Saturday, January 31, 2009

What's FM?

Friday night I went as Dave Hannon's guest to M Bar in Hollywood to see Steve Gideon's cabaret act featuring songs from the 60s.

It's been a long time since I've been to a cabaret show like that and thought M Bar did a good job of being very comfortable.

I liked Gideon's music selection -- it reminded me of music I used to listen to on the radio from the backseat of my parents' black VW bug.
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Comedian Erin Foley opened up the show. It's been a long time since I've seen a stand-up routine in person. It's gotta be tough to get up in front of an audience, cold, (many of whom were still finishing their dinner) and try and make them laugh.

I can't say Foley made it look easy -- but she sure worked at it. Fortunately "we have a lot of things to talk about, people" including how Foley got dumped in a Prius Wednesday night.

At least when bad things happen to good comedians they get some material out of it.
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Friday, January 30, 2009

I Could Get Used to This

The ever-thoughtful Rochelle Lewis offered to take me to the Hotel Bel Air for breakfast Thursday for my birthday. She didn't have to offer twice.

What a great place! Rochelle decided she wanted to live there. She checked and the rooms start at $400 a night. I'd like to live there too. But I only had enough money in my pocket for about three hours worth.

So instead we enjoyed a lovely, leisurely breakfast.
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Breakfast was served on the sun-dappled patio, reportedly one of Nancy Reagan's most favorite places to eat. It truly was a lovely meal. But I was a little shocked at how few customers were there given it's reputation as one of Los Angeles' most popular Power Breakfast spots. A sign of the times, I suppose.

But I did see the former Chairman of Warner Bros. and the former Chairman of the Dodgers, Bob Daley leaving as I was going in. So despite the economy the place still has some wattage.
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The sun was shining brightly on the hotel's lush grounds. Not bad for the end of January.
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Some of the world famous swans at the Hotel Bel Air.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Mickey Mouse Rejection

My birthday is in January. So my ears perked up when I heard a radio ad about getting into Disneyland for free on your birthday. If you live in Southern California I'm sure you've heard them too -- a Dad is having trouble entertaining his son on his birthday and the announcer says to bring him to Disneyland for free.

I didn't really have time to go to Disneyland, but I really like the idea that I COULD go for free. I figured you showed up at the front gate, showed them your driver's license and they gave you a ticket.

The day before my birthday I listened to the ad carefully and noticed it said you had to register for the giveaway. So that night I registered, really having no intention of actually going.

But I was really galled when my registration was rejected because you have to sign-up at least 48 hours BEFORE your actual birthday. Somehow they forgot to mention that in the radio ad. And now whenever I'm driving in my car and the ad comes on I just scream at the radio because they refused to give me the free ticket I was entitled to.

I wonder if you can still get a free meal at Denny's on your birthday? I forgot to check it out this year.

But Pann's -- one of the last googie-style architecture restaurants left in Southern California -- sent me a card good for a free meal any day this month because it's my birthday month. I collected on their offer Friday night, having an excellent turkey dinner. No pre-registration, no hassle, just a good dinner for free. (Or at least the first $8 of the bill was comped.)
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sunday afternoon I went to see Steven Fales' "Missionary Position" at the Celebration Theater. Best known for "Confessions of a Mormon Boy," in this show Fales tells of his adventures as a Mormon missionary in Portugal.

It's a funny, touching show -- but the production is still a little rough. It almost seems like a workshop production of a show in progress. Some of the monologues are promising but they aren't tied together very well.

But what is interesting is how movingly Fales talks about his upbringing and how the LDS Church is still so much a part of him, even though he's no longer part of the LDS Church.

And it's absolutely fascinating when he reveals some of the Mormon Temple secrets and actually dons the bizarre ceremonial clothes he wore (and all Mormons wear) at his Mormon Temple wedding.
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Friday, January 23, 2009

Hard Worker!

Seems like I spent the entire week with my nose in the computer working on a couple of projects for work, barely leaving the old home office.

But I did escape long enough tonight to walk to dinner at Koo Koo Roo. Fantastic.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mein Boredom

I was going a little stir-crazy tonight so I went to see "Valkyrie," the new Tom Cruise/Bryan Singer movie. That was a waste of twelve bucks!

How can you take a true story about a group of disillusioned Nazis who plot to kill Hitler and make it so completely uninteresting?

The sets and costumes are impressive, but the storytelling is poorly executed. No wonder the release date kept getting pushed back.

Also, why did some of the Nazis speak with an English accent, some with an American accent and some with a German accent? I know they had to speak English so American audiences would buy tickets, but shouldn't the dialects at least match?

I'm hoping that it gets some Academy Awards nomination this week so tonight wasn't a complete waste of time.
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Monday, January 19, 2009

Pretty Much Back to Normal

Four days after my surgery and I'd say I'm 85% back to normal. I still feel some discomfort from the incision, but nothing to slow me down.

I spent some of Saturday running errands including lunch at Langer's. It felt good to get back to my normal routine.
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Tonight I walked to the new frozen yogurt shop that's opened in my neighborhood -- The Yogurt Stop.

Interesting concept: 1) Under the "Pump It Yourself" sign you pump your own frozen yogurt; 2) add any toppings from the toppings buffet; and 3) pay for it by the ounce. The price seemed pretty reasonable to me.

The owner (in the photo) seemed very happy to finally have his store open. I had my eye on the location during construction and it sure seemed like it took a long time. Still, it's got to be a pretty scary time to open a new retail enterprise -- particularly along a stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard already filled with ice cream stores (and the ghosts of others which have failed).
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Resting Comfortably

I didn't do any cartwheels today -- but I'm at home resting. The pain from the incision seems to be lessening. I'm backing off the vicodin.

I'm up and about, venturing out into the real world twice today.

One of my surgeons told me yesterday there were "no surprises" during the surgery on Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mac the Knife

Every now and then a little reality interrupts the glitter parade.

I'm scheduled for hernia surgery on Wednesday. It's the first time I'm spending the night in a hospital since I was born.

I expect to be released from the hospital on Thursday and I'm hoping for a very short convalescence.

Most people think of a hernia as resulting from picking up something too heavy. In my case my surgeon tells me it's a defect I've had since I was born.

Interestingly, I learned today that my Father and BOTH my Grandfathers had hernia surgery in their day. So I'm just going to think of it as carrying on a grand family tradition.

The hospital tells me not to bring any valuables so I've had to give up on live blogging from the recovery room on my laptop.

Talk to you on the other side -- not FROM the other side.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Number are Way Off

Not unlike the stock market and the economy in general, my ability to successfully pick the Golden Globe winners is way down this year.

First at look back:

In 2006 I got 9 out of 13 (69%) right.
2007 -- 9 out of 14 (64%)
2008 -- 10 out of 14 (71%)

So I'm humbled to report this year I only got 6 out of 14 (43%) correct.

I did get the two Best Pictures right -- "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Vicky Christina Barcelona" -- but fell down pretty quickly on the rest.

Oh well, on to the Oscars.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Vegas, Baby

I'm in the midst of a short weekend jaunt to Las Vegas. It's been nearly two years since I've been here and the amount of construction going on is amazing -- especially the mid-strip City Center development.

With the Consumer Electronics Show going on this is normally a busy weekend in Las Vegas. But the effects of the economic downturn can't be missed. Usually traffic on the Las Vegas Strip is gridlocked -- I haven't seen much traffic. Normally on the weekends casinos are so mobbed you can barely walk through, not so this weekend. In fact the crowds are so light some of the facilities built to handle huge crowds (like buffets) seem downright deserted.

Interesting times.
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Friday, January 09, 2009


The American Cinematheque is showing all five Golden Globe nominees for Best Foreign Language Film so I was able to catch the two I hadn't seen yet.

Wednesday night I went to see "The Baader-Meinhof Complex" from Germany. Completely, absolutely blown away! I've never seen a film that so bravely shows how terrorists become terrorists. This film tell the true story of home-grown terrorists in West Germany during the 60s and 70s. I just sat there with my mouth hanging open. So far this movie doesn't have distribution in the United States -- I sure hope that changes soon.

Tonight I went to see "Everlasting Moments" from Sweden. Set in the first half of the 20th Century, it follows a woman trapped in an awful marriage who turns to photography (which was in its infancy) to express herself. A really moving movie about dysfunctional families.

And finally, this week I rented "Pineapple Express." I didn't think it was all that funny but that didn't stop me from quoting my favorite lines from it all day today. Quotes like "the monkey is out of the bottle" and "Pandora only comes out of the box, she doesn't go back in."

And with that I've now seen every movie nominated for a Golden Globe and I'm ready to predict who I think is going to win on Sunday night. Again, these predictions are who I think the Golden Globe voters are going to choose, not necessarily who I think SHOULD win.

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Vicky Christina Barcelona

Foreign Language Picture
Baader Meinhof Complex

Best Director
Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"

Best Dramatic Actor
Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"

Best Dramatic Actress
Meryl Streep, "Doubt"

Best Actor, Comedy or Musical
Dustin Hoffman, "Last Chance Harvey"

Best Actress, Comedy or Musical
Sally Hawkins, "Happy-Go-Lucky"

Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"

Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, "Doubt"

Animated Film

Peter Morgan, "Frost/Nixon"

Original Score
A.R. Rahman, "Slumdog Millionaire"

"Gran Torino" performed by Clint Eastwood

Play along with me on Sunday night.

By the way, "Piff...Paff...Puff" is apparently what you say when you're taking a picture in Sweden. It's the equivalent of ""
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How great is it to fly to San Francisco and then take BART right downtown? That's what I did on Tuesday. Once I was downtown I took the Muni (above) right to my first meeting.

I always feel so urbane doing that.
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