Archive for September, 2010

Spoiler Alert

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

I understand it is cold and raining on Toronto right now and you have my sympathy.  It is hot here.  Really really hot.  According to the news it reached a record high of 113 degrees in downtown LA yesterday.  When I got in my car the internal thermometer was 119.  Kinda crazy.  It is a dry desert heat though so it creeps up on you, like a frog in a fry pan.  If you have been sitting for a while it suddenly occurs to you that your joints are dripping.  Air conditioners can’t quite cover it.  At first you think you are being blasted with cold air as the contrast is so extreme then you realize you are really only being gently farted on by an 80 degree sirocco.  I have not cooked anything in a few days – why turn on an oven when you are already in one? – and there’s a piece of salmon I am tempted to stick in the freezer to eat as a fishsicle for dinner.

Last night Bettye Lavette was playing at Largo which was an excellent excuse to escape the heat of the apartment.  Bettye is an R&B singer who languished in relative obscurity until about 2005. She is noted for her incredible interpretations of popular songs (here’s a link to her take on “Nights In White Satin”  Her voice is unbelievable, her styling is amazing and she is witty and charming.  The hair on the back of my neck spent most of the show trying to march off my scalp and I was openly crying a few times out of the recognition that I was hearing pure soul and beauty rather than from being sad.  The post show audience was left milling out of the auditorium in a sort of stupor .  Words can’t really cover it.

So I won’t bother trying, but the spoiler alert is that you all know what you will be getting for Christmas.

Update on the update

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

I was writing earlier mostly because I realized I had not in a while but it was not really gelling for me.  I have been doing a tonne of really cool things but I had not felt motivated to put pen to paper (or more accurately, two rapid index fingers and one occasional pinky thrown in for variety to keyboard).  The essence of the post was the fact that this is a city chock full of excellent performers, most of whom are on hand to discuss their work.  I started strong, then the LA heat started to suck the smart right out of me and I couldn’t finish.  I saved my draft and headed on out into the night to see Patton Oswalt perform at Largo at The Coronet.

The show was called “Patton Oswalt & Friends”.  Oswalt himself had been brought to my attention recently on a bit he does about KFC which is bloody hilarious.  (  When I discovered he was doing a show here at my favorite venue I signed up immediately.  They did not disclose who the “friends” were and I assumed it would be a skit show much like the one I saw in May featuring Tig Notaro.  Not so.  It was three straight up comedy acts with Oswalt headline in the final position.  First up was Greg Brehrendt – he is the author of “He’s Just Not That Into You”  – a fact which he did NOT bring up.  He is a fantastic comedian.  You get the impression that the world of self help was a definite and unexpected left turn in his career because his stand up is brilliant. He has a rock band and does a podcast called Walking The Room that I cannot wait to check out.  Laughed until I wept.  Then they brought out the second act.

Janeane Garofalo.

I nearly fell out of my chair.  I LOVE Janeane Garofalo.  In my twisted mind, Janeane Garolfalo is the living embodiment of what is going on in my head, only well paid, more articulate and without any appreciable filter mechanisms.  The experience was heightened by my obsession with getting good seats. I am an awesome companion at film festivals – ask Jennifer – as I will line up with the devotion of an ardent 1950s postal worker, battling the elements to obtain the perfect site line, allowing my seat mate to breeze in a nano second before they turn the mics on to take their preferred position.  So I was dead centre, second row.  I could have performed a variety of esthetic treatments on any one of the performers.

Patton was last, he was fabulous as well.  I tripped out into the blessedly cool air, sides aching from laughter, misguided attempts at make up in rivulets down my cheeks.

The morning brings the Hollywood Farmers Market, then the West Hollywood Book Fair, then maybe a trip to a massive flea market being held in Dodger Stadium.

Life is sweet.

Blue Jean Baby, LA Lady

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Seamstress for the baaaannndddd …  Did I mention you can hear Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” a good half dozen times on any given day?

I have been keeping busy doing research, setting up meetings and joining any group that doesn’t have the good sense to bar my application.  Last week I joined the International Documentary Association and went to see what I thought was to be a screening on Harry Shearer’s film “The Big Uneasy”.  It turned out not to be a screening, rather a Q&A with Harry himself before the launch of the doc on Friday September 25th.  One of the cool things about this city is the fact that so many writers, directors and performers actually live here so it is not uncommon to have one of the creators of a project be on hand to answer questions about the process.  This doc is about Katrina, as one might imagine, but one specifically about how the media erroneously determined that what happened in New Orleans was a natural disaster.  Shearer’s argument is that the hurricane itself did relatively little damage – it was the decades of incompetence exhibited by the army corps of engineers that resulted in the levee system failing and as such was no natural disaster at all.  The Q&A was really interesting.  I would have gone to the reception afterwards but for the fact that whilst buttering my popcorn at the beginning of the event I managed to take a stream of butter directly to the boob like a round from an AK47, leaving a greasy Rorschach spatter pattern that I did not wish to have interpreted.

Later that week I went back to Largo at the Coronet to see a comedy act called “Garfunkel & Oates”. They are an absolutely delightful couple of girls who play very amusing songs. They are charming and engaging and actually look to be having a great deal of fun.  They have a bunch of videos on YouTube (here’s a link to “Pregnant Women Are Smug”:  At one point they handed out kazoos and had the audience join in.  About half way through their show Sarah Silverman showed up and performed a set.  I am beginning to believe Sarah Silverman lives at the Largo – I have been there three times and each time she has shown up to perform, always it would seem rather impromptu.  I am going back tonight to see Patton Oswalt.  It will be interesting to see if she is there again.

Squeezed in a seminar on intellectual property rights and social media, which was only about half as boring as I thought it might be. Next week I have a bunch of music shows I want to see.  Sarah Harmer is playing but ironically on the one day I have tickets – to go see Sarah Silverman at Largo at the Coronet.

Car Culture

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

I am not really a car guy.  I like to drive and I have a habit of trying to achieve warp speed when given the opportunity but cars didn’t use to factor highly in my day to day life.  I walk mostly though I do love me current car: a little turbo Saab purchased third hand that rattles alarmingly and smells like an old sock.  I used to librate the Saab from its parking cocoon about once a week to get groceries.

Here the car is master of all things and I am going to have to learn to deal with it.

Remember the Seinfeld episode where George talks about how his parents will refuse to move their car for weeks if they find a prime parking spot in NYC?  A “Costanza” has entered my vernacular as a parking place one is reluctant to relinquish.  It is the gospel truth here.  I could have won Johnny Depp in a slave lottery and if I had to drive to Burbank to pick him up after having acquired 10 feet on Formosa there would be a raging debate on hand.

I also have to remember not to lose my car immediately upon parking it.  I am forever wandering my neighbourhood in the mornings like a deranged escapee from a mental institution, key in hand, randomly clicking like I am expecting to change the weather in the hope of triggering the car’s door locks and finding my vehicle again.  Inherent in my ability to lose my care is to assume an automatic upgrade.  If it is gray and a convertible, I assume it is mine and no amount of security alarms can deter me.  If I am tired and the item in question is merely car-shaped, my logic follows.  I have inadvertently almost  jacked a Mercedes and a BMW by waiving closer inspection.

If you have spent more time in a car in a day than you normally do in a week it is easy to forget where you are.  There is some etiquette in car culture.  For instance, the citizens of Studio City do not necessarily need to hear my vocal interpretation of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” (a curiously ubiquitous song that can be heard easily three times daily) sung at full volume as I speed along Venture Blvd.  Some things are best left to the shower.

I will learn.  I am still walking whenever possible, a thing the locals find vastly entertaining if not a bit odd.  Fortunately I still seem to be able to keep my 1970s ballad repertoire in check when out in the open air.

Corruption is awesome

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

I have bought a subscription to the LA Times in the hopes of gaining some insight into my southern neighbours.  Who don’t spell “neighbour” like I just did.  Shut up, spell check.

The issues truly dominating the news these days are the divorce of Frank and Jaime McCourt, or more specifically which of these two multi millionaire will gain custody of the LA Dodgers, a truly second rate ball team with what I am told is a lovely stadium.  Of this, I care little.

The other big item is the corruption scandal of Bell, California.  It is a sleepy burg of some 39,000 people and fully eight members of their city council are being indicted for fraud.  The lead prankster is a guy name Robert Rizzo and frankly central casting could not have done a better job.  He was the city manager (not the mayor) for almost twenty years, voted himself salary raises to the tune of $1.5 million per annum plus he diverted sums of an additional $1.9 million in city loans to himself and his cronies.  All of this for a town with a population fewer than Timmons, Ontario.  One of them drove to work in a chauffeured limo.  Plus, the guy looks like the Penguin from the Batman Tv show

Ah, this town.  Even the corruption scandals are larger than life.  Though their perpetrators are not necessarily.


Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Ever had one of those days where every task is Everest?  I woke up to one yesterday.  For no reason I can fathom I had the energy of a sloth on Nyquil.  The dishes needed washing.  Didn’t do them.  There was laundry.  Didn’t do it.  I didn’t even have the attention span to read a book so I leafed my way through the paper, gleaning nothing.  The whole place needed a cleaning.  The apartment is very small so two days of dishes can look like someone detonated an IED in the sink.  The ceramic in the bathtub is worn down and porous.  Combine this with the new, black, shedding towels and the end result is the tub looks like it has a nasty case of mange.  But nothing was to be done on this day.

I finally manage to evict myself on the auspicious excuse that I needed a toilet brush before any cleaning could commence.  I headed out to what turned out to be a 2 1/2 hour jaunt that took me west along Santa Monica Blvd, north at Doheny and back along Sunset.  Along the way there was a pause for an excellent yoghurt parfait and mango coconut mousse cake.  (Yes, I have introduced the concept of dessert to the breakfast meal).  I discovered a local(ish) branch of Out Of The Closet which is a chain of stores akin to Goodwill that sell second hand items, the profit of which goes to Aids research.  Naturally the quality varies wildly but the one close to me has an excellent selection of books.  I came back later with the car and bought six along with a couple of glass vases for $14.

The jaunt felt good and invigorating.  I came home to track exactly how much ground I had managed to cover.  With the close-up map, it looked pretty good:

When you pull back to reveal it in the context of this ridiculously gigantic city, not so much:

Methinks it will take a bit of time to uncover all the treasures this city has to offer.

The walk felt good.  I returned home, calves aching only slightly, and thought it was a day well spent.

I did manage to find a toilet brush as well.  It remains blissfully unsullied.

Things you may not know about me

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Here are some things you may not know about me:

I am terrified of clowns.

I am not a strong swimmer.

I can belch louder than most people in the world.

I don’t really like to eat in front of people.

The last one is a bit odd, I know.  You probably have not noticed as I have eaten many meals with each and every one of you and I am obviously devoted to the acquisition and consumption of food.  But I don’t really like to eat in front of people, it makes me feel slightly awkward.  Not that I don’t have perfectly acceptable table manners (though I have been known to lick my plate when no one is looking).  So there.

And here I am now, trying to launch a new branch of my company where pretty much all I do is eat meals in front of people I don’t know.  The fact that I am not naturally friendly comes as a surprise to no one and as such doesn’t make the list.  So I am doing something that makes me feel awkward in socials settings that make me uncomfortable.  All I need to do is convince the people I need to meet with to wear clown suits and I will have hit the trifecta.  You would all be proud of me – I am going out of my way to not only be polite but actually friendly.

I had a meeting today that was set up by a lovely woman I met on my last visit called Linda Tinoly.  She works for Talent Partners and is based in Chicago though she splits her time between Illinois, California and New York.  She and I got to talking (about food, naturally) and discovered kindred spirits in one another.  She set me up to meet her friend Fran who runs a production company here in Los Angeles.  After some emailing back and forth Fran and I agreed to have lunch at an eatery in Beverly Hills.  Fran was coming in from the West side and emailed me to let me know she was running late.  I got to the restaurant first and rejected the option of looking to see if she was there as we had neglected to mention what each other looked like, so I took a seat at the bar.  I was comfortable perusing the menu when Fran showed up.  All 6′, jean clad, 5:00 shadow of him.

Fran is a guy.

I don’t know why this threw me, but it did.  (In fact the first thing I thought was “I got a %$#@#$%^& pedicure for this?) Fran is lovely.  Friendly, informative, funny guy who invited me to check out his offices at a production facility in Manhattan Beach and may be very helpful in getting work for me here.  And a guy.  Would I have dressed differently if he were the woman I was expecting?  Would I have worn different shoes? (The ones I had on were fabulous.)  More/less make up?  Ordered differently? Hard to say, and I DID recover to have a very interesting and enjoyable time.

And least he wasn’t in a bloody clown suit.

As an aside, I went to The Grove to get some food for dinner and espied this in a J Crew. Now I don’t have to pay a stylist.

Combat Shopping

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

I have recently had three straight days of technological triumph.

Day #1:  Got both the Canadian and the US cell phone/Blackberry to receive email, a victory made all the more sweet by the fact that the sales people at T Mobile said it wasn’t possible.

Day #2:  Installed my wireless internet service without incident (and almost no profanity).

Day #3:  Installed my new printer/fax/scanner without a hitch.  Resisted the urge to immediately email you all a picture of my ass.

Technology now functioning well at 1314 N Formosa (or “Cape Canaveral” if you will) I spent the weekend looking for some accent pieces to make the place more homey.  Oddly enough, a completely empty room looks less empty than a room with a single chair in it.  So this weekend it was all about lamps and carpets.

The lamps were achieved in short order at a swap meet at Fairfax and Melrose, but only after a perfectly blissful day trolling yard sales with the top off the car.  My pleasure at finding a pair for an extremely paltry sum was mitigated somewhat when I immediately matched the purchase price in buying a shade.  Anyway a victory for lighting and a thoroughly enjoyable process.

The rug experience was an interesting trip.  I have had my eye on a little store on La Brea that has had a “70% off, going out of business” banner.  Granted, I first noticed the banner when I was last here a few weeks ago and am now wondering if it would be more practical for them to mount it in neon as its permanence seems somewhat of a guarantee, but I thought it worth a trip.

I have never been rug shopping in India but I know people that have so I know this isn’t the same process as wandering into The Brick and slapping down the plastic.  The owner, a man called Ali Shah, greeted me with enthusiasm and we settled in to it.  He made me tea and was himself partaking of something in a china cup that was most definitely not tea.  He hauled rug after rug out, told me how I was his friend and how he was going to give me such a good deal.  (At one point in the proceedings he told me he had dated Sharon Stone.  That tea was some strong stuff, man). I protested my poverty, left and came back.  It was a perfect boxing match; Queensbury rules,  Ali vs Frazier.  Except the bobbing and weaving was left to my opponent.  After a couple of hours I came away with the two pictured below.  I don’t think either one of us got ripped off, we just emerged a little tired, sweaty and bloodied from our epic match.

Now, on to the task at hand:  Make a career here so I can buy more rugs.  Or go to India now that I am warmed up and try it in the big ring.


Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

How long can it possibly take?

How hard can it possibly be?

How much can it possibly cost?

Three questions one asks oneself when trying to set oneself up in a new locale.  The answers?




How long can it possibly take is in direct proportion to how hungry you are and how badly you have to use the washroom.  I discovered this the hard way when I wandered in to T Mobile to pick up my US cell phone, a task I thought surely could only take about 15 minutes or so.  One hour later famished and squirming I emerged,  only to be forced to return two subsequent times to solve increasingly vexing issues, or to play a rousing game of “stump the sales guy”. On the last visit I emerged with the Blackberry corporate office number which is in the 519 area code. Which last I checked was Peterborough or thereabouts. And closed by the time I got the number.

How hard can it possibly be?  In direct inverse proportion to how easy you think it should be.  I mailed myself a package that was too bulky for me to take on the plane down.  I went to pick it up at the local post office, only to be greeted by a line up of 5 people in front of a closed door.  I asked if there was any indication of anyone actually working behind the door.  There was not.  I asked if there was an alternate place to pick up packages.  There was not.  I gave up after 20 minutes when I came to the conclusion that waiting for a postal worker around the lunch hour has approximately the same results as waiting for Godot.

How much can it possibly cost is a number that changes as soon as you tell someone you are from out of country and do not have a social security number.  You are then expected to plunk down a deposit of roughly the gross national product of Fiji before you are allowed to say, cook on a gas stove.  I have been told it is much the same effect that happens when you tack the word “wedding” on to otherwise innocuous words like “cake” and “dress”.

Needless to say it has been a tad frustrating.  I have fingers crossed that by next week I will have internet, home and cell phone established and something comfy to sit on.  It may be less naive to hope that Godot shows up after all.

Moving slowly in

Monday, September 6th, 2010

I am settling in, trying to find furniture and the accents that make a house a home.    I wanted to change a few switch plates and realized I would need a screwdriver to do so, so I hied off to the Home Depot and bought a starter tool kit.  It had a hammer, excato knife, tape measure screwdriver with changeable heads and a number of other useful bits.  Not a bad little selection , and for $10 it seemed perfect.  It came in its own carrying case which was enfolded in the industrial plastic shell that so many things are packaged in nowadays.  When I tried to break into it I noticed that the plastic was additionally tamped down with a dozen tiny screws.  So in essence, I needed a screwdriver to access my screwdriver.  I finally managed to unlock my tiny little tool trove with the aid of a small nail clipper and an abundance of profanity.  The switch plates are changed and I am claiming a small victory.

I also managed to pick up a starter kitchen essentials kit.  I would like to meet the person who decided that an ice cream scoop and a bagel holder are “essential” items (actually, we might have a great deal in common).

I found a great little store called Revival where I bought this chest as well and this lovely print ($15) and this epic cup ($3)

I have also picked up a new desk along with a side table, a chair and two bedside tables.  (Photos later).  I bought them all at a whole sale outlet, and was delighted to notice the typo proudly displayed on the majority of their signs.  (Unless they really meant “prey” and I should have been a little more intimidated.)

If all else fails I am going to get a job at this store, if only because I love the name:

Have a lovely holiday Monday.  I am having lunch in Marina del Rey with my friend Anny, then probably off to try and find the remaining elements in the  creation of my Pixie Palace.