Thursday, March 29, 2007

honeymoon tales: running aground

It was our last day at Ko Yao Noi and I fell on my ass trying to carry my pink suitcase out to the boat. Jim made fun of me because I liked to wave at all the passing boats. About 200 yards before hitting Bang Rong Pier, I waved to passing fishermen in a long-tail. One hundred yards from the pier, our ship ran aground. It was low tide. Our captain tried to loosen the ship, but nothing was happening.

It seemed like all was lost. We wouldn't make it to the pier and our driver would probably leave. We'd miss our flight to Hong Kong. Then the passing fishermen who I waved to earlier came floating up. Our captain exchanged a few words with them, then he was gesturing for us to get out of his boat, and onto their boat. Did I mention that their long-tail was still full of the morning's catch?

No matter, the pier was just in sight, only 100 yards away. Jim and I squatted on a board, inches above a pile of prawn and still-flopping fish. My Hello Kitty suitcase sat up front, a big pink beacon that yelled, "Silly tourist approaching!" Jim didn't seem to be enjoying the rescue, I didn't know until after our adventure that he was worried about me freaking out. Did I mention that I get creeped out by live fish?

Minutes later as we approached the pier, I heard the sound of a long-tail motor roaring to life. I turned to see the captain had managed to work his boat free. We waved goodbye as he headed back towards Ko Yao Noi. I turned to face the pier and my face connected with the bow of a docked long-tail boat. I tried to keep my balance, keep my footing on the bench I had been squatting on, but I fell back and avoided stepping on their catch by inches. I stood up, fighting through the dizzyness, eager to get off the boat.

Hands were offered and with my free hand, I grabbed on for dear life and hoisted myself off the boat. In front of me was a foot-wide expanse between the pier and whatever rickety wood thing I had been standing on. Holding on to my pink luggage, hoping to not lose a shoe, I closed my eyes and jumped. I made it to the other side, where a crowd of bored locals sat drinking and watching the two tourists who had to be fished out of their long-tail.

Within minutes, our driver arrived. "Have you been waiting long?"

"No, we just got here."

We sat in the back of the car, relieved to be underway, glad that we had a little adventure and not one that disrupted our itinerary. Then I saw it - a monkey, perched on a car parked at the entrance to the pier. No, two monkeys, wait, three. And they were posing, like the "see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil" monkeys. I can't wait to return to Thailand.

solving downtown's public transit issues

I realize it's just a first step, but this monorail looks like it could be a good solution.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

heeding the call, looking for signs

Today, LA City Nerd issued a call to action - for bloggers in Los Angeles to take pictures of their community name signs in the city and post them to this Flickr group. Here's a list of all the community names.

I came back from a visit with my art dealer and snapped this Old Bank District sign. But what's that in the distance? A billboard for a downtown strip club? No, look closer, in front of the billboard.
Old Bank District neighborhood sign

It's the Toy District and Historic Downtown signs.
Toy District & Historic Downtown neighborhood sign

More signs from the Historic Core, Fashion District, and Gallery Row:
Historic Core neighborhood sign

Fashion District neighborhood sign

Gallery Row neighborhood sign

It was a nice day and I ran into Ginny, Bert and Ben at Lost Souls Cafe. Have you tried their ube shake? So yummy.

Friday, March 23, 2007

honeymoon tales: sord and the captain

One of the many reasons Jim and I loved our secluded resort on Ko Yao Noi is because of the lack of activities. The resort is small, only fifteen villas, and apart from breakfast and dinner, we never saw more than three or four people at a time.

Jim on Ko Yao Noi beach

The pace is spectacularly slow. I watched a gardener trim back a few flowering branches, then stop to feed the koi in the pond. He went back to trimming the garden, then sat down under a tree. An hour later, a palm frond fell from a tree in front of our beach villa. The gardener quickly dragged the palm frond away, disposed of it, then spent the rest of the afternoon under the tree, waiting for another to fall. I, of course, had the time to watch him, the shimmering ocean, the limestone karsts just off-shore, and the occasional sailboat and long-tail boats as they floated and chugged in and out of view.

Ko Yao Island Resort coconut palms

I was reluctant to leave the resort, but felt that we should at least try to see more than just our island. So Jim and I signed up for an island shopping and sightseeing tour, the only one offered that didn't involve diving, kayaking, or snorkeling.

Shortly after breakfast, Sord and the Captain pulled up to our beach in a long-tail boat, ready to take us to Krabi, about an hour away across the bay.

Sord spoke English very well and managed to answer all our questions about our island as we chugged past the limestone karsts.

"My veelage, is in de middle of de island. We have seven veelages on de island, two on de east side, two on de west side and three in de middle. My wife and I live wid my fadder and modder. My wife, she work in anodder resort, also as tour guide. Most of de people in de island are fishermen or work in de rubber plant. De Captain, he is also from my veelage."

Then I saw it in the distance. I pointed and asked Sord, "Who lives there?"

"Dat is de palace of de King of Thailand. He has a palace in Bangkok also. Tree times a year, de palace is open to de public - de King's birtday, de Queen's birtday, and Songkran. De forest around de palace is a national reserve. Dere are many monkeys all around. De roof of de palace, is solid gold."

Twenty minutes later, were were at Ao Nang, a touristy strip along a tiny beach. It was hot, humid, and lousy with shops and European tourists. We did our souvenir shopping quickly, broke for lunch in an open-air restaurant and watched the parade of locals and sunburned tourists zip by on foot, tuk-tuks and mopeds.

We wolfed down lunch. "Let's get out of here," I suggested. Minutes later, Sord was leading us past pack after pack of tourists, back to the boat.

long tail boats at Ao Nang

After a few minutes of me splashing around, trying to climb back into the boat, we were off, on our way to Ko Hong (literally translated, island with lagoon). We passed Ko Hong on the way to Krabi, but we had to return at high tide so that we could enter the lagoon.

Once inside the lagoon, the Captain turned off the motor. There was one other boat in the lagoon, another couple with their guide. Quietly, we floated around the edges of the lagoon.

long-tail boat in lagoon

It was so beautiful inside the lagoon, so peaceful and quiet. We found ourselves whispering, pointing out the high cliffs surrounding the lagoon. Sord pointed out the ropes going into the caves and explained how people would go inside the caves to collect birds' nests, and that it was very dangerous. I asked Sord if he ever tried it.

lagoon at Ko Hong

"Yes, I try once. I went wif my friend, I go inside de cave and I see a python. I don't go inside de cave anymore."


Our boat bumped up against a mangrove tree. I heard a splashing in the water, but didn't see anything in the shallow, clear water.

mangrove tree roots

"What was that?" I asked.

Sord replied nonchalantly, "Crocodile."

I suppressed a scream, but jumped away from the mangrove trees and tried to put Jim between me and the sound of the crocodile. Then I realized that Jim, Sord and the Captain were all laughing at me.

Sord and The Captain at Ko Hong

Sord laughingly apologized, "Sorry, sorry. I'm only joking. No crocodile."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

25% off candles

If you're in the market for candles, Illuminations is having a friends and family promotion - 25% off your entire purchase, starting yesterday until March 25th. Click here for the coupon which you can use in their stores or online.

honeymoon tales: snakes, crabs and the lizard i didn't know about

I was in the bedroom, unpacking my Hello Kitty suitcase. Bathing suit on, I was ready to hit the water. If only I could find my beach cover-up.

"Are you afraid of snakes?" Jim yelled from our Thai sala-style living room next door.

I thought about that for a second, walked past the mosquito netting draped around the bed and to Jim, who stood with his back to me in the sala of our Thai-style beach villa.

"Yeah. Why do you ask?" I asked, eyes searching the thatched-roof ceiling, where Jim's eyes were trained.

On hearing my voice, and in much closer proximity than he probably anticipated, Jim turned quickly to face me. He shrugged with a forced casualness.

"No reason."

I stood there, trying to decipher the look on his face, the source of that unfamiliar look in his eye. Jim moved towards me and my eyes wandered up higher, above his head - where a green snake slithered along the bamboo framework of our Thai-style beach villa.

snake in the villa
Photo courtesy of Jim

I suppressed a scream, badly. My body went into convulsions and I involuntarily jumped as I turned to run back into the relative safety of the bedroom. I was pretty sure I had peed myself a little bit, too. I found my cover-up and reached for my sunglasses.

"I'm going to the pool." I rinsed off in the outdoor shower, carefuly examining every tree branch on my way to the pool.

Ten minutes later, I was frolicking in the infinity pool. It was a warm, humid day and I leaned against the edge of the pool, sighing as I stared at the islands in the distance. Jim can't take as much sun, so he sat back in the shade at the corner of the pool.

me, from the pool

"Are you afraid of crabs?"

"Yes, why?"

"There's one right by your foot, on the wall of the pool."

celia swimming in the pool
Photo courtesy of Jim

Without a word, I paddled to the far side of the pool. Jim didn't do anything about the crab. So I stayed at the far end until I was able to convince the two teenage Australian girls who were vacationing with their parents to fish the crab out of the pool using the Italian boy's red pail and return it to the beach.

I told Jim right before I started to hit the "publish" button on this blog post what I was blogging about.

He laughed and asked, "Did I ever tell you about the big lizard?"

I thought about that for a second. "Do you mean the lizard you pointed out to me on the wall of the villa? The one in the sala?"

He considered this and gestured, "The ones on the wall of our villa that were about this big?" indicating six inches with his forefingers.


"No. I meant the one that I saw outside our villa, by the spa. That one was about the size of my forearm. I think it was a Komodo dragon."

"So whenever there was a lot of thrashing in the bushes outside our villa and you said it was probably a gardener working, you really meant it was a Komodo dragon?"


"No, you didn't tell me about the big lizard."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

my love of famima makes national news

I was interviewed by my cousin Angel for the CSP Daily News (that's Convenience Store Petroleum, a trade magazine) re the wonderful thing that is Famima!! Here's the article itself and my Q&A with the writer. BTW, I did not proclaim myself a hipster, that's so obviously a mistake.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

tomorrow is mySQL sports day

My husband works for mySQL and tomorrow is their Global Sports Day, where all 360 employees in 29 countries are supposed to step away from the keyboard, engage in some sporting activity and to document it. They are reimbursed for expenses and the most creative activity, picture, and/or story receives an additional reward.

When Jim first mentioned it to me a week or so ago, I thought, "Sweet! I'll get my cue, let's go shoot some pool!" Then Jim suggested bowling at Lucky Strike. Or finding a used ping-pong table on eBay. Then I suggested we get some roller skates and lay down some duct tape in our living room in an oval shape, make ourselves a roller-skating rink. After all, we have the space and a disco ball.

Now I'm completely paralyzed by indecision. Do we go for something simple and just take the free day of company-sponsored activity? Or does my competitive nature take over and we have to come up with something that will garner an additional reward? And where did I put my roller skates?

a taste of dance

Every year around my birthday, the Music Center hosts A Taste of Dance, a day full of dance classes ($1 each lesson!) on the Music Center Plaza. So even though I may be in denial about getting older, the classes remind my body that it's been a long time since I was a theater arts/dance major in college. This year, A Taste of Dance takes place this Saturday, March 24th, from 10:30am to 4pm. Who wants to join me in a few dance classes this Saturday?

It all starts with a free 60's warm up at 11am, then 20-minute classes will be offered in:
Dance Team
Modern Jazz
Ragtime Dances

Then from 1:30-3:30pm, these 20-minute classes open up:
Native American Dance
Texas Two-Step

At 3:30pm, they wind it up with free line dancing classes for all. I can't promise I'll participate in the line dancing. I'm very line dancing-averse. I can't explain why, but sometimes at my family gatherings, they line dance. I try to break it up with karaoke, but sometimes it doesn't work and they continue to line dance.

Truthfully, I'm not that excited about the choices in dance classes this year. One year I was able to take hula, capoeira, bhangra, african, and ballet folklorico classes. I loved the bhangra and the african dance classes, they were energizing and fun. I tried, but I felt like a clodhopper during the ballet folklorico class and probably looked worse. The capeoeira class was my least favorite. I almost kicked myself in the head during one maneuver. And no, I wasn't trying to kick my head.

I'll probably feel like I was hit by a truck the next morning, but I'm going to do it. Seriously, if anyone wants to join me, email me or leave a comment. If we get enough people maybe we should get t-shirts.

WHEN: Saturday, March 24, 2007
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
WHERE: Music Center Plaza
ADMISSION: $1 per 20-minute lesson
First come, first served.
Tickets available for purchase starting at 10:30AM (cash only).

Limited class sizes,
Dress in comfortable clothes/shoes, some classes are danced barefoot.
No prior dance experience necessary.

honeymoon tales: ko yao noi

Jim and I flew into Phuket for the first half of our honeymoon. Our driver picked us up at the airport and drove us through the jungle and past rubber tree plantations. Within thirty minutes we were at Bang Rong Pier (picture below), boarding a long-tail boat for an hour ride to the resort.

boat landing in phuket
Bang Rong Pier, photo courtesy of Jim

On our island resort of Ko Yao Noi, there wasn't much to do once the sun went down. And by that I mean nothing I want to blog about in any detail. Satellite television was available upon request, but I didn't realize that until I read the brochure when we returned home. I just thought there weren't any, by choice, in the 15 villas that comprised this resort. A choice I agreed with completely. There was a phone, but no directory and I assumed, nothing else on this island but another resort on the other side.

Every night, we'd watch the sun set over the limestone karsts just offshore. The lights from nearby Krabi (an hour away by boat) would twinkle in the distance and that's when we'd put down the books we were reading and head to the restaurant for dinner. Jim and I methodically went through the menu, having tried a good variety of dishes by the time we left. Desserts were wonderfully tropical items and my favorite was the bananas in coconut milk. Afterwards, we'd walk thirty feet back to our villa, a gazillion bright stars above, illuminating the way. We fell asleep every night listening to the sounds of frogs and the ocean at our doorstep.

sunrise through the leaves
Sunrise through the trees.

Just before sunrise, we'd hear the sounds of birds chirping and whistling and much to my surprise, we would wake up to watch the sunrise. The coconut palms scattered around the resort and at the edge of the grass helped to shade our villa from the brilliant morning light, filtering it, and framing our view of the limestone karsts in the water.

Low tide sunrise.

Other early risers would take the kayaks out for a early morning trek around our little, long island. Thanks to the karsts, the water is incredibly calm around our island and perfect for kayakers without experience or ability. I was almost tempted to try it, but decided to float in the pool instead. I repeated that choice about three times a day, almost every day. Not a bad start to a honeymoon.

feet on the edge
Me, not kayaking. Photo courtesy of Jim

fed up with filmLA

Last night Jim and I attended DLANC's filming issues ad-hoc meeting. It seems that after suffering through many abusive film crews, downtown residents have finally had enough. Many of the residents have been complaining via their blogs (here and here) and websites, within their email groups, and you can't swing a dead cat over your head at any of the downtown eateries and bars without hitting someone with a legitimate complaint or a filming horror story.

This wasn't the first meeting - last week's was attended by a community relations guy from FilmLA, the organization that's supposed to facilitate film permits and is responsible for notifications of filming in the City of Los Angeles. After hearing him drop lie after lie, I couldn't take it anymore. He said that FilmLA was acting on a "mandate from the City". I asked him (when I was finally allowed to speak) if FilmLA was under a contract rather than a mandate, which he verified it was, and then I asked him when FilmLA's contract with the City was up for renewal.

He turned about three different colors before he answered, "June."

I could detail every lie told at that meeting, but it's not really necessary to embarrass the guy. Not here and not now, there'll be plenty of time for that later. The point is, the residents of downtown are pissed and they're not going to take it anymore. For me, pissed off is my baseline. And I'm glad that everybody else seems to have had it as well. Don't get me wrong, I make my living in this industry and want filming to continue in downtown Los Angeles. But someone has to be accountable for lack of notifications, permit violations and non-compliance, lax permitting, rampant street closures, abusive behavior from film crews, explosions and simulated gunfire without warning, aircraft flying lower than permitted, and general disregard for the safety and comfort of the residents of the 90013 zip code (the most filmed location outside of studios).

If you live downtown, you have to know that you have every right to view a production's film permit. Ask anyone with a walkie - just identify yourself as a resident that is being impacted by their production. Ask for the location manager and a copy of their film permit. If you're not sure what they're doing that's wrong - check out the Filmmaker's Code of Conduct, which is on my sidebar to the right. Arm yourself with knowledge of your rights as a resident, educate yourself on what film crews can and cannot do, and don't let anyone intimidate you.

This August I will have lived in downtown Los Angeles for sixteen years, ten of them in the Historic Core, ground zero for downtown film locations. I've developed some strategies for dealing with film crews. If you have questions on filming and lessening its impact on you as a resident, worker, or patron of downtown please feel free to ask questions of me in the comments below or by emailing me (my email is on the sidebar). I will try to answer them in future posts titled, "Ask A Curmudgeon".

UPDATE: The Filmmaker's Code of Conduct is supposed to be distributed by FilmLA with every film permit that they issue. From their website:
"FilmL.A. encourages all production companies to abide by the terms of the Filmmakers’ Code of Professional Responsibility, which we distribute with every permit we release. The Code outlines generally accepted standards of courtesy for film crew members working out on-location.

If you are a resident or business owner in a neighborhood being used for filming, the Code describes the level of professionalism you should expect from the production company."

BTW, I have never worked on a production where the cast or crew has ever seen or even knows about the Code.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

back to blogging

You know how after your workout routine has been disrupted, say by planning a wedding or writing a screenplay under tight deadlines, it is extremely difficult to get motivated to go back to the gym and your workout? And how week after week, the more you put it off, you know it'll be that much more difficult to get back into the swing of things but still you procrastinate? Yeah, it's kind of like that for me with this whole blogging thing.

Thankfully my new husband hasn't asked me when I'm going to head back to the gym, just when I'm going to blog again. Isn't that nice? Even after he doesn't have to read my blog to know my activities and whereabouts so he can stalk me, he still reads my blog. There you have it boys and girls, true love.

I found out that my mom reads my blog. In the nine years that I lived in the penthouse of the Alexandria Hotel, my mom only came to visit me once. It scared her so much that I lived there, and I couldn't say anything because it wasn't completely baseless. Being the considerate daughter that I am, I made her promise not to read the blog because I thought it would just upset or embarrass her to read about asspig, Puppet, or my Hello Kitty vibrator. Now I am afraid that she'll leave comments like, "Never mind about asspig, why aren't you pregnant yet?", or, "Puppet, shmuppet - where are my grandchildren?"

I know I have a lot of catching up to do - I have a great story and picture of the ice-skating chicken from back in December that I have to document and share. And I will get to it because people need to know about that shit. But I'm going to the opera tonight and I need a few more nights of watching movies and eating A Whole Lot of Banana on the sofa with my husband before I get back into the swing of things.