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Archive for May, 2008

Sex and The City Pre-Re-View

Posted by evankessler on May 30, 2008

About a month and a half ago I took a constitutional down to Smith Street here in Brooklyn to take in a screening of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Before having the chance to revel in this splendid comedy, I was treated to a bevy of the usual previews. None of them I remember so vividly as that of the long awaited big screen version of HBO’s much loved “Sex and The City” series. The Cosmopolitans, The Comradery, the clothes, the sluttiness, the general uninteresting chatter about relationships…yes all of elements to HBO’s hit series were there. What amounted to a cringe-worthy two minute and thirty second commercial for Summer’s Eve sans product placement had me dreading it’s release. I figured if there was ever a good film atmosphere to hit on the type of girl I would never ever want to date, this would be it.

Now faced with opening day, my worst fears have been confirmed. Nearly every female I know and admire is agog at the prospect of seeing Carrie, the slutty one, the bland one, and the one who ended up being a lesbian in real life, take to the big screen as they figure out if Carrie wants to marry the handsome douchebag who was much more appealing on “Law & Order”. As if 94 episodes over the span of six years wasn’t enough to figure this out, now they have to waste another 5 to 6 episodes worth of time to dwell on the same thing and face the same problems that they’d been facing all long and maybe even wrap up a storyline or two by killing someone off.

So how do I plan to combat the $400 million opening weekend juggernaut that Sex and The City is sure to provide the film industry. First off, you couldn’t pay me in sex to go see that movie. You could however, pay me in sex to loiter around afterwards and talk about how emotional it was or how the funniest part was the line about Charlotte not shaving down there

I could totally sell it with the little knowledge I gained from the trailer and pretend like I just saw the film in an attempt to pick up a woman who might just fancy herself a Samantha, if you or even I know I mean. Or perhaps I’ll spend the weekend partaking in the big sausage fest that every single bar in New york City is sure to be. Actually, I think I’m just going to do my manly duty and barbecue…sigh…

Oh…one last thing…I’m not sure if anyone caught “The Daily Show” last night but I found this Sex and The City bit at around the three minute mark of the Samantha Bee piece to be one of the funniest things I’ve seen on the show in awhile. Check it out:

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The Nerds Are Alright

Posted by evankessler on May 30, 2008

In the course of one’s lifetime, most human beings will see more than their fair share of annoying commercial campaigns. I for one get my fill on a nightly basis every time I tune in to watch a Mets Game. This one activity has provided me with literally hundreds of moments where my viewing patience has been tried. From The NY Smoker’s Quitline to Select Dental all the way to Yankee fans regularly pining over the fact that Derek Jeter has an edge, the advertising selection aired by the flagship network of the New York Mets is downright maddening.

That being said, one ad campaign that has continued to plague nearly any channel I’ve had the misfortune to view over the past year is the campaign for cellular carrier Alltel Wireless. Often times it seems that no matter what channel I flip to, each commercial break will undoubtedly feature a clip about the misfortunes of four nerds who are plagued by their cellular carrier’s inability to compete with the calling plans offered by Alltel wireless. Normally, such a commercial might be as innocuous as any car ad featuring a sportscar tokyo drifting down a mountain road. However, the thing that incites my ire when it comes to Alltel Wireless is their company representative, Chad.

Chad is the All-american ideal. He’s the trusty, friendly, high school quarterback honor student who gets into Yale whereas the four dungeon and dragon playing dorks are inferior, inept and friendless. I think Alltell has got it backwards. Chad should not be their spokesperson ideal. I don’t know anyone who identifies with Chad. Chad doesn’t exist, he’s the embodiment of too good to be true. If he does exist, he’s hanging out with his fellow douchebags Kip, Chet, Chip, and Brad, trying to figure out when they can ambush the nerds andgive them wedgies, not invite them into his circle.

If I learned anything from the 1984 film Revenge of The Nerds, it’s that nerds can be heroes, because there’s a little nerd in all of us. And as a wise nerd once said, “no one’s really gonna be free until nerd persecution ends”. Alltel Wireless tear down that ad campaign!!! Not because I’m offended…just because it’s on way too much and it sucks and it probably makes people more annoyed than it actually makes them consider using your product. Did I mention it’s on way too much?

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Hiccup! The Musical

Posted by evankessler on May 27, 2008

A foul plague descended upon the body of one Evan Kessler this Memorial Day weekend. It was not one the famed ten plagues, but alas it is mentioned in the title of this here post. It all began Friday night, a night that seemed to be just your average Friday night at the beginning of the summer. In the early going I (the aforementioned Evan Kessler) gathered at the new bar, Barrette, on Vanderbilt Avenue with Andrea, Enisha and the one they call Kishore to partake in some outdoor drinking. After two tasty lagers, the one they call Kishore and I headed to the MET foods store and purchased a variety of groceries.

At around 6:30pm a few friends gathered together at the home of the one they call Kishore with barbecue and beer on the brain. The first to arrive was Suli followed by Lauren H which soon gave way to a bigger crowd that consisted of Jeff, Jason, Kayvalyn, Nina, Dmitry, Ahmad, Erika, and Rosario. The fire got going rather soon and just like that there was food on the grill and people were ready to inhale some meaty goodness. I can’t speak to the extent of the riveting conversation, but I think it was ample and pleasant and mostly non accusatory.

Meaty Goodness

Then it happened…sometime in between my 4th beer, my 2nd spicy italian sausage (no entendre) and my 2nd attempt at Poison’s “Talk Dirty To Me” on Guitar Hero my body function became all twisted and I began to hiccup about every 40 seconds on average. I was only slightly phased by this at first as it sort of went with the territory of getting drunk. While the majority of the party continued to play a game of quarters, myself, Jason, and Enisha continued on with guitar hero undaunted, but as the night drew to a close sometime around 1am my hiccups continued on.

For Those About To Rock…Jason’s Not Playing That Song

“At The Drive In…In The Old Man’s (hiccup) Ford”

When I arrived home I fell asleep rather easily with hiccups in tow. As I awoke on Saturday morning, the 1st full day of the three day Memorial day weekend, my first breath was met with a funny breath, a intense internal muscular motion and an accompanying sound, “hiccup,” it said. Confounded, I attempted to drink some water in the hopes that this might quell the minor plague. It did not. I decided that I should go for a walk and that maybe the fresh air would do me good.

As I began to shuffle down Union Street my body still jerking irregularly every 40 seconds or so, I received a call from Andrew Morton. He was running or more appropriately, walking some errands and asked if I wanted to come with. Determined to walk off my affliction, I decided that I would accompany him. Together we walked all the way to Lowe’s on 2nd avenue and 14th street which is way off my radar. It’s as distant a land as Narnia to little British children in a book…though Lowe’s unfortunately contained no talking lions, but I figured maybe the air would be different down in that part of town and put a clamp on my hiccup valve…or maybe they had hiccup valve clamps in the same section where they had their other hardware type clamps. Alas, they did not.

From Lowe’s, Andrew and I made our way up to 5th avenue. We decided that food was a good idea since neither of us had eaten yet. We stopped into Albanese Pizza, a pizza place I had yet to sample. I ordered the Pizza Alla Vodka and the Grandma Slice and a ginger ale. Andrew and I sat down and began to rehash our disgust over Indiana Jones and other summer movie matters and about 4 minutes into the meal-versation, I noticed something…Albanese Pizza is the cure for the hiccups. Rejoice!

Feeling a tinge of victory, the two of us proudly made our way to Barnes & Noble to celebrate the only way we know how, browse through books and then leave. Though, to be fair, Andrew bought a book about the making of Indiana Jones, proudly upping his dork level, even though I did so admire his purchase.

That’s where we split off. Andrew went home to enjoy his new purchase and I went home to prepare for my evening of revelry. For that evening, I was invited to participate the in the birthday festivities for my boss, Josh. Although I wasn’t sure I whom I would be hobnobbing with, I thought I should look and feel my best…so I lazed out for the next few hours. Unfortunately, some time around 5:30, there it was again…”hiccup,” even more pronounced…bigger, badder, meaner….”hiccup”. I could not contain my disdain for the error in my body’s basic function. It was a cruel trick played on me by the lord himself. Had he smote me for being such a poor follower of the Torah? Was I the most heathen of sinners? Maybe…but I didn’t get a straight answer when I begged the lord to tell me. I guess that means there is no god and we are all at the mercy of our bodily functions.

As I pondered the meaning and the embarrassment that would surely be cause later by these persistent breathing gaffes, I made all efforts to make them go away. Laura Bassett told me to drink ten consecutive sips of water, swallowing them all, and then inhaling ten more times and letting out a large exhale. Much to my surprise this worked. Hallelujah. Way to go Bassett!

Unfortunately, I was no Helen Keller to Bassett’s Miracle worker Annie Sullivan routine. The hiccups reappeared an hour later as I readied to take Manhattan by, “hiccup,” storm. However, in a last ditch attempt, I followed some more of Bassett’s home remedy solutions attempting the “spoonful of sugar” trick twice to no avail, as well as the previous victorious solution.

My head slung low and defeat, but bobbing up and down with ongoing spasms, I set out for Manhattan on the subway. Hiccuping along on the F train. As I sat nervously praying for an internal cease fire the woman next to me asked, “hiccups?”. My response, “yeah they’ve been plaguing me all day.” To which she quipped “I was just making sure you weren’t going to throw up.” At this point I assured her I was not about to vomit all over her…but just then…and amazing thing happened. One minute passed….Two minutes passed…Three minutes passed…nothing. I was once again hiccup free. Had the random conversation startled them out of me or was the sugar method just beginning to kick in? It didn’t matter…the hiccups seemed a thing of the past.

As I arrived at the party for my boss on the Lower East Side, I had an overwhelming wave of relief, but also an inkling of caution. Could I hold of these foul symptoms for the rest of the night? Were they gone for good? Only time would tell. I dug into the party with aplomb, chatting it up with partygoers and settling into a long hiccup free conversation with the birthday boy’s old friend Maryann, a Montessori School teacher from Connecticut. I could identify easily with her seeing as I went to Montessori School for a year as a child and knew what the deal was. Though I’m aware most people don’t like talking to their jobs we eventually got onto other things. The drinks flowed and the conversation went for a good portion of the night.

Sometime near the 11:30 hour though, that foul temptress “hiccup” reared it’s ugly head and once again took control of my esophageal muscle function…or whatever muscle it has to do with. They were upon me yet again. Though they seemed less daunting because I was embroiled in conversation and I figured they would go away. Eventually, we sat down and joined some other folks at the party. One of which shares a last name with the purveyor of this site, though I was confident we had no relation. Despite the confidence being rewarded me and the Kessler in question took a fascination with each other’s nominal similarity and riffed on that for awhile.

Random Kesslers Unite

I think it was a little after midnight when another partygoer, Ben, and I attempted to get people to move matters to a local bar. Unfortunately we had no takers and ended up at Max Fish, “hiccup”, for one more beer. I arrived had home still smarting from my bout with the hiccups but hoped that a little more rest would not allow this Memorial day weekend to be in vain.

I woke up at 6:22 am on Sunday morning, “hiccup”. Now, this is where it gets kind of gross…but only for a brief spell. There was a feeling that some food may have been lodged in my esophagus. This is what I perceived had been causing the hiccup. In my attempt to purge myself of the blockage I made my way to the bathroom and stuck my finger down my throat repeatedly. “Hooah…drip…drop…hiccup”…. Damn! “Hooah…drip…drop…hiccup. Damn…I guess that won’t do.” As I rid myself of what I thought to be causing this vexing problem I had an intense burning in my throat and chest area. Having just vomited out a thin dark brown liquid that I assumed was bile or stomach acid…I was in a bit of a panic. I wondered whether or not the emergency room was the most valid option for the next few minutes.

However, just then I came to the realization that this felt a lot like a more intense version of heartburn/acid reflux I had previously encountered. Luckily, I still had a roll of antacid tablets in my room and surmised that it would probably be a good time to use them. Upon the deployment of two Tums, the burning eased to just below a simmer and the pain more or less subsided, but one thing remained constant, “hiccup.” Ugh…this was going to be a long day.

My plan for Saturday had been to go to Rockland County with Suli for Joe D’s BBQ in the Burbs. However, I had to make sure that I’d be alright to make it the entire trip without feeling the need to vomit out more disgusting discharges. Despite an original negative diagnosis on Plan A, I decided it was too beautiful a day to let it go to waste laying in bed flailing about with every involuntary muscle contraction. Instead I would flail about in Suli’s car and in a deck chair in Joe’s backyard…and if crisis should strike, Joe’s house was only seven houses down from my house, so if I felt ill, I could just go to the old bedroom and crash out.

As I took the train over to Williamsburg, my fits continued…still as frequently as they started…nearly every 40 seconds or so, give or take. Part of me was wishing for a miracle like the one that had happened the day before. A curious stranger would ask if I was going to vomit on them, I’d say no and my hiccups would vanish into the ether. Unfortunately, no such strangers took even a passing interest in the noises or minor gyrations being made by my body. It was one of those trips that everyone minded their own business, and I can’t say I didn’t prefer it that way…but maybe just maybe the cure to the hiccups was someone caring whether or not your hiccups would be cured…like that woman on the train the day before. Oh well, I guess I wouldn’t know.

I met Suli by his car around 2:30 in the afternoon. I explained to him the situation. He jokingly remarked that listening to me with the hiccups all car ride would be annoying. Nonetheless, we made our move in the car towards Pomona, my affliction still audible. By this time the repeated muscular motion had also become a tad bit painful. Throughout the ride I took sips of water and tried to cure my disease with multiple home remedies that I had already attempted. At one point while I was attempting Bassett’s method that had worked on me the previous day, Suli asked me if I watched “The Wire”…I was in the middle of inhaling ten times so I couldn’t answer but began to crack up. I thought the infusion of laughter and break from my regular breathing pattern might help things. My hiccups seemed to skip a beat…but forty seconds later there they were again.

Rather than give up, I pressed on with the Bassett method and finished my ten breaths as Suli asked if I watched “30 Rock”. Luckily, I had finished before breaking into laughter, because from that point on my hiccups went on hiatus for a bit.

Soon after that we arrived at Joe’s place and I was feeling a little tentative about drinking. Instead I sat drinking cups of water as I sat around with several foreign and several familiar faces enjoying chips, dips, and conversation. I have to admit, I really had no part in the conversation, partially because I was concentrating on my breathing like a mom going into labor while coincidentally sitting next to someone who was eight months pregnant, but also because I had no idea what any of the conversation was about. People were talking about recent Rockland things and Rockland people and places that I did not frequent because i don’t live there anymore. It felt bizarre…but I was more concerned about letting loose once again.

Meat…Pre-Goodness

Maybe an hour or so had passed since my hiccups had been gone and seeing as though I was at a barbecue, I thought it would be safe to nurse one beer. I was wrong. I had nearly finished the one beer in hand and was about ready to enjoy a tasty burger and dog when lo and behold my enemy emerged from it’s cave beyond my throat, “hiccup. Jesus Christ!” That was the last beer I drank all day. Water was the only drink on my menu.

A little later on after Suli and I arrived Joe’s friend Katie arrived with her daughter Frankie. A bunch of went out into the yard and started playing catch. Frankie then came and joined us as we threw around the frisbee. The multiple games of catch, “hiccup”, soon gave way to wiffleball with the little girl being the common teammate on both sides. She had boundless energy and quite the affinity for swinging the bat. However, after awhile Suli, Joe, and I opted out and one of the other BBQ-ers, Chris stayed put for batting practice.

Exhausting Outdoor Activity

My problem more or less persisted throughout the day until sometime around 8pm. Joe and Suli had just finished playing hide and seek with Frankie and I was the next victim on the child entertainment hit list. It’s not like she was a difficult little girl, so it wasn’t as much of a chore as I’m making it sound, but I was sort of physically exhausted from my bout with myself that I would’ve rather stayed put. If anything I thought I would just feel worse after running around, but after approximately five rounds of hide and go seek and fifteen more minutes of batting practice, I suddenly noticed that I wasn’t doing something….

Ah….it was a pleasurable ride home when Suli and I left probably around 9pm. The simple act of sitting in a car without the hiccups felt enjoyable. To be honest though, my throat felt a bit raw from all of the muscular strife. When Suli pulled up to my corner in Brooklyn, I decided to reward myself with an ice cream cone to celebrate the latest cessation of obnoxious muscular motion. Tasti-D was sweet. Getting home to relax was sweeter. The next day was memorial day and I’d be in tip top shape to get my BBQ on one more time. The weekend would be salvaged.

To soothe my raw throat I went down to the kitchen to make myself some chamomile tea. I reached up to the cupboard to search for the teabag when suddenly…”hiccup…Jesus Christ…what the crap!” Cue Laura Bassett…”How was your day? How are the hiccups?”…”ugh, they just came back.”

The rest of the evening I sat in my room hiccuping away. I called my mom to see if she had any home remedies and pondered going to the emergency room after reading a passage in webMD that read:

Hiccups that last longer than 48 hours are called persistent hiccups. Hiccups that last longer than a month are called intractable hiccups. While very rare, intractable hiccups can cause exhaustion, lack of sleep, and weight loss. Both persistent and intractable hiccups may be a sign of a more serious health problem and must be checked by a doctor.

There are many known causes of persistent or intractable hiccups, including:

  • Central nervous system problems, such as cancer, infections, stroke, or injury.
  • Problems with the chemical processes that take place in the body (metabolic problems), such as decreased kidney function or hyperventilation.
  • Irritation of the nerves in the head, neck, and chest (vagus or phrenic nerve).
  • Anesthesia or surgery.
  • Mental health problems.

Well, none of that sounded very good to me, “hiccup”. However, I decided against the emergency room because sitting in a room with sick people for seven hours sounded none to appealing. Instead, I took my mom’s advice, took a benadryl and went to sleep.

The next morning felt like a miracle of sorts. There was nary a sound except my breathing and occasional burping…oh…and when I spoke that made a sound too. I still wasn’t feeling completely right. My diaphragm or whatever muscle it was that had constantly been moving for 48 hours was exhausted and my throat still felt absolutely raw. I spoke softly and cautiously and drank nothing but water for the early portion of the day.

At around 3pm I met up with Arby and headed over to Abbi’s Memorial Day BBQ. I had resigned myself to not drinking after the events of the previous day, but I was open to trying a beer. The BBQ itself was quite a whirlwind of activity but my activity was mostly contained to a small gust of said whirlwind that centered around the lone table. I spent most of the day conversing with Arby, Marie, Abbie,Jenny, Felecia, Robert, and the latter two’s new roommate Megan. Despite my presence, I was still not in tip top shape. Each bite of meat I partook in seemed to be bring twinges of pain while making it down my esophagus. I was hungry but also cautious. Drinking brought discomfort as well. While the hiccups had yet to re-emerge I was wary of continue activity to bring it back. However, sometimes all the fun of a memorial day BBQ can be enough to induce a little daring…though not a helluva lot when extreme discomfort is the price.

Sometime around 5pm I started with beer one. An hour or two later after no ill effects beer two was taken care of…though some uncomfortableness and fear of the H-word lingered. I was all set to call it quits on the drinking front when close to our exit at around 10:30pm I was offered a glass of wine and being the idiot I am I took it and tempted fate a little more. I was also annoying urged to attempt trying the hula hoop despite my urging that I wasn’t really feeling well. However when an entire party with your “good friend” as the ring-leader is telling you to try the hula hoop you look like an asshole the longer you hold out, no matter what your reason. So, after my half assed attempt at the hula hoop that took a long drawn out urging to induce, not only did I look like a total asshole, I felt like one too.

As a group of four or us, consisting of myself, Arby, Robert, and Megan, walked home…I was still not really feeling comfortable about the things happening inside my body not related to the reproductive system or hula hooping. However, at the urging of Arby, and much to my chagrin the group decided to go into the Park Slope Ale House for a night cap. Arby bought everybody two rounds of vodka sodas for a night cap and despite my attempts to not further tempt fate and deter everyone from accepting his attempts to prolong the evening, drunk people don’t listen to reason and once again, I was put in the position of looking like an asshole if I didn’t accept this offer. I begrudgingly partook in the nightcap because I have no willpower and had about a drink and a half before we all left the bar to go home.

I went home fully expecting the hiccups to re-emerge as I attempted to write a post for the Trendliest. However, my sleepiness took hold and rather than wait for the dreaded contraction to happen, I just went to sleep. When I woke up Tuesday morning the body of Evan Kessler felt as good as new…or at least a little worse than it’s normal self, sans-hiccups.

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Indiana Jones And The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull

Posted by evankessler on May 23, 2008

As I entered the Ziegfeld theater on opening night of Indiana Jonesand The Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls I was constructing my own “Horribility Scale” whereby I would rank the film on a scale from one to ten, one being Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom (mediocre but enjoyable), Ten Being the Star Wars Prequels (mind blowingly horrendous). Having been conned into George Lucas’ three Star Wars prequels my cynical expectation for IJATKOTCS was to come in at an even nine on my previously laid out scale, even though I hoped for it
to exceed expectations and surprise me with about a four and a half.

The curtains opened up and this reviewer felt a chill of excitement. The screen was revealed as as was the action, opening with a gopher emerging from a hole and a 50’s Era teen-drag race type scene…I was a tad bit unsure that I was in the correct theater. Despite my original misgivings the film opened with promise. The first fifteen to twenty minutes were a dose of Jonesian delight. Although Indy himself looked a little long in the tooth the action that ensued complete with relics, evildoers, and some cranium kicking from a creaky old man set the film off on a relatively rollicking pace. It was more or less all downhill from there. The more characters that became involved in the action, the more the plot resembled that of the film Goonies. A bunch of friends were hunting for buried treasure as the bad guys were hot on their tail. The whole film seemed like a scavenger hunt of sorts. Thestrength behind the films like Raiders of The Lost Ark and The Last Crusade was that the archaeological relics being sought out had somewhat of a known historical basis and a connection was built to the importance of that which was sought. In The Last Crusade for example, the Holy Grail was more than just Jesus’ cup, it was a bridge between Indiana and his father. The Crystal Skull in this film seemed so foreign that not even the characters knew why they were looking for it. All everyone knew is that it had some psychic power and that Cate Blanchett wanted it and it drove another guy crazy that Indy used to be friends with. Often times it seemed like the only reason anyone wanted to find the Crystal Skull is because they finally had the directions to get there. The other angle played up in the film was, of course, the reunion of Indy and Marion Ravenwood. As nice as it was to see Karen Allen back on screen again and the two arguing just like old times…it was really unneeded.

