Category Archives: on life

On to Year 2!

Somewhat shockingly, it’s been a year since our amazing wedding at the Oviatt Penthouse in Downtown LA.  Where’d the time go???  Happily, we’re both still just in love as we were a year ago, and as much as we were when we first met.  I think it helps to be best friends with your partner, and we certainly are.  Anyway, we celebrated our anniversary a day early as who wants to go out on a Sunday night?  So we went to dinner at Cicada, the restaurant on the ground floor of the Oviatt.  It’s a striking art deco restaurant and we’d seen it briefly before when visiting the Penthouse before the wedding.  It was a great idea to go back – and apparently we were one of a few who wanted to be there that night, as the place was kind of empty.  Even the Oviatt Penthouse wasn’t having an event that night.  Kind of surprising, but what can you do?

We had a good time, taking an Uber there, and then indulging in the 5-course menu and enjoying a lot of Montepulciano wine.  We even saw a mid-level celebrity during dinner – Doug Savant – who had a whole bunch of his family there.  Anyway, here are pictures:

Apr 29, 2017 – Anniversary Dinner at Cicada

We had a very wonderful time at the restaurant, the service was great, the food was delicious (Italian-ish for the most part, although my main entree was a filet mignon while Larry had duck), and the ambience was just very nice and relaxed.  A great way to celebrate our wedding a scant 365 days before.

The next day, we had to recover a bit, but then ended up meeting Nicki & Austin at A.O.C., a very popular restaurant and at times, rated one of the Top 10 in LA.  So it was exciting to get to go there for brunch!  Nicki was very sweet and got us flowers and some supercool books by Abbi Jacobson (from Broad City), and also treated us to brunch.  We’re not worthy.

Anniversary Brunch @ A.O.C., April 30, 2017:

Afterwards, it was time to watch Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion and La La Land….ah, bliss.  And then of course the weekend ended and it was back to the grind.  But as a weekend, this one was not bad by any means.  In fact, kind of awesome.

Air!

It’s been a rough month or so for me in terms of work. Basically been nonstop in order to try to stay ahead or keep up (it changes, depending on the day), and for quite a few weekends, I would take Saturday off for my sanity but be working from home on Sunday to keep getting shit done.   What have I been doing?  Making myself invaluable in the world of COBOL apparently:

The Inevitable Return of COBOL

Take a gander at that article.  That’s been my life, getting to know the client’s COBOL programs and decipher them into readable pseudocode.  What’s amusing to me is that I honestly might be learning this skill that keeps me gainfully employed; it’s not sexy by any means, but so much still runs on a COBOL backbone and industry is just not really ready to ignore the ol’ adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Anyway, the 3-4 weeks of intensity has managed to finally get lessened due to that hard work.  So that’s been great.  It’s still busy during the week of course, but I have been able to take a full weekend both this one and the last.  Yay!

So, what else has been going on?  Let’s go through some of the pictures, shall we?

Twin Peaks

OH MAN.  So much excitement with Season 3 coming up in like a month.  I have to keep expectations in check, but it’s so exciting to realize we’ll get some answers one way or another so soon.

A few weeks ago, Entertainment Weekly released 3 covers that all had to do with Twin Peaks.  If you lined them all together, you could see they all formed one “last supper”-ish picture of major components of the cast.  When I realized this was happening, I managed to finally get to Barnes & Noble and snag 2 of the 3 covers, but of course the ‘good’ cover was the one I couldn’t find, which was the one with David Lynch, Cooper, Laura and Audrey.  Of course.   I held out one piece of hope though – that Larry’s subscription issue would come with that cover, and happily enough, that turned out to be the case.  All 3 covers were MINE.

I am so freakin’ excited for this.

Here are some more official photos of the covers in their full glory:

In the midst of all my geekery, I went back to Welcome To Twin Peaks and looked at their video links.  One of them was to what has been thus far an amazing analysis series that covers the entirety of the show, and while it leaves a lot of the charming and esoteric details for when watching the show, you can watch this analysis and get a pretty great sense of what has happened in advance of Season 3:

Journey Through Twin Peaks, A 4-Hour Video Essay Exploring The Series, The Film & More

I’d just managed to finish watching through to the recap of winding down from solving the Laura Palmer mystery, and am interested in how it deals with the Windom Earle plot as well as Miss Twin Peaks and the dive into the Black Lodge.  And of course, the frustrating then-“series” finale which is no longer the bane of the show’s existence.  “How’s Annie?”, indeed.

Fun @ WeHo’s Flaming Saddles

This guy is ridiculously hot, and I barely remember it at this point due to the alcohol consumption.

Yeah, so when you make it to one of WeHo’s very festive gay bars, you can rest assured eventually some hot mofo will be dancing around for you to ogle.  And sure enough, a weekend ago, Larry & I got to enjoy that pastime.  Greta was celebrating her birthday and her girlfriend Stacey invited us out to Flaming Saddles, a WeHo outpost of a place we’d also visited in NYC many years back.    Anyway, we had a blast.  After a few pitchers of beer, how could you not have fun?  Drag queens, gays, hot guys dancing around….yeah, you tell me how you can’t have fun.  Well, I can actually tell you the best way to fuck it all up:  add shots.  Larry & I had been drinking $13 pitchers of beer for a while, but of course when it’s a birthday party, people always think you need to add shots.  OOF.  Larry wisely and by necessity passed, but I was like SURE.  Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!  Yeah, I entered the zone of blackout drunk and a 36-hour hangover period.  Day drinking is a fun thing, but it’s not a right.  And you can easily fuck that up if you’re not careful.  Anyway, still a blast, and something I’d love to do again.  Just don’t mix.

If you get the chance to visit some place like Flaming Saddles or the Abbey, I highly recommend it.  What’s not to love?

Work Goes to the Standard Rooftop in DTLA

The new partner overseeing the national practice that I work in came to visit our humble Los Angeles office and meet us.  It was a good day and all of us were in the area so why not have an after-work happy hour atop the Standard Rooftop?  It’s just a block away from where we work, the weather was stunning, and the view was great.

See for yourself!

So that brings us to this weekend.  I’m obviously skipping a lot, but I’ll have to make up that differential with some more posts, like movies we’ve seen, etc.  In the meantime, it’s getting close to bed time and today has been a long one, with our Griffith Park run kicking it off and then a lot of work doing laundry, ironing, watching TV, and well, getting mentally prepared for another week.  Le sigh.

Hope all is going well out there for everyone else in this nutso time we live in.

“How Did This Get Made?” and More

Another week goes by and I’m still employed (yay) and the week goes by quick enough for me not to be too dragged down by it all.  Yay, again.  I’ve been trying to figure out what it is I want to do with my life, and yes, I recognize I am 40 and should have figured that out a while ago.  So while I recognize that the career side of things is basically just me finding a niche where I can get stuff done and get paid while doing it, as being a true “professional” in some career has long ago stopped being an option for me, I do think I can figure out hobbies and such that will bring me personal satisfaction.

Writing is certainly up there, and if I can get the discipline to write on a regular basis and also figure out things to write about passionately, that would be a good first step.  Musical instruments are also an interesting thought, but man, you need to take lessons and get the time commitment figured out, and that’s freakin’ tough right now.  But I have this new guitar and I want to get back to it, so we’ll have to make that work out.   Stupid video games are also a bane to my productivity, to be honest.  So many good ones out there.  Anyway, just some random notes from me to you.

How about some pictures?

Barb and I had a nice after-work catch-up at Traxx earlier this week and it was wonderful.  Sometimes, you gotta get a drink at the Art Deco Union Station in your city, amirite?

Larry and I got dinner at a great new restaurant called The Tsujita in the Americana, where the specialty is a weird twist on ramen:  the noodles and pork are served cold and separate from the broth, which is really hot and delicious.  You then dip the noodles/pork into it….and it’s fucking wonderful.  A great addition to the restaurant selection here.

Yesterday was the main event for us though, as Larry had been able to secure tickets to an event called “How Did This Get Made?”  What it is is 3 hilarious people (Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael (who we feel in love with from her role in Grace & Frankie), and Jason Mantzoukas) + a hilarious guest talking about various terrible movies and all the wondrous ways it is terrible.  It’s a podcast you can listen to via iTunes or Earwolf podcast website and you definitely should.  The first one I ever listened to was recommended by Larry and it was all about A View to a Kill, yes, the awesome 80s James Bond movie.  Both Larry & I grew up on it so we’re blinded to its failings, but man, this really long podcast just does a number on it and it is epically hilarious.  Well worth the nearly 2 hours to listen to it if you have time, as they point out so many of the ludicrous plot points and characters.  So funny.  Anyway, Larry’s been addicted to the show ever since, and finally scored tickets to it for this past weekend!  He’s been super excited although I think we all were kind of worried once we learned about the movie that was going to be the topic of our show yesterday:  Chopping Mall…..yes, it’s a craptastic 80’s “horror” movie about “teens” trapped in a high-tech mall with 3 malfunctioning murderous robots.  Holy shit this thing is bad….but don’t take my word for it, here’s the awful trailer for this awful movie:

I can’t be sure this is the real trailer as the description kind of indicates it’s not?  But it captures the sheer cheese of it all.  Anyway, Larry & I ventured over to where Nicki lives in LA to watch the movie on Amazon Video with her as she and Austin were going to go with us for this fun.  The three of us watched it in wonder as the movie truly is just terrible terrible terrible.  And the performances are ridiculous and there’s lots of boobs for no reason and it begs the question, HOW DID THIS GET MADE???  Full circle, people, that’s what just happened.  It’s a truly perfect movie for this show (and podcast).

Anyway, having done our research for the night’s entertainment, we then went over to the Largo Theater, which is on La Cienega Blvd just a block north of the Beverly Center, which hilariously is the exterior for the Chopping Mall.  So of course, after we got our tickets for the show (not too bad of seats – it’s a random draw and we ended up getting 5th row), the three of us went down to the Beverly Center.  Apparently it’s not the interior that was used for the movie as another mall had that distinction, but it was still fun to think about it anyway.  There is a main foyer in the Beverly Center that looks a LOT like the movie though.  It’s still weird to be back in that neighborhood and see the Beverly Connection across the street and consider I spent 5 years working there at the Bookstar which is now gone….like truly gone.  It’s been remodeled into an Old Navy.  🙁

We then met up with Austin at the Largo’s bar once that opened up and we had a few drinks to get into the spirit of things.  Anyway…the show was amazing.  Larry had been bracing for the possibility of June not being there, but as it was the 8pm show, the likelihood is higher that she was going to be present and happily she was.  They of course loved tearing this movie apart as it certainly deserves to be.  I’m looking forward to hearing the podcast once they release it, which we think is going to be in a week or so.  Highly recommended once it is!

Anyway – pictures!

Saturday, Mar 11, 2017: How Did This Get Made @ The Largo

It was just a great night and a fun way to spend most of a Saturday.   Of course, Daylight Savings Time coming around this morning to steal some of our precious sleep time is the worst.  Anyway, we eventually got our act together, watched last night’s SNL (the Ivanka Trump “Complicit” ad was amazing), and then headed out to Target to restock the house supplies and then watch Logan.

Logan (2017) (saw this on Mar 12 @ the Pacific Theaters in Glendale)

Well, the reviews are in and it’s been getting across-the-board raves, and rightfully so.  It’s getting praised for very good things, such as a stripped down story, wonderful performances, and a more serious take on what usually isn’t.  And oh yeah, it’s R-rated and it takes full advantage of that, as Logan is fucking violent as hell.  I mean, it’s REALLY violent.  But I have to say that while I did enjoy the ride, the movie feels too long and I think it needed to have an explanation for some things to help place you in the world.  I get it, you do get enough hints as to what’s happened in the time between the last X-Men movies and 2029, which is when this is set.  But I kind of still wanted to know more – what actually happened that Professor X and Logan keep referring to?  Obviously it resulted in the deaths of pretty much all the mutants, but what was it?  Maybe it doesn’t matter, but the ambiguity for ambiguity’s sake kind of turned me off.  And this movie is bleak, full stop.  There’s very good reasons for that but just know this is not the movie that ends with everyone hugging it out at the end.  Nope.

Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are of course fantastic, as is the young actress who played Laura / X23.  It’s interesting to think where the “modern” X-Men movies plan to go from here…do they tell the story I’m bitching about missing?  Or are they only going to do the “First Class” X-Men?  OR just reboot the whole damn thing?    Logan is certainly a better movie than the recent Apocalypse though, and for sophistication, it stands pretty much above most of the other recent X-Men movies too.  I guess I’m struggling with liking it but not loving it?  And wanting to have SOME exposition to fill in some of the blanks.

Movies Seen in 2017:

Fantastic / Rave-worthy:

Very Good:

Okay / Wait to See at Home:

Only if You’re Going to “How Did This Get Made?”

  • Chopping Mall (1986)

Catching Up, March 2017

Hi – we’re still kicking here, just haven’t had much motivation to update – but here are some quick bullet points:

First:  I got a chance to see my friend and former coworker Sharon as she was in town for a few days due to work.  That’s not a small thing to consider, as she normally lives and works in Israel!  Speaking of, I think it would be fantastic trip to go there, see the history, enjoy the culture, and see Sharon!   Anyway, we met up in the Silver Lake area and ended up having a late lunch at Hyperion Public.  It’s great to have it be so easy to fall into conversation.

Second:  Yesterday, Larry & I picked up my mom and then we went east to Upland/Ontario to visit with Trent and Stacie and extended family.  Trent was down from college for the weekend and it was quite nice to see him, as well as Stacie.  It’s nuts to think he’s 20, I’m 40, and hi, hello, I’m old.

Third:  This past week has been slightly different for me as my current work engagement was kind of in a “pause”, so I’ve had the chance to breathe a little and remember what it was like to not be stressed.  Don’t you worry about me though – my blood pressure will be cranked back up to Max come Monday and I can look forward to a heart attack by 45, probably.  But hey, it’s only what I deserve.

Fourth:  So, Movies!  We’ve been seeing quite a few lately…and need to add some thoughts and rankings on them in this ol’ site.

Love & Mercy (2014) (saw it via hulu):  What a life Brian Wilson has lived.  Obviously a Hollywood version of 2 critical points in your life will be overly heightened and dramatized, but even from what you read, it’s kinda crazy.   Love & Mercy takes place during two points in Brian’s life – one is during the Beach Boys’ recording of Pet Sounds, while the other part is during the 90s when Brian Wilson is struggling under the care of his psychiatrist and finds hope and love.   The struggles that Brian endured during the 60s to harness his talent while easily succumbing to drugs is fascinating to watch.  Many moments that Larry & I have learned about from other movies were recreated, especially in the recording studio and at his house.  He was a musical genius but his father was a major muthafucka and he truly does have mental problems.  So flash forward a few decades and Brian has fallen under the sway of a psychiatrist who effectively controls him with drugs and constant supervision.   The movie covers both of these periods and it’s a fascinating tour, albeit quite sad at times.  Spoiler alert – Brian Wilson is mostly fine now, but it wasn’t an easy journey, and he really does have psychological problems that require care.  Anyway, if you like the recordings within Pet Sounds and Good Vibrations, this movie is well worth your time.

Moonlight (2016) (saw it via ITunes): We managed to see this before the Oscars as I had heard quite stellar reviews of it from basically anyone I knew who’d seen it along with all the critical reviews.  I knew that it had to do with being gay and black, but surprisingly enough, that isn’t something that I immediately want to go rush out and see, even though I myself am quite gay.  While us whites have a carefree ride being gay (/Sarcasm), I know that for a black man, being gay is a whole additional level of pressure to deal with.  So yeah, I knew this movie wasn’t going to be a light-hearted gay rom-com.  And I was right.  BUT, I was also quite enthralled by the movie as it tells a very tough story, but obviously one that can be related to regardless.  It’s got at its center a character in 3 points of his life:  as a young boy, a teenager, then finally a man in his 20s.  It’s told chronologically, and we immediately know that while the young Chiron isn’t sexually active, he’s already perceived differently and tormented for it.  He only has his mother as family, and unfortunately, mom is a crackhead, and cares not all that much that Chiron is suffering.  Happily, Chiron finds a father and mother figure in an unlikely source, an empathetic drug dealer (played by now-Academy Award-winning Mahershala Ali) and his girlfriend, Janelle Monae.  They provide a safe space for him as well as a sounding board, as Chiron has a frankly distressing and difficult conversation with them that sometimes hit too close to home.

The next phase is when Chiron is a teenager, and man, this is particularly brutal.  He’s awkward, gawky, and ostracized in high school, and his tormentors are relentless and cruel.  It’s terrible to watch and to empathize.  But he has one friend that ends up being a lifeline for him.    It’s a very emotional section of the movie, and I will avoid too many plot points, but by the end of it, you’re left wondering what the hell is in store for him, and before you can wonder too long, you see that he of course falls into the path that’s open to him and resembles his pseudo father almost identically.  Then a phone call comes and it’s that friend from his teenage years – a voice he likely never expected to ever hear from again, but there he is on the other end of the line and suddenly everything and nothing makes sense.  So they meet.  And it’s an agonizingly long series of scenes in which you want nothing more than for this grown-up Chiron to finally find happiness.  And maybe that’s why I ended up slightly cold towards the movie at the end – as that happy ending isn’t here.  In fact, the ending is almost abrupt…and from what I’ve read, it’s an intentional choice by the director, Barry Jenkins.  I get that it’s probably more realistic of a choice to make, but seriously, the lack of catharsis is a huge element to deal with.  Regardless, Moonlight is a fantastic movie and certainly deserved the Best Picture Oscar.  But as a gay man, those feelings were all too relatable and to not get some kind of happiness you’d likely see in any “straight” movie felt kind of like a reminder that yeah, the stigma is still there that people don’t want to see it.  Feh.

Get Out (saw this at Pacific Theaters today):   Alright, so you need to know that this is definitely a scary movie.  It’s got a whole slew of tense scenes, eventual violence, and a few jump scares – but it’s not a gross-out film, and with horror movies, I can only take so  much before I’m a mess.  The last horror movie I saw in the theater was The Conjuring and that shit was scary as hell.   Get Out is not like that movie – but it is certainly a fucked up experience that definitely is made for these fucked up times we’re living in.  So what’s the movie about, you ask?  Chris, the black guy, is dating Rose, the white girl, and they’re headed upstate to meet her parents.  It’s 2017, so of course Chris is slightly anxious about the whole situation as it’s not even clear if she’s warned her parents what to expect.  Rose reassures him constantly that they’re the nicest people around.   So once they finally get up there and meet the parents, it’s actually not so terrible and he tries to relax.  But then he observes the various servants around the isolated house and grounds, and of course they’re all black.  And strangely….off.    But we’re reassured that it’s not like that….and of course, things get ever more tense and strange as Chris learns and observes more.  And yeah, it’s all fucked up and holy shit it’s a good movie.  Whether it’s the fact that this is a movie from a distinctly 2016/2017 point of view or just that it’s an expertly done horror/thriller movie….just damn.  Obviously to continue talking about it means I ruin the plot, so just know that it’s quite a well-told story and if you hear the sound of a stirred tea cup…fucking run.

Movies Seen in 2017:

Fantastic / Rave-worthy:

Very Good:

Okay / Wait to See at Home:

This Kinda Helps, To Be Honest

http://lifehacker.com/youre-going-to-die-heres-how-to-deal-with-it-1791498957

Morbid as fuck, I know.  But still, I do sometimes let myself get caught having trouble falling asleep when I think about it.  But as someone in the comments of this Lifehacker article or maybe in the article itself points out, we weren’t really here before being born, so it’ll be going back to that experience after we die.  So we’ve already been there.  It’s kind of reassuring.  I don’t really believe in an afterlife, and even when I’ve hoped that something like that is there, thinking of ETERNITY just sounds exhausting.  So guess what, time to live life and make the most of it.  And that’s what I’ve got in my mind with regards to certain things hopefully coming down the pike.

Okay, can’t leave things just all focused on THAT…so here’s by far the best GIF of Winona Ryder at the SAG awards during Stranger Things acceptance speech: