Tag Archives: friends

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!:

Google Street View made it to the Azores

Jason Rubi sent me a text with the picture from Google Street Maps as seen below of the house I lived in shown above, and it’s like, holy shit, that’s where I lived, first with Angelo, then with Jason, while stationed and living in the Azores, specifically the island of Terceira.  I’ve periodically reminisced here about the wonder of living there – it feels like a dream, honestly.  This house, a former church, was where I lived – it was perched on a cliffside overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  The views were amazing, and it was almost distractingly remote from a lot.  There was one other house across the street, and then a little cafe at the base of the Sao Sebastiao Bay Baia da Salga (how did I not write that at all in this post originally??).  At night, it could be really quiet and eerie.  When it rained, I sometimes braced for the house to collapse down the cliffside.  We once climbed down the cliff to the shore and the way the cliffside was hollowed out was almost frightening.  But guess what?  The place is still there, and looks almost exactly the same.  I’m surprised – the owner/landlord had said he was going to sell the pastures in front and develop them with more apartments….but I guess gentrification decided not to come to the Azores.  I’m glad, to be honest.  I love that it’s still the same.

Terceira, Google Map – with where my house was on the south side of the island pointed out, as well as Lajes AB, where I worked:

The next thing to see is a zoom in of where we lived in ol’ Sao Sebastiao (pronounced San Sebastian, but it’s Portuguese, so everything ends in an “o”) / Baia da Salga.

It’s awesome to see that Google points out one of the restaurants I absolutely loved going to, A Ilha.  SO GOOD.  I had my going away there when I left.  But they served some very good Beef or Chicken Alcatra, which is like the best pot roast you’ve ever had.  There were better places to get Alcatra on the island, but having one so damn close was the best.

And then here’s the Street View of the ol Home on the Cliff:

Man, the MEMORIES while living there!  The drinking, the dancing, the eating, the laughs, the music….the croquet playing, the drinking, the passing out, the rain, the running out of hot water due to the gas tanks emptying, geez, it was a whirlwind.  But those days when the weather was perfect, and the sun was shining, and the ocean was beautifully blue….

Yeah, just amazing.  Loads of pictures can be found on my old site here (but my entire collection is larger, that’s for sure) and one day I’ll eventually get to converting those too into my WordPress site.  I met the greatest set of people there during those 15 months, and that was lucky, as it could have been a very lonely place to end up.  But yeah, I got lucky, and have nothing but fond memories there.

A Nice Weekend – and Pics from the Last One

Work has been kind of insane this past week, so I never got a chance to post the pictures from Rekha’s birthday and our trip out there for it to Santa Monica.  That situation is finally going to be remedied!  But before that, I have to admit that this weekend….was highly unproductive.  But it was lovely nonetheless.  Yesterday, I spent 8 hours sitting on the couch watching the Twin Peaks Marathon of Twin Peaks Season 1 – god DAMN that show is great.  I kept hoping a surprise new teaser would be revealed, but alas, that Cooper one from Friday is the newest.  But they did iterate through all the trailers thus far released, including the Deputy Hawk one, the Gordon Cole eating a donut one, the eerie Angelo Badalamenti one….so great.  I’m bracing for what Season 3 will actually be – and hoping my expectations can be tempered to just go along for the ride.  With David Lynch, you really have to adjust accordingly.  And 18 HOURS of David Lynch…even with Mark Frost there with him…could be nuts.    I was telling Larry that I kind of wonder if there will be a Drew Barrymore-in-Scream move made…in that one of the major stars from the original series gets killed off.  Maybe someone like Audrey or Shelly?  Eh, just chill.

I instagrammed this pic of my Twin Peaks books during the Season 1 Marathon.

Anyway, last night we went out to Cafe Beaujolais in Eagle Rock, our favorite local French restaurant with the attractive waiters who wear black t-shirts.  It’s wonderful.  Had plenty of wine and man, it just made for a wonderful Saturday night.  Get to feeling good, is all I’m saying.

This morning, we finally made it back out to Griffith Park to go running, and that was my first time out for a run in a few weeks.  Accordingly, only got in about 5.3 miles.  Happily, Larry’s back is feeling good again and he can handle the runs too.  Then we watched The Force Awakens and that movie is still the best.  Now it’s laundry and listening to Mark Hamill on the Nerdist podcast with Chris Hardwick.  Today is chill as fuck and I love it.

Okay, enough rambling – here are pictures!

Jan 7, 2017 – Rekha’s Birthday in Santa Monica

Back to Santa Monica

….for the day, at least.  Rekha is celebrating her birthday today, so off we go back to the area where we used to live.  We really did love living there, but as I mention if the topic of the West Side ever comes up, if you live there, you better hope you work there and that all your friends are there too.  Otherwise, that 405 & 10 barrier is usually far too great a burden to overcome.  Was considering taking the Expo Line out there now that it goes all the way to Santa Monica, but it’s supposed to rain, so not today.