Another strong point of the other two sequels was that they never stopped to consider the film or films that preceeded them. This film feels like it dwells on a relationship built up 27 years ago…but that relationship doesn’t necessarily weigh on anything that occurs throughout the film, but nonetheless provides a few one liners.

The rest of the supporting cast felt a bit wasted. While Cate Blanchett is always a pleasure to watch, she never angered me with her evilness…and it seemed like no thought went into writing John Hurt’s character, they just lazily said he was crazy from the Crystal Skull. Ray Winstone played the token worthless fat guy and Shia LeBeouf wasn’t unenjoyable and lord knows he certainly injected some youth into the proceedings as Indy’s travel partner and initiator of the plot thickening trip to Peru. I’d say more but I don’t do spoilers. Lebeouf participated in plenty of action sequences that might cause me to give up my suspension of disbelief altogether.

As harsh this review has been, I’m not sure the film deserves a ten on my haphazardly formulated horribility scale. I’ll give it a seven and a half and a hearty “DAMN YOU SPIELBERG AND LUCAS!” for ruining such a good thing by making part IV. I’ve already put the $12 I’m not spending on Indiana Jones V: Mutt Williams and The Sasquatch Trail of The Pacific Northwest, into a savings account so I can hopefully make my money back by the time that comes out.

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Anticipation

Posted by evankessler on May 22, 2008

Dun-duh nuh nuh…Dun duh nuh…Dun duh nuh nuh. Dun duh nuh nuh nuh…Dun duh nuh nuh…Dun duh da…Dun duh da dun da da dun…duh da!

Are you as excited for the above as I am? I know you’re probably saying “What the hell is that anyway?” That’s my phonetic Indiana Jones theme musical intro. And no it’s not just my phonetic musical intro that I’m excited about, it’s the return for perhaps my favorite character in movie history, Dr. Henry Jones Jr. a.k.a. Indiana Jones.
A little over a week ago several friends and I reserved our seats for the fourth installment in the Indiana Jones series which before then I would have referrred to as the Indiana Jones Trilogy but will hereafter be calling a quadrilogy. So this thursday…or today (as this was written pretty close to midnight on wednesday) we’ll be taking to the Ziegfield theater for the 7:15 screening of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skulls.

There are certain to be legions of film dorks on hand dressed as Indy…but hopefully not as Nazis, for the character’s first big screen appearance in 19 years. I still recall with fondness seeing Raiders of The Lost Ark on videotape at home and both the second and third films in the theater. I have a not so fond, yet crystal clear recollection of my mom covering my eyes and dragging me out of the theater during the heart removal scene in 1984’s Temple of Doom. She had heard about the scene from a friend and deemed my five year old eyes too sensitive for the event although I don’t think she held any objection to any of the subsequent scores of cable television screenings in the years that followed. In 1989 I went to see Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade approximately four times in theaters, the majority of which I believe took place at the East Hampton Cinema.

Yes, Indiana Jones to me embodied the spirit of adventure as a small child. Each tale of daring and made me want to be an Archaeologist even more when I grew up. However, sometime between then and now life happened and I never became an archaeologist…but I never lost my love for the excitement embodied by those first three films.

Now on the eve of the 4th and hopefully final installment, I’m filled with skepticism stemming from the ideal that the fact trilogy is a nice, neat word and any numerical prefix beyond that sounds messy and the product tends to be even messier as evidenced by the three Star Wars prequels.

However, there is a tinge of optimism under that veil of deep cynicism. There has been a mixed bag of reviews though most err on the side of positive, because let’s face it, it’ll be nice to see our old friend Indiana Jones once again doing what he does best. I’ll let you know if the ting of optimism wins out sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning. Until then, keep that Indiana Jones theme song dancing around your brain. I know I will.

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The Woodworks

Posted by evankessler on May 15, 2008


Whether or not you consider yourself a member of Generation X, Generation Y, The MTV Generation, or The Generation that really hates to be labeled with letters; if you’re under the age of 40, odds are that you’re currently lumped into a new generation known as the Social Networking Generation. Ever since the dawn of Friendster sometime around 2003 it’s been totally cool to have a digital space to show all of your friends how many other friends you have just in case you want to make them jealous that you might have other people to hang out with besides them or if you want your other friends to find someone attractive within your group of friends they don’t know that they may want to hook up with.

Aside from the glory that comes along with showing off the fact that you are semi-acquainted with more than 116 people, there are some drawbacks that go along with Social Networking. The biggest annoyance is that which I call “The Woodworks”. The “Woodworks” are the group of people from your past who you may have met in school or perhaps during a boating accident that come seemingly out of nowhere or from the deep recesses of the forest known as the Internet to declare that you are indeed friends with them despite having been out of your life for somewhere between ten to fifteen years. While there are a decent portion of these so-called “Woodworks” that are recognized as welcome additions, many of them might as well go back to existing in the vacuum where they came from.

So why do they do it? Why do these Woodworks feel the need to re-establish contact with your metaphorical mission control? Maybe they’re hoping to rekindle a long dormant friendship or rehash some of the good ol’ times. While those possibilities sound marginally fantastic, chances are they just want to add you to their impressive roster of people they sort of know, but aren’t planning on speaking with any time soon.No matter how curious you are about their well being or their whereabouts…all you are to them is a personal ornament on display for their own popularity’s sake that they can occasionally spy on.

This begs the question, why even accept woodworks into your social networking circle? Well, fellow Internet denizen, while there is no positively concrete answer to this query, there are certain acceptable responses; the first is that becoming friends with them may arouse enough curiosity in said person that they might see fit to rediscover your once unbreakable bond. However, the most popular reason for acceptance of said netquaintances is the hope that adding them to your friend roster will result in a future hand job or awkward sexual encounter made possible by a binge drinking outing.

In the early days of Social Networking on Friendster my policy towards “Woodworks” was what I would abbreviate as N.W.A. as in NO WOODWORKS ALLOWED. However, as time wore on though, I found this policy to be harder and harder to follow as more and more actual friends started adding people willy nilly and their friends with whom I was only a casual acquaintance would see fit to add me as a friend. In order to avoid any initial awkwardness that might occur if I were to ever see those people in person again, I would accept them into my circle.

As Friendster died out and Myspace emerged on the Social Networking landscape with shirtless abandon, I found myself reasserting my NWA policy. There was a certain incident early on where I rejected someone who had been very nice to me in High School because I was certain of the fact that I wasn’t going to ever hang out with them, thus there was no point to accepting their digital friendship. When people on Myspace friended me whom I didn’t recognize I would politely send them an email asking, “To what to do I owe the pleasure of this friend request.” Most responses were along the lines of “I”m friends with your friend” or “you seemed like a cool person” and despite my initial policy, I found myself hypocritically allowing them to join the exclusive “Friends of Evan Kessler Club”.

It was also towards the beginning of the reign of Myspace that another “Woodwork” approached me to join another Social Networking site called Multiply. The “Woodwork” in question was a girl I knew from summer camp who barely ever gave me the time of day. Despite my initial misgivings and my general feelings about “Woodworks”, I joined the site.

Within a week of being on the site, I had written a post about my disenchantment with the site’s features. However, I was unaware that unless specified, the post would go out to the entire site. As a result, the particular “Woodwork” in question was mortified by my opinions due to the fact that she was friends with the developers. She asked me not to say anything negative about the site, which was essentially asking me not to have an opinion. I thought this was the lamest thing I had ever heard and never really attempted to use the site again. I should have spent the next week spewing negative comments just to spite her, but that wouldn’t have been very adult of me. Either way, I didn’t owe her anything. All she had ever given me was a lame new way to socially network with people I didn’t care about with a side of unwarranted criticism.

Now as we bask in the Facebook period of the Social Networking Era…we’ve been blessed with many gifts. We have the ability to play scrabulous with our friends online or digitally poke them when we’re not physically trying to poke them. However, one thing still persists and that’s the “woodworks”. Nary a day goes by when someone doesn’t come out of the woodwork to say, “Hey Evan, we were friends once…let’s be friends and ignore each other just like old times.” While I don’t claim to be utterly faultless in this ultimately painless though soulless act, I try my best to combat it. It’s as simple as writing a note that says…”Hey how’s it going?” See, it’s not so hard to at least pretend you care.

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Irvine’s Fine…L.A.’s O.K.

Posted by evankessler on May 9, 2008

Nearly nine days have passed since my last post and to say the past week plus has been quite the adventure would probably be somewhat of an overstatement. That’s not to say it wasn’t an adventure. My days and nights in the Golden State were fueled by the elements of family, baseball games, beer, freeway travel and gatherings with old friends. Ultimately some excellent times were had, but I’m certainly glad to be back at my home sweet home in Brooklyn after a week spent in smoggy Southern California.

The trip started out innocently enough on April 30th with a non-stop Jet Blue flight with a noontime departure from JFK airport. Despite all of the knocks on Jet Blue for their recent struggles, I’m more or less resigned to the statement that flying on that airline is always better than most other domestic carriers. Sure they don’t give you meals, but airline meals are usually horrendous and they give you snacks and water, which is really nothing to complain about. For the better part of the flight I just vegged out watching TV and doing a crossword puzzles. My television diet mostly consisted of ESPN News, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Scrubs on Comedy Central. I had my computer with me on the flight, but I was not feeling up to working on any writing. This was the beginning of a vacation for my brain.

When I landed at Long Beach Airport at around 3:15pm, we deplaned rather quickly. There was not a lot of sitting around inside, waiting for a gate to be attached. Instead we emptied out onto the tarmac and I shuffled my way inside the tiny terminal dragging my bag behind me whilst accidentally knocking into a few people. I wasn’t familiar with the width of this particular suitcase on account of it being the first time I’d used it and I hadn’t gotten the hang of maneuvering it.

Upon passing through the gate and making my way through the miniscule baggage claim area I was more or less mugged by my Aunt who was wandering around looking for me. With nothing to get at the baggage claim we made our way to her car. As we did my aunt pointed out the architectural splendor of said airport…not so much because of it’s wonderful design, but more or less because it looked like a large marina or even a yacht. It was a hole in the wall of an airport if you could ever characterize an airport as such. Either way, it was delightfully hassle free. We were out of there in no time and back at her and my uncle’s Irvine abode.

Upon arrival I was greeted by my Uncle Doug, who had just woken up. Normally you’d think that anyone waking up at 3:45pm is a lazy old sloth…but Doug is just the opposite. He goes on 50 mile bike rides quite often so the rest is well deserved. Not long after the arrival at Casa De Melanie and Doug dinner was being cooked up on the grill. My aunt had prepared some steak and corn much to my delight.

“The A”

When dinner ended it was off to Angels Stadium or as those in the OC affectionately refer to it, “The A.” My aunt had purchased tickets to the Angels-A’s game and I couldn’t have been more excited. Baseball games are one of my two favorite sporting events to attend, so I always relish the chance to visit a stadium I’ve never been to before. That’s not saying much, since I’ve only been to probably 6 parks at the most…but this one was certainly a unique experience due to the fact that the Disney corporation owns the team. During the player introductions you could tell that this was an atmosphere built for entertainment. As each player in the starting lineup’s name and positions were announced fireworks were unleashed from the mountain beyond the center field wall, then when that ended the Train song “Calling All Angels” came blasting from the loud speaker and all of the displays in the stadium were listing every great moment in Angels history and all of the great players who had ever been on the team. I thought I was there for a special night where some past Angel legend was being honored but as it turned out…this is pretty much how it goes every night.

Angels Calendar Night as presented by Melanie and Doug

After all of that fanfare came a rousing version of the National Anthem by 11 year old, California Native Taylor Longbrake. It’s not often I’m impressed by kid singers but this kid had a voice…and not a Britney Spears singing on Star Search voice either. It was a legitimately good rendition. I think that kid is going to end up being a star , having a drug addiction and end up eventually having paparazzi follow her around until she has a nervous breakdown, or if she’s lucky she’ll go the Christina Aguilera route and get married and have a baby after showing her vagina in her videos the first few years of “adulthood”. She was that good.

Angels In The Outfield

Calendar Night as Presented by Evan Kessler

In any case, once the game started things sort of settled down. A lot of the fans didn’t really seem to be focusing on the game unless they felt like yelling at the third base coach for not waving a runner home. In between innings was it’s own show. There were a ton of sponsored segments including one where a kid had to steal 3rd base and run it to the finish line so he could win some prize. There was also a 50’s style waitress from a 50’s style diner delivering shakes and floats to random crowd members on the jumbotron and promotions for tire companies. There was even a vendor selling fruit cups in the stands. Fruit cups? At a baseball game? On the plus side, I don’t recall them playing “Sweet Caroline”. The game itself was an Angels romp. I think they won 5-1 or 6-1. The worst part about going to the game was that no one playing for either team was on my fantasy team. Fortunately, I could root against the A’s pitcher who was on my weekly opponent’s team. It was around 10:30pm when the game ended and we headed back to Irvine and had some dessert before heading off to bed. It was about 2:30am New York time when I fell fast asleep in my cousin’s uber comfortable bed.

I woke up the next morning around 9am and quickly shared a family breakfast before Melanie and Doug took me out on a hike to Crystal Cove and El Morro Canyon. We didn’t take the more treacherous hike because I had planned to pick up my rental car at around 3:30pm and head into the Los Angeles area. However, it was nice to wander through the scenic landscape as I felt as though I had spent the entire day before sitting on my ass on both the plane and at “The A.” God knows I’d probably be sitting on my ass driving around all week too. The entire hike I was on the lookout for wildlife as I had asked Doug if we might see anything and he mentioned Rattlesnakes, Bears, and other things. I was more concerned about the Rattlesnakes, but as it turns out we only happened upon a few rabbits.

Hiking Up El Morro Canyon

After the hike Melanie and Doug wanted to take me to a historic beach reserve on Crystal Cove where the last remnants of “Eclectic Californian Beach Architecture” were preserved in order to more or less prevent yet another expensive beach resort from popping up. Apparently the architecture mostly consisted of meager shacks. Alas, if I was going to pick up my rental car and head to LA, I didn’t have time for this Orange County landmark. Instead we went to my Aunt and Uncle’s 2nd favorite Mexican restaurant, El Ranchito (I think), since they insisted I had to have California Mexican food…and I quite agreed.

The meal came with a little Mexican flag implanted firmly in my enchilada. When I finally had the tasty treat in my mouth I was awash in culinary delight. I quite approved of my first Southern California restaurant experience.

From the restaurant, we made a quick stop at my Aunt’s place where I showered and packed up my stuff. We then made our way to Enterprise rental car in nearby Tustin, where I picked up my shiny black Chevy Cobalt…and with directions in my hand and my aunt leading me to the entrance, I hit the freeway on my way to Los Angeles.

It was about 5:30pm when I rolled up in Los Feliz (not pronounced like Fay-lease like in Feliz Navidad, but like Feel-iz) and found the perfect spot directly in front of my old roommate Jill’s apartment where I had planned to stay at least the first evening. However, neither Jill or her boyfriend Phil had come home from work yet. As a result, I parked my shiny American-made rental and wandered around the neighborhood. Along my wander I had Pinkberry for the first time and passed a few notable spots such as Fatburger, what seemed like a dingy run-down strip club call Cheetah’s, and a whole in the wall tiki bar.

When I returned from my walkabout, both Phil and Jill were home and I made my way inside to their comfortable one bedroom with certainly ample couch space for me to eventually lay my head once it were to become weary. We didn’t waste a whole lot of time sitting around. I had told Jill and Phil about the Tiki Ti and Phil immediately gave it high marks…and just like that we were off and the Jill and Phil show began. I honestly hadn’t planned on spending so much time with them all week, maybe a night or two, but it just sort of worked out that way.
Our first stop on Thursday night was was the memorial Elliott Smith wall that was the cover of his Figure 8 album…it was just down the street from our first drinking destination, the Tiki Ti.
There is no beer at the Tiki Ti, just drinks that don’t advertise what’s in them. I had a drink called Ray’s Mistake that was rum based. I don’t quite remember what my compadres had, but all indications were that they were satisfied. After one drink…it was off to the Silverlake region and Casita Del Campo where the three of us engaged in several games of pool, two or three beers as well as some enchiladas. It was good eating and good drinking. The decor of the place was kind of fun with a big mural of the Virgin Mary right behind the pool table. It was a kind of cool vibe. Sometime during our first pool game Phil said that John C. Reilly was at the restaurant but the guy he pointed out didn’t necessarily look like him, and it really wasn’t a big deal. It’s not like any of us were going to ask him to become our lifelong friend and he would oblige.

Phil Picks His Shot As Mary Watches On
Jill in Front of A Weird Mirror

Soon enough we had our fill of Casita del Campo and we made the move to a bowling alley in Eagle Rock. The bowling alley bar also had karaoke but it was the sad kind of karaoke where 3 people are in a bar and no one pays attention to them. Instead, we met with Jill’s friend’s Laura and Shane (I could be making both of those up) for a round of bowling. It seemed as though I had one of the least fruitful games ever of knocking down pins but I somehow ended up over 100…a small victory for bowling-kind.

The night did not come to a close after our bowl-a-thon. We went back to Los Feliz and hit up two bars within walking distance from Jill and Phil’s place, Ye Rustic Inn and The Drawing Room. We hung at the latter til last call and stumbled on towards Jill and Phil’s apartment, but not before they pointed to show me Glen Danzig’s house across the street from them and even posing for a few ridiculous photos.


Phil Sta
nding On Top of Something

Friday morning I woke up feeling anxious. I had plans to hang out with my friend Stephy P whom I met in Miami in the early afternoon and the evening called for a get together of old friends at the Cat and The Fiddle in Hollywood. Unfortunately, I slept a little later than I should’ve and I think my time with Stephy was a little rushed. It took a while for me to drive over to her apartment because I had to mapquest it and then drive cautiously to a place I had never been. Therein was the problem with a lot of my trip to Los Angeles. It felt as though getting anywhere was filled with great anxiety due to the fact that I didn’t know where I was going. By the time I got anywhere I felt a little frazzled and worrisome and not myself. I even found myself immediately thinking about how I could get to my next destination as I just kept hopping between friends.

Stephy and I did manage to have a good time despite my lateness. She took me down to 4th Street to a restaurant she had wanted to try, but settled on another place called Toast that was more of a sitdown option. We got to talking and eating and just plain enjoying ourselves as we ate on the sidewalk. How I enjoyed that California heat. Stephy seemed to think that the woman sitting behind us was an actress, but I kept taking furtive glances and she didn’t necessarily look familiar to me, but then again I’ve never been good at spotting people.

After our lovely lunch we spent entirely too long looking for Stephy’s car. Neither of us were really paying attention when we parked. If we hadn’t remembered that the house we parked in front of had a Castle like structure on it, who knows how long it would’ve taken us to finally get out of there. It was around 4pm or so when we finally finished our lunch and got out of said lunching area. I wanted to go back to Stephy’s so I could grab my camera which I had left at her house and then head down to the walk of fame. Unfortunately, we didn’t really plan that well for time and by the time we made it out the door it was rush hour and not a good time to attempt to go to the Walk of Fame. Instead, we popped by the Arclight Cinema and Amoeba records…which was a nice little detour. I bought two CD’s and then we headed back to Stephy’s to get ready for the evening’s festivities.

Apparently I had made an ungodly faux pas by making party time 8pm…seeing as nobody goes out until later. I didn’t really mind though seeing as I hadn’t seen some of the people I hoped to see in years and wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. It was around 7:45pm when Stephy and I were picked up in a cab and minutes later we were thrust upon the magical outdoor garden of the Cat and Fiddle. Next thing I knew I was already on my second drink and it was still Stephy and I. Our small party quickly became three as Maureen H became the first reveler to arrive. Luckily we had a central seated area so if any more folks happened to show up.

Hanging Out With Terra and Maureen

Smiley With Stephy

Karaoke Duet Partners Extraordinaire Noelle and Matt

Next to make the scene was Terra H, whom I hadn’t seen since leaving college. Terra and I were really close friends senior year and was one of the one people I wanted to make a point to see on this trip. She showed up with her boyfriend Matt and old roommate Cooper. We were also then joined by another former Syracuse TRF-er Brendan B, who turned up the volume level a bit…and despite this, I was still glad to see him. I didn’t get much more in the way of long lost friends stopping by. Stephy had a few of her friends come by and I barely saw her the rest of the night…though I didn’t mind. I wanted to catch up with Terra and talk to Maureen H. My old Bleecker Street roommate, Matt W also showed up with friend and fellow VH1sters Noelle and Maureen T in tow. Maureen T, a former boss of mine was also just visiting for the week, away from her Philly home base. I had an excellent time catching up with everyone and drinking in the process. On the downside, the person I was staying with that night left before me, which left me in a bit of a panic, but in the end everything worked out just fine. I have to thank Terra for offering me a place to stay even though I didn’t end up taking it.

The next morning I awoke well-rested on an airbed at Stephy’s, but Stephy having her first day off in nearly three weeks had plenty of errands to run. Rather than stick around and stay in her way, I high tailed it to Venice Beach to spend the day with Maureen H in her neighborhood. The freeway trip was a tad treacherous, but overall not that tough. Most directions I had to follow throughout the trip went something like…”make a left…make a right…get on the freeway…switch freeways…get off the freeway….make a left…make a right.” So while some of the places I had to go may have seemed hard to get to I never really had too much trouble getting anywhere.

When I got to Maureen’s she met me outside of her house, which was pretty much in the midst of the Venice Beach canal system. Once I picked her up she directed me to a French place we went for lunch. Maureen and I discussed life in New York, life in LA, and work in general. She even ran into a friend from work right before we were leaving. They spent about 15 minutes talking about work stuff, which I didn’t mind at all, but apparently the entire time they were talking her friend’s husband was sitting in the car waiting for her to pick up sandwiches, which ended up being rather funny.

