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

last chance to beer garden

I know summer is coming to an end when the New Otani closes down their beer garden for the season. This week is the last chance to enjoy the beer garden - last day is this Friday, September 14, 2007.

working out the kinks

The Downtown Writers Group met last week for the first time. Due to too many things going on downtown, several of our members couldn't attend. Then when I got to the DLANC Outreach Center, I saw that there was a scheduling snafu and a DLANC Affordable Housing sub-committee meeting was already underway. Brady explained the scheduling mix-up and our need for another venue. So I walked over to the group and interrupted, "Excuse me, but we have a downtown writers meeting scheduled, so, everyone else will have to get the hell out."

The walls of the DLANC Outreach Center echoed with laughter. Loud, raucous laughter. Brady tapped me on the shoulder and stage whispered, "I think they're up a little higher on the food chain than we are."

I stage whispered right back, "I know that Brady. That's why it was so funny."

More laughter. God this was a great room to work. So I tried out some new material. I killed. "Thank you and good night! Tip your waitress and be careful driving home folks!"

They still threw us out. No matter. We repaired to Red Dot and had some yummy chili fritos and beer while we figured out how this group was going to function.

I was worried that the group would be comprised of novelists only, but I worried needlessly. Although one of the group writes science fiction/short stories, he used to review films for the Village Voice and was willing to read/review screenplays. Another member, who has complained to me only of the lack of progress on her novel but was a creative executive at a big production company, announced that she wants to submit her screenplay (a "sober comedy") for review. I am hopeful that I will get some good feedback from fresh eyes on the screenplay I'm submitting.

Details regarding the group and our next meeting can be found on the Downtown Writers Group blog, but basically, we meet once a month on the first Thursday of the month. In order to review other members' work and give feedback, one must submit pages for review. There's more, but I have to get back to finishing this rewrite.

Monday, September 10, 2007

name two things that got lit last night besides me

As the sun went down last night, I looked out the window and saw that crews were hard at work above the Rosslyn Hotel - they were "reactivating" the neon signs for a film shoot. Jim and I stepped out onto our patio to snap a few pictures, then he asked me, "You know who would really appreciate this?"

I tried to think, but I was under the influence, so I copped out "I don't know. Who?"

"Eric Lynxwiler and Shannon."


I called Shannon, who called Eric. By the time she came over, night had fallen and the lighting crew had made more progress. Eric showed up shortly afterwards with The Gentrifier, ready to take pictures. As Shannon mentioned on her blog, Jim and Eric had better cameras then she or I, but neither that nor my high level of intoxication stopped me from snapping away. I did get a whole memory card full of blurry pictures, though.


After a while, we all snapped our fill of photos. I brought out the binoculars and we were transfixed, watching the neon and the film crew in action. It was getting late, so after getting their fill of a downtown night illuminated by neon, Eric, Shannon and The Gentrifier packed up their cameras and went home to upload their pictures.

Jim noticed that Dave Bullock had twittered, asking if he could come over and shoot some photos of the sign from our rooftop patio. Jim twittered him back to come over. Wonton was tired of company, especially company that paid more attention to a neon sign instead of him. So I got Wonton ready for bed while Jim and Dave took more pictures outside. Dave was quick to take his shots, I was on my way out to say hello when Jim came inside saying Dave had already gone to upload his pictures and blog about it.

Just then, we heard a crowd's roar from outside on Main Street. "What the hell was that?" I asked Jim, "That wasn't from the film shoot at the Rosslyn, was it?"

Jim laughed, "No, that's the other film shoot at 6th and Main, near the PE Lofts. Check your email, Ben emailed FilmLA about that shoot and copied Jan Perry and Jose Huizar's offices."

I checked my email and sure enough, there was a permit being violated. Here's the details from Permit # F-208445:

LOCATION: 640 S. Main St.
DATES: 09/09/07
HOURS: 5:00 P.M. -3:00 A.M
DESCRIPTION OF SCENE: Exterior dialogue. Walk and talk. Drive up and away. Camera & equipment on sidewalk, in curb lane & across the street. Intermittent traffic & pedestrian control. 50 extras on sidewalk and curb lane. Crane. Scissor lift. Smash TV on sidewalk. Film LA Monitor required: 9/09/07, 4:00 P.M. - 3:00 A.M. Base Camp & Cast /Crew parking at 645 Main St. Lot 9/09/07
PARKING: East side of Main St., 6th St. - 7th St. 9/09/07, 1:00 P.M. -10:00 P.M.

Ben's email pointed out that the extras were not in the curb lane, but out in the street. The production was using a megaphone to direct the extras, directing them to cheer loudly - after 10pm, within earshot of three residential buildings not associated with the production. And of course, all under the watchful eye of a FilmLA monitor. Ben's phone call to the "on call coordinator" at 10:28PM to complain went unanswered. Funny how that happens when there's a production violating a film permit that they don't want to shut down.

The film crew at the Rosslyn posed no problems. We didn't get notification, but they weren't noisy. And although several lanes of Main Street were closed, access in and out for the surrounding residential buildings wasn't an issue. There was one spotlight that shone into our windows, but it wasn't a problem. How is it that one film crew can get it right, and one block away another production gets it wrong, but FilmLA doesn't reward the good crews or issue citations or fines to the productions that get it wrong?

Earlier today Kevin at LAObserved blogged about Eric's, Shannon's, and Curbed LA's coverage of the re-lit neon signs, and linked to an earlier rooftop view of the Rosslyn signs, from Laura's wedding. It's funny that all those pictures were taken from our patio, just from different vantage points.

Friday, September 07, 2007

caltrans building's new filming policy

new caltrans building
Photo courtesy of Jim

Here's a message from the California Film Commission, courtesy of Ben:

September 6, 2007

Production Alert: New California Film Commission Policy for filming at the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters in Los Angeles.

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the Caltrans Building at 1st & Main in downtown Los Angeles, this facility will no longer be able to accommodate any interior filming or interior set dressing. Exterior filming only is still permitted between the hours of 5:00 pm and 5:00 am on weekdays, and is available all day on weekends. In addition, the building can only accommodate one production per week (regardless of the number of days.)

In order to reserve a space on the calendar for this location, you must submit a permit application on-line to the California Film Commission at

There will be no exceptions to these new guidelines.

A detailed fact sheet with guidelines, contacts, and requirements for filming at this location is attached.

Thank you in advance for adhering to these new guidelines. The CFC works closely with all of our state partners to ensure that these unique properties remain available for filming for years to come.

Please call if you have any questions (323-860-2960).

California Film Commission
7080 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 900
Hollywood, CA 90028

I wonder if this has anything to do with whatever was filming at the CalTrans Building last night. After midnight, these bright lights were suddenly shining directly at my building late last night. It was incredibly bright. I turned off all my lights and it lit my living room well enough for me to read - all from five blocks away. I'm sure the folks on the north side of the San Fernando Building loved that.

stuttgart, heidelberg and munich - oh my!

Anybody know of fun, interesting, unusual, cool things to see and/or do in Stuttgart and/or Heidelberg, Germany? Jim and I will be there, but he'll be at a conference and I'll be looking for places to hang out and read/write. We'll also be in Munich, but we're there for Oktoberfest, which should provide plenty for me to see and do. Any recommendations? Things to avoid?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

i'm a winner again

marquee el rey lucinda williams

I won another contest. My prize was tickets to see Lucinda Williams at the El Rey Theatre last night. I won the tickets so quickly that they got more to give away. I wish I didn't already have commitments for all the other nights, but especially for Saturday when she plays my favorite (and everyone else's) Lucinda Williams album.

Last night was good. Lucinda put on quite a show, her band was tight and she was in fine form. I was about ten feet away from the stage and if it weren't for this weird woman directly in front of me that danced like she was convulsing at a Wiggles concert - no matter the tempo - it would've been great.

Okay, back to work.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

first karen carpenter, now bob dylan

I'm really looking forward to seeing Todd Haynes' Bob Dylan biopic, I'm Not There, which just debuted at the Venice Film Festival. In the film, six actors, Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Marcus Carl Franklin, Christian Bale, Ben Whishaw and Richard Gere, all embody a different aspect of Bob Dylan's life and work.

Even if you're not familiar with Todd Haynes' work, you've probably heard about his infamous 43-minute cult treasure "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story", which uses Barbie and Ken dolls to tell the tragic story of Karen Carpenter. Here it is in all its brilliance:

Todd Haynes - 43 min 19 sec - Jan 1, 1987

"...Seizing upon the inspired gimmick of using Barbie and Ken dolls to sympathetically recount the story of the pop star's death from anorexia, he spent months making miniature dishes, chairs, costumes, Kleenex and Ex-Lax boxes, and Carpenters' records to create the film's intricate, doll-size mise-en-scene. The result was both audacious and accomplished as the dolls seemingly ceased to be dolls leaving the audience weeping for the tragic singer.

Unfortunately, Richard Carpenter's enmity for the film (which made him look like a selfish jerk) led to the serving of a "cease and desist" order in 1989, and despite the director's offer "to only show the film in clinics and schools, with all money going to the Karen Carpenter memorial fund for anorexia research, "Superstar" remains buried, one of the few films in modern America that cannot be seen by the general public.

Now finally you have a chance to see this piece."

Interesting bit of trivia - I learned how to speak English by listening to The Carpenters (and John Denver) over and over, as well as by watching I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched.

downtown writers group meeting

The first meeting of the Downtown Writers Group is scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, September 6th, at 7pm. We will meet at the DLANC Outreach Center on Main Street, between Winston and 5th Streets, right next to the Regent Theater.

Please consider joining us if you are an emerging or professional writer interested in meeting other downtown writers, and participating in a peer-reviewed writing group.

Monday, September 03, 2007

in memory of

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

I love and miss you Laura.


Oahu - Laura's view