Monday, June 30, 2008

La Rondine and Daikokuya 6/28

La Rondine LAOpera
Photo by Robert Millard/LA Opera

Switched a shift to work 7a-3 so I could get off early enough to go to the opera that night. Originally it was supposed to have been me, Sarah, Graham and Graham's lady, but complications arose when Sarah missed a flight back from Seattle and plans got muddled. I called in Tony and after work, picked up Graham and Vanessa and drove to Santa Monica to pick up Tony. Unfortunately there was traffic (on a Saturday! bla) from the 10 in SM to downtown, but we arrived about 10 minutes late and were seated soon afterward. What with our being seated in the orchestra

[Edit: It's now early October. I'll finish this post for posterity's sake.]

What? Seated in the orchestra? Yeah fantastic seats...assigned to us. They were not the ones we were sitting in, though. Awkwardness ensued when I tried to reclaim our rightful seats, but whatever. La Rondine was beautiful, it was Vanessa's first opera and it was generally acclaimed.

After that we went (as is tradition now, I guess) to Daikokuya. I didn't want to hype it up too much so we stood around silently for the 45 minutes or so until we were seated. Then another twenty before we ate. And oh, was it worth it. The broth had never been so thick, the egg never so flavorful. It was a great meal among friends and the night ended with general goodwill toward the world.

Unfortunately, this was the weekend everything went down. Tony moved out of Lauren's the week after, I think, and I haven't spoken to him since.

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Party at David Moss's 6/26

Got off work at 11 and thought defiantly, "that's not going to stop me!" Drove up to Santa Monica after a little convincing, though, and met up with friends at David Moss's house. He's come back from Japan after a year of study there, and it was good to see him again, albeit somewhat awkward. Anyway, spent most of the night talking with Lauren and Chris. Met some dude named Jake who went to high school with them (but didn't know them), and hilarity ensued when it was discovered that he complemented Chris perfectly. Chris happens to be an amazing storyteller, and it turns out Jake was an ideal listener! He was engrossed, animated, and full of questions for Chris, it was so funny and cute. That was the highlight of the night, watching Chris recount crazy EMT stories and Jake listen open-mouthed, interrupting with, "so have you ever seen a person die in front of you??" Moderately morbid but mostly mirthful.

Went back to Lauren's afterward (I came back late because I stopped at Randy's...oh blissful glazed doughnut) and attempted to watch some Frontier House, but ended up just falling asleep. Ah well, a fun night with some new company.

And if you care to know, an update on the bite situation: I took matters into my own hands the next day and left a fan blowing over me the whole night. Awoke with no new bug bites and a day later found a dead mosquito near the fan site ( Vengeance is mine! Almost bought a net at REI a couple of days later but will see. I will probably have to catch West Nile before I cave.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

First day of summer

Seven recorded bug bites within the last twelve hours. All bright red, swollen and throbbing. Welcome to summer! Also, lots of sirens and sounds of a helicopter flying around. Welcome to Long Beach!

Edit: Make that eight.
Edit: It's almost 5am. It's not funny any more. I literally count twenty-three bug bites on my body; at least I think it's 23 but I honestly keep losing count. I am on the verge of tears and one foot is pulsating with pain. I don't know how to make it go away and there's no one to talk to. God, this is horrible.
Edit: 6/22 6pm. Cleaning room and killed a mosquito FILLED with my blood. Revenge! Meanwhile, keep finding bites all over body. Last count was around thirty. Look like am suffering from plague. Not looking forward to sleeping again tonight.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Magic Mountain 6/19

Went to Magic Mountain! For the first time in probably 5 years? Last time I went was with Lauren when I won tickets for this KROQ event, after park hours. It was fun, but only a few hours and none of those new rides had been built. For whatever godforsaken reason we chose yesterday, a Thursday in mid-June in Valencia, to go. Invited Lily and chose Lauren's coworker Ray to be our fourth so we were even, and had a pretty good day.

It was fun--we started by gathering everyone together and buying snackies from Trader Joe's, then Lily drove us out. The drive was not bad at all (thankfully), and Lauren's extremely generous aunt Julie who lives out there offered to give us a ride to the park so we could skip the FIFTEEN DOLLAR parking (even Disneyland's--which is COVERED--is cheaper!). Julie's also sweet son David (who's going to be a senior next year! eek!) gave us TWO FREE TICKETS! So with a coupon we ended up paying $15 each to get into the park. David ended up driving us--the first time we've seen him behind the wheel. It was one of the scarier rides of the day. Sneaked food in by our Wile E. ways because they don't allow outside food! Which is ridiculous. (Speaking of Looney Tunes, the characters who formerly dominated many parts of the park were rarely mentioned or seen, except for a glimpse of Speedy Gonzalez at one point.)

We managed to get on only seven rides during the ten hours we were there, but they were all great. The worst things were the oppressive heat--thank God we live by the beach--and the appalling rate of breakdowns of rides. Here's the order:

1. Viper
2. X2 (not really)
3. Tatsu
4. Deja Vu (not really)
5. Ninja
6. Goliath
7. Superman
8. Batman
9. X2

We strolled into Viper and waited about 5 minutes before we got to go on, not at all a bad start. The scary thing was that the last time Lauren and I had been there, what with the park being empty, we rode Viper 12 times in a row. After today's ride we were both shaky and stunned that such a feat was possible. We had forgotten or ignored how fast and terrifying that ride was! Or maybe we've just gotten soft from years of having Space Mountain be our biggest thrill. Definitely made us reconsider what to expect from the day, though.

After that I convinced everyone that riding X2 (we got there around 1pm) earlier would be better than when the park got more crowded as the day went on, so waited in that line for an hour before it was announced that the ride had broken down indefinitely. Like a great deal of the people around us we promptly ditched that line.

Luckily, we waited about the same amount of time for Tatsu and were actually within boarding distance of the ride when we were informed it was also experiencing technical difficulties. Our resolve strengthened, we stubbornly stayed and waited about 20 minutes before they began rerunning. I just felt bad for those who were strapped in and hanging in wait for that long! When we eventually got on, Ray (who had been psyching himself out) was tinkered over his harness much longer than the rest of us. The ride operators were pushing down hard on his harness, trying to get it to do God knows what, without a word and finally seeming to walk away with a "that'll do." The fact that we were suspended from above with nary a net between us and the hard concrete made their concern that much more terrifying, and subsequently turned the ride into the most rewarding, I felt, of the day. Since I legitimately wondered if we might be dropped out and plunged to our deaths ("I regret nothing!") the ride was intoxicatingly scary.

A jaunt over to the ill-publicized and empty line for Deja Vu followed...followed by a thirty-minute wait also near boarding while waiting for THAT ride to be fixed of whatever its problem was. Lauren and I theorized that only the new rides, built in a frenzy amidst rumors of the park closing, were constructed shoddily and attributed the possibly cheap engineering to the rate of breakdowns, as our first ride on the dependable Viper had gone on without a hitch. We finally decided to leave that line and go eat.

I decided to lead the gang to the Laughing Dragon Pizza Company, which I remember as a youth as not bad. On the way we passed Ninja, the virtues and excitement of which I'd been extolling to our group, and Ray suggested we pop in before eating. What a great idea! Although running from the entrance right to a seat was exciting it was a little sad to see a great ride that used to have lines going down the hill be so empty. I'm extremely gratified the ride was as good as I remember it, a sturdy and fast swing around the park.

Found the restaurant closed (like a lot of other stuff that day...too expensive to keep open? In peak theme park season?) and directed everyone to the area with the pseudo food court by some of the kids rides like Buccaneer, the big swinging pirate ship. Lily was very excited to go on that before we found it too was closed. Ate corn dogs and grossly undercooked fries and wandered over to Goliath, which became my favorite ride soon after it was built (sorry, Ninja and Colossus). Solidly exciting, and got some good air time as the lap bar at its lowest setting (either that or it was faulty) was still too high for me and I had a bit of room to be lifted up. Woo!

Discovering that Superman was in fact running and most of us had only been on it once with little recollection of it, we headed back over to Samurai Summit and spent a good 30 minutes in line for that. Lily was trying really hard to opt out of riding (something no one had done all day), due to some unexplained aversion. We insisted she accompany us and she fearfully relented. She was really freaked out about that ride! We got in and waited a full five minutes trying to figure out someone's lap bar sitch, because apparently they all need to be locked into place at a certain spot ("the lowest setting possible," the operator kept insisting) in order for the ride to go. Eventually one heavyset man needed to get off the ride, but that still didn't fix it! After an annoyingly long delay (during which Lily was psyching herself out even more) the 15-second ride started and ended. Not too worth the wait, but the nice "Arctic chill" in line was neat, Lily understood her fear was a bit unfounded and Lauren and I realized why the ride isn't that memorable.

Found similar "old-school" line situations at Batman. It seems like the hype for all the new rides have left classics open for the taking, and we thoroughly enjoyed running through Gotham City's sewers and back alleys to board immediately. (Note: throughout the day our Disney pedigree left us finding the park's condition appalling, as bins overflowed, trash rattled around on the ground and we wandered through some really badly lit, scary places. It seemed like the job of keeping Gotham City looking decrepit and run-down was maybe the easiest in the park.) Oh, Batman! There's nothing like sitting right down and swinging your legs away. Scarier than I remembered, but so were most of the rides.

By that time it was nigh on 9:30 and Ray was getting antsy, mentioning something about a midnight tattoo appointment. I managed to convince everyone, jaded as they were, to try to ride X2 just once. Got in that line and made it all the way to our scary-looking train and proceeded to ride one of the best of the night. Besides the line having very obnoxious, loud "interactive" markers of big-screen televisions and speakers blasting "Are you a Type A...or a TYPE X??", it was definitely worth the line--twice, as it were. I decided that having to wait through the line twice and finally going at the very end of the night made the ride that much more worthwhile and enjoyable. The spins were all very smooth and controlled, unlike the washing machine movements I'd imagined, and falling headfirst was truly scary. The biggest regret was that the ride is 30 seconds long, if that! Pretty disappointing. However, a great way to end the night.

Got picked up by Julie soon after and listened to show tunes the whole way home. Funny, even though we were farther from Anaheim than ever we still kept the habit of singing a few good Disney tunes. At the end of the day our careful preparation had paid off in the lacks of sunburns and dehydration all around. The new rides are quite exciting but the constant rate of breakdowns make the payoff less than desirable. The old rides don't fail to deliver. All in all, a very exciting and fun reprieve from the normal Disney routine and a perfect reminder of how lucky we are NOT to live in Valencia.
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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Disneyland 6/9-10 Recap

Got off work Monday the 9th at 7 and went to Disneyland with Lily. Since we got there after 9 (right when the fireworks were starting) we snagged primo parking right by the tram. Had the clam chowder in a sourdough breadbowl at Try Our Gumbo. It's been so long and it was DELICIOUS. We totally saved our leftover bread plugs and ate them later, haha. I managed to switch shifts at work so I could have Tuesday free, so the next day Lauren and Lily both headed over and we went again!

We decided to start at DCA because Lauren hadn't been on Tower of Terror yet, so we screamed ourselves through that a couple of times. Met up with Tross at California Screamin' and trekked to THPOE after that.

This time I remembered to print out the Indiana Jones explorer map and decoder card that they issued to promote the Indy 4 movie and we spent a fun 15 minutes in Adventureland finding the clues that were "hidden" there. Later we did use the decoder card in line for Indy, but it was moving quickly at all the wrong parts and we could only translate bits and pieces. Space Mountain has been really lacking lately; even very late at night when the ride should be its fastest it legitimately feels slow at points, the kind of "wait, are we moving?" slow. It's really disappointing--I'm sure too many people complained about the old speed. =[

Showed up to moderately empty Cafe Orleans (our enthusiastically received discovery as a cheap alternative to the Blue Bayou) hungry and tired, where they said they weren't taking any more reservations for the night. So we did the natural thing--called Disney Dining and booked reservations there (what a surprise! There were openings) for a half-hour later. Went on Big Thunder, came back and ate a delicious dinner. I opted for a full bowl of the gumbo this time, Lily was saving her appetite for Lee's later and Lauren and Tross split a Monte Cristo, with an order of pommes frites for the table. One good thing was that Lauren had brought tons of snackies to the park, so we had been munching all day and were able to eat the whole meal (stretching our stomachs out, she says).

The parks were pretty crowded for a Tuesday; then again, it's June. We decided to go those days because having the cheapest annual pass, these are the only days available to us for the rest of June all the way through August (July is blocked out completely). I'm glad we didn't go for the more expensive passes anyway--who wants to go on a Friday when the place is ridiculously packed?

Oh! A scary thing happened: Lily and I took Lauren into the Star Tours shop to show her the build-a-lightsaber station. As is the case in most Disneyland crowds, we got separated and all I noticed was that I started coughing. Not for any definitive reason, I wasn't choking or thirsty or sick, it was just a hacking cough that I got. Then I noticed that EVERYONE--I mean, dozens of people--around me was also coughing their lungs out too! And I got really freaked out. If I had been the one not coughing in this place it wouldn't have bothered me that much, but the whole place was full of coughers who all seemed to have inhaled the same thing. So I left the place and went outside, where Lauren, Lily and Tross were--Lily had started coughing there and Lauren had felt her nostrils burning! It was so odd, and for no discernible reason. We hightailed it out of Tomorrowland and the northrax attack.

Besides the biological weapons, screaming children and pushy crowds, the double Disneyland detour was wonderful. I will be happy to wait until August, when I hope the crowds will have cleared up some. Tonight I'm supposed to go shooting with Chris (this time actual gun shooting, not the shooting with cameras that I say all the time and people joke about), which we were supposed to have done yesterday before it got too late. Justin's in too; let's hope it actually works out. After all, today I was supposed to go hiking. Crossing my fingers for plans that don't fall through!
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Friday, June 13, 2008

BSG: Revelations Screening

Got back from the Envelope Screening Series' screening of the Battlestar Galactica mid-season finale. It was frakking awesome. It's mind-blowing to see this on the big screen, much less in the Cinerama Dome! And for free! Lauren and Tony got there early and snagged sweet spots in line, so I whizzed over after work and we got pretty good seats at the front of the mezzanine. Nice people watching: Kevin Smith was there, as was Ian Curtis from Anthrax, and oh, random others like Ron D. Moore, Katee Sackhoff, Tricia Helfer, Mary McDonnell and the entire BSG writing team!

The episode is amazing and premieres today. Ron Moore made us swear not to spoil anything and I am solemnly adhering to that oath. It was great being that close to the stars of the show and hearing them talk about it. It ended with me being super stoked on that whole gods damn show. Lauren and I got back to her house and left right for "Sex and the City", which was pretty much 5 episodes of the show put to a soundtrack, which translates to amazing!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Also...I got an e-mail earlier today that confirmed my reservation for the Battlestar Galactica Envelope Screening Series! I'm going!!! So freaking excited. I sent them an e-mail hoping they'd read it and they did! And I got work switched around so I could go. BSG, here I come!

In other news, I just got back from Disneyland and am going to wake up and do the same thing tomorrow. Woot!

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Decided to create a blog where I could vent. Why haven't we heard anything about Bush's so-called "stimulus plan" which was supposed to "stimulate" the economy? I have not heard a peep from the White House or otherwise about these effects. Good call, government.

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