Tag Archives: family

It Begins – and lots of other pics too

First, the stress of yesterday’s PwC event at Magic Mountain proved to be mostly needless.  Of course I’m glad that felt compelled to be prepared, so that’s good, but it was such a welcome relief when it was time to do it and then sure enough, I was done.  Even got decent feedback after the fact.   The reward for making it through was then we got to go enjoy Six Flags!   The weather was pretty much perfect for a visit to the park, and better yet, there were like NO lines.  It’s likely the slowest time for them as most schools have started back up and it’s not really a hot time for tourism, I guess.

Friday, Jan 12 – PwC at Magic Mountain

The rundown of rides this day was basically all extreme.  And a day later, I’m still kinda feeling sore.  But we went on X-2 TWICE, which holy hell.  Riding in the last row of that ride is one of the most insane things you can do.  Then we went to Viper, then on to Tatsu.   Tatsu…is ridiculous.  It’s almost more intense than X-2 as it really feels like if your harness were to snap, you’d just get flung out to your death.  And it would be quick as you’d be a splat on the ground before you know it.  But what a ride!   We then followed that up with Gold Rusher which is great, as always, and ended the visit at Twisted Colossus.  So Twisted Colossus ended up still being my favorite of the coasters and there was an insane thing that happened:  One of my coworkers was in the seat in front of us, and as the train went inverted, the carabiner he had his keys on disengaged!  He immediately realized this but we were also on a rollercoaster that was currently barrel-rolling.  The keys managed to get lodged into the area by his feet, which was a miracle, as it was still a small gap, but the thickness of one of the keychains saved him.  The carabiner was long gone, but his keys weren’t.   He said that as they were flying away from him, they had been floating in front of them for a moment like they were in space.  Lucky lucky man.

Other Things!

Today, Larry & I took my mom over to see the model homes at the Glen LA so she could get to see for herself what the general layout of the house will look like.  It was the formal grand opening this weekend, so we of course saw most of the sales team, but we also saw plenty of potential homebuyers and actual homebuyers.  We ended up meeting a member of the family that will be living directly next door to us, and then we met a couple who will be living across the driveway from us.  All seemed very nice and it’s exciting to get the sense that this will be a fun neighborhood.  Fingers crossed.

Saturday, Jan 13 – At The Glen LA with Mom

Those are the most recent pics and I think it could be fun to try to capture periodic shots from the construction site in order to eventually capture a time-lapse of the progress.  Easier said than done, I’m imagining.

Anyway, the rest of the weekend should be nice and relaxing, hopefully.   I figure while I’ve got energy and the time, here are some picture sets from December, mostly from around Christmas stuff:

Mon, Dec 25, 2017 – Christmas at Mom’s House

It was a fun time to spend Christmas at Mom’s with Stacie and Trent.  The food was great (and happily, our overbuying for Thanksgiving helped as we just froze this ham and then used it a month later).  And wine is always a winner.

Making Cookies

I love making chocolate chip cookies as they turn out so damned good.  It’s just a lot of work.  I ended up making cookies throughout the entirety of watching Die Hard, which is a long time.  But so worth the effort.  The recipe for these cookies I’ve shared on this site previously and is slightly weird in how it does things, but the results can’t be argued with.

I think the last thing I’ll post about as I’m getting antsy and want to do something else besides type on my blog is the pictures from the Sperske Christmas Even that my cousin Erin held down in Carlsbad.   Happily, it was held in the early afternoon, so we didn’t have to stay down there overnight.   It also meant a LOT of driving for one day.  But it was worth it to see family again.  Erin & Eric’s house is perfect for these kinds of get-togethers and their recent renovations inside are fantastic.

Sat, Dec 23, 2017 – Christmas Eve in Carlsbad

And that’s that.  Time to play some video games and shoot some Nazis.

A Hell of a Weekend

We partied like we were 25, and damn, it was fun, but utterly exhausting.  I highly recommend doing this maybe once or twice a year.  Then go back to normal regular weekends.  🙂

Up first, we were invited to longtime friend Ken Basin’s wedding up at Saddlerock Ranch in the Malibu mountains.  Many of my good friends were also attending as obviously Mila is going to be at her brother’s wedding, as well as many others that I love.  We knew it would be a boozy affair, so we Uber’d there (and let’s just say, Uber drivers can be very good or very bad….), got promptly lost (Uber driver not so great today) as we got dropped off at the wrong location within the complex, and started walking around based on vague directions from staff who have no idea where weddings are held on the premises.  The pictures here are of that random walk, which happily ended when a car driven by some other guests had the unlucky happenstance of going where we were – but lucky for us.  We all found our way to the right place and we managed to get to seats just shortly before the ceremony began.  D’oh!

The wedding itself was absolutely beautiful.  The weather couldn’t have been better, what with it being mid-October.  But it’s of course been a ridiculously hot week for us with temps in the 100s this week, so our trend of having very late LA summers continues on.  Anyway, that wasn’t quite the case on Saturday, so it was great.

