few days ago, I decided to temporarily stop drinking coffee. It wasn't because of the caffeine, but because coffee creates this hot ball of acid in my stomach. Not being partial to hot-acid stomach balls, I put away the coffee and started drinking tea. The effects have been noticeable:

  • Headaches
  • Clouded thinking
  • Tied tongue
  • Decrease in manual dexterity
  • Mood swings
  • General sluggishness

Yesterday was particularly bad. I actually felt my body strongly craving the caffeine. I took the edge off by eating these coffee crackers I bought in Chinatown, but that's when I decided I was really going to stick to this. Because if my body is all like, "Gimme some caffeine, b****!," I'm gonna be like, "What? WHAT?!"

The one -- completely unexpected -- benefit was that I didn't get my usual midday hunger pangs. Becky Amos, who conducted her own Caffeine-Purge Death Match a few months ago, concurs on the disappearance of hunger pangs. If anyone has an explanation for that, I'm listening. Weird.

So if you happen to pass me in the next couple days and my eyes are unfocused, or I have a murderous look on my face, or I'm hugging myself because I'm so cold ... so cold, just give me a nod and allow me to suffer silently through my Death Match. Thanks for your support.

*****

Scott Baird, your shoes are near a mailbox on Hillhurst Avenue.

*****

The MySpace Poll ended with the Loves winning it, 8-6. Now go take a sip of the new poll.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Holy Smokes!

I'd just like to thank myself for the great turkey tacos I just made myself. Really a great job. Thanks.

Derek, I totally spaced on taking pictures. Better luck next time.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Pat Muir, Report to the Lost and Found

Pat, you left your Afro pick in the locker room at the Hollywood/Wilshire YMCA.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Two More Items

SO SOON A CYNIC? I went to the gym after work this evening. I drove past the celebrity opening of something called Social Hollywood, which is in the old Hollywood Athletic Club, down the street from the Y. As I crept down the street looking for a spot, I noticed Lara Flynn Boyle on the red carpet, posing for the photogs. My first thought? "Great, I could have parked right there."

TREE STUMP OF DEATH! As I was walking up to my building after my workout, a very drunk woman tried to step over the tree stump that's left after my adventure with the mover. She didn't have a chance, and bit it, hard. Sorry, lady.

Although, maybe it's a good thing the tree went down. Is a little fall better than running smack into a tree?

O.K. I guess not.

Take That, Computer!

Looks like somebody had an "Office Space" moment in the neighborhood last night.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Two Items

One of my jobs at Rocket Fever is quality control. I can't just write any old post. My readership demands quality, and I'll be damned if I let them down. Which is why I've given up on two post ideas for the night. I'll get back to them when I can assure they'll meet the high standards we've all gotten used to at RF. In the meantime, mack on these two items:

WHAT A MENSCH: So I go over to Mike's with the idea of taking him out for birthday dinner. Instead we stay in, and he feeds me barbecue chicken and rad cupcakes from this place called Sprinkles. Now that's a stand-up guy.

WEDNESDAY'S QUOTE: "She loves dental school, but hates Michigan," said Chrysalis chum Liz over a couple drinks at a downtown bar about a friend having a tough time in Ann Arbor.

Welcome to Kutcher Central

So I'm talking to Rocket Fever's Golden Boy, Ryan Ahrens, the other night, and he admits that he was watching "Punk'd" recently, when he suddenly found himself looking at a familiar building on the TV screen.

My building.

Then the announcer said that Ashton was pulling off the "punk" or what have you at none other than Farfalla, which, as we all know, is directly below RFHQ. Further, Ryan seems to think he's seen other "punks" occur at this same location. Which is to say, Ashton Kutcher and I are best friends.

This, of course, dwarfs my building's other media connection: This Harley-Davidson commercial.

And the fact that my domicile has any media connection at all? Well, this is just a silly, silly town.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Dad Report

Father and son connected last week for what will become known as a legendary week in family history. If I may speak for the Old Man, he had the time of his life. We packed every day with events, but neither of us ever felt worn out. And, since I did all the driving, I never had to hear once about where Dad usually puts his peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches while driving.

Highlights included:

  • Meeting up with family friend Doug Cooney, who's a writer out here, at the L.A. Times Festival of Books. Doug was there doing a reading with Marlee Matlin, who he'd just finished writing a children's book with. We got to shake hands with Ms. Matlin, who was super nice. Then, to make the event that much cooler, Henry Winkler tapped me on the shoulder to ask if he could cut in front to say a quick hello to Ms. Matlin. What a town.
  • Dad taking what I think is the first recorded major walking tour of central Hollywood. He might be up for some minor designation for walking from his hotel in Beachwood Canyon to the L.A. Weekly offices on Sunset. I believe the walk was about five total miles; calculated in L.A. walking miles, he basically climbed Everest.
  • Spending a day in Chinatown (pictures below), geeking on all the cool stuff in the markets, buying exotic tea, macking on some banana rolls (beyond my ability to explain), and checking out the local branch of the library.
  • Hitting up Neptune's Net, which was fun despite the relatively crappy weather. After that, we headed back south for the Ashes and Snow exhibit near the Santa Monica Pier, peeped Ted Danson browsing in the Barnes & Noble on Third Street, and attended a cool and fun volunteer-appreciation dinner with the Chrysalis folks.
  • Going to the Museum of Jurassic Technology, which I won't attempt to explain here. If you're curious, come see me in L.A. and I'll take you. Trust me: There's no other way. Later that day, we went to a Dodgers game with Mike. The Dodgers suck, but we did get to see some great pitching (poor hitting?).
  • Capping the trip with dinner at Leonor's, the greatest vegetarian Mexican restaurant on Earth.
In Chinatown.

Dad really let his mustache go during the trip.

The woman at the Chinatown market told me this is ginseng. I personally think it's a giant squid. Giant, you ask? This thing is actually 12 feet tall; you just can't tell from the photo.

Dad tried to buy me some cloud ear, but I was like, "Pop, I have enough cloud ear to choke a horse, man. Enough with the cloud ear already!"

What's up, steamed shrimp at Neptune's Net? Wanna take on the Gaines boys? THEN YOU GONNA DIE!

Dad with "Becky." Up until this point, near the end of the trip, Dad wasn't quite sure a "Becky" existed.

Up in Griffith Park. No sweat.

At the Dodgers game.

This burrito is bigger than your head, but good for your heart.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Before Gaines, There Was Gaines


Look at this guy. Think he loves L.A.?

Yeah, he loves L.A.

Look to this space on Tuesday for a full Dad Gaines report.

*****

In the meantime, take the new poll. The old poll ended up a tie: nine each for "Give You My Daughter Back" (credit: Pop) and "Proud of My Shame" (credit: me).

*****

ALSO COMING THIS WEEK: Kutcher Time in Los Feliz ... Celebrating the art of the bit ... A gut-wrenching public admission ... Photos of the new apartment (no promises).

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ride On, Silverbelle

I was supposed to post this long ago. Apologies to Silverbelle and Beth Jones, Rocket Fever's Southern correspondent. From Beth:

Silverbelle loves to meet new people and eat peanut butter out of a spoon. At ten years old, her back legs no longer work so she spends much of her time in a doggie wheelchair. But she still zipped around my neighborhood on walks, and I met more of my neighbors walking her over the course of a week than in all the five years I lived on Manassas Drive.

Silverbelle's Daddy called midway through the week, wanting his little girl back (see the tearful reunion with grandma014. jpg). Silverbelle will once again ride with him cross country in his big rig, peaking her head out the window, the wind blowing her ears. Ride on, Silverbelle. Ride on.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Atta Boy, Ray

"The more important question to ask is, 'Who lives here and how do we treat each other?' We treat each other better than New Yorkers treat each other ... . New Yorkers are a bunch of goddamn snobs, and you can quote me. In L.A., it's a very free society, very open society, very creative society."

—Ray Bradbury quote included in the Los Angeles Times' 125th-anniversary-edition Home section

Thanks to Becky for forwarding it!

He Loves L.A.

In just a few days, Dad and I have shaken hands with Marlee Matlin, bumped into Henry Winkler, met up with an old family friend, seen an off-off-off-Broadway production of a Stoppard play, and eaten the best damn risotto known to man. And we haven't even gotten up to Malibu yet!