Our next move in Venice was to find me a spot so Maureen and I could park near her house and wander amongst the Canals. That was taken care of rather swiftly and as we walked amongst the eclectic architectural wonders surrounding the Venice canal system and turned the corner towards Maureen’s home, we came upon a dead duck, feet up in the water. Neither of us had either seen a dead duck before…so it just seemed kind of odd and somewhat ominous. After that major trauma I received a tour of Maureen’s home on the Canal which also had the added bonus of a dock with a canoe, just in case anyone felt the need to row around. Personally, I would’ve preferred a kayak. We sat on the hammock on the roof for awhile as well soaking up some sun. While on the roof we heard a baby duck chirping in the canal. It had seemingly been separated from the pack and was all alone. Maureen being the good Samaritan she is wanted to help the duck find his parents. I didn’t think she should upset the natural order of things, because baby ducks getting lost is just part of nature.

In any case, we soon left Maureen’s house and she took on a tour of the canals pointing out all of the really interesting architectural decisions being made by the home owners on the canals. Eventually we made it to the actual boardwalk where we saw lots of souvenir and sunglass shops. There were a few unremarkable street performers as well as the legendary area known as Muscle Beach. From there we walked up to the skate park and onto the sand. We followed that all the way to the pier which may or may not have been Santa Monica pier. I never asked. We took pictures on it anyway.

Venice Canal York City!

From the pier, we made the move to grab a drink and some minor eats at The Venice Whaler. Our helping of chips and guacamole hit the spot as did my bottle of beer on a warm california day. There were also people walking around giving samples of Margerita as well as mixed drink shakers. I’m not sure what became of my mixed drink shaker but I think I left it at Maureen’s by accident.

On The Pier

After drinking and eating we headed back to Maureen’s apartment and on our way there we happened upon the family of ducks that we had seen leave behind the one duck earlier. An Australian guy in a kayak had returned the duckling to what he presumed to be it’s family. Unfortunately the mother was rejecting the duckling and tried to drown it. Maureen looked on in horror and was begging the mother to “stop”. However, the baby would not be allowed to rejoin the family and Maureen beckoned the baby over to her so she could rescue it. However, as she stood on the edge of the canal dock, some rich lady came out and yelled at her for standing on her tiny square dock that wasn’t really in any danger of being ruined. Thus pretty much ended the duckling rescue mission. Though maybe it was resumed after I left as I was only there for a little while longer.

It was closer to 7pm when I left Venice. I headed back to Los Feliz to meet with Jill and Phil. They had told me about an art show that good bands were playing at downtown, so I felt inclined to join them. It sounded like a good plan for a night out and it pretty much was. We arrived at the venue called “The Smell” and paid $8 to get in despite the fact that they had previously thought it was free before 9pm. It was no big deal. However, we were a little early for the band we wanted to see. Phil knew some guys in a band called The Warlocks that was playing the venue, but they didn’t go on until 11pm, so we went to a place down the street that had horrible pizza couple with a psychotic waiter who gave us death stares for ordering slices.

Phil and Jill at the 107

Once we polished off our horrible pizza, we went to a bar called 107…that seemed like a sweet hangout spot. We nursed a Pabst or two and Phil had a habit of pointing out fake celebrities, whether he was claiming the bartender was Donna’s dad from “That 70’s Show” or that each girl who walked in was one of the Kardashians. It was good for several laughs before we finally went back to The Smell.

The performance space itself was supposedly a dry all ages spot, but Phil took that to mean BYOB according to his knowledge of the place and who was I to argue. I partook in a beer all the while glancing around to see if anyone was going to throw me out. I forgot myself for a moment and walked with my beer to the bathroom and some artist kid who looked like Elton John in 1973…or at least I think that’s what he was going for, looked at me with somewhat of a shocked expression as I nursed my beer while on the bathroom line. He didn’t rat me out though so I guess there was no problem. We only stayed at The Smell for a little bit. None of us really got into the band and Phil found out that all the people he used to know left…but before we hit the road we talked to a lame Andy Warhol wannabe with a light up jacket and Phil put on a nice little dance exhibition before the band came on.

Our night was not over yet. This was Saturday and Saturday’s are meant to go all night long. To keep the party going, we went over to a bar called Little Joy, that Phil had been banned from several years back. When we arrived on the scene it seemed as though no time had passed as he seemed to know everyone at the bar. Jill and I were introduced to his assortment of old bar buddies as well as some girl who was cute but beyond drunk and not much of a talking partner. We hung out there til last call and made our final stop of the evening at an all night diner on the way back…to quell our drunk hunger.

Sunday morning came and although the original plan was to get lunch with my friends who were so wonderfully allowing me to crowd their living space for a few days, that plan got nixed, as I received a call from our old family friend Lorring. Lorring was a Pomona native and grew up two doors down the street from me. He and my brother were best friends when he moved away as a kid, but we all went to Camp Westmont together for quite a few summers. I hadn’t seen Lorring since my last trip to Los Angeles in 2001. Back then he wasn’t married and he didn’t have a child. Oh how things have changed.

From Los Feliz, I mapquested my way to Van Nuys and caught up with my old friend. After parking on the wrong side of the street and then turning around to adjust my situation, I finally made it to his abode. Lorring met me just inside the gate to his apartment complex and just as I walked in the door his 2 year old son Lucas handed me his Thomas the Train figure and told me “Thomas The Train can’t talk”. Lorring and his wife Robyn were more than gracious hosts. They offered me food and drink and plenty of conversation. Lucas ran around wreaking the kind of havoc only two year olds can. I found myself being the willing victim in games of doctor and pizza parlor. All of this took place while Lorring and I watched the Lakers game and reminisced about our days at summer camp and all of the people we were friends with way back when nobody had kids. It was an extremely relaxing way to spend a day…in a la-z-boy with my feet kicked up watching a game and drinking a Corona. It seemed like the polar opposite of the craziness of the previous nights. However, I couldn’t stay all day. I had made plans that evening to have dinner with my friend Stephy after she got off of work. At around 5:30pm, I said my goodbyes and google mapped it back to Los Feliz.

The Happy Family

At around 7:45pm Phil, Jill, and I went to meet Stephy at Gingergrass in SilverLake. We pulled in just behind Stephy’s car and found spots next to each other. The worry before arriving at the restaurant was that it was the super-busy hotspot for tasty Vietnamese food. While we got the second part correct, we were lucky that the “super-busy” part had not come to fruition. We immediately sat down and were met with prompt service. After a more than satisfactory meal we went across the street to Cha-Cha for one drink. Phil thought the doorman was a magician he knew even though he had the wrong guy, he talked to him for awhile…and found up some messed up story that I don’t quite recall. The rest of our night didn’t last too long. I was tired from all of the weekend’s drinking and Stephy wanted to go to the gym. Plus, No Country For Old Men had been rented for the evening in Los Feliz and that seemed like a good plan to me.

I’m not sure what time we got home but it must’ve been around 10pm. The movie was popped in and that pretty much knocked out Jill and Phil. I watched it until the end even having seen it already. There was something about the ending that I felt I needed to see again. In any case, I didn’t really gain any new insight on the film, but I still liked it. As soon as the movie came to a close I hit the couch as Jill’s three cats swirled around the apartment meowing .

