24 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

For those of you who are Christian or just like celebrating this holiday, Merry Christmas!

Here's a lovely holiday video for you:



I'm in the midwest right now, having had a few days in New York and a few wonderful days in Virginia. I was only in Virginia for a few days, but I got to see lots of family there. Denise and I spent some time preparing a digital picture frame for my grandmother, there were multiple family meals, a trip to the Raven to meet a friend/colleague, and a great roast in honor of my cousin Chris's 30th birthday. I tried to fix my dad's stereo, sampled his egg nog (which used to be OUR egg nog, but nevermind), and wandered up and down my parents street looking at the Christmas lights.

On Monday, I flew from Norfolk out to Kansas City (this year is a year we spend Christmas with Sarah's family). On Tuesday, we drove to Iowa for some extended family celebrating. Tuesday night was Hodges night, with Sarah's dad's clan. Wednesday was Short day, with Sarah's mom's clan. Both events were great, with large extended families in intimate settings. At the Hodges event, the star of the show was baby Maddox, with whom I had a growling conversation for about 20 minutes (the boy is channeling Tom Waits). Also, at the Hodges event, we picked up Sarah's grandpa, who accompanied us to the Short event and then back to KC, where he'll spend Christmas with us. Both events were great, but after so much family in such a short period of time, I'm glad for a little bit of quiet with Sarah while the rest of the family is out at Christmas Eve services.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day! I hope yours is great!

Oh, and if you're the praying type, please include my friend Aga's mom in your prayers. She's doing pretty poorly now, and can use all of the good mojo she can get.

22 December 2008

myspace

So, can anyone think of a reason to keep my MySpace account? It just gathers dust over there in cyberspace. I've got this blog and a FaceBook account...

20 December 2008

in Virginia

After my New York adventure, I flew down to Virginia to see the fam. I arrived on Thursday afternoon, met Mom at the airport, and had a drink with her while we waited for Denise to arrive. By the time we got home, Dad was there, and we decorated the tree and had good cheer (we missed you, Sarah). That night, we went out for Mexican food at a nice where the margaritas were excessively overpriced.

On Friday, Denise and I worked on Mom-Mom's xmas gift and then visited Mom-Mom (we missed you, Sarah) in the home where she lives. We sat with her while she finished lunch, and then we watched a bit of the Bonnie Hunt show. She looked good. She's way to mentally aware to be in a home, but her body's falling apart, and she can't take care of herself. Alas.

Friday night, Denise and I went to meet a friend from Virginia Stage for a drink (we missed you, Sarah). Or three. Then, dinner at the Raven (we missed you, Sarah) and home for more old stories and accompanying coffee-dessert thing. Then, more wrestling with the digital picture frame.

This morning, I exercised and got some work done. I had hoped to have a morning to focus on the work I needed to do, but I kept getting interrupted with visitors. I saw our neighbor Terre (we missed you, Sarah) and other friends. I got some work done in the afternoon and wrapped some gifts before cousin Chris and his wife Elysia came over for a visit (we missed you, Sarah). We had a nice visit, took a walk to see the holiday lights, and then headed out for a dinner with the extended family.

After dinner, we went to my Aunt & Uncle's place, where they set up a mild roast ('celebration') of Chris, who recently turned 30. Everyone told stories about Chris - some funny, some sad, some silly. Then, cake and ice cream (we missed you, Sarah) and a small gift exchange. Mom-Mom opened her gift, a digital picture frame full of family photos. Chris and Elysia gave and received a lot of gifts, since they'll be in PA for Xmas itself. They enjoyed the CD and coasters we gave them. They loved the afgan Denise crocheted. I liked the book, whiskey, and funnel-cake set that they gave me.

All in all, it's been a great trip. But everyone misses Sarah!

16 December 2008

NYC

I had a long blog, but the iPhone ate it. Ergo, here's a haiku:

Russian lunch with Sean.
Pina Bausch. Snowy Evening.
Three Manhattans. Mmmmm.

05 December 2008

a long day and a second wind

This week has been full of long long days. After Denise left (she was visiting for Thanksgiving - wheee!), I entered my last week of classes. Which was also tech week for the remount of a show I designed last year. It was mostly a remount, but there were a few changes. So, 14-hour days at the U. Blech.

Last night, I left the U at 11pm and got home at 11.30. I immediately started packing for my trip to Mpls. S and I finally went to bed somewhere around 1.15. I got up at 5.15 to get ready to go to the airport. Have been up since then. Flew to Minneapolis, got lunch, unpacked, and went straight to rehearsal. By the time rehearsal was over, I had been awake 34 out of the previous 38 hours. We went to get a bite at a bar that happened to have a DJ. So, we danced. It's amazing the energy you find in your reserves to cover a superfluous activity like dancing.

Now, I'm back at the hotel. I had planned on going to bed early and working out in the morning, but since it's nearly 2am, I don't think the going to bed early part is going to work out. Since I have some sleep to make up for, I suppose I'll skip the work out tomorrow.

01 December 2008

A triptych of political graffiti

First, there was this:


































Soon, this appeared above it:


































Then, there were some steps that I missed, but this is what is on the wall of the men's room near my office today:


































That's the "McCain Palin 1956" graffiti scribbled out at the bottom. At the top is "Barrack Obama for President of Kenya."

Guess I need to remind my students that freedom of speech means allowing other people to say things that you think are stupid.

30 November 2008

What to see, what to see...

I'll be in NYC in a few weeks, for a few nights. While I'm there, I want to see as much theatre as I can, and I've been going some research on what to check out. I'm looking for shows that:

a) have a great sound design.
b) are newer.

I've been reading reviews and seeking some advice, and here is my (current) list:

39 Steps - I've heard the sound design is great!
Taking Over - A new piece of hip-hop theatre.
South Pacific - How could I not?
Blasted - because I have yet to see a Kane.
Speed the Plough - perhaps.

Any other thoughts? Recommendations? Un-recommendations?

23 November 2008

A long burst of work, followed by a nice day off.

Last weekend, I was in Minneapolis, working with a few friends (and a bunch of students) on a new piece based on the Gilgamesh myth. On Monday, I flew back to LA, and thus began an intense week. 'Began' may not be the right word, since it was really the eighth day in a row that I was working, but still. Anyhow, Sarah picked me up on Monday at LAX and drove me straight to campus for a rehearsal. I was on campus on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Today, I finally got a day off. Sarah and I met Luke and his daughter Tosca for breakfast and then a trip to the farmer's market. After, Sarah and I went exploring in San Pedro, where there were great views:

















And a beautiful Korean pagoda looking over the Pacific:










After our afternoon in San Pedro, we zipped back to Long Beach, where I graded one last paper before dinner with Aga. We did some sushi and then a trip for some gelato. We also found the new cheese shop in Belmont Shores, but it was, alas, closed.

After dinner, Aga went home, and Sarah and I watched Edward Norton in THE INCREDIBLE HULK. It was better than the Ang Lee film, but that's not saying too much.

Tomorrow is a day of doctors appointments! Podiatry and opthamology!

17 November 2008

Something I don't understand re: financial bailout

So, back when we got this $700B bailout package, Henry Paulson said that the money would go to buying bad loans. Then, recently, he changed his mind, saying that he'd use the money for buying ownership in the banks themselves. I don't know why he gets to change his mind about how that money is spent - I don't get to decide to spend $5000 on a new car instead of paying off our car loan...

Anyhow, no one in Washington seemed to make a big stink about it, but now that the Democrats want to take $25B to bail out the auto industry, the Republicans are all squawking about how that's a bad idea, since that's not how the money was originally intended to be spent.

(I'm not sure the $25B on the auto industry is the right choice... I'm making another point...)

My question is this: why is it okay for Paulson to change his mind about how the money should be spent, but it's not okay for the Democrats to ask for a change?

15 November 2008

A day in Minneapolis

I'm in Minneapolis now, on a long weekend, working on a show with some old friends. We had two great days of rehearsal. I still don't know what the show will look like but that's okay - it's not really supposed to take any form quite yet. We're still working on structure. Yesterday, we did a lot of viewpointing and moving to music. Today, we did a bit of movement training before splitting off into groups. Adrian took a large group to work on building a monster out of humans. Lisa took three students to explore the civilization of Enkidu, and I had three(ish) to learn the George Smith Striptease I wrote. Each group did interesting work, and it was exciting to see it all come together.

This morning, Adrian and I went hunting for breakfast. Outside of the overpriced Holiday Inn buffet ($10 for muffins? ridiculous), and we ended up wandering into a Somalian Restaurant for breakfast:

















I ordered the goat stew:
Post-breakfast, Lisa took Adrian and I to the rummage sale for Jeune Lune, a great theatre company that is closing its venerable doors. Here are some photos of that:



















After rehearsal, I got dropped off near uptown to see DEATH AND THE MAIDEN, produced by some friends though Sarah. It was a great show and I enjoyed my time immensely. Afterwards, I tried to call Sarah, but she was busy. Liz and Josh and I went for drinks.

Tomorrow, I hope to see the Mixed Blood show that Thumbs designed.

09 November 2008

One of my oldest memories...

... is assembling for a family portrait when I was 4 or 5. The entire Olivieri family was there: me & my sisters, my cousins, my parents, aunt & uncle, and my grandparents. It was a cool crisp day, and I have a vivid memory of the crunch of the leaves and the smell of the air. Today reminded me of it. It's cool (for southern CA), the sun is bright, and there's a stiff breeze blowing. I had a nice run, except when a small sandstorm whipped up and some children nearby started crying.

04 November 2008

I am so super-proud!

Hooray America!

Not such a good experience...

Sarah and I got up early and walked down to our polling place. We waited in a slow line, but eventually, we got to the front and had to give our name and address. Sarah's name was listed on the voter list, and her process went without a hitch. I was not so lucky. Despite having received confirmation of my vote using https://lavote.net/SECURED/VOTER_REG/, my name was not on the voter list. I had to vote provisionally.

My initial guess was that since I registered so near the deadline, my name was already printed on the voter list for my old address across town. Rather than print my name twice in different locations, they had me vote provisionally at my new address and will wait to make sure that I didn't vote at my old address before counting my ballot.

However, once I got to work, I found out that a friend of mine, who has not moved and who has voted at her polling place before, also had her name purged from the voter list. So, now I'm a bit concerned. I've reported my problem to the local board of elections, to npr, and to kpcc (our local npr station). Will see what happens.

03 November 2008

Santa?

Is it me, or does this feel like Christmas Eve?

VOTE!

VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE 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01 November 2008

RIP, Studs Terkel

He was a great man. A courageous, curious, and daring man. There aren't many more like him out there.

25 October 2008

I, phone.

Sarah needed a phone upgrade for her new job (more minutes, a data plan, etc.). We thought about going with a Blackberry, but ultimately decided that for a small amount more, we could switch to AT&T and both get iPhones. So, we did. We got them yesterday, and are busy playing (ahem, customizing) them now.

Also, we saw W. today. Decent movie. Nothing real surprising, but a nice afternoon spent in a dark room.

20 October 2008

Float like a butterfly...

There was an incredible piece on The Daily Show tonight. One of the correspondents went to Wasilla, Alaska, to try and identify what Palin said when she suggested that small-town America was somehow more 'American' than big-city America. The correspondent discovered a whole lot of chain stores, a church-going man covered with tatoos of all of the women he's slept with (including his wife and the woman he was cheating on his wife with on the same arm!), a man who suggested that small-town America was impacted more by 9/11 than big cities (like NYC or Washington DC), and the current mayor, who admitted that Wasilla does not adminster any utilities or infrastructure, and two big parts of her week were the staff meeting on Monday and signing checks on Thursday. After listening to these people talk about how American they were, the piece ended, very powerfully, with a shot of NYC firefighters from 9/11.

Sarah and I were stunned. It was an Ali knockout punch! A light and fluffy piece that gets, in its last few seconds, scathing and righteous. It should be required viewing for anyone who is inclined to think that Palin had a point.

Oh, my head hurts from all those words!

Here's a direct quote from Sarah Palin:

"If I called all the shots, and if I could wave a magic wand, I would be sitting at a kitchen table with more and more Americans, talking to them about our plan to get the economy back on track and winning the war and not having to rely on the old conventional ways of campaigning that includes those robocalls and includes spending so much money on the television ads that, I think, is kind of draining out there in terms of Americans' attention span."

Apparently, she thinks that those 30-second TV ads are too much for our attention span.

19 October 2008

Hey, Hussein!

A number of my friends on Facebook have changed their official name to include 'Hussein' as a middle name. First, I noticed Phil Thompson become Phil Hussein Thompson. I followed suit with Vincent Hussein Olivieri. Now, just a day later, I count four additional friends who have done it. I changed mine out of solidarity with Obama, who catches a lot of flack from the right because of his middle name. The theory being, of course, that 'Hussein' catches flack because it's a Muslim name (and unusual in the USA), and that the more people who adopt it, the more we can point out how insignificant a name actually is.

On the other hand, the mere fact that a bunch of us are changing our Facebook names is proving the point that 'Hussein' is an unusual name, and drawing attention to it. I doubt that we're going to change anyone's mind.

Today, I went googling and found this article about other Obama supporters changing their name to Hussein. The article was written in June, which just goes to show that I'm officially out of touch with the youth. Oh well.

Gobama!

17 October 2008

Hey NYC!

I'm headed to NYC in December, to see shows and friends. I'll be arriving on the 15th and leaving on the 18th, when I'll travel down to VB to see family. Hooray for the East Coast!

I'm looking for a place to stay. I'm sussing out hotels, but am not having immediate success. I hope to find something near Penn Station (to facilitate getting to and from the LIRR & JFK).

So, friends, I hope I can see you when I'm in town! I'm also planning on seeing shows while I'm there, particularly ones with significant sound design...

more on that later.

12 October 2008

The racists come out of the closet

It's no secret that racists & bigots tend to vote Republican. I mean, I'm not saying that all Republicans are racist, but the truth is that if you measure your hate by the color of my skin, you're probably not going to vote Democratic (and certainly not in this election). And, I suppose that I don't have a problem with racists voting. As long as their eligible to vote, shouldn't they be allowed to express their opinion, no matter how wrong it is?

Until this election, however, the racists kept a lower profile when it came to national elections. Sometimes they disguised their racism as classism (which was roundly mocked in the 'Billionaires for Bush' campaign, which had the slogan 'Tax Cuts for Me, Not for My Maid'), and sometimes they came disguised as crime-fighting (Willie Horton, anyone?). Sometimes, the racists just shut their mouth, knowing that as long as they voted red, their agenda would be satisfied.

This campaign changed all of that. The racists are coming out in droves, and they're no longer afraid to admit it. Check out these videos. Look at the woman who says that she knows that Obama is a terrorist because of his bloodline (what heritage? his white family in Kansas? or his black family?). Look at the man with a MONKEY that he calls LITTLE HUSSEIN (Obama's middle name) who is wearing an OBAMA sticker! Look at how when protesters acuse him of being racist, he raises the monkey HIGHER! Oh and it's a little off-topic, but don't forget the misogynistic comments vis-a-vis rape kits ('She should die!' and 'She should pay double!').







Add to these videos recordings of people at McCain/Palin rallies who screamed 'Kill Him' in regards to Obama, and it seems clear that these awful awful people have decided that it's time for them to come out of the closet and own up to their racism and bigotry. I hope that when they come out to their families, their parents can still love them, because I surely can't. You know, being a racist and bigot is a choice.

11 October 2008

San Diego

On Thursday, I had a bit of a bad day, with some weird things happening at
the U. Everything will get sorted out, but it's more than a bit annoying
right now.

Yesterday, Sarah and I went to breakfast and then headed down the coast to
San Diego. We're taking a mini-vacation as part of her birthday. We got
into town yesterday afternoon, dropped our stuff off at the condo, and
headed into Balboa Park. We went to the Japanese Garden, which was lovely,
had a bit of sushi and tea, and then headed to the Museum of Man. Most of
the museum was based on evolution, ancient cultures of the Americas, and
dead humans (mummies, shrunken heads, etc.), but Sarah and I were both blown
away by a small temporary exhibit of modern Chinese woodcuts. They were
beautiful, and we're thinking that something along that line might be great
for our living room.

After Balboa Park we drove into the Gaslamp (Gaslight?) district, which is
where all of the chain restaurants and stores are. There's a Yardhouse AND
a RockBottom. o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o! We left there pronto and found our way over
to Little Italy, which was much more our speed. We found an art gallery
featuring Latin American artists, another great small art gallery, a Chinese
import shop, a couple of yummy Italian delis and scores of Italian
restaurants. We ate at one. Sarah had gnocchi with sundried tomatos and
chicken. I had imbottini, which I had never had before. It's thin-sliced
eggplant wrapped around pasta, pesto, and ricotta cheese. It was very
tasty!

After dinner, we came back to the condo, walked along the beach, got some
frozen yogurt, came home, read, and crashed. Now, it's almost 10am. Our
family who owns the condo are coming over for breakfast. Then, we're going
to do something - we just don't know what it is yet! More later...

09 October 2008

California students can't write

This is a quote from a student of mine:

"In this sound design I will use a DJ remix compilation of Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up,” “Jamaican Rum” and “Jammin” to depict the figure’s sense of youth, freedom and illustrate the beach lifestyle attitude using it as the theme to demonstrate its aspects of the no worries, laid backness, and free spirit mood, attitude and perspective."

I have great fondness for this student, but really, look at this sentence! OMG!

06 October 2008

John McCain: not a nice man.

A lot of moderates talk about how no matter who wins next month, at least we'll be done with President Bush. That attraction alone can be enough for a disaffected Republican to vote for McCain, thinking that by not being President Bush, he's bound to be kinder, more intelligent, etc. To put those arguments to rest, I 'd like to point you to an interesting article, listing some of McCain's more nasty moments. There are some doozies there, but one of the more interesting ones is a nasty letter that McCain wrote to Obama years ago. Happy reading!

A long long long long week.

Yesterday, after a bit of excessive lounging in the morning, I dragged myself to the U to get some work done. Sarah and I grilled (again!) last night, and we watched the new episode of TRUE BLOOD. Then, we started to watch an episode of FRINGE, but the stream from fox.com crapped out. We took that as a sign that perhaps we shouldn't watch the show. It's all okay though... we didn't really like the pilot.

Then, some Wii Fit, and then to bed. This morning, I start yet another long long week. I've got to piece together a score, set up the recording, and write an important letter for the U. All in the next four days. Crap.

04 October 2008

New York City, Gilgamesh, and a Birthday Party

We just finished the first week of classes back at the U. My undergrad
class is shaping up to be a good group, with a nice balance of technical
thinkers and head-in-the-clouds artists as well. My grad class is also
going well. It's taking a bit longer to settle into the pace of the class,
but we had a good couple of days this week, so that was nice.

Sarah's birthday was on Tuesday, and she got a Wii console. We had thought
about going out for dinner, but we decided instead to stick around at home,
order in, and play with the Wii. Happy birthday my dear!

As I write, I'm sitting on a plane, traveling back from NYC. I flew out
early Saturday morning for a meeting with the director, the director's
husband, and the set designer for an adaptation of GILGAMESH that we'll be
doing in Minneapolis this fall. We talked for hours last night, and we've
got some great ideas to work on. We're more interested in exploring how the
myth can be connected to other, semi-related, stories. As such, we won't be
doing any sort of linear story-telling. Instead, we'll deconstruct the
story, incorporating different aspects of it into other stories. We'll be
exploring scale, oil, rapture, buddy movies, mortality, dreams, and many
other avenues. No one knows where this will lead, but we're definitely
excited to see where it takes us. I've got a couple of interesting projects
in the meantime, including a slow, Victorian Era striptease to write.

Tonight, after I land, I have to rush home and do some baking, for tonight,
we're having a small birthday party for Sarah. We'll have a small group
over for games and munchies. Then, tomorrow, a full day of work.

02 October 2008

Biden/Palin: Two Things

In regards to tonight's debate, two things to think about:

1) The only people for whom this debate has significant meaning is for the undecideds. A good number of people have decided to vote for McCain/Palin, and a good number of people will support Obama/Biden. It's only a small number of people who haven't made up their minds yet. It's safe to say that for most of those undecideds, the issues aren't as strong a concern as the candidates themselves. If the issues were factors, those undecides would have decided by now. No, it's definitely not the issues. Probably, it's the candidates. Demeanor, personality, command of information. Who is more presidential? In those cases, the debate can only have swung for Biden.

2) The top three Palin gaffes, in no particular order:

a) Sarah Palin suggested that perhaps Dick Cheney doesn't have enough power, and she suggested that she and McCain might try to find new ways to make the VP more powerful. Really? Did you really just suggest that you want to be MORE aggressive than Dick Cheney?

b) Sarah Palin tried to get a sly vote-for-me-cuz-I'm-a-woman jab in there by suggesting that only she knew how hard it was to balance work and raising a family. Of course, she probably forgot that Biden is a widower, who lost his wife a long long time ago. So, Biden choked up a bit. Way to go, Goverrnor!

c) When Ifill asked Biden about how a Biden administration would differ from an Obama one, Biden said that they would be more or less the same. When Ifill asked the same question of Sarah Palin, Palin basically said that she disagrees with McCain a lot, and that if she were in charges, she'd veer significantly in a new direction. Here's her quote: "As for disagreeing with John McCain and how our administration would work, what do you expect? A team of mavericks, of course we're not going to agree on 100 percent of everything."

Really? McCain, really? You appoint a no-name to be your VP candidate, expect your supporters to tow the party line and support her, and then, when she's asked what she'd do if she were the number one, she basically says 'whatever I want?' Really?

See you next Tuesday.

28 September 2008

something vaguely middle-eastern & musical in NYC

I'm going to NYC for a short work-related trip this weekend. While I'm there, I'd love to go to listen to some music that manages to combine Arabic flavors (instruments, harmonic structure, whatever) with some other kind of music. I've checked the usual places for postings (New Yorker, Flavorpill, Village Voice, TONY). Does anyone have another place that I can check? Monty?

exhausting week(end)

At the U, this last week was 'welcome week,' in which we welcome the new and returning students back to campus with three days of meetings designed to bore them to death. Monday started with a 9am meeting, and those of us in the design department went through to 11.30 that night. Tuesday started at 10am, and though I had a break mid-day (during which I went to the doctor and cooked dinner for me and S), I was still at the U until 1am. Wednesday started at 9.15am and went through the 5pm or so. Classes started on Thursday, which meant that my day started at 10am and went until about 5pm. After classes, I met up with Sarah and her parents, who took us to dinner to celebrate Sarah's birthday and new job.

Thursday night, after the dinner, I hopped on a plane to fly to Pittsburgh. I landed in Pittsburgh at 9.30 Friday morning to take care of some recording projects for yet another production of RADIO GOLF, this one at Pittsburgh Public. I did the recordings at 1pm, had them finished by 5pm, and was back at the theatre until 7.30 or so to work out some details. I turned out the lights at 9pm on Friday and woke up at 4.30 on Saturday (that's 1.30am California time) to fly back to LA. Sarah and her folks picked me up at the airport at 10.45 California time, and we spent a full day at the Aquarium of the Pacific and King's Fishhouse (looking at aquatic life from two very different perspectives). I crawled into bed at about 11.30pm, having been up for 22 hours straight. This morning, we went to brunch at Sevilla and then put my in-laws on a plane. Sarah and I chilled in front of the TV for a couple of hours, and now she's playing her game while I trying to get motivated to do some work. Mostly, though, I'm just pooped.

At King's Fishouse, the cocktail napkins all have dumb seafood jokes, including this one, which, thanks to Bryan Harris, has been part of my 'jokes appropriate for a 10-year-old' repertoire for years:

19 September 2008

One show down.

ENDGAME opened tonight. It was great, if you like Beckett. If you don't, well, then you'll be a little bored.

Show number two opens tomorrow! Come on out to SoundWalk to check it out!

18 September 2008

He's okay.

The student will be okay. I picked him up at the hospital last night. The professionals did some tests, but they said he was fine. Actually, they cleared him to drive, but we didn't let that happen.

He's got the day off, and he'll be doping up on OTC meds.

Phew.

17 September 2008

Thank god we had an RN in the company

Tonight was an exciting night at the theatre! We're in our dress rehearsals
for ENDGAME at the U. Part of the tech is the gradual adding in of all the
techincal elements. Today, we loaded in the seating risers and chairs. At
about an hour before we were to start, one of the students was moving around
behind a curtain, fell, and hit his head on the corner of one of the seating
platforms. He said he was okay, but when he came out from around the
curtain, he stumbled and knocked a music stand over. I looked over at him
and he had a couple of scrapes on his face, and a nice welt above his left
eye. The welt was about the size of a half-dollar and stuck out of his head
over 1/4."

I immediately sat him down in a chair, sent for the stage manager, and got
an ice pack. The student never lost conciousness, nor was his speech ever
slurred. The SM checked him out and he seemed okay. It didn't take long
before our costume designer, who also happens to be an RN, heard what
happened. She came upstairs to where the student was sitting, and checked
his eyes. His left eye wasn't dialating, so she decided to call 911.

When the ambulance got here, the professionals looked our student over and
gave him a quick interview. They put him in a neck brace, moved him to a
stretcher, and wheeled him to the ambulance. Our student is now at the
hospital, getting checked out. The professionals told us that he'll be
completely fine, but we're glad he's being looked at by someone who knows
what they're looking at.

I'm watching a run of the show now, and afterwards, the SM and I will go
check on the student, making sure that he and his car get home tonight.
More later.

14 September 2008

The President I'd most like to drink a beer with.

Way back in 2001, I got to hear President Bush speak. It was in May, shortly after he took office, and months before September 11. He was limited, due to the circumstances, to a brief, non-partisan address, and he was, in a word, delightful. He was charming, self-effacing, and funny. During the speech, I found myself realizing how he won the election (well, not the Supreme Court part). He was a good ol' boy, and I wanted to sit down and have a beer with him.

That was one of the through-lines of his campaign in 2000. That he was the folksy candidate. The one who we'd like to drink with. The one who is most like our co-workers, our friends, ourselves. He campaigned on being an everyman, and it worked. No one can doubt that either Gore or Kerry appeared as folksy as Bush did.

So we elected him. Twice. And look how that turned out.

Now, we're in another campaign, and though President Bush isn't a candidate in this election, someone has risen to take that mantle of everyman and run with it: Sarah Palin. Frankly, it's one of the three reasons that McCain chose her as his running mate (the others being her 'maverick' styles and her double-x chromosomes). There's an article at latimes.com on Palin's event recently in Nevada. Here's a quote:

'"I love her," said Juliene Allman, who manages a dental office in Reno. "She is an all-American woman. She is like all of us."'

and another:

'"I'm 67, and she's the first person who is running for national office who is a common person," said Brandow, who is from Houston.'

So, here's the $60,000 question: do we really need an average person sitting in the vice-president's chair (or the President's chair, for that matter)? Do we need someone who is "like all of us?" Do we need someone who is a "common person?"

I suggest that we don't. I suggest that we need someone who is better than most of us: more intelligent, more generous, more savvy, more encompassing. We need someone who is UN-common. Someone who is better than us.

We used to look for greatness in our Presidents. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, Abraham Lincoln, Bill Clinton. JFK, even! With George HW Bush, we took a turn towards looking for the average in our leaders. Why? Why seek out the mediocrity? Does it make us feel better about ourselves? Is our President supposed to be the most idealized reflection of our own aspirations, or is our President supposed to uphold the Constitution of the USA?

I am not voting for a candidate based on how 'average' they are. I am voting for a candidate based on how well I think they would do their job. And considering the fact that the job is way more complicated than managing a dental office in Reno (or, frankly, teaching design and composition at a University), I am going to vote for someone who is uncommon. Unaverage. Presidential.

NY Times: Sarah Palin

Here's a great article on Sarah Palin.

09 September 2008

Laurens, IA

We buried Sarah's grandmother Virginia today. She had a long (almost 92 years) and happy life, with a devoted husband, two great sons, and an assortment of daughters-in-law, grandchildren, grandchildren-in-law, and step and non-step-great-grandchildren. She also left behind a town that came out in force to say goodbye to her in a service this morning that was beautiful and surprising. There were a number of moving parts, but the most surprising section was when a family friend stood to read selections from letters she had written in decades past. The woman who wrote the letter was erudite, witty, pithy, quick, and very funny, a big change from the older woman in mid-dotage that I met a few years ago. It was a real treat for me to hear those words, and it made me wish that I had known her in her more spry times.

I've been toting a portable audio recorder around with me for about a year now. I usually use it to record nature sounds (storms, waterfalls, insects, etc.), but this weekend, I bought it to record family conversations. This weekend, when the family gathered for meals, etc., I'd set it up inconspicuously and record the conversation. Sarah's grandfather is full of old stories, and the family can really get going after a long day. I made about four hours of recordings over the past few days, and I'm going to edit and log them for future use. I know we'll enjoy listening to the conversations in the future, both to hear old stories, and also, years from now, when some of us are gone. Sarah's also getting interested in creating an archive of geneaologic information, and these audio recordings can become a part of that.

Now we're in Kansas City for the night. Tomorrow, we fly back to LA, where Sarah has a meeting in the afternoon. After that, we'll head home and get back to our lives, with fond memories of saying goodbye to a great lady.

06 September 2008

Chicago?

So, if you or anyone you know is moving to Chicago or moving within Chicago, please check out my sister's condo. She's got a 2-BR unit, and she's looking to rent the second bedroom. There's a craigslist post here.

04 September 2008

Palin, again

There's been some concern that because of my defense of Palin's college photo with the inappropriate photo, I support her candidacy. Let me clear that up right now.

I think she's an awful pick, and I won't vote for her. Terrible. Terrible. No way.

I just think that there are better reasons to oppose her than an ignorant shirt she wore 20 years ago.

01 September 2008

crazies

Hey, can someone give me any sort of accurate number as to how many protesters there were in Denver, how many were arrested, and what kind of violence was involved (either by the protesters or by the police)? Also, is there a place where we can find the same information about the RNC in St. Paul?

Amy Goodman arrested and Donna Brazile pepper-sprayed in St. Paul? Really?

I heard they were going to exhume Pope John Paul II, bring him to St. Paul, and then beat him with billy clubs.

Also, were any of arrests in Denver of people who were press or bystanders? What's wrong with St. Paul?

well, soon-to-be grandmother, in any case

Okay, so the new baby is Palin's, since Bristol is currently pregnant, and therefore couldn't have given birth so recently. So, Palin isn't guilty of any sort of weirdo coverup; instead, she's just proven the effectiveness of an abstinence-only sex education policy.

On to the violence and unlawful arrests in St. Paul. Amy Goodman, the host of Democracy Now (one of the great lefty radio programs) was arrested, along with two of her producers, at a demonstration in St. Paul. There's a video of Amy's arrest. All she appears to be doing is talking to the police when they decide to arrest her. I've been listening to Amy for a few years now, and she's very mild-mannered and cordial. I find it hard to believe that she was inciting riot at all... Apparently, Amy's arrest was part of a group of 100 arrests. I guess that's the new crowd control method in the Twin Cities: lock all the lefties up.

Sarah Palin, grandmother

There's some significant conjecture and evidence coming around, saying that Sarah Palin is not the mother of her youngest child. That honor, apparently, belongs to Gov. Palin's daughter Bristol (who is, I believe, 17). You can check out links here and here.

From a family perspective, I don't really care. If it's true, then it's a family issue, and I don't have a problem with a mother trying to protect her daughter. Bristol went and got herself pregnant, and now Gov. Palin is trying to let her daughter have a normal life. That would be a family matter, and it's no business of mine.

Of course, this is far from a family affair. Who can really separate the mother in Sarah Palin (ie caring for her daughter and grandson) from Governor Palin (who needs to show a strong family with good conservative values)? If this is true, then it's another step in an increasing list of questionable behavior on the part of the Governor, including the investigation into abuse of power as governor and the near recall of her as mayor of Wasilla. Is she really this ruthless and conniving? Isn't this kind of secretive and vindictive behavior what we're already used to in the White House? Outside of changing the gender and dropping 20 years off of the VP, how is this any different from Cheney? She allegedly fired those Wasilla city employees because they woudn't support her run for reelection; do I hear the cries of US Attorneys in my mind?

31 August 2008

Convention Protests (or, how not to repeat Chicago 1968)

Before the DNC convention, there was a news story on CNN about the makeshift jail that Denver set up, just in case the protests planned in Denver got out of hand. The CNN story alluded towards asking if the jails were perhaps putting the cart before the horse, but the cops in Denver said that they'd rather overplan and not need the jail than underplan and find themselves with a lack of space to put protesters.

The DNC convention came and went, and as far as I've heard, there was no violence in the protests. There were plenty of protests (I loved watching the FOX 'News' reporter get lost in a sea of protesters shouting 'Fuck Fox News!'), but no news of violence.

In sharp contrast, let's take a look at security for the RNC, which, apparently, involves sending people undercover into protest groups in order to foil their plan. This page suggests that the infiltration is actually carried out by the federal government. There's a story of a protest group that had their bus siezed, leaving them stranded on the side of the road.

So, are we looking at how two different security forces deal with the same problem (Denver v. St. Paul)? Or, are protesters at a Republican event that much more dangerous than protesters at a Democratic event? Or, are high-ranking Republicans in the federal government authorizing these entirely inappropriate (illegal?) misdeeds in order to make the RNC go off without a hitch?

-in other political news-

There's a photo of Sarah Palin going around on the internet from back when she was in college. In it, she's sitting on her dorm bed, wearing a t-shirt that expresses pride at not being flat-chested. The photo is being used to discredit her, and I think that it's entirely unfair. First of all, the photo was taken when she was in college. College! Really, any photo from college that doesn't involve some sort of inappropriate nudity, drugs, booze, or language could be considered decent enough for a family portrait. And second, just a few years before Sarah Palin was in college wearing a cheeky tshirt, Barack Obama was in college shoving coke up his nose. So, really, let's keep some perspective. There are plenty of reasons that Sarah Palin is a bad choice, and we've got plenty of time to dig deep into them and destroy the McCain campaign. Let's not waste our time on cheap and easy attacks like this.

Straight inta Compton

My shirts are getting old. My short-sleeved shirts, in particular, are showing their wear. Between missing buttons, small holes, and worn cuffs, it's time to retire many of them. I read about a store that has great clothing for men, so Sarah and I zipped up there to check it out. On the way there, Sarah looked at the map and realized that we were heading straight into Watts and Compton. The LA ghetto.

When we got to the store, the facade looked like it should have been boarded up years ago. Fairly run-down and non-descript. Even the name of the store, Greenspan's, looked like it might fall down any day. Inside was a mess. Clothes everywhere, mostly organized, and mostly hung on hangers. There were stacks and stacks of cardboard boxes and shoes and hats (Greenspan's makes a lot of their own hats).

And oh, the selection! Lots of great clothing! I bought eight short-sleeved button down shirts, all good quality, all around $20. The most expensive shirt was $24.99.

They aren't usually open on Sundays, but they were today because of a nearby film shoot. We lucked out in that we basically had the run of the store. The owner is an odd duck, but very nice, and one of the clerks was also very helpful. I'm looking forward to going back there when I need long-sleeved shirts too!

30 August 2008

Prius mileage

Since my previous fill-up of the Prius, I've been trying to drive in a more efficient way. I've been using the following guidelines as I drive:

1. Drive in the slow lane.
2. Don't slam on the gas to accelerate.
3. Be not an aggressive driver.

The last time I checked my mileage, I was getting about 44 miles per gallon (the read-out in the car said 48. Today, when we filled up, I checked my mileage again. The on-board computer said that we were getting 53.7 miles per gallon, but the actual mileage was 50.7 (404.2 miles on 7.973 gallons of gas).

So, there you go. An increase of 6 miles per gallon just by driving smarter. You too can do it!

29 August 2008

And the Oscar goes to...

Tom Cruise, support actor, for TROPIC THUNDER. A very funny movie, but Tom Cruise absolutely steals the show.

And the Oscar goes to...

Tom Cruise, best supporting actor, for TROPIC THUNDER. A very funny movie, but Tom Cruise absolutely steals the show.

Got two boobs and hate abortion? You can be vice-president!

Choosing Sarah Palin is a Hail Mary play that shows a sense of desperation that McCain has managed to up until now. She's way inexperienced (less than two years of elected officialdom, and McCain's griping about Obama's inexperience?), she's not going to get him any states that he wasn't getting already (Alaska and Idaho don't get any redder), and she doesn't get him any voters that wouldn't be voting for him anyway (is the pro-life conservative NRA Christian movement really going to vote for Obama?).

Plus, like Jack Kemp and George HW Bush before her, she's running for the VP spot under an ANCIENT candidate. At least with Reagan and Dole, we knew that if they kicked it, their VPs would be up to the task, but can anyone say with a straight face that Palin could handle the presidency when McCain dies (which is more likely than not in the next eight years)?

So, McCain went looking for someone who was a maverick, someone who is a DC outsider, and someone to shore up his conservative base. And now, with two Y chromosomes on the Democratic ticket, McCain thought 'hey, if my VP has boobs, I can get all of those disaffected Hillary voters too!'

The trouble is that those disaffected Hillary voters are starting to realize that despite the hard feelings between Clinton & Obama, a vote for Obama is way more like a vote for Hillary than a vote for McCain is.

