November 30, 2007

take a dip

Last night before the SC game, my friend Dave and I went to one of both of our favorite places in town (I can't take the credit, it was his idea). Phillipe's restaurant has been a part of LA for 99 years and has been in its present location near Union Station since 1951. Phillipe's is known for their French Dip sandwiches - because they invented them. And they're something else (I recommend the lamb, but you can also get one made from pork, beef, ham, or turkey). The story goes that in 1918, Phillipe accidentally dropped a sandwich into some of the juices, but the customer, a policeman, said he'd take it anyway. The next day he came back with friends and asked him for more sandwiches dipped the same way, and thus, the French Dip was born. (I always used to confuse a French Dip with a sandwich "au jus" - there is no juice served with the French Dip, it is just dipped during preparation.) You order at the counter from a "carver", who makes your sandwich there, and you sit at large family style tables. Beyond the sandwiches, they also have all kinds of great old school foods - from macaroni salad, cole slaw and pickled eggs to tapioca pudding and pies - all of which are really good. The floor is covered in sawdust and the walls are covered in memorabilia - including a lot of great photos and remnants from LA's Red Car line; and even the LA Museum of Railroading in the back room. The only bad part about Phillipe's is having to choose between it and Clifton's as where to eat downtown. Both are LA institutions that are not to be missed.

November 29, 2007

sleeping monster

I went with my friend Dave to the SC Basketball game tonight (more on that tomorrow). On the way home we suddenly came across a monstrous airliner that was parked at the Flight Path Learning Center by the airport. We pulled off to take a look, but it was hard to see much. I went to see the first landing of the A380 at LAX last March and it was pretty amazing - most impressively in how quiet it is. I only found out today that the A380 was making a return visit to LA. Qantas brought the plane - this time with their interior completed and fully crewed - to give local business and government dignitaries a short flight (and help encourage them to expand the facilities at LAX), but it turns out that a California law classifies the ride as a gift, so they were unable to take the flight. (Others gladly filled the seats.) It leaves LAX Friday morning at 8am. I doubt I'll make it out for that one, but I was excited to get a second glimpse at this monster. I really wish I could explain or even get across in pictures just how huge this thing is. Its just plane huge.
  • jbd blog March 19, 2007: One Big-Ass Plane
  • November 28, 2007


    My friend George dropped by on his way home from work tonight to help me decorate the tree. Its funny how a tree, some eggnog, and Christmas music can transform things. As he was pulling ornaments out of boxes and wrappings, I realized how many were gifts. My Aunt Susan sends homemade decoration every year, as does my brother and his girlfriend, as well as countless ones from my Mother (including the golden retriever angel on top); not to mention ones I've picked up myself in odd places - even one from my very first rodeo. No wonder I love my tree. It does make me long for going home, though.

    November 27, 2007


    I always go back and forth about getting a Christmas tree for the house. I go back home to my folks over Christmas break, and now that I work for myself, I am able to be away from here even longer. But having a tree isn't just about having it on Christmas Day, its about having it for the season. Plus I have tons of cool homemade ornaments from over the years, especially ones from my Aunt Susan that she still sends every year. So to make it worth the trouble, I have to get it soon after Thanksgiving. I went by the lot on Saturday, but not much was out yet. I went by again on Monday, and there still wasn't much out. But I knew if I didn't get one then, I'd put it off til it was too late, so I found the best one I could. It ain't perfect, but I like that. It may not rival the traditional Berry Bush, but it'll work. The lights went on tonight. Tomorrow, the rest.
  • jbd blog December 24, 2005: The Berry Bush
  • November 26, 2007

    November 25, 2007

    meow mix

    Yeah, everyone has seen the two talking cats YouTube video thats been going around. After seeing it on so many of the most popular video lists I figured I'd finally click on it. Cute. But then I found the translation. Not just funny, but really well done. (Who needs Hollywood writers?) And even better is the second translation video I found. Yup, made me laugh - out loud. Hopefully it will for you, too. (Be warned, the third video is not work-safe language.) But beyond the chuckle, what I also love is how this is a perfect example of the interactive world we live in and how one good thing can create a chain in an unplanned non-commercial way. Marketers are constantly coming up with ways to tap into the viral video thing - and smartly so. But so often their atempts lead to disastrous results (like the make-your-own Chevy SUV commercial that spawned a flood of commercials about their gas mileage and their contribution to climate change and oil dependence; or the Dove soap campaign about the negative beauty images children are exposed to that led to mashups featuring those negative messages from the very same company - which happens to make Axe). The real unintended viral videos always the best ones. I love that. (Until next week when we find out this was planted by a cat food company).

    Here are the three videos - watch em in order:
  • YouTube: Two Talking Cats

  • YouTube: Cat Talking: Translation

  • YouTube: Cats Yelling at Each Other
  • November 24, 2007

    tis the season

    Just a couple views from here for today. The top two show the fires in Malibu. Funny thing is: today was a really beautiful day. When I got up I looked out the front window and noticed how clear it was, except for this haze out toward Malibu. I thought to myself "You'd think there were fires again or something." It wasn't until I saw later on Yahoo News that, sure enough, there were. These pics are from later in the afternoon. The lower ones are also a sign of the season. High tide can bring the waves all the way up to the top of the beach, making for some crazy conditions in really rough storms. Today, it just created sandbars with pockets of water that never seemed to dry out - showing just how far up the water had come. Just some sights of Winter in SoCal.

    November 23, 2007

    warm grits

    A couple weeks ago I stumbled across a website called Polar Inertia. I actually don't know what exactly the site is or how it should be read or used, but to me it seems to be an artspace of photo essays. Thats good enough for me, but I always feel like theres some aspect to the site that I'm missing. Regardless, one of the essays in the current issue is of LA's Toy District downtown, by James Bucknam. The photography is raw and beautiful, and expertly captures LA's downtown. Its our version of grit. In LA, where everything is horizontal and spaces are open and the light is warm, even our gritty and downtrodden areas maintain those qualities. I love how poignantly that is captured, whether intentional or not.
  • Polar Inertia: The Toy District
  • November 22, 2007

    have yourself a beary little...

    Now that we've gotten Thanksgiving out of the way... I'm sure by now you've heard of BearForce1, the worlds first bearband from Holland; but you might not have heard or seen their new Christmas single, "Christmas is Here." So just in time to set the soundtrack for your Black Friday and the rest of the holiday season, here's a link to the video. And if you just don't have a clue whats going on here - relax, its okay to laugh. (Hey Heith, why do they always make me think of you when they dance?!)
  • YouTube: Bearforce1 - Christmas is Here
  • November 20, 2007

    land lords

    There have been several good tv network redesigns lately. Among them are the latest rebrands of AMC, National Geographic Channel, Bio, and QVC. (Yes, QVC.) Another is the much needed rebrand of TV Land. I have to admit I haven't watched TV Land in years, because what used to seem fun and familiar seemed to have become cheap and stale. Design firm Trollback + Company recently refreshed the brand by keying into the emotional context of retro television without falling victim to the expected retro trappings. Instead, they have based the look on the very modern concept of shuffling - much like you would with an iPod - to reflect TV Land as a vast library of retro TV favorites - and therefore a library of the emotions that go with them. Cleverly, catch phrases and icons from shows are often hidden in various ways, and also given equal importance with the show titles themselves. All type is in the instantly recognizable typeface 'Avant Garde', itself a retro but modern typeface - but one that doesn't become a character itself. Instead, the type works as a unifying agent across all elements. It's an intelligent approach that goes beyond the expected approaches, and refreshing to see. I find myself watching the Brady Bunch a lot more often recently. Now if I could only shuffle past Little House on the Prairie.

    Watch a montage of the Trollback redesign of TV Land here:
  • Trollback TV Land redesign
  • November 19, 2007

    November 18, 2007


    The Theme Building at LAX is arguably the most iconic building of Los Angeles. It developed out of original airport plans to have one central terminal building with administration offices, the control tower, concessions, even a movie theater along with elevated walkways that radiated out to individual airline terminals surrounding it. That airport concept never flew, but the architects retained the need for a central theme building to focus and symbolize the rest of the airport. Its only purpose in the final design was as an observation deck and restaurant. In February, a chuck of concrete fell from one of the arches. Further inspection revealed rust and decay that was worse than originally expected, and the Encounter restaurant was shut down while repairs were made. The restaurant re-opened last week, but some scaffolding remains through early next year. You can see in the last couple pics above taken last week that the arches are only steel columns at that point. Some pics of the restaurant can be found in this post from a year ago:
  • jbd blog: just plane cool