Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chocolate Rush

The free candy at my exhibit table proved to be VERY popular. By mid-afternoon I had to sneak out during a break and go back to California to buy some more.
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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I Heart Nevada

Had a great dinner tonight at the Ciera Steak and Chop House inside the uber-hip Montbleu Casino. The dinner check came with a giant chocolate-dipped strawberry over dry ice. Nice touch.
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Another view of Lake Tahoe from my hotel room, today with better lighting.
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Today I walked to California (two blocks) to the beautiful Raley's grocery store in South Lake Tahoe to buy some candy for my exhibit table. It may seem old-fashioned, but nothing gets people to stop by a table like a bowl of free candy.
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A pretty fountain on the California side of the border.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On Top of the World

Made my way today to South Lake Tahoe to participate in a conference for the rest of the week.

I'm staying at Harveys Lake Tahoe and was delighted to see they placed me in a lovely room on the top floor of the hotel with a great view of the lake (above).

When I checked in the Front Desk Clerk asked me if I had stayed at Harveys before. I told her, "Yes, I last stayed here in 1980." My high school friend, John Dunbar, and I came here during our first year in college. I know this is where we stayed but it sure is a lot nicer now than it was then.
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After landing at the Reno Airport I stopped off at the Coffee Shop at the Peppermill Casino for lunch. This is one of my all-time favorite casinos because the decor is so over the top. It looks like a casino you'd see on "The Jetsons."
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Stopped off for dinner at the Forest Buffet high atop Harrah's Casino. It was full, but the wait to get in was only 20 minutes. Last time I was in this buffet was also 27 years ago. I don't really remember what it was like in 1980, but I'm sure it's changed considerably.
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Sunday, July 22, 2007

More Dodger Stadium Hassles

The Dodgers are really working my last nerve. And I don't mean because they lost to the Mets today 5 to 4 in 10 innings.

The Dodgers initiated a new parking system this year where visitors to the stadium (after paying $15 for the privilege to park) and directed by flag-waving staff members to specific parking spots.

I ignore the flaggers and park in the space I want. I like to park so I'll remember where my car is and where it'll be easy to leave after the game. Plus I really hate the Dodgers' new parking system and I refuse to become a Tool to The Man.

Today after I took my preferred spot (only a few spaces from where they wanted me to go and not interfering with any other cars) one of the flaggers came over and banged on my window and demanded I move my car. I told him, "no, thank you."

A few minutes later as I was walking to the stadium a security guard in a golf cart came up and stopped me. He asked me if I was aware of the stadium's new parking policy. I told him I was aware of it, that I had written twice complaining about it with no response, that I regularly blog about my objections to it and that I reject it outright.

I also told him if he'd like to refund the $50 I paid for today's ticket and the $15 I paid to get in the parking lot then I'd be happy to get in my car and be on my way. He said I'd need to take that up with Guest Relations.

He said they would "make note" of my car and implied if it happened again I'd be towed.

I told him that was "a really lousy way" to treat the paying customers.

What a way to start another visit to Dodger Stadium! Well, at least I didn't get hit in the arm by a foul ball like the poor lady pictured above.
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I can't explain why the Emergency Medical Technician was more interested in checking out the foul ball than the lady's arm.

I'm pretty sure the baseball wasn't injured.
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I was heartened to see stadium security escort Brooklyn out of the stadium after he stood-up and screamed the F-Bomb and other insults (and threw the bird) at another fan seated at least 10 rows in front of him. Even Helen Keller would have called a violation of the Fan Code of Conduct on this guy.

And they didn't "capture and release" this guy either -- he never came back to his seat.

Do you think they let him finish his beer in the car on the drive home?
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Sunday night I went to GeezBob's house for his 47th birthday party. Since I think of myself as being in my late 20s, it's a little hard to fathom having a 47 year-old best friend.

GeezBob's two other best friends (Mark and Rui) were there too. We each stayed in different parts of the party to avoid any unnecessary scenes. (That's a joke.) Not that I'm competitive, but I did make sure I was the last of the three of us to leave. (OK, that's a joke too -- sort of.)

I love going to parties. But I especially love going to parties where I know lots of people. It just makes it so much easier when I pretend I'm a Congressman and I go around and say hello to EVERYONE at the party if I actually know some of them.

There were lots of questions about my blog, one of my favorite topics. Maybe my site meter will get a little bump, we'll see.

I think everyone had a fun time, I certainly did. But the party was a little more sedate than the parties GeezBob used to help organize when he was in college in Bakersfield. No holes in the walls to be repaired tomorrow after tonight's shindig.
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Pick a Winner

Went to the Celebration Theater on Santa Monica Boulevard last night to see their new play, "Still Photos."

Celebration did something interesting in programming this play. They held a contest and invited emerging playwrights to submit new works to be considered. And "Still Photos" by a playwright who goes by "Vanda" won. Vanda has entered this play in a number of similar theatrical contests and it has had success elsewhere. From the credits I learned Vanda is on the faculty of the Metropolitan College of New York.

"Still Photos" is about an older woman, played beautifully by Peggy Lord Chilton, looking back on her life and the decisions she made while packing up her house with her granddaughter's help. The photos they find lead to a description of the lost opportunities and missed loves of her life.

The first act -- running over 90 minutes -- could use some editing, but the ending was very, very beautiful.
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Saturday, July 21, 2007


Last night at the Showcase Theater I saw an interesting sci-fi/horror movie about survivors of lightning strikes who develop an insatiable addiction to electric current called "Socket." The film's colorful cast and crew were on hand to answer questions. The film is directed by Sean Abley (pictured holding the microphone).

Every other week they'd meet in an AA style setting where they'd hold hands and connect to a generator to "juice up."

It was pretty funny when the electrician told the group his addiction was preventing him from getting any work done.
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Friday, July 20, 2007

Dodgers' F-ony Phan Code of Conduct

Something ugly happened at Dodger Stadium tonight. And I'm not referring to the horrible traffic getting into the stadium parking lot. Nor am I thinking of the final score -- the Mets beat the Dodgers 13 to 9.

The Dodgers tout their "Fan Code of Conduct" as their way to ensure Dodger Stadium is a family-friendly park. Before each game they show a video with Tommy Lasorda saying anyone violating the Code of Conduct will be kicked out. And then they have Spanish-language broadcaster Jaime Jarrin read the same script in Spanish. He gives a stern look when he says "palabras obscinas."

The video ends with the phone number fans are supposed to call if there's any problem in the stands.

The code reads in part:

2) Our fans' experience will not be disrupted by unruly actions or behaviors of others. Fans should report any inappropriate behavior to the nearest usher, security guard or Stadium staff member.

11) Fans must adhere to the Code of Conduct provisions or they will be subject to ejection without refund and revocation of season tickets and may also be in violation of city ordinances resulting in possible arrest and prosecution.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Well good luck getting it enforced!

Tonight there was a young man seated one row behind me over my left shoulder -- (Field Level, Section 31, Row K, Seat 5). Every other sentence was F-Bomb this and F-Bomb that. Sometimes he even double F-Bombed in the same sentence (if you could call them sentences). There were little kids seated all around him and he was talking loudly -- right into my ear.

Finally I turned to him and calmly asked him not to use that language because I found it offense and Dodger Stadium is supposed to be a family friendly park and his language was a violation of the Fan Code of Conduct. His response of "why the 'F-Bomb' should I?" pretty much indicates where this was going. So I told him if I heard it again I'd simply call Dodger Stadium Security and ask that they enforce the Dodger Stadium Fan Code of Conduct. Within moments -- more shelling from F-Troop.

I reached for my phone and started to dial the phone number for Dodger Stadium Security. While dialing there was a tap on my left shoulder and a woman says she's the young man's Mother and she was sorry for what he's done and he won't do it again. And she asks me not to call. I was so impressed that an adult was taking responsibility for the situation I immediately stopped dialing and went back to watching the game. (How gullible can I be?)

Within 10 minutes there was a beach ball bouncing around our section and young Mr. F-Bomber got it and proceeded to slam it into the top of my head while laughing.

Fortunately, an usher was standing right in our aisle (trying to catch and destroy the beach ball) and she saw the whole thing happen. I quickly asked her to get security, explained they had been cussing through the entire game, I had asked him to stop and then he did that in retaliation. She gave me this look as if to say, "absolutely, right away, I understand the situation."

Within a few minutes a security guard was on the scene and asked Mr. F-Bomber to stand up and meet her at the top of the stairs. "Great," I thought, "he and the other three in his party are being ejected from the stadium and I can enjoy the rest of the game in peace."

Instead Dodger Security seemed to adopt some sort of "catch and release" policy and Mr. F-Bomber returned to his seat just a few minutes later. As though a "stern talking-t0" by security would resolve the situation.

I immediately got up from my seat and went to the back of the stadium to speak with security. I wanted to make sure they understood the entire situation and explained I didn't want to spend the next 6 innings with this guy sitting behind me. I expected them to enforce the Fan Code of Conduct and make him leave the stadium.

The security staff didn't seem to know what to do with my insistence. Finally, they had the head security officer, Eddie Rodriguez, come over to talk to me. He said they wouldn't eject Mr. F-Bomber because Dodger Stadium staff hadn't heard him cussing. He didn't seem to care he had intentionally slammed a beach ball into my head. Instead they said they'd "keep an eye on him."

