Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New York Times Wedding Announcement of the Week

This week's couple might have won the recognition just for their cute photo in Korean wedding attire. Add the fact that they had three ceremonies and they coast to an easy victory.

Victoria Lim and Peter Sheren

Ceremony #1 was a traditional Korean cultural ceremony in Korea. Wedding #2 was a Jewish ceremony in Washington DC. The third--and legally-recognized--ceremony was performed by an Episcopal priest at Washington National Cathedral.

If that's not enough, their meet-cute also deserves attention, as well as their prestigious private schooling (she at Madeira, he at St. Albans).

Congratulations to the happy couple.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What Price Paste?

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Paste Magazine is just about my favorite music magazine nowadays. I've often sat at a bookstore and read each issue cover to cover, a rare occurrence nowadays. It's a beautiful magazine to behold, too, with its nice matte cover and thorough coverage of emerging artists. In terms of discovering great new talent, Paste has been an invaluable resource.

If you love Paste like I do, prepare to love it even more.

Following Radiohead's name-your-own-price strategy, the folks at Paste are offering readers the same opportunity. For the next two weeks, readers can name their own subscription price (minimum of $1.00) and receive a year's subscription (11 issues). A regular subscription is $19.95--a great deal just for the magazine itself but when you add in the fact that each issue comes with a CD sampler, it's a steal!

I've never subscribed to Paste, but this got me to do so. It's actually a great marketing gimmick. I wound up subscribing at $16, which is only $4 less than the regular subscription.

What price are you willing to pay?

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Freewheelin' Josh Ritter

Thursdays this month have turned into an El Rey night for me. The last three Thursdays have found me at the El Rey for a show, two of which I saw for free. Two weeks ago it was the power pop of Rogue Wave, last week was the raw bluesy folk of Two Gallants, but last night was the best yet: Josh Ritter.

I've seen Josh Ritter a few times now and each one has been successively better. Last night was incredibly triumphant. The main thing I took away from Ritter's previous performances is the joy he exudes performing live. With his ear-to-ear grin and aw-shucks attitude, it makes you wonder at first how genuinely grateful he is, but by the end of the night he wins you over with a performance equally ecstatic as his smile. He was at his effusive best last night.

Ritter worked with a full band last night, which included a horn section. His new album, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, is a rollicking follow-up to the more somber and elegant The Animal Years, and the looser sound was in evidence last night as Ritter favored the rocking songs of the new album as well as the ones from his previous work. With more exuberant songs in hand, Ritter was able to finesse the setlist and pace the evening extremely well, never sagging for a bit. Ritter and his band, which includes an energetic new drummer, the boyish and appealing Liam Hurley--who is also credited for "yelling"--opened forcefully with "To the Dogs or Whoever" and went straight on to "Wolves" from The Animal Years before slowing down a little with the lovely "Here at the Right Time."

After this brief interlude, the full band came back on along with the horn section and sent the evening soaring with "Right Moves," "Mind's Eye" and "Rumors." They disappeared after playing the intro to "The Temptation of Adam" but came back with more later with "Empty Hearts" and "Real Long Distance."

If it's even possible Ritter seemed to be having an even greater time now. He knows when to be cheeky and when to rein it in. In the middle of "Harrisburg" he launches into a brief cover of Modest Mouse's "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes," which doesn't quite make sense when I think about it but seemed appropriate at the time. The main set ended not with "Kathleen," which as an indefatigable crowd-pleaser instead became the penultimate song, but with the slower but exquisite "Lawrence, KS." Perhaps it was just Ritter being cheeky again, tweaking our expectations just a bit.

The encore was a mic-less cover of "The River" followed by the rousing "Lillian, Egypt." It was Ritter at his best.

The El Rey crowd can be quite noisy during a musician's set as the bar is just in the back and the conversations carry. But last night, whenever Ritter performed the quiet songs, it was as hushed as I've ever heard the El Rey. Any minor noise was met with a chorus of "Shh" from the crowd. Quite nice, I say. I also finally figured out where Josh Ritter's album should be marketed. Starbucks, yes, but judging from the crowd, the record label should consider placing some copies of his album at REI. Lots of physically-active types in there and hiking shoes. Just an observation.

