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Following the Beatles to Abbey Road + Other British Treats

Sunday, Sept 18, 2016 – Day 5 of London

<—Previously, we avoided imprisonment at the Tower of London

We only had one thing planned on Sunday, and that was the walking tour with London Walks called Magical Mystery Tour, which obviously represents the Beatles! Yep, it was Beatles time. But that wasn’t until 11am, so we were able to sleep in quite a bit, which was nice. We then headed a block or so from the hotel to a Cote Patisserie for breakfast, and it was wonderful. French, and we no longer cared about making it British. :-).

The Magical Mystery Tour London Walk

This is the route we would walk throughout central London during this tour

Another cool thing after going back to the room was realizing the meetup point was the Tottenham Court Road station, which was walking distance and one we’d been to many times. SoHo is a great place to be. We met there and immediately saw a few cute guys also in the group, and all was well. There was one who looked so much like Liam Hemsworth, but cuter. Hard to believe, but yes. There was also a hot guy that looked a bit like David Schwimmer, but way hotter. Anyway, so the tour! We immediately learned that we had been staying and walking amongst music history while being based in our SoHo hotel. We learned that as the tour first went back to SoHo Park as that’s where Paul McCartney’s music offices are. HOLY SHIT. Then around the corner from our hotel is Trident Studios, where a large part of the 60s and 70s music was recorded, including a big part of the White Album, David Bowie’s awesome stuff, Queen, Elton John, Carly Simon, Genesis….etc. Lots of awesomeness.

The tour then took us over to the Palladium where Beatlemania was born, Carnaby Street where the Swinging 60s epicenter was, Savile Row and where the previous Apple HQ was and also the site of the last Beatles performance on its Rooftop, as well as the alley area that has both the hottest club where Keith Moon asked to be in the Beatles along with the art gallery where John met Yoko. CRAZY.

Off to Abbey Road!!!!!!!

But the absolute best was yet to come, as we all then took the Jubilee line a few stops north to St John’s Wood, which is the closest Tube stop to Abbey Road!!!!!

Yep, we ended the tour at Abbey Road Studios, which of course is where most of the Beatles output was recorded as well as the location of the crosswalk best seen in the Abbey Road album cover.  So yeah, after the tour ended there, we all took pictures on the crosswalk.  Larry & I got a few good pictures solo, but I finally asked someone if they could take our picture together on the crosswalk and it turned out fantastically.   Yay!  We then went into the gift shop at Abbey Road and ended up buying most souvenirs there that we’d bought the entire trip.  It was a magical place and a great gift shop.

Tea Time!

Once ready to leave, we then returned back into London. Larry had noticed a restaurant that indicated it had afternoon tea on our walk to the Tube station, and that was one thing I’d wanted to do. So we had filed that away and so came back to it, having afternoon tea! The tea was very good, but there’s a lot to it that I’m not sure about. Finger sandwiches really weren’t to my liking and most of the cakes were not something I’d like. But happily, there was also chocolate cake and a glass of prosecco. I’m glad to have done it. May not need to do it again, although the tea was great.

Strolling to Buckingham Palace and into the Churchill War Rooms

It was a great break though. At this point, with it being our last full day in London, we only had a limited time left to do stuff. So we decided to do a swoop of Buckingham Palace, St James Palace and end it with the Imperial War Rooms. We tried to walk by the St James Palace and see the Palace Guard you can take pictures with, but the entire place was fenced off. FEH. We did stop by outside Buckingham Palace for pictures (no inside visits), then to the Queen’s Gift shop off to the side of the Palace to pick up Oliver!! We have a new Corgi puppy now. Ralphie will be pleased, I’m sure. After that, we walked through the park until we got to the War Rooms museum. It is amazing. I went there back in 2002 and remember it a little, but kind of get it confused with the Imperial War Museum, I think. So it was a lot of fun and it’s very informative of a museum. I really do want to get some WW2 books into my collection and read about it more – Churchill is such an amazing figure. There really were some ‘right people, right time, right place’ situations. It’s hard to believe.