Monday morning I awoke very early as my friends readied for the workday. Phil suggested I go with him on the train at 7:40 in the morning. Normally I would’ve thought he was crazy, but I was kind of curious to see what the LA Subway was like at Rush hour. As it turns out…it’s not very crowded. There’s plenty of standing room. We took the red line three stops from Sunset and Vermont to Hollywood and Highland…right on the Walk of Fame. It was there that Phil transfered to the bus and I decided to wander the entire Walk to see every name. I started off at Grauman’s Chinese Theater and took a picture of my feet in Robin Williams’ cement footprints which I wanted to use for an If I Blog It post. From there I walked to La Brea and walked the other side all the way to Gower…then up and down Vine…and back to Grauman’s or at least until I happened upon Kevin Costner’s star. I found this walk to be extremely boring and to tell the truth it kind of left me feeling a little empty. I had just spent a good amount of time traversing an expanse just to look at a bunch of names who had accomplished things that I would never be aware and whom I didn’t really care to look up. Sure there are also people on there that I’m quite fond of as actors and actresses, but looking at their names in a star conjures up less for me than looking at a movie poster of a movie that I like that they’d been in. There were also a few names that really annoyed me on there…Britney Spears and Ryan Seacrest among the few.

Robin Williams and I have the same sized feet

There were also an inordinate amount of buildings dedicated to Scientology that I strolled by. There was an L. Ron Hubbard Gallery, An L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition, and Scientology Testing Center and a Scientology HQ under renovation. Creepy. I almost went in to the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibit, but in the end decided not to for fear of being brainwashed.

Tom and Katie’s New Mansion

After my lengthy stroll along the “walk of fame” I decided that I would go see a movie and luckily, I had happened upon the Arclight theater when walking down Vine. I had walked through the Arclight on Friday with Stephy to get to Amoeba. It was recommended that I should see a film there because of the unique experience it offered. So that was the plan…I decided to take in a 12:05pm showing of Iron Man…a film which I was previously not so thrilled to see. However, there was a sense of curiosity after hearing of it’s colossal opening weekend box office intake and overwhelmingly positive reviews. As I approached the ticket counter and told the cashier what I wanted to see, he responded by asking me “where I wanted to sit”. A box office cashier had never asked me this before. This question was usually reserved for whichever friend you were going to see a movie with. As it turns out, Arclight has assigned seating and ushers to show you to your seat. Pretty cool.

Anyway, as I entered theater 10 an usher was speaking telling people to stay until after the credits were over for a special surprise. Another usher showed me to seat 16N and as I sat through a host of interesting trailers I readied myself for the ultimate movie experience. I don’t really feel like wasting time on a film review here since this post is already ultra-long, but I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. was great in it and I generally just felt like I was having fun the entire movie. As for what happens after the credits…you’ll just have to see for yourself.

When I left the Arclight theater after the end of Iron Man, I more or less headed back to Jill and Phil’s place for a little R&R and even a shower prior to heading out for the evening activity. I had procured several tickets for the Mets vs. Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on the cheap thanks to a ticket offer my Aunt spied in the Los Angeles times a few days before. Nevermind the fact that I lost that ticket offer and we had to make frantic calls to see if anyone had an old newspaper…the point is…we got the tickets.

At around 6:15 Phil arrived home from work and we headed up to the stadium…parking in Echo Park for free rather than making our way up to stadium lot. We got a beer at a bar called The Short Stop that was riddled with a pre-game Dodger fan crowd. By the time we left the bar Jill had joined us and the first pitch was thrown. We were eventually met by Terra at the will call window and I left a ticket for Maureen there as well.

By the time we got inside it was nearly the third inning and the Dodgers were up by 2, which was a total bummer. We grabbed a beer and found our seats that were kind of far back near the right field foul pole. They weren’t great seats but they weren’t bad. Just being at the game though in the company of my good friends was good enough for me.

Maureen showed up a good inning later and we had a few beers as the Dodgers increased their lead on the hapless Metropolitans. Oh the agony. Despite the way the game was going this was a more than pleasant last hurrah in the Los Angeles area. One of my pet peeves though with the game was the “Dodger Dog”. Dodger Dogs are a wonder of marketing. The name makes you think there must be something special about it, when in reality it’s just a normal foot long. hot dog. There’s nothing on it. I put ketchup and onions but aside from that…nothing. I think if they’re going to make Dodger Dogs from now on they have to put chili on it or have the bun shaped like a mitt.

A Suggestive Picture of Me Enjoying a Dodger Dog

Aside from my beef with the Dodger Dog, the game seemed to be moving entirely too fast. I thought the game would be an exciting hard fought battle that would take a few more hours, but the Dodger pitchers blazed through the Mets lineup and made it seem like the shortest game ever. Before I knew it I was saying goodbye to Maureen and Terra and heading back with Phil and Jill.

On our way back we stopped briefly at Little Joy, where we had been the previous night. After that we found ourself at a German bar called the Red Lion. We sat down on the first floor and ate some German food while watching an old man play pop songs on his keyboard. As we sat there watching him, Phil tried to convince me to get up and start singing on the mic next to him. I refused until Phil bugged me and the piano player enough to perform Pour Some Sugar On Me. Keep in mind, this was not karaoke night, so I didn’t have the lyrics. At best I gave a half hearted attempt and tried to get the audience a little bit into it. The piano player then got a few more songs in for me and other bar patrons to sing. Before I knew what to do more people wanted a hold of the mic and I obliged. I sort of just wanted to get out of there…and after a few songs that’s just what we did.

Karaoke…Sort Of

Upon returning back to Los Feliz, Jill went to bed and Phil and I talked for a bit before I hit the couch. My trip to LA was more or less over. By around 11am give or take the next morning, I was off to Irvine…but not before battling Jill’s cat’s to make sure I didn’t let any of them out of the apartment when I left.

I arrived at my Aunt Melanie’s in Irvine around Noon…and though we didn’t have a baseball game to go to…there was still more we could do. My aunt and uncle took me back to Crystal Cove to show me the examples of “Eclectic California Beach Architecture” I had missed out on before. One of the shacks in question was a house used in the movie Beaches. I took a picture in front of it to be lame. Actually these cabins on the beach are pretty much an awesome deal. The 1-2 person ones go for as little as $31/night. If you want a cheap no frills stay directly on the beach in Southern California, I don’t think you can beat it.

“Eclectic California Beach Architecture”

Did You Ever Know This House Is My Hero? It is The Wind Beneath My Wings

Once my tour of beach abodes ended, we went for a walk around the town of Laguna Beach before heading back to Irvine and readying for dinner at my Aunt and Uncle’s favorite Mexican joint, El Matador. Once again, the food was delicious and I was completely stuffed. My trip was in effect over. All I had to do was wake up the next day, make sure I had all of my stuff and I was as good as gone…and that’s basically what happened. Once again Jet Blue was right on time and I even landed at JFK a little early.

Overall, If I was asked to summarize my California experience, I would probably say a little anxious, rushed, and somewhat uncomfortable…but all in all the fun won out. I couldn’t help but think the haphazard way I went about planning my trip I was inconveniencing people. Yet at the same time some people came through with flying colors. Also a lot of the time driving the freeway I found myself thinking to much about how I was going to get places and overthinking how things were going to be with the next person I was going to see. I don’t think there were necessarily any overly emotional moments about seeing the people I hadn’t seen in awhile. It was pleasant, but not overwhelming. I sort of felt an emptiness as I trekked around looking for things to fill my time. That’s not to say I don’t care for the people I spent my time with. I most certainly do…but I don’t think you can truly feel a rush of warmth and companionship in an hour at lunch or three hours at a bar. These are things that have to build up and remain consistent over time. In a way though, the trip was good because it made it apparent that I d0n’t need to be in Los Angeles, though there are certainly a few people on the West Coast that I could do with seeing more often.

In any case, I’d like to thank everyone for their hospitality especially my Aunt Melanie and Uncle Doug…as well as Phil and Jill for putting up with me for so many days. You guys were awesome. Hopefully, we’ll all be together soon. Maybe next year in Jerusalem.

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