Lucky for me, I get to see Josh Ritter again tonight--for free!--at the Natural History Museum.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New York Times Wedding Announcement of the Week

Sorry about the missed week last week. Work was busy and there really wasn't one announcement that I thought was worthy of being highlighted. This week is a little more promising.

Ashling McAnaney and Matthew Kramer

The romance that blossomed between this week's couple is probably the only good thing that came out of Y2K, a Phish concert and a 12-hour traffic jam.

The couple were introduced by mutual friends in 1999, but did not begin dating until after they had endured a traffic jam that would try any relationship: They spent 12 hours stuck amid thousands of other cars that were all trying to get to a Y2K Phish concert, on New Year’s Eve 1999, in the Everglades.

Friday, October 19, 2007

These Calves of Mine

Although there were some rough spots during the half marathon on Sunday, my legs held up fine. I was barely sore in the end. By Monday's end my legs were back to normal. I haven't run since then making sure that my legs recovered. Tonight was the first run in four days, so it surprised me that barely a mile into our run my calves--both of them--stiffened up. They're still stiff now hours later.

I plowed ahead with the run and kept a very strong pace, but my calves were making it tough. By the end of the run it felt like I had baseballs for calves. Soon my hamstring too was acting up, along with my right quadricep. I doubt I can run for a couple of days now. My legs feel worse now than they did after the half marathon.

It's just one of those things you can't explain. It's probably residual stiffness from the race, or it could just be one of those nights. One thing for sure, I don't want it to lead to an injury.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Where This Man Had Never Gone Before

Last night was my friend Becca's going-away dinner at Il Fornaio in Pasadena. We're all bummed about her leaving but I know it's a wonderful opportunity for her. As much as we'll miss her we're happy for her exciting new job.

Dinner itself was fine. The bread pudding was quite good--more memorable than the risotto I ordered. A funny thing did happen on the way to the bathroom, though. Near the end of the evening I headed to use the boy's room. I went in and noticed that there were no urinals. I've never been to a men's room that had no urinals. I did my business in one of the stalls and wondered about there being no urinal. Was I in the women's room? It looked a little too dirty for being a women's room and I always imagined the ladies' restroom as being immaculate. Just as I was washing my hands the door opened. Two women walked in. I was in the women's room.

Strangely, the women took no notice of me until I blurted out that I was in the wrong restroom. They just laughed and said, "It's no big deal." And I agree. It shouldn't be a big deal. There are stalls, so it's not like I would see anything inappropriate. Besides, women have used the men's room a few times while I was in there doing my business when the women's room is just too busy. I'm no pervert!

Also, I now know that women make such a mess in the restroom. Sheesh.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Scenes from San Jose

I took some photos in San Jose, but they're not all that great. I kept forgetting my camera in the hotel. Thankfully, my friend Jane had hers all the time and she has some great photos. All of these pictures are from her.

This was us exploring the Tech Museum after checking out Bodyworlds 2.

Alice and I copying the ballerina from Bodyworlds 2.

Before the start.

Japantown Farmers Market
This Farmers' Market went on as scheduled despite sitting next to the course, where it was closed to traffic. Few customers as a result, but business hopefully picked up after the runners ran by.

A brass band.

Me at Mile 12
Jane and I crossed paths on the course.

Hanging out at the lobby after the race.

My Ass
Here's a bonus shot of my gorgeous ass.

More pictures from the weekend can be found on my Flickr page.

Friday, October 12, 2007

No Plans on Sunday?

Charles Phoenix and I

I'll be running a half marathon in San Jose on Sunday, but if you have nothing to do that day, I recommend you splurge a little and explore downtown Los Angeles in style by taking part in Charles Phoenix's famous Disneyland Tour of Downtown Los Angeles.

