Monday, December 31, 2007

happy new year

penthouse bed

So many options for NYE in downtown Los Angeles, but Jim and I decided to stay in tonight and celebrate the New Year at home on our patio with a romantic dinner and some bubbly.

I hope all my blog readers have a safe and fun New Year's Eve. Best wishes to all for a happy and healthy 2008!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"kill the pigs and drink their blood"

I know, my dog blogs more than I have been lately, I suck. But the days really have been full. Some of you have noticed my Twitter badge there on my sidebar - I usually update that every morning when I show up for the 6am shift of the WGA picket line at Universal Studios. I do realize, however, that my blog readers don't want my twitters, they want stories.

On my first day of walking the 6am shift of the picket line at Universal Studios, this old guy in a black Mercedes approaches our intersection, honking his horn. It had been a little quiet, being 6am and all, so we start waving and cheering. The car gets closer and as he drives past us, he flips us off. Nice. Welcome to the WGA Strike.

I like that our gate doesn't chant. Once, someone tried to chant, "Two four six eight, our chants don't have to rhyme." It didn't take.

Gate 3 was dangerous at times. There were at least three different incidents where I thought I was going to get hit by an angry motorist. Getting flipped off by an old guy on the first day was nothing. One truck full of angry young men drove by and one of them leaned out the window yelling, "Get back to work you losers!" They could've easily thrown something at us.

One morning I watched as one writer stumbled his way to the picket line. It was 6am, I figured he was still half-asleep. He walks to the sign-in sheet, then asks me a question. I couldn't understand him at first, but I was eventually able to understand him.

He slurred, "So, do we have a runner that we can send out for more booze?"

I laughed, "More booze?"

He shrugged, not wanting to appear demanding, "Or weed."

I shook my head and continued walking. He fell in line behind me and immediately started hitting on this cute girl walking behind me. Although I was afraid we'd have to call the paramedics if he fell over and passed out, he made it through the entire shift and came back for many more. That's dedication. That's a fucking writer. Walk that drunk off, baby!

Did I mention how much looser my jeans are after all that walking? Someone brought a pedometer shortly after our shift changed from four hours to three hours of walking - we walked close to nine miles every morning. No wonder I have to eat at least two donuts per shift.

I used to think I was funny. Then I started walking with the writers on the 6am shift Universal Studios, Gate 3. Now, I don't think I'm so funny. The guys I walked with, they're funny. My strike captain? Nonstop funny. Did I mention that he calls me the token Asian on the line? (I'm not. How's that for funny?) At the end of each shift, he makes a few announcements, gives a little pep talk, and then ends with a rousing, "See you all back here tomorrow at 6am, and don't forget - kill the pigs and drink their blood."

Sadly, I won't be picketing at that location in the New Year. On our last day of picketing in 2007, my strike captain thanked everyone at Gate 3 for coming every morning at 6am and making such a strong showing. He mentioned that other strike captains ask him why we get such a strong showing at this gate. Before he could continue, someone shouted out, "We don't chant." We laughed, then of course, began to chant, "We don't chant! We don't chant!" After the laughter and chanting died down, he told us that the organizing committee wanted the picketers at Gate 3 to stay together, but to picket at another studio, "They'd like for us to stay together, so the majority of us will be picketing at NBC." Someone asked, "Just some of us?" He answered, "There are some people we don't want there, you know who you are." Okay, maybe you really had to be there for this to be funny, but remember, we were just coming off the 6am shift.

I attended a training session for those who want to picket location shoots, but I haven't been to one yet. Someone at Gate 3 predicted that I would become this militant location picketer in 2008, but I don't think that will come to pass. I'm not sure if I'll be joining the rest of the group at NBC or Warner Bros. I might decide to picket at Fox. But although the official picketing doesn't start up again until January 7th, I might join the Tonight Show picket line at NBC starting on January 2nd. Anybody want to join me in picketing Jay Leno?

wga strike goes to city hall

On December 18, 2007, I attended the City Council's Affordable Housing and Economic Development Committee's Hearing on the impact the WGA Strike has had on the local economy. I took a few pictures and some video.

room fills up
Seven-thirty AM and the room fills up with striking writers.

Kurt Voelker and other writers
Sitting in the Council Chambers, Kurt Voelker suddenly realizes I'm taking a picture. That's Joan Ling in the background, getting ready to testify.

Jack Keyser, from the Los Angeles Economic Development Office, speaks on the impact of the WGA Strike on the local economy (in three parts):

Then, after Jack Keyser finishes up, an economist from UCLA/Andersen Forecast spoke:

Then Steve MacDonald from FilmLA spoke:

John Bowman gave great testimony at the hearing about the WGA Strike:

As did Betsy Thomas:

Other writers (and below-the-liners) also testified, speaking eloquently about the effect of the WGA Strike on the local economy:

After the Committee Hearing, the writers who filled the Council Chambers gathered outside in front of City Hall to hear Eric Garcetti speak (and for a photo opp). After that short break, it was back inside for the City Council Meeting.

writers at City Hall front steps
writers gather in front of City Hall
writers gather at City Hall
writers listen to speakers at City Hall

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

my feet feel like bloody stumps

Sorry for the scarcity of blog posts, but when I get home from walking the WGA picket line, all I want to do is sit on my sofa. BTW, I've been picketing at Univesal Studios from 6am to 10am and will continue to do so. Wonton guilts me into taking him out for a walk when I get home, but Jim has been doing all the heavy lifting there while I just shuffle along for the ride.

I've met a lot of really nice people on the line. Unfortunately, feature writers don't get to meet or socialize with other writers the way that television writers do, so it was good to be able to connect with other writers. I didn't see anyone I knew crossing our picket line into Universal. My husband says that if I am able to keep just those I used to date from entering the lot, then the picket line will be a success.

I'll have more stories from the picket line, but right now I have to get going. I'm heading out to Hollywood Blvd. for the big WGA labor solidarity rally. Hope to see you out there!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

november downtown dogwalk

What does it mean when my puppy, Wonton, has a more active social calendar than mine? Hope to see a lot of other downtown dogs and their owners tonight.

Friday, November 09, 2007

fellatio, first floor

Something happened in the lobby of my building the other night that reminded me of the elevators and the stairwell outside my front door when I lived at the Alexandria Hotel. I don't remember if I ever wrote about it, but I often joked that the 8th floor stairwell outside my front door was the best place to score a $5 handjob from Cheryl the coke whore. I never saw anything, but when I'd pass by late at night, I'd often hear things.

So there I was, headed out with Wonton for his second walk of the day. Jim said he'd hop in the shower and meet us on the way back. Wonton and I rode down the elevator and when we got to the front door, it was broken, completely off its hinge. I didn't want to leave the door unlocked and hanging open, not in my neighborhood, but Wonton kept pulling at his leash. I saw that Ken the Handyman's office door was open and I heard his voice. He was probably on the phone trying to get someone to come out and fix the door. I figured, Jim's right behind me, Ken's right there in the lobby, it was probably okay to head out.

Later, as planned, Jim joined us as we headed back home on Main Street. We approached the front door - it was still hanging off its hinge. Obviously, we didn't have to punch in our entry code, so I heaved the door open, let Wonton and Jim inside, then tried to heave the door in place behind us. It wasn't happening, the door wouldn't close. I noticed that Ken's office door was closed and wondered if he was at Home Depot, trying to get a new door.

I walk over to the elevator and saw the display, indicating it was still on the lobby level. I hit the button and the doors opened. The first thing I saw was a homeless man, his shirt pulled up to expose his big dirty belly, and his pants dropped around his ankles. I didn't see his genitals, because there was a woman on her knees in front of him, blocking the view with her mouth.

"Oh, f*ck no!" I yelled. Caught by surprise, she scrambles to her feet. He fastens his pants and pulls down his shirt, laughing to himself the entire time. I'm livid. I pull out my cell phone and dial my landlord's office. While I wait for it to connect, I'm ushering them out the door, "Get the f*ck out of here!" Jim sits at the desk by the door, Wonton beside him, shocked into good behavior by my raised voice - directed at someone else.

Jim asks, "So what were they doing in the elevator?"

I get voicemail and leave a terse message, recounting what I saw in vivid detail for the landlord's office and Jim. I hang up and dial again.

"Are you calling Ken?" asks Jim.

I nod. Ken answers and I tell him that I just got back from walking Wonton and found the door off its hinge. He interrupts me, "I just left there about a half hour ago. Don't worry, I'm trying to get someone to come in early tomorrow morning to fix the door."

I interrupt him right back, "I haven't even told you the best part, Ken. I pressed the elevator button, the doors opened, and there was a homeless man getting a blow job in the elevator."

"What? I locked all the floors on the elevator. There's no way anyone could get up without a key."

"They weren't headed anywhere, the elevator car was still in the lobby. They were just inside getting off."

I waited for Ken's reaction. Silence, then, "I'm on my way back right now."

"What about the front door?"

"I'll call one of the guys on the sixth floor to come down and watch the door until I return."

We hang up and I tell Jim of Ken's plan. Just then, one of our neighbors from the third floor walks up to the keypad outside, punches in his entry code, and realizes the door is broken. I open it for him and we tell him what just happened. He suggest we use a padlock on the door, one used for the deliveries cabinet in the lobby.

I'm skeptical, "If we put it on the outside of the door, people inside can't get out. If we put it on the inside..."

He nods. Then another neighbor from the third floor exits the elevator. I don't know his name, we just refer to him as "the Smarmy Attorney who keeps trying to sneak onto our rooftop patio with his ugly dates no matter how many times we tell him that it's a private patio and he's not welcome". Smarmy Attorney (SA) asks what's going on with the door, so I tell the story again.

SA asks, "What was she charging?"

My inner voice says,"Fifty bucks, same as your mama." But in the interest of being neighborly, I just grimace and roll my eyes. SA tries to throw his shoulder into the door. It doesn't budge. I tell him to lift it, then push. No, don't thank me, please just make another lame joke before you go.

"Hey, maybe we can get her back in here and get a cut for using our elevator."

What a tool. No one laughs, so he leaves and doesn't bother trying to close the door.

Jim offers to sit at the door and stand watch until the guy from the sixth floor comes down. Problems solved for now, third floor neighbor gets in one elevator (the one not harboring horny street people), waving goodbye. I take Wonton and we head upstairs to get dinner started while Jim stands sentry at the door.

A few minutes later, Jim comes up. One of the guys from six is standing guard at the front door with a large black dog. He didn't think to ask the guy's name, but the dog's name is Souldog.

After dinner, Jim goes downstairs to throw out the trash and to check on the door situation. Jim had been very quiet throughout dinner and I asked if anything was wrong.

"The more I think about what happened with the elevator, the more upset I get. Sure, they couldn't get upstairs because all the floors were locked. But what if you were alone at home, called the elevator and those two wound up on our floor? What would you do then? What if they had been hostile?"

At first I make the argument that I'd be fine, I wouldn't be scared and besides, I'm a seething cauldron of anger, ready to kick ass when provoked. But I stopped, I knew he was right. What if it had been two men, not having sex in the elevator, but ready to rape and pillage whichever lucky resident called the elevator up?

Jim continued, "What if any of the other women in this building called the elevator up?"

I didn't want to think about it, didn't want to admit that we live on a dangerous street full of desperate people, that there was fresh gang graffiti on the building next door. I didn't want to think of any number of close calls I might've had, how badly things could've turned out.

Later that night, I looked out our windows at the quiet city below. A siren shattered the stillness of the night and I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn't riding in that ambulance, or waiting for it to arrive. Lucky that Jim was with me, that they weren't hostile, and that Ken was willing to stay at the door all night.

Oh yeah, we got a new door installed the next day. Now Jim is wondering how long before someone tags it. Such a pessimist. Here I was, wondering if I could put some Hello Kitty stickers on it.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

busy days ahead

I haven't written much about what's really been going on with me, there's been so much "doing" rather than reflecting, and unfortunately the lack of activity on my blog shows that. As the WGA strike continues and we head into the holiday season, I'm afraid it's not going to get any easier.

Tonight is the Downtown Art Walk, which means Jim and I will take Wonton to The Lofty Dog for Yappy Hour. We've been taking Wonton on twice-daily walks and anytime we head north on Main or Spring past 4th Street, Wonton assumes he's headed for The Lofty Dog and damn near runs the whole way. I hope we'll have time to check out a few galleries and MOCA's Murakami exhibit, but I look at my pile of things to get done and I don't think it'll happen.

Every morning, I check Wonton's eyes, clean out any schmutz and apply the ointment that his veterinary opthalmologist gave us. Yes, our vet referred us to a specialist for Wonton's eye troubles. Yes, I realize this ups my ridiculousness rating considerably (as if it weren't high enough, what with Wonton blogging). At least I don't take him to a psychic or a therapist, but I'm getting off the subject. This morning, Wonton threw up on my comforter and his Hello Kitty blanket. Might have something to do with him trying to hoover up whatever he finds on our floors, or his eating the orchids off my orchid plant, or chewing the monkey sock slippers Jim's mom gave me last Christmas. I threw the bedding in the wash and Jim took Wonton out for his morning walk. He was probably trying to keep me from insisting on taking Wonton to the vet in a panic, like I did last time. Now he's napping (Wonton, not Jim), nestled inside the wooden basket that he normally tries to chew apart.

wonton in a basket

I was on a conference call with a WGA strike captain the other night. That, and some questions aimed at an entertainment attorney and a few producers, helped to clear up a few things as regards what I can and cannot do during the strike. I'll write about that in a separate post, it deserves more, um, reflection.

In other writing news, I'm working on a graphic novel. I'm in the outlining stage right now, but I do have a few panels written and have been lucky enough to get some sage advice from a friend and a seasoned pro in the field. I'll post more on my progress as work, um, progresses.

I've been meaning to check out one of those $15/hour foot massage places in San Gabriel, on Valley Boulevard. I'll probably need it after walking the picket line. Who wants to check it out with me? Anybody?

Oops, look at the time. If you're out Art Walking, stop by The Lofty Dog and say hi to me, Jim and Wonton (and other downtown dogs)!

i'm a picketer's pal

Wired News' Jenna Wortham wrote a story about Dave Bullock's Downtown Locations Filming Map and how it's being used during the WGA strike to picket downtown location shoots. It mentions me briefly, and how Dave's traffic has spiked since the strike started. Check it out here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

what does a strike mean to me?

The WGA strike is on, I'm reading Shawn Ryan's reasons for striking on Nikki Finke's blog (I heart you Shawn Ryan), and I'm trying hard to not be annoyed by the Fox production that's shooting on location below my window. The phone rings, it's our location rep asking if they can send a location scout over this afternoon to look at our loft. My husband Jim asks me if we'd rent out our space to a prodco that's shooting a scripted production. I finish chewing my bagel and calmly say, "Hell to the no." My puppy Wonton stretches out on the sofa beside me and yawns in solidarity. Jim nods in agreement.

I've had friends and strangers ask how and if this strike affects me. I'm not yet a member of the WGA. The producer who optioned my screenplay and has been developing it for the past year is a WGA signatory. He won't go forward and shoot this without a writer on the set, so the project has been effectively derailed until the strike is over. This project would've made me eligible to join the guild, it would've put me in the game. It would've also put a decent production bonus in our bank account and paid for Wonton's eye surgery. Do I support the strike? You bet I do.

I attended Creative Screenwriting's Expo the other week and was amazed at how few attendees understood the issues and what's at stake. If you haven't been following the WGA strike and the ramp-up to it, John August writes a short summary of the situation here and Nikki Finke's DHD has the best coverage. I heard that in addition to picketing the studios and the signatory companies, the WGA will also be striking at location shoots. If so, may I suggest using the Downtown Locations Filming Map as a resource? And if you will be picketing at any downtown filming locations, please let me know so I can 1) offer my support and 2) blog about it so that my readers who support the strike can also offer their support.

Here's a list of the picketing locations and schedule, a list of struck companies (WGA signatories), and again, the Downtown Locations Filming Map.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

jim's birthday conveyor-belt sushi dinner

To celebrate my husband Jim's birthday, a few of our friends gathered for a sushi at Frying Fish at the Japanese Village Plaza in Little Tokyo. I made reservations for 20, so we didn't take up all the available spaces at the sushi counter, but in the end we were 16 diners strong. Diners included: Albert, Neonboy and the Gentrifier, Shannon, me, Jim, Angel, Helena and Garen, Jim, Gabrielle and Poppy, Camille, and Sandra.

frying fish seafood and sushi

We had plenty to celebrate besides Jim's birthday, but I'm still waiting to hear whether I can blog about the other things yet or not. In any case, once we were in full swing, I put my camera on a plate on the otherwise sushi-laden conveyor belt and hit the record button. Here it is:

I'm such a dolt, I didn't videotape us singing "Happy Birthday" drunkenly and loudly for Jim. Oh well. The management of Frying Fish were so nice and accommodating, serving up cake and ice cream for the birthday boy. I definitely recommend Frying Fish for sushi, especially the red dragon roll, and the prices were very reasonable.

Afterwards, Matt and Reena joined us and we all went over to cefiore for some frozen yogurt. Good times. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves as much as Jim and I did, and thanks for coming out!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

so much going on tonight

I wish I could be in several places at once, there are so many things going on tonight and through the weekend. I'll be attending Creative Screenwriting's Screenwriting Expo, which kicks off tonight and wraps up Sunday evening. This event used to take place at the Convention Center, but last year they moved it to the LAX Marriott and another adjacent hotel. I think the venue sucks and would love to woo them back to downtown. Brady, can you work your magic and make this come back downtown?

Jim and I were scheduled to attend a screening tonight of THE NAMESAKE (and I was really looking forward to it), followed by a Q&A with director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair). But I have to go pick up my expo passes and attend a kick-off networking party. Yeah, that'll be a barrel of laughs, everyone in a group worryfest about the impending WGA strike. Drink, please!

Closer to home, we're missing Niche LA's screening of Hideo Nakata's RINGU tonight at 7:30pm:

"In honor of Halloween, we present the film that started the J-horror movement. An investigative reporter looks into the mysterious deaths of seemingly healthy people and hears rumors of a strange videotape with a particular curse -- anyone who watches it will die in exactly one week. Forget the Hollywood remake which took the rough (and arguably scarier) edges off the story. This is the original and still the best. You'll never look at a TV screen in the same way again."

WHAT: Free Wednesday Night Film Screening of RINGU (1998, Runtime: 96 mins)

WHEN: October 24th @ 7:30PM

WHERE: Niche.LA Video Art
Spring Arts Tower
453 S. Spring St. #443
Los Angeles, CA 90013 (corner of 5th and Spring in Downtown LA).
Space is limited, so please RSVP via email or call/text (213) 247-0002.
Click here for info on parking/directions.

View Larger Map

So what are you doing tonight?

Monday, October 22, 2007

polka like it's 1999

As promised, here's my Oktoberfest 2007 photo essay:

willkommen zum oktoberfest
This sign welcomed us to the fairgrounds.

locals and frat boys
Horses pulled wagonloads of beer to the various halls. Locals and tourists alike get their pictures taken with the horses and wagons.

jim and spatenbrau kegs

The beer tents are huge temporary structures, with each tent catering to a specific crowd. Our beer tent for two nights, the Hippodrom, gets a supposedly younger, hipper crowd.

i know this song!
These guys look neither young, nor hip. But they liked to sing along, and loudly.

horses over hippodrom
Inside the Hippodrom, lots of lederhosen, dirndl, food, singing along with oompah-pah music, and beer.

suckling pig and potato balls
I dined on suckling pig and potato balls.

steven, sarah and the bigass pretzel
Steven and Sarah split a pretzel.

Kaj hoists a cold one
Everyone (like Kaj pictured here) kept toasting, so we kept drinking.

chad and mary ellen drinking
So did Chad and Mary Ellen.

my beers
I discovered earlier, in Heidelberg, that three liters of beer is my limit.

four more beers please
I tried to order a few more beers. I never learn.

don't take my picture
I was denied.

wall of steins
Behind the scenes, more steins at the ready. But I'd had enough and there was a whole fairground outside, full of more food, beer, and roller coasters.

Before we left the tent, we hit the toiletten, where I saw this sign... for ass containers?
ass container?

mause circus
Winner for the weirdest attraction - the mause circus.

Instead, we loaded up on souvenirs.
beer steins
toys of oktoberfest
stack of oktoberfest hats

One aspect of Oktoberfest that I enjoyed but didn't get a chance to photograph was the beery-go-round. You guessed it, it was like a merry-go-round, but instead of children riding on toy horses on a carousel of sorts, there was a bar in the middle dispensing liters of beer and adults stood on the revolving platform, drinking. After exiting the Hippodrom tent the first night, we stumbled onto the beery-go-round, which also seemed to be the gathering spot for American tourists. I stood there, drinking a liter and watching the Oktoberfest and fairgrounds whizzing past me in a drunken blur. Pretty.

auf wiedersehen sign
Finally, it was time to go. At least once in your lifetime, do check out Oktoberfest in Munich. It was a blast.

Friday, October 19, 2007

my trip to germany: castle road

I've been home for a couple weeks now and I still haven't posted pics and stories from Oktoberfest or finished up on Heidelberg. Quite a few things happened while in Heidelberg that I'm still processing, so yeah, I'm slacking on my pimping but I think the wait will be worth it.

On Jim's free day in Heidelberg, his employer arranged for a visit to two castles, the Guttenberg Castle in Hassmersheim, and closer to our base of operations, Heidelberg Castle.

From our hotel on the banks of the Neckar, we rode along in one of three huge tour buses, along the Burgenstrasse (Castle Road) to Hassmersheim-Neckarmuhlbach and up to the castle. It was a beautiful ride through the Neckar Valley. It was lush and green, the hillsides were filled with vineyards and castles and Jim slept through most of it. By the time we arrived at Schloss Guttenberg (that's Castle G, in case you didn't know), we had quite a commanding view of the valley and Jim was well-rested.

Our hostess at Guttenberg Castle was the current Baroness Gemmingen, 18th descendant of the first Baron von Gemmingen, who moved there in 1449, in the afternoon. That's amazing. It would take me at least a week to get all my stuff moved in. Originally called the Guttenberg Knight's Castle, it dates back the 1200's and is one of the few castles in Europe that has been continually occupied since the beginning, and has escaped destruction, both natural and man-made.

Our main reason for visiting the castle was to check out the German Raptor Research Centre. It's a breeding and research facility committed to preserving and breeding endangered species of eagles, vultures, velociraptors and owls for resettlement. They have an atrium overlooking the valley, where they train and exhibit their birds of prey. We had a half-hour to kill before the Baroness and the birds were ready, so we went exploring.

tunnel to castle
I had no idea where I was going, but this tunnel seemed like it would lead to good things.

vultures in repose
It lead to vultures, falcons, owls, and eagles.

birds of prey

Back at the atrium, we all anxiously watch eagles, owls, falcons, and vultures swoop in low above our heads and learn a great deal of information about them. The Baroness spoke mostly in German with a sprinkling of English, but I understood a lot just through intonation and her body language (and all the German I learned watching Hogan's Hero reruns), which I'm guessing is how the birds do it, too.

spotted owl

American bald eagle
It's funny that this is the closest I've ever been to an American Bald Eagle - and we were in Germany.

After the show, two guys from Jim's company presented a donation - an oversized cheque for 4500 Euros to the Baroness Gemmingen, whom was so thrilled she had to find her husband and bring out two falcons for us to play with. Afterwards, we repaired to the Castle tavern for lunch. It was dark, rustic, everything you'd think a medieval castle tavern would be - and we had amazing views over the Valley.

After lunch, we got on the tour bus for a short ride to Neckarsteinach, where we boarded a ship for a leisurely cruise back to our hotel. I really had no idea that Germany was so beautiful until I saw this part of the Neckar Valley from the river. Three of Jim's co-workers, Zack, Kaj, and Saskia, decided to run the 20km back. They're marathon runners and were in training, so off they went. One the way, we passed five more castles and 2 locks, which slowed us up enough that the runners arrived before we did at our hotel's pier.

swans on the Neckar
Neckar River scene
Neckar River lock

Back at the hotel, we only had 30 minutes before we had to leave for Heidelberg Castle. After a (very) short nap, three tour buses took the entire conference up to Castle Heidelberg, where the large group split into smaller tour groups. Our group was led by a woman who conducted the tour as a lady in waiting from medieval times. She was amazing. I had a hard time remembering what happened the night before and she was doling out Heidelberg Castle info, over 600 years worth of history, like it just happened yesterday. After the tour, our group came together for champagne at sunset, on one of the castle's patios overlooking Heidelberg.

Upstairs in the castle's banquet hall, dinner was served. Black vodka was served by one of the founders of Jim's company, and then a really bad hippie magician got the group cheering to his own entrance. I could've done without him. I much preferred the part of the evening where Jim's co-workers from different countries delivered heart-warming (and ear-splitting) drinking songs of their nations. Good times.

One of Jim's co-workers from Sweden, Magnus, told me about one of the previous company conferences in Mexico. Like I said before, it's a hard-drinking company. They were in a bar, ordering drinks, and someone in his group ordered a virgin margarita. Magnus had never tasted a virgin margarita and didn't know what was in it, but he said, "Every experience I've had with the word 'virgin' was a good one, so I ordered one too." Luckily, someone informed Magnus that it meant no alcohol, so he promptly changed his order, and consequently didn't remember much about that conference.

I think that's part of the reason why I'm having so much trouble blogging about Heidelberg and Munich. In any case, Oktoberfest pictures are coming soon so stay tuned.

i wanted to be johnny utah

Here it is, another weekend. Big plans? If you don't have any, I strongly urge you to check out Point Break LIVE at Charlie O's in the Alexandria Hotel. I blogged about it the other week and then Jim, Shannon, and I went last Saturday night and laughed our asses off.

This past Sunday afternoon I got a call from a friend who went to see Point Break LIVE on Friday, their opening night. She wanted to get my take on things since she thought the volunteer from the audience who played the role of Johnny Utah was a plant. I was baking brownies in the kitchen, so I was a little distracted.

Phone balanced on my shoulder, I crack some eggs into a bowl and try to be helpful, "I don't think our guy on Saturday was a plant. He was this short Indian guy. Dots, not feathers."

"Okay, that doesn't sound like a plant."

"No, he was there with what looked like a bunch of his 'SC frat brothers. He was cute, though."

"They were 45 minutes late in starting on Friday. It was crazy. I got there and they were still hanging lights. Gary Leonard was pissed."

I remembered what I was thinking about while waiting for the show to start, "Did it freak you out a little to look up and see the brick ceiling, about to fall apart, and the only thing keeping us from being buried in the rubble was chicken wire? Maybe it was just my CERT training kicking in."

"But did you like it? My friend who went with me was laughing his ass off, but I didn't think it was that funny. Maybe it's this stupid diet I'm on that just makes me cranky and hate everything."

I stop licking the spatula, remnants of brownie mix ring my mouth, "What stupid diet are you on?"

"Master cleanse. So I haven't had any solid food in like, eight days."

"Jesus God, why are you doing that?"

"To detox." I hear her breathing heavily.

"Where are you right now and why are you panting?"

"Dude, I'm at the gym. I show up an hour before they close. They turn of the machines a half hour before close so I have an excuse for only working out for 30 minutes. The guy who played Gary Busey's part in the show was good."

"I don't think you're supposed to work out while you're on the master cleanse diet. The surfers were hilarious. They kept sucking up to Kathryn Bigelow."

"Kathryn Bigelow was there? The real Kathryn Bigelow?"

"Yeah, she sat in a booth behind me and Jim. She looked like she was enjoying the show. You know, for a minute, when people from the audience went up onstage to 'audition' for the role of Johnny Utah, I almost went up on stage. Because what's funnier than some short fat Asian chick playing Keanu? Nothing, that's what."

"Why didn't you?"

"I don't know."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

i've got lots of reading and writing to do

This Thursday is the deadline for submitting materials to the Downtown Writers Group for review at the next meeting on November 1, 2007. I've got my finished screenplay to submit, but I'm working on the outline for my next project and I'm hoping to finish it quickly so that I can submit that for review as well.

After the last meeting, which was also our first meeting, a couple of us walked away from the DLANC center marveling at how enjoyable our discussion was. Others have mentioned to me how motivating it was to read and be read and how they were looking forward to the next meeting and the next round of reads. I hope that feeling was widespread and that it continued, because I'm still totally psyched about the group and I'm really looking forward to our next meeting.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

downtown bloggers heart 'gina

nose to the 'gina
killing two birds...

Group 'gina was a really good idea. I had a really good time, it was chill, a good amount of people attended, and we were able to actually have substantive conversations over 'gina. We even had an out-of-downtown blogger making the trek downtown, just for group 'gina. Funniest moment? For me, when they brought out the first order of pasta and offered grated parmesan cheese. I wasn't really paying attention, but then I heard this really familiar buzzing sound, like from a vibrator. I turned and saw that the server had a small, battery-operated cheese grater. A hush came over our crowd and then, bawdy laughter. It's the little things, you know, those small touches that make such a huge difference with 'gina.

It was Rico's first experience with 'gina, so I wasn't really sure he'd be able to eat enough 'gina for two, but he seemed to be enjoying it. Don said that he hadn't had 'gina in a long while, but overall he had a good 'gina experience. Jim had spaghetti and meatballs and practically licked his bowl of 'gina clean, it was that yummy. For whatever reason my 'gina was taking a long time. Everybody else already had their 'gina and mine was nowhere to be found. Turns out there was a mixup because Shannon and I had ordered similar 'gina dishes. So at first Shannon was eating my 'gina. I was about to take a big bite out of my 'gina when Shannon exclaimed, "Hey wait a minute, I think that's my 'gina." Upon closer inspection of both 'ginas, we realized they put my chicken carbonara over penne (instead of the fusilli I ordered) and her whatever she ordered on fusilli. So rather than chow down on Shannon's 'gina, we switched 'ginas and resumed eating. And the eating was good. Afterwards, the owner treated us all to a free gelato. Jim had the dulce de leche, which was yummy, and I had the white chocolate raspberry, also yummy.

Basically, it was good, cheap and filling. I'm giving this 'gina two thumbs up.

Friday, October 12, 2007

we feast on 'gina tonight

At long last and after a false alarm, we have an open 'gina in Little Tokyo*. Jim and I will join other downtown bloggers and readers/'gina lovers at the Little Tokyo Pastagina tonight and hopefully it will live up to the hype. Because there are few things worse than getting all riled and up excited for some 'gina, only to get some and realize it wasn't all that.

*I had to point out that we're getting some 'gina in Little Tokyo because there are two other 'gina's planned for the downtown area, one in South Park by the Ralph's and I think 3rd and Hope. Point is, 'ginas are opening up all over downtown.

So if you aren't sure what you're doing for dinner or are just 'gina-curious, come out to join us for some 'gina. Afterwards, some of us are going to check out Vibiana and all this Fashion Week hoopla, so maybe we'll see you around.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

get your ass and your camera over to the fashion district

You know how I can tell it's Fashion Week in Los Angeles? Scads of seriously hot women walking around the Fashion District. Seriously. I was walking down Los Angeles and when I hit the area around the Cooper Building, I was so distracted by the scenery that I had to stop and ask myself, "Wait, where am I going again?"

After I finished running my errands, I decided to walk up Los Angeles Street towards home. I approached the corner of 9th and Los Angeles. She stood there waiting for the light to change. She was tall, super-thin, wearing gold flats and a drapey, nude-colored mini-dress with spaghetti straps. The light turned green and as she stepped off the curb, any doubts I might've had about her line of work flew out the window. She sashayed across the street, the crosswalk her catwalk. All the while, the wind kept blowing the top of her dress aside, exposing her right breast with every breeze. I looked at all the cars stopped at the light, heading east on 9th. They were all staring, transfixed by a harbinger of Fashion Week - a hot model inadvertently flashing her breast on a downtown street. Thanks Brady!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"whoa, i'm surfing"

I blogged about it back in April, but that was in New York. Now the madness has spread to Los Angeles, specifically, downtown Los Angeles at 5th and Spring. I can't believe our luck, but Point Break LIVE!, the absurdist stage adaptation of the 1991 Keanu Reeves/Patrick Swayze extreme-sports blockbuster, Point Break, will be playing every Friday and Saturday night this month at Charlie O's in the Alexandria Hotel. And I've got a pair of tickets to give away for this Saturday's performance.

I mentioned in my earlier post that... well, they said it best:

Best of all, each night the starring role of Keanu will be played by a lucky individual selected from the audience. In a method that captures the raw essence of a classic Keanu Reeves performance, the lead will read all his/her lines off of cue-cards held by a diligent PA. The play will be filmed via the "Keanu Kam," and at the end of the night, the "volunteer Keanu" will receive a VHS tape of his/her performance!

After sold-out, extended runs in Seattle, Minneapolis, Brooklyn and Manhattan, Point Break LIVE! finally returns to its roots: Los Angeles, the “bank robbery capital of the world” where “the air got dirty, and the sex got clean.”

OPENS: Friday, October 12th and runs through…?

VENUE: Charlie O's at The Alexandria Hotel
501 S. Spring Street (the corner of 5th & Spring)
Los Angeles, CA 90013

PARKING: Valet parking under the hotel is $6 (and for chrissake, tip the valet parking guys!)

PERFORMANCES: Every Friday & Saturday at 8 PM

TICKETS: $20 at

Be the first person to email me with "Johnny Utah" in the subject line and the correct answers to these two questions and you could win a pair of tickets for Point Break LIVE! this Saturday, October 13, 2007.

1. For what team did Johnny Utah play football?

2. Johnny's football career was ruined due to an injury to what body part during what game?

So Jim and I are going this Saturday, our lucky winner and their +1 will go this Saturday - any other downtown bloggers and readers want to go and make a night of it? Picture Charlie O's, filled with downtown bloggers, with the possibility of one playing Johnny Utah. You'd want to go to that, right?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

how do you reward yourself?

I've got a gift certificate for a massage at Burke Williams Spa. It was a present that was given to me a long time ago and I have yet to use it. Jim and I usually go to Pho Siam for Thai massages, but the BW massage I save for when I want to just treat myself. The gift box it came in is pretty beat up, it's been sitting on top of my desk, underneath about a foot tall pile of books, scripts, notes, business cards, pens, newspaper and magazine clippsing, invitations, and rubble. I also have bottles of champagne around, just in case something comes up that we have to celebrate immediately. There is, however, a very special bottle tucked away, reserved for really special celebrations. Then there are the cigars. Cuban, and reserved for when I want to reward myself greatly, health issues be damned.

I thought that by now, since I've sent off my screenplay to my producer, that I would've already smoked a cigar, drank some champagne, or had these knots in my back worked out and taken a steam. I will probably have to make some minor changes or a polish before the next phase in the project, but it was a major milestone for me. And yet the cigar, champagne and massage gift certificate sit untouched. Am I waiting for more notes and complete another rewrite before I feel comfortable popping the cork? Or is actually going into production the only thing that will make this all seem real enough to light up a Cohiba and then get a deep tissue massage?

I want to celebrate. Besides completing the screenplay, I'm enjoying the process of writing again. I feel like I'm in a groove, like I'm hanging out with the Muse again. We've been walking around downtown Los Angeles, picking up an avocado shake at Lost Souls, nibbling cheese and sipping wine at Banquette, staring at the downtown skyline from our patio. It's been nice. But I want to mark this victory, even if it's just a small one. So how do you guys reward yourselves? Any suggestions that don't involve Cuban cigars, champagne or a deep-tissue massage?

wonton update

Jim and Wonton lounging
Not only does Wonton now have balls, he blogs about it.

He's also on his best behavior so that Jim and I will take him to the inaugural Downtown Dog Walk at Pershing Square this Wednesday, hosted by DLANC and Wonton's friend, Dodger.

In other downtown news, The Lofty Dog launched a blog and this Thursday's Yappy Hour is also a Howl-O-Ween Fashion show. Did I mention that Wonton will be a model in the show? I think we may be reaching new heights of ridiculousness.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

next meeting of the downtown writers group

The next meeting of the Downtown Writers Group is scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 7:00pm, at the DLANC Outreach Center at 450 S. Main Street (between 5th and Winston Streets), Los Angeles, CA 90013, next to the Regent Theater.

I'm kind of on edge right now. I submitted an unfinished version of my screenplay to the group two weeks ago, but I've since completed it and submitted that to my producer. Tomorrow, I get feedback on something that no one else but my producer, his development execs, and Jim have read. Fresh eyes. That's one kind of anxiety. Then over the weekend, I get to meet with one of my producer's development execs to discuss the draft I submitted. I know this will sound silly, but I can't tell which one is making me more anxious.

no taste of 'gina tonight

I thought the long wait for open 'gina in Little Tokyo was almost over. But no, we won't be tasting 'gina tonight, at least not in Little Tokyo. Turns out Pastagina was open on Saturday for a private party, probably a family and friends test run, and not to the general public. Neonboy just went by to doublecheck and, in an email from Shannon titled, "no open 'gina",

"... he reports that there are electricians and blueprints and workers about and it doesn’t look like they will be open tonight. :(

No ‘gina for us."

That's too bad. Judging from the comments on Ed's original post about the 'gina opening, it was shaping up to be a downtown bloggers 'gina eat-off of sorts. In any case it seemed like a few downtown bloggers and readers would be stuffing their faces with 'gina, which isn't out of the ordinary considering the overabundance of hotness in the downtown area, but we'd all be doing it together is what makes it so special. Oh well, I guess we'll all have to get together another night.

Monday, October 01, 2007

i left my heart... in heidelberg?

I loved Heidelberg. I had no idea Germany was so beautiful. People were friendly, the weather was mild and, although public transport was both efficient and ubiquitous, the city was walkable and bicycles were the preferred mode of transport for a great deal of the local population. There were a ton of cute dogs and they seemed to be allowed everywhere, even in restaurants, but these were some of the most well-behaved dogs I'd ever seen.

Heidelberg from above

Our hotel was on the Neckar River, about a 20-minute walk along the river to Old Town. Lining the banks of the river were parks, and everywhere you looked, lots of green space. During the day, I would see people running along the river, walking their dogs, sunning themselves, playing soccer, or just hanging out. There were paddle boats for hire on one side, a marina for all manner of ship, boat or dinghy on the other.

Rowers on the Neckar
Neckar River restaurant
Old Town Bridge over Neckar
Georg Fischer on the Neckar
Several times during our stay, at sunset, we'd take a boat into Old Town, then walk along meandering cobblestone streets to a candlelit bistro for dinner, stop for a scoop of gelato somewhere on the main drag, then a last stop at a great neighborhood hangout called The Drug Store for another liter with Jim's co-workers, then a romantic walk along the river back to our hotel. It was almost enough to make me forget the smell of cigarette smoke, which was pervasive. Oh well, can't have everything.

More of Heidelberg and Munich to come...

bits and pieces

I'm back, I'm jetlagged, and I lost my cell phone somewhere in Germany. I think the reason I lost it is because it had a Hello Kitty charm attached and I tend to leave at least one Hello Kitty item behind whenever I travel. Yeah, I suck.

I'll try to get my pics up quickly but I still have a lot of work to do. I finished my rewrite while I was in Germany (yay me!), but I want to print it out and give it another once-over before I send it in to the producer. Then I'm going to light my big fat Cuban cigar and try not to think about rewriting any more until I get the notes back from my writers group and the producer.

Lots happened while we were gone and lots more about to happen, so let me just run down a few:

* I read that 'gina had a big grand opening in Little Tokyo while I was gone. Does anybody want to come with and taste some 'gina on Wednesday night with me, Jim, Shannon, Neonboy and the Gentrifier? That's Wednesday night, 7-ish, and let's call it "A Taste of 'Gina".

* My ex-loftmate and grill master extraordinaire, Tim Swiss, was nominated for an Ovation Award. Yay Tim!

* The Fashion District is launching its own Fashion District Farmer's Market at Santee Village (7th & Los Angeles Streets). Every Wednesday from 4-7pm, you can stuff your 100% hemp or canvas tote bag with organic produce and whatever else they're slinging. There will be a DJ at this week's grand opening, and you can also get a free Fashion District tote bag. Woo hoo, if it's free, it's for me!

* Next weekend is the Brewery 2007 Fall Artwalk and i-5 Gallery Show. The twice-annual Brewery Artwalk is designed to showcase Los Angeles Fine Artists selling gallery-quality fine art at studio prices and the i-5 Gallery showcases works by Brewery tenants.

* Two weeks away from our puppy, Wonton, and he's all grown up. He's got balls now.

* And finally, a draft version of the Downtown Los Angeles Filming Special Conditions is online and available for public comment.

I will have my Oktoberfest 2007 photo essay up as soon as I can stop laughing at Jim's pics of drunken me ordering more beer, and also some really nice pictures and stories about Heidelberg, my new favorite German city.

Monday, September 24, 2007

wrapping up heidelberg

Heidelberg fruit seller
For the past week, Jim and I have been in Heidelberg, Germany, where his MySQL Developer's Conference is being held. We flew from Heathrow to Stuttgart, then took the train to Heidelberg. Tomorrow, Jim wraps up his conference, I finish the rewrite on my screenplay, and we take a train to Munich for Oktoberfest.

The crowd at this developer's conference is a very international one. Except for an unlucky few, employees of Jim's company have the freedom to work from home, from anywhere in the world that has Internet access. While they all speak geek fluently, the languages and accents represented here include Russian, Ukrainian, Swedish, Finnish, British, Australian, Austrian, Chinese, Croatian, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, German, Canadian, and Southern accents from the United States. It's a hard-drinking company, and already my liver has taken a pounding from all the beer, wine and black vodka I've consumed. We've taken several boat rides down the Neckar River in addition to the river cruise we took yesterday, toured castles, rode a funicular, been treated to demonstrations from falcons and other birds of prey, and dined on copious amounts of German delicacies (liver dumpling soup, anyone?) beyond schnitzel and sauerkraut.

I had very few expectations going in, but quite a few things have impressed me greatly - for one, Jim's company really is a wonderful employer and they throw one hell of an organized and well-executed conference. That, and damn, this part of Germany is absolutely stunning. I don't think my photographs will do the place justice, and I'm blown away by how clean, green and picturesque the city is, and how easily navigable it is, either by walking or public transport. Parks line the banks of the Neckar River and I see people playing soccer, lounging, dining, biking, sunning themselves, hiking, and walking their dogs - all within a few blocks of train, subway and bus stops, shops, restaurants, and cafes.

I'm really looking forward to seeing Munich and Stuttgart (again), and going to Oktoberfest for the first time. But I do miss my puppy Wonton and my heart aches to see that he misses me and Jim, too. I will post more pictures as time and Internet access will allow, but chances are I won't be able to do that until our return to Los Angeles.

Friday, September 21, 2007

what's he saying?

Hello Kitty Cupcake Tote

We're in Heidelberg, Germany for Jim's conference. I'm in the hotel room, working on my rewrite (and nursing a hangover) and Jim is at a meeting in a conference room downstairs. I told him I'd stay online so he could ping me and let me know when I have to be ready for dinner and what our plans are. Shortly after lunch, he IMs me:

jim: we take a boat at 6:30 for dinner
me: woo hoo. okay, i'll be ready

Then a few minutes later:


I click on it and gasp. Is anyone surprised that I want one? But I wondered why Jim sent me the link. You would think that after having to retrieve my Hello Kitty suitcase from the baggage carousel and all my clamoring for a Hello Kitty bicycle, he'd had enough. Was he actually suggesting that I get this tote?

me: you mean you aren't just going to get the bag and surprise me with it?
jim: oops

Saturday, September 15, 2007

missing wonton already

pensive wonton

I just dropped Wonton off with Karen, who'll be watching him while Jim and I are in Germany, and I miss him already. I keep looking up from packing, as if I'm going to see him poke his head out from behind something that he shouldn't be chewing on. Then I realize he's not here and I won't see his cute little face for two weeks. He's just a dog and I'm getting all misty-eyed, I can't imagine what it would be like with a child. How do you people with kids do this?

on a winning streak

I won Cirque du Soleil tickets from Fishbowl LA.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

nose squashing suggestions, anyone?

I don't know why it cracks me up rather than creep me out, but two weeks ago, my husband Jim noticed a comment on a picture his flickr account. He was at his desk and I was sitting about eight feet away in my chair, reading.

"Celia, do you remember that picture that I took of you on Kauai, at your cousin's rehearsal dinner?"

"Which one?"

"The one of you clowning around, making faces."

I made a gesture, the universal sign for making things smaller, "Could you narrow the field a little more?"

Jim laughs, "The one where you push up your nose with your finger while your other hand pulls the corners of your eyes down."

I laugh too, "Yeah, I remember. What about it?"

"Some guy made a creepy comment, I think you should read it."

I point my browser towards flickr and see this:

pushed-up nose

sha in LA says:
that's bootyful
Posted 4 months ago.

petebullen says:
hi there, loving the picture, can you email me some of your nose getting squashed in different ways, thanx, pete
Posted 2 weeks ago.

Is it bad that I want to take a picture of me with Hello Kitty squashing my nose? Or that the thought of doing that just sends me into paroxysms of laughter? How about one with Wonton squashing my nose? Maybe I should take suggestions from my blog readers. What else should I squash my nose with? Just remember, I can't squash my nose with 'gina yet.

bongs, not bombs

First Goldstein said, "Remember the Holocaust? Picture the exact opposite of that." Now, at long last, in the sequel to Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, Kumar says, "It's gonna be exactly like Eurotrip, only it's not going to suck."

Now, in honor of my upcoming Euro trip, the teaser for Harold and Kumar 2:

Sounds like a great premise, and Neil Patrick Harris (playing himself) and Christopher Meloni (playing the Grand Wizard of the KKK) are back. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

downtown needs dance troopers

I'm looking forward to this month's Downtown Art Walk. Even though Wonton has been misbehaving, Jim and I will most likely wind up our art walking at the Lofty Dog's Yappy Hour. If you've never been to the Downtown Art Walk, it's kind of like this video, only with slightly less dancing:

And with different costumes.

slow dancing at the music center plaza

I am really looking forward to my trip to Germany, but this is just one of the many things going on Downtown that I hate to miss.

Photo by Dance at the Music Center

"Dance at the Music Center proudly presents the West Coast premiere of Slow Dancing, an outdoor video installation of larger-than-life, hyper-slow-motion video portraits of extraordinary dance artists from around the world. Projected on 16-foot screens, Slow Dancing features over 40 master choreographers and dancers representing a broad range of styles, ages and cultures including the works of ballet, modern dance, Hip-Hop, Flamenco, and Javanese court dance."

This sounds amazing. Approximately five seconds of each dancer's movement was shot with a super-high-speed, high-definition camera, resulting in ten minutes of extreme slow movement. Dancers participating in this video installation include artists as diverse as "krump" artist Christopher "Lil C" Toler, Balanchine's ballerina Allegra Kent, and American Ballet Theatre's Herman Cornejo.

Did I mention the cost to see this video installation? It's FREE.

September 18-26, 2007 6:00PM - 12:00AM
FREE Public Exhibition
Optimal viewing after 7:30 PM