Monday, May 28, 2007

New York Times Wedding Announcement of the Week

This week's couple fell in love while at work with the help of some scheming on the groom's side.

HeeWon Khym and Luke Brindle

From the New York Times:

When the union moved later in 2003, Mr. Brindle, as an employee with seniority, was able to choose the location of his new desk. Mr. Brindle, who recalled he had been “smitten with Ms. Khym from the very beginning,” was determined to be near her. So he got a copy of the blueprints for the new office and plotted out the least desirable spot for a desk. He guessed that Ms. Khym, a recent hire, would end up sitting there.

Mr. Brindle chose the desk next to it.

To some that might sound a little stalker-ish. Not to me. I think that's romantic and sweet. I've done comparable things, but it has yet to work, though, so Mr. Brindle's success gives me hope.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Song of the Week: "Wrecking Force"

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[Photo by Chris Rose]

Download: Voxtrot - "Wrecking Force"

Voxtrot's first full length LP came out this week, and while generally good, the album doesn't build upon the promise and strengths of the EP's that preceded it. The band has nailed its sound and the album is a solid collection of catchy, danceable songs but one is left wishing that they would push a little more. Still there are a few highlights, such as "Kid Gloves" and "Blood Red Blood," and if there were no EP's to herald the band's promise, the self-titled album would be a much buzzed-about debut.

Instead of picking a choice cut from Voxtrot's LP, I instead chose "Wrecking Force," which I believe is the apotheosis of the band's sound, one that combines chugging, dance-ready rhythms with vague lyrics that belie the sunny blissful vibe the music evokes. The song was recommended to me by a friend who noted that he has had it on an endless loop. A check of his page confirmed that he had, indeed, played the track at last four dozen times. It's easy to hear why one would want to listen to the song over and over again. In preparing this post, I have already listened to "Wrecking Force" repeatedly--and I can listen to it indefinitely. From the song's opening "shhh" to the song's late-round salvo of guitars, "Wrecking Force" sounds like an indie rock classic. It reminds me a little of New Order's "Age of Consent," which isn't a stretch since one of Voxtrot's apparent inflluences is the New Wave sound of the 1980s. The guitars swirl around the song's sturdy backbeat with its generous inclusion of hi-hat tapping, building up a wall of sound that drives and chugs the song forward until it reaches the zenith and it tumbles forward to a sweeping rush of tinny guitars.

The lyrics seem to speak of some all-consuming passion. Some comments at SongMeanings suggest the song may be about drugs, which I think does work, but it could also simply be about the enveloping power of music:

Look over, look fast, again look past
The motley kids and ugly cast
That smother you, all radiant with joy

Or it can be about the seductiveness of overwhelming emotion and simply getting lost in it. It can make you feel alive but it can also wreck you. The lyrics are deliberately vague--I can barely make out the last verse--but it adds a dimension of catharsis to the song's irresistible melody. It seems to argue that there is a time and a place when you just have to let go and tumble headlong without thinking (you can be your own god if you want to), so it's useless to ponder the meaning of this song. Just surrender and let it wreck you for a moment.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Two days and two overtimes. I was too exhausted now to stay up to see Amy Sedaris on Conan O'Brien. I'm already missing my former lifestyle. I've been tempted to just duck out and grab a cup of coffee and read the paper at 10AM. Instead I'm running around working. Working! It's not so bad--just busy. I'm learning as I go but so far so good. I did get lost last night on the way to an event, so that made for a little anxiety. Orange County is so confusing!

Well, I'm off to work. Hump Day!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ready for the Weekend

First off, I'd like to welcome all the visitors to this site from Harvard. It was quite a surprise to see a list of Harvard domain names checking out my blog. Apparently my selection of a Harvard-affiliated couple for this week's NYTWAOTW generated some interest. In any event, welcome! Are any of you single and looking?

Here I am about to turn in after a long first day at work. My first day and I already worked overtime. I was kept busy for most of the day. Of course the required orientation paperwork had to be done with HR, but I still have a long checklist of things I need to address. The second half of the day--the reason I had to stay until 7PM--was devoted to printing out invitations and RSVP cards for events taking place next week. Although I was busy, I didn't mind. I'd prefer to be busy than bored. I'm adjusting fairly well for a first day. Everyone's been very nice and I have offers for a couple of days this week for lunch. I might as well take advantage while we're in a honeymoon phase.

The work itself is simple enough. There's just a lot of it. There are some things I have to learn and get used to, but it should not be too difficult. I look forward to the day when I have my routine nailed down. Today is probably not a good basis to determine what a typical day would be like but it's demanding enough to develop a perspective on the demands of the job.

There are some things I have to become accustomed. For the first time in my professional career, I have my very own cubicle. My own--mine to decorate and personalize. In most of my other jobs I had to fend for myself, sit in what ever empty cubicle I could find. It's almost like owning your own home. It makes me feel I'm here for the long run and not just for the moment. The cubicle has my name. It's mine and I'm its. God bless cubicles!

I also have to work more now under someone else's direction. While I had guidelines in my other jobs, I've mostly operated on my own with little interference. This job is different.

Tomorrow I'm doing my first event and I also have some administrative duties and paperwork I need to complete.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Work It

I promised I would write something on the eve of my first day of work at my new job. However, I'm just too tired and too lazy to really write something of significance. Still, I did promise a post to mark the event, so here it is.

I spent a couple of hours doing some ironing today. This will be a regular thing from now on--Sundays behind an ironing board. Ironing is actually an enjoyable activity for me, as is laundry. It's just finding a block of time to do them that is difficult. I find them to be relaxing activities. I turn on the TV or pop on some music and I'm good to go for hours of ironing and laundry fun. It also helps when it's not hot, but with the summer coming, it will be an ordeal using a hot iron when it's 100 degrees outside. I ironed six shirts today just to be safe. I still haven't decided on what my first day outfit will be, but regardless of what shirt I choose I'm going to make it look good.

It's past 11 so I really ought to be in bed for my 5 AM wake up call. The problem is that I'm not sleepy yet. My regular bed time is 1 AM at the earliest, so going to sleep now is way too early for me. Fortunately I'm a little knackered so I may not have a problem sleeping. It's just getting myself to do it that is tough.

Well, I'll call it a night and report back tomorrow.

New York Times Wedding Announcement of the Week

This week's couple won because of a rather fishy (er, squidy?) first date story.

Sophia Chaknis and Joseph Levy

The couple met through an online dating site, which isn't the fishy part. It's not even the fact that Ms. Chaknis thinks human resources is an "exotic" field of work. Rather, it's this last part from their announcement:

After chatting a bit, Ms. Chaknis asked him to pick an appetizer. He ordered calamari.

“I had never been on a date with a guy who had eaten, much less voluntarily eaten, calamari,” she recalled thinking. So she said to him: “ ‘I love calamari. I’m going to have to marry you.’ ”

“I was only kidding,” she added, but by ordering the dish, “It showed that he was willing to try something a little different.”

I'm curious what kind of dates Ms. Chaknis has been on where calamari qualifies as a unique choice for an appetizer. It's calamari. Heck, Olive Garden serves it on its menu.

Congratulation to the happy couple! They seem like a fun pair.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Song of the Week: "Kathleen"

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Download: Josh Ritter - "Kathleen"

When it comes to music, I'm not that adventurous. The allure of Bjork still evades me and I'm not fond of the sonic explorations that bands like Wilco and Radiohead have pursued. I do, however, know a pretty song when I hear one and Josh Ritter's "Kathleen" is as pretty as they come.

"Kathleen" was the song that introduced me to Ritter four years ago when I heard him perform it on KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" while driving away from Ontario Mills Mall. Yup, it made such an impact that I remember where I was when I first heard it. It's a song that makes me wish I was straight so I can find a girl named Kathleen and sing this to her. Whenever I've met a Kathleen, in fact, I've played this song just to let her know how lucky she is to have such a gorgeous song as her namesake. Still, I would much prefer to present this song to the love of my life. Maybe I can meet someone named Franklin and just change the lyric.

In the weeks I've been doing these Songs of the Week I think what I have proven is how much of a lovelorn romantic I am. I don't like the typical "I love you" songs since those seem so unrealistic to me. Instead I prefer sweet painful songs like "Kathleen" that talk about how good it hurts to be so badly in love. Here's a song about driving a girl home from a party; a girl who might not love the guy--yet--but the guy is so heartbreakingly grateful for just the briefest of encounters. Unrequited love is the best! And it's not all mushy, gushy stuff, too. Lyrics such as the following are far too knowing and sensible to be so.

I know you are waiting and I know that it is not for me,
But I'm here and I'm ready and I saved you the passenger seat.
I won't be your last dance, just your last good night.
Every heart is a package tangled up in knots someone else tied.

And just dig Ritter's sly wit when the organ kicks in when he sings the line "a virgin Wurlitzer heart never once had a song."

How about this for a pick-up line: "All the other girls here are stars-you are the Northern Lights." You had me at "all," Josh. You had me at "all."

[Photo from Josh Ritter's MySpace page]

Papa's Got A Brand New Ass

Papa's Got A Brand New Ass

Papa Smurf is back and looking better than ever. He has a lovely, shiny, new rear end, and the nice folks at the body shop gave him a thorough wash, so that when I saw him again he was looking shinier than I last remembered. There's no hiding the little door nicks and scratches, but for a someone who is four years and 75,000 miles old, Papa looks good for his age. Also, today marked a milestone as Papa crossed that 75,000 mile threshold while driving on the 10 freeway. Sinatra was playing on the radio and Papa was looking his best. No better way to celebrate a big milestone.

* * * * *

FJ had to cancel our Sunday run, but I would have had to cancel it myself anyway because I forgot that I already had family plans at that time. With two weeks until San Diego, I really ought to have done about 12 or 14 miles today. However, my right glute is still feeling pinched, so I decided to take it easy--that is if you consider running three miles, an hour of demanding yoga, a half hour on the elliptical, followed by a couple of hours of shopping easy. Since I ran an unplanned three miles last night, I don't feel too bad about "slacking" today. Hopefully I can get in 8 or 10 miles next weekend.

* * * * *

This weekend marks the last days of my sabbatical. On Monday morning I check in for my first day at my new job. I did some shopping this week to replenish my business attire, adding a couple of trousers, a couple of dress shirts, and today I bought two pairs of new shoes and a belt. One pair is for work, the other I bought because it was half off and would work well for weekend wear. Over two years of working at the corporate headquarters of a rock-oriented retailer, where you're overdressed if your jeans had no holes in them, had left me with plenty of t-shirts and a few, older dressy attire. I'm looking forward to dressing up, but I'm sure the novelty will wear off in a couple of weeks when I've gone through my cycle of dress shirts and the hours of ironing required to keep them looking presentable.

I also realized today that this job will be my first full-time job in four years. Four years! Four years I haven't had a job that provided health insurance and other benefits. Four years I haven't had a job that provided me my own workspace. Four years I haven't had a job that required me to be there full-time. Four years of impermanence. Four years. I knew it's been a while but I didn't realize it was that long.

I'm still figuring out how I feel about starting a new job. Of course I'm excited but I don't think I'm nervous. I'm more nervous about the commute. I'll write a post on Sunday night and hopefully I'll have a clearer sense of how I'm feeling about this.

My last free weekday ought to have been more extravagant but it wasn't. I met up with Preeti for lunch at the School Cafe in Pasadena. Actually I met her in front of her office and we walked together to the School Cafe. I haven't seen or talked to Preeti in a few weeks, so she was just finding out that I had accepted the job. It was great catching up with her. Afterwards I spent a couple of hours at the museum helping them prepare for Sunday's big MOTA Day event. I'll be there in the morning, so stop by. Apart from that, nothing else. I wound up turning in early last night with a slight headache.

Now it's Saturday night and I'm at home. I missed a few calls from Nate and Audrey inviting me to watch Shrek the Third. I really needed to do laundry today since I won't be able to tomorrow, so I doubt I would have been able to go. How good can the movie be anyway?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cities Unto Themselves

With a population of roughly 110,000, West Covina isn't what you would call a small town. It's so big, in fact, that it contains cities within itself.

Seafood City
Piano City
Pet City
Shoe City
Circuit City
Party City

Wouldn't it be great if Circuit City and Party City merged to form Circuit Party City?


Golden Boy, originally uploaded by savemejebus.

Papa Smurf and I are taking a couple of days to be away from each other. He needed to have work done on his rear end. For the next two days I'm being escorted around town by a sporty Mazda 3 that I have taken to calling Golden Boy. I wish I can say that I'm miserable without Papa Smurf, that I miss him terribly. Instead I'm embarrassed to say that I don't miss him at all.

Golden Boy and I hit it off immediately. There was little to none of the early awkwardness that comes with being with someone for the first time. I got on him and rode as if we've been together for a long time. Golden Boy is easy to handle, smooth at turns and responsive to my demands, whereas Papa Smurf was becoming a little more tempermental and slower to react. There is an age difference. Golden Boy only has 3,000 miles on him while Papa Smurf is nearing 75,000. Papa is no longer the shiny, good looking car I fell in love with. He has had to endure a lot of things and has the dents and scratches to prove it. While Golden Boy already has some scars, they are the scars of youth, of someone who may have been a tad too reckless. They are not boring scars.

I won't even go into Papa Smurf's junk in the trunk. It was a treat to be able to put something in Golden Boy's trunk without having to push around a bunch of junk. Papa Smurf just has too much baggage, too much history, whereas Golden Boy feels like a new start, the thrill of the unknown.

I'm guilt-ridden. I feel like I'm being unfaithful to Papa Smurf after all that we've been through. It has even crossed my mind how great it would be to be with someone new. But I'm not someone to give up so easily on something I've invested a lot of time and money. I'll see things through with Papa Smurf for however long we can make it work, but I have doubts that he's the one. I just know we'll outgrow each other and we'll both move on. I can overcome this temptation with Golden Boy and I'm sure I won't miss him when Papa Smurf returns, but I'll always appreciate him for reminding me how it used to be--and perhaps can be again. I'm not giving up on Papa Smurf just yet.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Free Swag! Free Swag! Free Swag!

Wow, this little blog is all growns up. So much so that I can now give stuff away--and shill for the man.

Courtesy of Filter Magazine, I have a set of VH1 Rock Honors shot glasses, t-shirt, hat and guitar picks to award to anyone who reads this blog. So, all five of you, shoot me an e-mail at by next Wednesday, May 23 with your name and e-mail address. I will draw the winning entry that evening.

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Now for the shilling part...

L.A. is rocking all week long in celebration of VH1's second annual Rock Honors. This year, VH1 honors the iconic and eclectic careers of Genesis, Heart, Ozzy Osbourne and ZZ Top. In a night of mind-blowing performances, Alice in Chains, Keane, Nickelback, Queens of the Stone Age and Gretchen Wilson will pay unforgettable musical tribute to these living legends – then the honorees themselves will perform live on one stage!

Leading up to the big event, VH1 has partnered with L.A. Weekly for a weeklong celebration of rock ‘n’ roll. From Thursday, May 17 to Wednesday, May 23, participating Los Angeles businesses will host exciting live events, exclusive promotions, killer giveaways and more — and it’s all listed below.

So refill your lighters and get ready to rock with VH1 and L.A. Weekly’s Rock Honors Week.

And don't forget to watch VH1 Rock Honors Thursday, May 24 at 9pm/8c – only on VH1.

There are a bunch of fun events taking place from Rock n' Roll Bingo to art exhibits to air guitar competitions. Loads of things to check out. If you want more details e-mail me at


I was asked for money by strangers three times today--and that does not include the guy standing by the freeway exit. It's not an uncommon thing to happen, but to be asked directly three times in one day by individuals who don't look desperately poor is a lot. I gave the first woman $0.35 to buy coffee. I gave the blue haired teenage girl on the Gold Line a quarter so she can make a call. I told the man at the gas station I had no money (a lie). Perhaps it's a sign that the economy is in trouble? Hopefully, the day will never come when I'll be desperate for money.

While I may never be desperate for money, the new job I'll be starting next week will require me to be more thrifty. Instead of going out for lunch I will have to start brown bagging it. Entertainment expenses will also have to be reduced, which means fewer concerts and movies. Drinking and restaurant excursions will also have to be minimized. I might have to start saying "No" more often than before. I trust that my financial situation will be temporary and that in a year or so my income will allow me to splurge on things once in a while.

I did have a second interview for a grantwriting job on Monday even though I had already committed to the other job in my mind. Still, I figured it wouldn't hurt to go to the interview. It was going to be a tougher job to land since they were looking for experience, but there I was anyway, one of three finalists. Despite having committed to the other job, I told myself I'd do my best in the interview. One of my little hang-ups; I want to win in everything that I do. That was the idea at least.

The interview, in my mind, went horribly. "Horrible" might be an exagerration. Let's just say it didn't go my way. I was fumbling my words and wound up making myself sound like a flaky worker. The VP who was my main interrogator also looked unimpressed and almost sounded offended with a questions that I asked.

Disappointed, I decided to go for some retail therapy after the interview. Their office is smack dab in the middle of an outlet store, so I walked straight from the interview to the mall. I bought two pairs of chinos, a dress shirt, a V-neck sweater and a cheap t-shirt at Banana Republic. The new job is business attire and for the last two and a half years I've been wearing jeans and t-shirts at my last client. It will probably be an adjustment to get so dressed up, but I don't mind. As long as I have comfortable shoes I'm fine.

I was perplexed on the drive home why my lousy performance at the interview left me disappointed. In my mind I was going to take the other job anyway, so really I just wanted this job for pride's sake. I kept telling myself to snap out of it. It's just another tendency of mine I guess. If someone wants me I'm not so interested. If someone doesn't want me I become determined to sway them and if that doesn't work I sulk for a bit. It really is like dating. In fact, we wound up using relationships as a metaphor during the interview when they asked me how I will know if the job isn't fulfilling. So, in this case, I say, "You're not that attractive anyway!"

I really shouldn't speak too soon. I have yet to hear the final decision. I'm guessing they're going to wait to tell me the news until their top choice officially accepts the job. I'd be shocked if I was offered the job. If they did I would have to turn it down for being unfit to properly carry out the duties, not to mention that I already accepted the other one. I'm sure I'll write all about it here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New York Times Wedding Announcement of the Week

It should be obvious by now that there are no guidelines by which I choose the NYTWAOTW. It's rather arbitrary, to be honest. This week's couple, for instance, was chosen because I like the groom's name.

Eliza Harringtonn and Minor Myers III

I'm not being snide when I say I like the groom's name. I truly do. If I was going to be snide I would have instead chosen the couple with a 34 year age gap (the groom is 66, the bride 32) or the couple who were married by film critic Jeffrey Lyons.

Minor is a terrific name. It not only sounds good--like an old Puritan name such as Goody or Increase--but it also looks good written out. I can't say the same for Major as a name, nor Mr. Myers's brother's name--Joffre. I'm not certain if it's pronounced like the ballet company or something more nasally French.

Joffre (on the left) and Minor the Third

Mr. Myers is the son of Minor Myers, Jr. who was the president of Illinois Wesleyan University and died in 2003 from lung cancer.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Song of the Week: "Legend of a Cowgirl"

Download: Imani Coppola - "Legend of a Cowgirl"

I've been a slacker of a blogger this weekend. The 20-miler wore me out yesterday and today was just a lazy day, so I apologize if anyone was at all eagerly awaiting this week's Song of the Week and have been disappointed all weekend.

I doubt it.

This week's song takes us back ten years. Imani Coppola's "Legend of a Cowgirl" was one of the freshest songs of the late 1990's. I can remember the first time I heard it: at night driving home from school at the intersection of 3rd Street and La Cienega in front of the Beverly Center.

Ten years later the song is still fresh. It hasn't aged one bit. It was a minor hit back in 1997, but it deserved so much more. For all its hooks the song was probably a little too smart to be a huge hit. Its theme of female empowerment isn't anything new, but its wit and effortless charm is rare in such songs. Not even Beyonce's recent hit, "Irreplaceable," matches Coppola's irresistible take on feminism. From the song's sampling of Donovan's "Sunshine Superman" to tongue-in-cheek lyrics like "I'd give my sight to see her," "Legend of a Cowgirl" proves to be a relentless delight.

Coppola qualifies as a one-hit wonder, and apart from this song I haven't heard anything else from her. According to Wikipedia she continues to record and perform, and she seems to have made a career out of music. She was most recently involved with Mike Patton's Peeping Tom project. Based on this one song, she seems to be profoundly talented. I really ought to check out the rest of the Chupacabra album.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Run Down

I hired a Google satellite on Saturday morning to track me as a I ran my 20 miles (or, as it turns out, 19.3 miles). They're pretty tight on money, so Google was more than willing to track me for 3.5 hours as I ran.

The idea of running 20 miles was humbling enough the first time I ran it, but had I seen these pictures before then, I might have given up without trying.

Our 20 (er, 19.3) mile course starts at the Lot K parking lot by the Rose Bowl (see photo #8). On Saturday I headed up north along West Dr. and when I got to Washington, I crossed it and ran the switchback on the west side of the golf course for a half mile, then turned right around and ran back to Washington on the north side of the Rose Bowl. I headed east on Washington and then turned left on Rosemont, up to the trails running along the east side of the golf course (the dead body I mentioned a couple of weeks back was found here). By the time I run underneath the 210 freeway I have completed over three miles.

I decided to run the north side first because Devil's Gate Dam is one intimidating climb when you're at 100%, and so at the end of a long run you are likely to start rolling down it from exhaustion. At the top of Devil's Gate, I run through a short tunnel where a TNT aid station usually awaits.

After replenishing some fluids and nibbling on pretzels and cookies, I head back to the trails and keep heading north, running along Oak Grove Park towards JPL. When I'm almost at JPL, I cross the JPL parking lot and run up another hill, which then puts me at Arroyo Blvd, and I then head towards Angeles Crest. This is a gradual climb for about a mile and a half. I keep running until I hit a sign reading "Elmer Smith Bridge," tap the sign and then retrace the trail I just ran. It's about five miles from the Elmer Smith Bridge back to the Lot K start line by the Rose Bowl, so by the time I get back there, I had run 11 miles. I take a brief break at my car to grab a new bottle of Gatorade and I head back out, this time running south.

The southside trail is about 4 miles long and essentially we run along the arroyo towards South Pasadena. We run under yet another freeway (134), under the Colorado Street Bridge, and follow the path of the arroyo.

At San Pascual in South Pasadena, I depart the arroyo for a bit and run the perimeters of the baseball fields towards yet another tunnel and freeway (110). From there I ran along the southeast side of the Arroyo Seco Golf Course until it ends at the 110 freeway near the York Blvd. exit. I'm essentially near the border of South Pasadena and Highland Park. I tap one of the York Blvd. pillars and again retrace my steps back to where I started. At this point I have run about 15 miles and when I get back to the Rose Bowl I will have run over 19 miles.

Phew, it's exhausting just trying to explain it.

The run yesterday went well for the most part. I walked a couple of miles up to Elmer Smith Bridge with Alice, which I'm glad I did because it saved me some much needed energy for later. After I left Alice I was feeling great up until I hit the 14 mile mark. I started running out of gas here and wished I had another packet of Gu. Alas, I had no more and began feeling faint. I kept trudging ahead and took a couple of longer walk breaks.

Considering the walking I did early on and hitting the wall at the end of the run, my time was pretty respectable. I clocked in at 3:27, not my best long run, but also not my worst. Today, my legs feel fine, but I tweaked my right hip after three close calls at rolling my ankle during the run. Hopefully it will heal quickly. Apart from that, and the tightness near my right ankle, I'm in good shape.

So, there you go, if you're in Pasadena and would like to run 20 miles, just follow this handy map.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Your New Favorite Waster of Time

I think I'm going to spend the next week or so digging through the UCLA Library's browsable website of 5,700 images from the three million Los Angeles Daily News and L.A. Times news photographs it owns. I love seeing how the city and the region looked years ago. It's a reminder of how--for better or worse--the area keeps evolving and shifting to meet the demands of its residents.

One of my favorite images is this one of an old Victorian house called "the Castle" that used to sit atop Bunker Hill juxtaposed against the rising behemoth of a skyscraper.

Courtesy: UCLA Library/LA Times

This picture defines much of what goes on in L.A. The old must give way to the young. It's still true today.

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I discovered that the downtown I knew, the downtown I used to work at, was a recent development. Little did I know that gorgeous Victorian homes once stood where my old office building was, in an area that used to be the Brentwood of its day prior to the arrival of movie stars. I've seen old pictures of Bunker Hill and it's just about unrecognizable. Modern downtown LA has its charm, but it would have been something wonderful had both the new high rises could have co-existed with the old Victorians. The house shown above was supposed to have been preserved and restored, along with another house from Bunker Hill--the Salt Box, at the newly founded Heritage Square Museum. Both houses were moved with great effort to a park site in Lincoln Heights. Unfortunately, vandals broke in to the museum and carelessly caused both houses to catch fire and burn to the ground. Heritage Square now houses eight other marvelous structures, but none of them are from Bunker Hill.

Here are some other pics I found depicting life in Covina the way I don't remember it:

There was cattle grazing in Covina as late as 1976? I didn't even realize the land was used for ranching. I thought it was all citrus and walnut groves in the area.

I remember this campaign stop. I didn't attend, but it was a huge deal. I was in the fifth grade at the time. It's hard to fathom that this was almost twenty years ago. Sheesh!

It looks like I won't be bored for a good while with 5,700 pictures to sift through. Thanks, UCLA!

* * * * *

Speaking of preserving local heritage, I attended a book signing tonight at Skylight Books for Chris Nichols's The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister. It's quite an absorbing and beautifully presented book. As someone pointed out tonight, though built for practical, disposable gratification, McAllister's buildings were designed with a great deal of whimsy and personality, a far cry from the sterile, lifeless "leisure architecture" of today. McAllister is best known locally for Bob's Big Boy #6 on Riverside Drive in Burbank. He also designed the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas.

Photos courtesy of the UCLA Library

Thursday, May 10, 2007

My Lovely Weekly Hump

The fact that I have to get my car fixed is annoying. Aaarghh! Poor Papa Smurf. I should take comfort in knowing that it's not my fault and that I can leave it up to the insurance company to take care of it, but I'd rather that it never happened at all. No use worrying about it, though.

Let's focus on other things:

Today was the last day of AP tutoring. Tomorrow the students take their AP English test. I hope they do well, and I will see them next week one last time. Today we reviewed some key terms, but most of the time was spent answering questions about myself. Did I take the AP test? Did I pass? Where did I go to college? What was my GPA? The students were also curious about college life and hopefully I eased some of their anxiety over it. They're good kids.

Tonight LaKisha was voted off "American Idol." Nothing too surprising about her ouster. I did hear her sing her last song, and she absolutely massacred it. That muffed note at the end was almost embarrassing. She was obviously trying to prove that she has the vocal flexibility of Jordin, but sadly, she proved that she doesn't. Kiki was made for belting. When she was in the lower, softer register she sounded so lifeless and dull, and once again it sounded as if she was singing two different songs. There is never any flow in her performances.

The little bit of Blake I did hear sounded atrocious, too, and he probably deserved to go home as much as Kiki. However, being the lone man left, he was safe. Kiki was the expendable one. She could have done a better job of connecting to people. When she sang tonight, she was walking through the audience givingn high fives, but she still wasn't connecting with the people around her. She was high-fiving without the sincerity. It was also telling how Kiki didn't go sing next to the remaining contestants as the other eliminees usually do.

Kiki is a diva already.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Papa Smurf Got Bit in the Tail

Originally uploaded by savemejebus.

A Kia Optima rammed into Papa Smurf this afternoon. Papa Smurf stopped to let another car turn left, but the car behind him was following too closely and slammed into him. He's OK, but suffered some bite marks and deep scratches in his rear end. Hopefully the car doctors can make him better again. It's an unsightly injury. And to think he did nothing to provoke it!


Griffith Park burned again last night. Just last month another part of it was on fire. Last night's fire coverage, though, had the added urgency of the possibility that multi-million dollar homes would burn down. Last I heard none of them did.

My favorite quote from the LA Times this morning was from one of the affected residents, Michael Widman, a New Yorker who has lived in Los Feliz for five years.

He said, "I'm done with L.A."

I say, "What a wimp!"

It would be interesting to find out if he means it. If he does, good riddance. If he doesn't, a good, big earthquake ought to do the trick.