Poor John McCain.

26 August 2008

The GRAMMY museum, and first rehearsals

This morning, I went downtown for the first meeting of a committee I'm serving on. It's called the GRAMMY Museum Education Advisory Committee, and it's part of the brand-new not-yet-open GRAMMY Museum in LA. We heard from the executive director, the head curator, and the head of education before getting a chance to hear and ask about the educational opportunities. It looks like an amazing museum, and it sounds like the staff is working really hard to get everything put together in time. I'm looking forward to getting more and more involved.

After that meeting, I headed down to UCI to catch the second day of rehearsal for ENDGAME at UCI. I gave a short presentation and settled in to hear a read-through of the play. I'm looking forward to working on it, but I also wish I had some more time off. I won't really get a break until early October. Maybe.

24 August 2008

The lonliest man at the Long Beach farmer's market

... was the guy at the John McCain table. I'm not sure why he thought going to an organic farmer's market in Long Beach was a good strategic decision, but the only person that Sarah and I saw him talk to the entire time we were there was a woman who looked to be a friend of his. Surprisingly, not a lot of farmer's market patrons support McCain.

22 August 2008

Olympic Shame

Did anyone else see NBC interview 15-year old Haley Ishimatsu, an American diver who wept on camera during an interview because she didn't advance to the medal round? Did anyone else find it reprehensible for NBC to show that interview? They should be ashamed of themselves.

transcriptions

A few weeks ago, I read an interesting piece about the editorial
responsibility of correcting text when quoting from a printed source. For
example, if a journalist wanted to quote this text:

"I wants to see big muntains befor I died."

Should the journalist change it to 'I want to see big mountains before I
die," or should she leave it as is. On the one hand, changing the text may
remove essential clues as to the nature of the writer (say, a sociopath).
On the other hand, not changing the text may leave in place a barrier to the
reader's emotional comprehension (ie dismissing the writer as ignorant when
in fact she may be a precocious five-year old). I don't recall the
resolution that the journalist reached, but I was reminded of that article
when I read a piece in THE NEW YORKER about Tavis Smiley (of whom I'm a big
fan). The piece quoted Tavis Smiley saying (not writing) on Obama:

"If the brother wins, I'm gon' be on the front line of the electric slide -
I'm gon' be there celebrating, like everybody else."

If you've ever heard Smiley speak, you know that while he has more
soulfulness to his voice than Obama, he's also just as articulate and
intelligent. I wonder, then, at the thought process behind the
transcription of "gon'." Why not use "going to?" What does using "gon'"
tell us about Smiley that we needed to know? That he's African-American?
We already knew that. That he has a relaxed speech pattern? Why not change
"celebrating" to "celebratin'," or "the electric" to "th' 'lectric?" Or
maybe there's something more subtle?

Olympic Shame

Did anyone else see NBC interview the 15-year old Olympic diver who wept on
camera during an interview because she didn't advance to the medal round?
Did anyone else find it reprehensible for NBC to show that interview? They
should be ashamed of themselves.

21 August 2008

hiking in the Rockies

Thursday, 7.50am

As I write, I am killing some time before our last day of hiking in Rocky
Mountain National Park. We flew out here on Sunday (after a wonderful
wedding on Saturday night) to meet Sarah's folks and her brother. On
Monday, Chris, Ben, and I hiked to Ypsilon Lake, which, according to the
ranger, was 4.5 miles out (and another 4.5 back), with about 2000 feet of
elevation change. I had my altimeter with me, and we deduced that the
ranger was wrong. It was more like 2600 feet, roughly from 8200 to 10,600.
Highlights was eating lunch on a mountain lake and almost sliding down a
steep hill into a bunch of trees.

On Tuesday, the whole clan pretty much stuck together. Ben's fiancee came
in Monday night, and the group of us drove up a dirt road to a lodge on top
of a mountain. From there, we climbed to 12,500 to the top of a mountain
and hiked through an alpine meadow. When we started to get sleeted on, we
hightailed it back to the car.

Yesterday, we started what was initially a short hike. The six of us
started down a 2.8 mile (one way) trail, but when Sarah and Dianne turned
back, the remaining four of us decided to push on further. We ended up
hiking about 1800 feet of vertical, past a beautiful lock, up a mountain,
across a stream, and up a waterfall to a stunning lake nestled deep in the
mountain. I looked across the lake and saw snowpack feeding the lake.

After the long hike down, we came back to the cabin and cooked dinner.
Fresh trout stuffed with herbs and asparagus on the grill, and roasted red
potatos. Mmmm...

It's now almost 8am. Dianne left an hour ago to drive Chris to the airport,
and Ben, Anne, and I are getting ready to go out for a long hike.

Photos to follow!

---

Thursday, 9.25pm

Ben, Anne, and I had a long hike today. We started at Bear Lake and headed
uphill to Lake Helene. From there, we hit Lake Odessa, Fern Lake, a couple
of waterfalls, and The Pond before ending at the Fern Lake Trailhead. After
getting back to the cabin, Sarah and I headed into town, where we shopped
for a bit. Estes Park is a nice little town, but as it isn't a ski town,
the shopping isn't aimed at ski town budgets. We found some neat stuff, but
the expensive stores were nestled in a lot of crappy tshirt stores. Our
favorite store was a little Irish store that had a whole wing of musical
instruments. I bought a bodrhan beater, and Sarah bought a penny whistle.

After shopping, we returned to the cabin where we grilled bacon-wrapped
shrimp and veggies. Afterwards, smores!

We're all in for the night. Dianne has just finished packing the kitchen,
Sarah's packing her stuff, Anne has written some postcards (which I must
sign), Ben is watching TV, and I'm blogging. Gotta go write some postcards
too.

We leave tomorrow, sorry to see RMNP go. So long!

13 August 2008

Disney photos

Here are some photos from Disneyland.

At first, we thought it was just the three of us on Splash Mountain:

























But on further inspection, we realized that we had some special guests!

It's all over but the crying.

Today, my parents fly back to VA. We had a great time, but I'm also looking forward to having some time with Sarah, setting up our home and getting ready for our trip.

Yesterday, we did the WB studio tour (pretty neat), had dinner at a great placed called Jar, and then we watched our old friend Briana in WICKED! I had never seen the show, and other than hearing 30 seconds of one song a few weeks ago, I had never heard the music either. The first act was unbelievable, but the last act fell flat. It lost its pacing, lost its urgency (from a character point), and the music wasn't as good. The worst part of all, though, was the ending. I won't spoil it in case you haven't seen it, but I was really disappointed by it. Alas.

Don't know what we're doing today! Maybe the aquarium?

12 August 2008

The Happiest Place on Earth!

I have to admit that Disneyland was not one of the things that I was most looking forward to about this trip with my parents. It's commercial, expensive, crowded, and filled with small children screaming, alternately with glee (o0o0o Mickey!) or terror (oh crap! a six-foot rat!).
But, Dad thought it'd be fun, so we went.

I had a blast. We hit all the highlights (Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Star Tours, Matterhorn, Indiana Jones, The Tiki Room), some other bits (Tom Sawyer's island, lunch in New Orleans, etc.) and still didn't get it all done. We were there for about 11 hours, and we loved every minute of it.

The best part, though, was Mom. As we were waiting for the tram to take us from the parking structure to the park, she started giggling and talking about how excited she was to be there. None of us expected it, not even her. She was like a kid all day, and it was a treat to see!

We bought the photo of us on Splash Mountain, and I'll post it here once I have it scanned.

Wheee!

11 August 2008

Pasadena, Pomona, Disneyland

Yesterday was full of family and friends. We spent a quasi-relaxing morning at home, reading up on some activities and selling our moving boxes. Then, a drive up to Pasadena for lunch with some old family friends. Joel and Joanee grew up with my dad, and we saw them, their son, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, sister-in-law, and nephew. I hadn't seen Jonathon in five years and hadn't had a real conversation with him in more like 10. It was great to see them.

After lunch, we had a few hours to kill, so we drove around Old Town Pasadena looking for somewhere to shop. Nothing looked particularly appealing, so we just headed towards Pomona.

In Pomona, we were meeting my dad's cousin and her family for dinner. We thought we'd get to Pomona, find a place to buy some wine and flowers, and have 40 minutes to kill. Unfortunately, we had trouble finding a place to buy anything. All of the shopping areas we found were very depressed. After three false starts, we finally found a wine shop with wine that was more than $8/bottle.

Dinner with the cousins was great. There were lots of stories of days of old, lots of great food, and lots of wine. No photos, though.

Today is Disneyland!

09 August 2008

parents, birthday, san diego, les miz...

Okay, so my parents are in town. They flew in on the 5th, and have zipping around socal with us. We've tooled around the LBC, toured the Queen Mary, caught a rehearsal of Les Miz at the Hollywood Bowl, dined with friends, seen UCI, gone furniture shopping, and more! Right now, we're in San Diego, visiting my dad's cousin.

While they're here, they're staying with us in our new place, which means that we had to sprint to get it all set up (as much as we could) before they arrived. We did a lot, but they've still had to endure some of the more annoying pieces of homeownership... utilities not connected, bad wiring, bad plumbing, etc. It's been a bit frustrating.

Heading back to LBC tonight, then up to Pasadena and Pomona tomorrow!

03 August 2008

furniture!

First off, Sarah is the craigslist queen. She's been keeping tabs on furniture from Craigslist, and she's managed to get us $3700 worth of furniture (retail) for $700. Most of the deals have been great, though one guy snaked us by claiming that an $80 (new) shelf from Ikea was actually a $200 (new) shelf from West Elm. We paid $90 for it. Lame. Oh well, caveat emptor.

Today we went around to some retro furniture stores and found some great pieces! A nice desk, a few coffee tables, and a great old bar. We didn't buy anything, but we're thinking about it...

31 July 2008

Did I repay bad karma or earn good karma?

Well, that was one of the most unexpectedly hard days I've endured in a long
long time.

Everything was fine until the movers showed up shortly after 12.30. One of
them has a daughter whose grandmother usually picks her up from day care.
Today, apparently, grandma couldn't leave work early, so the mover informed
me that he'd have to leave by 4.30. We expected we'd be done by then
anyway, so it didn't seem like a huge problem.

Loading the truck was the easier part of the move. Going from our apartment
to the truck is a straight shot out our front door, down the stairs, through
a courtyard, and onto the street. Easy peasy. Knowing this, you'll
understand my anxiety when, two hours later (2.30pm), we're still not quite
finished loading the truck. About this time, our lead mover tells me that
our stuff will require two trips in the truck.

So, it's 2.30, the movers are not quite finishing the EASY part of the move,
and they both have to leave at 4.30. At this point, we decide that we need
more help. Once the movers are done loading the truck, I drove with one
mover to the condo to begin unloading while Sarah and the other mover went
to pick up some other guys who could help us with the move.

When we started to unload the truck, our strategy was to get everything out
of the truck and onto the lawn. Once the truck was empty, some people could
haul boxes up the stairs (up to the third floor, via three stairwells, and
down a hall) while a couple people would head back to the apartment with me
for the last few items. It was at this point that I realized that if I
didn't pitch in in a big way, we'd be doing this all night. One mover and I
started unloading the truck, and when Sarah, the other mover, and our two
additional hands showed (their negotiated rate: $40 apiece to unload the
truck as part of the team) I continued to unload and monitor the stuff on
the lawn while Sarah directed the movers as they brought stuff into the
condo.

This went on for a while until 4.30 came. By this point, the truck had just
been completely unloaded, and the front lawn of the condo was littered with
boxes of our stuff. The original movers had to go. As they were wrapping
up, I discovered that our new hands did not realize that there would be a
second trip in the truck. They asked for more money, which seemed fair to
me: $50 each.

The original movers left (taking a few packing blankets with them - if UHaul
charges me, I'm going to charge the movers), and Sarah came down to monitor
the stuff on the lawn. Our two new hands and I proceeded to haul everything
up the stairs into the condo. When the hands got upstairs, they would put
stuff in the middle of the living room, and when I got upstairs, I would
sort my haul and their most recent haul into the right rooms. Once the
front lawn was empty, the hands and I went back to the apartment for the
last few things. Sarah stayed behind to sort a bit and unpack a bit. On
the way back to the apartment, the hands, who had been told that the other
movers were leaving at 4.30, and I agreed on a higher fee: $60 each.

Back at the apartment, we grabbed the last few things (couch, table, chairs,
bikes), and zipped back to the condo. This time, since Sarah was upstairs
moving things around, I had to stay downstairs with the truck and couldn't
haul. Thank heaven for little miracles. After we were all done, I paid the
hands their $60, dropped them off, gassed up the truck, returned the truck,
picked up the Prius (at the Uhaul place), drove to the Jeep, swapped the
Prius for the Jeep, and drove the Jeep to the condo, where Sarah and I
unloaded a few boxes that we had put in the jeep.

Then, I drank a lot of water, took a shower, and unpacked just a bit. Sarah
did the same. As I type, we're waiting for some friends of Sarah's who are
coming to join us for dinner.

All in all, it was a much harder day than I had expected. I thought the
truck would be the right size, I thought that we would be able to get it all
done in four hours with two movers and my not helping (an estimate I formed
from talking to the movers), and I thought that my movers would stay until
the job was done. Instead, the truck was too small, the move took longer
than I thought, I got all hot and sweaty with the movers, and the two people
who ended the day with us were not the two people who started the day with
us. And it cost me $120 more than I thought it would.

A note on the truck. The last time we rented a truck ourselves (moving from
NYC to New Haven), it was a 17-footer, just like this one. Since our stuff
fit last time, I assumed it would fit this time. Of course, the fact that
it didn't means that somewhere along the line, I screwed up my estimate.
There are two big things that I forgot: the boxes that were in storage (in
MO and VA) during that ealier move were part of this move, and there were
three large items that we moved this time that were not included in the
other move (the couch, the TV, and the dresser). As I watched how much
space the second load took up on the truck, it occurred to me that that
amount of space was roughly equal to the sum of the volumes of the couch,
the TV, the dresser, and the boxes from MO and VA. Ugh.

Soon it will be dinner time. It's 8.50pm here, and we have't eaten since
breakfast at 9am.

I am hungry!

I was wrong.

The truck is not big enough. We'll have to do a second trip. Also, one of our movers is having a slight family problem and can't stay late. Not sure what the deal is.

mid-move

The movers are here, hauling boxes. Jason and Aaron are their names. This is their second move today. Yikes!

Too big, or not too big?

That is the question. I picked up a 17' moving truck from U-Haul, and when I got home, Sarah remarked that the truck is smaller than she thought it would be. She wonders if we won't have enough truck space for all of our stuff. I think we'll be fine, because even though the boxes in the apartment take up more floor space than is in the truck, we can pile much higher in the truck than we can in the apartment. It doesn't really matter, though, since even if the truck is too small, we'll still be able to get the lion's share of the move done in the truck. If we have to move a handful of boxes in the jeep, it won't be the end of the world.

So, the truck is parked out front, the movers are due within the next 60 minutes, and I'm working on my UCI faculty review. Woo!

moving day!

We are almost completely packed, except for the things we need in the last hours before the move. Sarah and I are going to get some breakfast, pack up the last minute things, pick up the truck, and hopefully be ready to rumble by the time the movers get here. Depending on how things go, I may or may not be able to blog during the move itself.

Tonight, once the movers are gone, our friends Ed & Emily are coming for a quick visit. We'll show them the condo and head to dinner for a bite.

29 July 2008

Quake update #3

The buzz seems to have died down. Most of the earthquake experts are calling today's quake
mild to moderate, and they're advising us that we should use it as a reminder to prepare an emergency preparedness kit. Not a bad idea. We'll do that... once we're finished moving.

By the time I was driving home from the U, public radio had shifted back to discussing the far more catastrophic natural disaster - the wildfires in northern CA.

Quake update #2

Downgraded to 5.4. Dozens of aftershocks. 5% chance that this is a foreshock to a bigger quake. If no bigger quake hits by tonight, that percentage drops to 1%.

Good news: no injuries or major damage reported.

Quake update

The US Geological Service says the quake was 5.8, centered east of LA, and about 7 miles below the surface. The new is reporting that the tremors lasted about 15 seconds, which is about what I experienced. There are reports of three aftershocks, but they were all light and distant.

The quake was felt as far south as San Diego and as far east as Vegas.

Quake

Just a few minutes ago, we got a nice-sized quake. LATimes.com is saying that it was a 5.6. I was packing up boxes in the kitchen, and Sarah was about to get in the shower. She thought I had dropped something, and I thought a car had run into our apartment building. As soon as I realized what was happening, I remembered what to do and found a doorway to stand in. Sarah had already found one.

Once the tremors died down, I checked in with the neighbors and then started checking online. I tried calling my dad, but the phone lines are down (guess everyone's calling each other). LATimes.com is very sluggish, but Sarah was able to get a little bit of information.

After the quakes in Japan, these quakes weren't entirely unexpected, but it was still a surprise! My first quake! Glad it wasn't worse.

More later, as needed.

27 July 2008

from the HOLY CRAP DOES THIS MEAN WE'RE ACTUAL GROWN-UPS? department

Last week, after much wrangling, wringing of hands, and (w)rending of garments, we finally closed on our condo. It a great unit in an up-and-coming part of town. We're very excited to have gotten it all settled, even if it did take longer than we expected. We had our third 'final walk-through' on Thursday and, everything being done, we paid our down payment and had our mortgage bank (Wells Fargo, one of the few banks who seems to be surviving this housing crisis) fund the rest of the loan. Our agent dropped off the keys and garage remote on Friday.

On Saturday, I went to the hardware store and we began to paint. We've both been looking forward to painting a place that we can call our own, since neither of us have lived in the same apartment for more than two years since high school (and then, the 'apartment' was a room in our parents' houses). We picked some bold colors: a sage, a blue, a chocolate brown, a yellow, and an orange. Mmmm.

Today, we met some friends for brunch, bought some moving boxes, and continued to paint. Here's a photo of one of the living room walls, mid-paint. We're almost done... just a few touch-ups left to do. Now, it's time to get cracking on the packing. We've hired a moving truck for Thursday, so the bulk of our stuff will need to be packed by then. That way, hopefully we can be more or less moved in by the time my folks arrive for their visit.

You know, now that I think about it, when Sarah and I moved to CT three years ago, my folks came for a visit just a few days after that move as well! Interesting coincidence.

21 July 2008

Hey non-crackers - you're not a good representative of America!

Some Fox News idiot has decided that only blue-eyed blondes are good representatives of our country. Check it out here.

So sorry, Howard Bach, Bob Malaythong, and Raju Rai. You've never heard of them, but they are the ENTIRE men's Badminton team. And none of them are blue-eyed blondes. Guess they're not good ambassadors. Thanks, Fox News!

20 July 2008

Game Night

We had a lovely game night last night. The Michaels, Chris, Rachel, and Aga (briefly) came over for a few hours. There were homemade mojitos, some dip, pesto, butterscotch bars, cookies, and various other food and drinkstuffs to be had. We played Catchphrase, Encore, 25 Words or Less, and Guitar Hero. It was a nice night, and the weather cooperated by being reasonably cool.

TheDailyGreen.com has an interesting article on the top ten most walkable cities in the US. Interestingly (and surprisingly), both Long Beach and Los Angeles are both on the list! I'm not sure how that happened, since both cities are in so-cal, which is car-dependent, except that despite how car-dependent the region is, both cities are very neighborhoody, which promotes walking.

So, there you go. We live in a walk-able city. Just don't go looking at our gas bill... Actually, our fuel bill is reasonable, and will continue to be reasonable until we're both working and need both cars...

17 July 2008

A tasty and easy meal

We had some food that we needed to go through, so I punted and created a great and easy italian dish. You can too! Here's how:

Pasta with Hearty Pork Sauce

1 lb of boneless pork, in a large chunk
1 jar tomato sauce
1 red onion
6 green onions
5 cloves of garlic
6 sun-dried tomatoes
2/3 cup dried mushrooms
bit of olive oil, salt, pepper
hard italian cheese

Dash the meat with salt and pepper (both sides) and let it sit for a bit. Chop the red onion into 16ths and slice the green onion into thin strips. Slice the sun-dried tomatoes into small bits and peel the garlic. Brown the pork in a pan (do not worry about cooking all the way through). Cut the pork into chunks just larger than bite-size. At this point, you can put the onions, tomatoes, garlic, and pork into a bowl in the fridge to save until later. Or, proceed to the next paragraph.

Place the onions, tomatoes, garlic, and pork in a slow-cooker. Cover with tomato sauce. Cook for 5-6 hours on low or 3 hours on high.

Prepare a pot to cook the pasta, and boil the mushrooms. When they're tender, add the pasta and cook. When the pasta is done, drain the entire pot and plate the pasta. Top with the meaty sauce. Sprinkle with cheese.

The sauce gets very hearty with the meat and veggies in it, and slow-cooking the pork will make it just fall apart in your fork! Mmmmmm!

12 July 2008

memo to self: write to Universal Studios Hollywood

Sarah and I were supposed to go to Universal Studios Hollywood today, but when she got up this morning, her back was a mess. We were to meet a friend, so I went ahead without her.

I had never been to any of the parks around here, and I have to say that I was a little disappointed today. To me, 'theme park' implies roller coasters and the like, but at USH, there was only one roller coaster, one splash ride, and one tilting-car ride. And, since it's a theme park, a LOT of retail. It was great to see Nikky, though, and I enjoyed wandering the park with her.

The one big disappointment was the all-you-can-eat pass. On the strong recommendation from a couple of Nikky's coworkers, we bought each bought the pass which, for $25, lets you eat (no beverages) all you can eat at six or so of the park's restaurants. We were advised that the food was so expensive that if you plan to eat two meals at the park (lunch and dinner), it was a good idea. However, once we bought the pass, we realized that there were a couple of other catches:
* For every restaurant that the pass covers, there were easily three that it didn't.
* Those extra restaurants had the more interesting food (mexican, bbq, etc.).
* At some of the restaurants that were covered, only a selection of the menu was available to the passholders. Greasy burgers, yes. Healthy club sandwiches, no.
* Unless you plan to eat an entree, a side, and a dessert at each meal, the pass is definitely not worth it. A burger was $8.50, but it comes with fries, and if you just eat two of them, you're only out $17.
* The not-including-beverages thing was a big disappointment.

All in all, I think that USH is a great place to take out-of-towners and people who would be impressed with a backstage tour, but only if you buy your food a la carte.