Monday, July 23, 2007

dear blog,

It's me, Celia. I know we just got a Prius, but please oh please, can we get a Hello Kitty bus and everything in it? Except for the humidifier and alarm clock. Those, I already have.

Thanks to Nanette for the HK tip.

give that man another oscar

Want a good laugh? Check out this fake Cialis ad featuring Cuba Gooding, Jr.:

Thanks to DHD.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

sister act sunday

It's Sunday, so here are 1,500 plus inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, Cebu, Philippines performing "Sister Act".

The CPDRC is no one-trick pony either. Here's another video of the CPDR dancing to Michael Jackson's "Thriller". It reminds me of the dance routines I did in high school with the dance team, only with 1,480 less people, and minus the orange jumpsuits and incarceration.

Ready for more hilarity? How about "Radio Gaga", complete with the Queen video, so that you can contrast and compare?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

attention downtown writers

A small group of downtown writers have banded together to start the Downtown Writer's Group. We will meet regularly to network, discuss processes, and most importantly, to review each other's work. Most of us are screenwriters but our group can include playwrights, novelists, short story writers, poets, movie trailer copywriters, and other types of writers who are interested in working with us.

This is not a workshop for people who want to learn how to write. There are many other places that we can recommend, many online and in Southern California. This is a group for professional and aspiring writers with some level of experience and/or expertise. Several of us are in the final stages of projects, a few of us write professionally. However, our goal is to expand and develop forums and sub-groups so that everyone downtown who is interested in writing, no matter what level or genre, can learn and work with other fellow downtown writers.

If you're a writer, living and/or working in downtown Los Angeles and are interested in joining the Downtown Writer's Group, please email me or Brady Westwater. check out our blog.

good news - i won / bad news - i'm old

el rey theatre marquee raul malo

Thanks to the lovely people over at losanjealous, I won tickets to see Raul Malo at the El Rey Theatre this past Tuesday. I read somewhere that it was also his record release party, though I didn't see any evidence of that.

I was very surprised that I won the tickets. I never win anything. Then we got to the El Rey and saw the crowd. It was an older crowd. And I was one of them. I remembered the other ticket giveaways and shows mentioned on losanjealous - those were the shows that kids these days go to. Their parents, go to the show I was at. I think I won only because I'm the oldest person to read losanjealous. If we made a Venn diagram of losanjealous readers and Raul Malo fans who could get out of the house on a school night to attend a concert, I would probably be the only overlap. So I guess it makes sense that I won the tickets.

I must admit, I'm only a casual fan. I was a big Mavericks fan and have all their CDs, but only one Raul Malo solo CD. He started off with a song unfamiliar to me, a real slow snorer of a song. Bad choice to open with, but his voice was amazing. He sang a bunch of covers, most of them from his 2006 release, You're Only Lonely. But about four songs in, he covered one of my favorite Dwight Yoakam songs, "Pocket of a Clown" from This Time. Okay, he had me.

raul malo at el rey theatre

A funny moment in the show - during "What A Crying Shame", Raul Malo picked up a tray of shots. It looked like Patron Silver from where I was standing, but I could be wrong. So anyway, mid-song, he offers one to the guy on keyboards, who accepts. Raul hold the tray up to his drummer, who immediately drops his sticks and takes a shot glass. The bass player, who had been distracting me throughout the show because he's a dead ringer for Eric Richardson of blogdowntown (seriously, I had to check to make sure he wasn't wearing flip-flops onstage), does his best to keep the rhythm going, but succumbs and takes a shot. Music forgotten, they toast and drink. A beat, then they pick up where they left off and finish the song.


What's even more pathetic than the quality of these "craptastic cell phone photos" (as losanjealous calls them) taken at the show? That we had to leave the show before it ended. To let the puppy out. Then to sing him to sleep and put him to bed. This is the new me? I don't know if the old, pill-popping, vodka-swilling, up-all-night-but-where-are-we-going-for-brunch me would be happy for the new me, or sneer before dispatching the new me with a dismissive wave. Thanks for the tickets losanjealous, and in a roundabout way, thanks for gently making me face the fact that I'm not a kid anymore.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

what i saw on my walk home tonight

Earlier tonight I attended the DLANC Arts Committee Meeting at Pharmaka. I'll probably blog more later on what happened at the meeting. After the meeting, some of the other attendees went to Pete's Cafe for a drink. I had to get home to my husband, puppy and dinner, so I walked down Main Street. Then I saw this guy, standing on the southeast corner of 5th and Main Streets.

5th main guy blanket

Suddenly, he dropped his bag, threw off his blanket, jogged along the crosswalk, then did jumping jacks at the northeast corner. Did I mention he was butt naked?

naked guy 5th main

Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera or videocamera with me, so I took these pictures with my cellphone. Most of the pictures I took were blurry, mostly because the naked guy was jumping up and down, package flailing all over the place.

CU naked guy 5th main

Jeez, where was he during Art Walk? That sure would've livened up the Art Walk DASH ceremony.

"where's my treat?"

wonton has a new look
Fresh from getting groomed at The Lofty Dog, Wonton poses for the camera, seconds before tearing his brown and white polka-dot carrier apart.

Wonton had quite a day at the groomers. His sister, Lily, happened to come in for a groom as well. They licked, romped, and caught up with each other. It was really difficult to tell them apart, they look so much alike.
brother and sister reunion

Now that Wonton has all his shots, he's available for playdates. He's so low to the ground and, as puppies do, he mouths everything. So we can't take him for walks downtown, but we are looking for a stroller so he can explore the neighborhood with us. There was one that I liked at The Lofty Dog, but it was pink and Wonton wants something a little more masculine, so we're still looking.

Besides our weekly forays to downtown Farmer's Markets, Wonton is looking forward to two upcoming canine events: 1) Downtown Dog Day Afternoon at the Cathedral, on July 31st, and 2) Yappy Hour at The Lofty Dog (which coincides with the monthly Downtown Artwalk) on August 9th. Maybe we'll see you there!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

five more questions and a bonus

Photo courtesy of FBLA

Downtown's very own renaissance man, Ed Fuentes (of View from a Loft and blogdowntown), fielded 20 "softball" questions from Fishbowl LA yesterday. I'm glad to see Ed get some well-deserved attention. I hold him in high esteem, so much that I asked him a while ago if I could set him up with one of my girlfriends. Yes ladies, he's single and that's a good picture of him.

Those questions, however, didn't really get to the heart of the matter. Yes, I realize those are the same stock questions they ask of all that they profile. But I want to know more about Ed. I'm hoping that Ed will answer five more questions, with answers that reveal far more about who he is. The questions are below and I have generously answered them as well (to be fair). I'm also hoping that Jim, Eric, Dave, Rico, Don and Brady will answer these questions on their blogs as well. If anybody else wants to play along, please feel free to answer in the comments or on your own blog (and let us know in the comments).

1. Does the carpet match the drapes?
No, I've had some gray hairs come in lately. This screenplay is killing me slowly.

2. What was the last thing you did that you previously told yourself you wouldn't do?
Procrastinate. Hey, look at what I'm doing now.

3. Who was your childhood hero?
My 5th grade teacher, Mr. Richardson. Every week, we had to recite a poem from memory and then explain it, in our own words. Poems ranged from Rudyard Kipling's If, Lord Alfred Tennyson's The Charge of the Light Brigade, and William Ernest Henley's Invictus, to Shakespeare's soliloquoys and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Hiawatha. I still have that book and I can still quote many of those poems today. Mr. Richardson took a classroom full of recently-immigrated Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Pakistani, Arab, Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan kids, many of them struggling to learn English, and taught them not just the basics, but helped them to achieve a cultural literacy lacking in most high school students today. I think I learned more from his class than I did in college (not counting classes in my major, theatre arts) and I would not be the person I am today were it not for Mr. Richardson.

4. Describe your first kiss.
We were five years old, his name was Anthony and he was in my 1st grade class. At lunchtime, me, Anthony and some other weird kids would act out fairy tales. I was always the princess and Anthony, you guessed it, was the knight in shining armor coming to my emotional rescue and he would kiss me. Then our fairy tale play would come to an end, and so would our lunch hour.

5. What is the best superhero comic book movie ever made?
Despite Katie Holmes, the best superhero comic book movie ever made is Batman Begins.

Bonus Question (as in, optional):
Have you ever had a "blog crush" (i.e., a crush on someone, of whatever gender, that you haven't met in person but only know through their blog)? Who? Link please, if you dare.

I only developed a crush on Jim after I met him. To this day, he still denies that he had a blog crush on me, but the evidence is there. Does February 28, 2005 ring a bell, Jim?

Monday, July 16, 2007

dear subconscious,

It's about time we had a chat. About my screenplay.

I know you have the rest of it and I think it's about time that you hand it over. Look, I've been patient. And I've seen bits and pieces of it, it looks great and I'm sure the rest is up to your exacting standards. I've already rewritten the first half and, save for one change which I will make today, it's pretty damn good. But we're a team and I expect you to contribute for a change. So hand the fucker over already, I'm tired!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

fun in the park and a fat puppy

Last week, Jim and I were taking our puppy Wonton to the vet and we passed by the Los Angeles State Historic Park. They were setting up for an event, it looked like a mid-day concert or festival. We considered stopping to check it out, but figured Ed, Dave, Eric, Don or Rico was probably all over it already. BTW, does downtown have some great bloggers, or what? But there was no mention of the event from these usually comprehensive bloggers. Then I find out it was a concert series/block party called Live At The BBQ thrown by Zune, with live performances by Common and E-40 and tents with video games. It looked like a fun party.

Meanwhile, back at the vet, the nurse asked me to place Wonton on the scale to be weighed. When we first brought him in, he weighed 4.2 lbs. Three weeks later, he weighs 5.7 lbs. Is that normal? Or are we going to have a 20-lb. Shih Tzu on our hands?

Friday, July 13, 2007

and they said it wouldn't last

Jim and I have been married for six months today. I asked him, "Since it's our six-month anniversary, should we do something half-assed?" But then I realized, we do things half-assed all the time, it wouldn't be anything special.

The other week, I was showing my mom our new Prius. I was taking her shopping, so she hopped in the passenger seat while I showed off all the nifty features. Then she asked, "So, are you happy?"

Clueless, I replied, "Yeah, I love this car!"

She sighed, "No, I mean, are you happy with Jim?"

You have to remember my mom has a rather heavy Filipino accent, which over 20 years in America and a six-month accent removal class hasn't mellowed. So when she asked that, it sounded more like, "Ahr you happy wit Jeem?" How I didn't have to shove my fist in my mouth to keep from laughing, I don't know.

But yes, I am very happy with Jeem. Happy 6 months baby!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"sketches of nothing by a complete nobody"

I really like these videos from BumDog, which is part of a feature film he's working on, based on his book, "Sketches of Nothing By A Complete Nobody". He shoots the videos in downtown Los Angeles and he features both random downtown people and some recognizable people from around the neighborhood.

I'm looking forward to seeing more videos from BumDog. He writes this about his first video:

It takes 59 seconds for "My Favorite Things" to start. The scene is a homeless bum (me) waking up in a parking lot in Downtown Los Angeles, and beginning his day listening to his morning Playlist from his iPod, which begins with the Beatles's "I Only Sleeping" and goes on to John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things".

As you can see by the titles this is the first section of a movie Im working on about myself bumming around downtown for three days. I call it "Sketches Of Nothing By A Complete Nobody", after a book I self-published. I've finished the first 30 minutes of it that Ive blogged here on YouTube.

One of the themes of the film is how I experience the world through the sounds of my iPod. Life on the outside juxtaposing the music that goes through my head. Because as a quote out of "Midnight Cowboy" says: "The silence has demons that only sound can chase away."

Friday, July 06, 2007

my boys

jim and wonton
Here are my guys, Jim and Wonton. Aren't they cute?

touring a legend

alexandria hotel sign
Last week, I toured the Alexandria Hotel. Yeah, I lived there for ten years, but this was different - Amerland wanted to show how the renovation was coming along. So I went.

alexandria hotel lobby
alexandria hotel lobby
They moved some things around in the lobby, like taking out the big red circular leather banquettes and closed off the front desk area except for a small window to retrieve your mail. I saw that a lot of the same residents were still around, but a few notables (like Puppet, Dr. Smellgood, Preacher Man, the guy who sells meat in the elevator, and the voodoo woman) were conspicuously absent.

russell brown, docent
alexandria hotel tour group
Russell Brown and Blair from the Amerland Group led the tour.

My timing was good. It was also Helen's last day at the Alexandria. Helen is the Korean woman who runs the convenience store inside, or rather, she was. She's moving her store to Pico, two blocks from Crenshaw. We didn't have time to catch up, but she did have a few things to say about the current management of the Alexandria, so we made plans to break bread once she gets settled and I finish my rewrite. Helen has introduced me to some of the best places to go for Korean food and was one of the nicest people I met while living at the Alexandria.

second floor ballroom
This is one of two ballrooms on the second floor. They're mainly used for commercial filming, but this one will be renovated and will function as a rec room/community center.
don garza tours the ballroom
Yes, the ceilings are that low. Did I mention that our very own Town Crier, Don Garza, was on the tour? While checking out the model unit, he mentioned that he was considering moving to the Alexandria.

This is the other ballroom on the second floor, also used for filming. I think the last thing shot at this location was Rush Hour 3.
renovating another ballroom
2nd floor ballroom and scaffolding
scaffolding and balconies

On to the rest of the building and the renovation that's underway. They're starting with the lower floors, so the 3rd floor residents were moved to higher floors while Amerland did their magic.
outside an interior window
3rd floor hallway scene

They have a new color scheme. I think the new gray carpet aren't as scary-looking as the original red carpet in the picture above, but the lower floors are still pretty dark.
empty 3rd floor hallway

We waited on the 3rd floor for someone to bring us a key to the model unit, which is right down the hall from the fire escape. This fire escape is the best vantage point to watch filming on the corner of 5th and Spring. At least that's where I watched crews film Spiderman 1 & 2, and countless other films.
3rd floor fire escape

It seemed like we were waiting a long time. Our tour group just hung out in the hall while residents walked past, some moving their belongings up to higher floors. Others were just chatty. This guy was talking to Don Garza when I walked up. He seemed pretty chill, so I asked him if I could take a look at his room. "Sure," he said, giving me the thumbs-up, "I'm down this hall." That got a few weird and worried looks from some members of the tour group, but they were freaked out and left early anyways. I guess some people just scare easily. Anyway,I got to his front door and a friend of his stood in the hallway, saying that his "old lady is still taking a nap." So he declined and said, "Maybe another time." For future reference, I asked, "Hey, what's your name?" He replied, "Lucky. My name is Lucky."

come look at my room

The rooms were clean, bright, and of a decent size.
empty model unit
model unit bathtub

It was pretty roomy, even with all these people inside, poking around. I have no idea what Ed Fuentes was looking at.
model unit tour
peek at a model unit

Then came my favorite part, walking up the stairs in the heat and humidity to the 11th floor. Since they were moving residents from the 3rd floor so that their units could be renovated, all the elevators were being used to transport furniture and bedding. All the elevators that were working, that is. Nice to see that some things just don't change.

Slowly, the group made its way up the old stairwell.
scary stairwell
interior window 8th floor

I spent a little time on the 8th floor, checking out what it looks like, pre-renovation.
8th floor hallway
# 800
original curtains
hole in the carpet
dirty bathtub

I lagged behind, taking pictures. Another member of the group, some guy (Borzu?) from the CRA also fell behind, but he was rather portly and had huge underarm and neck stains on his dress shirt, from the heat and exertion. I didn't take a picture of that. Slowly, we made our way up. Can you imagine having to walk through this scene (pre-renovation) on your way to your room every night for ten years?
9th floor hallway

There were quite a few notices stuck to doors all along the hallway. Some were water shutoff notices (they turn the water off every Tuesday so they can upgrade the plumbing, but sometimes they add an extra day, much to the chagrin of residents).
water shutoff notices

But other floors were rife with eviction notices. BTW, I don't think that's blood on the door.
Unit 1101
eviction notice for #1101

At least the hallways on the 11th floor are nice and bright. And the view isn't bad.
11th floor hallway
view from the 11th

It was about this time that Borzu and I realized, we lost the rest of the tour group. We walked up and down hallways on the 11th and 12th floor to no avail. I ran into some familiar faces, mostly hotel maintenance staff that stayed on with the new management and a few former neighbors. I asked a few questions about the changes to the building, how they like the new staff, working conditions, etc. But they kept eyeing Borzu suspiciously (he stuck to me like white on rice, like Brer Fox was all over Brer Rabbit), shrugged their shoulders, and said things were, "okay." I walked Borzu back down to the lobby, where he gave up looking for the group and left. I was about to do the same, when I saw the group emerge from a stairwell. I rejoined them and proceeded to the Palm Court.
the palm court
palm court tiffany ceilings
tiffany ceilings
chandelier reflection

Then it was outside to check out the building's facade and Charlie O's.
corner alexandria hotel sign
bar room pool tables

Going back and touring the place brought back a lot of memories, some good, some bad, some of it chronicled in the archives of this blog, but I admit, I left out a lot of dirt, a lot of the good stuff. I'll have to go over my notes and correspondence from when I lived there, but more than likely it'll wind up in a novel or screenplay. It sure was something though, living with a legend for ten years.