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.


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

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.


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


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...