Highly recommend, if you can afford to, a wedding here.  Beautiful vistas, gorgeous lighting in the trees, good food, and just a spectacular venue.  It being a Jewish wedding, there was of course the hora to dance to, and of course, I did.  I also managed to roll my ankle at the very end of the dance as it was a packed dance floor with 300 guests, a hardwood dance floor that I managed to find the end of with my right foot and landed poorly.  Happily, it’s just rolled/sprained and not worse, because as of today, it’s mostly back to normal.

Lots to drink, lots of dancing with close friends and loved ones, some good food (not enough to keep me from getting hammered), and a great party all led to us not getting home until 1 in the morning.  LOOK OUT YOUNG FOLK!

Saturday, Oct 21, 2017 – Ken & Lisa’s Wedding @ Saddlerock Ranch

We were primed to be hurting on Sunday, and while it certainly wasn’t as bad as it could have been (I’ve been WAY HUNGOVER before, believe me – this past Sunday was nothing like that), it was certainly one of those days that could have been spent sleeping in a lot more and then do something lazy.  But we had more plans today, as we were going to celebrate Mom’s birthday with a lunch and then follow that up with a birthday celebration for Nicki & Carey in Silver Lake.

We got ourselves ready to go and off we went to Arcadia’s Westfield shopping center, which looks so freakin’ different than the Santa Anita Fashion Show mall I grew up with and had my first B Dalton Booksellers job at.  Unrecognizable.  Anyway, there’s a Cheesecake Factory there now so we met up with Mom, Stacie, and Trent for a good lunch.  As much as I can sometimes look down on Cheesecake Factory for being ‘just a’ chain restaurant, they are always packed for a reason:  the food is pretty damn good and it’s not a bad price.  It was a nice lunch though catching up with everyone and slowly but surely feeling like a human again.  Happy Birthday, Mom!

Sunday, Oct 22, 2017 – Birthday Lunch w/ Mom

Larry & I then had to figure out just what we were up for in terms of the Silver Lake birthday fun.  We were both exhausted and the idea of wine at the time didn’t sound appealing, nor did the follow-up oysters restaurant.  But there wasn’t an option of not going, so we stopped at home first to take a sanity break, and then it was time to call an Uber to take us to Silver Lake.  God bless Uber – it makes going places where the parking is horrible not so awful.  The flip side is that the hesitancy to drink evaporates as there’s no reason to be cautious.  So while we didn’t just decide to get blitzed, we certainly did have rosé while having a freakin’ blast at Silver Lake Wines.  It’s a fun place as while it is a wine store, you can also have them open the wines and serve it to you while hanging out.  And so yeah, we did that.  A few hours later, we all then went over to L&E Oyster Bar for some follow-up food.  I passed on oysters as ew, gross, but they did have cheese plates and bread and that was delicious.  It wasn’t enough for dinner though, and by around 7pm, I was starting to need more.  So with Carey, Rekha, and Megan, we left the group and headed just a bit further south to Silver Lake Ramen, which OMG is so good.  We had to wait for about an hour though, and happily a bar is next door, The Thirsty Crow, so yeah, more alcohol.  Dude, we were rockstars this weekend.  No idea how we made it through it, although Monday admittedly was a rough day to wake up to!

Birthday Wine with Nicki & Carey in Silver Lake

And that was our weekend.  I’ve been remiss in showing the many pictures from our exciting other weekends…so I will endeavor to do that as well.  Let’s see if I’m more successful this time than every other time I say that!

A Pictures-palooza From the Last Month – Pt 1

Normally, I’d insist on showing absolutely every picture I took….but I realize that will take a lot of time and effort.  So we’ll have to do a bit of editing, although I’m pretty sure it’ll still look as if I posted every picture I took.  What can you do?

It has been a busy month or so, since last I posted, whether it was work or vacation.  Work was especially intense and I can actually see a finish line for this engagement, if that can be believed. Probably shouldn’t jinx myself though, so I’ll leave it at that.

Sat, May 27, 2017: Starting Memorial Day Weekend with La La Land @ the Bowl

During Memorial Day weekend, Larry & I were heading out to New Jersey & NYC to spend the week with friends and family and to be able to attend our niece’s baby naming ceremony.  But before we headed back, I had bought us tickets to the La La Land in Concert @ the Hollywood Bowl….and it was great and a wonderful way to kick off the Hollywood Bowl season.  The kicker in this concert was that the orchestra would play the entire soundtrack while the movie played, and for this, they also included a jazz band, and there was a fantastic piano player who quite deftly played all the Sebastian music.  Pretty great experience, and aided by fireworks that kicked in at various moments in the movie.  Gotta love fireworks!

Sun, May 28:  Flying to Newark

Happily, flying out of LAX in the middle of a long holiday weekend isn’t a complete shitshow, and even while you can’t ever escape traffic at the terminal, we were still able to get in and to the gate pretty easily.  Pro-Tip:  Get yourself Pre-Check.  Everything is easier once that’s accomplished.

I liked these pictures I took right after take-off, looking back at Los Angeles and the area around Rancho Palos Verdes.

That first night, we got picked up by Fran & Joel and hung out at their place, eating some delicious New Jersey pizza.  Then it was time to pass out and hope we could get some sleep.

Mon, May 29:  A Day with Jon, Alyssa, Stacey & Rachel

Our first full day back was going to be spent with the Rausches as we never get to see them.  Plus, the baby naming ceremony for Rachel was the following weekend and that was going to be a hectic, stressful day for them.  So here, we could just relax and have a nice day.    Which we totally did, as we hung out at their house for a while, chatting, having a few drinks, eating lunch, and getting to play with Stacey & Rachel.  We then went to the local zoo!  It may have been kind of dreary and rainy, but it was still fun.  It was back to the house for some more Lego Batman movie watching and games directed by Stacey before we then went to a wonderful dinner with just Jon & Alyssa as Fran & Joel picked up babysitting duties.  In other words, it was a really fun day.

Tues, May 30 – Larry’s Birthday!

So this day was a day with Fran in NYC as well as us starting a temporary hotel stay in the city for a few days to be tourists and enjoy the old neighborhoods a bit.  First on the agenda was heading to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the UES, as hello, it’s awesome there.  After Fran fearlessly navigated her way there – btw, the city seems to be a whole lot more crowded as lots of streets are under refurbishment? – we walked the few blocks to the Met and took in a few exhibits before heading to the roof.  It’s got a spectacular view of Midtown framed by a tree-top view of Central Park.  See for yourself!

We then had lunch at the Atlantic Grill, which was the restaurant that Larry literally lived right above when he used to live on 76th St.  When you’d walk up to his place, you’d walk right by the windows of the restaurant that faced his building’s little courtyard.  So we were back!  It’s a great seafood restaurant and was a very nice way to celebrate his birthday.

At this point, Fran dropped us off over on the UWS as she headed back to New Jersey, and we then grabbed an Uber to take us to our hotel in Chelsea, the Hyatt House.  It was a fairly new building with just a few rooms per floor as the building is quite narrow, and it didn’t seem very crowded.  Also, it’s in a great location as you’re near Midtown but not quite in it, while also handy to a few subway lines.  Anyway, after checking in and getting settled, we had a show to catch, as Fran had gotten us tickets to see “Kinky Boots” on Broadway.  It’s a fun show about a British shoe company that is down on its luck until it realizes there’s a market for drag queen shoes.  It’s an enjoyable, fun musical with some standout performances, notably by the main queen, Lola, as well as the young owner of the shoe factory, played here by the lead singer of Panic! at the Disco.  A lot of catchy numbers made for a very fun show – definitely recommended.

Afterwards, we walked over to Hell’s Kitchen to grab a meal at one of our favorite places, Five Napkin Burger…so goood.

MEANWHILE……!!!!!! (Twin Peaks returns in 2 days!!!)

25+ years dealing with the ending of Twin Peaks and thinking that was it, having to speculate wildly on what might happen next, and now?  Now, we actually will get to find out.  Will there be actual answers?  With 18 hours of Twin Peaks ahead of us, likely.  But almost without a doubt, this will be a journey of complete weirdness filled with disorienting visuals and themes.  I’m sure I’ll even be like, WTF.  But I eagerly await it regardless.

The World Premiere of this next season on Showtime is happening at the Ace Hotel in DTLA as we speak.

I didn’t make it to this world premiere like I did when the Missing Pieces ultimate blu-ray set had a premiere at the Vista:

Twin Peaks: Up Close and Personal

Talk about an amazing opportunity that was!  But yeah, I didn’t make it downtown this time as this time, the entire world is all about Twin Peaks excitement and the crowd that had assembled for what I saw in 2014 were a small group of diehards.  Can’t even imagine the excitement though at the venue – the pictures from inside look really cool.

I just can’t believe it’s happening.  It IS happening again!!!!

More to come in the next few days – I know I won’t be able to keep myself from writing about the first 4 hours.  Sunday will be insane:  the first 2 hours are getting released on Showtime on Sunday night, but then hours 3 & 4 will be available immediately via Showtime’s streaming apps….so yeah, I’ll be watching those too.  Can’t NOT.  Monday may be painful.

Visiting the Twin Peaks Pop-Up in DTLA

The premiere is being held at this same venue I visited as documented above – you can see my main picture above is from the marquee…only now it’s 2017!!!!!

Oh, and of course I ordered these Twin Peaks FunkoPOP bobbleheads:

Miscellaneous Picture time – because why not?

Larry & I enjoyed last Saturday afternoon’s beautiful temps and weather by finally visiting the outdoor wine bar at the Americana.  Wonderful way to have lunch.  Expensive way, also.

The next day we then went over to Mom’s for Mother’s Day!  Stister Stacie also was there and we had a great time playing Rack-O, drinking some wine, and having some good food.  Barbecued some burgers and hot dogs, Larry made his latest rendition of Blue Smoke-esque mac and cheese (I actually think he did it – no lie.  The secret:  champagne vinegar), I made cookies…it was a good day.

And I think that’s that for now.  Happy Friday and Cobol Wishes!

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: