Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I met up with Justin, Cap’n Josh, and a special cameo appearance by Victor at Comics Unlimited. It was good to see the guys again after my trip to San Francisco, and we caught up as much as we could. Nancy, Lainey, and Mark were running the store, and good times were had. I picked up Blackest Night (#8 of 8) and The Walking Dead (#1 Reprint).
Topics of Conversation @ Comics Unlimited: Vampires of the Black Forest, Dustin’ & Steamin’ & Coughin’, turning into a Frankenstein, yo-yo-yo-yo’ing gayness, the turn of events concerning the cat, palpable hatred, Super-Man-Bat-Man-creature, Grant Morrison: Brainiac, etc.
After the shop, Vic, Cap’n Josh, Justin, and myself headed to Brewbakers for lunch. I had a cheeseburger, as did the rest of the crew. I had to head out for work at Norwalk after a bit, and bid them farewell.
Norwalk was fairly easy, with some planning ahead for an upcoming shoot on April 13th for SEACCA. I mostly organized the cable Bulletin Pages and had a surprise come up in the form of a Traffic School class that needed a projector and laptop that everybody had forgotten to inform us that they needed. Annoying, but we dealt.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
It was an interview of some city officials about different city services. I was manning the teleprompter camera, which needed very little supervision except to make sure it didn’t get bumped, and remained in focus. The shoot went by very quickly, and I found myself with a few extra hours before I had to head to Norwalk, which gave me time to go to Comics Unlimited to pick up the comics that I still had on hold.
The shop was being run by Nancy, Mark, and *SURPRISE!* Denise! A cool girl, with funny-ass tweets. (As in Twitter people, do catch up with the times, and keep your nose out of the gutter).
Topics of Conversation @ Comics Unlimited: Robbing a car as a welcome, owning half a comic rack, one lone dirty sock, crazy mobs, why does a comic shop own a shovel?, the perils of Oakland, dust, payment enforcement, obvious lies, exact change, signatures written in urine, etc.
I picked up Blackest Night (#7 of 8), Green Lantern (#52), X-Factor Forever (#1), What If… (#70), The Great Ten (#01), and Major Bummer (#12). The first three were newer comics, while the last three were back issues from the 59 cent bin.
Blackest Night was fun, but the biggest problem with this issue (and most DC events to boot) is the fact that you really can’t read this 8-parter by itself. You HAVE TO read Green Lantern and, to a lesser degree, Green Lantern Corps in tandem. I think this is unfair for the casual reader, and a little annoying for admittedly hardcore fans such as myself. Hey, I’m already reading these issues, so give me something a little different, not the same exact story!
X-Factor Forever was okay. I liked the art, and Walt Simonson is the a great writer, though I’ve noticed, and this is similar for a lot of the older school comic writers, that the dialogue is a little off. It can get a little melodramatic, and sometimes the characters don’t have a very obvious personality. They don’t talk, so much as make statements. Its not easy to notice, but I’ve been reading too long. Maybe I’ll pick up issue #2, but I’m not sure if I’ll be reading anymore after that.
Major Bummer was fun, and made we wish I had followed the series while it was still around. What If was actually kind of dumb, and the art was really bargain basement. It look like the artist had called in a favor to get a chance to draw a comic book. But he was not ready. AT ALL. I hate bagging on people’s artistic endeavors, so I’ll just leave it at that.
The Great Ten, though, was really good! I’m going to have to dig up the second and third issues to try and catch up. I like the writing, but, and I might be a minority here, the art just isn’t that great. Scott McDaniels just does too fast a job for me. It doesn’t feel like he spends anytime on his art, just does a first draft and sends it in. But he’s still better than the What If artist was.
Monday, March 29, 2010
As I packed up my clothes, and various accumulated items, I was studied by Puck, the giant, social cat of good humor. He was keeping my company and seemed expectant and polite. It was nice, because it didn’t seem like a good-bye. More like a “See ya, later.” And that’s how I would like to view this part of the trip to Frisco.
We had to get up early to head to the Jack London Square Bus Station in time for my train. Dennis had even gone so far as to cook up some pesto pasta (homemade pesto, at that!) for my return trip to Anaheim. It was a much better choice than the stale sandwiches that I might have had to assemble.
We got to the Train Station with over half an hour to spare. So Veronica and Dennis sat with me for a while and we talked about the trip and other potential trips on the train. It was a nice send-off. They soon took off, and my train arrived within a few minutes.
The trip back would also be Train-Bus-Train, but this time around the leg of the trip on the bus would only be four hours, which was a VAST improvement. I finished up the last of my pod casts that I had on my iPod, and started reading The Gone-Away World, the book I had bought at City Lights. The book is pretty interesting so far, if a little scattershot at the moment. I’m not sure if this is the point, or if the author honestly can’t make up their mind on what they want to write. But still a good choice of a read (thanks for the suggestion, Sarah!)
I shoot some texts around, play a hand of solitaire, briefly contemplate trying to grab some sleep, and wonder at what the kid in front of me was crying about. His mom was definitely at a loss to what the fuss was about. Though I don’t speak Chinese, so I’m at a loss as well.
I arrive at Anaheim at around 9:00 pm, and get to my car, and head home. After I detail some of my exploits and memorable moments in Frisco to my parents, I haphazardly unpack and go to sleep. Cuz the vacation is over, and I have work at 8:00 am tomorrow morning.
But my last thoughts about San Francisco? It’s a helluva town, with amazing food, and crisp, cool weather. But what’s even better? I have family there, and now I know that’s a fact, instead of just in theory.
BIG THANKS TO DENNIS AND VERONICA, THE BEST DANG COUSINS A MOOK LIKE ME COULD ASK FOR! See ya down the road, cuz…
One of my favorite things that Dennis had ever said was “We are task saturated and time compressed!” And now that I only have today to enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of San Francisco, I think that phrase is even more relevant now.
We woke up still full from Tadish Grill, so we didn’t eat any breakfast, and we planned my last day. The first order of business, was to go to Zachary’s Pizza to meet up with my Great Uncle Eugene and my Great Aunt Rinata. Planning this had been an ordeal in of itself, because of scheduling and confused math. But we were on and out the door.
Zachary’s Pizza was a cool little joint that was known for its Chicago Style Pizza Pies. The pizza was pretty good, but the lunch company was even better. We chatted a bit with each other, but, as I had already been said, time compressed and all that. Our next destination was the heart of the city of San Francisco itself.
We decided to use the BART system of subway trains, both to let me get to try it out for a bit, and to give Dennis and Veronica a break from driving. The BART ain’t a bad way to travel. Southern California could use something like it. But our love of the car here has delayed any real headway in that area.
Back to Frisco…
Our first stop off the BART was the Cartoon and Comic Book Museum. Man, I’m easy. Dennis and Veronica had me pegged. That was fine, because I caught a glimpse of some original Frank Miller art from The Return of the Dark Knight, not to mention tons more original comic book, manga, anime, and cartoon art. It was an incredible display.
We stopped off at the Hotel that Dennis and Veronica held their wedding at. Apparently, this hotel is known for the Doorman that works there. He’s dressed as a Beefeater from England, and they get paid an insane amount of money. In fact, the same Doorman, Tom, that had been working there when Dennis and Veronica got married was actually there today. He was very nice, and helped us grab the Street Car to go deeper into inner San Francisco. I finally got to ride on these little cable cars, though they didn’t head straight to the stars, they were certainly packed to the gills. We got off in Chinatown, which we walked through to get to Little Italy.
Little Italy was the sight for most of the Beat scene establishments. We went to Café Trieste and had a snack and sit down. We walked over to City Lights book store, where I bought The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway. After the book store, we ambled over to Vesuvio, the bar that Jack Keroauc liked to hang out at. I only grabbed a half-pint of beer, still trying to settle down from all the walking.
We then walked UP THE HILLS of San Francisco, which were designed to break lesser men. I’m may refer to myself as Nate the Greater, but I’m just barely great enough for these hills, but at least I didn’t keel over and die. As we neared an intersection, I could smell burnt car brakes. We had arrived to the famous windy street!
We walked up the side, and I was surprised to find that people actually lived right off this windy street. I couldn’t help but wonder at who would want live on such a busy, and yes, famous, one-way street, but to each their own. We headed down to the Fisherman’s Wharf, which Dennis and Veronica referred to as the “most touristy and barely San Francisco area” we could go to.
We walked through the wharf, stopping here and there to get a good look at certain shops. We ended up taking a tour of the USS Pampinito, a WWII era Submarine. It was pretty cool, and I knew that I would have gone crazy in such cramped quarters. We continued on to the Museum Mechanique, which had a huge collection of old arcade games from early 1900’s to the recent 80’s and 90’s. I even took a picture in one of the old school photo booths. We headed further down the wharf, grabbing some sourdough bread from Boudin’s, and watching some street performers.
I felt exhausted, but more than happy to have had such a busy weekend. The last place we would eat dinner at was a place called Fog City Diner. And yet again, I was blown away at the quality of food to be had within San Francisco. I had a Pesto Pasta with chicken that was really, really good, while Dennis and Veronica had a sampling of crab cakes, chili releno, and other delicious choices. After we ate, we headed back to their home, with a stop at a grocery store for some drinks and snacks for my ride home.
It didn’t hit me till I was buying a Diet Dr. Pepper that it truly had been my last day in San Francisco. The first sip of that soda was bitter indeed.
Topics of Conversation @ San Francisco: Hippie sniffer, tax season, France, carpeted vs. plastic, embers, 100 Proof alcohol, Evil Chocolate Companies, career choices, the urine aroma of LA, upper/downer topics, snoring as a sign of enjoyment, the beauty of pesto, D.I.N.K. living, etc.
The Golden Gate Bridge isn't all that big. Go figure.
I’m a total newbie and tourist, so we started the day with visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, the symbol of Frisco if there was one.
We started on the side of the bridge that was opposite of San Francisco. And as it turns out, the cliff that overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge was a perfect spot for an artillery, a place called Battery Spencer. I was never aware of this, but Spencer was, until the mid-40’s, one of the main lines of defense for any attacks on San Francisco. It had a cool look to it, and reminded me, movie geek that I am, of just about any local where you needed an abandoned military base/ghost town feel.
We crossed the bridge and parked on the other side to walk across the bridge. We only went half-way, seeing as we had to pack a lot into the day. I’ve been noticing as of late, and especially when I walk around areas that are both high up and have an open view, that I have a mild fear of heights. Its not so bad that I can’t even look down, or get terrified, but that I have to focus on anything that has nothing to do with how high up I am. I felt it at the top of the Eiffel Tower, I’ve felt it when looking out over office building windows, and I definitely felt it on the Golden Gate Bridge.
My opinions on the Golden Gate Bridge? What hasn’t already been said a thousand times? Let’s just say I’m for it.
Afterwards, we headed to Haight and Ashbury to grab lunch and to earn the right to say that I’ve been there. We ate at a place called Magnolia Brewery, where one of there claims to fame is that they have direct access to some of the purest water in the entire city. The water was cool, but the food was even better. And the beer was pretty dang good, too.
We exited and walked down the street to head to my requested destination, which was the San Francisco Amoeba Record Store. With this store, I would complete my easy quest of being to every Amoeba Store in the world. But before we got there, we tried a number of the stores along the way. Ranging from musical instrument stores, book stores, and even the area Goodwill store, which was impressively stocked with nice vintage clothes and items. Not a big surprise, considering the address, but an all around world of difference.
But besides the businesses, the people on the street are incredibly interesting, from the everyday citizen, to the homeless man, to the new generation of deadbeat hippies. Within a block of walking, we had been offered a gold watch, a used newspaper, a cell phone, and metamphetamines. Veronica had even been sniffed by someone. Very strange.
But within this entire myriad of questionable antics, not once was I offered marijuana. I was a little sad at that.
We arrived at the San Francisco Amoeba, and I soon achieved my admittedly weak sauce goal of being in every Amoeba in existence. It felt cool. A simple accomplishment, but it was all mine, darn it. I even picked up a hard to find copy of Twelve Small Steps, One Giant Disappointment by the band Bad Astronaut. Used, even! Good on ya, SF Amoeba.
We exited Amoeba, found our car, and headed off to check out even more of Frisco. One such place turned out to be a set hills called the “Twin Peaks” (nothing like the movie or show, darn it), and got a panoramic view of all of San Francisco, from the Pacific Ocean to the Bay. Beautiful city and location, to say the least. We then went to the Golden Gate Park and walked around for a bit, though we were too late for the Japanese Tea Garden. By the way, the Golden Gate Park is staggeringly gi-normous.
Following the King of Public Parks, we went to lazily named Ocean Beach and walked through a defunct salt water park and a mysterious cave. I love caves. I don’t know why, I just want to grab a torch and explore for lost items of monetary value and fight nazis. Simple joys, people. Though the “cave” was really just a tunnel, the cool part was that half-way through, there was a opening in the wall that led into a cavern where ocean water would roar in and out of. Again, simple joys.
At this point, our hunger had achieved levels of urgent distress. We headed further into the city proper, valiantly searched for parking, and walked to a restaurant named Tadish Grill. The place had an old school feel to it. In fact, it had been established in 1849. They were in there 161st year of continuous operation. The entire wait staff was male, and they all wore white coats. These guys had that feeling of experience and stand-offishness that can only be achieved through years of working at a place that I would have to sell blood to eat at more than once a year.
BUT SWEET DANCIN’ ZEUS, THE FOOD!
I got the Lobster Thermidor Baked in the Shell, Served with Small Salad or Cup of Chowder, Potato and Vegetable. I opted for the clam chowder.
Dennis got the Filet Mignon (6 oz) Broiled, Topped with Jumbo Prawns, with Bearnaise Sauce, Potato and Vegetable.
And Veronica got the Seafood Cioppino with Garlic Bread, (includes: clams, prawns, scallops, bay shrimp, crabmeat, and white fish).
(I know all this because I promptly swapped a menu. Don’t worry, the menus change every other week or so).
To say the food was delicious would be a gross understatement. It was perfect in every way. I can rarely say that, and when I do, I might be wrong. But not in this case. And it wasn’t even obnoxious in its excellence. It was more in a way that the restaurant didn’t have any other choice but to be the source of such awesome fare.
We all tried a little off of each other’s plate. The lobster was big, sweet, and covered in an amazing sauce. Dennis’ steak was perfect. And Veronica’s cioppino had some of the best broth I’d ever tasted, not to mention amazing seafood. I’m not much for seafood, but DAMN that was good.
And clam chowder I had there was the best clam chowder I’ve ever had. And it seemed right that the best clam chowder I’ve ever had was not only in San Francisco, but in the Tadish Grill.
After stuffing ourselves till our eyes watered, we headed home and slept the sleep of the righteously gluttonous.
Topics of Conversation @ San Francisco: Yellow pits, beer production, Muir, hippie elves, chill offers for illegal wares, Hetchy water, bands starting with the letter “Z”, the Guano Wars, “Damn it, China!”, Two Schulz’s = Disaster, Zachary’s Lament, the crack of sunset, etc.
Before I get started on this entry, I should give you a quick a rundown on the cool people that were letting me stay at their place, and who were going to give me a tour of San Francisco and Bay Area:
VERONICA!: [On Left] My cousin through blood. Her mom is my dad’s aunt on his dad’s side. Yeah, tracking family connections is hard and only should be attempted by professionals. She works as a animal biologist with an emphasis on impact on animal habitats. Now that I’ve written that sentence, I have a powerful feeling that I’m absolutely wrong. Hopefully Veronica won’t get annoyed and boycott me from ever visiting again. She also loves the arts, working out in the field, and ciopinno seafood stew!
DENNIS!: [On Right] Veronica’s husband, so that I guess that makes him my cousin-in-law? I don’t know how that’s supposed to work, so I’ll just settle for cousin. He was a firefighter until he was injured on the job, in a burning building to boot. If he could, he’d be back out there stopping fires and eating ridiculously good Fire House food. He knows a hell of a lot of stuff about a hell of a lot of stuff. Also, he drives just this side of crazy, but he’s good enough to pull it off.
I slept deep, which meant waking up was slow going. But I did persevere and gain consciousness around 9:30 or so. In time for some breakfast of omelets and tea. I bought my return tickets for my return to Anaheim on Amtrak, and was able to knock about ten bucks off the price by merely choosing a different origin point. (Thanks for the idea, Veronica!)
The idea for today was to check out the Oakland and Berkley area, and finish of the day with a viewing of a revival of Captain Blood at the Paramount Theater. This sounded like a better plan than my non-plan of “taking in the sights.” We were on our way in minutes.
One of the few things that I wanted to check out while I was in Berkley and San Francisco was go to both of the Amoebas there. I know, the best one is in LA, but I just wanted to be able to say that I’ve been to every Amoeba Records in the world. Then I’d feel like a big shot.
So we drove around the Oakland and Berkley hills, checking out the San Francisco skyline all along the way down to UC Berkley. We got out of the Dennis’ truck and walked around campus, and were on our way to walking down Telegraph Street when my eyes caught upon one of many bums lounging around the campus. I guess the thing that truly caught my attention was the bum typing on his laptop.
Yeah, welcome to Berkley.
It took a second for my mind to register what I had just glimpsed. And I brought it up to Veronica and Dennis. Dennis suggested we go back and talk to the tech-savvy homeless man. It seemed like it would be worth the second or two. We walked over to the guy and gave him a dollar in exchange for a picture of him and his set up. And upon the second look, we realized that not only did he have a laptop, but he also had two solar panels on his shopping cart.
No where else have I ever seen a bum with such a technologically advanced shopping cart. It was more than a little impressive and funny.
We continued on to Telegraph Street, where I checked out the Berkley Amoeba. I bought a Granddaddy album and continued on to try another local record store called Rasputin. Rasputin was very impressive, and I was able to buy a used copy of Patton Oswalt’s newest comedy album “My Weakness Is Strong.” I might even slightly prefer Rasputin over Amoeba. But let’s keep that between you, me, and the internet.
We headed to Jack London Square to check out the Bay, and grabbed a beer at Heinhold’s First and Last Chance Tavern. It was an old whaling boat that had been hauled to the shore, cut in half, and converted into a tavern. After that, we headed into Uptown Oakland to eat at Luka’s, and meet up with some friends of Dennis and Veronica’s.
After the whole group and been assembled and fed, we walked over to the Paramount Theater to watch Captain Blood. First of all, Paramount Theater is a fixed up old-timey theater, and it is a beautiful work of art, with a man playing Worlitzer Organs just to introduce us to the overall ambience of the theater.
Errol Flyn plays a doctor that is forced into slavery for doing his job. He then turns to a life of piracy to strike back at a government and world that didn’t seem to care. Olivia de Havilland plays the girl that helps him out of a terrible situation, and who is, of course, deeply in love with Captain Blood. Though Olivia’s character can be very dumb and stubborn, but she does a good job of hiding her baffling intelligence. My cousins’ and their friends and I enjoyed the movie, with some gentle teasing of the flick mixed in throughout. Captain Blood is a classic. It launched a thousand careers and genres.
After the film, we headed back home to watch a little TV and slip off into slumber land.
But before that happened, Dennis stumbled upon the Cannabis Planet channel. Apparently it’s a new channel, just starting out in the Bay Area. Gotta love Frisco.
Topics of Conversation @ Berkley: Flash Gordan, Led Zep, Bubbly water, W’ahmbulance, Hippie Living habits and biology, sublte manipulation, solar panels, etc.
So the first day for my San Francisco vacation had arrived! The tough part was that roughly 12 hours of it would be spent in transit to that mysterious city. It would be Train-Bus-Train. Oh well. I had some good books and pod casts and a fully charged iPod. Bring on the boredom!
Yeah, I’m in the future, too.
It was a long, long trip. Most of it spent on the bus, which wasn’t too bad, since I got to seats to myself and could stretch out and not be bothered. Which is kind of sad. A tiny, microscopic part of me kind of wanted to talk to people. To meet new fellow Americans. To interact with these citizens.
Or mostly talk to that cute girl a seat up.
Too bad, cuz she promptly went to sleep and didn’t wake up till her stop. And I’m smart enough to know that was planned from the beginning. Clever girl. Either way, I was only running on 4 hours of sleep, and really wanted to snooze more than I wanted to schmooze. Sue me.
Let’s say I fast forward for you, and tell you what I saw:
Landscape, farm, ocean, trees, mountains, clouds, ocean, EMU FARM, a European style shopping district, highway, train tracks, back of some dude’s head, McDonald’s, landscape, farm, graffiti, book, my iPod, fruit stand, trees, the back of some lady’s head, ocean, creepy guy with a dirty coat, farm, city, etc.
Throughout this journey of mythic proportions I texted back and forth with awesome people (clocking in at a new high of over 60 texts!), listened to SModcast, listened to each and every comedian album I had with an emphasis on Patton Oswalt and Nick Swarsdon, stared off into the infinite, ate trail mix, and so on.
I arrived at the Oakland Train Station at roughly 8:30 pm, with my cousin Veronica and her husband Dennis waiting for me. Dennis was surprised that I ended up at that Train Station. I didn’t know what he meant. He enlightened me that, apparently, the section of Oakland I arrived at is one of the worst areas around.
But we were on our way, when Dennis also asked if I would like to visit the Fire Station he used to work at. I said Heck Yes, and within ten minutes of arriving in Oakland, I was inside a Fire Station eating one of the best meals I had ever eaten. Fire Fighters know how to cook. They are crazy good at it. It was broiled chicken breast stuffed with apples, herbs, and spices. There was also baked red potatoes with some of the best damn salad I’ve ever scarfed down.
After the Fire House, Dennis and Veronica showed me around Oakland, pointing out the huge difference between neighborhoods that live “above” the 580 freeway, and those that live “under” the 580. The difference is immediate and costly. Money does not travel far past the 580.
Topics of Conversation @ Oakland: No need to visit the Hell’s Angels, fires we started, Purple People, the Bullseye Wall, salt water taffy, Mojave Desert let down, fake camera paintings, Religious Business, no Burning Man for Veronica, Mama Wii, Faces and Heels, etc.
We got to my cousins’ home, which was really, really nice and also populated by a dog and two cats. The dog’s name was Puppy, the older cat was named Puck, and the younger cat was never seen. I also forgot its name. Oops.
What’s important is that Puppy is a nice dog, but not very interested in anyone other than her masters. But Puck is incredibly social and talkative. Probably one of the nicest cats I had ever met. And HUGE. To the point that I was starting to wonder if Bobcat was in Puck’s genealogy.
I soon hit the wall, and went to sleep in the Guest Room. It felt GREAT. A quick end to Day One.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
And what better way to prepare for this North-bound journey of mystery and adventure than to go to Comics Unlimited for my comic run? Justin and Cap’n Josh joined me at the shop, with Mark and Lainey present to run said shop.
Topics of Conversation @ Comics Unlimited: Escalation, punching Davey Havok, cats using poop to protest, fame and how to get it, San Franciscoing, how Lainey punched a doctor, Sliders, yo-you tricks, crocodile stand-offs, etc.
A sad turn of events revealed that I did not have the money I would need to purchase my comics today, but I had asked if they could hold my comics till my money found me again. I then went to lunch at In-N-Out (it was one of those “Comics or eating? Comics or eating?” situations) with Justin and the Cap‘n.
Topics of Conversation @ In-N-Out: Guilty pleasure movies, its too dang sunny, the Fat Darryl, the SeAL sandwich, how unnecessary Indiana Jones’ presence was, Falling Down, etc.
Justin decided 100% that he wouldn’t be able to accompany me to San Francisco, which I understood, since a last minute choice to ride on the train changed the plans a great deal. I headed over to work at Norwalk, which was nice and chill. Then I headed home and spent the entire night getting ready for San Francisco.
This consisted of clothes, snacks, Podcasts, and books galore.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I shot a meeting about water again. But this one was special. Because this meeting achieved legend. It was the most boring meeting in recorded history. And I should know. I recorded it.
Just believe me. You don’t want it explained to you in detail. You DON’T.
I struggled my way back to Lakewood, trying to shake off the brain-numbing poison of the morning. After I dropped off the equipment, I headed out for Norwalk. This wasn’t as terrifyingly boring, but it was quiet.
