Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Do It Again

I'm sick for what can only be the last time in 2007. There are many more germs awaiting my entry into 2008, for sure. The only blessing about this final 2007 bug is that I'm sick early enough to make a speedy recovery for New Year's Eve, and that means sitting around with some parents whose kids are probably sick, and we'll be talking about what we used to do on New Year's Eve's before we did this.

The added bonus of being sick this time is knowing exactly when, where, and who I got my illness from. The added bonus not being the knowing, but the added animosity toward the person who was so kind as to show up at my cousin's Xmas Eve dinner knowing she was coming down with something nasty, and sharing it with the rest of us.

She's a woman of probably about 57, named Roz. Roz didn't really have much to say to us (or anyone), other than to remark about how rambunctious Judah was being, and also that the Poinsettia he was playing next to was poisonous. According to the Bible (Wikipedia), Poinsettia's aren't poisonous, but we didn't have that information at the time so we all silently watched Judah like a hawk until he moved to a non-Poinsettia region of my cousin's house. The next morning I woke up feeling like crap, and I recalled how good I was feeling until that precise moment.

In any case, here I sit drinking Nighttime Airborne, loathing Roz. Nighty-night.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Trim Up The Tree

What I really want for Xmas this year is to know, once and for all, what my ethnic background really is. When I was a kid, it was simple: Dad was German/English, Mom was Filipino. But over the years it's gotten oh so muddled.

Upon doing a family tree homework assignment in high school, I found out that moms was not just Filipino, but her father was Spanish & Chinese. And then a couple years ago, Lily did some more questioning of my mom to find out what was up with my father's side of the picture, and she found out that there was Scottish and French in there as well.

I wanted to get to the bottom of this, and being as my dad's attending the great gig in the sky and not around to answer questions, I asked his brother. He told me there wasn't any Scottish or French in our family but there was German and Welsh. I'd never heard that I was Welsh before, but I felt like I was getting someplace.

The moment of truth finally arrived this year when we had a family reunion at my uncle's house in San Diego. I was so excited to ask the question about our ancestry and get the last word on what I'm really made of. Nope. Nothing but divergent opinions and ideas on what we were. Oh, and that my grandfather had a completely separate family from the one I knew about.

And then just the other day my cousin, who didn't bother to make the trek down to San Diego to help fill in the blanks in the family tree, calls me on the telephone. I explain the whole story of the reunion and the lack of information. He then tells me that years ago one of our relatives, who's not a relative anymore because of divorce, did the research and told our family (including the people at my family reunion) that not only were we German, English, and Welsh, but IRISH too! Well if that don't beat all. I hope at some point I find out I'm Italian as well. I've always wanted to be Italian.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Deep in the Heart of Texas

When my employer asked me to travel to Dallas to edit a spot, I was asked one minor question: Do you want a rental car? Seems like an easy answer: Yes! But after speaking to another editor who'd traveled to Dallas, the likelihood of getting lost in Dallas in my rental car seemed very possible. And because I'd never been to Texas before, I decided it was probably a better idea to use taxis to get around.

Simple enough. Cab drivers know their city, right? Wrong. Every morning, I'd hop in the taxi, tell the driver the address and neighborhood, and each one would turn around and look at me like I was speaking Tagalog or something. The first day, the driver drove away from the hotel, pulled out a Thomas Guide and proceeded to look for the name of the street. Seeing's how I didn't want to get in a wreck over something as silly as getting me to the office, I said "gimme that" and looked for it myself.

The next day, things were looking up. The cab driver had a GPS thingy on his dashboard. Aside from the fact that he didn't know how to punch in the address, it functioned perfectly. Except for the fact that 75% of the roads around the office are under construction/not there anymore. We drove around in circles, with the GPS thingy saying "Turn right. Recalculating" every time we made a right. Luckily I had some modern technology of my own, a cellular telephone, to make a call to a co-worker and get real directions.

By the time you read this, I should be halfway to the office or circling around the same patch of roads under construction.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Sweet Child O' Mine

Lily tells me our son now says the word "Dammit". I wonder where he picked that up from? Damn!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Not long ago, probably about a month ago, it dawned on me that my wardrobe was getting some serious wear. And tear. Which is a good thing, because I want to get as much mileage as I can out of my gear before the style police come along and tell me it's time to get into whatever retro year it is this time.

So on a Sunday, the family went on a little outing to the Beverly Center to do some shopping and basically hit the closest H&M to our neck of the proverbial woods. To make a long story start, we went into Club Monaco and I tried on some slacks. Nice, but they needed tailoring, and Club Monaco does free tailoring with your purchase. At least that's what the fashionista working the dressing rooms told me. Turns out that it's free if your merchandise is not on sale, which mine was, so I had to pay 10 bucks. Not bad for the convenience of not needing to go someplace else and do the whole fitting, pinning, paying exercise all over again.

The much-younger-than-me guy working the register handed me a ticket to fill out with my name and phone number. He tore off one part of the ticket and handed it back to me, and he told me my pants would be ready next Wednesday. I walked out of the store feeling oddly satisfied that I did some shopping, but I had no merchandise.

Wednesday arrives and Lily is kind enough to brave the Beverly Center again to pick up my pants. That night I pull the pants out of the bag to try them on and complete the shopping nirvana feeling. But I find that there are still pins in my folded, cinched pants. No tailoring had been done. I asked Lily about it, and she said she just picked up the bag from the store. The employee said they were done. Done has a lot of meanings I guess, but this didn't fit my definition of done.

At my earliest convenience, I called Club Monaco @ Beverly Center and spoke with a manager. He apologized not so profusely and said I could bring the pants back in and it would be done. Really? I'm allowed to drive my car into one of the worst parking lots ever and enter one of the few places I really consider hell on earth just so they could finish what they were supposed to have completed in the first place? No no no. I asked if I could bring the pants to any Club Monaco to have the tailoring done. He said yes, and that if anyone gave me a problem, to have them call him. Ooh. Tough guy.

There's a Club Monaco on the 3rd Street Promenade in lovely Santa Monica, and it's conveniently located walking distance from work. I drive there and bring the pants in on a Friday. I tell an employee my story, and we're good. She tells me to come back Monday, and they'll be done. I come back Tuesday. They're not done. There's no apology. Just a smile and the kind of blank stare you get from a lot of vendors in Southern California, begging you to say or do something you'll probably regret.

I assumed that they expected me to come back at some undefined later date in hopes that my pants will one day be tailored as we agreed upon way back when at the Beverly Center. But instead of playing that game, I asked them if they could be so kind as to call me when they're done. Blank smile girl said "of course". No apology.

Time passes and there's no phone call. I make the call, and I discover that the pants are ready, and they've been ready for a week. I ask for the manager, and I find out that I'm already speaking to him. I tell him my plight, and he's sympathetic. When I go in and get my pants, they're ready and they fit perfectly. The manger gives me a $30 store credit. What do I do with it? I buy more pants that need tailoring.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


You may have heard, by first-hand accounts or by reading this space or otherwise, that I'm a marked man. Marked in terms of having incredibly bizarre misfortune at restaurants, coffee shops, etc. One place neglects to order my meal, another place decides to leave a broken bread tie in my eggs. One place has every beer imaginable on tap, they take our order and bring everybody's beer except mine because they just ran out of the beer I ordered.

These things usually occur when I walk into any establishment. And they happen almost every time, without fail. There's a sign imprinted on my forehead that reads "fuck with this guy" that's visible to everyone but me. I'm convinced. It's happened way too many times for it not to be there.

But this time I didn't even have to venture out into the world, make a phone call or interact in any way whatsoever with a vendor to get fucked with. I enjoyed half my delivered lunch and then discovered what looked like a pubic hair in there. Bon appetit.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Flying High Again

I'd never done this before, and I hope to not make it a regular occurrence, but I took the skybus this week. Flew up to San Francisco and back in the same day. It may have possibly consumed less time than a lot of people's driving commutes here in the Southland.

I woke up at 4:20 am to get on a flight departing at 6:30 am. Fine. No problem. I just stayed away from the caffeine enough to sleep like a baby for the 45 minutes or so that we were in the air neither taking off nor landing. I even ran into a friend who was on the same flight, and he was kind enough to offer me a ride to work in his rental car. I was looking forward to riding the BART, but I was happy to have a comrade in travel.

The return trip was a little more adventurous. I decided to ride the BART to SFO, thereby leaving a narrow window of time to actually make my flight. BART drops you off right at the international terminal of SFO. Domestic travelers must go upstairs to catch a tram to the domestic terminal. Seeing's how I wasn't even leaving the state, much less the country, I went upstairs to catch the tram. 45 minutes before takeoff. I looked at the Information map to see where the Virgin America gates were. No listing for Virgin America. Must be too new.

The tram arrives, I step on with the rest of the travelers, and I remove my earphones just in time to hear: "Next stop, International Terminal. Virgin America, blah blah." I look at the tram system map and it contradicts the voice on the loudspeaker. The map says that Virgin America is the final tram stop. A couple standing next to me is apparently flying Virgin America because they saw and heard the same thing I did and they begin arguing in a rapidly escalating manner.

Doors open. The loudspeaker doesn't repeat the info. I quickly make the decision to go with the voice instead of the sign and I step off the train. I head down the escalator to the International Terminal (the one I could have walked to from where BART dropped me off in the first place) and I find one of those "Departures" screens and I see my flight number and gate assignment. It says A-11. I look up at the gate sign I'm standing under and it says "Gates G-1 through G-11". 40 minutes til takeoff.

I have no idea where the "A" gates are, but luckily there's an information booth nearby, so I walk over. A non-native-English speaking man beats me to the information booth and he asks (in non-native-English) the ancient sage working the counter where he can buy a ticket. Who the hell buys a ticket AT THE AIRPORT?!?!??!!! The sage tells me "be right with you" as he struggles to find the information. Moments later it's my turn, and I ask where Virgin America's gates are. The sage tells me where I can buy a ticket. (Apparently he neglected to notice the difference between me and the guy before me.) I tell him I have a ticket and I need to know where the "A" gates are.

The sage points up at a huge number on a pillar that says 11. "You see that number 11? Well when you get down to 1, you'll be there." I asked him if I should get back on the tram, but he said I could walk it. More like run it with the time I had left. I did my best speedwalker impression and hoofed it down to 1, and there indeed were the "A" gates. 35 minutes til takeoff.

The security check line is comprised mainly of Filipino travelers who don't have their shit together like I do. Meaning they're digging through their luggage to find passports and boarding passes. Things are not moving quickly enough for those of us who are about to miss our flights. This lack of speed continues all the way through the metal detector to the other side where somebody's bag has to go through the x-ray 3 times. As I wait, I look back at the security line and spot the arguing couple from the tram, and they still haven't made it through the ID check part of security.

I was about to ask security if I could grab my bag/laptop/shoes/jacket from behind the part of the x-ray machine where it has passed through, but not really past the part where you're supposed to grab it, but then I had a vision of a lengthy strip-search and me missing my flight. I waited patiently. 25 minutes til takeoff.

Finally I was able to grab my stuff and cram my feet into my loafers enough to get going. Speedwalking continued and I reached the end of the terminal where my gate was located with 20 minutes til takeoff. And to my left was an Il Fornaio cafe proudly displaying an Anchor Steam sign that I couldn't resist. Virgin America could wait.

I ordered, noticed a bar type of setup on the other side of the cafe, and moseyed over with my large glass of beer. I looked up at the TV hoping to see Monday Night Football, but instead it was some pirate movie that turned out to have Johnny Depp playing Keith Richards as a pirate. I was about to ask if they'd change it to the game, but a group of euro-looking travelers seemed really into the pirate movie.

I took a sip of beer and sent a taunting text message regarding drinking beer to a co-worker who I knew was still working. Then the loudspeaker came on: "Virgin America flight blah blah going to Los Angeles will be closing its doors in 5 minutes. If you want to go to Los Angeles, be here in 5 minutes." Couldn't be clearer about how long I had to finish my beer. Plenty of time.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Who Are You

Lily and I took the li'l bugger out for his first Halloween last night. Not really his first Halloween, but the first that he dressed up in a costume, walked around the neighborhood and took candy from strangers. So cute. He didn't want to wear the head part to his Tiger costume, so I wore it so people could at least make the connection.

At one point - the point where we walked by the house with the really loud stereo blaring haunted house noises - Judah got scared. He refused to walk anymore and he tried to crawl up Lily's leg or my leg to be held, so I assume that meant he was scared. He's incapable of looking me in the eye and telling me, "Father, I have a great sense of fear because of the really loud stereo blaring haunted house noises, of which I have no association to this day you call Halloween." So I'm assuming he was scared.

We carried him around for a bit, setting him down in each doorway so he could get the loot and people could say, "Aw, cute." After a while, he seemed okay with the everyone-in-costume thing, and he started to charge around on his own.

At one point, he darted off up the walkway to somebody's door with the rest of the kids, and I made eye contact with a woman who looked like a mis-colored rendition of Raggedy Ann. She stopped and declared somewhat excitedly, "I know you from somewhere!" I knew her from somewhere too, but I couldn't remember where.

An industry person at an industry party? The mental face rolodex was spinning, but no match. A parent at one of Judah's multitiude of social events? That's possible, but we'd never know, seeing's how most parents are too busy chasing their kid around to remember people's names and such. A random hookup? I've never hooked up with any random person in LA, and seeing's how I've got my girl, I never will.

Well we stood there for a sec trying to sort out each others masqueraded faces, until she looked at Lily and said "I know you too!" Lily reacted similarly. Then Raggedy Ann realized we had all talked at the playground at the beach recently. And as soon as that realization came, she said her goodbye and took off faster than a kid grabbing a handful of candy. Was it something we said at the beach? My guess is that she would have stuck around for chit-chat if there had been a random hookup in our past. Who cares. I needed to get Judah away from the candy bowl.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Song 2

At the risk of potentially turning this space into rantings about coffee instead of rantings about music (?), I'm dipping into the coffee story well for the 2nd week in a row. Because yesterday I had the best coffee in the world: Poop coffee.

Call me crazy, but coffee that's been through an animal, a cat-monkey animal called a Paradoxurus, is the best I've ever tasted. I almost always take cream & sugar in my coffee, but this poop coffee didn't need any. Smooth, nutty, silky. Good to the last drop.

The coffee is actually called Kopi Luwak. Calling it Kopi Luwak probably gets more first-time customers than calling it poop coffee. It's expensive as hell. 60 bucks a cup. A cup! Three dudes from work and I went to our new favorite coffee house, Funnel Mill, because occasionally Funnel Mill sells Kopi Luwak at half-price, and yesterday was our lucky day. It was a brothers-in-arms sorta effort because we figured nobody should drink poop coffee by themselves.

Here's what the Funnel Mill site says about Kopi Luwak:

Kopi Luwak coffee comes from the Indonesian island of Sumatra, an area well-known for its excellent coffee. Also native to the area is a small civet- like animal called a Paradoxurus. That's the scientific name, but the locals called them Luwaks. These little mammals live in the trees and one of their favorite foods is the red, ripe coffee cherry. They eat the cherries, bean and all. While the beans are in the Luwak's stomach, they undergo chemical treatments and fermentations. The beans finish the journey through the digestive system, exit. The still-intact beans are collected from the forest floor, and are cleaned, then roasted and ground just like any other coffee.

Our group was in agreement that Kopi Luwak is one of the best coffees we'd ever tasted. Was it worth 30 bucks? Probably not. But the fact that this coffee is rare because it's been through a cat-monkey made the experience worth every penny. The owner of Funnel Mill even brought a pad that has the names of the individuals who've dared to try Kopi Luwak, and he asked us to add our names to the list. After I was the last of us to sign, the owner told us he'd be sending us personalized Kopi Luwak mugs with our number on it. I'm lucky 13.

As we were settling the bill, the woman behind the register told us that because of global warming, it's getting harder and harder to find the Paradoxurus and their magical coffee-enhancing intestines, so Funnel Mill doesn't get very many Kopi Luwak beans anymore. So better run out to your local coffee shop and ask for some poop coffee! Pronto!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

War Stories

After a visit to the doctor and finding out that my peak flow rate was 10% lower than it was two weeks ago, I drove to get some coffee. I'd missed the 3 o'clock cup, and caffeine is supposed to be good medicine for asthma, so I pulled into the Starbucks in Brentwood.

There was hardly anybody in there. Nobody in line, one guy grabbing a cup from the pickup area, so I stepped right up to the register and ordered a grande iced coffee. $2.35. A silver platter displayed a bevy of mini coffee cakes. I asked the register guy, "Are these samples?" He said yeah, so I grabbed a chocolate one and took a bite.

By the time I strolled over to the pickup area, the barista yelled "GRANDE ICED COFFEE". After all, it merely took pouring the iced coffee into a plastic cup. The barista folded his arms and leaned back against the sink area. I asked "Do you guys have that liquid sweetener?" He begrudgingly grabbed my coffee, and as he added the sweetener he said "Next time ask for it at the register."

I took another bite of the chocolate coffee cake and then thought "Did I just get reprimanded by a barista who's not busy at all?" I replied mid-chew "They usually ask when I order." And I grabbed my coffee and walked over to get a straw.

As I walked away I could hear the barista giving it to the register guy, "BAD, BAD, BAD". Wild afternoon at the Starbucks in Brentwood.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Here Comes Sickness

I've been sick for working on two weeks now. My new and not-improved immune system has been doing a pretty lame job of keeping up. Symptoms are: congested as hell, occasional cough, runny nose. My co-workers are afraid of me.

I believe I've shared my germs with two people now. Oh yeah, and I got my kid sick too, so that makes three (or two and a half if you're counting restaurant style). This thing has gotten so old that I'm not resorting to taking a daily multivitamin and skipping the 3rd cup of coffee. The coffee's the really hard part.

One of these days I suppose I should see a doctor to give me some antibiotics or perhaps a bottle of pills to make me feel better. But for now, just make sure to get your daily vitamin C to keep this thing away. Cuz it's coming to a town near you soon.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Goodbye Cruel World

I'm a goner. They didn't tell me how long I've got to live. I hope it's not too painful. But when a doctor tells you it's trouble, then you're done. They didn't have to be so grim about it, but they did have to let me know the horrible news. I've got gum disease.

I know, I know. Thanks for all your sympathy. I appreciate it. It's probably one of the worst of all diseases, and the hygienists were certainly very very very concerned about it, but I know I must accept it and accept my fate.

The doctor told me I've got maybe, maybe another 20 years before a tooth falls out. I know. I know. It's horrific. I know. But at least knowing, well, that's half the battle. The dental team researched my case long and hard (possibly over 12 minutes at the very least) and they couldn't come up with any possible explanation for the state of my gums. I was quick to point out that I did all I could: Brushing often, flossing nightly, even using mouthwash. They were convinced my hard-livin ways were to blame, but I eventually told them I've got bad genes.

They've given me one final chance to make it through. Gave me a referral to see a periodontal specialist. It's my only hope. Keep me in your prayers, if you please.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Girl You Know It's True

Last Friday night I braved the elements of torrential downpour, lightning and slick roads to eventually arrive at the El Rey theater in Los Angeles, California. A metal band named High on Fire, who claim Oakland, California as their home, was featured. High on Fire's music and album covers* contain themes surrounding medieval topics and songs with titles like "Cometh Down Hessian", "Brother in the Wind", "Cyclopian Scape" and so on.

Need I say more? Okay, I will.

The singer has a gravelly voice that's not quite as cookie-monster-ish as the Grindcore music, but it's in the same neighborhood. I'd seen a picture of the band somewhere before, so I had some idea as to what they might look like and perform like onstage.

I had imagined some longhaired bearded black-shirted with matching black-wristbanded singer/guitarist guy who shunned the whole rockstar thing so that he could concentrate on sounding like what a gargoyle might sound like as he plucked crushing thunderous riffage out of his axe (guitar), all the while staring out into the crowd and seeing only orcs and piles of dead where the fans should be. Man, was I wrong.

Instead, the signer/guitarist guy came out with no shirt on, sporting tattoos on sculpted muscles that you get from going to a modern gym, probably not from going back to the middle ages and carrying boulders to mountaintops. And he definitely embraced the rockstar thing with open arms: strutting, posing, and repeatedly pointing at the crowd for a quick second before banging his head to the beat.

But what did I care? The music sounded the same. They didn't start singing in falsetto and do the power-ballad guitar windmill dance. They didn't change the lyrics to be about chasing bimbos and guzzling beer. But I think I almost would've rather had GWAR appear onstage and finish the set by lip-synch. That would be more like what I had in mind.

And why is it like that? I can (and you can too) probably name more than a dozen bands whose look/performance doesn't match the look/performance in your head.

Arcade Fire: Didn't know the lead singer was a goofy giant who dances goofy and dwarfs the rest of the band

The Shins: Balding bearded emo-guy anyone?

Death Cab for Cutie: Not a cutie

Luckily for most of these bands, people listen to them more than they watch them. After all that, I went back to listening to High on Fire and the mental picture went back to where it was in the first place. Gargoyle with axe in front of piles of dead. Rock on.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

It Takes Two

A couple things I've noticed in conversations with people lately:

Cupcakes. Cupcakes. Cupcakes. I don't know where this whole rage came from, or who exactly wants 'em, but every time I turn around, somebody is shoving a cupcake in my face. Red Velvet ones, especially. Being a non-cake person, I'd just as soon go for the ice cream. But the ice cream renaissance is around the corner I guess.

Cell Phones. Cell Phones. Cell Phones. Not the iPhone, thank you. I'm referring to cell phone reception, specifically reception (or lack thereof) in your own home. Here's the deal: You notice that your cell reception sucks at home because you're at home a lot (unless your initials contain the letters A and C) therefore you notice that the reception sucks there. End of story.

Unless it's the cupcakes that are jamming cell phone reception at home. Which is entirely possible.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ghost in the Machine

We were on vacation last week. Which explains why there was nothing new in this space last week. Anyhoo, we had a great time for 10 days away from home. And when we came back our TV was on. We didn't leave the TV on when we left.

Before we took off for vacation, I was concerned that some of the people who live in the library parking lot across the street would break in and steal some of Judah's toys. Actually, I was more concerned with them stealing the toys that Lily and I have in the apartment. Namely the computer and related electronics like DVD players and iPods and such, as well as the jewelry collection I'm building for Lily.

So I made a note to go out and buy a few of those electrical timers that you put on lights so it looks like you're home even when you're not at home. But I procrastinated that part of my list away to oblivion, and I was forced to leave a couple lights on for the entire vacation.

Which leads us back to the whole TV on when we returned thing. Lily and I thought that our apartment manager Jolene (who appeared in LLMB 070507), who we asked to collect our mail while we were gone, might have come over to watch a little TV and forgot to turn it off.

Lily knocked on Jolene's door, and her new temp roomie Josie - a Bettie Page / Suicide-ish Girl with facial piercings and hair that never moves - answered it. She said Jolene was asleep, and Josie told us she'd thought we came home days ago because she heard the TV when she came in the other night.

We decided to check the apartment to see if anything was missing. Nothing was missing, so we went about our business of unpacking. 10 minutes later I heard a gentle rapping on our door. I looked through the peephole but it was dark and I couldn't see anything. I opened the door, and there was Jolene looking like a ghost because she had just applied a green facial mask. (Do people really feel comfortable enough with their neighbors to knock on their door looking like that?)

Jolene told us she hadn't come into our apartment, but she had seen the TV on through our window for the past few days and she thought we had returned days ago. She ventured guesses like maybe it was on a timer (nope), or maybe there was a power outage and the TV automatically turns back on (nope, no digital clocks were flashing and the TV doesn't do that), or perhaps Judah had hit a button before we left and set a timer to turn on days later (wow, the kid is amazingly freakin smart, but no).

The mystery is still a mystery. And the TV hasn't magically turned itself on since we've been back. But if I find any green facial mask goop anywhere in the apartment, I'll know what really happened.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I've been nearly spit on twice in the last couple of weeks. Not spit on intentionally, but I just happened to be near somebody spitting for spitting's sake. The first time I was walking down the Third Street Promenade in lovely Santa Monica, and as I strolled near one of those sunglass vendor carts, one of the vendor guys hawked a loogie directly where I was stepping. My reflexes must be wired tightly or something because I managed to delay my step a half second, narrowly avoiding a loogie on my blue Pumas. The vendor guy quickly looked me in the eye (my sunglasses really) and said "My bad." Really.

The next time I was nearly spit on I was walking by the fire station on 7th street in lovely Santa Monica. Just coming back from the library, or lunch, or buying those foam insert pads for Judah's bike helmet. Something. Minding my own business and enjoying the lovely Santa Monica perfect weather of 75 degrees with a light breeze and then BAM! Spit coming my way from a guy walking the same direction as me, but just slightly in front of me. This time it wasn't reflexes that saved me, it was sheer luck. If I had been walking a half second faster, I would have been slimed.

As I figure all things happen in threes, there's gotta be another spit encounter coming my way soon. Unless you count the time I inadvertently spit on someone walking out from behind a bus shelter. Just minding my own business, enjoying a lovely San Francisco morning, standing right next to the wall-ish part of the shelter where the big advertisement usually hangs. Hawked a loogie and spat out toward the street, when BAM! A lady walks out from behind the ad and right into my flying loogie. All she could say is "ugh." Ugh indeed.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Touch Me, I'm Sick

The germ-induced loopyness in my head won't allow me to write anything worth reading. See you next week. Ack.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Space Oddity

We've been living in The City of Angels for 1 whole year now. I still haven't made the adjustment to needing a car like I need legs, but I'm getting there. And because we made it over the 1 year hump, I figured we weren't going anywhere soon. Therefore it was time to get all the boxes out of our apartment.

After going through the motions of trying to get rid of excess stuff via Goodwill and the trash dumpster, I searched online for storage units. There's a storage facility about 2 blocks away from us in Venice, but that one cost about double what another one did less than a mile away in Marina Del Rey. I got a 4' x 5' unit for a bargain, especially considering we'd be getting more than that space back in our apartment, and the little boy would have more room to push his toys around.

Taryn at the storage center office had me sign documents saying: I wasn't in the military, I wasn't storing a car in a 4' x 5' space, or that I wouldn't live there or house animals or food in the unit. It felt like I was signing my life away when I was really only trying to rent a tiny piece of California. One of the last things to sign for was insurance, and because I already had renters insurance, I told her I didn't want it. Taryn told me that I get the first month's insurance free, but I'd have to come back into the office to cancel it later. I really didn't want to come back, but I thought: What the hell, it couldn't hurt.

So I loaded the boxes I had with me into the 4' x 5' space. I figured that was enough excitement for a Saturday and I'd bring the rest tomorrow. Besides, we had to go to Pasadena to meet Judah's brand new cousin, Siena.

The next morning I made at least seven trips up and down the stairs loading the wagon to take our boxes to the storage space. When I got there I did the routine of grabbing the cart, loading the boxes from the car to the cart, and going up the elevator. When I arrived at the third floor I saw some guy who looked like Borat with a couple carts of his crap blocking the hallway. I looked for an alternate route to get to my space, but another guy had blocked the hallway with his crap. I left my crap sitting on the cart and asked Borat-guy if he wouldn't mind moving his cart so I could get mine past. He was annoyed and told me to look in my space first because there was a flood last night, and I might not want to put my crap into a wet storage unit.

I walked over to my storage space, unlocked the padlock and looked inside. At first glance it looked fine. Then I touched the floor. Damp. Damn. I looked at a couple of the boxes and they were soggy near the floor. Luckily Taryn took care of me and got me a new, dry storage unit that was even better because it was near the entrance and the carts. She even gave me some new boxes to replace my soggy ones. Nothing was damaged too badly except the box that the microwave was in.
And the microwave is pretty sog-proof. Now I can cancel that insurance. What are the odds of lightning (or a flood) striking the same place twice?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Double Vision

Do you ever receive industry schwag? You know, the stuff with whoever's company logo on it, handed to you so you can sell their company logo or whatever it is they sell by wearing the stuff they give out for free? In the industry I'm in, you get schwag everyplace you go. I can wear a different t-shirt from a different production/post/design company every day of the week and not wear the same thing twice.

Do you ever have those days at work where you might be wearing a similar outfit as a co-worker, only to be ridiculed by some other co-worker about not getting the memo that "We were supposed to wear the red polo shirt with the black jeans today. LOL!"?

Well I had the misfortune of wearing some industry t-shirt schwag to work, only to see the guy who sits right next to me walk in an hour later wearing the exact same t-shirt. Too bad that nobody else was there to make the "memo" joke. I couldn't resist, so I said it myself.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


My bike helmet had fallen to bits. Not the outside, silly, that's hard foam covered by a chocolately plastic shell. Mmm. It was the inside that was falling apart. The stuff that's supposed to be the soft cushion between my head and the actual hard helmet part. Yes, countless sweat-inducing rides had finally broken down the cushiony stuff, and what was left had become rags and bits of black soot that managed to stick to my forehead when I took the helmet off. And the velcro was now digging into my head, and that wasn't the comfy ride I was looking for.

The hard portion of the helmet seemed fine. And the rule of thumb is that you get one good wreck where you bonk your noggin against the ground, a car, whatever, then it's time to toss the helmet in the trash and buy a new one. But because I hadn't had the one good wreck yet, I figured I might just be able to buy the cushiony inside stuff.

So I went to my nearest bike shop, looked around, didn't find any, then went to the dude at the register and asked if they carried such a thing. "No, we don't sell that. How long have you had your helmet?" I said "I dunno, like four years maybe?"
"Four years, huh?" he said and I knew the sales pitch was coming. Register guy continued, "You might be able to find that inner stuff from your helmet manufacturer, but they're probably gonna say 'Four years, huh? It's time to buy a new helmet.'"

Not to be deterred by his sales pitch, I came back with "Why's that?"
Register guy told me "The elements, you know, they break the helmet down. UV rays, stuff like that."

UV rays indeed. They break down plastic covering hard foam to the point where my helmet might not work after four years of being in the sun a lot less than I am. I better get some stronger sunscreen if that's the case. Well I figured I was either gonna live with black particles and chafing velcro on my forehead every ride or I was gonna buy a new helmet. So I walked over to the helmet area and tried a few on.

This one was too weird looking, that one was too feminine. That other one was way too expensive. One of the bike shop employees saw me trying on helmets and came over and said in some Euro voice "Why don't you try dis one?" and pointed to the more expensive end of the helmet wall. I tried it on and it looked weird. He had me try on 5 more helmets before we found one that fit both my style and price range. He told me he wasn't a salesman, but a mechanic, and he walked over to the register to see if this one was on clearance. I followed him and stood, next in line.

The bike mechanic disappeared. I waited. The guy standing on my side of the register was buying the entire store and trying to figure out what else he needed. It was taking forever, and I really didn't want to buy a helmet that day anyway, so I left the helmet at the counter and walked out the door.

The next day I went to REI and bought a great helmet at 1/3 of the price and used my REI dividend to reduce the price even further. Good times. I tossed my old helmet in the trash. Wouldn't want anybody to mistakenly try to use it after all those UV rays might have secretly broken down the helmets innards.

I rode home wearing my new helmet and I could immediately feel the difference. Not only was there no sense of velcro chafe-age, there was actually more wind flow cooling my noggin! Amazing.

The next day I set out for work with my new helmet on. About 2/3 of the way there, as I turned to leave the Santa Monica beach bike path, my front tire slipped out on a swath of sand. I went to the ground so fast I can't remember it happening. Smacked my right shoulder on the pavement. I can't remember if I knocked my helmet or not. Yep, not even 24 hours after buying my new helmet, I wreck. Funny how that works.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Man Who Sold The World

I sold my laptop computer - a 2004 iBook G4 800 mHz 40GB HD 640MB RAM AirPort Wireless - last week on eBay. It's the first item I've ever sold on eBay. It's quite the exciting experience, let me tell ya. You get to see how many watchers are watching your item. See how much people are bidding. Or how much they're pushing the bid up to anyway.

When it was all said and done, the laptop went for $430 plus $20 shipping. Not too shabby when you consider how much mileage I got out of it.

Bought it for $1099
minus $430 (eBay sale)
equals $669

Had it for 41 months
equals $16.31 a month

divided by approximately 30 days a month
equals about 54 cents a day

Not too shabby.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

All About the Benjamins

The Washington Mutual Bank at 5th & Arizona in Santa Monica is a real mess. It's the most convenient bank for me to go to, but when I get there it's the most inconvenient place to be. There's always a really long line for the teller windows, and if I want to speak to a bank representative then I've got some sitting around to do.

Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks it's a mess. While waiting in the teller line at the bank recently, a bank representative from the desks asked "Does anyone have a straight deposit, no cash?"

The 2nd and 5th individuals in line turned toward the bank rep and raised their hands. The 5th guy immediately walked over and sat down. The woman who was 2nd in line threw her arms up in the air and muttered something to the 3rd person in line. She turned toward the 5th guy and shouted "I was next, but you can go ahead!" She shook her head and muttered something that sounded like a blast of tourettes to the 3rd person.

Then the doors to the left of the line swung open where a man with crutches stood, trying to hold the doors open. Everybody in line turned at once to look. He yelled "Whoever's working on the ATMs, ya can't shut 'em all down at once." I turned away, as if to avoid seeing what might come next. The bald bank manager in a teller window looked up. The man yelled again "NOW TURN ON THE GODDAMN MACHINES!"

The guy behind me let out a chuckle. The bank manager quietly said "We'll get right on it, sir". The man on crutches hobbled out of his door predicament. I felt good knowing that I was about to contribute to my child's college education.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Song to the Siren

It's hot. Not unbearably hot, but summer in SoCal hot. Hot enough that sleeping at night is a bit of a challenge. Hot enough that when I go in to check on the sleeping boy, his hair is moist. Hot enough that even in loud-ville, the windows have to be left open.

Lily and I were lying in bed Tuesday night, discussing whether or not to close the windows, when we heard horrible off-key singing outside. I was convinced it was our apartment manager, because I had seen her bringing her easel and paints to the patio. Lily was convinced it was somebody else. It wasn't somebody else, and it really didn't matter much who it was, we wanted it to stop.

The choice to close Judah's window was a tough one: Close the window so he doesn't wake up from a shrill note tickling his eardrum, but potentially making his room too warm? Or leave the window open so a breeze will come through with the shrill notes? I decided to close the window but leave his door open so some air flow would get in.

We heard our manager singing the same song over and over. Same chorus again and again. I looked out the window to make sure it was her, and it was, and she had headphones on and she was snapping her fingers. Now how one can paint and snap fingers at the same time is beyond my comprehension, but she was managing it.

After our laughter had worn out and the joke wasn't funny anymore, we decided to close the window closest to the singing. I drifted off to sleep shortly thereafter, only to awake about 30 minutes later to hear the same chorus. Firework/gunshot sounds were a welcome tune the following night.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Birthday Party

Another candle on the cake. Another year gone by. Another prime opportunity for my family (not my "new" family, but my "old" family) to make right all the crazy missteps through the years and finally find some appropriate gifts for somebody they've known this long. So when my (old) family gives a birthday present, I always hope that this year will be different.

Nope. From my sister: NOTHING! Actually, receiving nothing is better than the gifts she gives me, which over the years have included:
- A plastic blue "beehive" hairdo
- A pair of Abe Lincoln boxing puppets
- "Pee Guy": a small figurine of a latino-looking man with a plastic stream of pee going from his crotch to the base of the figurine.

Yes, all memorable and very useful indeed, but they pale in comparison with the types of gifts my mom gives me. It's always clothes. Clothes that must originate at the very bottom of the last-ditch bargain basement pile. For Lee's Birthday 2007 I got a t-shirt that is the color of poop. It's a weird brown color that has no other possible description. The kicker there is that the shirt is size 14/16. Now, I'm no XL person but I can wear adult size shirts, mom.

She also gave me two polo style shirts that, although I wear polo style shirts, would probably make the general public wonder if I had lost my way from the nearest mental facility. Does she see the clothes I wear now? Does she remember the types of shirts I wore as a teenager at home? My sincere hope is that she bought these for the homeless kids at the local shelter and they got mixed up with the fly threads she bought me. Boom, right into the Goodwill bag with the gifts.

The real tragedy here is that this gift-buying behavior is now being passed onto my son. Mom included an extra little gift pack for Judah along with the thoughtful gifts for me. With so many cute clothes for kids nowadays, how could she go wrong? Girls clothes. Yep. Poor kid.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


There are two trash bins in my edit suite. One is next to the door. One is next to the edit console. I noticed shortly after I started working there that the one next to the console was never being emptied. I noticed it because the bin was overflowing with trash, while the one near the door was consistently empty when I came in every morning.

Because the only option for speaking to the cleaning crew would be to stay much later than I'd like to, I decided to manually move the console trash bin to right next to the door trash bin every night as I left work. It worked for a while. Now for whatever reason, the door trash bin is empty while the console trash bin - which is sitting right next to the other one - is still full of the same trash when it was placed there the night before.

And I'm thinking "Why, that's odd. How could one trash bin be emptied while the other is not?" It's probably physically impossible to empty one without having it bump into the other. In fact, a person would have to be somewhat careful about not knocking over the other trash bin whilst emptying the first.

I have no idea what to do. Leave a note? Wait around to ask the cleaning crew about it? Put the entire trash bin into the other? I guess the easy answer would be for me to dump the trash from one into the other, but now this has turned into a game of who's gonna blink first. Stay tuned. I guess. If you really give a shit about the resolution of how this trash thing goes. Jeez.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


With all the drunk driving arrests in the past year, it's kinda scary to be on the roads here in Tinseltown. Nicole Ritchie, Lakers owner Jerry Buss, Prison Break star Lane Garrison, Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, Lindsey Lohan, and Paris Hilton just to name a few. Thankfully they locked up Paris Hilton, and then locked her up again before she got behind the wheel and ran over some poor unsuspecting pedestrian on one of her late night burger binges.

Just think of how many NON-celebs are out there on the road at any given monment after increasing their BAC to a non-legal level. Joe Shmoe gets pulled over by the LAPD and ain't no paparazzi around snapping photos and selling them to the tabloids.

At least Paris Hilton got the worst punishment imaginable: Sarah Silverman ripping Paris a new one at the MTV music awards. That's gotta hurt more than enduring a few weeks in the cushy wing of the jail.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Car Wash

Our "family car", a 2003 VW Passat Wagon, hadn't been washed in a while and it was so dirty that it was becoming embarrassing. A blight on the LA car scene. Not like we took it off-roading or anything, but the air isn't the cleanest around here and the fine particulate matter tends to come to rest on everything.

As I've now done the math and came to the conclusion that it's worth it to take my car to a car wash, I put in the required procrastinating and finally found a coupon in the bulk mailers for a few bucks off the standard rate at Millenium Car Wash in Venice. I took all the extra junk out of the car - baby strollers, sun shield, miscellaneous papers - so that they could vacuum every square inch, and I drove to Millenium.

On my way there I remembered that I forgot to bring a magazine to read when the car was being washed. When I got there, I left the car with the keys in the ignition, rolled up the windows, and told the checker I had a coupon. He handed me a ticket, I paid and took a seat with the rest of the car washees. Some guy and his girlfriend bitched at the manager because his passenger seat was soaked because the window wasn't rolled up. I wished I'd brought that magazine.

A short while later the car washer guy waved my keys in the air and I handed him the ticket along with what I deemed a generous tip. I pretended to have to put something in the trunk so I could inspect the vacuum job, because I've had problems with the trunk being overlooked in the past. Clean as a new car. It felt like I had a new car. I drove off and felt like a responsible LA citizen with my clean, new-feeling car.

I had to pick up some groceries, and as I pulled into the parking lot, I saw somebody pulling out of the rockstar spot. Sweet. All mine. I pulled in and went into the store. Bought some lunchmeat, some oatmeal for the boy, and some water. On my way past the bakery section, I grabbed a glazed donut for the ride home.

As I left the grocery store and stepped onto the pavement of the parking lot, I pushed the shopping cart and hopped on for a ride to my shiny new car in the rockstar parking spot. I pushed a little too hard and had to jump down to put on the sneaker brakes. As I was rushing by, I saw a car that looked just like mine, but it had a bunch of splotches of bird shit on the hood. I thought "that's not my... is that my? Aw shit."

Yep. Car Wash Karma.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Last Friday I went to the opthamologist. The waiting room was hilarious. I sat down amidst a bunch of old folks with dark sunglasses on (to help with the pupil dilation part) waiting for their name to be called. I'm hardly ever the youngest person in a crowd anymore, but I certainly wasn't in the majority there.

The beauty about the elderly is that they don't have to sit around fiddling with their gizmos and talking on phones all the time. They don't mind sitting and chatting with each other or looking around, looking out the window, sitting in the waiting room listening to the repeated slow pounding of the pile driver breaking ground on a new wing of the hospital next door. Besides, there was a brown placard on the desk that said NO CELL PHONES with a picture of a cell phone and the international NO symbol (circle with a slash through it) on top.

The waiting room became sort of lively when a 70s-ish couple came in to drop some records off. The husband wore a tan jacket and matching fedora/safari hat and he held a stack of his files in his hand. His wife hobbled in on a cane and told him to drop them off on the counter. The man held them above the counter like he was about drop them off, but the staff were running around not noticing him. The wife told him again to drop them off . He looked around and told his wife nobody would see the records. She assured him they would be seen at some point. He turned away from her and stood patiently waiting for the staff to notice him.

A blond boy who was probably 9 years old wearing glasses with coke-bottle lenses came running into the room followed by his mother and father. She was decked out in brown camouflage pants or shorts (I couldn't tell because they seemed too long for shorts and too short for pants) and brown Chuck Taylors, and she had a hairstyle like Bon Jovi from the early Bon Jovi days. She yapped on her pink cell phone while her son jumped around her asking for money. The kid wore a t-shirt that said I'M ONLY PRETENDING TO LISTEN. His dad's t-shirt read OLD GUYS RULE.

Kid: "Can I have a dollar? Can I have a quarter?"
Mom: "What happened to your cell phone?"

The father had a cane that looked like one a blind person would use (he definitely wasn't blind), but the cane wasn't as long and it had a rounded end that the dad repeatedly prodded the back of the kid's knees with.

The kid ran out and back into the waiting room.
Kid: "Can I have a quarter?"

The old man in the fedora handed him a quarter and said "Here's a quarter."
Mom: "He just gave you a quarter, what do you say?"
Kid: "Thank you"

The kid ran off again.

After many minutes, the waiting room cleared one by one until I was the last one there. The woman working behind the counter finally asked me for my health insurance card. I handed it to her and noticed that she looked like she could be a superhero in her green jumpsuit and ridiculously long black boots. She told me she'd see what was taking so long. I took my seat again, 60 minutes after I had first taken my seat.

20 minutes later I would experience what it probably feels like to have a searing cattle prod burnt into the back of my eyeballs as they took photographs. Pupil dilation is only good when you're on drugs. Thankfully I had remembered to bring my sunglasses.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


My apologies for not posting last week and not even having the decency to leave a note that I wouldn't be posting. I had this really elaborate plan in mind that probably would have been the best blog ever, but well... shit happens.

We went to Spain last week, which included a stop in London for a day. Really nice. I won't bore you with details of sunny days by the pool and the beach, or experiencing historically important places, or anything of the sort. But I must say that the Europeans can teach us stupid Americans a thing or two about livin. Here's a few:

- taking a siesta
- throwing the standard architectural city plans out the window and building areas with winding streets meant only for foot traffic
- making the standard driving test far more difficult thereby taking at least half the morons off the road
- 2 dollar coins
- topless beaches
- allowing the purchase of Cuban cigars

Here's a few things they could learn from us:
- coffee to go
- putting more cupholders in cars
- there are sports other than "proper football" and cricket, and they should be shown on television 24 hours a day
- automatic transmission

Funny how most of the things they could learn from us kinda revolve around living on the go. Maybe they know something we don't.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Fake Tales of San Francisco

This week I'm in San Francisco. One of the things I miss about this city is the ability to take a taxicab to wherever you want to go. Not that you couldn't take a cab in LA, but that would be ridiculous and expensive.

Each day I walk out of the hotel and cross the street to the taxi stand. Twice now I've walked up to the driver and said "you available?" And they've replied "where are you going?" Usually, the "where are you going" question happens AFTER they've replied "yes, I'm available."

The first time I got the question, I replied "11th & Folsom". And the driver said something like "I'm not going in that direction". Funny, I thought taxicabs were ALWAYS going in your direction. That's because their main function is to drive you in whatever direction you're going. Not whatever direction they're going in, unless they happen to be going to pick up a fare, and they really oughta be more concerned with picking up that fare than wasting their time stopping for random people who just might be going to where their future passenger is waiting.

So the next time I go up to the taxi driver and ask "you available?" And the driver asks "where you going?" And I reply "you available?" The driver says "yes" and I get in the cab and tell him "11th and Folsom."

I think they'd rather hear me say "wherever the hell you want to drive so's to get a huge fare and relative tip. So let's just drive around until you're tired and I'll get the fuck out." Right. That would be like me asking a potential client how much editing they want to do before I decide to take the job. Please.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

TV Party

I'm gonna bring a TV set to work and watch it. (If you know me or if you know what I do for a living, then you know that there's always a TV at work. But just go with it.) Yes, I've decided that it's time for me to be able to sit in my work chair and just kick back and watch the tube.

I could watch some home videos, or maybe tune in and watch some music videos. Perhaps an episode of a classic television show I used to enjoy as a kid. Right there on my personal TV at work. Sounds fun right? Nothing wrong with watching a little TV at work, right?

But wait, I don't need to lug a big ole TV to work at all. I've got YouTube to do my TV viewing already. And all my co-workers are doing it too! No more guilt about watching TV at work at all. In fact, several of my co-workers regularly send me links to watch videos on YouTube. And they're not just 2 minutes vids or whatever. Last week I recieved a link to a video that's over 20 minutes of a guy playing Super Mario Brothers and swearing a lot whenever Mario gets killed. If co-workers are watching over 20 minutes of a guy playing Super Mario Brothers and swearing a lot whenever Mario gets killed then it must be okay for me to watch a little TV at work, right?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wake Up

It's been easy waking up lately. Not easy like "Eyes slowly opening, outside birds gently singing, I glance at the clock and it's late but that's okay" easy. Easy like "Those fucking seagulls better shut up or I'm gonna throw an Alka-Seltzer feeding party. Aw shit, might as well drag my ass out of bed" easy. With all the noise you hear in our neighborhood before the alarm clock goes off, it's a breeze waking up.

The garbage trucks. The seagulls squawking at the garbage left behind by the garbage trucks. The sirens. The cars racing down Grand Blvd. The downstairs neighbors turning on the bathroom fan and slamming the toilet seat in either direction. The gardeners with their lawnmowers and their weed whackers. The sirens. And the occasional neighbor starting their car, rolling down the windows and blasting some otherwise relatively benign indie-pop like The Shins or Death Cab for Cutie. Caring is Creepy. Right. YOU'RE creepy. Fuck off and give me back my last hour of sleep.

There's also our unpredictable roommate. Sometimes he wakes up before I do and makes a bunch of noise. Other times he gets up in the middle of the night and makes a racket, which makes it impossible to sleep much less get back to sleep when the racket is over. And then there are the times when I wake up and look at the clock and I think he's gonna make some noise soon, therefore I can't sleep anymore I might as well drag my ass outta bed.

But I know of a way to solve the problem: If you can't beat 'em, drink more coffee.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Guided by Voices

The phone rang. It was the friendly folks at my cellular service provider who had decided to give me a 2nd line with a free phone too.
Her voice was loud and instructional, and I could tell she was reading from the printed page.

voice: Hello this is a complimentary call from Sprint Nextel and we'd like to let you know that in addition to our free offer, this call will not count against any of your minutes.

me: Great

voice: I'd like to speak with Mr. Gardner

me: This is Mr. Gardner

voice: Because you've been such an outstanding customer blah blah blah we'd like to offer you a 2nd line and a free flip phone blah blah blah

me: Great

voice: Would you be interested in that?

me: I'm interested

voice: So are you saying yes, you'd like to accept our offer?

me: Let me ask you this: Can I take the extra line and make it my wife's phone number and give her the free phone?

voice: I'm not sure. Are you interested?

me: I'm interested

voice: Would you like to accept our offer?

me: Well, I can't really make a decision whether I'd like to accept or not until I have information as to whether I can make the extra line my wife's phone number and give her the free phone.

voice: (pause) Can I put you on hold for a minute to see if I can answer your question?

me: Sure

A minute goes by, and the voice returns

voice: Hello? Mr. Gardner?

me: Yes

voice: I'm not really sure if we can do that or not.

me: Hmmm

voice: So would you like to accept our offer?

me: Well, I can't really make a decision whether I'd like to accept or not until I have information as to whether I can make the extra line my wife's phone number and give her the free phone.

voice: So is that a yes or a no?

me: It's neither. I can't really make a decision based on the information I have.

voice: Well thank you for your time and thank you for choosing Sprint together with Nextel.

me: Okay, bye.

The next day the phone rings and it's the same voice and the same offer is offered as if the prior conversation never happened. I explained that we'd had this conversation before and I couldn't make a decision until she could tell me whether I could make the extra line my wife's phone number and give her the free phone.

voice: Can I put you on hold for a minute to see if I can answer your question?

A minute goes by, and the voice returns

voice: Hello? Mr. Gardner?

me: Yes

voice: I have my supervisor on the line, could you repeat your question?

me: Can I take the extra line and make it my wife's phone number and give her the free phone?

voice (not the supervisor's voice): Can I put you on hold for a minute to see if I can answer your question?

me: Sure.

A minute goes by, and the voice returns

voice: I'm not really sure if we can do that or not.

I tell the voice that I can't really spend any more time on this, and she says thanks for choosing Sprint together with Nextel. The next day the phone rings and it's a different voice offering the same plan. I give my same spiel and this time the voice tells me I need to call customer relations, and that he can't do it for me. That was easy.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I'm a "click here to save the environment" kind of guy. There's a mail folder I've created in my favorite e-mail program to separate all those "click here to save the environment" kind of e-mails. I feel like I'm doing my part. Clicking to save polar bears and baby seals. Clicking to save the trees from the loggers and the Bush administration. Clicking to bring the troops home. Click.

Sometimes I give money to these organizations as well. Hell, if the lobbyists for destroying the planet are throwing their money into the furnace, then I oughta be throwing my money into buying some water to put the fire out. One organization I give money to is Environment California. They do all sorts of good stuff like making sure there's no rocket fuel in our drinking water. And they use my money to stop the oil companies from putting up a zillion oil drilling platforms off the California coast and having us swim in slimy water at the beach I don't even wanna swim in. It's the least I can do.

But my favorite thing about giving money to Environment California is the fact that when I see their young minions out in front of REI or wherever asking for money, I can tell them I already give every month to their organization. Then their faces fill with glee and they thank me and back off.

One such minion started walking up to me to ask for "a moment of my time"*, but I stopped him in his tracks by telling him I'm already a member and I give every month. He then smiled and made an arm gesture rotating at the shoulder right angle bent elbow with fist moving in front of his torso toward the other shoulder. If that doesn't make sense, it's kind of a "hooray" or hoisting beer stein or "shucks" kind of motion. If that still doesn't make sense, come see me and I'll demonstrate it for you.

Well, he did that and I immediately thought "whoa, that was the dorkiest motion I've seen in quite a while, I can't believe he just did that" and I looked at his cohort standing on the other side of me like "can you believe he just did that?" The other guy was smiling too. Now I wanna give my money to some other cause, because apparently they're using my money to supply these kids with drugs. Click.


Thursday, March 29, 2007


My apartment manager's been making more than the usual amount of visits lately. No specific reason. Not like we're late with the rent. Just this or that, and it's way too much interaction than I'm comfortable with. Borrowing the laundry key, returning the laundry key. Bringing her granddaughter over to visit Judah. Telling us about her new roommate.

It's not that I mind her personally, it's more about the startle I get when anybody knocks on our door. So unexpected. So eerie sounding. And she usually knocks at times when I'm fully settled into "home" mode with "home clothes" on and doing something mundane like cleaning the kitchen after dinner.

The latest surprise visit was Monday morning after I got up and was milling around getting some orange juice. It was an unusually quiet morning for this loud neighborhood. I was probably thinking that it must be nice for Lily and Judah to get some sleep then KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK. It felt like a bucket full of ice cold water was dumped on my head.

I opened the door and saw my apartment manager standing there with that face that looks like the "embarassed" emoticon, and I'm sure I answered the door with that face that looks like the "gasp" emoticon. Or maybe I just looked blank and not awake yet. Anyway, my apartment manager proceeds to tell me that we were supposed to get our windows replaced on Tuesday morning at 8 am, but the window replacer guys were here on Monday at 7:20. Nice.

She asked me if I wanted to reschedule and before I had a chance to say something kind like "excuse me, I'm not awake yet, what the hell did you just tell me?" I told her I wasn't aware that the window guys were even coming and that the rest of my family (still sounds weird to say that) was still asleep. She said okay and I closed the door.

I could hear her scamper down the stairs and tell the window guys to come back tomorrow. At least I knew she'd be knocking again in the next 24 hours. Surprise visit duly noted.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

It's More Fun to Compute

I've used Apple computers for some time now. Although I call myself a Mac user, unlike a lot of Mac users I have really no hatred toward PCs or the Windows platform. In fact, I really like the Windows feature that allows your window to lock to the entire screen. And I wish that were an option in Macs. So there ya go. Don't hate PCs.

But a PC user recently told me "Macs suck" and I felt compelled to find reasons why they don't suck. And the number one reason they don't suck is the thumb. Macs don't make you use your pinky for the main modifier key. Macs use the thumb.

Just try holding down CTRL with your pinky on a PC and reach for T or Y. Weird fingering, right? Now try holding down CMND (this would be where the ALT button is on PCs for those of you using a PC keyboard) with your left thumb and reach for T or Y. Not so weird, right? Weird with the PC. Not with the Mac. There ya go. PCs are for weridos. You don't want to be a weirdo, do you?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lips Like Sugar

With all the weather swings lately, my lips have been chapped worse than the inside of Jennifer Jason Leigh's thighs in Last Exit to Brooklyn. Combine the weather with a windy bike ride a couple times a week, and I'm in dire need of lip balm in my possession at all times.

I have a great stick of lip balm made by EO that I bought at Whole Paycheck a while ago. It lives on my nightstand and never goes anywhere. It's still going strong, despite the fact that the average stick of lip balm must have a life span of around 3 weeks. Not because it gets used up, but because it gets lost.

The other week I was at work and I couldn't bear another moment without lip balm so I walked to the nearest grocery store - Wild Oats (which has since been bought by Whole Paycheck) and bought some Wild Oats brand lip balm. Spearmint. Relief at last. I lost the Spearmint Wild Oats lip balm about 2 days later.

I decided that I must always and forever have a lip balm at work and a lip balm at home. So I found an old Berry Blast ChapStick that I previously hated and had previously decided I wasn't ever going to use again, but I brought it out of retirement so it could serve as my "work" lip balm. Brought that to work. Kept it under the Avid keyboard so nobody would steal it. But another editor took over my suite for a week and it mysteriously disappeared.

So after another bout of severe chappitude, I broke down and walked to Wild Paycheck again and bought ANOTHER stick of Spearmint Wild Oats lip balm. Lost that one in 3 days. I was about ready to remove my precious EO lip balm from its safe place at home where I always know where to find it. But then Lily told me to bring this really lame old ChapStick to work. When I say "really lame" and "old", I'm referring to that era of ChapStick where it smelled almost menthol and it had different graphics on the outside. But I was desperate for the comfort of always having lip balm nearby, so I brought it to work.

That morning, I pulled the ancient ChapStick out and I was just about to use it, when I thought to take one last look under the Avid keyboard. And out rolled the two Spearmint Wild Oats sticks of lip balm. I was going to call Lily and affirm her belief that I'm an airhead, but I was distracted by genuine work at work.

When I got home that night, Lily told me to close my eyes and put out my hands. I did, and she placed two new luxury lip balms in them. What a sweetie. Now I'm rich with lip balm and I should be good for another 5 weeks at least.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hey Ya!

There's this fellow at work that I pass by pretty much every day. I'm convinced he's a freelancer, but I really have no clue as to whether he is or whether he's staff. He's not a person I work with directly. I see him as I head to or from the kitchen for another mug of coffee, or as I generally make my way around the office. I have no feelings one way or the other toward the guy. So when I see him in my travels through the workplace, I do the head nod and say "Hey", combined with generic toothless smile afterward.

But for some reason I get the sense that I'm not doing the right thing by finding out his name. This non-personal interaction has gone on so long that it would be odd and a little awkward to start with the introductions. Seems strange to try to get to know the guy better when we've established (through non-attempts) that our level of friendliness toward each other is about as high as it's gonna get.

Then again, do I really need to know his name? Does he need to know mine? Is it really necessary for me to know that his name might be Bob? And instead of saying "Hey" when I see him around work I can say "Hey Bob"?

I really doubt that Bob, or whatever his name is, has given this as much thought as I have. The next time I see him I'm just gonna say "Hey Bob" and forget about it.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

All Apologies

I'm sorry I forgot to take the trash out the night before trash day.
I'm sorry I drank your last beer.
I'm sorry I'm e-mailing you back so late.
I'm sorry, what did you say?
I'm sorry this didn't work out.
I'm sorry you feel that way.
I'm sorry I blocked your car in.
I'm sorry I scratched your car.
I'm sorry your dog ran away with that floozy of a poodle, and I'm sure he'll come back soon don't you worry.
I'm sorry I raised my voice.
I'm sorry that we couldn't make it to your party.
I'm sorry.
I'm sorry I dropped your cell phone.
I'm sorry I've been such a dumbass lately.
I'm sorry this weed isn't as dank as the stuff you usually get from your guy.
I'm sorry, but your March Madness bracket didn't get turned in in time.
I'm sorry you didn't win the Oscar pool, there's always next year.
I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention.
I'm sorry, but your company fucking sucks and I'll be taking my business elsewhere.
I'm sorry you lost your sense of taste because this chocolate is to die for.
I'm sorry we don't see this the same way.
I'm sorry to hear your great-great-grandfather passed away.
I'm sorry you didn't receive those files.
I'm sorry.
I'm sorry I ate your lunch. I'm sorry I didn't see the name on the box.
I'm sorry those people took off with your new notebook computer.
I'm sorry I didn't remember I was supposed to water your plants while you were away for a month in that little villa you loved so much.
I'm sorry the bus schedule doesn't work like I told you it does.
I'm sorry I couldn't get your Avid question figured out.
I'm sorry I couldn't get your Final Cut Pro question figured out.
I'm sorry.
I'm sorry, I left my wallet at home so could you buy this round and I'll getcha next time?
I'm sorry, but I didn't receive that message.
I'm sorry I cheated.
I'm sorry I ever met you.
I'm sorry I left the cap off the toothpaste.
I'm sorry I didn't remember I was supposed to feed your fish while you were away for a month in that little villa you loved so much.
I'm sorry that the volume was up much louder than I thought it was. I'm sorry your ears are bleeding.
I'm sorry I woke you.
I'm sorry I forgot to put water in the coffee maker. I'm so very very sorry.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hollaback Girl

WARNING: The links included in this post may or may not be suitable for work. Depends on where you work, I guess.

Recently I was at the computer and Lily was channel surfing, and she stopped on channel 502, where Gwen Stefani was performing a previously recorded live concert. Numerous songs played, none of which I knew, but then Gwen Stefani's hit song Hollaback Girl started. I stopped my computing, went to see the performance, and Lily asked "What's a Hollaback Girl?" I had no idea what a Hollaback Girl was.

I recalled a song Gwen Stefani sung back in her days in the band No Doubt. That song is called "Just a Girl" (the music video for which world-famous editor Alan Chimenti is partially famous for editing completely) Then I thought there must be some relation between being "Just a Girl" and a "Hollaback Girl." We did some research on the world wide web and we found out what the relation is:

Just a Girl

Hollaback Girl

Just a Girl

Hollaback Girl

Now you know.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

500 25 thousand 600 minutes

I'm writing this immediately after watching the movie Rent, which was based on the play of the same name.

I hated that movie more than I've hated any other single movie before. I hated it so much that as I was washing the dishes afterward, I blurted out "I hate that movie so much because I wasted two hours of my life watching that piece of shit." Then I laughed at the fact that I blurted that out and resumed washing.

I hated Rent so much that I'm never watching another musical again as long as I live. I hated Rent so much that 10 minutes into the film I was thinking "I hope to God this movie is only 90 minutes. Please let it be only 90 minutes." It wasn't 90 minutes. It was 129 minutes, which is 39 minutes of excruciating pain too long. I didn't hate it so much that I wanted to tear my eyeballs out, but I need to see a movie that's good soon so I can take a firehose to Rent and power wash it out of my memory.

I knew I was gonna hate Rent so much as soon as it started. That fucking theme song is so insidious that I still can't get it out of my head a half hour later. 500 25 thousand 600 minutes! I will never watch another musical again.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I'm a Survivor

For the sake of anonymity, the person at the center of this post will remain anonymous. She doesn't want any readers to know her secret.

I have this roommate - we'll call her Lillian - and Lillian likes to watch the TV show Reba. It's the sitcom revolving around the life of Reba McEntire. After inadvertently viewing several snippets of episodes, I can't decide whether it's the life of Reba McEntire the country singer or just somebody with that name who has a sitcom. She doesn't really do any sort of work that I can perceive. Doesn't matter.

Where I'm going with this is the fact that we now have TiVo. Not really TiVo, but Time Warner Cable's version of TiVo, which they call DVR. Which is really a PVR, but maybe that name is copyrighted like TiVo. All I know is that DVR doesn't make any cartoony sounds when a button on the remote is pressed. Nor does it have a cartoony mascot icon thingy. It has no personality whatsoever, and that's fine as long as it does its job of recording television.

What I'm really getting at is that that Reba is taking up a lot of space on our DVR. Lillian did what's called a "series recording", which records Reba whenever it's on TV. It didn't take long for the DVR to start filling up to max capacity, because sometimes Reba is on 10 times daily.

Lillian has a hard time keeping up with the Reba on the DVR, and it seems like at time it's a job. "Got the DVR down to 65% full" she says. But when I go to see SportsCenter (the only series I'm currently recording), I can page down the DVR menu several times and it looks like I've been on the same page because it just has a list of about 7 lines that all say "Reba". The only perceptible clue to anything happening as I page down the menu is that slight flash of menu pages turning when the pages turn.

Recently Lillian was on one of her job-like crusades to watch and delete as many Rebas as possible in order to get the DVR down to a more comfortable level. She finished one Reba and deleted it, then said to me "I just deleted a Reba and the DVR didn't go down, it went up." Lillian was perplexed and somewhat distraught over the fact that her hard work didn't net any result, but instead did the opposite. I said "maybe it was recording a Reba while you were watching that one. There are like 10 on a day, and unless you can keep that up, it's a losing battle."

Lillian let out a heavy sigh. The she picked up the remote and watched another. Thank God there are only 125 episodes.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


The other night I was heading home from work and I was almost home when I remembered I forgot to get Lily some flowers. She'd had a rough weekend and I hoped that a bouquet would help her feel a little better.

It was around 7 pm and most flower places close around that time, but I spotted a place called Gourmet Grocer on Abbot-Kinney that looked like it might have something. I took a quick spin around the store. Gourmet it was, florist it wasn't. There were three men in there, one of which was tending shop.

I stepped up to the register and asked if they had any flowers.
The shopkeep said "We usually do, but the guy who does the flowers is on vacation this week."
Aargh. I asked "Any ideas where I can get some flowers around here?"

He looked over at the other guys in the store and shouted out "You guys know of any places to get flowers nearby?"

One guy said "There's Conroy's on Lincoln & Venice". And I'm wondering why I didn't think of that because it's just huge and on a busy intersection that I drive by all the time. But the reason I didn't think of that is because every time we drive by that busy intersection, Lily mentions how much she doesn't like that place or their selection of flowers.

I said "oh right, now I remember. Conroy's". As I walked out the door thinking "okay, time to drive around some more" the third guy said "there's a flower shop maybe 40 feet down Abbot-Kinney called Sentiments (Scentiments is the correct spelling). They've got a really nice selection."

That sounded a hell of a lot more promising than Conroy's. As I walked out, I made of note of it. Not the flower place. But that if I'm ever in a bind to find last-minute flowers, ask a bunch of guys. They'll know where to go.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I'm an asshole

How's your New Years resolution going? There was a report on the radio that said New Years resolutions are good for business. Like the health clubs get a boost around New Years, which kind of pisses off the health club regulars because the gear is taken up by people who aren't really serious about fitness. They'll only be there for a month or so, then go back to their slothful ways. That's what the radio said anyway. Good for business.

And as I was listening to the report I noticed this truck.

The truck is not really the thing to notice, but the appendage below the license plate is. It's not apparent exactly what the gold part is, but I'd say it's balls. A pair of gold balls. When the truck drove, the balls kinda waggled, which made me think that they're balls and not some other thing like... well, like nothing but balls.

Which led me to wonder why somebody would put that on their truck. The fact that they've got a truck like that should convey the same message as having a gold ballsack appendage on the truck. I was thinking it might be just as appropriate to have a big gold asshole on the truck. Which led me to remembering that I hadn't actually made a New Years resolution for 2007.

So here it is: I resolve to not drive like an asshole in 2007. You can join in this one with me if you want. Just raise your right hand (or left hand if you're goofy like that) and repeat after me:

- I resolve to not drive like an asshole. I will not speed ridiculously nor race from a stop sign or stop light. I will not do that thing where you sense that the person in the next lane is trying to speed up to change lanes and get in front of you, and then speed up to prevent them from doing so.

- I resolve not to drive like an asshole. I will not talk on my cell phone while driving or I'll pull over or I'll get a headset. I will not try to navigate my iPod to that one song that I must hear immediately. I won't fuck with any gadgets whatsoever while driving. If I need to do that I'll pull over.

- I resolve not to give people a dirty look when they cut me off. Or wave my middle finger at them. Or shout or spit or any asshole-ish things that an asshole would do.

In the end, it's probably easier to just ride my bike everywhere and not drive as much. Then I can be immune to being an asshole. Nobody who rides a bike is an asshole. Ever.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thirty Dirty Birds

Due to the fact that drinking the tap water here would cause me to grow a third ear, we've been drinking bottled water. Not really in bottles, but in those suitcase-style plastic containers with the little spigot at the bottom. Seems to make more sense for us than getting water delivered or drinking the tap water here and growing a third ear.

But after a while those empty plastic suitcases start to pile up, and Judah likes to use them as cars that he pushes all over the apartment. So to prevent that, I take the plastic suitcases and put them in the hatchback part of 'Lil Brown (our 1990 Honda Civic that appeared in LLMB 7/6/06). That works until the items in the hatchback part of 'Lil Brown overflow into the back seat, and any co-workers who happen to see my car wonder what the hell is going on.

I was feeling crowded out of 'Lil Brown enough that I finally decided to take the empty suitcases to the plastic recycling center nearby. When I pulled up to the trailers outside Albertson's where they collect plastic, three homeless men were sitting on the curb passing around a lighter lighting cigarettes.

I grabbed a couple of the handy big plastic garbage cans to throw my plastic suitcases in, and one of the homeless guys yelled "Make 'em count 'em". And another one said "Ya get more money" while the third guy took a drag off his cigarette and nodded and winked. The two people working the recycling center - a woman with thin penciled eyebrows and a small man with a moustache and trucker cap - moseyed off the car they were sitting on and reluctantly assumed work mode.

The woman asked "How many?"
"I don't know" I replied and then started counting the suitcases as I filled the garbage can. I got to 19, but I wasn't finished emptying 'Lil Brown of all of the suitcases.
"Please smash 'em next time" the mustached man said while smashing the suitcases. What? So I can save him the time so he can go back and sit on the car again? Like hell I will.

The total was 29. The woman gave me a receipt for $2.90 to take into Albertson's to redeem for cash money. I walked by the three homeless guys on my way inside. "How much did ya get?" one of them asked.
"2.90" I replied.
Another one chimed in "You'd get more if ya made 'em count em instead of weighin' 'em"
"I did count 'em" I said.
Another one of the homeless guys said "Buy a power tie" as he noticed I was wearing a tie (this was on Thursday before work). The other two guys cackled. I locked my car so they wouldn't steal any of the highly valuable items in 'Lil Brown. Like the melted cassette collection in the glove box.

I got my $2.90 in mostly quarters so we could do laundry. I came back outside, headed toward the car and realized those homeless guys were gonna ask me for money. I tried not to look at them, but I couldn't resist after I heard "Hey!"

I looked over.
"Can I borrow $2.90?"
The three guys all laughed.
I smiled and said "You guys have a nice day."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Divine Intervention

Don't know if you caught the end of the Seahawks / Cowboys wild-card playoff game on Saturday night, but I sure did. You think after all the griping / wishing / praying I've done in this section of the TNSC website in the past year I'd miss that one?

Let me preface the rest of the rant with this: I have no illusions that the Seahawks are good at all this year, and they definitely aren't worthy of being considered a playoff-caliber team this season. But until the NFL decides to exclude the NFC West from the definition of "playoff-caliber", they'll still be in the running.

Around the middle of the 4th quarter, the standard Seahawks sinking feeling started setting in. The Cowboys were clicking. The Seahawks defense was looking tired. I had done enough yelling at the TV that Lily has forbidden me from watching Seahawks games at home until the end of time or the end of my life, whichever comes first.

I came to the conclusion that no team that I root for is going to win a championship any time soon, nor has any won a championship in my lifetime - excluding the SuperSonics in 1979, but I was too young to really appreciate it. And I realize that it took forever for many fans of the Boston Red Sox to get another title, but it's kinda hard to feel sorry for a place that's won three of the last five Super Bowls.

In fact, Seattle has the longest drought of any city in terms of winning a sports championship. Unless you're counting the WNBA championship won by the Seattle Storm in 2004. But that's the WNBA. If most women don't care about the Women's NBA, why should I?

Okay, I also realize that Cleveland has statistically the longest drought in terms of championships, but they've actually WON the NFL Championship. They've won the World Series. Seattle titles in those sports? Zero.

But we kept the game close. And we took the lead. And I knew that it couldn't last. Near the end of the game, Dallas drove toward the goal and set up for a field goal. And I'm thinking "a bad snap is the only way we're winning this thing."

And there it was. And there I was jumping off the couch and pogo-ing in my living room. Lily got pissed because she had just put Judah to bed and I was in danger of waking him up. Bad snap? No. Bad hold? Yesssss. Romo got one last chance to take off the goat costume, but it didn't happen. I don't feel sorry for that guy. He has Carrie Underwood around to take the pain away. Unless she dumps his sorry ass. Who wants to date a goat like Romo?

My only explanation for the win is that some divine intervention intervened and gave Seattle a break. After all the bad breaks that have gone against the Seahawks in the past few years, something came through and said "I'll give ya this one". Or maybe it's so Seattle can get tortured for another week.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Happy New Year! I hope everybody survived the holiday season. Except that fucker who whipped his huge suitcase far back enough from the luggage carousel to hit Judah and make him cry. He had the nerve to say "you should watch where your kid is", even though Judah was in the no-luggage-flying zone.

I hope he didn't survive the holiday season. No, no. He can survive the holiday season. But he needs to have a kid and maybe some fucker can whip his huge suitcase far back enough from the luggage carousel to hit his kid and make him cry. No, no. That's not fair to his kid. Maybe he shouldn't survive the holiday season after all. No, no. He should get a really bad case of crabs.