I did it this spring and it was delightful. A good time will be had by all and it's a wonderful opportunity to learn about Los Angeles arcana, the stuff the Hollywood tours never tell you. Have lunch at Clifton's Cafeteria, watch a puppet show at Bob Baker's theater, and have some ice cream afterwards. If not this Sunday then the following Sunday.

A Saks-y GQ Night

Last night I joined my friend Chris for a GQ event at the Saks Fifth Avenue store in Beverly Hills. It was a shopping event--commemorating GQ's 50th anniversary--where you earned Duke points for every dollar you spent. Spend at least $500 dollars and you are eligible to purchase various items with your Duke points. Needless to say I really only came for the company, the drinks, and the hors d'oeuvres.

Chris and I bought nothing but we had a blast scoping out all the pretty men--and there were plenty of them to see. I love pretty men, but they're not really my type. I like men who are more natural and rugged. And I like them nerdy. Still there was some good eye candy.

All in all it was a fun night even though we bought nothing. I felt out of my league there. I didn't even want to try anything on because I knew there was nothing there I could afford. I'm a strictly clearance rack kind of guy. I like to tell myself that even if I was rich I wouldn't be so extravagant in my spending. I enjoy having money, but more than that I enjoy knowing I got good value out of my money. Throwing $61,000 for snake skin luggage isn't good value, I think.

* * * * *

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I also won a pair of tickets last night to go see Rogue Wave at the El Rey Theatre. Since I was going with Chris to the GQ event and I couldn't find anyone to go with me to the show, I had set my mind on not going even though I enjoyed their show two years ago. As it turned out, though, Chris and I parted ways in Beverly Hills at 9:45 and the El Rey is only a couple miles drive from there. By the time I get there, I figured Rogue Wave would just be going onstage, so I headed down, picked up my tickets and went in. It was perfect timing. No sooner than two minutes later the band took the stage.

I'm glad I went even though my legs were exhausted from all the walking and standing from the GQ event. Rogue Wave was great and all the songs, especially "Lake Michigan," sounded spectacular. They even performed "Eyes" during their encore. I have yet to listen to the new album, but based on the couple of tracks I have heard it is a stellar follow-up to Descended Like Vultures.

This morning Rogue Wave also performed on "Morning Becomes Eclectic." Their performance--which includes a cover of Split Enz's "I Got You"--is archived here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sleepy State

I've had problems waking up the last two mornings. I should arise at 7 with enough time to iron a shirt, shower, get dressed and make it to work by 8:30. Yesterday I woke up at 7:10. Not so bad, but I wound up leisurely taking care of things. I even made myself a breakfast. I blame my sleepiness then on the late night I had. I had gone to see Avenue Q and had a late dinner, so it made me very sleep.

Today, though, I woke up at 7:45. I remember the alarm going off at 6:45 but then turning it off. Sleep was just so good! I fell asleep at 11:15--early for me--and had one of the best nights of sleep recently. The brisk cool mornings also don't help matters. Perhaps it's time for me to shut my windows.

In any event, I can't make this a habit. If only there were 25 hours in a day I wouldn't be so sleep-deprived.

* * * * *

The LA Times had a big article about the opening of the Nokia Theatre. Hopefully this isn't another Staples Center journalistic debacle. With the completion of the Nokia Theatre and the entire LA Live project in 2010, there are hopes that it will become LA's Times Square. It's quite possible, and I can envision downtown being more of an inviting place to visit in three years. It's not really gentrification, even. Unlike areas like Echo Park and Silver Lake, downtown is being "gentrified" through sheer force by civic leaders and developers. It would be interesting to see if they succeed, and I certainly hope they do.

EDIT: The Daily News has a list of events scheduled at the Nokia Theatre. Judging from the list, it will be a long time before I ever go see anything there. Anita Baker? Enrique Iglesias? Larry the Cable Guy? Lame.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Good Idea Bear Says...

...Go see Avenue Q!

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Team in Training/Eating folks took in a night of theatre last night and enjoyed--immensely--Avenue Q, currently playing through Sunday at the Ahmanson Theatre. It's a guaranteed good time--that is, if you're not offended by profanity, mature themes, puppet sex, and the use of stage fog. There's still time to see it and it can't be more highly recommended!

