November 30, 2009

triple threat









We may have been there for Adam and Ivan's birthdays, but anytime at Mike and Steve's house is all about the puppies. Okay, well it is for me, anyway. Meet Josie, Matty, and Wyatt, or as I call em, the triple threat. They're about a year old and as adorable as they come. One unusual thing about them is that they really aren't all that interested in people as far as being scratched or attention - all they care about is the ball (which often means getting you to throw the ball - that's when they care about you). Of course I was wrapped up with the dogs half the time, but the night was a really nice one with some new folks and some I hadn't seen for a while. Mike made an amazing meal and of course there was cake. I won't go into what was on it, but they actually picked up the wrong cake from the bakery. So what's funnier could be what the other people ended up with! If nothing else, it was a good reminder that I really should spend more time in Long Beach.

November 29, 2009

tip it!







Some shots from Universal City, essentially a giant suburban nightmare of a mall that's always best to avoid at any cost, but we were there last night for a show by Kathy Griffin. She may be about the only thing that could get me to go a giant mall in the Valley. But her concert was awesome - tons of new material as she ripped into everyone from Tiger to Whitney to Oprah to Miley, plus it cracked me up that she kept callin the theater "The Guitar Center". My love of Kathy Griffin is no secret to anyone who has read the blog a while. I still wish I could redo that crappy show open for her awesome reality show. I mean, doesn't it just seem right that the guy who did the open for Toddlers & Tiaras would do the open for her show too? She could pay me with a box o' wine and I'd even share it with her Mom. Tip it! For whatever reason, after the evening in Universal that started in West Hollywood, I needed to bring myself back to ground afterward - so we ended up at one of my favorite local dives, the Hermosa Beach Yacht Club, for a game of Big Buck Hunter. I have no idea what the connection is there, but there's one somewhere.

November 28, 2009

thar she blows








Yesterday we took the long way through the Palos Verdes Peninsula so Matt could see the equestrian neighborhoods there (he's a vet) and over the Vincent Thomas Bridge to Long Beach for a whale watching excursion. To our surprise, we saw lots of whales, including fin, minke, and blue whales, not to mention sea otters and hundreds of dolphins. The dolphins really stole the show as they swam along with the boat and seemed to be playing with us as they jumped and flipped along as though racing us. It was pretty amazing and more fun than I would have imagined. It was pretty cold, but worth it to stand out on the boat as we plowed over waves like a rollercoaster as well as to watch the lights from LA to Long Beach as we came back to shore. Given how close and inexpensive and easy it was, I had to wonder why I hadn't done this before. Hopefully I'll be repeating this one often.
  • LAWhaleWatching.com/Harbor Breeze Cruises
  • November 26, 2009

    thanksgiving at the beach






    Ah, Thanksgiving at the Beach. This is when I began this blog 4 years ago (scary huh?) and that day was a lot like today. We seem to often get blessed with unusually nice weather, and this year was no different. My friend Matt is visiting from Manitoba, so we took the bikes for a tour up the beach to Marina Del Rey before turning around and coming back for turkey (even though he already had one Thanksgiving this year). It was fun to see all the people having cooking their Thanksgiving dinners at the campground and at the fire pits on the beach at Dockweiler. After getting back, Matt took charge of the side dishes while I tended to the turkey and (of course) the pecan pie. Everything turned out great, with tons of leftovers (which to me is really the best part of Thanksgiving anyway). My friend Pat stopped in for some pie and beers and we spent the evening like probably a good part of the country - in food coma. Since my family is on the other side of the country, this is the next best way for me to spend the day.

    November 25, 2009

    backtrack: the wedding









    Backtracking again to the weekend in Boston: The main event was George & Joe's wedding on Saturday. It was an intentionally small wedding, so I felt privileged to be included, though after the festivities of the night before, getting there was quite the chore! The wedding itself turned out to be the most genuine and personal wedding I have ever been to. The Reverend did a great job of balancing formal with personal and light touches with emotional moments. Highlights were the interfaith readings, the vows (written by each and kept secret until they were read), and great performances by singer Robert German. Afterward, we were treated to what seemed like endless trays of what could have been amuse bouches from Top Chef while the main room was turned into a dining room for a seriously elaborate wedding dinner. Later that night, many of us met up with the wedding party at the House of Blues for a night of disco. Sure, that may not be exactly my scene (as was probably painfully obvious), but it was still a fun time and I was thrilled to be there with everyone after a day like that. True to form, we ended the night on the street with Fenway Park looking down on us as we chowed down on sausages from a street vendor. It won't be just the newlyweds who remember this wedding for a long time to come.

    November 24, 2009

    backtrack: prenups







    Backtracking to the weekend in Boston: Friday was the prenup party for the wedding. That wasn't what they called it, but its my name for it. We met up in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood at Doyle's Cafe, a Boston institution since 1882. Where else do you find a Guiness sign hanging next to a protrait of a Catholic Cardinal? It was surprising how quickly a group of people who didn't know each other felt comfortable with each other knowing were all here for the same reason. Large contingents from LA, Philadelphia, and Boston and Jersey (including a couple special guests) were all present. What started as a sedate dinner quickly evolved into a long and lively party - it was refreshing to hear people from LA so bad at karaoke. It didn't hurt (or help?) that every time you put a beer down the waitress was right there with another one for you. Wedding dinners generally aren't this fun, but considering the hosts, it should come as no surprise.

    November 22, 2009

    boston lovin









    The last couple days have really been a whirlwind. Friday was the wedding welcome dinner which turned into an all night party, followed by the wedding itself on Saturday that was then followed by reception and dinner, so a couple long and very full days, in every good way possible. Both the party and the wedding were amazing - maybe the most personal wedding I've ever been to, which was really nice; and as it should (though often doesn't), it left a big impression. Needless to say, I have lots of pics from both, so will post more on them later. Beyond that, Boston has been great fun. Its not my first time here, so I'm not sure why it seems so different, but maybe because my other times were all centered around baseball games in bitter cold. What surprises me most is how incredibly friendly people are - everywhere. From people you meet to waiters to hot dog vendors to the guy walking his dog on the street who bothers to say 'good morning' as he passes. Admittedly, most locals I've talked to seem surprised when I tell them that, so I may have just lucked out in my experience somehow. In some ways I've been in a bit of a funk since my birthday in October, I never expected it would be a cold brash northeastern city that broke me out of it. Boston has been anything but cold to me, and I love it for that.

    November 19, 2009

    boston bitchin





    Well since I see most cities at night, why not Boston too? I spent the day getting here for my friend George & Joe's wedding this weekend. Good thing I like them a lot, because it was a day of misery. My own fault for saving a few bucks and flying American, but I guess its been a while and I had forgotten how bad it can be. I would have expected problems today because of the FAA outages, but of course, it turned out that most of the problems were due to carry-ons, which of course are a result of their baggage fees (a 90 minute line at the airport to check bag sizes before the security line, hassles boarding, de-planing and connecting, late takeoffs and angry attendants and passengers because of not enough bin space; along with (unrelated) out of service restrooms, out of stock service items, blah blah blah). Anyway, I'm here. But I really did realize that if I had to fly them often that I probably wouldn't travel as much as I do. (in fairness, United is often just as bad; and I have had good AA flights in the past), but its a far cry from flying Southwest, JetBlue, Virgin, or any european airline. But... the place in Boston is awesome (I rented an apartment in a rowhouse; more on that later) and it was tempting just to veg on the couch after the days hassles. Instead I dragged myself out for what I figured would be pointlessly popping in a couple bars since it was just an hour before closing on a Thursday. To my surprise, despite the streets being empty, there were people out and folks were friendly. It made for a good start of the trip, and a good ending to a bad day.

    November 17, 2009

    lineage





    This complex of five condos is nearing completion in my neighborhood. Its been under construction forever, so its almost hard to remember the empty lot that used to be there. Its surprisingly tasteful for new building in Manhattan Beach (where most new places look like overgrown and incredibly tacky Olive Gardens). Yes, the wood slats look is kinda passé, but I still like it. What I never noticed until yesterday was how much the new complex models itself on the lines of the older tan house next door, as you can see in the bottom picture. From that angle, the lines look very similar, which you really don't notice from any other angle because the complex to the left is monstrous compared to the house on the right. We'll see what happens - the places looks nice, but its on a crazy busy street. I don't know if its intentional or not, but I think the replication of lines from its neighbor is a nice nod to the rest of the neighborhood.