Tag Archives: friends

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!

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.

A Day at the Races

I’m pretty sure it’s been at least 20 years since I’ve been to Santa Anita Race Track and actually watched and placed bets on horseracing.  At least.  If I think about it, it’s like at the latest, I was in high school, and maybe when Mom, Harv & I would go when that was something we all liked to do and before we got bored of it and couldn’t pick a winning horse to save our life, or maybe it was a time when one of the aunts had a birthday party there in the infield.  Regardless, it was high school or maybe early college when I last went, and man, a lot of memories came back when going back there yesterday.

We went to celebrate our friend Paras’ birthday, and it was a bit surprising to see that was where they wanted to hold the party.  Not really what I imagined younger folk would do, and while it certainly wasn’t a packed house like I kind of remember from my youth, there was  a good mix of young and old, and certainly plenty of people there who looked like what you’d imagine hang out at the track.

The day was a beautiful one to be there, with beautiful blue skies and nice temps – it was certainly warm, but we were in the shade and it was comfortable.  We drank plenty of beer, bet on most of the races (even won a race and got $22!), had some food, caught up with friends, and had a great afternoon at the races.  Happily Uber is a thing now, so it was great to go there and leave without having to worry about parking or drinking.  Anyway, pictures below!

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:

So How About Those Oscars?

Larry & I had the opportunity to attend an Academy Awards party at Ken’s house in Los Feliz – “Ken” being Mila’s brother who I’ve known for pretty much all of his life.  He’s done well for himself and has a great house in the hills of Los Feliz and as you can see in the pics below, the view is REDONK.  It was a lot of fun to watch with this group of people and while I ended up doing terribly in my predictions for most of the lesser awards, when it came to Best Picture, I ended up deciding to pick Moonlight as I figured the awards would get split between Picture and Director, and when Damien Chazelle won Best Director, I thought I was looking good.  Then La La Land is announced as the Best Picture, and while I was happy with that result, I also know plenty weren’t, and it also hurt my ballot (not that it mattered, I lost hard).  But then, that craziness of ‘oh yeah, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were given the wrong envelope’ occurred and it was like, oh shit, are you kidding?  Not just because that was an insane thing to have happen at the Oscars…but also, my employer is the one who looks to have been responsible for it happening!!   EEEK……. and throughout the news cycle today, it definitely doesn’t look like that assessment is changing anytime soon.  I can’t imagine anything else happening besides THERE WILL BE BLOOD.   This is one of those cases though where shit doesn’t have a downhill option to go….the 2 partners who are there are the only ones allowed to know who won, so anyone else who was associated with helping is in the free and clear as nobody else has that comprehensive picture…and weren’t there with the envelopes.   Girl, this is gonna be a rollercoaster, just saying.

So in the meantime, here are some fun pictures of the view from Ken’s house along with some pictures of people you may or may not know.  🙂

Oh yeah – now this is an Oscar Winning Composer’s signature on the La La Land vinyl!: