Thursday, August 28, 2008

The best part of jury duty...

Yesterday, I did my civic duty and spent the day at a courthouse in Los Angeles as a prospective juror. I got a chance to get caught up on some reading (Queen of Dreams by Chitra Divakaruni - not as good as some of her other work, like the short story collection Arranged Marriage, but it was better than the December 2007 issue of Time magazine they had laying on the side tables in the jury room). I was also able to entertain myself with my iphone by reliving my concert experience.

However, the best part of my day was when I got out of the air conditioned building and headed off (on a bus, no less) to the Central Market which is a farmer's market slash food court slash drug store.
I like the Central Market as it doesn't have that stereotypical LA vibe. People will tell you that the Central Market is "authentic" - which typically means poor ambiance, good cheap food, and lots of people of color. Bring it on, I say. Some people come for the shopping...

Like if you want chilies, this is the place to be.

Others like me, come for the eating. Lunch time fills up quickly as people from nearby buildings file in.

Most of the food here is Mexican, but there are some other stands selling Chinese and Korean food. There a wide assortment of agua frescas - horchata, jamaica, fresa, sandia, etc. A perfect accompaniment for a hot summer afternoon. I got my current favorite - tamarindo.

I ended up going with a tostada which was delicious - chicken, refried beans, shredded lettuce, guac, sour cream, and cheese on a crispy corn tortilla. A complete meal for $3.

That should have been enough to fill up a typical person. But I usually get hungry at around 3:30, so I also bought some taquitos to eat later.

I think I'm going to eat here tomorrow. Pupusas. Yum.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


If you recall, here is a crappy iphone camera pic from the concert I went to last week.  Not too shabby - nice detail, color, etc.

And here is a pic from last night... lol

The binoculars didn't even help.  But I can now say that sound wise, there really isn't a bad seat in the entire theater.

Here's the setlist - they played all the songs from In Rainbows and a smattering of work from previous albums:

Reckoner, Optimistic, There There, 15 Step, All I Need, Pyramid Song, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, The Gloaming, Videotape, Talk Show Host, Faust Arp, Tell Me Why, No Surprises, Jigsaw Falling Into Place, The Bends, The National Anthem, Nude, Bodysnatchers

Encore: House of Cards, Planet Telex, Slowly, Fake Plastic Trees, True Love Waits Intro, Everything In Its Right Place

Encore 2: Cymbal Rush, Karma Police, Idioteque 

Check out all these really good pics are from sweetcell:

Her (I'm going to assume that sweetcell is a female.  I suppose a male could be named sweetcell though... that would unusual - not that there'd be anything wrong with that...)  But anyway, her version:

Our version:

Her version:

Our version:

Her version:

Our vers- you get the idea.

Mr. Insomniac, bless his heart, kept snapping anyway even though every pic was a blue, red, or purple version of the same exact thing.  IRL, it wasn't as bad as it appears and I actually didn't mind much.  Thom ususally does a weird spastic movement that kind of creeps me out a bit, so I was happy that I didn't have to watch him tic through my favorite songs.  Is that shallow?

Random Observations:

  • Mr. Insomniac and I are the only people who don't smoke marijuana in all of Los Angeles
  • The Hollywood Bowl has really good food.  I had the OK Lasagna (one of the Radiohead featured specials - as opposed to the Kid A Veggie Pizza) and it was delicious - a three cheese hearty piece of grub with a generous slice of garlic bread.  Unfortunately, the concessions shut down at 10pm so I was prevented from getting a second glass of wine.  Kill joys.
  • I really wish I knew how to concert whistle. Actually, I wish I knew how to regular whistle.
  • What is up with that glowing white cross that overlooks the entire Bowl audience?  I would have taken a picture of it, but it's not like my no-flash having iphone would be able to pick it up anyway.  Let me describe it - it's high on a hill directly to the right of the stage that glows.  The hilly backdrop behind the Bowl features about three small lights - warning lights so that a helicopter doesn't hit radio towers...  It's very peaceful, relaxing, and sparse and provides a nice backdrop so you focus on your concert under the stars.  But then BAM!  The glowing white cross announces that it's Jesus time!  I don't mind religion, and some of my best friends are Christian (tee hee!) but the last thing I want to see in the dark when I'm sitting in a concert for four hours is a illuminated cross that is basically an advertisement for Christianity.  They might as well have a cherub faced plastic Bob's Big Boy up there.  It totally wrecked my marijuana contact high, bros.  Mr. Insomniac didn't see a problem with it and suggested that I write one of my characteristic "strongly worded letters" and sign it Satan. Whatever dude.  Reading this just made me hate the cross even more.  


Monday, August 25, 2008

T-minus three hours!

Tonight I'm going to Radiohead's concert at the Hollywood Bowl.  I'm so excited, I haven't been able to do any productive all day.

Last Wednesday we saw Jaime Cullum and the Count Basie Orchestra, as part of the Bowl's jazz nights.  Our seats were so great that even my crappy iphone camera made the performance look good.

He closed out the show with a great rendition of Rihanna's "Umbrella", accompanied only by his piano playing.  He was much better than the improvisational modern jazz group that preceded him.  Just when you thought one of their songs was going to end, it kept going and going... and going.            And going.

We barely got tickets for the Radiohead performance and our seats are far far away.  But the acoustics of the Bowl are great, so I'm not concerned.  It promises to be an awesome show.  The only down side is that they won't let me bring in my own booze.  And I won't be able to post any pictures because Thom Yorke will be this size ->  .    And blurry.  

Recipe - Marrakesh Curry

I've been wanting to try some simple Indian/African vegetarian recipes...  I found this one for Marrakesh Curry on and it fit the bill nicely.  Even better - I got the carrots, zuchinni, eggplant, bell/red peppers, spinach, onion, and potatoes all at the Culver City Farmer's Market.  I already had the raisins and the spices (the tumeric I got from my mother in a plastic baggie - it's her new miracle food that she's trying to get me to eat.  Apparently it has curcumin in it which contains high amounts of antioxidants and aids in digestion.  Whatever - it made my food look colorful).

At any rate, here's the recipe.  I thought it was wonderful - very flavorful and hearty.  When I threw the cinammon in the pot I said, hey!  This smells like Indian food!  And then I did a little dance of celebration.  And it tastes even better the next day...

Here's a picture of the dish as my lunch.  I ate it with some brown rice. Scrumptious!


1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 medium eggplant, cubed
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 tablespoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1 zucchini, sliced
2 tablespoons raisins
1 cup orange juice
10 ounces spinach

  1. In a large Dutch oven place sweet potato, eggplant, peppers, carrots, onion, and three tablespoons oil. Saute over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  2. In a medium saucepan place 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, turmeric, curry powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper and saute over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  3. Pour garlic and spice mixture into the Dutch oven with vegetables in it. Add the garbanzo beans, almonds, zucchini, raisins, and orange juice. Simmer 20 minutes, covered.
  4. Add spinach to pot and cook for 5 more minutes. Serve!
Serves 6

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Restaurant Review - Singapore Banana Leaf

Over the weekend we went to the Farmer's Market for dinner. Mr. Insomniac made a beeline for Loteria (the famous Mexican stand) and I went to Singapore's Banana Leaf, a stand that specializes in cuisine from Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

The Farmer's Market is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles. It's great for when you're eating with people who all want something different on their plate. Feel like alligator? Korean barbeque? Fattoush? You can get all of these and more... and you get to eat outside and soak up that wonderful Los Angeles weather.

I choose Singapore Banana Leaf because I wanted a simple vegetarian meal. I began with a vegetable samosa which was delightful. The outer shell was flaky, light, and buttery while the filling inside was savory goodness. The accompanying sweet and sour sauce provided just the right amount of zip. I could have eaten three of these babies.

My entree, a vegetable stirfry was delicious as well and consisted of red peppers, carrots, chinese cabbage, and onions in a light curry sauce with just a hint of kick (I order mine mild, wuss that I am)... Very light, but surprisingly satisfying.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Another iphone post!

These are the apps I currently have on my phone (all are free, of course, unless otherwise noted):

GFCaller (Girlfriend Caller) - A pretty simple app.  Press it and it automatically dials your "girlfriend" - any number you want.  No hitting phone, then favorites, then the number.  I'm Mr. Insomniac's girlfriend, and he's my girlfriend.  I used to respond, "hey girlfriend!" when he answered, but that got old after the first five times.   And after doing some internet sleuthing, it appears as though there is a BF Caller.  Not as fun as having a girlfriend, but whatever.  One drawback to this app is that it leaves one of those red circles showing how many times you call your girlfriend.  Kind of annoying.  Another app You're #1 doesn't have the red circle, but it costs $.99.

Box Office - It gives you movie times at theaters located near your location.  And it has links to Rotten Tomatoes scores and reviews.  And I believe, but I haven't tried it yet, that you can purchase tickets through Fandango.

Midomi - This is kinda like Shazam.  You can sing, hum, or whistle a tune and search engines will find it.  It can also capture music while it's playing.  Then you can listen to the tune or buy it (I haven't tried this).  What I have used it for is singing/karoke contests with Mr. Insomniac - we sing tunes and then get points if Midomi correctly identifies it, an extra point if it's the top retrieved song, and double points if it's the only song retrieved.  (Typically, Midomi pulls up several songs).  I performed a flawless rendition of Whitney Houston's,"One Moment in Time" (in honor of the Olympics, of course) but was unable to get Midomi to recognize Aerosmith's "Love in an Elevator".  It did however, get Elvis Crespo's "Suavemente" and Puccini's "Nessun Dorma".  

Listingly: Make lists and share them with people.  I had been looking for a free list maker that interacted with the internet (so I wouldn't have to type everything on the iphone).  Listingly does that and you can set due dates for your list items by simply pointing to a date on a handy calendar that pops up.

Miscellaneous apps:  Delicious lets you access your bookmarked internet sites (but I believe you can't add any new ones), Facebook is well, facebook, and Google Reader provides quick access to your feeds and blogs.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The rise of kid-cuisine

I have trouble sleeping (big surprise).  Last night was more difficult than most - I had taken a nap in the middle of the day (mistake #1) and watched the Olympics (mistake #2).  Once I'm up past 12:30am... it's over.  And last night I think I went to bed at around 3:30am.  Ugh.  A major reason for my difficulty in getting to sleep in that thoughts race around in my head at night as soon as I hit the pillow.  One of my sleeping techniques is to listen to a book on tape or podcast - it allows me to focus on something specific.  

So last night I was listening to a podcast from Stanford University featuring Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat.  She was speaking at Stanford as part of a series on Food and Ethics (I believe Michael Pollan was also a guest lecture earlier in the series).  

One part that really interested me was her discussion of the pervasive marketing that food companies do to kids.  But most interestingly was her discussion of the creation of "kid cusine".  Through marketing and branding, kids are given content about products so that they can prod their parents to buy items with reasoned arguments ("It has vitamins and minerals!").  They are drawn to the products with the cool cartoons that are helpfully positioned at eye level.   Kid food is visually different from adult food.  They have fun shapes and unnatural colors (e.g., "pink hearts, yellow moons, green clovers, and purple horseshoes").  This creates the idea that there are fun (crappy) things that kids eat and boring (healthy) things adults eat.  So what ends up happening is that kids become the experts in their diet as they know what is best for them to eat.

This reminded me of my love affair with Cookie Crisp.  I thought,  no scratch that, knew that this cereal was the best food on earth.  Each shopping trip became a battle.  I believed this is what the box looked like when I was growing up:

I even tried to point out that it had "8 vitamins and minerals" but my Mom wasn't having it.  "You're not eating cookies for breakfast," was the constant refrain.*  But check out the box: free baseball cards, smiling cookie wizard (?) spooning out cookies that have been enlarged to show detail out of an overflowing cookie jar, etc.  What kid wouldn't want this?

The new generation box of Cookie Crisp makes even more dubious health claims - "whole grain goodness!"  "100 calories per serving!"  "Calcium!"  and the ever-present "vitamins and minerals!"  But still, as my dear old Mom said, it's frigging cookies for breakfast.

So I ate my Raisin Bran and Cherrios and longed for the day when I grew up and could eat whatever I wanted.

*Last night I had Didi Reese cookies for dinner.  In your face, Mom!  hahahahhaha!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

And to think - I never was a Girl Scout...

Some time last week or so I posted about creating a urban work emergency kit... I meant to do it last weekend, but got distracted with game show drama. So one of my tasks this weekend was to get a good start on my kits.

Saturday night I did a whirlwind trip through Target to buy supplies... I got there at 9:30, half an hour before closing time. I specifically wanted to go to Target, because they were selling backpacks for 9 bucks and after going to three thrift stores searching for a backpack, I decided to just pony up and buy a new one.

So after my shopping spree and combining things I already had, my car/workplace disaster kit looked like this:

Pictured are 2 bottles of contact lens solution (which can double as a saline rinse), cleaning towelettes, 10 assorted energy bars, jumper cables, pocket knife, traffic cone, SOS banner, mini first aid kit, solar blanket, sneakers, double leather palm gloves, 2 ponchos, 3 battery powered flash lights, hand sanitizer, 1 manually operated flashlight, 2 packs of tissue, 2 dust masks, one pair of socks, 4 glow sticks, 1 box cutter, 1 package baby wipes, a 12-item first aid kit, paper and pen, 2 pairs latex gloves, and a 170-item first aid kit.

I still need to get a small radio, a multipurpose tool, reflective tape, maps, and matches.

One Target purchase that I recommend is the Johnson & Johnson All Purpose First Aid Kit. It weighs less than 2 pounds and consists of 170 items (assorted band-aids, gauze pads, tape, latex gloves, instant cold pack, antibiotic ointment, tweezers). It's designed for coverage of "wound treatment and protection, aches and pains, itch relief, burns, diarrhea, swelling, finger sprains, splinter removal, and body heat retention. I plan to add some Benadryl and an ace bandage to it though. I think it's a pretty good deal for under $10. I wish I had gotten another one for my car and for Mr. Insomniac's car. In fact, I think I might buy out the entire supply and use it for my Christmas gifts this year.

And here's everything all packed up and ready to go...

Bring it on!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Reggae Night at the Bowl

I typically hate concerts.  But I LOVE the Hollywood Bowl.  Why?   You can bring your own food and more importantly, your own booze.  You're outside, the weather's perfect, and if you're lucky enough to score box seats, you get this little table that you can put your little picnic basket on and if you're feeling particularly Martha Stewarty, you bring a little table cloth to put over the table.  

So we went for Reggae night to commemorate our friends' departure from the City of Angels...

Our friends left LA on Monday to go back to Michigan (they were here for a year - M was doing a fellowship).   We had some sandwiches, fruit, cheese, crackers, cookies, and of course Red Red Wine.  Good times.  

Me and N:

Opening act.   They were really good and got the crowd on their feet.  Unfortunately, not everyone could dance very well, but even that didn't bother me.  I was feeling particularly magnanimous and it was nice to see the audience happy.

Headliners - UB-40.  I was disappointed that they didn't do that Red Red Wine rap... you know the one - "Red, red wine you make feel so fine... you keep me rocking, all of de time..."  That's my jam!

Perfect way to spend a summer evening...  We'll miss you M and N!  :(

Monday, August 4, 2008

The password is... denied

I suppose I should start at the beginning.

Weezer Monkey, my coworker, and I went to an open-call for Million Dollar Password about two weeks ago.  We filled out an extensive application, took a test, snarked at our fellow contestants, spoke about ourselves for 30 seconds, played password in front of a camera, and answered a bunch of questions (some successfully, some some abysmally).  They said they would call me - but I wasn't optimistic.  And deep down, I didn't really want them to as I am a big fat chicken.  

But even so, I am a chicken who loves free money.  Loves it.  So when Mr. Insomniac calls me late Friday afternoon and says that Password called and you have to call them right away, my first instinct is to vomit in the trash can behind me.  And my hands start shaking.  But then I thought about the possibility of winning $25k, and I manage to pull it together and prepare to go to the CBS studio for a password boot camp that would "significantly increase your chances of being on the final show."  As I would come to realize, you will do quite a bit for the chance to win some free money.  Quite a bit indeed.

So after confirming with Carli  (I'm sure she spells it with an "i".  She totally seems the type)  at 6:40, I drive to the CBS studio for the password boot camp on Friday.  Park car, talk to a tall pale guy with an elaborate tattoo on his calf who takes me to a slender Black woman with a walkie talkie coming out of a trailer.  She tells me that the boot camp was cancelled.  (Great.)  But that I should show up at 8am on Saturday and bring three different outfits.  I ask if there's something special I should wear or not wear and she tells me that someone will call me or send me an email.  I ask if I can wear jeans.  She says yes but they have to be "very nice jeans".  Then she looks me up and down (I'm wearing a pair of wrinkled black cotton pants and a purple v-neck sweater - I just drove from work) and says, "like those are not nice jeans".  No shit, lady.  For starters, they're not made of denim.    When I tell her I can't make the 8am time, she tells me to then come to the 7pm boot camp on Saturday, but to call first, just in case.

Saturday.  I call first, just in case.  No answers at any of the two numbers I have in my possession.  Leave messages with Carli and Josh (or whatever his name was).  Decide to go to the studio anyway.  Can't get in the main gate - a security officer tells me that they've wrapped for the day, that I'm not on the list and quips, "well now you can go get your car washed", dragging his finger along my dirty car for additional emphasis.  Thanks, douche.  Unlike other parts of the country, if you have a dirty car in Los Angeles, that's like a major character flaw.  Seriously.  I remember when I lived in Michigan, everyone had a dirty car from November to March.  Why?  You couldn't wash them because the locks would freeze.  And it was pointless because the dirt, sand, and salt from the roads would just dirty them up all over again.

