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Sunday, August 31, 2003

It was a necessarily slower day today, after the high energy and excessive indulgences of the previous day. The bad news is that I'm not going to be able to fill up page upon page on this place like I did the previous two days. The good news is that this means I can log off this damn computer and get to sleep at a reasonable hour.

I awoke at the very unfortunate hour of 8 AM, just four hours after turning in from the previous evening, and was unable (no matter what I tried, and I think you're following me here) to get back to sleep. So I knew from the get go that this was gonna be a tough one. First thing I did (after desperately chugging a Diet Pepsi to get some moisture back into my body) was climb into this very chair and pound out the August 30 report, which you'll find below. I then dicked around on the iPowerWeb hosting service administration webpage, and by way of randomingly clicking this button and that, was able to create a BBS for this webpage, which you'll find here. I gotta tell you, while I shopped for my new web hosting service somewhat like I shop for shirts at Target (grab the first one you find and get the hell out of there before you're clobbered by a roving pack of grossly overweight mothers of seven), I am so far very pleased with iPowerWeb. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for their own web hosting service, unless they actually suck and I just haven't discovered it yet, in which case, fuck them.

Since, as you can see, yesterday's update took quite a while to complete, it was after 11:00 before either Michelle or I started getting any ideas about actually moving, or getting up, or doing anything exceeding the physical capacity of your average houseplant. And it was after 12:00 before any of those ideas were set in motion.

I suggested a brisk walk down to the Pier for a light Mexican-themed lunch at Mariasol, the joint at the very end of the Pier. It's a nice location, and the food is consistently acceptable, which is more than one might hope for such a centrally-located feeding trough. The "brisk walk" idea, however, was not met with much enthusiasm by Michelle, and so it became more of a death march, as we trudged along, our hangovers held closely in tow.

Once we made it to the Pier, I noticed something very strange was going on, and it actually took me a couple seconds before it registered: The entire Pacific ocean had turned a reddish-brown. This was an extremely strange sight for me, and was actually quite unnerving (which is not exactly the emotional experience I was looking to have at that point). I don't know what happened, or what caused it, or what the hell was going on, but as far as you could see down either side of the Pier, the water had that same rich, auburn hue. And thousands of beachgoers (or as I call them, "Mexicans") were still in there, wading around, a-splishing and a-splashing this viscous-looking ocean water. Can anyone explain this occurrence to me?

Anyhoo, we arrive at Mariasol and take our seats (I voted we sit inside, so I wouldn't have to stare at that ugly-ass water). Now me, I am all about the hair of the dog, so I immediately start ordering Dos Equises. Michelle was not so convinced about my never-fail hangover cure, so it took a bit of cajoling for her to order a pina colada. Which, I'm not sure that's really the right way to go about it, but I appreciated the effort.

Lunch was, let's just say, quiet. Neither one of us was particularly in the humor for light chatter, so we whiled away the time looking through LA Weekly, watching tennis, and most of all trying to stay awake and not flop our heads into the salsa bowl. I ordered the... Champenada, I think it was called, a cold seafood soup. Light, refreshing, and quite tasty. Michelle opted (at my somewhat Machiavellian recommendation, since I wanted some) for the carnitas burrito, which was also (based on the few forkfulls I stole) quite delicious. However, after polishing off our meals and paying the check, it became apparent to both of us that perhaps a full Mexican meal was not the optimal course of action, given our conditions.

Needless to say, the walk back to 122 Strand was even slower than the walk from it (though I should state in fairness to myself that it's all Michelle's fault. I mean, yeah, maybe I had one or two too many last night, but I can still suck it up enough to stride purposefully along wherever I need to be. Michelle's a bit more of a delicate flower, though, so being the consummate host that I am, I acquiesced to her needs for a slower pace.)

This was supposed to be a short entry, wasn't it? What the hell am I doing already on the second page of this? It should say, "Hi, we were hungover, we got up, had lunch." There. Is that so hard?

Anyway, we arrive back at the apartment at around 3:30, at which time we opt to pop in a movie. Today's selection was "The Red Violin", which we both I think found very well done, but ultimately not satisfying. I, personally, was disappointed just because it had come extremely highly recommended by some people whose opinions on film I generally respect. So when the movie ended up being merely "pretty good", it was a bit of a letdown. On the bright side, it was an opportunity to sit still for two and a half hours, which I think both of us were happy to have.

A quick trip to Albertson's to pick up some more fruit, more cheese, a couple beverages, and some trash bags, and then back to the pad. Dinner tonight consisted of brie and crackers, garlic-infused olives, and fruit. This may not seem like elaborate gourmet cuisine, but I'm telling you, it's the simple things that make the most satisfying meals. Also, by this time, we were fairly well recuperated from yesterday, and were able to "get back on the horse".

This led to the rest of the evening, which consisted of sitting around, watching Doggy Fizzle Televizzle (not as good a show as I might have hoped), smoking Camels (this really needs to stop), and in my case, wishing I was asleep.

Which, speaking of that...

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Man, what a day. It was such a day that, sitting here at 9:30 AM the next morning, a lot of the details have grown sketchy just in the short time it took me to get four hours of sleep and then wake up because my mouth felt like my cat had crawled inside it and gone to sleep. But I'll do my best to suck it up for ya and give you the "411", as the kids say (because "411" is the telephone number to dial for directory assistance, or "information". Hence, it's like saying, "give you the information". Okay?)

I excitedly bounded out of bed and jumped over to the computer to see how my brand new domain and web hosting service was doing! As you can plainly see, things couldn't have worked out better. I then spent the next hour carefully designing this spectacular web layout, which I'm sure you'll admit is better than all other webpages on the internet combined (by about, oh, a million times?)

Then, after my cousin and I had both showered and freshened up (separately -- it ain't like that in this family), we were of on our Adventure O' Productivity! Armed with the big To-Do list described in yesterday's entry, we drove to Westwood, and began tearing that town apart! The first part we tore apart was the Borders Books & Music & Coffee & Stale Pastry location. The goal here was to purchase a new atlas, and then a couple travel books to assist me in finding all the "hot spots" across this questionably great country of ours. Well, all I can say to that is, check, check, and double check! Picked up a smart new atlas (it's Rand McNally, so you know it's pretty good), the "Rough Guide to California", and another book called "Road Trip USA", which I figured was the right place to start, since I will be driving across country in a couple months, and will want to know 1. how to get where I'm going, 2. where I'm gonna find the ladies along my route. I was initially going to purchase the "Rough Guide to America", solely on the strength that it listed, as the #12 most important thing to see/do in America, "eat a cheesesteak in south Philadelphia", but then decided that a more navigation-oriented book would serve me better in the long run. We shall see.

That task successfully put paid to, it was time to grab a bite to eat. Fortunately, the best Persian restaurant in town (Shaherzad) is right next door to the Borders, so I felt it was a good opportunity to introduce Michelle to the joy that is fine Persian cuisine. We took our seat, ordered a couple Heinekens ("It begins!" - Barney Gumble), and munched on their tremendous tandoor-baked bread with butter and raw onion (the only way to go). I suggested that, being a first timer, she stick with something recognizable, so she had the "koobideh" (kabobs of seasoned ground beef) and I had "ghormeh sabzi", a stew of fried herbs and dried lemon, and my all-time favorite Persian dish. I then explained to her the "traditional" method of eating koobideh, which is: Season everything with sumac, the traditional Persian condiment of ground tree bark, peel the broiled tomato, throw a little butter in the rice, hack off a piece of the kabob, and with a spoon, scoop up a little of everything (kabob, rice, tomato) and shove that crap into your face. Alas, I was unable to convince her to use the spoon, and her technique with the rest of it was a little tentative and unsure (understandable, for a newcomer). However, when it comes to Persian food (or food of any kind, really), if it's good, how you get it in your mouth is really not all that important, and she was happy to go it her own way. Meanwhile, I was shoveling ghormeh sabzi down like nobody's business. Great lunch.

Over a second (or third) Heineken (not a traditional Persian beverage, but tough), we then started perusing the California travel book I'd just purchased. Did you know that Ferndale, CA, is known as the best preserved Victorian village in California? Well, it is!

Empowered by our delicious meal, we then set out (after a brief stop at the pet store to stare at the kittens and puppies) to accomplish even more tasks (and, sadly, spend more money). Next on the list was to stop by the music store to pick up a case for my keyboard, which was actually pleasant, since I was expecting to spend over $120, but my man James there was able to cut me a deal for just $69. I felt like someone had just come up to me on the street and given me $51!

Now we were on a serious roll, and it didn't look like anything was going to slow us down. Time to get the car spruced up. We stop at Jiffy Lube to get that done.

I'll admit that I'm probably not as good to my automobiles as I should be, which is why I kind of dread going into Jiffy Lubes. It's like going to the dentist when you know you haven't been brushing or flossing. And sure enough, the guy opens up the hood and does that little condescending glance over in my direction, as if to say, "you inhuman monster", and also as if to say, "you are going to be spending way more than the standard $29.95 'Signature Service' today, mister." Which I did, basically agreeing to whatever he said. "Umm, yeah, you're gonna need a new engine." "Okay!"

While we waited for the service to be complete, we walked a couple blocks up to a Mexican place, sat, and drank a pitcher of margaritas (rocks/salt). We also nibbled on chips and salsa, though after our big Persian feast, it was not really out of hunger. Just thought I'd mention that.

My service complete ($120), we drove back to 122 Strand. Michelle had also expressed some concerns about the condition of her own car, so we then got into her car, and drove to the local Firestone to have them change the oil, and check the radiatior for leaks. They did change the oil, and they did find a leak. So that was kinda bad news, but the day had been such a success up until that point, I wasn't going to let that bother me. Plus, it wasn't my car, so the fuck do I care, right?

After we got her car back, it was time to get ready for the evening's entertainment, which I could not have been more excited about. Idly flipping through LA Weekly the night before (which I never do), I happened upon a little ad in the corner of one page that featured a couple of words that caught my eye. As I read the entire thing, I began to become tingly in all of my extremeties! "An Evening with John Williams -- Narrated by James Earl Jones, at the Hollywood Bowl"! Are you kidding me? John Williams? The John Williams? My all-time musical idol? Is gonna be conducting his own movie shit, right here in town? So, from that point, it was on. I hopped on Ticketmaster instantly and bought two "Best Available" seats, for the reasonable price of $18 per seat (plus Ticketmaster's normal $6099.99 "convenience fee" -- fuckers).

Not having been to the Bowl before, I felt it behooved us to leave earlier than we might have otherwise, just to make sure there was no hassle finding the place or parking or anything. This proved to be a wise decision, not because there was any trouble finding it or getting parking (I've found that a $20 at the ready in that part of town will solve just about any parking dilemma you might have), but just because the Bowl is an experience. We knew, walking in, that we were rookies, and that we'd totally screwed up. Here we were, coming in to actually see a concert, silly us. Everyone else, got these giant coolers and picnic baskets and everyone is just lying around getting hammered and having elaborate meals and just going to town. I swear, you could make this place an all-day event. By the time the music starts, it's almost an afterthought.

Anyway, we tried as hard as we could to make up for not coming prepared, and stopped at one of the many various mini-stores dotting the grounds, to pick up a bottle of hugely overpriced wine, beer, and snacks. Armed with all these goodies, we made our way to our seats (section P3, row 15, seats 17 & 19). One gets a real sense of local cultural history, sitting there in that gigantic auditorium, the Hollywood hills splayed out beyond the stage. One also gets a real sense that one better hit the bathroom before the show starts. So one did that. Then one got back in our seats, popped a beer, popped the wine (to let it breathe a little), and set about partying like it was a long time ago in a galaxy far far away!

The first highlight of the evening was James Earl Jones' voice coming over the loudspeaker and doing the safety/consideration disclaimer. It went a little like this: "Please refrain from sitting in the aisles, please turn off all cellphones, when exiting, please keep noise to a minimum, as this is a residential area, and may the force be with you." That got the crowd (several of whom had come with light sabres, no lie) riled up to a fever pitch.

After a few more minutes, Johnny W. makes his way out to the stage, and the band launches into America the Beautiful. Next up was Horray for Hollywood, which I guess was obligatory, given the locale. After that was a delightful medley of brief snippets of countless other movie scores, some John's own work, some not. It was fun to try to pick out all the films they were blowing through. Everything from Psycho to the Pink Panther to the Godfather (my favorite, natch), and surprisingly, even a brief tease of Star Wars. The centerpiece of the evening was going to be the "Star Wars Master Suite", an extended compilation of music from all five movies, narrated by Mr. Jones. But with a little taste of the fanfare in the medley, the crowd went nuts and started waving their light sabres in approval. It may have been the LA Philharmonic up there, but the whole evening was almost more reminiscent of a rock concert. I was waiting for a beach ball to come tumbling through the crowd.

Next on the docket was music from Catch Me If You Can, a jazzy, extremely complex number, and in my opinion some of his best work in the last ten years or so. I enjoyed that, even though the crowd was starting to get antsy. They wanted Free Bird, and the band was playing B sides.

The fourth section, and the last before the intermission, was Harry Potter stuff, which, not being a huge fan of the films, I wasn't terribly familiar with. However, the music was outstanding, so I was more than happy to sit there and try to pretend that there was an actual good movie that went along with it.

Then intermission, and then the real party started. J. E. Jones comes out to the speaker's podium and begins the narration, describing the Star Wars saga, starting from the "beginning" (Episode 1). Williams then gets out his wand (right there in front of everyone), does the 20th Century Fox fanfare, and then wham, that first, unmistakeable note blows through the warm night air, and the adrenaline from the crowd was unstoppable. What followed was an orgiastic feast of some of the best music that has, in my opinion, ever been made, and music that has served as the number one inspiration for my own work since I was about ten. I had a grin on my face the entire time. Getting to see Imperial March performed live might be the greatest musical experience of my life. Wow.

This is getting way too long now, so I think I'll just sum up the whole evening: John FUCKING Williams, man. A genius of indescribable magnitude. Even the little one-off shit that he was doing, like "Yoda Blows a Fart" or whatever, was so complex, rhythmically, harmoniously, texture-wise... I don't know how to describe it, really, but he just amazes the hell out of me. He has mastered the game of music. He is Kasparov, he is Tiger Woods, he is Lance Armstrong, and he is Jesus Christ.

We make our way out of the Bowl and stumble back to the car. On the drive home, we hear, in order, "rock blocks" of Rush, Queen, and the Beatles. At that point, I decided that as far as music is concerned, it was impossible to have a better evening than we'd just experienced.

One cool thing was, on the 10 West, on the way back, about 1000 feet in front of us, a car, obviously not seeing that the car ahead of him had slowed way down, swerved HARD to the left, and lost control. Fishtailing back around to the right, the car then smashed into the outside retaining wall in a frenzy of broken fiberglass and screeching rubber, all Dale Earnhardt-style. Thankfully, with my NASCAR-watching experience, I was able to avoid any trouble, and we slowly rolled on through the debris and continued on our way, now high on adrenaline (in addition to all the wine and beer at the Bowl, plus the little squeeze bottle of tequila I had in the car "for just such an occasion"). That was really cool.

Eventually finding a parking spot near 122 Strand, we somehow ended up where all evenings seem to end up around here, at Finn McCool's. This was around 1:30, later than I'd ever been in there, and the joint was jumping! I ordered two Guinnesses for me and my guest, and asked Jesi, the awesome bartendress who always recognizes me and treats me well, if she could have the boys in the kitchen whip up somethin' special for us. Within five minutes, a plate of Finn Skins was right in front of us. Love that Jesi. Then I had a Jameson rocks (probably not a good idea, in retrospect), and we finished everything up and headed on out, back to the pad.

There we spent another hour, hour and a half, talking, smoking Camels (that's getting kinda old, now), eating whatever we could find in the refrigerator, and just celebrating our glorious, productive, fun-filled day! Then we turned in, around 4:00 AM. Kinda late.

Do not get the idea that all of these updates are going to be this long. Because they are not. I'm just sitting here typing away as an excuse to not get up out of this chair and do anything useful. Moving a little slow this morning, you understand. Had a bit of a party last night, you understand. Not quite 100% today, you understand.

Friday, August 29, 2003

You know the old saying that goes, "the path to ultimate creativity ultimately begins by copying something someone else did, which in itself was already a copy of something that fifteen thousand other people had already done"? I'm going to try to put that saying into good practice with this feature, which will outline the various goings on in my soon-to-be exciting life. This will prove alternately comedic, tragic, and occasionally even boring beyond comprehension, but the important part is that you'll soon not be able to live without it. Just as you were unable to live without The Clash Files, back in the glory days. This feature is therefore dedicated (secondarily) to my inspiration, one Larry "Mr. Radio" Trask. It is primarily, however, dedicated to myself, because I'm paying the web hosting fees.

Anyway, as many of you no doubt already know, I've recently embarked on a wonderful, amazing, and most of all financially irresponsible journey. This journey began, like so many successful ones, by me quitting my job and vowing to do nothing but tend to my every whim and fancy for at least a year. That's the kind of life-defining story that I believe deserves a self indulgent webpage like this, so you can all follow the crazy, winding path I'm about to embark on, and more importantly, will serve as a cautionary tale to anyone else who's thinking about doing the same thing, when I ultimately wind up broke, on the street, and fellating dogs for show, to pay for my meth addiction.

I'll do some more background filler about what brought this whole thing on later. Right now, though, let's just dive into the First Day of the Rest of My Life, shall we?

This morning began with a bit of a surprise, when I realized that rather than being home with a cat drooling on my face, I instead awoke in a Motel 6, in Simi Valley, wrapped in the arms of the infamous "Shortcake", who you will also likely be hearing more than you'd care to about in the coming weeks/months/epitaphs. Seems the day before, we'd planned one of our weekly/biweekly "visits". But this time, in an effort to freshen things up a bit, I suggested that rather than spend the night on the floor of her pitiful room in her pitiful apartment which she's vacating shortly, surrounded by her pitiful roommates, we take a little "mini-vacation", down to the Motel 6 just a few short blocks from her place. Without getting too graphic, this proved to be an excellent decision. We've had a handful of days/evenings together now at this point, but I have to say, other than the initial encounters in Vegas (when I was still a happy person, and still held out hope that our relationship might actually end up bringing me something resembling a sense of fulfillment and contentment), this was probably my favorite. There is a freedom in being at a hotel which you just don't get when one party is invading the other's home, their sanctuary. Plus, there was an El Torito right next door, where we enjoyed some excellent nachos, in between "visiting". Plus, this was the first time in the history of our relationship that she actually let slip the subtlest hint that she thinks of me as something other than a (hugely talented) faceless plaything. Not that I care at this point, of course. But that's a whole other story. Plus, she was pretty drunk at the time, so there's that. Let's just move on, we have a long day ahead of us.

Anyway, we awake together to the incessant beeping of my wristwatch. After our traditional morning boink, I drove her the three/four blocks back to her place, dropped her off, and headed on into work. The drive from Simi to Westwood was remarkably smooth, given the fact that it's rush hour in Los Angeles. I attribute this to the fact that most of these lazy bastards took the day off to make it a four day weekend. That's the problem with this country, nobody has any sense of professionalism or dedication to their employer anymore.

After arriving at work around 8:30, I fixed a cup of Earl Grey, and set about the day's tasks. This involved getting a piece of paper, writing down the things I wanted to get done, reviewing the paper with a self-satisfied smirk, putting it off to the side, and then logging onto AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger, and checking all my personal email. Between chatting with friends and keeping the email banter going, sadly there was not much time left to tend to the items on my list. But I think making the list itself was a pretty significant accomplishment, given the fact that since I gave my notice that I'd be leaving at the end of next month, I've got a pretty serious case of short-timer (or "who gives a fuck") disease happening.

My emails all responded to in witty, brilliant fashions, I got to my other favorite hobby at work lately, which is re-reading the aforementioned "Clash Files". I'll say it again (even if I haven't said it before), you owe it to yourself to go read that stuff again, for the first time. Makes this piece of crap look like a piece of crap, no lie. Plus, in some sick way, it made me feel better about not doing any work at my workplace. "Hey, Clash fucked around for like SIX MONTHS, and now he's in show business, on top of the word." Idol? Might be too strong a word at this point. But maybe not.

I was getting pretty desperately bored by around noon, when I received the glorious news that the rest of the company was being given the rest of the day off, to get the weekend started early. Now, as a contractor, I take a bit of a financial hit by taking a half-day, since I only get paid for the hours I, for lack of a better word, "work". A hit I probably shouldn't be taking, by the way, since I'm not going to have a job for a long, long time after next month. If I'd considered it a bit more, I probably would have stuck around and focused myself on my assigned tasks. But before that thought even entered my mind, I was already out the door, halfway to the parking garage. And at that point, what are you going to do? Turn around?

Once I arrived at home, I grabbed a notebook and pen, and headed on out to have lunch at Finn McCool's, my local Irish pub, and my "go-to" bar, whenever I need a place to sit, have a beverage, and think things over. And so, over a couple of Guinness stouts and a "salmon BLT", I scribbled out what I considered to be a full list of everything I'd need to accomplish over the coming month so I can accomplish my goal of getting the hell out of here and driving to some random goddamn place that I haven't decided what it is yet. As you can see, list-making was today's main theme.

Flush with the good vibes that our friend, the Imperial pint, will imbue, I went home and immediately began knocking items off that list. First and foremost, I needed a new web hosting service. Although at the time I am writing this, my new domain/webspace does not exist, hopefully you are reading this column at the brand spanking new "" webpage. If not, I just wasted $95, and somebody is going to get hurt badly.

Once I got that first taste of spending money over the internet out of my system, I was not going to be stopped. I needed a new cellphone, that much was certain. My current service plan (with Verizon) is not going to work for me if I'm driving all over the country. Plus, the phone broke a couple months ago because I spilled a bottle of Stolichnaya (the world's best vodka) on it. So, my bad, but obviously it was time for a new phone. A good friend of mine recommended the "Sprint PCS" plan, and so, armed with that sage bit of wisdom, within 15 minutes, I'd signed up for a year, and spent even more money over the internet! Once I get started, don't even try to stop me.

At this point, I went to Vons to deposit my latest check from the good folks at my employer, who I won't mention here by name, just because I have this sneaking suspicion that posting specific personal information like that on my "web diary" might come back to haunt me some day. Call me paranoid if you want, but "better safe than sorry", that's my motto. Also I bought cat food, wine, beer, cheese, fruit, and crackers, which are essentially the only six items I ever buy anymore. If you've heard of a finer meal than wine, cheese, and fruit (and cat food), then I think it's time to get your ears checked, know what I'm saying?

After that, I tidied up about the place and started a couple loads of laundry, because my cousin Michelle was due in town this evening, and will be staying with me for the next couple days. Michelle's good people, and has had a pretty fucked up life up until a couple years ago, so I'm always happy to help her out.

Michelle arrived around 6:30, and we spent the remainder of the evening catching up, watching television, drinking, eating cheese, and smoking Camels. Those who know me know that I don't generally smoke, but she does, and she's my guest, so I didn't want to be rude. Though right now, I'm kind of wishing I hadn't had that last one. Bleah.

Then I wrote this.

Okay, that concludes this, the very first entry of I Wish I Were Alive! I think it was a pretty good one. Maybe not as hilarious as I would have liked, but certainly (much like Shortcake) you can't complain about the length. Ha ha! "Always finish with a dick joke", that's the other saying which I always try to stick to.

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