Friday, February 24, 2012

Week 7: Walt Disney Hall

So my new thing this wait is being late in posting about my new. Wait, being late is the opposite of a new thing for me... Being consistently on time would be a new thing for me, but it would also probably be unsettling for anyone who knows me. Moving on. My new thing for last week was attending a concert at the Walt Disney Hall. This was also on my list of things to do in L.A., so - multi-tasking win!
The Walt Disney Concert Hall is renowned for its acoustics; according to Wikipedia, "The Hall's reverberation time is approximately 2.2 seconds unoccupied and 2.0 seconds occupied." I guess that's good...? It is also renowned for being super weird looking.
{Obviously, I did not take this. Wikipedia did.}
 Anyway, last Friday I made my first venture to the Walt Disney Hall when Tom took me to see Ryan Adams.
{Tom does not share my challenges with the space-time continuum, so we were, in fact, early for the show.}
The show was amazing. The music was great and Adams' banter was truly funny,  but one of the best parts of the evening was the opening act. In my experience, the opening act is usually someone you've never heard of playing music that you politely sit through in anticipation of the night's main event. [This is, of course, not true when the Riders open for America as they will be doing this Sunday at the Belly Up.] Anyway, the Ryan Adams' opening act was not some obscure band from Seattle; it was Mark Twain. Technically, it was Val Kilmer doing Mark Twain, but it was awesome. 

Apparently Kilmer has been working on a movie about Twain for close to a decade. You can see the trailer for the movie here; it includes a lot of the bits that he did last Friday. That Twain sure was full of one-liners, and as we were listening to Kilmer some of them off ("I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it," "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."), I decided that he (Mark, not Val) would be at the top of my list of people to invite to my hypothetical dinner party.
{Val Kilmer as Mark Twain}
After about thirty minutes of Twain/Kilmer, the show started. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Ryan Adams can be a little hit or miss for me, but I really like every song he played. It was just Adams alone on stage, and maybe it was the effect of the grand concert hall, but everyone was really quiet and respectful while he played.  The clip below is from the show that we saw, and that was about as rowdy as it got (the actual song starts at 1:25).


I left with a new appreciation for Mark Twain and Ryan Adams. Great night.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

I know it's a cheesy Hallmark holiday, manufactured by corporate America (Maybe? I don't know if that's true.  I honestly haven't bothered to research it.) to make us feel like we must buy cards, flowers, and candy. I'm aware of all that, but I can't bring myself to get mad at Valentine's Day because a.) I love holidays of any ilk and b.) How bad can a day that celebrates love be? Which brings me to my mantel...
{Festive, no? Calla lilies courtesy of my valentine.}
So, yeah, I spent an hour on a Saturday night cutting out hearts and sewing them together... I drank wine while I did it. Does that make it less lame? I may or may not have cut out a few extra to include with the card that I mailed to Tom's office... He sent me the following picture today in a text. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but the text said, "You're adorable."
In some sort of Valentine's Day miracle, I was struck with a bolt of V-Day inspiration this weekend when I realized that my contribution to Valentine's dinner should most definitely be cannolis. See, in case you were somehow unawares, the husband is Italian, like three generations removed from the motherland, but Italian nonetheless. Soooo, I thought I would throw my hat in the ring for Wife of the Year and make cannolis for Valentine's Day.... Turns out, you need a special tool called a "cannoli form." I do not own a cannoli form, so I talked the Whole Foods bakery peeps into selling me some empty shells.
So, hey, new thing for the week! I made cannolis...sort of. I dipped the shells in chocolate, made the filling, and...filled them. Maybe next year I'll invest in these so-called cannoli forms...probably  not. In any event, my half-homemade cannolis turned out to be quite delicious.
I also gave my valentine a present that was more about the wrapping than the actual gift... (something he apparently realized before he opened it...)
Then he made me an ah-mazing dinner of seared scallops and shrimp with balsamic strawberries... Seriously, it was next level delicious.
So, yes, February 14th is technically no different than any other day. And, yes, we should demonstrate our love every day. That said, Imma stick by Valentine's Day. Here's one of my new favorite love quotes to close out this V-Day post.

"We're all a little weird.  And life is a little weird.  And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness - and call it love - true love." - Robert Fulghum

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Week 6: Riding the (World's Shortest) Rails

On Saturday afternoon, Tom and I headed downtown to tackle this week's new thing, taking a ride on Angels Flight. This is also on my L.A. To-Do List (on which I have made quite a bit of progress, I must say), so...bonus. Angels Flight is, at 315 feet, the world's shortest railway, and a one-way ticket costs 25 cents. It's a little bit of random, weird, and wonderful in the middle of Los Angeles. Going on silly adventures like this is one of my favorite things to do.

 A little background - Angels Flight was built in 1901 to ferry the wealthy residents of Bunker Hill up the steep slope between Hill and Olive streets. According to the plaque at the top of the hill, Angels Flight has carried more passengers per mile than any other railway in the world, over 100 million in its first fifty years in operation. So, basically, Angels Flight is breaking records left and right.

{Angels Flight in 1905, a block north of where it currently lives - photo courtesy of LAPL Photo Database}
Fair warning, I documented what is approximately a 60-second ride with at least that many pictures. Here are a few more...

Across the street from Angels Flight is Grand Central Market, another stop on my path to becoming an L.A. Woman, so after we rode the mini-rail up and down, we took a quick tour through the market.

Now we know where to pick up Mexican spices...

Some sort of dried fish product...

And gifts for the Baby Jesus...

Week 5: Fake Lashes, Pace, and Bar Marmont

***Sooooo...apparently I never hit publish on this post. I swear I had it done last weekend though.***
Actually, for real, written on February 5th, 2012.

Friday was the day for all kinds of silly new things. I got my hair did at a new place, Tom took me out to dinner at a new restaurant, I went to Bar Marmont for the first time, and I decided to attempt applying fake lashes for the first time. Some things (hair cut, dinner) were more successful than others (fake lashes, Bar Marmont)... Here's the recap.

Tom promised me a nice dinner out as thanks for burning all of his CDs so he could sell them, and since I had my first hair appointment in a looong time scheduled for Friday, it seemed liked a good time to take him up on his offer. I felt like continuing the primping after my hair appointment, so I popped into CVS and bought myself some fake lashes and lash glue.

I did absolutely no research on this prior to my purchase, but I was pleasantly surprised when I found plenty of information on the internet about how wonderfully easy it is to apply fake lashes. The internet lies.

This is how applying fake lashes looks on the internet:

This is how applying fake lashes looks in my bathroom:

I did not document any of the first 87 attempts I made at getting the lashes on, but trust believe, it was not a good look. Eventually I just gave up and cut the lashes into more manageable sections and applied a few lashes to the outer corner of each eye. You could hardly tell and the whole thing was way more frustrating than it was worth.

Also, it's not easy to take a picture of your own eyes.
I was so fed up with the whole schmozzel that I didn't even attempt to smize.
{In case you aren't familiar with smizing, you should probably watch Tyra teach Larry King how to smile with his eyes.}

Anyway, fake eyelash application was a fail, but dinner was delish. Pace (pronounced pah-chay, peace in Italian) focuses on local, organic ingredients and has a hippy-dippy feel befitting its Laurel Canyon location. It was appropriately dark and romantic, which is why we are barely identifiable in the pictures.
We shared a salmon tartare appetizer and then went for entrees involving homemade pasta and lobstah. Yumbo. Dessert was one of those collapsing molten chocolate cakes that takes takes forty minutes to prepare and can be relied upon to drag out the dining experience. Again, yumbo.

After dinner we decided to stop for drinks at Bar Marmont on our way home. The line and the packed bar made me feel old and crotchety.
{That about sums it up.}
We lasted about fifteen minutes and then opted to end our date on the couch with a glass of wine...much more my style. Plus, we saw a Jesus lookalike on our way home. All in all, a great evening.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Happiness - According to Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones

Have I not introduced you to Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones? How embarrassing! Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones is my cell phone, of course. My family has a long and cherished history of naming inanimate objects; I believe it goes back to my mom's first (?) car - the Unsinkable Molly Brown. I don't know whether Tom's family had this tradition as well or if he just embraced that particular quirk with all the others when we got married. I do know that we have a cooler named Wellington and that our Apple TV is called Sir Francis Awesome.

In any event, my phone's name is Ms. Luella Bates Washington Jones, and while I wish that I could take credit for coming up with that, she is named after the character in Langston Hughes' Thank You, M'am. I read that story to my students every year when we talked about character development, and I loved it more every time. If you haven't read it, you should. It won't take you five minutes, and Ms. Jones is totally worth it. She is tough and kind and wonderful. The kids always liked the part where Ms. Jones turns to face her would-be mugger and then kicks "him right square in his blue-jeaned sitter." Of course, at first they couldn't figure out what happened, but once they did, they were pleased to have a more eloquent way to say ass. Annnnyway, I started writing this with the intention of sharing a few pictures from my phone of things that have made me smile over the last week or so, but I have gone off on a tangent, and now memories of sharing Langston Hughes with students are making me happy but also a teensy bit sad...

Speaking of school nostalgia, I made a very brief (less than 24 hours) trip to San Diego last week to collect some classroom stuff that I had been storing in my parents' garage. Everything in the garage was headed to storage in preparation for the addition (yeah, that's happening) that is about to get underway. I hadn't expected to feel so sad as I dumped lesson plan after lesson plan in to the recycling, but I also hadn't expected to find a stack of letters I received on my first ever Teacher Appreciation Day. The letters were so sweet, and for a second I forgot about all the bad stuff, the stuff that burned me out and bummed me out, and I wanted to be in front of a classroom again. Good thing I have photos of slanderous graffiti written about me to keep me from making a rash decision in moments like these...only partly kidding.

Shockingly, I am now two tangents away from where I thought I was heading. All I really wanted to do was show you this picture of my parents and Lucy watching TV together, but then I got all caught up in the back story... Point is - quality time with the fam and Lucy always makes me happy.
They tried to stay firm on the whole no-dogs-on-the-sofa thing, but Lucy believes she's a lap dog, and no one has the heart (or inclination) to tell her different.

While we're on dogs, I'm convinced that this guy can see into my soul. I spent three lights trying to catch up with him...I felt like the puppy paparazzi. The puparazzi? Ugh, I can't believe I just took it there. Dogs that hang their heads out of car windows make me happy.

Seeing Tom excited makes me happy. He finally used some of the windfall from his giant CD sale to buy himself a new toy serious musical instrument, a pedal steel guitar. It arrived yesterday and was promptly set up in the middle of the living room.

Bright pink dahlias from the farmers market make me happy, so does the blue mason jar that I bought for 25 cents at a yard sale.

While we're on flowers, my ability to not only keep an orchid alive, but get it to flourish and rebloom is making me happy. Tom gave this to me the day I moved to Los Angeles. I arrived bleary-eyed, sick, and weepy, and Beauregard (that's the orchid's name, obviously) made me feel a little better, so I'm glad that I've been able to keep him alive.

Trips to the library make me happy. The West Hollywood library doesn't have the old school romance of the downtown library (probably because it was built this year), but it is beautiful just the same. The second floor has floor to ceiling windows that look out at the Pacific Design Center across the street.

Do all libraries have plenty of copies of Variety on hand, or is that an L.A. thing?