Sunday.  I decide to show up, just for the hell of it.  My weekend's already wrecked.  I was supposed to go to San Diego with Mr. Insomniac and stay at a cool hotel while he did conference stuff, but I passed that up for game show glory.  So I get there are 8am, and actually get in this time.  Same guard too.   He gives me a map and directions to get to stage 23.  So of course I spend the next 10 minutes driving aimlessly around the studio lot, seeing signs for Greek and assorted other shows.  Finally find it, find the Password people, and eventually get ushered to the contestant area along with a 23 year old Art Director who's trying out this whole acting thing and was selected because he's in some sort of casting database.  This particular "contestant area" consists of rows of tables and chairs in a parking garage and a video camera.  At one of the tables is a box of assorted chips and some small bottles of water.  I of course grab one of each, because I, well because that's the type of gal I am.  Maybe there were nicer areas, who knows.  A black guy named with the ever-present walkie talkie (I'll call him WT) is assigned to groom us into wonderful contestants.  

Other contestants join us - we have Marine, complete with shaved head and USMC army green hoodie.  We have Alfredo who ends up sucking at Password despite the fact that me and Art Director heard WT arguing that Alfredo was exactly what Password needs.  Maybe they need a dumbass, I suppose.  Another contestant, Rafe, mentions that he got laid off and is getting married on Friday.  Us contestants nod our heads in acknowledgment and appreciation.  This guy has a great "story".  He's a shoe-in.  Another guy tells me that he can't really tell me what he does because he's not supposed to be doing it.  Meaning that he's an actor.  But that he works at Barney's Beanery as a security guard.  Which is strange because I could probably kick his ass.  But anyway, let's call him ActorBoy.  

So us contestants chat and chat.  There's a lot of down time.  But they're interesting and people I'd probably never encounter in a regular situation, so I'm content.   Then we start playing password, which was really fun. The Marine and I agreed with me that the only reason why we were here was because our significant others hated to play board games with us.   ActorBoy is really good.  He does have this energy about him.  A sort of intensity that makes it look like he's about to bite my head off.  I don't like standing close to people (I have a large conception of personal space) and I need to be told to get closer because I'm out of the frame.  I'm also tired (got five hours of sleep) and hungry (I didn't eat anything - not even a single plant - Hey!  Now this post has become topic related!  lol).  Anyhow, I'm not intense enough apparently.  But I'm getting all the passwords and I feel like I'm giving good clues.  Like for the word "Ginger" I come up with "Wasabi?...  pink!" and ActorBoy gets it!   Nice.  

But then I switch partners and get the Art Director who looks like he's half asleep.  I experiment with the two clue approach and try "Hook... and... " for "Ladder"  and he doesn't get it.  After each round we have a little discussion about how we could have done things differently.  Which is kind of weird because it's like yes, I could have done "Chutes...  and...." but you know what?  I didn't think of it.  Yes, it would have better.  Happy?

Another Millionaire production person holds up the card "Diamond" and we all say what we'd say.  Someone says "Jewel", someone says "carat" but then the Marine says, well that would be heard as "carrot".  I say "DeBeers" and they agree that no one would get that.  I roll my eyes.  Did I mention that I was the only woman there?  And possibly the oldest person there?  Actually Rafe was the oldest.  

WT gets a walkie talkie buzz and tells us that he's nervous because he's just recieved word that the "Network Exectives" will be coming to watch us play.  And that we need to be "on".  And then he goes around and tells us our problems.  Someone (Marine or Rafe) had good skills, but low energy.  ActorBoy has high energy, but low skills.  I'm in the middle on both dimensions.  During a lull Rafe corners ActorBoy and asks, "what are you doing that makes you high energy?  Is it that thing you do with your hands?"  

So at about 11am, a older woman with frizzy blond hair (who some of the contestants know) rushes in.  She's loud and obnoxious, but nice.  She talks to us for a few seconds and then goes I want you and you.  Pointing to ActorBoy and Rafe.  She tells the rest of us to go home and that they'll call us for Monday's taping or for another season.  (Like this show is going to make it).

I debate staying around to try and see the taping as an audience member, but decide to leave.  But not before I ended up lost driving around the stupid studio lot for 10 minutes.  It's not that it's large.  It's that I'm directionally-challenged.