Last night's fire was too far away to really affect us at the SGV. However, running in Arcadia just before sundown, my lungs were burning. It made for a miserable workout, but I still managed to get in seven or eight Yassos. I lost track. I also wound up missing most of "American Idol," so I can't really comment on the performances. It looks like LaKisha will be bidding us farewell tonight. Stayin' alive, she might not be.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Shot By A Pirate

Caught in a Crossfire
Originally uploaded by savemejebus.
We got stuck on Pirates of the Caribbean for a few minutes near the end, smack dab in the middle of the pirate gun fight.

A. Bird

Videos of Andrew Bird's Amoeba Records performance is available on YouTube. The sound quality is pretty good. Watch one, watch them all, and see the brilliance of Mr. Bird. My favorite from his set was "Fiery Crash."

Monday, May 07, 2007

Now That's What I Call My Favorite Weekend, Part Two!

What a fun weekend I just had!

I ran 17 miles on Saturday morning, which puts me in good shape to run the San Diego Rock n' Roll Marathon. I probably won't be as fast as I would like, but at least I might have enough of a foundation to finish strong. I'll try to do 20 miles this coming weekend and then taper a little before then. It's still not guaranteed that I will do it, but again I'm feeling better about tackling it.

Later that evening the TNT crew met up at Malo's to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and--more specifically--to bid Liza bon voyage as she departs for Ohio later this week. The food wasn't very good, the drinks were good enough and strong, but we had a blast.

I didn't stay out too late because on Sunday we were heading to Disneyland for the second part of Liza's Goodbye festivities. We got through a lot of rides. It wasn't too crowded. In fact, I got on Space Mountain three times. The only good ride we didn't go on was Tower of Terror and that was because some of our crew didn't want to go on it.

My legs are a little sore, but it was worth it. Now, to the week ahead!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

New York Times Wedding Announcement of the Week

I wonder if this week's couple ever got tired of being asked if they were related?

Helena Yu and Anthony Yu

The Yus (no relation until now), seem to have a lot in common. The word "both" works overtime in the announcement. Both are 25, both went to Cornell, both graduated with honors (but he trumps her with a summa cum laude), both are in medical school (again he trumps her with Harvard), and both are doing their residency at the University of Pennsylvania. At least Helena won't have to change her last name.

I think the two (of) Yus need to find some alone time or they might drive each other mad. All of a sudden "Anything You Can Do" from Annie Get Your Gun is in my head.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Song of the Week: "Ringing in My Ear"

Download: Adem - "Ringing in My Ear"

I love a perfect song. Adem's "Ringing in My Ear," from Homesongs, is a perfect song, one of those songs where everything just seems right and everything is in the correct place--the shuffling percussions, the wondrous glockenspiel, the harmonizing guitars, and Adem's lazy, exasperated vocals.

What I like most about the song is how immediately it hits me. I love break-up songs, and the best ones are visceral in making you feel the hurt. "Ringing in My Ear" is a bitter, pungent, and devastating break up song that isn't angry but moreso disappointed at how things turned out. The guitars, to me, convey a sense of contemplation, and the monotonous rhythm combines with Adem's vocals suggest weariness. As Adem sings the lyrics, we hear a story of recriminations and petty vengefulness. The narrator sings of feeling guilty for the things he has done since the separation but still feels no compulsion to apologize for it because "it was your decision." Throughout the phrase "ringing in my ear" takes on various undertones. At first it's an easy to disregard noise, then it's a harsh, unpleasant sound that can't be ignored, but for the most part it's an irksome, distracting presence the narrator wishes would go away. In the end, though, one gets the sense that the narrator doesn't wish the ringing to go away; the ringing in his ear has become synonymous with missing her presence:

It's a sunny September
The colours are bright here
And the birds sing of beautiful places
While you are just ringing in my ear

The placement of the word "just" is curious. "Still" might have fit the tone better, but the use of "just" is a nice touch as it implies a struggle within the narrator to admit the fact that he misses her. Yes, she's an annoying ringing in his ear, but he might prefer hearing it that not.

Adem followed up Homesongs with the underrated Love and Other Planets. That album didn't have a song that matched the clarity and perfection of "Ringing in My Ear" but it's an even more assured and richly textured album than Homesongs.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Now That's What I Call My Favorite Weekend!

Somehow I missed reading the Calendar Weekend section yesterday. I usually read it if only to get to the back and find out whose favorite weekend we will be experiencing. Thankfully, Pioneer let it be known that an L.A. original, Charles Phoenix, is this week's My Favorite Weekender.

Here's a recent Slide of the Week from Phoenix's website. It's Covina Bowl by my neck of the woods!

The Cost of Living

I was offered a job yesterday.


But the pay is less than what I think I deserve for it.


Now I have to think. It's a good opportunity, one that will hopefully lead to bigger and better things. I'm not completely blindsided by the amount offered, but I was still hoping it would be more. As it stands, it would be just enough for me to cover cost of living and maybe save a little every month. A cushion would have been nice.