Sweet Dancin’ Zeus! I need to write SOMETHING. Thank goodness I watched Thirst. Thirst is a Korean movie about vampires, and its everything that Twilight could never be: Intense, thoughtful, sad, and well-acted.
To start off, for all of you that are squeamish about intense material, then this is not the movie for you. There are some intense scenes, and that is what Park Chan-wook is known for. You could cut diamonds with how sharp and intense his movies can get. But they can also be beautiful as all get out. And his use of imagery and symbolism isn’t used anymore in a lot of movies.
The acting is amazing.
This movie has some damaged and intricate characters. The main character, a Priest, cares about his fellow humans so much that he undergoes a dangerous and lethal medical experiment to try and help find a cure for a deadly disease. But something goes wrong, and he becomes a vampire. If through a strange blood transfusion, or something else is not clear, but neither is it important. What’s important is the moral and personal journey he goes through to reclaim the person he once was. And before he gets there, some awful decisions are made, and those decision are fueled by terrible urges given more and more strength.
But there is also a woman at the center of this story.
And the lead actress in this movie is equally compelling. She’s trapped in a life she hates, with people she hates almost as much. She just wants to get out. Whether she loves the Priest (yes, they do get together, but that ain’t no spoiler I’m letting out), is entirely up to you. Either way, she is completely real, and completely broken.
The ending is genius in its equal use of tragedy and comedy. I loved this movie, as I’ve loved just about every movie this Korean director has put together. If you are ready for intensity, then watch Thirst.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
The plan for today was simple and eloquent: Lunch and a movie. Lunch was at Claim Jumper, and it was a delicious decision. Here is a fact about Claim Jumper you may not know: It makes the best Mozzarella Cheese Sticks I’ve ever had. I have yet to ingest its equal, and I am a decades-long fan of these little buggers.
What was even better about today’s visit was not just the circumstances, but the company. Because their was a special guest appearance by fan-favorites Kristin and Maureen. This duo is known for their wackiness and home-schooled charm.
Let me rewind a bit.
Back in 2006 (?), I took a Cartooning Class. In this class was Kristin. We got along and friendship ensued. As I got to know her, I got to know her friend Maureen. And as I got to know Maureen, I got to know her sister Charlee, and their family. My friendship is like a plague, it spreads and consumes until all are infected.
Topics of Conversation @ Claim Jumper: Zombie fortification, rapid-fire engagement, the “states” of emotion, men don’t smell good, being threatened by pickles, caterpillars, flying sharks, intense comics, should stupid people be allowed to breed, introducing ourselves, the horrific condition of the Education System, etc.
After the delicious lunch, we hung around for a bit, until we headed out for the Harkin Movie Theater to watch Alice In Wonderland. Yes, I have already seen this movie. Yes, it was okay a second time around. No, I won’t be watching it a third time. After the movie, we headed to Wendy’s, because the Birthday Girl had a hankering for Frostys, and we’d better fall in line.
(Nothin’ but love, Char!) :-)
Topics of Conversation @ Wendy’s: Pong, improbable stacking, showing love through violence, the wallet raid, etc.
I then took off for home and slept like a man that had done way too much in one day.
A surprise call from Patrick kick-started the day.
“Hey, Nate,” he said, “Are you up to anything today?”
“Well, I got a movie and a friend’s Housewarming party tonight,” I replied, “Why? What’s up?”
“I’m heading to Van Nuys,” said Patrick, “I’m picking up some monster making supplies. I’d love it if you could come along.”
“Sounds sexy. As long as we’re back before 7:00, I’m game,” I answered.
We agreed that he would drive and he picked me up from my place. We headed to Lee’s Sandwiches for lunch, and I filled him in on the plans for the movie, which was The Runaways at around 7:50 pm, to meet up with Jamal and Justin. This would be followed by a Housewarming party. I invited Patrick to the movie, but didn’t feel I could invite him to someone else’s party. He was down to see the movie.
Topics of Conversation @ Lee’s: Free Fritos, Dan Akroyd vodka, large quantities of texting, dark endings, fake Japanese, the girlfriend’s parents and the terror they induce, etc.
We arrived at a place called “Frends,” which was packed full of makeup, fake blood, and all the necessary supplies to make movie magic. As we walked into the back, we turned the corner and facing us as a gentleman in his 80’s. Patrick’s face immediately lit up and I knew I was going to feel dumb. Because Patrick knew who the old man was, but I didn’t have much of an idea. They chit-chatted for a bit, and I shook the old man’s hand. And finally caught his name:
It wasn’t until after that Patrick was able to fill me in on Dick Smith’s background. And, as it turned out, he was the makeup artist for The Exorcist, and loads of other movies. Holy cow! That was amazing. And it was my inability to remember names very well that really messed me up.
After that, we went to BevMo so that I could pick up some Virgil’s Root Beer for my friend Charlee’s birthday the next day. With the Root Beer in hand, we headed back to the OC. I suggested going to Brewbakers, just so that Patrick could get a taste of the good food and beverages to be had there, and to kill time till I was able to get a hold of Jamal for the Housewarming party. We also headed to Comics Unlimited to kill some time. Lainey was there, and she looked like she was ready for the shift to be over. The call came, and Patrick and I were soon on our way to see The Runaways with Jamal over at the Krikorian Theater in Buena Park.
As for the film… for a movie titled “The Runaways,” there was very little about the Runaways. Its mostly a bio piece about Cherie Currie, the front woman. Joan Jett is there, but you get very, very little about her in this film. We meet Cherie’s entire family, get her entire backstory, and all the pain she felt throughout the movie. Joan Jett… is a lesbian(?) with a need to be in a rock band. That’s about it. There’s hints about an unhappy home life, but we get nothing else. Makes me wonder if Joan wanted to have very much about herself known in this movie.
As for the other members, like the drummer, the bassist, and the other guitarist, um… really, you’re guess is as good as mine. And that’s even taking into account that you most likely haven’t seen the movie. Yeah. But still a well done flick, if a bit too fast paced.
After the movie, Justin, Jamal, and myself headed over to our friend Bobby’s Housewarming. He and his girlfriend Gina had just moved into their own apartment, and the place was pretty snazzy. I brought some Blue Moon beer, and we all sat down for a night of new and old memories and good laughs.
Topics of Conversation @ the Housewarming: Bill the Mighty, poor decisions made with sketchy information, two bathrooms, how to be the Queen of Hosts, Thankstakings of yesteryear, Ikea picture frames and their limitless quantity, Peppermint Schnapps, the last word on a questionable friend, Ghandi Ball, the misleading music setup, autistic Batman, etc.
Friday, March 19, 2010
I met up with Jamal and we watched Repomen out in Tustin. Repomen isn't a bad flick, though it is surprisingly violent. That's been a trend for this year: Movies that are surprisingly violent. It started with Wolfman, Repomen has continued it, and now I'm anticipating the next ultra-violent flick.
The story of Repomen is reminiscent of Logan's Run (yeah, I never thought I would reference that movie either). The main character, played by Jude Law, is a man that has very little empathy for the people he hunts. Until an accident forces him to walk in their shoes, and become a renegade himself. Overall, the plot is okay, and though its a little obvious how the movie will turn, the ending might surprise you.
I went home, and decided my hunger for movies was not quite done, so I grabbed one of the movies I had rented earlier. The movie that TRULY stood out for me was Moon. There was only one official actor on screen the entire movie, and that was Sam Rockwell. And thank god, because he is amazing.
Also, Kevin Spacey voices a robot helper named GERTY, who becomes one of my favorite characters. Watch this movie, you won't be disappointed.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
That's all. I was just taking a moment to notice my lacks.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I accomplished nothing with that first paragraph.
My comic run was short and sweet. I picked up Green Lantern Corps (#46) and Siege (#3 or 4). Green Lantern Corps was very good, with a ton of imaginative, action packed panels. Kyle and Guy are a great buddy cop duo. Great issue, all around.
I wrote about this back in 1994 Was a Heavy Year. It was about the brutal death of Kyle Raynar's girlfriend, and how it marked a fear of disturbing abuse towards women in comic stories.
Well, Kyle's dead girlfriend makes a reappearance.
