Tuesday, September 23, 2008

California Dreamin'

Other Hollywood Bowl posts

Jaime Cullen
Reggae Night - UB-40
Bugs Bunny
and of course this one featuring a solitary Beach Boy

Like I mentioned earlier, I'm waaaay behind in blogging.

This post is about our last Hollywood Bowl concert of the summer. I love that place. It made me believe in concerts again. Mr. Insomniac just decided to buy some tickets for the Brian Wilson (aka Mr. Beach Boy) concert. I was like, huh? But then I was like, cool - time to try out my mom's picnic backpack. She got it two years ago as some sort of reward at her hospital. She hasn't used it once and then made the mistake of showing it to me when I went over her house to wash my car.

It organizes the cutlery and plates perfectly and provides service for two. It also has plastic wine glasses which are much better than the Dixie cups we've used in times past and a handy dandy corkscrew.

So we loaded up the pack with assorted goodies (cheeses, grapes, figs, french bread, roasted chicken, potatoes, veggies, chocolate) and were on our way. And since the pack even has room for wine, I decided to bring my current favorite bottle, Orin Swift's Prisoner red wine.

So already I'm pretty happy, even though I'm not a huge fan of Beach Boys music. It's all about the food.

It seemed as though we were the youngest people around by about 10 years. The guy in the box next to us was the principal of the uber-prestigous Hahvard-Westlake* preparatory school, and so had solicitous parents approaching him all evening (insert eye roll here).

*interesting (well, to me anyways) fact: Harvard-Westlake has a urban dictionary entry.

Before Brian Wilson carried his bloated ass on the stage, we got to listen to some classical music by the Bowl orchestra - the Overture of the Marriage of Figaro, and an orchestral arrangement of Bach's Toccata. It was cool, but I prefer the organ version that really puts the fear of God into you. And there was a Gershwin piece, I believe, Rhapsody in Blue. These were, the conductor informed us, Wilson's favorite classical pieces. Well, alrighty then!

We ate dinner.

And drank. It would be nice if the iphone had a damn flash.

And before you knew it, I was doing a poor man's version of the pony and the swim to Help me, Rhonda", "Wouldn't it be Nice", and who knows what other cheery nonsense. I admit I thought longingly about HBO's Big Love series when "God Only Knows" came on. It really doesn't take much to get me going.

There's actually something so Californian about the Beach Boys sunny mellowness. For the first time as I sat under the stars on a perfect summer evening, listening to the groovy melody, I thought to myself... maybe this place is worth it.

Play ball!

On Saturday Mr. Insomniac went to see our first Dodgers game together with one of his work colleagues (let's call him Biff) and his new girlfriend.  It was kind of weird, because the last time I saw Biff it was at his wedding nine months ago.   But hey... how bout them Dodgers? 

And even more importantly, how bout them Dodger dogs?  


And I got the famous garlic fries that I've read so much about from Weezer Monkey's blog.  They have lots of garlic.  I thought for sure that Mr. Insomniac would hate them as he doesn't garlic as much as I do.  (When we went to the Stinking Rose, I got the garlic ice cream, okay?  Unfortunately, it was nasty.)  But he loved them.  I loved them.  We infused our sweet nothings with garlic funk.  It was great.  Meanwhile, Biff and his girlfriend were giving us the side eye for our garlic loving ways.  I guess when you've been with someone for almost a decade, garlic breath isn't a big deal. 

Yay for garlic fries!

But the game was great.  And I don't even like baseball all that much.  Before I could probably name two people on the team - Manny and Nomar.  Now I can name four.  Hu and Loney.  Hu, because whenever he was at bat, the music guy in the box would play, "Who Let the Dogs Out?"  And everyone would go "Hu, Hu, Hu, Hu".  So clever!  I love cheesy stuff like that.

Then they would do all these cool clappity claps. One was especially tricky and I felt a since a triumph when I finally managed to reproduce the synchopated rhythms on the third round.  Of course marveling in my accomplishment, I butchered last round.  Shame.

Then there were lots of fights in the riff raff section.  People were swinging and jumping over each other.  I believe it was started by a guy Then the Dodger stadium came running over, decked out in their blue shirts to deal with the offenders.  Exciting.  Then the cops came and paraded all the offenders (around 10) across the aisle to a hearty chorus of boos. 

