Wednesday, December 27, 2006

dance lessons

I'm starting to get a little anxious about our wedding. It's less than three weeks away and we still have a pile of things we need to take care of. My big concern right now is - our first dance. We have the song picked out, but Jim can't dance and refuses to take lessons. So I bought him a book (that's how he swears he learns best, by reading, absorbing, processing and then doing) on ballroom dancing. We've only had one "rehearsal", but we videotaped it so that we could watch and critique ourselves, and hopefully we'll be ready for the big dance on the big day. Here's the video, it takes a while for it to load, but please let us know what you think.

Monday, December 25, 2006

happy holidays

I cut across the parking lot to Los Angeles Street. I waited for a man carrying a bottle wrapped up in a paper bag to lurch and stumble past me, then made a left onto my street. I hear him behind me, greeting another man, offering him a drink out of his bottle.

"Hey my brother, how you doing? Want some of this?"

I keep walking, but slow down to hear the exchange. The other man refuses.

"I don't know you and you're crazy if you think I'm going to drink that shit."

I keep walking without looking behind me. I can hear the other man's footsteps behind me and to my left. I'm almost at my front door, so I slow down and look behind me for charging pedestrians before I veer left. The man is walking beside me now, and he comments on their exchange to me.

"Crazy fool. Like I'm going to-- hey!

I looked at him and we both recognize each other. I was just wondering about him, too. I met him when I first moved into the Alexandria Hotel nine years ago. He was a nice enough guy, a thirty-something black man living at the Alexandria. But he always hit on me (which got tiring after a while) and he hung out with some questionable characters in front of Charlie O's, but that was years ago.

"So when are you going out with me?" he'd ask.

I had an easy out, "My boyfriend wouldn't like that."

Then all of a sudden, he wasn't there anymore. I ran into him a few years later, he was hanging out with a small group of black men, drinking and shooting the breeze on the streets, on 5th between Spring and Los Angeles. He didn't look too good back then, but today was a different day.

"Hey! How are you?" I asked. I remembered thinking about him just the week before, hoping that he found his way out of the streets.

"I'm doing good. Are you still living over there at the Alexandria?"

"No, I got out a little while ago. I live here now," I said, pointing to my building.

He looked at the building, then his head whipped around, his big 'fro following a second later.

"No shit?! Ed hired me to do some work on the 5th floor." He nodded his approval, his 'fro seconding his words. Ed was the general contractor for our building. This past summer, we watched as Ed supervised some workers from Chrysalis as they waterproofed the roof on the building next door. He pointed across the street. "Yeah, I work over there at [name withheld] and live over at [name withheld] now. I get a couple odd jobs here and there to stay busy and out of trouble."

"Good for you! You know, I was thinking about you the other day, wondering if you were around, if you were okay."

He smiled and nodded knowingly. "Yeah, I know what you mean. Glad to see you're out of that place, too."

"Yeah, me too. I guess if Ed has you working on five, I'll be seeing you around."

We shook hands, genuinely happy to see the other - even if we didn't know each other's name.

"Take care of yourself, and Happy Holidays," I yelled at him, over the blaring sirens of the passing firetruck and emergency medical vehicles. He yelled something, but I couldn't hear it over the din of the streets. We parted ways and I walked into my building. I went out onto my patio and looked at the city below. The sidewalks were crowded with last-minute shoppers. I couldn't see him, but I like to think he felt much like I did - glad to see someone else get their life together and get out of there. Next time I see him, I'll have to remember to ask him his name.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

media whore

Did anybody see my five minutes on yourLA on NBC last week? You can watch the clip on Shopper Shuttle's website.

5 things you didn't know about me

Dave tagged me with a "5 Things You Didn't Know About Me" meme, so here's my list:

1. I'm a mezzo-soprano.
2. I used to be a mime.
3. I played the leader of a Chinese gang in a prison film.
4. My brother shot me in the ass with a BB gun one Christmas morning, just as soon as he could unwrap and load it.
5. I learned how to swim at the age of 16 in a YMCA class populated by five-year-olds.

I tag Mack, Mike, Mondo Rick-o, Nanette, and my favorite corn-fed Asian-American Hoosier Queer in suburban Los Angeles.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

navajo for va-jay-jay

My cell phone rang, it was Kitty. Why does she always call when I'm in the car?

"What are you doing tonight?"

"I'm in the car, on my way to Pechanga," I replied.

I had to pull the phone away from my ear, she was laughing so hard. After what seemed like an eternity, she stopped laughing and wheezed, "Isn't that Navajo for vagina?"

"They have a great buffet."

silversun pickups

My cousin Chris is the drummer for the Silversun Pickups. I've been going to see him play for years in various bands before SP, so I was really happy to see him hit the big time with this band. They had their national television debut on Letterman a week or so ago, and they rocked! It was great to hear David Letterman say such wonderful things about them and enjoy their performance so much. Here's the clip. They were also on KCRW yesterday morning, here's that clip.

His parents, Emma and Boy, asked me and Jim to come see the Silversun Pickups at the Troubadour this Sunday and I wasted no time in screaming, "Yes!" So, anybody else going to the show?

Monday, December 11, 2006


Last week I taped a segment for local television show, yourLA, featuring Shopper Shuttle. The show claims to be "the ultimate insider's guide to Los Angeles" and (contrary to what their MySpace page says) airs at 11:30am weekdays on NBC4.

My friends Camille and Sandra are the brains behind Shopper Shuttle, the company that Manolo calls "this business of genius", and they called me to help out with the taping. Last year(?) I taped a segment for an Australian TV show called "The Great Outdoors" for Shopper Shuttle, which turned out well (according to them, but I cringed when I saw the clip) and so they wanted me to do the same thing - take the segment producer and host to the best shopping in Los Angeles with Shopper Shuttle.

I'm not used to getting up early, so it was a challenge to get me to the NBC studios in Burbank by 9am. Then they wanted me to drive the shuttle and talk to the host and camera about why Shopper Shuttle serves up the best shopping experience. The producer and cameraman asked me to wear my blinged-out sunglasses during the segment, which was fine except that I wear glasses and my sunglasses weren't prescription. So I kept driving into the curb and slamming on the brakes to avoid hitting the cars in front of me. The poor host, who sat behind me in the shuttle, kept slamming into the back of my seat (he was the only one not wearing a seat belt) whenever I saw red tail lights. The segment producer seemed a little nervous every time the wheels hit the curb, but no one said anything, although they all seemed a little tense.

On-camera, the host asked me about where the best shopping in Los Angeles could be found and although downtown's Fashion District wasn't on the day's itinerary (but I covered it extensively for the Australian show), I said, "I love shopping in downtown LA, it's hands-down the best area to shop", or something like that. Then the cameraman stopped shooting and told me that he just moved to downtown Los Angeles two days ago. He lives a few blocks away from me and seemed like a really nice guy so I gave him many hints on how to best navigate his new 'hood.

I was jacked up on caffeine, so I'm probably going to come off like the biggest spaz, but it airs this Wednesday at 11:30am on NBC4. I hope they don't edit out all the instances where I ran into the curb. Oh yeah, if anyone books a shopping excursion on Shopper Shuttle to shop downtown, I can be convinced to share my downtown shopping secrets - gratis. Just let them know you want the "5th and Spring "downtown shopping experience.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

very be careful

Thursday night, the phone rings. It was Kitty. "You have to drop what you're doing. I need you to come down to Pershing Square right now."

I was already in the car, on my way to dinner with Jim and my brother. "Why, what's going on?"

"It's a scene, and I need you to come down here right now."

My brother was at the wheel, the car sat at the corner of 5th and Los Angeles Street. "So where are we going?" he asked.

"Pershing Square. It's a scene."

We found parking in front of Cicada and walked over to Pershing Square. We heard music and people on the skating rink. We dodged the rats scurrying from lit tree to lit tree, passed the vendors selling funnel cake and chinese food, and made our way to the front, by the band.

There she was, sitting with a friend in front of the band, behind the dancers and in front of the ice rink.

"Who's the band?"

"Very Be Careful. They have a huge bike messenger following."

I looked around. Yeah, that was evident. I liked them, they rocked the Square. I think half of all the off-duty security guards in downtown were also in attendance. I looked at the rink - lots of action there, too. Jim remembered that he read something about Spaceland in Pershing Square on Thursdays.

"How did you come to know about these guys?"

"They've played Cole's before."

"So this is a scene, huh?"

Kitty yelled, "It is too a scene, and don't you say anything different!"

"No, I'm not questioning that, I just wanted to get an idea of what your baseline is for 'scene'."

Kitty then mentioned that the "rodeo clown" that she was crushing on was out on the rink and that he had rejected her advances. I didn't take her seriously at first and made fun of him. Actually, he's not a rodeo clown, but she did keep referring to him by his profession, rather than by his name. Which made me less inclined to take her seriously. So as not to give it away in case he reads this, he's a rodeo clown. Then Kitty whined, "Celia, I really liked him."

"Okay, I'm sorry. I won't make fun of the rodeo clown."

Things were winding down after a while and Jim didn't want to dance. So we left for dinner. We drove past the square and spotted the rodeo clown crossing the street, on the way back to the ice rink. And he was holding hands with some chick. I called Kitty, "Hand the phone to your friend, K," I ordered.

K got on the phone, "Yeah, we're still here but it's breaking up."

"Get Kitty out of there, I just spotted the rodeo clown on the way back, and he's holding hands with some chick."

After I hung up, Jim reminded me that I couldn't blog about it or Kitty would know about the rodeo clown.

"Nah, it's one thing to read about it a few days later, it's another thing to see it for yourself." But yeah, it was a scene.

serenity now

My nerves are shot. I sent off my screenplay to the Development Exec this past Thursday. It's going out for this weekend's read. So far, three studios are interested. Bigshot Producer doesn't want to go wide. The third one had requested the screenplay twice. It's perfect for them, "Exactly what they're looking for," I'm told.

I sat there decompressing after I sent it off. I didn't know what to do with myself, I was still pretty wound up, kind of like right now. Is it really two days later? I really can't relax, not until I hear what they think about the script. Will there be more rewrites? Will I be hired to rewrite them or will they hire the director's best friend to rewrite me?

I looked at the list that Jim compiled, the list of all the things we need to do for the wedding. I think this is when I start panicking, there's still so much left to do. But all I can think is, "I wonder if they're reading it right now. I wonder what they think about the second act midpoint? Or the third act." So I start outlining my next script, I go over my notes from film school, I silently freak out.

Friday I checked a bunch of things off the wedding to-do list. Bought the fur, check. Bought the flower girls' dresses and jacket, the junior bridesmaid's dress and jacket, check, check. I fired our florist last week (that's a whole other story), so I made appointments with other florists, check. Now if I can only find my passport I'll have one less thing to stress out about. I am a raw bundle of nerves.

light a candle

Today, Bristol-Myers Squibb, the pharmaceutical monolith that charges nearly $1,000 for a 30 day supply of one of its HIV/AIDS medications, is donating $1 to the National AIDS Fund for each person who simply visits their website and "virtually lights a candle." The tally is over 900,000 now.

Please take a minute to "light a candle":

This really will take just a second; please forward this on to other friends, ask everyone you can to help.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

my bachelorette party

My fiance Jim doesn't want strippers at his bachelor party, nor does he want to hit a strip club. I know, I don't understand it either. But I'm getting ahead of the story, let me back up. Let's talk about the groomsmen.

Jim's best man is his younger brother, Jeff. They're both on the shy, quiet side. My brother Angel is also a groomsman. He's not shy, very outgoing, actually. But he's a Bible-thumper and completely guileless. Rounding out the group is my brother-in-law, James. He's a very quiet, talented, and sensitive artist. He's got books like I got tunes, shoes and issues - plenty. Do you see where I'm getting at here? If I let these guys walk into a strip club without me, they're gonna get fleeced.

So I suggested, that we combine the bachelor and bachelorette parties and together, we'd all hit Sam's Hofbrau, the best strip club in Los Angeles. Yes, better than Jumbo's Clown Room, even better than The Gold Room in Atlanta (damn I miss making Internet-boom-era cash) - though there is considerable talent to be found in those other places as well. I wish I could compare it to The Great Alaskan Bush Company, but I just remembered that Jim's mom reads my blog. Hi Janice, please skip to the next paragraph. I think I've said it before, if Cole's had strippers, you'd be at Sam's. I saw this chick, who, during a table dance, used her hoo-hoo to part her customer's hair. I sat in the booth across from him and it looked like her ass was gonna swallow his head. So you can understand why I heartily recommend Sam's.

Jim went along with that plan for a while. But during my bridal shower weekend a while back, he admitted that he had no desire to hit a strip club, whether the parties were combined or not. So now the parties have been separated and Jim's party will be a stripper-free zone. Do you see how I did that, how we're back to Jim not wanting strippers at his bachelor part? So now I wrap it up.

I'm trying to figure out what I want to do for my bachelorette party, besides having both genders represented. Strip club? Drunkfest at a local watering hole or private venue? Group colon hydrotherapy? Spa weekend? Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments. A couple of you have already emailed me (I'm looking at you, generalurko, drugbuddy and burtbaccarat) with party questions, but suggest something here again and anyways. Love ya, mean it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

non-drowsy formula my ass

We had something like 30 people over for Thanksgiving dinner, I'm coming down with something (didn't know what back then but it looks like the flu and feels like black death), and in the middle of cutting up potatoes, I managed to slice my finger from knuckle to fingertip. Game over. I'm screaming, "Jesus God that's a lot of blood!" while standing over the kitchen sink and scare the shit out of Jim. He performs first aid and the rest of the dinner went by in a blur. Then someone picks up the microphone and before I know it, it's karaoke time. Am I supposed to be drinking alcohol when I have an open wound? Never mind, Walk On By is on and I'm grabbing the mike from our 2-year-old flower girl. The score on the monitor afterwards tells me "You need more effort." Like I need a karaoke machine to tell me that.

The next few days are, again, a blur. Why? Because I don't care what they say on the package, it is not a non-drowsy formula. I've got deadlines looming over my phlegm-clogged head and I can barely hold it up to look at the mess I've made of my screenplay. Development Executive calls me every day from Boston to see how it's coming along and damn she's good - I can feel her trying to will me into completing the damn thing and emailing her pages so she can read it on the plane ride back home. "This week is crucial," she declared ominously. But her voodoo isn't that strong. She probably read the in-flight magazine instead, cursing me the entire way.

Somehow the refrigerator full of leftovers from Thursday night has been cleared. Somewhat. We still have pie. It doesn't taste as good, eaten through the residue of cherry-flavored expectorant/cough syrup. Everyone, please send good ju-ju my way, I need it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

how i lost and got kitty back

Earlier this year, Jim gifted me with a Hello Kitty personal massager for Valentine's Day. Yes, you read that correctly, there is such a thing as a Hello Kitty vibrator.

A few weeks ago I attended a screenwriting conference and brought "Kitty" along. Jim threw her and a few other items into the nightstand drawer. At conference's end, I packed hurriedly and forgot "Kitty" and other items in the nightstand drawer. When we got home and started to unpack, Jim realized that we left "Kitty" behind. Screaming, I lunged for the phone and called the hotel. They connected me to housekeeping, but when no one answered, the operator came back and said to call back at 9am the next morning when they opened.

After a sleepless night, I got hold of housekeeping at 9:01am the next morning. The woman who answered said that no Hello Kitty vibrator had been turned in. I asked to be re-connected with the hotel operator, but was hung up on instead. I dialed back and spoke to a different person, but explained again that I had just checked out the day before, had called as soon as I realized my Hello Kitty vibrator was missing, and suggested that perhaps "Kitty" was still in the room, lying undiscovered in the nightstand drawer. The operator was going to transfer me to Security, where I could tell my story to yet another hotel employee, the fifth one to hear how I had left behind my Hello Kitty vibrator in the nightstand drawer. Mercifully, she asked Security to go to the room and rescue "Kitty", but she said that a man had already checked into the room Jim and I were in and they could only go inside if the guest was there.

After what seemed like an eternity on hold, the operator came back on the line and said that no one answered and Security wasn't able to go in the room to check. She did, however, talk to Housekeeping and verified that they threw "Kitty" away.

"Is that your company policy," I asked, "to throw away items that guests inadvertently leave behind?"

"No, ma'am, it is not," she replied.

"I would like to speak to whoever is in charge of guest services."

The operator tried to connect me to his office, but he was "unavailable." She asked if I wanted to leave a message. I said, "No, I don't want to leave a message. Who are you trying to connect me with? She gave his name and title. I then asked, "Who is his supervisor and could you please connect me with him or her?"

She gave me the supervisor's name and title, then tried to connect me. He was unavailable, but his assistant would talk to me. I took a deep breath and explained to this woman what had happened and how horrifying it was for me to tell the story several times about my lost Hello Kitty vibrator. I recited a litany of complaints re my time spent at their hotel and how this was the final straw. I realize how ridiculous I must have sounded, a woman coming undone because of a missing Hello Kitty vibrator. She assured me that they would resolve the situation to my satisfaction and that she would confer with her boss to come up with a solution.

I got off the phone and Jim said, "You realize that you'll be the talk of the hotel staff for quite some time." I screamed at the heavens, "I don't care, I want my Kitty!"

An hour later the man in charge of guest services called to apologize and that he would be more than happy to replace "Kitty". I wonder if he heard Jim laughing at me in the background. I gave him my address and the URL where he could purchase another Hello Kitty vibrator, then hung up, still despondent over the loss of "Kitty".

Jim then reminded me, "You know, your Hello Kitty suitcase got a lot of attention from the hotel staff when we were checking in and out. I'm sure once this story circulates around the hotel, they'll say, 'Oh, I bet it was that chick with the Hello Kitty luggage!'" Great, just what I wanted to be known for.

There is a happy ending to this story, though. A week or so later, while Jim's mom and Aunt Suzanne were visiting, a DHL package arrived addressed to "Celia Assguerra". It was my new Hello Kitty vibrator.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

why am i wearing a hat made out of corn husks?

Jim and I went to Aardvark Letterpress this past Saturday to pick up our wedding invitations. They're beautiful and I'm so jazzed!

Then we walked down the street to the Tamale Festival and ran into Don Garza, Dave and his wife Penelope. Somehow, I found myself sitting onstage next to Don, as one of the judges for the Best Tamale Contest.

When I woke up Saturday morning, I had no plans to judge a gourmet tamale contest. I just wanted to pick up the invitations, eat a few tamales, then head back home to spend several more hours writing. Dave and Penelope couldn't stay, they took off. Jim reminded me that we were having dinner with my parents and my Aunt Beth and Uncle Danny from Florida at 6pm. But I couldn't turn down the opportunity to sample all those tamales. So Don handed his camera to Jim to take pictures, then he and I took our seats onstage, forks at the ready.

There were five judges in all, including me and Don. The tamales were rated 1 to 5, 5 being the highest score, on presentation, texture, flavor, originality and overall. We tasted chicken, pork, beef, vegetarian and dessert tamales. The first category we tasted were the chicken tamales and there were seven entries in that category alone. It took forever for all the judges to sample all the entries. I noticed the time and said to my fellow judges, "Can we make this snappy? I have a dinner thing I can't be late for."

The beef and pork categories went by a lot faster, despite the chit-chat between the judges. The judge to my right whispered to me that she was just giving a score of 2 across the board for presentation and originality. She stopped talking to me when I told her that was just plain lazy. Jeez, I was kidding. We're sitting at a folding table on a stage in the middle of 7th Street in MacArthur Park, not on a Food Network sound stage.

Then it was time to judge the vegetarian category. The judge to my left suggested we judge the vegetarian ones on presentation alone since no one really wanted to eat a vegetarian tamale. It was tempting, considering that by this time we had tasted about 21 tamales. But I tasted and rated all the vegetarian ones, it was only fair. Surprisingly, one of my favorite tamales won in the vegetarian tamale category (Gourmet Tamales).

I had a blast eating tamales and watching the audience from the stage. The entire time we were onstage, there were two drunks in front, dancing and screaming at the MC in Spanish. I didn't understand what they were saying, but they'd punctuate their rants with a shimmy and a booty shake so it was all highly entertaining. Finally, trophies were handed out in all categories and I got out of there in time to make dinner. But not before I was made to wear a hat made out of corn husks. Pictures of that can be found here. I still can't believe no booze was involved.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

corruption in the wga?

I attended the Screenwriter's Conference & Expo last week and took Jim with me. In addition to the panels that were free with registration, they scheduled a Day of Pixar, which Jim attended, so he had plenty to see and do. I was able to test my iPod voice recorder on a couple classes and seminars, but the battery died after an hour of recording, so all my lecture/seminar recordings are incomplete. Sigh.

On Thursday, there was a special all-day session focused on pitching. The comedic highlight of the day was Dave Johnson's cautionary tale of what not to do on a pitch - specifically, he advised that you go to the bathroom before going into a pitch so that you won't have to pee into an empty Evian bottle while sitting in your MiniCooper in the parking structure. Refraining from doing that means you won't look like a perv holding your penis in your car and you won't accidentally spill urine on your jeans like he did. Yeah, pretty basic stuff, but helpful just the same.

Finally, don't sit/lie on the hood of your car so that the sun will dry the wet spot on your jeans, and certainly don't try to rub it vigorously to dry it, like he did. You never know if the producer you're pitching with will pull up at that exact moment. But if that does happen to you, like it did to Dave, try to wash your hands before the meeting. And if you don't get a chance to wash before your meeting, don't tell the room. But if you do decide to tell the room that you peed into a water bottle in the parking lot and spilled it onto your jeans and didn't wash your hands, tell them after you shake hands, like he did. I'm so glad I was there to get all that down. I'll never pee into an empty water bottle in my car right before a pitch, not anymore.

JF Lawton spoke later that afternoon and got all the paranoid writers in the room riled up. He spoke of the different ways he got ripped off, how other writers he knows got ripped off, and how those in the audience could get ripped off in Hollywood. For those not familiar with his work, this is the guy who wrote Pretty Woman, Under Siege (1 & 2), and the Pamela Anderson TV show, VIP (hey, my sister was a producer on that show!). Lawton was bitter and angry, practically spitting out the incendiary words. The crowd was eating it up.

Then Lawton mentioned that he and eleven (?) other writers are cooperating with the Justice Department and the FBI, testifying against the Writer's Guild on a corruption case. He said that the New York Times is working on a story that tells how elections at the WGA are rigged and that the entire executive board has been stealing from writers, taking bribes in arbitration cases, and dirty dealing with every studio in town. The crowd was working itself into a frenzy. Behind me I heard grumblings, everything from "I knew it, I knew those people would steal my ideas," to "They're out to screw us writers!" He went on to answer questions but kept repeating, "Just wait, the story will be in the New York Times any day now."

Then, just as the crowd was at a fever pitch, it was over. He was gone and the crew scrambled to get the stage ready for the next speaker. The hotel ballroom buzzed with a negative energy. I didn't know how anyone was going to follow that act. Then the next speaker, Robert Kosberg, took the mike and said, shaking his head, "Boy, I thought I was jaded and cynical."

I'm dying to read all about it.

Monday, October 23, 2006

birthday monkey

Today is my fiance's birthday and I'm taking him to Disneyland for the day, then for a Thai massage. He's so hard to shop for, you know what I mean?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

sunday, dwp fountain

On the way home from Griffith Observatory, I noticed that the fountains at the DWP Building were on. I pointed them out to Jim in the car and he said, "Wow." So I pointed my car at the Temple Street exit and before Jim knew it, we were parked in front, I grabbed my camera and was in front of the building, taking a few photos.

Then I crossed the street to the Music Center. The fountains were going off.

What a great way to end a very full Sunday.

sunday, griffith observatory

After leaving Club 33, Jim and I zoomed up to the Griffith Observatory. As Jim mentioned on his blog post, Mack Reed of LA Voice posted some great shots of the newly-renovated Observatory. But Mack took daytime pics and we were there at night. I got up on the roof to check out the telescope and the view took my breath away.

Our friends Helena and Garen came with us and we were the only ones on the shuttle from Hollywood & Highland. I was concerned that the place would be swarmed, but having the entire shuttle to ourselves was only a harbinger of things to come. There were very few people, I guess everyone wanted to see the Observatory by the light of day.

After taking a gazillion photos, I looked for the telescope.

Found it. They moved the dome around while we were in there and I chatted up one of the staffers. He seemed kind of bitter, griping here and there about the current management of the Observatory, but he answered all my dumb questions and was really passionate about his work. Then I checked out the pendulum, but mostly I eavesdropped on the staffers.

Hey look! Saturn and Uranus! (I know, I'm a child.)

Make your reservations asap, they did a nice job on the place. I know I'll be back.

sunday, club 33

Jim already posted something on his blog about our busy Sunday, hopping from the exclusive, members-only Club 33 in Disneyland to the Griffith Observatory, to catching the fountains at the DWP Building on our way home. These are my Club 33 pics:

It was pretty crowded because of Disney's Halloween Time and their Haunted Mansion Holiday, but my friend Berda was celebrating her 25th anniversary of working for SBC and I had never been to Club 33 before, so I was really excited to check it out, crowds be damned.

We were in the dining room at the top of the landing, right next to the elevator.

The waiter was nice enough to keep my champagne glass filled. The buffet was chill, they had all-you-can-eat lobster, crab and shrimp, which came in handy because we were surrounded by members of the Lemon-Butter Club, and a great dessert buffet, too. Balconies lined one side of our dining room and we could look out over New Orleans Square, the other walls had framed photographs and memorabilia.

The toilet was weird. I was told it was shaped like a throne. Not so much.

Thanks again to Berda for the invitation to a great lunch at Club 33 and congratulations on your anniversary!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

slacker bride

I've got two months and 27 days before my wedding and I'm running a little behind in the planning department. I'm not panicked and I'm not turning into bridezilla (but I received two emails asking if I'd be interested in appearing on the show anyway), I just can't get all worked up about planning it. Mostly, I wish I could just show up and eat cake.

Since my wedding planner decided to quit his job and travel around the world for a year, we had to get a new one. And the new one is great, don't get me wrong, but I just don't think she understands what she's dealing with here. She said something during a meeting about Jim's and my "spiritual path" and I almost did a spit take. I started to laugh, so Jim poked me in the ribs so I'd behave but it had the opposite effect. Wait, which one am I again, Beavis or Butthead?

We're not going to elope, but sometimes I wish I could just snap my fingers and it's January 14, 2007 and it's all over except for the honeymoon. That's another thing. We were considering Thailand because we wanted to stay at this resort where we can learn to train elephants and another where monkeys bring us coconuts and beverages. Then they had this military coup and Jim didn't care about monkeys so much. We were over at my mom and dad's the next week and my mom told us she was going to school to be a travel agent.

"Great," I said, eager to get the travel arrangements off my list, "we'll be your first clients. We want to honeymoon in the Maldives, probably at Kuda Huraa for a week, on the luxury catamaran, The Explorer, for a few days, then that new resort that opens in November, I forget the name."

My mom turned to my dad, beaming, "Great! I've got my first clients already!" Then she turns to me and with a straight face, asks, "Where are the Maldives?" Sufficeth to say, we're looking for a new travel agent.

I think cake tastings are the only good thing about planning your wedding. It certainly isn't the budgeting. Jim and I ate cake all last week. We finally picked a cake designer/baker and that has me excited. Sometimes I wake up in the morning thinking of cake. Not the wedding cake, just cake. Jim's been laughing at me because he'll look over and catch me with this beatific smile on my face. He'll ask, "What are you smiling about?" and I laugh when I realize the answer is, "Cake!" Happened at least three times a day, every day last week.

There's still so much to do besides cake. Jim hasn't picked out what he's wearing yet and although I picked out my dress weeks ago and it's now hanging in my closet, I have grown to hate it. I must have been in the throes of temporary insanity, because I picked up a tiara while I was at it. Me, in a tiara. In an un-ironic way.

Jim and bridesmaids reassure me that everything's going to be fine, we've got plenty of time. Then we received a card from my cousin Maria, who is getting married in April 2007. It was a "Save The Date" card. Did I mention that we just managed to get our "Save The Date" cards in the mail a day or so before we received hers? In addition to the reminder, Maria secured special airfare and hotel rates and included that information with the card. Yeah, we suck.

Maybe I'm somewhat in denial and I'll start to really panic about a month before and work up to a nice buildup by the wedding day. And I was really hoping to avoid being one of those sedated brides.

shopper shuttle excursion

My friend Camille, who owns and operates a great shopping service called Shopper Shuttle, called me, "There's a winery near the Camarillo Outlet that we want to check out. Would you and Jim like to help us evaluate their winery tour and tasting, make sure it's something we can recommend to our customers?" Hmm, let me think, wine and shopping, and someone else drives. Without hesitation (and without asking Jim), I jumped up and down, yelling, "Yes! Yes! Count us in!"

Jim made a face when I told him about the shopping part. "Don't worry, there's a Nike outlet, a Levi's outlet," I took a deep breath and lied, "And I'm sure there's a Mac store there, too."

As it turned out, Jim was sick that day and stayed home in bed. The winery tour sucked, the people that worked in the restaurant there were rude, and the woman who gave the tour looked and acted like the witch who tried to eat Hansel and Gretel. No lie, she bitched out a woman because she left her stroller at the bottom of the stairs and let her kid wander more than six feet away from her. I thought she was going to drop-kick the kid on her way back to our group. We were really taken back by her outburst, but grew extremely uncomfortable when she stage whispered nasty things about "those people" to our tour group. Once out of earshot, Matt (the only guy in our tour thanks to Jim being "sick") impersonated her voice, saying, "How did you get out of the oven, little girl? Get back in there!" Highlight of the tour. Needless to say, that winery didn't make the cut.

At least the drive up there and back was beautiful. We took the coastal route, here's the group, looking at the seascape on the way back.

Looking back where we came from, then south towards Los Angeles.

Shopper Shuttle is taking reservations for Thanksgiving weekend shopping excursions. I'll probably take their Shuttle to the Camarillo Outlet for their Day After Thanksgiving Sales, since their stores open at midnight. I went last year, got there around 2am and didn't come back until 7:30am. However, I went shopping at South Coast Plaza with my mom right after breakfast, from about 8:30am until midnight. That's what, almost twenty hours of shopping? And probably about nineteen more hours than Jim is willing to do. So I guess I'm going shopping with the Shopping Sherpas again that weekend.

Monday, October 16, 2006

mail bag

We get email:

Dear Vagina Monologue:

I realize you're in the throes of wedding planning bliss, but could you maybe update your blog already? Tell me about the trannies, hookers, drug dealers, corpulent security guards, lofties, their dogs, increased police presence, and kooky behavior on the piss-soaked streets of rapidly-gentrifying downtown. Where's your astrologer? Are you still hanging out with your drug buddy? Where is your supersecrelatenighthangout? Where should I go to get the best burger/sushi/thai/chinese/bbq/mexican/armenian/pizza after 2am downtown, and do you think Fiore's is better than Pinkberry, location aside?



Yeah, sorry about that. I blame it on work. But now the television project that I was working on is over. They wanted to extend my contract, but I wasn't feeling it. Feels good to turn down work I can't get excited about. Most importantly, I finally turned in the screenplay to Bigshot Producer and they like it. She called me the other day to get my input on casting. The next few weeks could be very exciting.

Monday, September 18, 2006

hasselhoff, king of the internet

David Hasselhoff declares himself King of the Internet in this hilarious British TV ad for PipeX.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

grief never comes to me properly

Grief comes to me at times when I most expect it to, at the most obvious times. The first anniversary of her passing. Or at night, when I try to silence all the noise from the day, all the noice that resonates in my head.

I don't expect it to come to me, but it does when a stranger says her name. But who expects that? A stranger. It came to me when I received mail from her brokerage firm addressed,"Custodian of..." I thought it strange that it came to me when I realized my vintage, beaded, Carmen Marc Valvo gown was stolen. I cried for both losses, unequal as they were.

But grief never comes to me properly. Not fully. Just in little annoying spurts. I wish it would stop sneaking up on me to tap me on the shoulder, only to disappear when I turn around. Then I'm left with this nagging feeling, it's there, just within arm's reach. And it's going to hit me hard and I can't brace myself, suck in my gut, or prepare in any way for a hit.

I'm going out, to be with friends. I'll hear it again, I'm sure of it, "You seem happy." Usually, I detect a mix of surprise and relief. Don't worry, I'm not going to fall apart in front of you. Because grief just doesn't come to me properly anymore.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

if you can read this, you're better off than 40 million others

My sister Laura used to volunteer her time teaching adult literacy classes at the Central Library. She had to jump through a few hoops, starting with an interview and then a seven-hour tutor training course. After all that, a student match was made.

His name was Julio and he was in his mid-20's. Although he spoke English, Julio didn't know how to read. As per the requirements of the program, Laura committed to six months of two 90-minute sessions a week. Laura would come home from her tutoring session with stories of his progress, his frustration in never having enough time to do his homework, how he struggles to shelter, clothe and feed his family, of the things he read that resonated with him. This person, this Julio - he and his struggle - interested me greatly and we talked about him extensively. But seeing how it affected Laura, that was fascinating.

The work was gratifying, that much was obvious. One only had to listen to Laura speak of any of their tutoring sessions. But she took on his frustration as well as celebrating his accomplishments. It became very personal to her, very important that Julio succeed. Laura was glad to help this man who so desperately wanted to read a Dr. Seuss book to his young son.

After her six-month stint was up, I was surprised that Laura didn't immediately sign up for another student match. She needed a break, she was wrung out. "Why don't you volunteer?" she asked. She knew the answer before the words had even formed in my mouth, "I wish I could, but you know my crazy schedule. I can't make that time commitment." She nodded and let it go. She never asked me about it again, though adult illiteracy was a topic that often came up in our conversations. When Laura passed away last September, we asked that people make contributions to the Adult Literacy Services Program in lieu of flowers. She would've liked that.

I keep coming back to this program, especially since my fiance Jim volunteers his time as a docent at the Central Library. It makes perfect sense for me to volunteer. I'm a writer, why wouldn't I want more readers out there? Unfortunately, my excuses for not volunteering still hold. But I keep coming back to it. I want to do it, just like I want to organize my shoes, CDs, and files. But still I can't locate my green suede Bruno Magli pumps, signed Barry Manilow box set, or that short story I wrote about an immigrant in Disneyland six years ago - and I still haven't volunteered to teach adult literacy classes. I know, I suck.

Hopefully, you don't suck as much as I do and want to do something about the estimated 40 million Americans who are illiterate. Then you can click here to find a literacy center near you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

election day for downtown

Don't forget to vote today in the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council election. Last week Jim and I went to the DLANC meeting where a room full of candidates gave speeches to, with some exceptions, a room full of candidates. Yeah, good times.

I guess I could post my observations of all the candidates, especially the one who claimed idiotically that there are no resources available for finding out what's going on downtown. When corrected with the DLANC website's URL,, blogdowntown and the many blogs on the blogroll, RAD-LA's email list, the Downtown News, etc., he retorted that it didn't speak to creative types, just lawyers and it didn't speak to the younger generation (ooh, snap.). That's the way to get people to vote for you - divide people between "us' and "them", insult those who fall into the "them" category in the room, participants and founders of any of the above-listed resources, anyone who's done anything before you, and anyone over the age of 25. I'm glad I don't live in Alameda East. After reading through my notes from the meeting, I realized that most everyone was open-minded, sincere, committed, and desirous of a wonderful downtown for all. Except for that one guy.

Blogdowntown has posted some candidate statements. What really teed me off though, some stupid commenters tried to do a nasty smear campaign on one candidate. I guess if you didn't know the guy they were trying to smear, it could be effective, which sucks hard. I mean, I like Genevieve Liang (I spoke with her briefly after last week's DLANC meeting), but Russell Brown has done so much for downtown. He jumped right in and got involved, it didn't take him a year to figure out where to go, what to do and how to improve his then-new neighborhood. But all these commenters could come up with is that he's "an aging party queen" and that he can be found having a PBR at Pete's Cafe. Let's see, where do I start? Oh yeah. Uh, we're all aging, baby. And whether or not Russell is a party queen has nothing to do with his accomplishments and his commitment to making downtown liveable. What else? Oh yeah, Russell sent out a previous statement that when he's not doing a million other things (see his resume below), he can also be found enjoying a PBR at Pete's. I guess those asshole commenters left that part out conveniently and tried to paint him as someone who holds meetings at downtown bars. I wonder if any of those commenters ever attended a DLANC meeting at the DWP building or any of the resident's association meetings in a gallery on Spring Street. Doubt it.

Eric of Blogdowntown hasn't posted Russell Brown's candidate statement (he's running for the area-wide resident seat), so I'll post it here. He's providing a free shuttle to get everyone to the voting site, for chrissake!
Hello Neighbor,

After months of preparation, TUESDAY is ELECTION Day for Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council.

Here's the Pitch. I am running again as the Downtown area-wide resident For Downtown LA Neighborhood Council (DLANC). Below is a partial community resume. If you are a resident within our borders (approximately within the freeway circle except for Artist District or Little Tokyo), I would like your vote.

All I ask is 30 minutes of your time for 2 years of my time.

I am providing a free shuttle ride from 4th and Main in front of Farmer's and Merchant's Bank. Shuttle starts at 12:30 PM and goes to 7:30 PM. Every ½ hour on the hour and on the ½ hour.

Tuesday Sept 12th * Election Day
LOCATION Macy's Plaza Courtyard
700 S. Flower TIME Noon to 8:00 PM

Why Downtown?
After years of living in other neighborhoods, I decided it was time to cash out of the big house in the hills, and see if my aspiration of loft living in a recycled historic building was worth all the effort. Instead of just a place to live, I also found a creative community of friends and community builders who wanted to create new neighborhoods and organizations where history had already laid tracks for 100 years. My favorites of the New Downtown include Gallery Row, 40 new loft projects, (almost) all adaptive reuse, Disney Hall, The Grand Avenue with a Great Civic Park and an iconic Gehry high-rise, LA Live, a redeveloped LA River, and noodle shops in Little Tokyo. These all make an amazing soup of diversity and inspiration. I hope I can help others find their involvement, create their new neighborhoods and to find friend and inspiration along the way.

If 2 years from now, I can look back and have tackled these issues, downtown and its residents, will be that much better off:

• Connecting Communities- Creating communications, entertainment and social networks for new residents & businesses, Increasing opportunities for community involvement, Initiating a welcome packet program for downtown residents with business participation.

• New Amenities and Improved Safety- Supporting Gallery Row and other downtown organizations, Promoting small business retail and service opportunities, Green space/ pocket park creation, Main Street renovation project, Grand Ave Civic Park Project.

• Preserving Historical Resources- by promoting Urban Village and pedestrian design guidelines, historical resource surveys, preventing inappropriate projects that destroy neighborhoods.

Help me be part of that change by helping others to get involved.

Community Resume:
• Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council – Executive Committee, Secretary, Planning and Land Use Committee, Outreach Committee, Election Committee Chair, DLANC- Area wide resident.

• Resident's Association of Downtown Los Angeles (RAD-LA)
Founder and Moderator of outreach and discussion group on community issues of downtown residents within Historic Core and Center City East.

• Historic Core Neighborhood Block Grant Committee- Vice Chair.
HCNBG has funneled over $1 million in community improvement project in the Old Bank District. Next project, Fall 2006, includes $300,000 for Main Street renovations including safety, landscaping, lighting and business development improvements from Winston Alley to 7th Street.

• OUTinDowntownLA – Organizing Chair, gay & lesbian social group for downtown & adj. neighborhoods, 500 members.

• Selah Artistic Giving Center – Co-Founder & Founding Benefactor.
Selah AGC is located in the Artist District and is a community based non-profit dedicated to Los Angeles' artist community. Sponsor of F.A.B. Market.

Old Bank District ArtWalk- Volunteer coordinator and outreach co-chair.
Partnered with Roy Montibon to further participation and outreach. 3 years

• CRA Hollywood Blvd. & Western Redevelopment Advisory Committee.
Neighborhood Council rep. with 4 NC's, Thai CDC, CD-4 Tom LaBonge, CD-13 Eric Garcetti, Community Redevelopment Agency and City of LA Mayor's office.

• Hollywood United Neighborhood Council, Past Chair, Past Vice President, Executive Committee, Board Member for 4 years, Planning & Land Use Committee Chair

• Community Hollywood- Founder and Moderator of discussion and outreach group on community issues. CH is focused on neighborhood council, development and general interest issues in Hollywood.

• Los Angeles Conservancy Walking Tour docent

• Stonewall Democratic Club, Steering Committee & Board Member-12 years.

• 12 years political activism and lobby experience including Washington DC and Sacramento

So if you're a downtown stakeholder (either a resident, downtown worker or involved in some way with a downtown organization), get out and vote today.

amateur barbarian

When my friend Adam told me of his plan to quit his job and travel around the world for a year, I suggested he blog about it. Two months later, Adam started his year-long adventure, is now in Rarotonga, blogging, and he says this about himself on his online travel diary, Amateur Barbarian,
"I've quit my job, rented out the house, and am on my way to having a full-scale midlife crisis."

He's already broken down the history of topless dancing, compared Papeete to Disney's Tiki Room, covered a highly controversial desexing of a fertility god, and managed to zing Ali of Cole's. He's also uploaded some great pictures of what he left behind and where he's at now. It's so Adam.

Monday, September 11, 2006

five years ago today

I fell asleep with the television on and awoke right before the second plane hit the WTC. My sister Laura worked for Senator Boxer in the Federal Building downtown, so I scrambled to wake up and make sure she had no crazy ideas of going in to the office. She didn't. Helena still lived at the penthouse, she was finishing up a degree at FIDM. So Helena, Laura and I sat in Laura's room watching the news coverage, crying. We came to our senses and dialed our friends living in New York. We couldn't get through.

The night before, I was on the phone with my friend Fred. He was telling me all about his meeting the next morning, at the WTC. And now I couldn't reach him on his cell phone.

We couldn't stay cooped up in the penthouse any longer, unable to make contact with our friends in New York. So we ventured out onto the empty streets of downtown Los Angeles. At the time Helena was friends with some chick who was a raging alcoholic and it colored so much of our behavior back then. I forget her name but I think she was sleeping on our sofa at the time. Helena grabbed a six-pack of beer from the fridge and the four of us walked down the street to Angelique Cafe. We sat on the patio and ordered damn near everything - the charcuterie plate, the cheese plate, coq au vin, the salmon omelette, merguez sausage sandwich - one of everything. The streets were quiet, save for a car here and there disturbing the eerie silence. We sat quietly, eating and drinking the beer out of brown paper bags. Classy, yes, but at the time, we didn't care.

Later that afternoon, the first of many phone calls from New York arrived. But not from Fred. Everyone else we knew was safe. Frightened, angry, confused and inconsolable - but safe. We walked back to the penthouse, checked the news and sat in the living room, looking at our city's skyline and contemplating what it would've been like had any of our buildings fallen. It was too horrifying to contemplate, so we drank more and more, yet unable to achieve a drunken state. I remember asking Laura, because she would know best, "What do you think will happen next?" She shrugged her shoulders and said, "Whatever it is, we have to survive it."

Friday, September 08, 2006

lucas leaves for nyc

After taking some great pics of stuff happening in Los Angeles, ex-loftmate Lucas took a staff job with Reuters in New York City, covering entertainment. Sweet for him, but we are sad to see him go.

When Lucas first moved into the penthouse eight months ago, he was also new to Los Angeles. After a few months of hanging out, we decided that I would pick one new Los Angeles thing a week to introduce him and Jim to. We didn't exactly stick to our schedule, because work and other things got in the way. Or we let them. Or we just kept going back to our supersecretlatenighthangout instead of going anywhere new. Whatever.

Wednesday night, Jim, Wathana and I took Lucas to the New Otani Summer BBQ Beer Garden for dinner. It was a beautiful summer night, we ate and drank prodigiously, and Lucas even waded in a pool. Good times. At some point I might find a card reader so I can download the pictures I took that night. Did I mention I hate moving?

So last night, Lucas packed up the last of his things and left. This morning, ex-loftmate Bob emailed pictures of his leaving and had this to say:

Ola loftamigo -

Tonight Lucas walked out of his empty room in the Alexandria penthouse, crossed Spring St. to the open lot where his car and loaded U-Haul waited, packed in a last couple of things, checked the padlock on the U-Haul door, got in the car, then pulled straight ahead through the lot to Main St. and made a left. At 9:36 PM with the silver grace of the full moon, he vanished out of sight and out of LA, headed for New York City.

(Pictures courtesy of Robert Bradford)

I know you'll be back Lucas, but we're going to miss you anyway. Say hi to Skip for me!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

the circle is almost complete

This past weekend, Jim and I went to a barbecue at Dave and Penelope's loft. For some reason I never connected that they were so close by, now they're in the next building. We went up onto their roof to barbecue and we could see right into our bathrooms. We really should get curtains up soon.

Dinner was delicious, so were the mojitos that Penelope whipped up. And it was nice meeting the neighbors and a few of their friends. After dinner, soon-to-be-ex-loftmate Lucas called. He and Genevieve were on the patio at Pete's. So Dave, Penelope, Jim and I joined them. I forget most of the rest of that night because I think we drank a lot of mojitos and two bottles of wine and then champagne. I remember seeing new neighbor Jeremy at a nearby table. I remember Dave and Penelope came over to the new pad after we left Pete's. The rest is hazy. The gargantuan headache and hangover the next morning, now that was vivid.

Earlier tonight, I looked at the pictures on my camera, expecting to find pictures like the one Jim posted of a Pechanga sunset. Then I found a picture that reminded me what else happened at Pete's that night. I squealed in delight and showed Jim. He shook his head, "You can't blog about that. Don't you remember? You promised you wouldn't." Damn. I must've been drunk, otherwise I never would've agreed to that. But don't worry guys, I'll keep my drunken promise and won't post that picture or tell anyone about it! And thanks again for dinner, I had a blast.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Earlier today I looked at the blogdowntown blogroll and realized I've now met Dave, Eric, Don, Brady, and Ed and I'm engaged to Jim (okay, that I didn't need to look at the blogroll to remind me) - the circle is almost complete. But weren't there others on the blogroll? I remember that Daniel moved to Koreatown (which I don't get because the crackheads are meaner over there). Wasn't there some other chick on this blogroll?

my name is

Does a move necessitate a name change? Surprisingly, only two or three people have asked if I'm changing the name of the blog since I will no longer be at 5th and Spring. Any suggestions? Or should I just leave it?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

in remembrance of

Laura Esguerra Adams
July 5, 1969 - September 3, 2005

I love and miss you Laura.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

the tv edition

The elevator guy came and fixed the elevator today. Then Jim and Big Eric rode down with him to the first floor and they let him leave the building. I would’ve chained him to the elevator until we moved all our stuff in. But no, Jim and Big Eric let him go, then came back up to our floor, at which point the elevator broke again. Did I mention that we don’t have Internet access at our new pad yet? If I want the Internets, I have to navigate seven flights of stairs and two blocks to my old pad or Lost Souls. With all those obstacles, you’d think I’d have something more substantial to say other than I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.

At least we have DirecTV. So after a full day of writing and not moving my stuff in because our elevator still isn’t working, I watch television. We also have two DVRs for optimum TV watching capabilities. What have I been watching? With the exception of Psych and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, nothing but guilty pleasures. Entourage, which I'm sure everyone already knows about, is one show I don't miss. But the silliest show of them all, the one that makes me scream, is Pants Off Dance Off. You've probably never heard of it, but it's brilliant. All sorts of people, all ethnicities, young old, gay, straight, male, female - they go in-studio to dance to their favorite video, while they take their clothes off. They also run a commentary by the stripping dancer. They compete against others doing the same, and you can vote via phone or online. Just before they strip down to their naughty bits, they stop the video and direct them online to see the final reveal. Brilliant. I think I watched six hours of it.

With the new fall lineup just around the corner, I need to figure out what I'm going to watch this season, what I'll TiVo, which new shows I'll consider, etc. After all, you never when you're going to find another Pants Off Dance Off.

I Netflixed the pilot for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and loved it. Amanda Peet and Matthew Perry are very funny, the characters are well-drawn, and the writing is very snappy. I really miss West Wing, but hopefully this will help me get over it. So with Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations on the Travel Channel, my Monday night is set. Tuesday night I just might give Friday Night Lights a chance. I loved the movie, saw it about 30 times. I don't know why, I'm a sucker for inspirational sports movies (Rudy, Remember the Titans, Brian's Song, Major League 1 & 2, Bad News Bears, The Benchwarmers)

Of course, Lost remains on my viewing schedule. J.J. Abrams is brilliant. He creates such rich, compelling characters, from all the kids in Felicity, to Sydney et al in Alias, and to damn near everyone on the island. I don't speculate about the meaning or delve too deeply into the show. For me, it’s just pure escapist fun.

But when it comes to escapism and guilty pleasures, I think Fashion House and Desire take the cake. Long ago, back in the 90’s, my friends would gather on a Monday night and watch Melrose Place together. In the 80's, it was Dallas and Falcon Crest. I haven’t watched soap operas in years, but every now and then I’ll watch Korean, Filipino and Hispanic telenovelas with the sound off. Now, MyNetworkTV is programming telenovelas for American audiences with the launch of Fashion House starring Bo Derek and Morgan Fairchild and a second show, Desire, starring pretty people you’ve ever heard of. I've seen the pilot (through a friend who works at Fox) for both shows and funny enough, both shows start with two people in bed the morning after having had raucous sex. While Desire has guns, a Mafia plotline, and things blowing up, Fashion House has Bo and Morgan in at least three catfights. Meow.

I need to get out more.

day 3 - elevator still inoperable

Jim and I didn’t want to deal with finding our kitchen stuff, so yesterday we ventured out into our new neighborhood for breakfast. We’d been there countless times before, but since we’re in much closer proximity, Angelique Cafe is our new neighborhood café. We sat out on the patio enjoying the lazy morning, our bustling neighborhood, and the yummy food.

Halfway through our meal, I noticed someone taking a lot of camera equipment out of his car parked at the loading zone. “Hey Jim, isn’t that Gary Leonard?” I asked between heaping mouthfuls of Croque Madame. Jim stopped chewing on his prosciutto sandwich long enough to take a long look at Gary and say, “Yeah.” As if on cue, Gary came over and said hi and mentioned the pictures were to accompany a review of Angelique for the Downtown News.

We chatted about the fate of the Alexandria Hotel, the changes that I’ve noticed just in the short time since the sale, and the pictures I want to take of the place before I leave, before they change everything. Gary snapped pics of Jim dining against the backdrop of Angelique Café’s window. I hope some of those pictures end up in the paper this Friday. I took some pics with my phone, but I still haven't figured out how to get them onto my computer.

Monday, August 28, 2006

going, going, not yet gone

The elevator in our new pad isn't working. Seven flights up is a long way when you've got to haul all your belongings with you. I've been chained to my laptop for the past four months, unable to work out because of crazy deadlines, so factor in having to haul an extra 15-20 pounds (overweight writer's ass) and my carpal-tunnel syndrome-plagued hands unable to grip much and you can understand why I feel like I've been hit by a truck this morning.

We moved most of Jim's stuff out, but only managed to get my bed, a few boxes and the bar out of the old penthouse. My mom came over Saturday to help me pack. She looked at something like four five-foot stacks of shoes and said, "You have a lot of shoes." Sigh. Yes, I have a lot of shoes.

Speaking of shoes, the other weekend Jim was nice enough to accompany me to the Bridal Expo at the convention center. I went in hopes of being picked to participate in the Cake Dive (where five women slog through a six-foot tall, four-foot wide cake to find a $5,000 diamond), but no luck. Jim said if they had picked me it would've been game over. But why shoes? At the fashion show, they offered a sapphire necklace to the first guy onstage wearing a pair of women's shoes on their feet. So Jim threw his five sizes too big feet into my shoes and ran up. I wish I had a camera, Jim was hilarious. So now I have a sapphire necklace and stretched-out shoes. Thank you Jim!

And a big thank you to our friends who helped with the move - Albert and Lisa, James, Angel, Wayne, Tastypants and my mom - you guys are lifesavers and we can't thank you enough.

But now, the move continues. And the elevator is still not working.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

the new pad

Jim and I are moving into our first pad together. It's downtown, two blocks away from Jim's pad and my current pad. It's the penthouse where we first met, where my sister was married, where we held the blood drives, where Jim drunkenly disrobed and posed for pictures wearing a towel, and where we had our engagement party a few months ago. I feel like we won the lottery.

Our dear friend and wedding coordinator Adam, the previous tenant, decided to quit his job and spend a year traveling around the world. By the way, we need a new wedding coordinator. So Adam called us with his good news and asked if we were interested in taking over his lease. We jumped at the chance, jumped through some hoops for the landlord, and yesterday, we picked up the keys to our new pad.

More to come.

favorite alexandria penthouse memories

I wish blogger existed back in 1991 when I first moved downtown, to South Park. Or when I first moved into the Alexandria nine years ago. I've managed to write about a few events and characters I've run across and interacted with, but it was nothing like the first few years.

We used to throw huge parties in the penthouse. Imagine having a thousand people over at your house for a party that didn't end until the sun came up. The first party I threw with my new loftmates resulted in one guy throwing himself off my roof and impaling himself on a parking meter on 5th Street. My then-boss saw him jump. A co-worker at the time was in his car, waiting to get into my parking garage when the body hit the ground. He called me and I was in my bedroom answering the phone when another co-worker ran in and said, "Celia, someone just jumped off your roof". The cops came, interviewed the witnesses, about 50 of them, in my bedroom while the party raged on outside. I asked the cops if I should break up the party. They said no emphatically, smoked my cigars and hit on my girlfriends while conducting the investigation. Multi-taskers, all of them. The last reveler left the party around 6AM. The security guard stationed outside Charley O's when the body dropped quit the next day.

We've had lots of parties since where we didn't have a body count, but that seems to be the one that people remember most. Even more than the one where about people on the dance floor took their clothes off. The security guards tried to get them to put their clothes back on, until jet-set roommate and I told them it was okay. Even more than the vintage porn projected onto neighboring abandoned buildings, people remember the party with the dead guy.

Chris the Magician moved out so that I could move in. He took his pet pig, snakes, rats, and cages full of crows with him. I remember pulling up to the curb to move stuff in, just as he was trying to get the pig in his car.

Jet-set roommate Kedric had been there almost a year when I moved in. He wasn't jet-set back then. As I wrote out the check to loftmate Bob, he promised that he wouldn't run around the place naked now that I was moving in. I assured him I didn't want him to change his behavior just on my account. I've never seen him naked. But I did hear his ex-girlfriends Emily and Helena fake orgams badly from out in the hallway, but not at the same time. Ah, Emily. Now she was crazy.

Sculptor Taft Green lived there at the time. He was always in his room, or in one of the five artists' studios, or in our living room working on a sculpture or something. I've run into Taft at the Bounty, I wonder if he gets nostalgic for the penthouse.

I'm sure more memories will come to mind as the month progresses. I'll try to scribble them down as I pack.

leaving 5th and spring

After nine years of living in the penthouse of the Alexandria Hotel, I am moving. I just got a chill. Even though I'm only moving two blocks away, it feels like a much bigger move. Living here the past nine years has been such an amazing experience, full of absolute standout memories - good and bad.

Before I could blog about the impending move, I had to tell my loftmate Bob, who, according to his postcard, was in Nya Tryckeriet, Lycksele (otherwise known as Lappland). I drafted an email giving notice, then called Jim over to ask his opinion. I read the email to him and was crying by the end. I'm such a sap. Bob came back this weekend but hadn't read my email when he called yesterday. So I had to rely on my amazing powers of recall and deliver the sensitive, well-crafted and finely-honed message orally, without crying. My memory sucks. I left out most of the good stuff. But at least I didn't cry.

I turned my screenplay in to bigshot producer at 1:23AM Monday morning. Since then I've been waxing nostalgic about the penthouse and daydreaming about the other penthouse that Jim and I will soon call home. I'm sad and excited, happy and anxious about saying goodbye to this place and saying hello to the new.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

cabin fever

I need to get out of here. But I have so much work to do still. I can tell I'm fast approaching burnout - a little crispy around the edges, snarky here and there, horribly impatient, prone to violent outbursts and sometimes just not making sense. Poor Jim, no wonder he insisted (or gently nudged) that we go out for dinner last night, rather than staying in. I don't think it did me much good, but he didn't try to smother me with a pillow while I slept, so in a roundabout way I guess it did.

We're going to take a short break and go to the Downtown News' "Best of Downtown Los Angeles" party tonight. I haven't had much social interaction besides Jim lately, so testing my rusty social skills, which were dubious to begin with (some might say nonexistent), at a party with politicians, fellow bloggers, relative strangers, the press and booze is probably not a good idea. But hey, if you see a crabby-looking Asian girl with a parasol sucking down those Fire & Ice cocktails, grab me another drink and say hi.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

nose to the grindstone

There's so much going on and I can't blog fast enough. A few weeks ago, my loftmate Lucas told me that the quality of my blogging lately has sucked ass. Maybe he was just upset because he thinks my blog has misrepresented his sexual orientation. But I can't help it if he photographs that way. To be fair, he's right. It has sucked. But there is an end in sight. I'm on the last rewrite for my screenplay. As soon as I turn it in, I promise I'll go back to blogging about the six-foot blonde trannie in the mini-skirt I saw walking east on 5th Street, the assholes in the Douglas Building who were throwing eggs at homeless people on their sidewalk, and Yoda sucking down margaritas and getting fisted by Ali at Cole's.

we're getting hitched at the train station

Jim and I finally picked a venue for our wedding - The Harvey House Room (scroll halfway down the page) at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. Here's the relevant part from the description on Wikipedia:
"Attached to the main building to the south is a small masterpiece, the remarkable station restaurant designed by southwestern architect Mary Colter (the last of the "Harvey House" restaurants to be constructed as a part of a passenger terminal). Although now usually padlocked and stripped of many interior furnishings, the topology of its rounded central counter dynamically thrust forward, its streamlined booths, and the inlaid floor patterns still constitute a busy and evocative sense of place. As with many Angelean locations, it has only survived by serving as an occasional filming location."

Jim wrote more about it here with a cool picture of the interior. I'm so jazzed.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

astrologist's b-day pool party at the standard

This past Saturday, the astrologist celebrated his birthday with a pool party at the Standard Hotel downtown. Jim and I picked up photographer and loftmate Lucas at the penthouse, then took a leisurely stroll to the Standard. It was much too hot to move with any sort of speed.

As soon as we go there, we made ourselves comfortable in a pod. Basically, it provided shade and we could lounge around in a very cool, waterbed of sorts. Once situated, I didn't want to move, so I depended heavily on the waitstaff and the kindness of those sharing my pod to keep me drunk. It was quite a scene so I took a few pictures, all from the relative comfort of the pod.

I didn't realize there was a gift-giving theme. Most of the presents the astrologist received were of the blow-up variety. Here's a picture of him blowing a pig.

Stephanie (the former Pat Benatar look-alike), Lucas, Jim and a waitress look on, speechless.

It seemed like everyone was on their cell phones. Typical.

Doesn't Jim look tres Hollywood in this pic?

Afterwards, we had a bite to eat in the restaurant downstairs, then it was on to Crewest for some gin and juice, turntablists, and hip-hop artwork. The rest of the birthday party went on to watch Repo Man at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, but we went to MOCA Nightvisions for the Rauschenberg show and to catch DJ Aoki and Kid Millionaire, but the highlight was watching lesbians make out by the fountain for a few hours.

Now it feels like summer is really here.

Monday, July 10, 2006

found my wedding dress

I'm not sure if I can carry this dress off, though.

(Thanks Helena!)

BTW, I forgot to mention that Jim and I finally threw some pictures from our engagement party online. Here they are, but the one below is one of my favorites.
jim and celia

Friday, July 07, 2006

it sucks being a responsible adult

I hope someone out there was able to make it to the free concert at the Hammer Museum earlier tonight (yesterday if you want to get technical about it) featuring my cousin Chris' band. You might have heard of them, Silversun Pickups. I had it on my calendar all week, but I got a call from Bigshot Producer - they want the rewrite muy pronto, which means Friday in Spanish. Okay, it doesn't, but I have to turn it in on Friday, which means I can't do anything until it's done.

At midnight tonight, I looked out the window and down the street towards my favorite supersecretlatenighthangout. Then the phone rang. It was Kristin, wondering if I was going to our supersecretlatenighthangout. She had already been partying, but wanted to continue. I toyed around with the idea - it's only for a few hours and I need a break anyways, I can pick up where I left off at 3am when I return from my short break. But I kept my eyes on the prize, made plans for the weekend (which she probably won't remember because she was already plastered), and went right back to work. So this is what it's like, being a somewhat responsible adult.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

weekend wrap-up and last remaining seats

Didn't do as much of what I hoped/planned to do over the holiday weekend, what with the heat and all. I did manage to take Jim to one of my favorite restaurants that I don't go to often enough, La Serenata de Garibaldi in Boyle Heights. I had the lengua, which was so tender and delicious it almost melted in my mouth. Jim gave the thumbs up on his beef flautas, but I didn't try it, I was so engrossed with my lengua. Their sangria was so yummy that Jim switched from the also yummy (but not as much as the sangria) margarita. A couple serenaded us, with guitar accompaniment, and it was just perfect. It was a beautiful, quiet dinner on a hot Saturday night - the perfect lull before the action-packed holiday weekend festivities.

We had dinner Sunday night as planned, Shannon blogged about it. Monday night, we went to the Hollywood Bowl for their 4th of July fireworks show and I managed to make it through special guest Kenny Loggins' performance (even though he didn't sing "Danger Zone" from Top Gun) and the loud, rude, disruptive members of the audience without my brain exploding or physical altercations. Jim said the Bowl's website said no cameras, so I wasn't able to practice taking pictures of fireworks, but everybody else and LA Voice ignored it and took pictures anyway. On Tuesday we caught a matinee of The Devil Wears Prada - Meryl Streep was wonderful, as was Stanley Tucci, and despite some minor annoyances in the story, I really enjoyed it. Then it was on to feasting and fireworks at Gabrielle and Jim's pad. Yeah, it was a good weekend.

Tonight, Jim and I are going to watch Rebel Without A Cause at the Los Angeles Theater, the last show in the season for the LA Conservancy's Last Remaining Seats.

This is the Palace Theater, taken while standing in line a few weeks ago.

This is the Los Angeles Theater, taken across the street while standing in line for the Harold Lloyd comedies at the Palace Theater.

This is the interior, taken during the screening for The Mask of Zorro.

Tonight's show is sold out, so you're out of luck if you didn't get your tix early. It's also the last night of Nights On The Town, where various downtown eateries and bars offer pre-theater dining deals and discounts. I better get going or we'll be late for dinner.

Friday, June 30, 2006

4th of july weekend plans

As always, there are a ton of things to do over the holiday weekend. I don't think I have the energy (I wilt in the heat) or the time to do it all and there is an awful lot of good programming on the telly and radio this weekend, but it's good to have goals.

I mentioned in an earlier post that Firecracker is kicking off the weekend with a summer block party tonight. I'm feeling really lazy though, so maybe just a movie? There's a 21+ screening for The Devil Wears Prada at the Arclight. Jim and I were supposed to go to a screening on the Fox lot earlier this week for The Devil and I was bummed that we missed it, but I wonder if I'll have the energy to leave the block (or Jim's sofa) and do anything tonight.

Saturday morning, if I wake up early enough and it's not too hot, I might check out the free, once-a month drum circle at the Music Center Plaza, Drum Downtown. But it always seems like the kind of thing that I'd be interested in for about five minutes, then I'm bored and wondering why I even left an air-conditioned room. Chances are, we'll just head over to Pho Siam Thai Spa for yet another wonderful Thai massage. Jim and I started working out again this week and we promised ourselves if we were good and worked out every day for a week, we'd reward ourselves with a massage. I started going to Pho Siam when they were in Hollywood, but now that they've moved downtown, I think they'll be seeing more of me and Jim. Then if I'm not too exhausted from the heat of the day, we might check out Bootie, LA's monthly mashup bootleg party at The Echo (it's their one-year anniversary!).

Sunday night means it's the 4th of July edition of the loftmates and friends dinner at the penthouse. Tim is back from Virginia this Saturday and he's grilling up a storm. I'm making sangria (red and white) and haven't decided what to do about dessert yet. I don't think I'm going to make it to the gym on Monday morning.

Monday night, we'll be at a picnic, then checking out the concert and fireworks display at the Hollywood Bowl. I love the fireworks show at the Bowl, I've never been disappointed. The show is sold out and I just found out that the special guest for the evening is Kenny Loggins. Yeah, whatever. I think my favorite show was the year Charles Nelson Reilly was the special guest, now he was crazy.

Then for the big event (4th of July), we're headed over to a friend's house for some down-home pyrotechnical displays. I think they live in a city that allows fireworks, so we might stop by a stand and get a box of sparklers.

Whew, I'm exhausted just contemplating the possibilities this weekend. One of my readers, Dan Dupill (who heads up the Rare Books Dept at the Central Library), was nice enough to send me a link with info on taking pictures of fireworks. Thanks Dan, I need all the help I can get. Jim must think that as well, he sent me this link. I'm going to practice taking pictures of fireworks so that when Jim and I go back to Vancouver for the Celebration of Light, I'll be ready. Have a safe and happy 4th of July everybody!

unidentified flying kitty

I was driving south on the 5 freeway, and when I say driving I mean parked, when I saw an object hovering in the sky. Unlike most kooks who spot a UFO, I was lucky to have my camera in the car.

What does it all mean?

bits and pieces of the past week

Jim and I attended Grand Performances screening of An Inconvenient Truth last weekend. Jim thought leaving his place at 5:40pm for an 8pm screening was a little much. But we had a couple stops to make before trekking up 4th Street to California Plaza and I knew the place would be packed and that people would get there early (I was right). We stopped at the Old Bank Deli to pick up our sandwiches, then to Lost Souls for a yummy ube shake with coconut for me, otherwise known as the 5th and Spring shake, and a Nutta Budda with soymilk for Jim, otherwise known as the trainedmonkey shake. Actually, nobody but me calls an ube shake with coconut a 5th and Spring shake (same with the trainedmonkey shake), but I figured I'd plant that seed somewhere. I digress.

Highlights of the evening - Richie Sambora (introduced by Mayor Villaraigosa as "Richie, uh, Santora") and Jon Bon Jovi sang "Livin' On A Prayer", some new song I'm unfamiliar with, a chill cover of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love & Understanding", and "Wanted Dead or Alive". Oh yeah, and Al Gore introduced the documentary. Good times.

We hit the Chinese Food Festival in Chinatown on Sunday. That was a big mistake. It was something like 300 degrees, which tends to cut down on my cravings for Chinese food. Thankfully, they were screening documentaries at the Grand Star, so we had a cold one in air-conditioned comfort when it got to be too much outside. It was obvious after watching the film for a few minutes that everyone else was in there for the same reason. BTW, if you're looking for something to do this weekend, Firecracker kicks off the 4th of July tonight at the Grand Star.

I was on my way to the gym earlier this week when I spotted several squad cars on Spring. About half of the officers were wearing vests that said "Parole" and they were handcuffing and arresting about six guys right outside of Charlie O's, the bar on the corner. I remembered that my phone takes lousy pictures, so I whipped it out and snapped this:

Then one of the officers whipped out his camera and took a picture of me taking pictures of them.

Then about four or five of the officers whipped out their cameras and started snapping away at me. Whatever. So I walked over, laughing, and one of the officers, Officer Cooper, told me that they were sweeping up a bunch of parole violators and that I would now be a lot safer in my neighborhood. I still don't understand why they whipped out their cameras to shoot me shooting them. Lame.

I met with bigshot producer and his crew on Tuesday, at their swanky offices in Beverly Hills. After a little pre-meeting banter, they said liked the script. What a relief, I was preparing for some harsh notes and lots of changes. Bigshot producer had a few questions and more notes, but basically they thought the script was 90% done. One producer said we're probably about two rewrites away from locking it down, but I'm hoping I can nail it on this next round. So my respite from this insane writing assignment was short-lived and I'm back to the grind. I am, however, taking time out this weekend to get a massage and eat a lot of barbecue. But not at the same venue. Wouldn't that be something though? To get a massage while you eat barbecue?

UPDATE: The Downtown News has a story on the Skid Row busts that targeted parole violators. The end of the article has a funny story about an incident at Pete's Cafe. How come nothing like that ever happens when I'm there?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

search terms that brought you here

In no particular order and in no way complete:

voodoo curses
bobby short charlie
downtown Los Angeles
ye olde taco house
David Hasselhoff video
technology challenged
tomkat theater blog
hooked on a feeling video
millionaire Filipino restaurants in states
pictures of Spiderman
you say ozo
Natalie Mains
Ben Stiller
midget on a wall
pet casting calls
Spiderman 3 shoot
February bank robbery California 2002
roller derby clothing
college party fifth
Julius Shulman
open container on JetBlue
Hollywood Sexcapades
homemade 4th of July centerpiece
Ozomatli, si se fue
neighborhood clothing

and my personal favorite, "fuck my girlfriend"