Afterwards we had a late dinner (11pm) at Pete's on 4th and Main. I had a burger and fries. Yum.

Something to Bragg About

The Nobel Prizes are being given out left and right. They've already announced the prize for medicine, physics, and chemistry. While trolling the Nobel website, I found some interesting tidbits. Example?

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The handsome fellow above is Lawrence Bragg. He is the youngest Nobel Prize recipient. He was all of 25 when he shared the 1915 prize for physics with his father "for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays." Show-off.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Scenes From the Eagle Rock Music Festival

The Oinkster. I had a burger, fries and root beer. I craved an ube shake, but since I had a halo halo earlier, I resisted the urge.

American Tire Depot Stage
Get Out
A punk band called Get Out singing a song about Asian girls.

Teddy's Cheer Club
Teddy's Cheer Club
Teddy's Cheer Club. They were quite good.

Jessica Fichot
Fichot, For Sure
Jessica Fichot singing songs in French (and Russian and Chinese and English). I picked up her CD. It's delightful!

Sun Sets on Eagle Rock
Random scenes at the festival.

It was a great event--and free! Unfortunately my camera's batteries died on me during Fichot's set, so I have no pictures to show of other great bands like Bodies of Water and Dengue Fever. I left two songs into Under the Influence of Giant's set. They just weren't rocking my world. I highly recommend the festival, though. It's well-organized and the music, atmosphere and participants are awesome.

You rock, Eagle Rock!

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Chicago Marathon Sucked This Year

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[Associated Press photo]

The Chicago Marathon is one of the races that I'm eager to do, but thankfully I didn't do it this year. What is usually a fast course run in pleasant and ideal weather, turned into an agonizing march through the Second City as the heat and humidity led to cutting the race short. One runner died, a 35 year old police officer. It was the hottest Chicago Marathon ever, eclipsing the record heat of 1979. Hopefully this means that if I run the race next year, the chance of another heatwave occurring is nil.

Check John's blog for his firsthand account of the race. It looks like John finished the race but I know it was much slower than he usually does.

New York Times Wedding Announcement of the Week

Keith Lockhart, the boyishly-handsome conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, is off the market. Awwww...

Emiley Zalesky and Keith Lockhart

First off, I find it hard to believe that Lockhart is 47. So those with baby faces, don't fret. While everyone else see themselves wrinkling into old age, you'll still look as handsome as ever. Put up with getting carded for years, you'll be glad when you're 47 and looking like Mr. Lockhart.

Let's give credit to Ms. Zalesky, too, for being brave enough to come up to him while he was having dinner. I never approach celebrities. Who knows who I might have hooked up with now if I did.

It's the third marriage for Mr. Lockhart, and the fact that he exchanged numbers with a woman who's out on a date renders him a bit of a cad. Still, he's handsome, talented, and rich. You have to take advantage, right?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

New York Times Wedding Announcement of the Week

Mariah Carey once sang that love takes time, and if Mariah sang it, it must be true.

Meghan Harris and Kevin Feehan

Ms. Harris and Mr. Feehan met fourteen years earlier at Harbor Hills Day Camp. Both performed in the camp production of South Pacific, but they didn't know each other or fall in love until they met at a party years later.

How cute is that? They spent the rest of that night drinking and singing songs from the show. Some enchanted evening, indeed!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Birthday Chips

At the end of each month our department celebrates all those whose birthday landed in the last thirty days with a nice sugary cake and a self-conscious rendition of "Happy Birthday." September was extremely crowded with birthdays--me included--a result of clumsy fumblings on New Year's Eve by our parents.

This month, though, rather than collect $2 for the birthday cake fund, the Powers That Be decided on another carbolicious party favorite. Tortilla chips. Instead of birthday cake, we had birthday chips. Thankfully we didn't have to sing "Happy Birthday" because if we did I doubt I could have stopped from laughing.