Also, I try not to think about this fact, but it is a fact nonetheless: the salary offered is slightly more than what I made in my first year out of college--and, I just realized this, the salary is a little more than half of what I could have made if I continued my consulting work full time. In fact, if one were to look at my salary history, it would look like a roller coaster. It was up, then went down when I taught, then went up again as a consultant, and it looks like it will be going back down.

So now I have to decide. What to do, what to do?

Of course, we can't overlook the bright side: I was offered a job!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Farewell, Chris! Good Riddance, Phil!

Chris Richardson and Phil Stacey were both voted out tonight. Not a big deal, really. I didn't expect either one to be a competitor for the title, but I am sad still sad to see Chris go. He probably has a good shot at post-Idol success with his looks and decent voice. Phil, well, others seem to like him. He still creeps me out.

At least we got to see Chris sleeveless in the Ford video.

The top four truly is the top four.

Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!

This post has nothing to do with the NPR show. I just like the title and the show--that and the fact that life seems to be a waiting game at the moment. Then again when is it not?

I wanted to avoid any potential traffic issues in downtown yesterday, so rather than drive there I decided to take the train. I could have taken Metrolink from Industry, but where is the fun in that? I've taken that line many times. Rather, I tried out the Gold Line, which I've always wanted to try.

Quite a nice ride, the Gold Line is. It took me about thirty minutes altogether to go from Pasadena to Union Station to 7th/Metro. If only everything could be reached by rail lines I would gladly park my car for days on end.

The large crowds never materialized for the May Day rally, but there were some protesters on the train on their way to downtown. In fact, downtown was strangely quiet. I guess the authorities did a fabulous job in scaring everyone off.

Later on I headed to Arcadia for track training. However, when I got there, a track meet was in full effect at the high school. I was there a little early, so I watched some of the events. Some of these kids are fast! I was more surprised by those who didn't look fast but actually were. Some of the kids made it look easy, while others looked in pain. When I was in high school I didn't try out for track because I thought you had to be fast and skinny to be on the team. Seeing some of the participants yesterday I realized that it wasn't the case. If only I had tried out in high school I may have gotten a head start on my running.

Because of the track meet we improvised by running around the golf course in Arcadia. Running on the sidewalk was hard on the knees. They were vibrating by the time I was done. Even today they feel a little sore. It was a good workout, though, and I rewarded myself by joining the summer team at Dona Rosa for some machacas. Mmm, good.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Smog Still Gets In Your Eyes

Los Angeles once again topped the American Lung Association's list of metropolitan cities with the worst air. They do note that the air here has improved. As someone who grew up here, I can vouch for that. Back in the 1980s, growing up inland, the air can be so thick that you can feel it and taste it. I used to judge how good the air was based on whether I could see Mt. Baldy. If it was only 9am and I already couldn't see the mountain, then we were in for a rough day. I honestly can't recall the last time there was a strong smog warning. Are kids today still kept indoors when smog gets really bad?

If only people would stop moving here, maybe we can make some headway.

Oh, and this is my 200th post! YAY!

Time is a Crooked Bow

I had my second interview yesterday, and it went well. Like the first it didn't feel like an interview at all. The director I spoke with is friends with an old college boss of mine and inquired about me. My old boss said some nice things, which I guess sold me to the director because she stated right away that she liked me and didn't interrogate me. So I guess that's a good thing. I'm also a little more intrigued by the job after she told me what she would like for me to work on. It sounds like it will be a lot more challenging and would require greater responsibility than the original job description suggested. Afterwards I took a test on MS Office skills, which I think I passed. The great thing about having had corporate jobs is the fact that I've used Excel practically every day. Mail merge is probably the best application on MS Office, so that wasn't a problem at all. There will likely be another round of interviewing, but right now things look promising. I'm still waiting to hear about a second interview for the East L.A. job.

It was almost rush hour when I got done, so I took a detour to Pasadena to run six miles at the Rose Bowl. It was still a little warm when I ran. I thought of running on the trails, but I decided not to since it just felt too eerie to run by where the body was found.

After the run I got dressed in my car and drove off to Amoeba Records in Hollywood to check out Andrew Bird's free show. The place was almost crowded when I got there an hour before show time, but I still found a good spot in the third aisle. Bird was amazing. It took a few minutes for him to adjust the sound quality and equipment but once he got going the songs sounded amazing. He started off with "Fake Palindromes" and then took off with "Fiery Crash." It's quite a sight to see Bird layer the sounds he creates, practically a one man orchestra. He also did "Nervous Tic" (wonderful!), "Heretics" (outstanding!), "Plasticities" (brilliant!), and "Dark Matter" (incredible!). He even threw in "Dr. Stringz" when prompted by an audience member. Afterwards he signed autographs. I didn't get in line since it was too long and I was starving. He's an amazing performer.