It was strange to see it revisited again after all these years. I mean, I figured it was only a matter of time, and it was only a few pages in the book. I'm not sure what I think about it yet. And I bought Siege #3, even though I do not own the first two issues of this event. I guess I'm picking and choosing. I didn't like the first issue at all, and I didn't take a very long look at #2, but #3 was fairly good. Maybe I'm picking the stuff I'd like to cut straight to.
Topics of Conversation @ Comics Unlimited: Green yo-yos, getting tied up, hiring people to be your arms, how to lure cats, picking & choosing, working with legends, getting a free t-shirt from a cousin, etc.
I took Justin and Cap'n Josh to Brewbakers for lunch. (I know, I know, but their food is SO good!). They weren't sure about it at first. But as soon as they got inside, they started to warm up to the place. We got some pretzels and they liked the place.
Then we had the Root Beer and they loved Brewbakers.
We left with many promises to return. I headed to work at Norwalk. I saw what may be the final design for the new logo for the cable station. It said NCTV with a tiny lightning bolt above the "V" in TV. Underneath the letters, it said "Norwalk City Television." I like the new logo. What can I say? I'm a sucker for lightning bolts.
Afterwards, I headed over to Justin's place and had the best Irish dinner I've ever eaten. That's right. An IRISH meal at a FILIPINO household where the usual specialty is adobo. Its moments like these that prove that America is the greatest country on the planet. The FOOD. Feed the terrorists, and they would learn to love and drop their suicide bombs right then and there... uh, I mean, not so that they would explode, but safely, and they would turn it in to the proper-...........
What's important is that the corned beef was delicious.
As far as video shoots go, today's was more than a little awesome. It was for Huntington Beach, and it was a showcase of Huntington Beach businesses, specifically a place called Brewbakers. Brewbakers was a brewery and a bakery in one. You could brew your own beer, bottle it, and even put your own label on it. "But Nate, I don't like beer!" That's okay! They offer some of the best Root Beer I've ever had. "But Nate, I don't like Root Beer!" What's wrong with you? How... how have we ever been friends?
The shoot was simple in scope. We would show the host, Simone, going through a step by step demonstration of how to brew a beer with Dennis, the owner of Brewbaker. They would do so until the "finished product." They chose to make a Heffeweizen, and they were off running.
But first, I should chart the level of Dennis' gradual inebriation.
By the first shot of the video piece, which was an introduction by Simone and Dennis. Dennis had poured himself a pint of beer, and was personable and spoke clearly. By the second shot, Dennis was showing Simone around the brewery section of Brewbakers, and seemed to be his informative self, if a little louder. By the third shot, where they were grinding all the wheat and grains they would need for the beer, Dennis was laughing at just about everything. Because keep in mind, it takes nearly 15 minutes to set up a shot and go over the questions, all the while, Dennis is drinking beer.
What made this even more noticeable to me was the fact that I was in charge of audio. That meant that I had wired up both Simone and Dennis with wireless microphones. And I could hear everything hey uttered, and was monitoring their voices throughout the shoot. I could hear Dennis' voice get more and more slurred. It was actually only perceptible to me, because I was listening so hard for any audio irregularities. In all honesty, Dennis wasn't having any problems talking, but the buzzed talk was there.
OFF-COLOR JOKES THAT WERE MADE!:
-"We're just tea-bagging and 69-ing!" (In regards to filtering the beer and the choice of beer to make, since Heffeweizen is #69 on the menu).
-"It's been known to be sticky AND sweet!" (In regards to the malt syrup used in making beer).
-"Let's spank this beer with this paddle!" (Okay, he didn't say that, but he wanted to).
Simone wasn't crazy about the Hour of Innuendo, but it could not be denied that the Root Beer and bread was delicious. Dennis was an excellent baker AND brewer, and he could hardly be faulted for his behavior in his own business. Especially for when it was more off hours, and the jokes were mostly made off camera.
So it was twice as funny that as soon as we were done with the shoot, and he was back in business, he flipped on the music and the first track was a song I could only guess at the title being "Itty Bitty Titties." Yeah. The kind of song that creates sexual harassment law suits. Simone just laughed it off as she headed to work.
Brewbakers: Come for the pretzels, stay for the borderline sexism.
But seriously... some of the best Root Beer and pretzels you will EVER have.
I then had to head to work at Norwalk. Today's City Council Meeting would be extra busy with the changing of the guard. A new Mayor would be voted in, and a little party would be thrown in the old Mayor's favor. Its just a small vote, and all it ended up being was a rearrangement of the council members. Still the same five members, but with different titles.
But what's truly important is the fact that I got to hang with Karmin and Mike again and talk about what-the-heck-ever.
Topics of Conversation @ Norwalk: The old movie theater arm maneuver, Kick-Ass posters, sweets, gay chicken, the earthquake, Inner Storm, taking the initiative, etc.
Monday, March 15, 2010
See you when I'm not so self-conscious.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Let's see if I could pull out a second win.
Before I headed to Lainey's, I stopped to pick up some snacks for everyone. "Some" turned into "too much." Dang. I always grab too much damn snacks. Maybe because I'm trying to feed the world. Or maybe I just really wanted some hummus.
The game crew was nearly the same as the last time:
and my Arch-Rival: KAYTEE.
I would say that our rivalry was bitter and deeply entrenched in bad blood if it wasn't for the fact that she was a Buffy fan. Its getting to the point that you could punch me in the face and get away with it if you followed up said punching with a Buffy quote. You shouldn't try it yet, folks. I'm not that easy at this point, but give it another year or so, and we'll see.
We started off the night with a game of Apples to Apples. Many good laughs were had, as well as some disturbing insights into the other players' psyches. I actually pulled off an upset victory with a one-two combination of an "AIDS" card and a "A Bad Motel" card. I knew they would come in handy, but I didn't know they'd win the game for me. Its good I held on to them for as long as I did.
The next game up to bat, and the game that we would finish the night with, was Cranium. It was a little before, and into the start, that one fact became apparent: Nobody Really Wanted to Play Cranium. Not because they weren't interested... okay, maybe a little of that. But I think it was more along the lines of it was interrupting all the talking. We had hit a point where everyone was reminiscing about past wackiness. Past Disney adventures. A legendary awful rock show that Lainey had dragged everyone to. The ghetto that Jack and Kaytee lived at. Really, the list went on. And then Cranium reared its ugly little game board.
Even Kaytee and I weren't exchanging the trash talk that we should have. Sarah was playing the with play-doh that was part of the game, lost in the world of the snowman she was building. And really, nobody liked the red cards. Those little bastards were ruining our good vibes. But all in all, I think we were all missing the fast paced ridiculousness that is Catchphrase. I certainly will make it a point to push for that next game night.
But the good news is that my team, consisting of Lainey, Andy, and myself, won Cranium! Suck it, Kaytee! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!
Topics of Conversation @ the Cranium Smackdown: Broken chips, creamin' in Disney, play-doh genitalia, One Night in Bangkok, Jewish cookies, how Lainey's cat doesn't like me, The Smell, hair addiction, edamame, bad band covers, ruining lesbian moments, sign language as a cheat, zipper help, etc.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
But before I get into watching this movie, I should probably clarify that the screening that we were going for was at 7:50 pm. We got to Santa Monica at roughly 3:00 pm. So time needed to be killed. With a vengeance. Also, we were going to meet up with Jeptha, Josh, and Danielle (Josh's GF). They are all friend of ours from LA. The entire drive up, Justin and I listened to Aziz Ansari's stand-up album. My favorite line is: "Cut that s**t out! It's COLD!"
The first step to killing time, was procuring food. The food went down at a place that I picked at random called Cafe 50's. I didn't know what to expect (except diner food), but I ended up being very pleased. The burgers were good, and the shake was delish. Justin got a Monte Cristo sandwich which he said was at least in his Top 3 Monte Cristos. Not bad for a place chosen at random.
Oh crap, that only killed an hour, thanks to the fact that I was parked in wretched meter parking. Grrr...
We moved my car to a nearby Vons parking lot and wandered around within eyesight of my car to make sure it didn't get towed. Since my digital camera was broken, and Justin forgot his camera, we bought a disposable camera at Vons. Just having a disposable camera again brought back a flood of memories of my 90's teen years, and when disposable cameras first arrived on the scene. They had been so cool, and now they were relegated to a backup plan for if both people forgot to bring their digital cameras.
We eventually found some parking that wasn't meter, and that we could stay till midnight or so without fear of tickets or towing. We headed over to a book store nearby and awaited the arrival of Jeptha, he of the big-eyed, Film Noir loving, deadpan delivery. Good man, that Jeptha. After he arrived, we headed to a movie rental place right next to the Nuart. I was planning to buy a movie, until Justin made it clear that the place was predominantly rental, with an incidental DVD selling section. But the selection for renting was almost infinite.
Finally, after a trip to Subway to help Jeptha weather the storm of hunger till after the movie, plus a stint of waiting outside the Nuart, Josh and Danielle arrived. We were in our seats for Mystery Team. And after an introduction by the Derrick Comedy folks themselves(!), the flick started in earnest.
Mystery Team is really funny. I mean, I was worried that all the best stuff was in the trailer, but that just wasn't the case. There is just one great scene after another, with some honest to gosh character development. Donald, DC, and Dominic made the Mystery Team funny and actually sweet at the same time. And that's hard with three so obviously two dimensional characters. And Mystery Team is insanely quotable:
"Oh god, there's something sharp inside something soft!"
"We should thank the Hobo before he puts a curse on us."
"Now you're starting to sound like dad!"
"Sometimes I really wish you didn't beat the cancer."
"He blew in my mouth."
********END OF SPOILERS***********
So joy was had, and memories will last a life time. Especially since the Derrick Comedy crew did a Q&A after the movie, and stuck around to talk to the audience. We even took a picture with each of the three leads, using our archaic disposable camera. We said goodbye to Josh and Danielle, and got dinner with Jeptha at... CAFE 50'S! Yep, we are sad men with limited imagination.
Topics of Conversation @ Cafe 50's: Herzog t-shirt, weak sauce handys, Russian names, impenetrable under garments, sharing beds with male friends, belt buckles with amusing pictures, just one look, girl scout cookies, discounts we forgot about, Will Battle: Comedic Genius or Living Puppet?, having your day made, self-financing, etc.
Jeptha headed back home, and Justin and I followed suit to our own respective origins. This was a Saturday well spent.
Friday, March 12, 2010
I got my two comics for the day (these weeks have been very light as of late). They were Secret Six (#19) and Batman & Robin (#10). I haven't been following the new Morrison run on Batman & Robin for the past issues, but he's throwing in some mystery about the Wayne ancestors and I was curious. Let's see what the crazy Scot has in store.
Topics of Conversation @ Comics Unlimited: Twilight the graphic novel, lunch go-fors, Tim Burton, Fluffbum & Loppington, my scattershot occupation, famous people and all their famousness, etc.
I volunteered to grab Lainey's lunch for her to help out for the next hour that I would be there. Panera Bakery got the order, and she was off to eating in no time. I headed back home, and got a call from both Patrick AND Justin to see what I was up to today. Patrick wanted to hang out, and Justin was with Jamal, Ben, and Kevin, a friend who had been living in Georgia for a year or so, but was now back in Cali. They wanted to catch She's Out Of My League. It wasn't a movie that I had been in any particular hurry to watch, but I said I was free and clear for it. I sweet-talked Patrick into coming along, and we were off and running.
She's Out of My League was reminiscent of any movie that you've ever seen where an improbably beautiful girl falls for an improbably sad sack of a man. But it didn't go for just easy jokes (though many easy jokes were had), it went for heart and the basic of question of "What is holding us back from being who we want to be?" The "5", our main character's main strength/weakness was that he just couldn't let himself believe he has an honest chance with the "10" of a girl. Does the movie make perfect sense? No. Is the girl too perfect? Yes. Does all of that really matter in the long run? Not really. Cuz this movie is just an excuse for some pretty funny interactions and performances.
Go ahead and check out this movie, even though it goes by the numbers at times.
After the movie, we all headed to the Pineapple Grill for drinks and karaoke. This plan worked for about as long as it took us to try and gauge our chances of actually being able to find a seat. Which was about a minute. Pineapple was packed to the gills with THREE friggin' birthday parties. Argh. We then went to Godfather's, a smaller bar, to try and out-wait the crowd at Pineapple Grill. This plan actually worked out fine. We went back to Pineapple after a few hours, where Ben and myself signed up for karaoke. Ben went for Bon Jovi, and I went for Weezer. Specifically, "Say It Ain't So." It took almost three hours for our turns come around, but that was fine, we ended the night on the songs themselves.
Topics of Conversation @ Godfather's & Pineapple Grill: GOP hanger-ons, slow Jukeboxes, horror movies, trainer meetings, the need to constantly yell, hiding your hat, long-distance relationships, the lack of any food or sustenance, etc.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Hey, would you look at that? I've been slightly interested in this flick because of its roots in mythology, which I've always been into since I was in Elementary. There like super-hero stories, except that a lot of the heroes are incestuous jerks, and prone to being insanely petty.
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief wasn't a bad movie. It had some decent acting (except Uma Thurman could have definitely throttled back a bit), and the action was well done. The story had some holes you could toss a hydra through, but what do you expect from a kids' series of books converted into a movie? It ain't Harry Potter, no matter how bad it wanted to be. (It even got Chris Columbus, the director of the first two Potter movies). This is a popcorn flick, and if you have a kid with you, it would be even that much more fun. Percy Jackson even does a decent job of introducing Greek Mythology, even touching upon serious subjects that would have been avoided in other versions. And the actors they had come on to do cameos were really good. The guy they get to play Hades is also one of my favorite actors, so that was cool.
Also, Rosario Dawson is ridiculously hot.
So... check out this movie if you want. It won't blow you away, and it ain't no God of War, but its enjoyable.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
(The emoticon above signifies non-excitement).
Through much of the meeting, I found myself daydreaming about nothing. This worried me, because I could usually rely on my daydreaming to help move a day along. But the numbers and powerpoint slides were just too much for my tortured imagination. I was temporarily in the thrall of the blank stare. The kind where you stare at something, and there really is nothing going on in your mind. No thought. No contemplation. No misery. No joy. Just... VOID.
Perhaps its a survival trait. Much like going into shock. My brain just shut down so that I wouldn't notice the passage of time, or lack thereof. It did seem as though I was skydiving into a big whiteboard of figures and camera zooms. But its worrying, because I would much rather go over an interaction between made-up characters rather than mental oblivion.
I got back Lakewood after filling up the gas tank of the city van. Oh, wait, I haven't introduced the Lakewood City TV van! The van... is a war horse. It's a Ford mini-van that has a cracked dashboard, squishy brakes, and a rear view mirror that fell off the windshield. I remember a time where actually driving over 60 mph while simultaneously running the air conditioning would lead to the van shaking in away that was anxiety inducing. It has since been fixed, but just about everything in the van has "since been fixed," with a new problem right around the corner. The greatest wonder of the City TV van is that it has yet to explode or crap out its engine upon the freeway, when all rights and evidence leads one to think the worse would happen.
But no, really, its a lovely vehicle.
By the time all was said and done, I was at Norwalk. We had a Planning Commission Meeting, so we had that to look forward to, as well as the fact that I would be Director for the night! Being Director is pretty cool. Especially now that I was nearing a solid dozen times having been Director. I much prefer this time over the first time I was Director, where I couldn't carry on a human conversation for fear that I would somehow ruin all cable with a wrong button push. But now that I'm something of an old hat at it, I enjoy the entire process completely. I just like knowing what I'm doing WAY more than being confused by all the shiny lights on the board.
After Norwalk, I headed to Justin's house to hang out with him, Victor, and Josh. The conversations were random and absurd as usual. Very much to my liking.
Topics of Conversation @ Justin's: Lex Luthor's awkward reasoning, time travel made easy, the fact that the Flash can't run to the Moon, Satan in the paper, Superman being a super sport, the death of an entire future Earth, Turtle-Turtle-Turtle-Turtle-Ninja-Turtle, recycled theme songs, etc.
I then neglected to write this blog on time. Ugh.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
We send in our stats, they judge us, and we're left in limbo. Who's to say they didn't lose your info or simply didn't like the cut of your jib (spelling?). And its funny that I didn't get the similarity between job hunting and asking someone out till just now. Go figure. And I have a job. Just not enough o it. For all of you struggling to find a job due not having one, hang in there, champ.
It struck me that I had not hung out with Justin since his shoot finally finished up. I called him up and we made plans to hang out for lunch. With a surprise addiction of Aaron! When I got to Justin's, we watched the trailer for Tron: Legacy, and an owl movie called Guardian Something. I don't know the name, and I could google it, but I'm not going to see this movie, so why worry?
We at at Paul's Place, and afterwords Justin had to head to Sherman Oaks.
Topics of Conversation @ Paul's Place: Alice in the Looking Glass, gourmet burgers, check delivery, extra work with Danny Devito, etc.
I dropped off Aaron at his place as I headed to work, and we made plans to catch some more episodes of Buffy Season 2 that night. Of course it depended upon whether or not Amy was up to some eps. I got to Norwalk and found out that Oral Communications for Council and Commission meetings were to no longer be recorded at all. Oh boy. And that's all I can say about that for fear of being quoted.
Amy responded that though she was sick, Buffy would hit the spot, along with some pho. I agreed to those terms, and we were soon at a pho restaurant in Cerritos. We headed to Amy's place afterwards to watch two episodes of Buffy Season 2: Lie To Me and The Dark Age. These were some awesome episodes that were now ramping up to the exquisiteness that is Season 2.
Till next blog.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Work at Norwalk was more of a blur than usual. Before I knew it, I was the only one there. Cable casting was a little more of a crowded dance card than the average schedule, so I didn't get out till nearly 8:00 pm.
I went to El Torito to have dinner with Patrick M., and we came to an almost unspoken decision to talk about anything and everything. Good stuff.
Topics of Conversation @ El Torito: Kendo stances, the middleman, High School drama of old, reaching personal goals, progress pictures, charismatic charm, the metaphorical Titanic, dirty fighting by Masters, Little-Too-Late Luigi, getting too bulky, Genki the Cock-Blocking Fool, the Obvious Setup, shifty facebooking, thinking into corners, the Grand Scheme, Kalinski, etc.
The last bit made me realize that I had never finished up the little Noir bit I made up for Patrick's crazy story from back in January. Let's see if that can be rectified.
The Big Pay Off (EPILOGUE)
Kalinski had handed me a check with a fishy smell, and I was never partial to seafood. I headed to one of the only places that could rob me with a PIN, and talked to one of the nametags in charge of the cash.
"See, what I got here is a piece of paper with my name on it, but I'm wondering if I would choke on the strings attached," I said to the teller.
"How much?" asked the bank rep.
"2 G's," I replied.
"That spells trouble," stated the banker.
"Bad words?" I said.
"From a nasty alphabet," replied the banker.
"Well the new word is 'Cancel,'" and I was done with Kalinski's lousy vocabulary.
But Kalinsi had to have the last word.
I got a phone call as soon as the sun wanted attention.
"Mr. Patrick," said the infamous Kalinski, "Is my money in transit? What is the status?"
"Well, Kalinski," I said through morning grogginess and late night whiskey, "I had a sit down with my money people, and they said the low down on the cash flow was that it wasn't on the up and up, you dig?"
Kalinski had hung up before I was done. I guess he didn't dig.
The big pay off was a big let down.
But at least I still had an interesting life.
Okay, that amused me more than anything else was going to. Thanks for reading.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
You see, I've subtly and, at times, not so subtly, asked about any job openings at the shop. There are none. Why would there be? Its at a comic shop, for crying out loud. But it doesn't hurt to ask, and to be known to ask. Or could it?
Hence why I think Nancy trying to shut me up.
The work at the storage facility is... exhausting isn't a tiring enough word, but it will have to do. We started at 9:00 am, and we weren't done until 6:00 pm. We were tossing long boxes of comics around for roughly 9 hours! The sheer volume of comics that we have to go through and sort was staggering. If I hadn't been to Comic Con, or had a comic book pack rat for an uncle, I would say its the most comic books I've seen in one location. But if it ain't in second place, then that would be madness in of itself.
And the temptation. Great googly moogly, THE TEMPTATION! Every minute there are at least four comic books that I haven't seen before. And of those four, there are two that look really cool. And of those two, there is a single issue that I would fight a bear for a chance to read it. And I can't read it. I CAN'T READ IT. Its like that sad episode of the Twilight Zone where all that dude wants to do it read, and then he goes and breaks his glasses. It was painful at times, I'll tell you what.
But painful isn't something you know till you've lifted over a hundred long boxes, each packed to the gills with the one thing you want to read in the world. Each weighing at least 30 pounds. My fingertips have been rubbed raw. My brain is fried. And my muscles' muscles are sore.
I feel accomplished.
It was a long, tiring day, but it was of special note. I know that much. The number of comics was built up over years and years. The amount of work that had to be done in two days was uncommon. (Not for the buyer, he does it a lot). But it was nice actually seeing the headway that was being made. The storage place had been packed, but as we worked, more and more of the boxes were being moved out to the truck. And not one person slacked off. It was good to be around people that you didn't have to worry about any of them just leaving the work for you to do.
My only regret is that I forgot to charge my iPod the night before, so half-way through the day, it died. Though I don't know if the music was annoying other people. I was just sad that I didn't have it to help finish off the last stretch.
I'm not scared of hard work. But what I went through was Comic Shop Boot Camp. And I made it out the other side stronger than before. I ain't some green, untrained recruit anymore. I've been through the wringer. I was in The S**t. I bled for my shop. I even have other soldiers I can talk to about what we've been through.
So I guess what I'm saying is: Nancy, are you hiring?
Thanks to Nancy, I had an opportunity for extra money on the side. This took the form of helping her, and others, in packing up the comics that was being kept in their very own storage facility. This collection was from the shop's 20 odd years of back issue inventory. She had a buyer from another state, and he would pay me and the other helpers to get as much of this done as possible. Pay? Money? I'm an American, I always have uses for money!
But first I had to get up at 5:30 to make it to work at Lakewood at 7:00 am.
I had a shoot at Del Valle park for the next round of kid league Basketball Championships. Apparently the rain forecast would have very little effect on the outside basketball court. Right. We got to the park and started setting up, all the while looking up at the incoming clouds. Yet again we had trouble with the power for the truck, and I'm still not sure how we got it to work properly. But we powered through, and were setting up for the announcer segment as the teams for the first game arrived. As soon as we started rolling on the segment, it started raining. We had wrapped up all the camera equipment in plastic, which turned out so much more necessary than we had thought.
The coaches called off the game as soon as they saw how wet the court was. We took the cameras back to the truck, and hoped against hope that the second game would be called off. It was not. The rain had stopped long enough for the park caretakers to decide that they could dry off the basketball court with push brooms and leafblowers in time for the second game. This was true, but the clouds were coming in dark and brooding, and it seemed as though the sky was just waiting to drop some more water on us. We set up the cameras for the second game. It didn't rain.
Not until the next opposing teams played for about 5 minutes.
Then it started raining harder than before. The game was called off, and we got the okay to break down all the equipment. Which we did. In the rain. And slightly annoyed. By the time all the equipment was in the truck, my head was soaked. Luckily I decided to convert a trash bag (not a used one, people!) into a makeshift poncho, which kept me relatively dry and relatively looking ridiculous.
Topics of Conversation @ the shoot: The kid and the new kid, gum, rain rituals, turning on the sun, chem trails, nicotine, how one can be the best around, staying positive, how to talk like Stephen Hawking, etc.
Since we were done a little early, I was able to head over to the storage facility to help Nancy and the buyer to pack up the comics. The biggest surprise from when I got the address was the fact that the place was incredibly close to where I live. I got to the place in time to be greeted by Mark, who informed me that everyone had gone on lunch. Which meant that I had a few minutes to kill and gather my wits. So I looked around the storage.
It was big. It was full. It was going to be a LONG weekend.
The job was simple:
1. Sort the comics by Company.
2. Pack the long boxes tight.
3. Throw onto a pallet.
4. Put it in the huge truck out back.
5. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
Everyone got back from lunch, at which point I got to meet the buyer, who was a very nice man. He's also an awesome professional in the field of comics books. He actually had a shop once upon a time that I had visited multiple times in the past. It was strange to actually be meeting him officially for the first time.
The work was exhausting, especially being on top of an already long day for myself. But the crew was focused and hard working, and it was comic books, so it wasn't like I didn't enjoy the subject at hand. Though I didn't have time to read anything, nor should I have been reading anything in the first place. This was only the first day, too.
After we finished for the day, I headed over to Tustin to hang out with Jamal and Ben. They wanted to eat at a Korean BBQ, watch Alice in Wonderland, and go to a bar afterword. I was down for the BBQ and movie, but I passed on the bar, since I had to help out at the storage again tomorrow morning. Dinner was really good, even though I felt distracted by the feeling that my head felt stuffed with cotton after such a long, tiring day. When we got to the theater, Alice had already sold out. Damn. We bought tickets for a later showing, and headed over to Barnes & Noble to kill time and talk.
Topics of Conversation @ Barnes & Noble: Revenge flicks, milk, pedo friends, bro codes, My Sassy Girl, a Batman idea, mysterious friends that continue to remain frustratingly mysterious, etc.
So we watched Alice in Wonderland, in 3D, and I have to say, that it didn't work for me very well. Plot points and character traits were frustrating for most of the movie. And the ending felt really forced and random. But the actress who played Alice was excellent, and each actor did a great job. But I have to hand it to Anne Hathway, as the White Queen. She stole each and every scene she was in. She was hilarious and interesting at the same time, with really subtle quirks, and one big quirk that never stopped amusing me. Actually, all the subtle stuff in this movie worked great for me. But this is not a subtle movie. This is a very obvious, colorful, and, yes, MAD film. An okay movie, but not worth the 3D price tag ultimately.
And what is it with Tim Burton and pale, blond women?
Friday, March 5, 2010
I felt like a jerk, but I had to play this game. I love Ghostbusters. To an intense degree. Of course I loved Venkman (Murry), who couldn't? Egon was great. Ray is most likely me. But in fact, and I think I was in smaller group here, I was a Winston fan. I liked his everyman approach, and how he was down to take on anything. I don't know, I've always liked Ernie Hudson.
So I'm not giving away anything by saying that Ghostbusters is a giant fan-service. One huge love letter to everybody that has ever loved this movie. It really comes through. You can tell that Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis had fun making this game. There are genius nods to the two movies, with some great fresh dialogue, and the simple joy of having any version of this world at all is a victory in of itself. But its not just ANY version, this is a really good version. With everyone involved in the first two movies back and kicking ass.
The game mechanics get a little hard to work with, though. Some aspects left me a little frayed around the edges. But the little problems are easy to ignore due to the simple fact that I'm fighting the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man! I'm a fan, so it was easy to please me. But they pushed for more than just pleasing me. They wanted to give me the third movie that they never made. They know they dropped the ball in that department, and this game is their apology.
I more than forgive them... I thank them.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Well, until the next time I get bogged down again.
So today was focused on a "Game of the Week" shoot. This was for Basketball for 9-10 year-old boys, and 9-10 year-old girls. The Championships, to be exact. Lakers vs Jayhawks. And the Wolfpack vs Sour Patch Kids. (Yeah, "Sour Patch Kids" made me do a double take, too). This shoot was... well, the setup was cursed.
Its a simple shoot to set up. Three cameras, some audio, and an announcers' table. Believe me when I say that this should have been done in two hours with, an hour for lunch, no problem. But we had problems. The switcher in the truck broke. We were transporting a platform for a raised camera angle, and it nearly blew right off the roof of the van. The power supply for the truck was going wonky. We had to replace an electrical cable. Both games were late starting, so we had to stay longer to shoot them. I was having a hell of a time getting lunch for the crew. Just... wow. Really, life was going out of its way to humble us.
But somehow, by the sheer will and determination of paid professionals, we were able to shoot this game from beginning to end with no more problems. I even felt competent on the camera for once. It was a nice feeling. And the games weren't boring. The kids were playing with all their heart. We got some cool stuff out of the gig.
It was a good shoot, after all was said and done.
On a side note, I was given an opportunity for extra work this weekend. Here's to hoping my Saturday opens up more for it. But at least Sunday will be wide open either way. I just hope we don't get flooded.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Topics of Conversation @ Comics Unlimited: Captain EO, rebel leaders that don't inspire confidence, Transmetropolitan, lethargic dances, being a Narc, Walt Disney, Tokyo cos-players, graphic comic book panels, cat side-cars, trying out for Musicals, intensity, giving terrible news with a winning smile, using a "re-re face" as a joke-killer, etc.
Yesterday, I made plans for ANOTHER Kogi outing. I know what you're thinking... yes, my beard truly is magnificent. But what I was talking about was another Kogi visit, so try to stop being so distracted my glorious follicles. Amy and Aaron couldn't make it last night, so I promised to take them to get some short rib tacos. Patrick came along again, so I wasn't the only returnee.
This Kogi visit went weird though.
First of all, the Kogi Truck we were going to was going to be located really close to where I live, at a place called "California Girls." A strip club. I was technically taking my friends to a strip club, and I had already been to a strip club for another reason, and now I was going to a second one within week of the other club. Okay, to be fair, the Kogi Truck was only going to be in the parking lot, but it was still a little odd.
Second, it started to rain. But only as soon as we ordered and had to wait for our food. And it kept coming down to the point that I ran to my car to grab both my umbrella and my poncho. We got our food and headed to my car, which, with my usual forethought, was so messy, it only had room for three people. I threw everything that was in the way into the trunk, and we all sat down in the parking lot to eat and talk about whatever was on our minds.
Topics of Conversation @ a parking lot: Special FX, how the rain only showed up when we were out in the open and vulnerable, Koreans unimpressed with Korean food, dirty bodies of water the world over, $5 cover charges, my fake Japanese speech, fogged up windows, why Catherine Hepburn sounded the way she did, etc.
Okay. I'm going to try and explain the last "Conversation" bit about Catherine Hepburn. Because for reasons that I'm not entirely sure I can explain, this absolutely BROKE me with laughter. I haven't laughed that hard in weeks, maybe even months. And I still don't know for sure why it did. (This explanation might fail, due to the fact that you kind of had to be there).
Aaron was just talking about dirty rivers, and a river in Italy came up, much in the way that anything leads into anything in these tangent convos. He went on to say that the urine levels in said river were so high as to be toxic.
Then he said "Well Catherine Hepburn fell into that river, and that's why she talks like THIS." And he said 'talks like THIS' in this weird garbled voice.
And I lost it. I f**king couldn't stop laughing. I could feel my insides start to ache, and I just kept going. I wasn't laughing at Aaron at all. For all I know he was completely right. But all I could picture was a scene that went like this:
DIRECTOR: "Okay, Catherine... ACTION!"
CATHERINE: "How can one woman love three men-? OH S**T!"
SOUND FX: SPLASH!
DIRECTOR: "Oh god, she fell into the river! Someone go in after her!"
P.A.: "Not me, man! That river smells like piss."
DIRECTOR: "Then just throw her a rope or something!"
(They fish her out).
CATHERINE: "Oh, my head... what happened?"
DIRECTOR: "Why does she sound like that? Luigi! Get over here!"
LUIGI: (Imagine an awful Italian accent) "What canna I-ah do for you-uh?"
DIRECTOR: "What the hell is wrong with Catherine?"
LUIGI: "Oh-a no-a! Did a-she falla inna the river?!"
DIRECTOR: "Yes! What's wrong with that river?"
LUIGI: "I-ah dinna wanna bring-a this up, but that-a river is like-a 98%-a pee."
DIRECTOR: "That's DISGUSTING!"
P.A.: "I told you that river smelled like piss."
LUIGI: "There's one in India thassa so much worse-a..."
CATHERINE: "Do you need me to do the scene again?"
DIRECTOR: "Please stop talking, Catherine, you're freaking me out."
LUIGI: "Yeah, it's-a weird-a sounding, ah?"
DIRECTOR: "Not as weird as the fact that YOUR COUNTRY HAS A RIVER OF URINE!"
Yeah, so that's the best I could come up with to explain my mad laughter. Thanks for reading.