Then there was another fight.  Oh, the riff raff - what would we all do without you?  Here is their section, under the jumbo-tron.

Let's see - what else...  There was this one guy behind me who could whistle the "da duh da da, da daaaaaa" charge melody and everyone would yell Charge!  I was insanely jealous as I can't whistle, let alone whistle cool tunes to get the crowd hyped.  People threw around beach balls and this one kid kept yelling, "over here!!  OVER HERE!!!"  I rolled my eyes as no one can really control a beach ball.  It does what it wants.  Even so, the kid eventually got the beach ball.  He held it, stood up, and carefully wound up to fire the perfect hit... and ended up pounding it over the railing of the lodge section that we were all sitting in.  Of course, he was greeted with a hearty chorus of boos for his ineptitude.   Poor kid.  He seemed to take it well though.

Okay, now about the game.  I believe the score was around 10-7, so it was a pretty exciting game.  There were three homeruns, two by Manny, bases loaded, etc.  And there were lots of foul balls heading in our direction which terrified me as I did not want to end up with a traumatic brain injury.  

Here's a pic of the audience celebrating a Manny homerun.  Note dude in the Manny headscarf and fake dreads.  He got featured during the candid shots of festive gamegoers on the Jumbo-tron.

I believe it was the either the eighth or ninth inning when there was a crack and a ball hurtled in our direction.  I put my hand over my mouth and shrieked in terror, "it's coming, it's coming"!!!  And sure enough, it did.  
The gentleman seated three seats of me caught it, fortunately. 

See the ball?

Here's him doing a recreation of the exciting moment.  Good for him.  Everyone deserves a little fame.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pete Bunniberg's Birthday Bash

This is Pete Bunniberg.  

He's our office mascot.  I suppose his purpose is to travel the world, see the sights, and give us office drones some companionship.

Here he is in France.  

And here he is in Iran, nice and snug in the pocket of an adorable little girl.

With the recent increased airline security precautions, he obtained a passport crafted by a truly dedicated member of our staff - let's call her Mai.

And so tomorrow is his birthday.  I jokingly told Mai that I'd make a cake and her little eyes lit up.  Spurred by her excitement, I added, not just any cake, but a CARROT cake.  Get it?  Bunny, carrot?  She declared that it was in fact an awesome idea and I steeled myself for the daunting task ahead, as I knew that I would have to make the cake from scratch.  Yowza.

First step:  Find a tried and true recipe.  This one from allrecipes.com looked decent.  And it even had instructions for making icing!  Perfect.

Second step: Gather information.

Third step: Grocery store.  Apparently the only thing I had for carrot cake-making was cinnamon, flour, and salt.  (And I didn't even have enough salt, so after scrounging around for restaurant salt packs, I had to make Mr. Insomniac grind up some sea salt crystals to complete the recipe).  Total cost for carrot cake ingredients: $34.08.  Note to self: carrot cake Christmas presents to everyone.

Fourth step: Making cake.  I looked everywhere for my supreme cheese grater, but couldn't find it.  So I had to make do with crappy grater.   My shoulders hurt, I narrowly missed drawing blood, and it took forever.  I couldn't really figure out how to grate the carrots, but settled on laying it horizontally on the grater and doing it that way.  Whatever gets the job done, I guess.  

When the carrots got too dangerous for me to crate, I ate them or threw the remaining bits to Doggy Insomniac.  He loves carrots.

I was nervous, but the batter tasted good, so I figured I was safe.

Fifth step:  Create design for icing.  Mr. Insomniac used our handy kitchen dry-erase board to sketch out ideas for the cake design.    

Et voila!  The finished product!

At work...

And butchered...

Often I hate the things I make, but this was really good.  Sweet, with a generous amount of spice, and super moist.  I got compliments.

The end.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I thought of you food bloggers on this one

Snapping Food Pics Can Help You Lose Weight

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that dieters asked to take a picture of everything they ate—before eating—led to better weight loss achievement, according to the
UK's Telegraph.

I call bullshit.  I take pictures of what I eat (er, when I'm not so overwhelmed by the presence of food that I scarf it down and actually remember...  ahem) and according to my scale I'm like 32% fat.  I can no longer fit into my pants and I've gained all my food poisoning weight back and then some.  Bummer.  Obviously, I'm going to have to start dragging my lazy ass on some workouts.  I guess this is what happens when you neglect the "Not too much" aspect of the whole "eat food. not too much. mostly plants" way of life.

Jury Duty flashbacks

At around 8am I had a nightmare about jury duty.  I shit you not, folks.  I dreamt that I was stuck back in the jury box - we were forced to reconvene so that the lawyers could question us about our verdict so that they could do a better job during the jury selection process.  There were a couple of my fellow jurors there, but the lawyer was actually this person.  Random.

Yep, that's the woman from Top Chef that kept getting in fights because people thought her lesbian partner sucked and needed to be sent home.  And another Top Chef contestant was in the jury box. 
 Strangely enough, I dreamed about Lisa, aka Bitchface McGee.  She kept saying these inane comments about the case that were actually Metallica song lyrics and everyone thought she was so wise and would burst into applause.  Then she just started playing a boom box to get her point across, to even more adoration.  I began yelling, "Don't you see what she's doing? Why are we here?  Why are we here?!   You are a moron!  WHY ARE WE HERE?!!!!" 

Then I woke up.  Scary.  I guess that's what happens when you drink too much sake...

Now let's think about the good times of jury duty.

I went with two of my fellow jurors to this case because Juror #2 (the sardonic hedge fund manager) recommended it.  Upon hearing that it was our first time there, the waitress brought us a plate of pickles and a nice assortment of the popular meats - pastrami, corned beef, brisket - to sample.  Listening to droning lawyers and witnesses  all day makes you hungry, so we dove in with the gusto.

The pastrami was amazing so I went with that.  Wasn't disappointed at all.  It was scrumptious.  I got a side of cole slaw on the side and happily munched away.  The rye bread was a delight - super soft with a satisfying crunchy crust.  The pastrami was a spicy peppery salty tender blend of awesome.

After my meal, I preached the gospel of Langers to anyone who would listen.  Mr. Insomniac got tired of my rhapsodizing and forbade me to mention the word Langers for the rest of the evening.

Two days later, I was back.

This time, I got my cole slaw inside my sandwich.  That enabled me to streamline my movements so I could focus directly on the task at hand.  No bite of sandwich, bite of cole slaw, bite of sandwich crap.  When I bit into the sandwich, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, I was so happy that I teared up a bit.  It was like heaven.  I had to blink rapidly to maintain a sense of decorum.

I can honestly say that it was all worth it.  Even though I'm apparently suffering from PTSD and having strange dreams.  I believe I need to go back to Langer's for my cure.

Free time, will blog

I haven't actually been writing blog posts... but I've been taking pictures nonetheless.  I'm going to purge all sorts of crap today.  Pretend like I posted all this when I should have.

Monday, September 1, 2008

In memoriam - Don LaFontaine

Today, Don LaFontaine, my pseudo-uncle, died at Cedars Sinai Hospital. My mother was the goddaughter of his middle child and for the past 20 years, he watched me grow up. I enjoyed attending the many performances by his wife, Nita Whitaker, a truly phenomenal singer and possibly the sweetest and most luminous person that I've ever had the fortune to know. During her events, Don was always in his usual location - behind a videocamera, recording his wife and beaming with pride.

Although he had been in the ICU since last week (Mr. Insomniac and I were able to visit and bring food to the family and friends camped out in the waiting room and spend time Nita), there were signs that he was improving. When my mom called me with the news this evening, I was so disappointed.

Even though you've never met Don, you've definitely heard him. He's been described as the "voice over king" and for more than 30 years has voiced movie trailers for more than nearly 5,000 films, for every major award show, and for every television network. He's that guy that says... "In a world far away... a man... a woman... together... in love... etc." On his resume are the trailers from Ghost, Indiana Jones, Aliens, the Godfather, Star Wars, Batman - basically every blockbuster that you can think of from the 1970s to the present. Because he basically crafted the industry single-handedly, he's been the dominant voice-over guy in the industry and has recorded and written script for thousands of films. I think one of my favorites was the one for Terminator 2.

In recent years, he's poked fun at his career and done humorous commercials -

and spoofs -

and I even now as I write this, I just heard a trailer featuring his voice.

But what I will remember most about Don was his larger than life personality, his warmth to me and others, and above all else, his love and devotion to his wife and family. When I was younger, their marriage was my "role model relationship" and I hate to be in a world where they are apart. Much love to Nita and their two girls....

Movies won't be the same for me without him.