Tag Archives: family

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:

Fun Times in Vegas

This past weekend was a wonderful getaway.  Larry & I flew up on Thursday night to Las Vegas to meet up with Fran and Joel.  They were in this neck of the woods because they were headed to a conference in Phoenix this week, so why not meet up in a fun middle ground?  So of course, we were in for that!

We all stayed at the Palazzo, which was unsurprisingly fantastic.  It’s a huge hotel and has a smallish casino, to be honest.  But it was good enough as I ended up having quite a bit of luck playing there.  Well, the first night, not so much:  I decided to try Blackjack that Thursday night before going to bed and immediately lost $100.  ROUGH.  But it was on Friday when I played some craps and holy shit, I had a fantastic roll.  I was at the table by myself, which is usually a risky move, but it was $10 and sometimes it’s nice to not have the pressure of others betting on you and your roll. But that morning?  I was on fire.  I kept hitting the points and rolling 6s and 8s like crazy.  Started with $100 and walked away with $450.  That’s a nice session.    Our first activity that day was walking around the Strip in that area, as Fran hadn’t been in Vegas for over 40 years so it was worth walking her through a lot of it.   We walked south from the Palazzo, past the Venetian, Harrah’s, through Flamingo, then past Bally’s and into Paris.  We finally took a drink break at Paris and enjoyed the ambience.

After that respite, we crossed the street over to Caesars Palace as that is definitely something that can’t be missed when looking at over-the-top splendor.  The Forum Shoppes suitably impressed them, as did the curvy escalators!  After that, it was time to walk on back to the Palazzo and past the Mirage, which we’d return to on Saturday night.

Another drink stop back at the Palazzo casino bar area, and then it was finally time to get some Roulette in!  I don’t usually play, but it was the game that Fran was up for as Jon had asked her to play some #s.  Well, crazily enough, she was able to get some wins in – hell, so did I!  The best one was 33 hit, which I had bet on, and on the next spin, it came up again.  Sweet, and I had put another dollar on there.  35-1 odds, buddy!

That evening we had dinner at the Lavo Italian restaurant in the Palazzo, which was pretty great.  Joel’s boss and wife were also meeting us there for dinner.  The food was great, but I ended up unable to finish off my veal parmesan as it was ginormous.  But very good!

On Saturday morning, we awoke and instead of having breakfast again at the Grand Lux Cafe, we found Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro – quite a trek to find, but sooo damn good.  It’s a French restaurant and oh man, their weekend menu is delicious.  I ended up getting one of the specials, chicken with waffles, and it was fantastic.  Perfectly cooked chicken…bacon in the waffles….delicious.

After breakfast, that day’s walking adventure was to take the Monorail down to the MGM Grand so we could then not only see that but also see the New York New York casino.  We had to show them the fun theming there, even if it is kind of lame.  We then walked through the Excalibur and into the Luxor, where we had another drink break.  It was a lot of fun to stop there as they were playing music videos and all of them were just a blast to watch.  Larry & I could have probably hung out there, drank, and watched videos all afternoon!  We did then check out Mandalay Bay before catching a cab back to the hotel in order to get some rest.

We still had a fun night ahead, as we had gotten tickets to see the Beatles’ LOVE show at the Mirage!  Yay!  Michancy also joined us, so it was a blast.  I was excited to see it again (yes, again, I know) as for its 10th anniversary, they changed it up a little.  After having seen it, I think I preferred the original version to the tweaks that were implemented.  It’s not a giant overhaul by any means, but there did seem to be additions and removals that changed the overall excitement, maybe?  Regardless, still a great show and the newbies all loved it.  After the show, we then headed back to the Canal Shoppes and got dinner at Sushi Samba, which is quite an experience.  Really good food in a fun atmosphere.  Michancy suggested keeping going, but both Larry & I were done at that point, so we walked her to her car and then headed back to the hotel.

And then it was Sunday and time to go home.  We actually did have a good bit of fun in the morning, as we had breakfast at the Grand Lux again (their beignets were so good and their French Toast is insanely thick) and then after getting packed, we killed some more time at the casino, with Fran able to play roulette for a while longer and I went over and played craps again.  It was great as I was able to win some money – although not as much as some guys who were playing one of the particular-table bets I’d not seen before – Repeater bets, in which if you roll two 2s or three 3s or four 4s etc before 7-ing out, you get insane paydays.  It’s of course bigger at the 6 and 8 (120-1), but the 2/12 is still 50-1 I think, and it just goes up.  For those rolls in which craps numbers get rolled a lot, which sometimes happen, these bets are ridiculous.  One of the guys at the table literally won $1000 on those bets alone.  But I know full well that those are sucker bets too, as those great rolls don’t come all that often!

Anyway, it was wonderful to see Fran and Joel even if for a little while.  They drove off to Phoenix while Larry & I took our brief Southwest flight home.  I freakin’ love flying to Vegas now – so much less stressful.

A Christmas Catch-Up Post & Pics!

There’s been some fun few days during this holiday break, and that was helped a lot by Michancy coming down for Christmas.  She got here on Friday the 23rd, and that night we went out to Flapper’s Comedy Club in Burbank in the midst of a heavy heavy rain storm.  These were tickets that Larry had gotten for free and we were this close to abandoning it and staying in, but we somehow found the willpower to just go.   We got an Uber to make it easy on all of us, and did have plenty of wine before and during the show.  The kind of cool thing that did happen at Flappers is that we got there at 7, and the actual “show” (Jokes for Jews, no joke) started at 8, so there was a warm-up act.  At first I couldn’t roll my eyes harder as it was a woman singing while playing her banjo….and then I started hearing her voice more clearly and then really looking at her.   It was freakin’ Deven Green!  Or maybe you’ve heard of her as Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian?

Oh man, she is absolutely awesome in this character and has a whole slew of other topics if you choose to go down that rabbit hole.  But this one about abortion is my favorite – especially the line, “bottoms up, hooker!”  Deven Green also did some hilarious voiceovers on a series of videos that Brenda Dickson made back in the 80s, and if you can find them, great, but likely you won’t.  So it was a happy accident and surprise that we got to see her in person.  She’s very musically talented and was a lot of fun to watch and sing along with.  I did get a brief chance to tell her how much I loved her work, so I feel like that was all worth it.

Alright, here are the pictures from that day of Michancy’s arrival –

Friday, Dec 23, 2016 – Michancy Arrives

The next day we included culture as part of the day’s activities before we got to real work on making food for Christmas Day, so we drove nearby to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena.  It’s a fabulous museum, convenient for us, not all that expensive, and has a wonderful collection of art without being overwhelming.  I think it gets lost in the shuffle of LACMA, the Broad, or the Getty(s), but Norton Simon stands shoulder-to-shoulder with these museums in terms of quality.  Highly recommended!

A big part of why I wanted to get over to the Norton Simon was that they had Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom” on loan from the Chicago Art Institute, and I am always excited to go and see Van Gogh if I can.  It turns out this is actually the 2nd of 3 “The Bedroom” paintings that Van Gogh did.

There were quite a few other Van Gogh paintings there as well, but one that really caught my attention is one called “The Mulberry Tree.”  It’s quite arresting and I couldn’t help but be transfixed by it.  I ended up buying a copy of it for my mom as a Christmas gift to go along with some of the other Van Gogh prints she has.

Probably the best thing of the visit though was wandering around near the end of the visit around the Dutch / European wing and coming face to face with what is most certainly Larry’s doppelganger in portrait form.  It was quite shocking to see it and I had to have Larry take a picture with it.  I’m not wrong:

I’ve found Larry’s doppelganger

The artist did his own portrait and while you can look around at other portraits of him, they really don’t look much like Larry.  I think he was very generous with himself and that speaks highly of Larry.  It also seems like this is a definite costume contender for Halloween 2017.

Anyway, after that nice excursion, we grabbed a late lunch in Eagle Rock and then came back for the evening and watched Elf, Christmas Vacation, and Die Hard, as one does for Christmas.  Larry made amazing latkes, and all was well in the world.

Saturday, Dec 24, 2016 – Norton Simon and Other Adventures

One of the things we did that night was open our gifts – Larry got Bingo Bronson and a brand spanking new Apple Watch, while I got some of the Philips Hue lights I’ve been coveting for a long long time.  Believe me when I say those things are so freaking cool.  You can change the color of the light to pretty much anything, and it’s fantastic.

On Christmas, we went over to Mom’s house, as did Stacie & Trent.  It was a lot of fun – we played some games (Tower of Terror Jenga & Apples to Apples), ate a lot of good food, danced a lot, and overall enjoyed Christmas day.  We also watched my episode of Jeopardy, as Stacie hadn’t seen it.  Funny enough, I made Michancy watch that again on Friday, I think.  I’m definitely starting to get that out of my system?  Although each time I watch, I still am utterly compelled by the whole thing.  And I still don’t know the answers to many of the Earth Science questions.  🙂

Sunday, Dec 25, 2016 – Christmas with the Fam

Michancy ended up leaving the next day in the afternoon.  We were mostly recovering from all the wine that had been consumed over the last few days and didn’t do much of anything – I played (and finishing, later that evening) Uncharted 4, Larry & I watched Midnight Special, which was certainly an interesting movie but I’m not sure all the build up we had for it was warranted?

Since then, I’ve had the chance to clean up the house a bit, go see La La Land again (still fantastic and as enjoyable, if not more so, than the first time I saw it), play a lot of The Witcher 3 (good god, that game is so good and there’s so much good stuff to do in it), and today I went and rode the Gold Line again, this time from Sierra Madre Villa and on out to its new terminus in Azusa, then back.  

I’ve got my list of tasks to work through, some of which include getting these pictures out, maybe finishing up the honeymoon pictures FINALLY, as well as extending our lease another year.  Yep, not moving after 2 years this time.  Too many things up in the air right now to be moving and spending all that money to do so.