Archive for January, 2011

You’ll never know who you’ll run in to

Friday, January 28th, 2011

I am trying to stick to a relatively clean diet down here in California (punctuated by the occasional cupcake to keep my austerity in moderation) so I went to Whole Foods today to buy some fish for dinner.  I was coming from Santa Monica so I arrived at my local market by car and angled into their little parking lot.  I backed my car in to a rather tight space and noticed that my recently arrived neighbour who had nosed in to his spot did not really have enough room to get out of his truck (he was a gentleman in perhaps his 60s with a rather ample belly), so I zipped out and gave him a little more room for which I won a smile and a wave.  I went in to the store and proceeded to have one of those experiences where every time I turned around I was standing in the poor guy’s way.  It happened about five or six times and I finally apologized to him and said it seemed like it was my destiny to prevent him from getting what he wanted when he wanted it.  He laughed at that – a quite remarkable rumbling sound that I can only imagine a volcano would sound like were its lava made of chocolate.  He handed me a business card and lo!  He is one Cornelius Grant, music director and guitar player for The Temptations.  I met Jack Hammer, composer of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” in a diner a few months back and now I have met a Temptation in a grocery store (there’s a joke in there somewhere).  Seems I am doing rather well in music legend department.

Brown blanket, brown cat, white blanket

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
I bought this pristine white bedding when I first got my place in LA, not paying much thought to the idea that Sir Fatnstripey might one day join me.  This would also explain the purchase of a leather sofa and chair currently being used as a jungle gym and growing more brambly by the minute.  Anyway, after discovering that he had befouled the comforter with his shedding and as a preemptive move so as not to bankrupt myself in laundry fees I bought this cozy brown blanket.  A cozy brown blanket that he happily sleeps upon when it is anywhere except on top of the pristine white bedding.  He will NOT be prevailed upon to nap on it, preferring the white side.  Perhaps it is an esthetic decision and he finds the visual contrast more pleasing.  I cannot say, but I am off to the grocery store to invest in a tub of bleach and some stain guard.

M Emmet Walsh

Monday, January 24th, 2011

On Friday night I went to see a lecture hosted by a small local group called Cinefamily.  It was part of  a series called “That Guy” which features the work of several noted character actors.  The one I saw highlighted  M Emmet Walsh and the extensive Q&A with the actor was followed by a screening of the excellent 1984 Coen Brothers film “Blood Simple” in which he stars.

Earlier that day I purchased a small bagless vacuum cleaner.

The reason I mention this two seemingly unrelated items is that the print that Cinefamily managed to acquire looked like it had taken several spins around the centrifuge of my new vacuum.  It was truly dreadful.  Watching the opening credits was like reading a lint roller.

I could not quite figure out how this was allowed to happen.  Surely Walsh’s agent, or even Walsh himself would have a better copy of the film.  In a pinch they could have popped over to Blockbuster to pick up a remastered DVD.  It is unusual in this city, a town that revolves around the entertainment industry.  I have been to this theatre before and their equipment is fine.  I have been to many other venues and without exception the sound and visual presentations have been outstanding.  But here, with the star in the house, it was uncomfortably bad.  At 76 years of age and 110 films under his belt I suspect M  Emmett Walsh gave something akin to a rats ass about it (In fact, I am fairly sure he was dozing by about a third of the way through – he was only 2 seats in front of me on what looked to be a very cosy couch).  For the rest of the audience, used to falling fawning at the feet of their heroes  (or anyone from someone they may have espied in a 1979 cable access show on up as notoriety is relative here) it was a little off putting.

Walsh himself was very entertaining.  He recounted tales of being beaten up by Dustin Hoffman and being on the set with Robert Redford.  He explained that he saw his role as that of the engineer hired to keep the plot moving forward.  Although he sees himself very much as a support player in film he did acknowledge that an actor not up to snuff would suffer Walsh “chewing apart every scene he could steal”.

The man carries some serious gravitas.  Not once did I consider a tackle.

John Lithgow

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Yesterday was a fine, fine day in Los Angeles.  The temperature reached a fabulous 81 degrees (27C), the sky was blue, the birds were singing.  I spent the vast majority of it indoors servicing Canadian clients and offering to service American ones in any way their imaginations could conjure.  I managed to meander out to Hollywood Blvd but the sites there require their own essay, so I shall touch on that another time.

I had tickets for a performance a couple of weeks ago to see John Lithgow doing a one man show he developed called “Stories of The Heart” in which he recounts two stories from his childhood that he rediscovered while caring for his convalescing father.

Because of the Air Canada debacle I missed it but on a whim I bought myself a single ticket for last night.

I have mentioned before that there is a surfeit of screenings, plays, concerts and other events in this town largely due to the fact that the writers, directors and performers make their homes here.  There does not, however, seem to be a corresponding audience.  While the ticket prices are largely very reasonable I have only occasionally been to a sold out show.  For instance, I bought the tickets for last night a couple if days ago.  This is the view from my seat:

There was no stage, he performed on the flat.  If I was a football player and a bigger idiot I am sure I could have leveled him with a solid flying tackle.  (Why I consider such things is another matter entirely)

The play was gentle and charming and there was a Q&A after with Mr Lithgow who also appears gentle and charming.  It was an evening well spent, even if some moments were spent in contemplation of sacking the star.

Friday night I am going to a screening of Blood Simple which in one of my favorite films followed by yet another Q&A with one of the performers, the eminently creepy M Everett Walsh:

The ticket price on that showing:  $10

Saturday I am off to see Wallace Shawn speaking at UCLA.  Here’s a promo shot of him from “Princess Bride”.

No clue what his topic will be, but I will let you know.  I will try to keep my mind off the idea of tackling him.  If the sightline is good I make no guarantees.

Good ideas

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Harnessing fire.   That was good idea.  The invention of the wheel was bang on as well.  The internal combustion engine, the polio vaccine, pepperoni.  All good in my books.

You know what isn’t a good idea?  Traveling with your pet.  Traveling with your pet is a stupid idea and only adds a soupçon of panic to an already stressful situation.

I dragged fat Liam down to LA with me this time and though I am delighted he is here the actual process was not one that I wish to repeat (which of course I will be doing in a few short months, unless the bugger learns to drive).  I had to drug him up, drag him through Pearson and abandon him at the fragile baggage counter.  As I walked away I felt like I had deposited my child at the information booth at the Eaton Center and left him to fend for himself.  I have now discovered that openly weeping in the security section of Terminal One adds precisely nothing good to the travel experience.  Attempts to lighten the situation (like asking the security guard if the total body scan made my ass look fat) fall on the deaf ears of the chronically humourless.

At least he was sedated.  I have no vices anymore, but smoking and drinking seems liked pretty good options and by the time I hit the ramp to the plane I am fairly certain I could have been talked into some intravenous drug use in fairly short order.

We made it and he has settled in rather well I think.  I like to think of him as a benevolent despot ensconcing himself in the middle of his newly discovered habitat and proclaiming himself lord of all he surveys.

I will leave him to systematically ruin everything I own while I go out to forge a new career.

My choice of travel companion is not a small matter

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

My cat is not a small beast.  My most recent post addresses this very fact.  His ample girth may well have just saved me an aneurism inducing episode at the airport.

A few weeks ago I bought my ticket to LA departing at 9:20 AM on January 7th and called Air Canada to book Liam passage in the cabin section of the plane.  As I have mentioned there were severe restrictions on the dimensions of the cage in which he was to be transported.  Well, he didn’t fit.  Today I called Air Canada to find out my options.  After speaking to attendant #1 who looked into booking the cat his own seat (can’t be done, by the way) I was transferred over to cargo.  The cargo guy informed me that not only was my pet not allowed to be shipped cargo AT ALL but there was an overall embargo on pets being brought into the States that did not lift until January 11th.  I thought there was no way he could be right and was transferred to attendant #2 who at first denied any knowledge of said ban.  She went off to check and after about 10 minutes came back to tell me there WAS an embargo on pets traveling in the baggage part of the plane.  As I had booked him into the cabin they had no obligation to inform me, so my ignorance was my own damn fault.  Then she checked again and confirmed that there is in fact a ban on importing all pets until the 11th, cabin or otherwise, which they had completely failed to mention so had I arrived at the airport with stressed drugged kitty in tow expecting to be allowed on my flight I would have been turned away at the gate.  The mind boggles at what my reaction may have been.

I have now switched my flight and Air Canada have oh-so-generously waived the change fees, but the only fare available is an additional $150 PLUS the fee for stowing the cat in baggage is another additional $50 each way.  I checked and absolutely nowhere on the Air Canada website is there any mention that you cannot travel with your pet at this time.  I am rolling up my sleeves and bracing for a long and vociferous battle with AC to get a return on the extra charges.

The funny thing is if my cat wasn’t of such baleen proportions I would have probably been the impromptu star of the next YouTube/airport taser video.

Now leaving on the 12th.  Keep your eyes open for any unusual internet video phenomena featuring a cranky redhead with an overloaded carrying case and a wicked backswing.