I demanded Rodriguez produce a copy of the Fan Code of Conduct and show me where it says fans my report obscenities but the staff won't do anything unless they hear it themselves.

He did produce a copy but said "it's just a little rule they have" about handling situations.

Rodriguez is notorious for being the security officer who escorted two women out of Dodger Stadium a few years ago for kissing. When I reminded him of that he first said, "that was someone else." When I told him I saw his photo in the paper when he was assigned to Sensitivity Training over the incident he said, "I don't know what you're talking about."

He then demanded I produce my ticket and ID. Now all of a sudden I'm the bad guy.

He kept insisting all they could do was "watch them" and to do anything else would be a violation "of the rules."

Having missed more than an inning of the game I finally went back to my seat to sit in front of Mr. F-Bomb and his 3 cohorts. Of course they continued to cuss, mostly pointed at my direction. The "Mother" seemed to think it was especially funny to cuss in Spanish.

And Dodger Stadium Security did nothing. So much for the so-called Dodger Stadium Fan Code of Conduct.

And for this lovely evening I spent $65. I've got some "palabras obscinas" of my own.
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Monday, July 16, 2007

Doppelganger Alert

Went to the Showcase Theater on La Brea in Hollywood last night to see the movie "2 Minutes Later."

When a noted photographer goes missing, his younger, estranged twin (born 2 minutes later) assumes his identity to find out what happened. Teamed up with a female detective, the twin impostor stumbles upon the many enemies his older brother has made throughout the years.

It's a pretty funny movie written and directed by Robert Gaston (pictured above answering questions). The actress in the middle played the tough-as-nails-but-seductive-when-necessary detective.
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Tonight at the Showcase Theater I saw a chilling thriller of a movie called "You Belong to Me." Jeffrey moves into a new apartment building where he finds the nosy landlady wants to mother him -- literally.

Director and Writer Sam Zalutsky was on hand to answer questions afterwards.
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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Boring as Ever

Went to the Hollywood Bowl last night filled with dread at the prospect of sitting through an evening of John Williams and his music.

Fortunately, the first half of the show was Williams conducting OTHER composers' music written for the movies. That was OK.

The second half was his music, which all sounds the same and goes on way too long.

His stuff may be great when accompanied by a movie. But to just sit there and listen to it is painful.
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Even though I didn't like last night's program, going to the Hollywood Bowl remains the quintessential summertime experience in Los Angeles.
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A return to the Hollywood Bowl means it's time to struggle to get the order right at Greenblatt's Deli. I always ask for a turkey sandwich "hand-sliced" at Greenblatt's. Last night the guy who took my order repeated "hand-sliced." Then the counter manager came over and I reminded her I wanted my turkey hand-sliced. Sure enough, the person making my sandwich threw the turkey breast on the meat slicer. Fortunately, since I was watching, disaster was averted.
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They waved light sabers in the cheap seats during the inevitable Star Wars music. Funny, I didn't see any light sabers up in the Pool Circle.
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Waiting to exit the stacked parking lot is another Hollywood Bowl tradition. Last night it took 40 minutes to get out. At least the kid in the car in front of us found a way to entertain himself.
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Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Good Turn

My fellow jurors and I reported to Judge Veal's courtroom at 10:30 a.m. this morning as ordered. After waiting in the hallway for a while we were called into the courtroom. Judge Veal quickly informed us the case had been "disposed" and there would be no trial and we were released from jury service. We all broke out into applause.

The defendant, now handcuffed to a chair, looked forlorn. Too late to take back that plea bargain, I imagine.

On the way downtown I got pulled over -- again -- by a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff. This time for "improperly executing a U-turn." It's perfectly legal to make a U-Turn at the intersection of San Vicente and Santa Monica Boulevards. The Deputy Sheriff claimed I "pulled too far out into the intersection." He said to make a U-Turn you're just supposed to edge barely past the limit line and you should only pull out as far as I did if you're making a left turn.

I always pull well into the intersection to 1) make others aware that I'm turning and 2) to allow as many people as possible in the left turn lane to actually turn.

The Deputy Sheriff didn't give me a ticket, just a lecture (again). He did ask me sarcastically, "where did you learn to drive?" I deadpanned, "I took Driver's Education from the Los Angeles Unified School District."

Six years later and we can't find Osama bin Laden. But I stick the nose of my car "too far into the intersection" and off go the lights and sirens. What's wrong with this picture?

Oh well, I found a dime on the sidewalk near the Courthouse -- so I'm still up on the day.
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Jurors, on their second and subsequent days of service, are told to park at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. That's not a bad way to start the day.
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I like the cafeteria in the Criminal Courts Building. I stopped off there for a quick breakfast. I was hoping to spy Dominick Dunne, who is covering the Phil Spector trial. No luck.
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