Back through Trafalgar Square to get some Indian food at Kishoom

After that, as we were there until it closed, we walked back through town, through Trafalgar Square, and then Larry navigated us to Dishoom, a fantastic Indian restaurant in London. There was a line outside, and it’s worth it. We probably had to wait an hour or so, but again, so worth it. The first stop after getting out of the line outside was downstairs to the bar, where we did chat with a solo black woman from Bermuda. That wasn’t too long though as we then had our table back on the main level. The food was amazing, the wait staff were so helpful, there was a super hot waiter that wasn’t ours but biceps for days, and was a wonderful way to wipe out the memory of the disappointing Ippudo. Larry was happy!!!

Then it was time to walk back to the hotel through our wonderful SoHo neighborhood. We were done with bars and food at that point and it was time to go back and relax. Yay! Sleepy time and a nice and great end to a wonderful trip.

Honeymoon Picture Pages:

From Tower of London to Aladdin

Saturday, Sept 17, 2016 – Day 4 of London

<–Previously, we were shaken, not stirred

So we were able to relax that previous night and have a bit of a sleep-in although not too much on the next day, as we had a private tour to the Tower of London with Context Tours at 9:30am. We did go back to Starbucks in the morning for a quick bite and happily there wasn’t any rain going on but there was still a lot of cool (60s) temps and cloudy skies. For us, that was quite okay as we just didn’t need anymore of the sweltering heat we’d been getting those first few days.

After finishing up breakfast and going back for a potty break, we finally started heading out and almost a bit behind schedule as I finally checked the route to get to the meeting point at Tower Hill Station and realized it would take 30 minutes to get there! Gotten very used to getting to where we needed to quickly and easily from our SoHo location, that’s for sure. Happily, we trotted over to the Tottenham Court Road station and got on over to Tower Hill pretty quickly, beating the guide.

We met our charming guide Ruth at the large sundial outside the station and that was where we began our personal tour of English history and its relation to the history found within the Tower. The sundial actually has a great summation of London history around the ring of it, so she introduced us to many of the high points, which are many, including William the Conqueror, the construction of the Tower that scared the Anglo-Saxons, the plague, the great fire, the wars, etc. By the end of the tour, we both had a newfound respect for what London has managed to survive and endure for the last 2000 years since its establishment by the Romans.

The tour took us from that sundial over to the site of the execution site where many of the beheadings occurred, and we also got some of the stories about notable ones, especially the nightmarish ones like the Duke of Monmouth. UGH. His execution took at least 8 attempts due to a dull blade and an inexperienced executioner. OOF.

Private Tour of the Tower of London

We then entered the tower and went to the Crown Jewels, which are just staggering. The 2 biggest diamonds are found there, one in the scepter, one in the crown. They’re glorious, along with the other enormous jewels found there.

The White Tower interior and now armory museum was our next stop, learning a lot about Henry VIII while also seeing the wonderful displays of armor for both man and horse. Also saw 2 off-duty (?) British Royal Guards wandering around on their break or something…heeyyyy. Got to also see one of the only preserved Norman cathedrals left in Europe that hadn’t been converted to a Gothic style. On the top floor, saw some of the torture devices that had been in place during those days, including foul things to stop “gossips”. Awful.

Outside, we were on the Tower Green and saw the site where the relatively few Royal Executions would take place, including those of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard occurred (two of Henry VIII’s wives), Lady Jane Grey, and one fucking nightmarish one that required the axeman to chase the woman around the courtyard and attack her with an axe. It’s said there are ghosts there. No shit. We also saw the home of the Ravens, official birds of the Tower. There are always 6. It’s kind of awesome.

Finally on the outside of the Tower near the River, we looked at the Traitor’s Gate as well as the new skyline of London before saying goodbye to Ruth. She was a wonderful guide and delightfully full of knowledge. Before leaving, we had told her our plans to head to the Tate Modern, so she recommended that we visit the Borough Market, which was on the way fortunately.

Walking the Thames

We walked across Tower Bridge first to get to the South Bank of the river, then walked along the river bank towards the boring London Bridge, which is where you know you’re near the Market. It’s a great, big outdoor market with lots of stalls for meat, produce, alcohol, oils, etc. Very crazy on a Saturday afternoon, but fun to see. We found a restaurant, Elliot’s, right outside the market. Very hipster and pretty expensive (one beer cost 10 pounds here while at the pub the other night, it was under 10 pounds for 2 beers….so yeah), but it was still good. They served burgers with patties that were delicious, but obviously made of multiple cuts of meat mushed together. Regardless, it was quite delicious and much needed as a break.

We left our lunch place and walked back up towards the riverbank, past the Clink museum and the Archer pub, as well as the new Shakespeare’s Globe theater (saw it from the outside only), and on towards the Millennium Bridge, which is right outside the Tate Modern.

Being that it was a Saturday afternoon, it was pretty damn crowded at the museum. It was okay and understandable, so we did end up only exploring about 2 of the floors. I’m happy to have made it there finally as I’ve not made it there in any of my previous London vacations. There are a great variety of modern artists there, including a whole room of Rothko (these were those he had been commissioned to make for Seagram’s Four Seasons restaurant and reneged at the last minute – they were wonderful and RED); a few Mondrians (including those that looked a lot like what I expect him to look like); some Dali; and quite a few others. Larry & I were both tired from our morning tour though, and had enough. Note: the museum is not the most well-designed or welcoming. It’s actually kind of brutalist.. The exterior is terribly foreboding, and the interior is really not that much better. An interesting discovery, that’s for sure.

Happily, a latte at the museum cafe woke us up a bit, but we were done with the museum after our hour or so there. it’s one of those things you probably should spend a lot of time at, but that’s not what we had, nor the energy to do. I also tried to open a door at the cafe that had instructions on how to open it but was politely told not to open that door since it was cold outside by one of the staff. Of course I then see many others use and open that door. So we went out that way in proud defiance! Viva la France!!!

The way we took back to our hotel included crossing the Millennium Bridge (a pedestrian bridge that can be absolutely mobbed by people), seeing a happy anniversary party boat cross underneath playing the best wedding reception songs (including Dancing Queen!), before heading towards St. Paul’s Cathedral and it’s accompanying St. Paul’s tube station. It was then back to Tottenham Court Road station for us!

We then strolled back from the tube station through SoHo Park and a crazy amount of pigeons nearly killing us back to the hotel, where we just chilled for the next few hours as we were tired! It was actually very nice to do that. I don’t even really remember what we did to pass the time, but it was necessary. I think Larry took a bit of a disco nap.

Taking in the West End

But we weren’t done for the day though, as up next was a show in the West End, “Aladdin”!!!!!!

We headed over there a bit early, or so we thought, in order to collect our tickets, but yeah, even 40 minutes ahead of time, the theater was mobbed with people. We got our tickets, grabbed a drink, and enjoyed some time before the doors opened and we got our seats in the “Stalls” section, aka the Orchestra. We were a few rows back in Row U, but it was an amazing view nonetheless. The theater was absolutely packed. Aladdin, the Disney musical, only arrived in the West End back in June, so this is still a hot show, and rightly so. While waiting for the show to start, I realized that this was also the theater where Mamma Mia! Was playing when I saw it back in 2002. Crazy, right?

As for the musical? It’s absolutely phenomenal. I’ll give it to the actor who plays Aladdin – he has his work cut out for him to not be completely overshadowed by the performer who plays Genie. But he did amazingly, as did everyone. What was interesting was to see the inclusions made as it’s not an exact remake of the animated feature. First, Abu the monkey, Jasmine’s tiger, and Iago the Parrot are gone, replaced by actual human characters. Abu by 3 actual friends, the tiger by 3 attendants, and Iago by a guy. It’s pretty clever and not distracting. Aladdin’s 3 friends are awesome additions and the new songs are very good. The Genie though….just incredible. It’s the same actor who originated the rule in Broadway, and YAY! He’s amazing and has natural charisma for days. The show stopping number, by far, is “Friend Like Me” – oh my god, it’s just fantastic and my poor words don’t stand a chance doing it justice. The sets are sensational and do justice to the Cave of Wonders. After Act I was done, I immediately went out to the lobby and bought a program as it was just that good. Anyway, if you haven’t seen Aladdin, please do. It’s endlessly entertaining and reminds you why the movie was such a great success.

After the show, which was crazy as there’s quite a bit happening directly outside the theater in that part of the West End, we went to Ippudo in London. Larry was very excited and unfortunately got a bit disappointed as we got there around 10 and it closes at 11. That means there’s a lot not available, including alcohol (at least at first, happily they still got us drinks), appetizers (no gyoza for us!). Oh well, the ramen was pretty good, although I think I like Silver Lake Ramen better. Sometimes even Sapporo in Glendale is pretty good! I think I like thicker noodles better.

Honeymoon Picture Pages:

Week One Complete + All Sorts of Other Stuff

Yep, the first week of Larry’s chemotherapy is complete.  It’s been a whirlwind, a rollercoaster, and exhausting, and I don’t recommend it for anyone.  But it’s all in service of the fight that we will be winning, and I am frankly glad to get it started.  No more quarter for these fucking cancer cells in Larry’s liver.  No. More. Quarter.   Get the fuck out.

The beginning of the week was when Larry had to go and sit in the treatment center for about 3 hours hooked up to an IV.  He’s taking the Folfox treatment chemotherapy which is the standard method of treating colorectal cancer.  We didn’t do Avastin this round, which will likely be back for Round 2.   With this therapy regimen, Larry will go every 2 weeks.

On day one of each cycle, he’ll get chemo in the center.  Before he leaves, the staff then attaches an infusion pump that attaches to his port and he carries around with him, which keeps administering the chemo.  He keeps the pump with him for the next 48 hours, and after that, can then go back in and have the pump removed.   His regimen is then over for the next 1.5 weeks.  All things considered, it is something he has to deal with for like a full 2 days, but after that, he can get back to just building his strength and living his life.

Obviously it doesn’t come without side effects.   Neuropathy, nausea, and fatigue are the main ones we experienced, but I don’t think they were too overwhelmingly bad this round.   I don’t know what we can expect as this continues, but I do know the key is to keep him eating, drinking, and exercising.  So that’s what we’ll be doing, dammit.

To prepare for naps and relaxation on the couch, we got some help from Nicki to go to our storage unit and grab the chaise part of the sectional couch.  We’d put it away as our apartment just really wasn’t big enough to have it present…but now it’s like, fuck it, we want to be comfortable!

Honestly, while the walking space was intruded upon, you can still get by.   And it’s amazing to have a full couch again.  You can truly sit a few people there now to watch TV!  And I like having a chaise option to sit in.  Sometimes you don’t want to chill in the chair, right?

On the weekend before chemo, on Saturday, July 14, Larry and I happily made it out to the Hollywood Bowl.  We’d had to miss our first planned show around July 4 as we just weren’t feeling good enough to make it, but Larry’s made huge progress in feeling back to normal, at least as much as he can.  It was a huge happiness to make it to the Bowl this time though, as the performers were Christopher Cross, Kenny Loggins, and Michael McDonald.   Yep, the Kings of Yacht Rock were all together, and the songs and performances were amazing.  AMAZING!  And that place was sold the fuck out, as obviously many are unashamed in their love of smooth pop rock!

Anyway, that concert was a nice thing to have right before heading into chemo.  We got through the week of chemo with its ups and downs, but this isn’t really the place to go into all of that.  Just know that Larry made it like a champ, and he will continue to fight to be free of this cancer.  His youth will be an asset and we’re going to take advantage of that in this fight.

So on Friday night, Mila and Sveta dropped by and it was just a blast.  We had dinner, talked, drank wine (well, Sveta and I did), watched TV (showed Sveta the first episode of Pose, which is one of our favorite recent shows as it’s glorious) and just overall had an amazingly fun evening.

On Saturday morning, Larry & I went for a brisk walk around Glendale, and Brand Blvd was shut down in advance of the annual car thing they do here.   So here are some pics of that:

This weekend, we had yet another Hollywood Bowl concert in store!   On Saturday, July 21, it was a screening of the movie Jaws accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl orchestra.  As a reminder, Jaws is a fantastic movie, and even with it being 40+ years old, it still thrills and kicks ass.  Seeing it with a giant crowd makes it even more fun, as it was clear there were some who weren’t ready for some of the scares.   Chief Brody’s snap to attention when the shark nearly takes his arm off is still fantastic.

And now it’s today!  We just came back from seeing Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again! and gotta say…it WAS FANTASTIC.  So much fun, they got some of the deeper ABBA cuts into the song (“Andante, Andante” was a particular delight), the new members of the cast portraying the younger versions were amazing, CHER was wonderful, and the story ended up being very poignant.  The ending scene might have made me cry just a LOT.  But then there were the upbeat numbers to “Waterloo”, “Dancing Queen”, and happily, “Super Trouper” that just made my heart swell with happiness.  ABBA is the fucking best and will always be.  And I’ve heard that Cher is going to release an album of ABBA covers and that just makes me so happy.  Anyway, go see it, you’ll be very happy you did so.

Finally – I have to share that my Daily Double clue from my game way back in 2016 ENDED UP IN THE 2018 JEOPARDY DAILY CALENDAR!!!  And it’s today!   And I’m so stoked.  I had seen my super bestie from the taping (Vicki) had posted a few weeks back in the J! group that her clue had showed up in the calendar.  I had bought the 2017 calendar thinking maybe my clues would be in it, but I think that the production schedules of that never would sync up – so it makes sense our clues wouldn’t show up until 2018.   So I was motivated to find a copy of the calendar (got it on eBay) and quickly flipped through it to find anything that looked familiar…and there it was on July 22!   It’s not correct that it was a Final Jeopardy (I WISH), but still, I’m psyched that my question made it:

The House is Coming Along

It’s been about two months since we last went to visit the construction of our house at the Glen LA.   Last time we were there, we could only get up to the living room level as the stairs up to the third level were built but the third level itself wasn’t done.   Well, both the third level and roof deck are now fully built with stairs connecting everything.  It’s awesome.  Still a ways to go, and fingers crossed that the construction completes in the October timeframe.  What was cool was seeing that a lot of the plumbing has been installed as were some of the bath fixtures, such as the showers and tub in all the bathrooms.  I know I needed to see this as it put me in a great mood, reminding me of the awesomeness to come.   See for yourself:

GlenLA construction update – May 20, 2018:

Mother’s Day + more

Today, we went over to Mom’s and had a great dinner with Stacie, which she fixed up.   Drinking of wine commenced along with a couple of games of Jenga and Rack-o, and all was well in the world.   We had a lot of fun, snacking on food and laughing about memories past – it’s also Harv’s birthday, so it was fun to remember the fun (and drinks) we had on his 80th birthday.   Anyway, I think today was a lot of fun, and here are pictures I took:

Sunday, May 13, 2018 – Mother’s Day in Duarte

That’s the main picture-worthy stuff from the past week, to be honest.  It’s been kind of hellacious the last week or two or three at work for me, much like last May.  This is the end of the engagement I’m on and there’s a lot of having to get us across that finish line in ways that both sides agree on.  Cross your fingers that this week is it, okay?

The rest of this post will be videos I’ve been loving this last week or so; you’re welcome.

Childish Gambino’s “This is America”:

We saw Donald Glover host SNL last week and he performed, as Childish Gambino, this song as well as one that hasn’t been released yet.   The performances were amazing, but the real show was to come in the release of this music video the next day.  It’s fantastic and powerful and intense and requires multiple viewings.

Then I saw this mashup with Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me, Maybe” and now I can’t help but think there was intentional synchronization going on:

I had previously raved about the first few singles that Janelle Monáe had released in advance of her new album, Dirty Computer, being released – well, that album has been released and it’s amazing.   She also released an entire long-form video containing many of the songs within as well as an interesting tale to stitch these videos all together.   If you have 45-50 minutes or so, it’s well worth a watch:

Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer Emotion Picture:

Random videos time now –

First up, this latest season of Survivor, “Ghost Island”, has been okay, but it’s had in its cast one of the hottest men to be cast on this show, ever:  Michael.  Good lord, he’s fine.  So fine.  But alas, he got voted out recently and so now he’s on the jury and having to kill time.   Lately, CBS has been getting cute and indulging the cast to do fun stuff, so with Michael, they filmed a fake cologne commercial in the vein of Calvin Klein….and they’re pretty damn good with the vibe they create because hot damn this mofo can sell me anything.

Lego videos, especially those around Star Wars stuff, are awesome.   Here’s one I previously raved about with regards to the Death Star kit, but this new video is one that isn’t a kit and is made by those folks who collect thousands and thousands of Lego bricks to make any and everything.  This guy made the Star Destroyer wreckage as seen in The Force Awakens when we first meet up with Rey….and wow is all I can say.  It’s incredible!

Finally, there have been these small animated cartoons being released in the Star Wars world that are canon and cover areas of the lore that may not necessitate a movie on their own but it’s cool to see nonetheless.  These videos are called Forces of Destiny and there are more than that I’m showing here – but this one is about Porgs and I love porgs and you must too:

I love it so much.

Alright, that’s enough from me for now.   I hope all is well with you out in the world.