Michancy arrived! The effort was a little more than expected as she flew in to Burbank to keep things easier, but her flight got diverted to Ontario as the weather was such shit that day. So while I had gone to Burbank to pick her up in the morning, that was for nothing. So while that situation was getting sorted out, Joel and I went to Whole Foods in Sherman Oaks to pick up my Thanksgiving order – surprisingly, it wasn’t the shit show I was expecting. Sure, the parking lot was crowded but what is nuts is that somehow you can get a spot there. I think because it’s a smaller store that you really aren’t chilling there, you’re shopping and going. Anyway, our order was ready pretty quickly and we were back home to store the goods in the refrigerator, which was nicely empty after clearing it out on Monday night to try to make sure we didn’t have an insane trash situation and get everything out for the Tuesday pickup. With last week’s skipped trash situation, it was a bit of stress. Today was also the day for Larry to get his portable pump removed – I had expected to be able to go but Michancy’s flight was now hopping over from Ontario to Burbank at that time, so I instead picked her up while Fran and Joel went with Larry to take care of that (and get my caregiver leave forms, which frustratingly were only half done but happily Fran caught that before leaving). By the evening, we were all home and happy to be inside due to the rain!
I write a hostile headline like that and you think I’m just going to be ranting like a madman. I won’t be. It’s actually been, for the most part, a very good month.
First, I Turned 42
Eh, maybe that’s not all that exciting or great, but it was time spent with friends and I can’t complain too much about where things are. Knock on wood.
Larry made birthday cupcakes for me – I am definitely on board with that. I think he may have been even more motivated because of the cake caddy that we bought when bringing a cake over for my mom’s birthday!
On the night of my birthday, a few of my bestest friends went over to the French restaurant in Highland Park called Cote Est. The same people who run this also run Barbrix and All’acqua, so you know it’s good. And this was no exception – we ended up spending like 3-4 hours there just eating, drinking, and having a fun time.
We Got Some Very Good News regarding Larry
Larry got a follow-up PET scan done the Friday before my birthday, but we didn’t get the results for a few days. Larry’s 9th round of chemo occurred the week following my birthday, which was also a week when Fran & Joel came back out to visit and spend time with their boy. So it was very much a happy coincidence that while they were out here, we also got the news about the PET scan results. On Wednesday’s follow-up to remove the pump, one of the nurses let us know that he’d seen the results and while Larry would need to talk to the doctor, the results were realllly good. And then on Thursday, they were all there for the Nulasta shot and had a chance to talk to Dr. Arzoo – and he basically said that the triplet chemo we’ve been doing has created results that are as good as could be hoped for.
Larry’s liver had been previously covered in hundreds of spots, which we knew about but didn’t actually want to see the pictures of. We still haven’t seen pictures, but there’s basically only one 4x4cm spot remaining in his liver after the chemo he’s been getting…which is incredible. The reason we didn’t have a parade though is that the reality is that this is still not over. Dr Arzoo wants us to continue the current regimen of chemo, meaning basically finish it up through the end of the year. I think we can push to at least reduce the oxyplatin as that is causing the neuropathy and Larry’s neuropathy symptoms are getting more intense and longer to recede. We have to roll that back before the nerve damage is permanent.
Then there is the fact that this is considered a chronic condition – and that there will be some form of reduced chemo for at least another year. Nothing as long and intense as what he’s getting now, which is good, but it’s not that we’ve ‘beaten the cancer.’ We actually may never ‘beat’ it – at least for the time being, but medical breakthroughs happen all the time. Anyway, we have an appt with a UCLA liver specialist this week (he is the doc we spoke to about a second opinion this summer) and we should hopefully be able to get more information about next steps, whether it’s continued chemo or who knows, maybe some kind of surgery to cut the spot out? That’s all guesses on my part, but it will be good to have an idea of what the next phase is. But the fact is, while there’s a lot of ‘Yeah, but’ above, the chemo did its job and Larry is in a far better state than in July. We just are processing the reality of his condition.
Fran & Joel Came Out for a Little Bit
They came out and stayed at the newly opened Hyatt Place down the street from our apartment on Central Ave in Glendale. It’s a perfect location for them as well as us, as it’s on the way to all the restaurants from our place. It was wonderful that they could be around when all this good news was coming through about Larry’s cancer, plus it was just nice to spend time with them. We did take them out to eat a few times – and in fact, we ended up going back to Cote Est just a week later than the last time we were there as it’s really that good of a place to visit!
I also ended up getting my birthday gift from Larry while they were out – Larry was way too kind and got me a new Apple Watch!!! I am a huge fan of this thing and a few weeks into owning it, I can’t imagine not having it. It’s just the best device. It’s the freakin’ future.
We did take Fran and Joel to visit the latest at the Glen LA, but I figure I’ll group those pictures together at the bottom of this post as then we took Michancy this weekend to see it and there was some significant progress witnessed this time too!
They wanted an LA brunch before leaving, so we took them to one of the fun places in Hollywood we’d been to before, Madera. Goood times and good food, and loud music. 🙂
Dear Evan Hansen w/ Nicki
It has been a little bit of time since we’d seen a show (Come From Away back in May, I think, when we saw that in NYC) so when Nicki reached out to see if we’d want to see Dear Evan Hansen at the Ahmanson, it was like duh. It was on a Saturday night so we had the ability to get some food beforehand, so we met up at Bottega Louie for a fabulous Italian dinner, then took an Uber to the Ahmanson. Last time that Larry & I had been there was seeing Les Miserables 25th Anniversary staging of the show – which was an event unto itself. Anyway, concerning the show itself – I really liked the staging and the music, but the story and plot were a bit interesting to consider. Obviously, it’s a damn musical – but it’s not that the situation was fantastical or unrealistic, it was that the main character is taking advantage of a situation that benefits himself and another family…only up until the truth of the situation gets out. I’m being vague to not spoil anything, but it’s just hard to feel sad or empathy after a certain point with Evan Hansen as it’s like, come on, dude, this is fucked up. So yeah, it was good….but also, I didn’t love it because of the above. Whaddya gonna do.
I subscribed to a Kickstarter for Fireball Island early this year as hello, Fireball Island was one of my favorite games as a 10yo kid. I don’t know what happened to my original game (probably grew out of it and thought I was too cool for school) but when I saw a post on Kotaku about this being Kickstarter’d, I was IN. I was IN for a lot too, as I ended up basically buying nearly every option. Happily, they met their Kickstarter goal by a LOT and for the last few months, the updates were all about production and getting distribution lined up. This past month or so was all about the games going out, and I was hoping it would be here for Thanksgiving and happy day, it was delivered! We did get to play it finally with Michancy and I gotta say, I love it. The new version has a lot more sophistication and structure to it, but there’s nothing so satisfying as getting to launch a fireball and it takes out your intended target. It’s wonderful.
Michancy Visits for Thanksgiving
It isn’t Thanksgiving if Michancy doesn’t come down to visit! It had actually been since last Thanksgiving when we saw her last, but a lot of curveballs were introduced obviously this summer, so not unsurprising. It was really good to see her. I think we had hopes to have been in the new house by this point, but that was not the case and so Michancy did get to enjoy the fact that we rearranged the office to allow for a bit more room when the air bed is set up.
On Thursday, Thanksgiving ended up just being the three of us as mom wasn’t feeling well, so we had a lot of food (from Whole Foods, again, as that option is the best option around for hosting Turkey Day). We did drink plenty of wine but it was NOTHING like last year’s ridiculousness. Still can’t believe how much wine was drank then. We also played Fireball Island and I am so happy about that. We went and saw Widows on Friday (it was okay, but somewhat disappointing), ate plenty of good meals, she got to see the house in its most current state, and then on Saturday she took off back to Vegas. Her luck was awful though as there was an accident at the top of the Cajon Pass, holding her up for almost 3 hours. Then it only got worse, and she finally got home like 8-9 hours after leaving. That is not good. I wouldn’t be surprised if she never came back this way again! But we loved having her around so much.
Larry and I have had the remainder of the weekend to ourselves – first we did go to my mom’s yesterday to have Thanksgiving Round 2, as one can’t not have a turkey dinner this weekend. She also has a good amount of turkey leftovers too for further meals. Today Larry & I had brunch with Nicki and her sister and mother, who were in town for Thanksgiving. Went to Republique in LA which was wonderful. Then we went to see Ralph Breaks the Internet and it was fantastic. Stay through to the very end of the credits, especially if you loved this part of the trailer:
And now it’s the end of the 4-day weekend! BOOOO.
Updates from the Glen LA:
Before you leave though, here are pictures of the place at the Glen LA. The first set is from the second week of November and is when we saw that we had tile in all our bathrooms and all the exterior work was finished! It was exciting.
The best news that visit though was the fact that the gas company had FINALLY connected Phase 1. At least part of it. So people in Phase 1 finally closed escrow on their homes – not only that, while we were there, we saw some of those people moving in! It was kind of…stunning. It’s actually going to happen. Our date is currently the later half of December – we’ll just have to see if that holds. I have my doubts, but you never know.
The next set of pictures are from this past Friday – and while in the set above the tile was down, the hardwood floors were not. Well, that’s not the case anymore! All the floors are down, except for carpeting on the stairs, which won’t happen till the very end. Even more, there’s running water in the unit, along with toilets and sink fixtures. No power or gas yet, but it’s coming along!!!
Anyway, on to December 2018. Let’s end this fucking year right.
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.
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:
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.
It really was a fun few days. Michancy came down and had her first visit with us in a long time (perhaps Thanksgiving 2014?), and it went well. We actually did some work to make our office able to handle the queen-size air mattress. To do that, we got rid of the clunky TV that Larry’s been carrying around with him since the 80s (I kid, only slightly) and got a 40″ inch flat panel from Sony. Super light weight and pretty inexpensive, and we were able to mount it on a wall. Then I got some furniture sliders and put those underneath the legs of our credenzas, allowing us to slide them out of the way. Voila!
Christmas Eve – Michancy Arrives!
She made it down a little early to avoid bad traffic (which unfortunately would be inescapable on her return journey) and so it was just her and I for a little, and we discovered we had no vegan snack food. Off to Ralph’s we went, and by the time we got back, Larry was home too. Wine drinking ensued, and then we went and got sushi at nearby Akuma. After that, I made Michancy watch Spy on Blu-Ray and I was pleased and surprised to discover it had an Unrated version that has significant additions and changes to scenes, making it even more funny. I’m actually kind of shocked the scenes reviewing the assassin’s camera were even longer….so to speak.
Christmas Day – Morning Prep
Larry not only made his excellent mac and cheese to take with us to Mom’s, he also made a vegan version of shepherd’s pie. I did not partake in that dish. 🙂
We spent the afternoon and evening at my mom’s house, along with Stacie & Trent. It was a lot of fun and we ended up opening our gifts there too. I had picked up the LEGO Big Bang Theory set for my mom; I picked up the BB-8 robot for Larry. He got me a Fitbit which I’ve finally set up last night and I’m well on my way to tracking my fitness all day and night! My mom got us some great Star Wars mugs too. More drinking occurred, along with watching the Adele special on NBC, and of course plenty of dancing. 🙂
Larry got to put BB-8 through its paces and we watched the best Christmas movie ever, Die Hard.
Day After Christmas Fun: The Broad
Well, we first made our way to the Granville Cafe to get some breakfast and bloody marys, but after that, we thought about heading down to DTLA and visiting a new museum. The Broad has just recently opened and it’s still fairly popular – especially since it’s free. Also, there’s an Infinite Stars exhibit that people are all crazy for and which we ended up not getting to see as you have to get to the museum early and sign up for an appointed block of time. Kinda like “Breathing Light” at the LACMA when it first opened. Larry & I will have to try again as it does look like a cool thing – BUT, after waiting about an hour to get in, I think all three of us were happy to have visited the Broad as it’s a great collection focused on modern art. Lots of fun stuff to see, like Koons sculptures (some of which were previously at the BCAM wing of the LACMA – it’s also a Broad-owned wing, hence the “B” in the name), Warhol art, and some awesome Lichtenstein pieces. Modern art can be sometimes ridiculous, but it can also end up being quite interesting.
Walking Grand Blvd and Grand Park
After seeing the museum, we walked along Grand Blvd towards Grand Park, passing by the Walt Disney Music Hall and the area around the Ahmanson. Lots of great cultural venues all co-located in this area! Grand Park is a place Larry and I had visited but it’s still situated in a very interesting location with the famous LA City Hall positioned at one end. We ended up having a much-needed Starbucks break before continuing our walk back south.
Angels Flight, Grand Central Market, Pershing Square, the Oviatt and Bottega Louie
The end of our adventure took us by the closed-down Angels Flight funicular, through the exciting Grand Central Market, over and through the Pershing Square area and past the upcoming site of our nuptials, the Oviatt Penthouse. The final destination was over at Bottega Louie, which has become a very happy place to grab dinner in DTLA. It’s just so good and such a great vibe.
Then it was time to go home! After some time relaxing back at the apartment, we ended up going back out to enjoy some of our local nightlife at a restaurant/bar called Jax. It’s known around here as a place where live jazz is played every night – and of course Larry & I hadn’t gone yet since living here. But hey, we made it under a year! It was a lot of fun to go though and while I didn’t know what to expect (I DID expect it to look kind of like where Effie White sings in the Dreamgirls movie when she gets her first break on her comeback – I was wrong), it was pretty cool to get a seat right by the jazz group and just drink and enjoy the night.
On Sunday, Michancy was headed home. We also had an appointment to meet with a wedding photographer which seemed to be a success way out in Simi Valley. We had left at the same time as Michancy, and so when we got back and started cleaning up the room, we discovered Michancy had left her laptop bag. Not good for her to not have that especially when it’s her work bag. D’oh. So she unfortunately had to turn around after being past Yermo on the drive to Vegas – we helped make it not too painful by driving out to Fontana to kind of meet halfway. But yeah, she ended up having a horrific drive back as there was unreal traffic going to Vegas yesterday. I’m still not sure why, as you’d think the main traffic pattern would be coming to LA, but I do indeed remember one holiday driving back to Vegas and it took me close to 7 hours because of snow on Halloran mountain. UGH.
Anyway, it was a good visit and now I’m off for a week. Thanks, PwC! I better enjoy it as we all hit the ground running upon coming back as it’s busy season across the board. FUN.