My fave song of all time

In my life I have tasted more than a million songs. . . I say tasted because there were many that didn’t get past the 10 second mark. Of all those, this is the one, presented in its usual state as well as acoustic, unplugged, unleaded, whatever you want to call it.

;o)

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Travel Theme: Statues

This week on the Ailsa Travel Blogging Network, our fearless leader is stoned. . . so to speak. She’s carving up some. . . oh, never mind, on to the photos.

Diana the huntress

Diana the huntress

 

Old school mermaid. . .

Old school mermaid. . .

. . . and her Canadian cousin, Girl in a Wetsuit

. . . and her Canadian cousin, Girl in a Wetsuit

A wannabe. . .

A wannabe. . .

MEN!

MEN!

 

;o)

Travel Thursday: A Day in Mexico City

For the third Thursday in a row I’ll be gone all day with no chance to post when it should be posted, so here ya go with Travel Thursday on Wednesday night, a strange tradition.

Right after breakfast I hopped into a taxi to the university cultural center, where I bought a ticket for the flamenco show that night; with a borrowed student I.D., I got it at half price. Just to show you how huge UNAM–the university in question–is, I had to take a minibus to get to University Metro Station on the other side of it. Even then I had to climb up and down a lot of stairs to get to the actual subway, trying to have fun with the figures that name the stations, being more than occasionally puzzled when there was no rhyme or reason to it. The streets are even worse: northwest of Chapultepec Park I ran into Avenida Moliere, if you can believe that. It helps if you try to make fun of them.

Finally transferred to Line 2 to get to Insurgentes, where I’m on known turf again. This area is called the Zone Rosa–Pink Zone–not because it’s almost like a red light district, but because. . . I don’t know why. It’s the ritziest shopping place in the city, and I’ve never seen streetwalkers or window-dwellers there, so you’ll have to ask someone else. Walking up Geneva, I of course had to stop off at McD’s for a large fries–haven’t had them in so long!–which ruined my appetite later. From there I walked along Reforma for a while, taking in the statues until I came to a tremendously tall, reflective, skinny building that simply begged me to shoot, even though I had to lie on the sidewalk to get the whole thing. I’d never had vertigo lying down before, and it was not an experience I’d like to repeat.

(You’ve seen this building in frequent postings of Ailsa’s travel themes.)

Wandering a bit aimlessly along the back streets, I eventually arrived at Sullivan Park, where the weekly art show was in full swing. The Unicorn lady was still there after all these years, and she was still doing unicorns, so all was right with the world. And not only was Miniature Guy there, he remembered me! He told me that a VP or board member of Mercedes in Stuttgart had over 500 of his paintings, so I’m shocked he’d remember someone who only commissioned one, but I’ll take it. How he can draw lifelike figures about the size of a fingernail is beyond me, but it’s awesome. I still have it, even if it’s of an old girlfriend. . .

Since I wasn’t in a buying mood, I soon took off west, a very long walk just to get to the edge of Chapultepec Park, and then a long walk to the lake, to buy my ticket for the Swan Lake spectacular they have in the middle of said lake. Noticed in the coming attractions that Ottmar Leibert would be playing, but not until long after I was gone, so shucks on that, as well as the Swan seats being sold out. Dammit!
Feeling more than a little aggrieved, as well as hungry, I took a taxi to Embers, my favorite eatery in the city, which is unfortunately far off the subway lines. With a fun-looking exterior and an open, cheery inside, I quickly ordered my usual and munched on the fantastic bread pieces–so good you might fill up before the burger arrives–and sipped a delicious naranjada while I looked around. No one was behind the keyboard in the corner, probably a good thing right now, because as always the first thing that draws my attention is the sign over the door that says “All our burgers are made from genuine 100% beef.” I don’t know if that’s supposed to make me feel better or just a joke, because underneath is a photo or drawing of two horses laughing! I wish I had a picture of it, but I couldn’t find the one I took.
On the menu are numerous types of burgers, but I always have the same one; as I told the waiter, in Spanish obviously, “I like my burgers like my models: nude.” In case you can’t figure that out on your own, that means I only want the bread, cheese, and meat. {Recently some wise guy insisted a nude burger would be without cheese, so I’ve had to change this to “lingerie burger,” but only when he’s around.} As a fun aside, on a later trip I took a couple of young female relatives along; one ordered the mushroom special, which I prefer not to even contemplate, but the other ordered the Roquefort, which is marinated in champagne. For a girl who had never drunk alcohol in her life, it made for some interesting and very amusing viewing.
So on to the important stuff, right? Not only was it the best burger I’ve ever had in Mexico–whole country–it was one of the best in the world. Yes, the search ended right there. While it’s technically possible that there’s a better burger in town, these are so good I’m not going to bother searching further; I may not be the same kind of connoisseur of burgers as I am of corn, but I feel very comfortable saying that. And every subsequent visit has been just as good. And if you’re feeling up to it, there’s one burger on the menu that is so big it comes out on a butcher’s block. Go ahead, seriously, I dare you. . .
As always I went off to the arcade a block over, for some Galaga and looking for someone to play air hockey against while the rest of my body worked on digestion. Then another pescero–minibus–took me to metro station Normal, which I rode all the way to Tasqueña at the end of Line 2, but that trip took so long I instantly needed another taxi to get to the flamenco at the U.

The show was called Entre el Olivo y la Fragua, which basically translates to “Between the Olive Tree and the Forge,” as in blacksmith’s shop {yes, I had to look that up}.
The first dance was called Benamor, a standard flamenco solo with castanets. Patricia Linares is the main babe of the night, looking gorgeous in the typical flamenco way, therefore she looked younger than she had to be. This piece seemed to be an easy warm-up for what was to come.
Next up was La Alegria de Vivir, which is easy enough to translate: “Joy of Living.” This was the highlight, mostly because the music was Rodrigo’s famous Concierto de Aranjuez, along with its companion Fantasia Para Un Gentilhombre, which as everyone knows translates to “Fantasy for a Gentleman.” They’re possibly the most famous musical pieces featuring guitar as main instrument with orchestra, and I could listen to them on repeat all day. Patricia is glowing in a beautiful lavender velvet flamenco dress with a long tail, playing a solitary soul afraid of others. The five backup gals were having fun with flowers–also a typical flamenco motif, the flower dance; Patricia’s innocent character gets one and loves it. But at the end of the second movement of the Concerto, the most famous part–I’m glad I came, just for this!–she’s lying down with the other girls running around her, giving her a headache and trampling her flower. No third movement as she goes to change into a simply white dress, and to begin the Fantasia the girls go into the fan dance. One can’t get hers to open, shakes it at the important points in the music, so I think it’s part of the act. Patricia comes back out and ends up with all the flowers, as a proper diva should. . .
This intermission, like most, didn’t afford me many thoughts, though I did have some funny moments reading the names of the backup dancers and trying to figure out which was which, though of course I had no clue. Not that I imagine any of them would read this, but just for the heck of it I’ll include their names: Monica Villanueva, Alietta Gonzalez, Adriana Santos, Citlali Iglesias, and Pilar Palacios. If one of them leaves a comment I just might keel over. . .
The third dance, a debut like the previous, was Alborada del Alma, which to my surprise–I didn’t know the first word–translates to “Dawn of the Soul.” Nice. Once again Patricia takes the stage alone for this paso doble fantasy world of a girl in a roomful of props, while clad in a head-to-toe form-fitting purple velvet suit that doesn’t quite flatter her body the way it should. She starts by placing a flower in her hair and lipstick where it’ll do the most good, then on to playing with a shawl, and so forth, until she finds the bull head and puts it on, only to enjoy playing a matador more. As a flamenco fan, I found the concept wonderful but the dancing a bit pedestrian, with mostly just the taps, lacking in body movements and arm positions and so on. . . {holy shit, am I actually doing a dance review in this blog? The world is definitely coming to an end. . .}
But not the evening. The fourth piece is Rondeña, wonderful in its simplicity, the most satisfying–to me. It’s pure group flamenco: five ladies in beautiful tight dresses–two purple, one red, one orange, one lime green–doing what flamenco is supposed to be. The short babe in the green–really wish I coulda gotten their names, or at least hers–was the most fun to watch, as she had a constant magnetic smile that would have taken attention away from the main diva, had she been on stage at the time. They started with the shawl dance, each matching their dresses of course, then brought out the castanets, as you would see in every show. . . but then, that’s what makes it special; that’s what I came to see.
On to the final piece, and it’s a doozy: Los Siete Mundos, easily translated to “The Seven Worlds.” By far the strangest thing all night, it was more performance art than straight dance. Our main diva comes out carrying her stool and singing in a not-bad soprano, clad in a simple blue dress. The others, after leaving the main lady alone for a while, join in with their own stools in a semi-circle, draped in flower dresses. Being true women, they pretend to gossip for a while before starting the clapping and dance solos within the circle. The main gal is at the right end, so she’s the one who sees a masked man come on stage from left rear. Already it feels eerie as she goes over to check what he’s about, scared yet obviously unable to help herself, this new thing is too interesting. When she tells the others about him, they find him too hideous to contemplate and pull her back to the group; this part seems a bit of an archetype, from many movies and plays, but they pulled it off. She pleads with them to let her go, but before she can convince them the masked man leaves. This makes her sad–sniff!–and when the girls split off to go home, she says goodbye to one group while pretending to be with the other, only to fool them by staying.
Next came a number of appearances by the masked man in different guises–and I’m reminded of a Benny Hill skit. As a troll, he gives her a lantern, so she can take the already-illuminated path she needs to travel without fear of stepping off. Rain and wind–mimed–appear, until she finally realizes that with the lantern she’s not limited to the path. For some reason there was a lot of ballet in this section, which didn’t work for me, so I concentrated on the story. Each time the masked man appeared, he would toss her a skirt of the same color and style he was wearing, of which I particularly remember the orange Maya-like garment. With a very nice play of lights a flight of steps appears in the back, and the last thing we see before the lights go out is her finally reaching the top. Apparently this dance was based on Egyptian initiation rituals, which I’ve certainly never heard of, but I can see where she’s going with it there at the end.
The gals and the masked man–who’s actually a woman–take their bows with joyful smiles, looking like they’d genuinely enjoyed the performance. Unfortunately main gal Patricia had to play it serious and haughty, which dropped my appreciation of her a bit, even if she was doing what most of those divas do, but as you can tell I enjoyed–and remembered–most of the performance, so two thumbs up. . . up what, I won’t tell you.

After a long walk to a stand, I took my fifth taxi of the day–I hope that’s a record, and it’ll never be broken–to finish off eleven hours of constant on-the-go low-oxygen Mexico City living. . .

;o)

Poetry Tuesday: The Golden Touch

By Rosamund Marriott Watson

The amber dust of sunset fills
The limits of my narrow room,
And every sterile shadow thrills
To golden hope, to golden bloom.

Sweet through the splendour, shrill and sweet
Somewhere a neighbouring cage-bird sings,
Sings of the Spring in this grey street
While golden glories gild his wings.

Clothed with the sun he breaks to song —
In vague remembrance, deep delight —
Of dim green worlds, forsaken long.
Of leaf-hung dawn and dewy night.

My prisoning bars, transfigured too.
Fade with the day, forsworn, forgot —
Melt in a golden mist — and you
Are here, although you know it not.

;o)

Shield at Paley

Don’t remember if I mentioned it on the previous Paley Fest blog, but the Ariel Pez doesn’t look much like her, except for the red hair. The pink dress is just too jarring; find a way to give her a clam bra or a tail, dammit. Merida, on the other hand, is uncannily realistic, especially the long red curls; she already has a place of honor in my pocket. . . and no, that’s neither a euphemism nor a “That’s what she said!”
Mel’s again for another orange freeze, the place is much more full this time. Worked it so I wouldn’t be so early arriving at the Dolby, and found my ticket changed from balcony to the back of the floor, still far away but seemingly much closer. Cheesed my way to an empty row instead of seated in the middle and stepping over everyone, so I was feeling really good as the screen starts up with a scene from Sex in the City, with “Coleson” lying about being a doctor after sleeping with the redhead. . . and if you thought I knew their names, you have not been paying attention to this blog.
Finally one of the executive producers–not Joss Whedon–comes out to introduce what’s going on, getting all fan boy about “This is where they do the Oscars! That selfie was right down there!” Finally he remembered to tell us not to spoil–“that’s Latin for bad milk”–what we were about to see, which was the next episode, the one airing on, appropriately, April first. “You all now have level 7 clearance,” so act like it.
Approximately 40 minutes later:
Holy shit, I wanna tell everyone who the Clairvoyant is!

We quickly forgot about that as the moderator was introduced: Felicia Freakin’ Day! And things only got better when she squealed, “Happy Saturday. . . why is everyone laughing at that?”
Um, it’s Sunday. . .
She waves it off. “You don’t want to know what I did last night. . .”
As the cast is introduced, I’m a little horrified by that blue thing Chloe’s wearing {Holy shit, am I going to talk about fashion?} Chloe, look at Min-Na! That’s how you dress sexy!
The first thing that was said, and then said over and over, was that “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” opens April 4, and a new episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airs April 8–though the guy called it the seventh a few times–and it might be good for you to watch both, in that order. Gotcha, though I’d be a lot more interested if Lady Sif made an appearance. . .
But as usual I digress. There was a fun part early on when Ming-Na and Chloe complained about how the writers never tell them anything, so of course Jed Whedon had to act out the cookiest sneaking around pantomime you’d ever want to see about the actors trying to sneak into the writer’s room.
The best moment, or moments, were about who were Skye’s parents. Ming-Na, who is a helluva lot funnier than May, said she wanted Skye to be the love child of May and Thor, with flashbacks to those scenes.” In case you didn’t know it, she has a huge crush on Helmsworth. Then Clark Gregg nailed it with, “I was gonna say Coulson and Sif.”
In case you haven’t figured it out, I love Sif. . .
Even better were the audience questions, with a lot of people dressed up–one kid was Coulson Jr.–and others sporting “Coulson lives!” shirts. One guy was sporting a shirt that screamed “Coulson Is My Homeboy,” and he pointed out that for a secret group S.H.I.E.L.D. had a lot of stuff with the logo, leading his homeboy to explain, “The organization is not a secret. What they do is.” Nicely put, though even the plane has an espresso machine with the logo. “And Fitz can give you a latte where the foam is the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo.”
Always loved Coulson, but Clark Gregg is cool as himself too. He even hopped off the stage to hug fans, and joked about how he came up with 11,000 Twitter aliases for the #coulsonlives thing.
One thing that I’m glad they got out of the way was the possibility of a romance for FitzSimmons. Thankfully the guy who plays Fitz says they’re too much like brother and sister for that. Elizabeth–Simmons–when asked which Marvel character she’d like to have a scene with, chose a cup of tea with Loki, leading “Coulson” to grunt, “I’ve been in a scene with Loki.” Since everyone there knew Loki had killed Coulson in Avengers 1, it got a big laugh.
Someone asked if Felicia might appear on the show, which most likely got the biggest applause. And of course the spunky redhead had to mention that the 10% was in the mail for the person who asked.
There was the requisite mention of Chloe’s past as a teen pop singer in China; I thought she’d be more embarrassed to have that pop up, especially when Felicia, who wasn’t aware of that, asked her to explain, but she seemed more resigned about it.
When it ended it seemed like everyone rushed up to the stage, even beating Security to it. Stayed a while, but figured it would take way too long if ever to get a couple of autographs and headed our for lunch, since I doubted either Ming-Na or Chloe would be joining me. . .

And now some Ladies of Paley. . .

IMG_0531

IMG_0624

IMG_0652

;o)

 

Travel Thursday: Jerez of my Dream, part 5

The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art was the only one in the world good enough to be compared to the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, which basically meant they only taught rich people and gave shows once in a while. With the place being next to the Palace, it didn’t take us long to walk there, even in her high heels, which she admitted she had to get used to walking in every time, let alone dancing in.
“But I’m fine now!” she giggled, and didn’t seem bothered when I didn’t say “Yes you are!”
Instead I went with, “Not after that last drink you’re not. And of course I did hear what that woman said to you, and more importantly what you said to her.”
I didn’t think she’d call me on that, for then I’d have to admit I was eavesdropping, but she simply blushed and hung her head, partly in shame and partly so I couldn’t see her grinning.
Stopping for a moment, I put my hand over her mouth; she fell obligingly silent, always being a good girl, as well as amused. “Wanna be a famous prima dona opera singer?” I whispered.
“Not especially,” she replied with a shrug.
“Do it anyway, all attitude. . . don’t say anything!”
Once there, I never broke stride as I gave the guard at the entrance a terse nod, holding the door open for her. She strode haughtily through it, pretending not to look at the suddenly-gasping guard. Enjoy it, baby, she thought, but immediately reverted to nice country girl and gave him a friendly “Buenas noches.”
“Good thing you wore those boots,” I muttered once we were inside, refusing to explain that, instead scolding, “I told you not to talk!”
She grinned, blushing. “Forgot. But why? What’s going on?”
“This is a show for special invited guests.” I put his arm around her shoulders and steered her, knowing she’d never remember which way to go. “Maybe we can get you off on mental incompetence.”
She chuckled and hugged me. “Afraid to admit it, but when I’m around horses, it’s usually true.”
“Don’t blame the horses.”
As I’d expected, soon enough someone challenged our right to be there, this one a bureaucratic jerk with a clipboard. “I do not know you.”
“You really need to get out more,” I smirked superiorly. “Everyone here recognizes the most famous actress in the world.”
“She is not on my list,” came the repeat monotone.
“Contact the people who actually know what’s going on,” I told the man sternly. “Then we’ll be more than happy to accept your apology.” I turned to her. “Let’s go, madame.”
She managed to hold the haughty this time until we were far away from the man– doing a damn good acting job, if I do say so myself!–before finally managing to look at me in something close to aghastment. “You need to give me acting lessons, mister!”
Making no reply to that other than a grin, I led her into the actual arena and found us some good seats. Reading from the flyer I’d been given, I translated, “A horseback procession celebrating the royal stud farm and the sixteenth century crossing of two Andalusian breeds, which gave rise to the superb horses of today.”
“Howz that different from what we saw at the fair?” she managed a good whine, wishing she could take the boots off for a few minutes.
“Top of the line horseflesh merchandise. Plus we get to sit.”
“Oh good!” She looked around and decided the people reminded her of those at Hollywood parties. “Not the actors, the behind the scenes movers and shakers. The money men and their trophy wives.” Then she grinned and waited for me to say something about her being perfect for that role.
Instead I went philosophical with, “Money can make men–and limber women–do strange things.”
“Limber, huh?” She had to keep herself from rushing into another fantasy, killed the thought with a Rush song. “Big money pulls a million strings.”
“Big money draws the flies.”
Grinning like a mean little kid, she continued the lyrics. “Big money leaves a mighty wake.”
“Big money leaves a bruise.”
“It’s the power and the glory.”
“It’s a war in paradise.”
“A Cinderella story.”
“On a tumble of the dice.”
She made a face. “We already did that part!”
The show started, and she thought of nothing else as she watched the horsies with a fascination that even took the self-proclaimed love of her life out of her brain. Luckily nothing happened to distract her from her happy place; she even gave what sounded like a sexual sigh of satisfaction when it was all over. Still clad in her tight green dress and honey-blonde hair up, plus the stilettos, she towered over most of the men in the post-show drinks room, either embarrassing or merely intimidating them.
Until she completely blew the mood–so to speak–by suddenly asking, “How do you say cucumber in Spanish?”
“Pepino.”
“Thank you.”
Not about to ask, I turned my attention, along with everyone else in the room, to a little stage in the corner, where two men dressed in centuries-old clothes began giving a fencing performance, unless it was a real duel over a girl or something.
As she watched the thrust and parry–and giggled to herself at the sexual connotations she couldn’t seem to stop thinking of–the younger of the guys was cut on the arm and immediately hustled away by his opponent, which basically told everyone the thing was indeed staged and dropped some of the enjoyment off the whole spectacle.
“Well, he’s dead,” Katarina announced cheerfully.
“Just a little scratch,” the woman next to her argued scornfully.
“A little poison on the sword and he’s done for.” She turned to glare at the woman. “Ever heard of Hamlet?”
Trying not to grin, I patted her ass gently. She, on the other hand, made no attempt to hide her smile. Now feeling completely relaxed, she started working the room, searching out any conversations in English. She’d never considered herself a brilliant conversationalist, but she knew herself to be a good listener, lively and quick to both sympathy and laughter, and with these qualities–added to her great beauty–no girl could go wrong.
So her mom told her, anyway. . .
Finally tired of meeting people she’d never meet again, she gave me a look that he interpreted quickly and easily. “I think it’s over here,” I smirked, and when she realized my cover for her escape was the old watercloset excuse, she clucked and scolded me like a maiden aunt, at least until we were out of earshot.
Instead I led her to a quiet balcony; she would not have been the least surprised if I’d either been here before or had scoped out the place while she was working the room. Wait, didn’t he say he always looks for the emergency exits? Glad he notices other things too!
Unable to stop herself, she looked over the railing and saw a gentle slope about ten feet down, an easy jump in a hurry, even in heels. “Ah,” she grinned. “You found this during your security explorations, didn’t you?”
“No idea what you mean, supposed-romantic lady.”
“Yeah, sure.”
I smirked evilly, as if to say, “Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”
Her only recourse was to douse me with a smile, showing every one of her perfect teeth.
But then she looked out past her little green escape hill, at the sight of the barns/ warehouses/whatever they were, and instinctively wrinkled her nose. “This place is butt-ugly!”
“You’ve never seen your butt, have ya?”
She winked. “Waiting for you to develop the photos.”
“Well, trust me, it’s as beautiful as the rest of ya.”
“Golly golly gosh!”
“Mmmm, I love your innocent character.”
“Knew ya would,” came the un-innocent smirk. “Plan on ravaging me?”
“Not that first time, no, but if you want to play that one day, don’t use your lousy German accent.”
Ignoring all the connotations that didn’t have to do with her acting, she huffed, “I can do a great German accent!”
“That was Russian.”
“Damn! It’s harder than I thought. Show me.”
“Nah.”
“Why not?” That wasn’t whiny at all, right?
“I can’t be an actor,” he sighed. “Too exhausting.”
She looked smug, for some reason. “As true as that is, I have faith in you. Show me you agree by kissing me.”
“Not here.”
“So people see us, so what?”
“That would embarrass me.”
She snuggled closer. “I love it! Big man shy about kissing in public! You blush every time, it’s so cute! You’re blushing right now! It makes you appealing, you know.”
I thought about saying “I know,” instead growled at her, a mock carnivore rumble, and she squealed and hid her face in my chest. After a moment she pulled back and propped herself up with her chin on my shoulder to look at me, tracing the line of my nose, then my lips, with one finger. She obviously wasn’t the least bit embarrassed about anyone seeing us
“See how simple it is?” she whispered.
“That’s because you’ve done it so often in movies you can’t tell this is reality.”
“This isn’t reality,” she sighed. “This is paradise. . .”
On the other side of the corridor from the balcony we could look down at the ballroom, if that was indeed what it was called here. Smiling, I pointed to a man in a green tuxedo, whom she had seen and avoided like a plague. In fact, she shuddered as she asked, “Ever heard of a song called Marche funèbre d’une marionette? Classical composers were just as weird as today’s, if they wrote a funeral march for a puppet.”
“Ever see the Hitchcock TV show?”
“Yeah?”
“Remember the theme? That’s it.”
“That weird little march? Very cool! Really set the tone for the weirdness it preceded.”
For some reason she leaned over and kissed me tenderly on the cheek. . . only to be startled out of her mood at the shout of “Bella Americana!” from what sounded like more than one love starved/drunk guy. And indeed it was a crowd of them, scaring her. But at least they sound fun-loving rather than dangerous.
She did her best to be Hollywood-gracious, even signing autographs, until finally someone noticed how uncomfortable she looked under her façade of cheeriness. “You are indeed a special lady. Any time you need help. . . anything,” the guy added with a last glance at me.
She grinned and remarked, “All I ask is that you treat me no differently than you would the Queen.”
Which seems like the perfect place to end it. . .

;o)

Three or Four Days in El Lay

Neil Peart
Even though you’re going through hell, just keep on going.

So, four days in a row of work and events. . . not recommended for someone who usually needs a day off for ever day out. I’m surprised I feel as good as I do, though not enough to. . . but we’ll get to that. . .

Thursday
On the subway there’s a tiny redhead–the crimson-haired always get my attention, of course–wearing an even tinier skirt and carrying a matching–both in size and color–skateboard. Now that might be worth photographing. . .
Had to miss the opener of UCLA sand volleyball in Santa Monica, not wanting to risk rush hour traffic, so stayed in Hollywood, first going to Mel’s for an orange freeze–my first in years, lovely–and then rambling around the corner to McDonald’s, where you can get pretty much the same burger and better fries for a third of the price. Hollywood Blvd. was closed off for the premiere of Captain America: the sequel, but that didn’t interest me that much. . . until I found out via Chloe Bennet’s twitter that she and the rest of the ladies–and I guess the guys too–from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be there, so instead of making fun of all the tourists gawking I went up into Hollywood/Highland and found a balcony. In the end I didn’t see anyone, but I did find the hugest candy store ever, though their Pez selection leaves much to be desired. Ariel and Merida dispensers, though. . . I do so love the redheads. And I finally bought some new shades, though this time the girl selling them wasn’t near as hot as the last time I bought sunglasses. . . but I digress.
Finally it’s time to head into the Dolby–no longer Kodak–Theater for Veronica Mars, wondering if any of my favorite actresses has sat up here in the boonies for an Oscars; I am literally two rows from the very back, a different zip code compared to last year’s Paley Fest at the Saban. Since I don’t watch the Oscars, I had no idea the place had boxes on the sides like it’s a damned opera. The bartender, who initially snorted at my order of Sprite, saw my hoodie and promised to keep me informed on the UCLA basketball score, but he never did. That’s okay, I was confident.
For a moment I’m worried I’ll have trouble seeing the tiny Kristen Bell from this height, then I remember there’s a huge video screen right there. Still, for being this high up I coulda stayed home and watched it streaming; remind me to go ahead and pay a little more next time. Don’t remember where my seat will be for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but probably in this same vicinity.
There’s only one other person in my section and she’s sitting right in front of me. . .
At least the house music didn’t make me cringe. . . until Crazy for You and Careless Whisper come on. It’s already 7:10 and nothing is going on. . .
Finally we get a voice with the usual warning about turning off cell phones–everyone’s taking photos, so I’m sure they’ll all forget. Then comes the obligatory selfie–not a photo–for the Paley Center, where we learn Mr. Paley started CBS, followed by a clip of Freaks and Geeks, where the guy whose name I can’t remember is watching Seinfeld while having his unfrozen dinner. Nice.
The blonde lady who’s in charge of the whole thing is giving the opening speech when a politician comes on to surprise her with a proclamation from the mayor. Finally Rob Thomas, the guy who created Veronica Mars, comes on to give the intro speech of tonight’s events, mentions Adele Nazeem, then–rather than showing some long clips from the movie–plays the behind the scenes documentary, which was more interesting than I thought it would be, especially all the Kickstarter angles and the people who got to be extras and such. Had to snort that they were at Comic-Con; sure, it’s no longer about comics, but there’s no science fiction or fantasy here. . . unless you count Lily’s ghost, and I don’t.
The documentary was also longer than I thought–possibly because I was holding off on a trip to the restroom till the end–and by the time I returned the introductions were over and all the actors were sitting on the stage at 8:32. Don’t remember much of the talk, though there were a few shining moments, like when Rob Thomas mentioned “Veronica Mars pleasure zones” and Kristen gave him such a look. It was fun to see her innocent face as she said, about the fans and Kickstarter, “That’s fuckin’ radical!” As for the others, Jason didn’t have much to say, but then not much was asked of him. Ryan Hanson, as one might expect, got in the best jokes, with Chris Lowell sitting next to him and shaking his head at everything. Percy and Tina got their digs in, Francis seemed to be trying too hard, and Enrico alternately grinned and tried looking tough-guy. So all in all a pretty cool night, though nothing earth-shattering that would make me want to do it again.
Checking the clock, I see I have 8 minutes to get to the subway, which is right below the building I’m in. I make it. . . and then the subway is 15 minutes late! Same thing happened last Thursday after Book of Mormon, so I reiterate: how can a subway be late when it doesn’t have to deal with traffic? Because of that and the eventual bus being late and missing my last connection, I got home two hours after I really should have. Grrrr. . .

Friday
Back on the subway, with a VERY Swedish girl sitting across from me: blonde lobster braid, pale face, short shorts, so basic tourist. She woulda been much more attractive if not for her perpetually confused face. . .
Budgeted 2 hours for my foot x-rays, got it done in about ½ hour. So now what should I do with the extra time? Got on the Wilshire express heading west, where out the window I see a fat guy carrying a Sleestack bust. . . I hope that’s for a party. . .
Soon enough I landed on the outskirts of UCLA, but rather than heading to campus I walk into the huge building on Wilshire, where I go to the donor offices and get a little bit of a runaround until I finally find a guy willing to help me out as to why they grabbed $100 from my bank account for no good reason. Nothing settled, but after a promise to look into it I’m back on the bus and heading east again, where I sit across from a guy who pulls out a lunch pack of sushi! Considering you’re not supposed to eat on the bus, he got his sauce all over the place! And no, that’s not a euphemism. Those tiny sushi rolls almost look like toys, or displays used for photos; I’m just glad it didn’t smell.
I always climb up the wrong stairs at the 7th Street interchange, but luckily the trolley pulling out was the blue line instead of the Expo, and that one came right away. Not much of a view heading south from downtown Los Angeles, mostly Trade Tech’s automotive bays–diesel technology?–and the freeway, but at least it was fast. Then had to walk by the Galen Center, with everything bunted in that ugly shade of red, reminding me I am far from my UCLA home. Every time I’m forced to be in this neighborhood I can’t help but think of Henry Jones Sr. in the third Indiana Jones movie, when they’re in Nazi Germany and he mutters, “We are pilgrims in an unholy land. . .”
Heard so many oldies in the last 2 days, first at Dolby and now here at u$c sand volleyball. It seemed like every hit from the 80s was interspersed with more modern stuff, though thankfully no country or rap. They even played Tom Sawyer, and while I’m always glad to hear Rush included, I wish they’d do a different song sometimes.
Who knows why, but the UCLA-FSU match scheduled for 5 has been pushed back; looks like a couple of hours before it starts, and I do not want to stay late in this neighborhood. And then of course a country song comes on the house music. . . well, shit. The only fun moment while waiting for everything to start was watching the Asian ref up on the stand grooving to Superstition. Most of the unfun was the u$c wifi kicking me off every two minutes. . .
The only good thing I can say about the actual match was I got 777 photos; no wonder my wrist is sore. Down to 115 by the time I look through all of them. I also finally met Sarah Straton, but that’s another story. . .
Dashed off to the trolley, which I barely caught, but then it was so slow! Had to rush to catch my bus, just like Thursday, and according to the board over the bus stop I barely got there on time. . . lie! It came 10 minutes late, so of course I miss my connection. Had to keep going on this late one, but it was too late to catch the other route as well–of course–so I went over to the gas station to grab some mini oreos and milk while I wait almost another hour for the next–and last–chance to get home. At least that bus came on time, with a far too cheery driver; all I could think of was had things worked out as they were supposed to, I would have been home at least two hours earlier than midnight. . .

Saturday
Surprised by how well I feel waking up, not very tired at all. Unfortunately that wouldn’t last. The first bus was only five minutes late, hardly worth complaining about. The subway wasn’t that fast either, but I still got to the x-ray/MRI place–same one as yesterday–ten minutes before my scheduled appointment. Having been through all this before by now, I took my time getting undressed and heading over to the room with the giant donut-shaped machine, not at all sure I would be able to lie still for as long as it took them to scan my knees for their pretty colorful 3-D x-rays. The dread only got worse when I was told it would be one knee at a time, but in the end it was only 40 minutes total and I managed it better than expected: despite some itches I didn’t move, and I didn’t have to make a bathroom run either. Got through the first knee by counting the seconds–that was the most damaged knee, so good–but I kept losing concentration on the second.
Still, it went so well I celebrated myself by heading over to Denny’s for a country fried steak skillet. Props to Conrad, one of the best waiters ever; you earned that 25% tip, bro. Of course I am legally bound to admit that had it been a hot waitress the tip would have been more like 40%, like that time in Seattle with Autumn. . . never mind.
Just to switch things up I took the gold line trolley to Pasadena, a pretty relaxing ride. The final bus home was supposed to leave at one minute before the hour, but usually they arrive quite a while before so the driver can take some time off before starting the return route. Well, he showed up with two minutes to spare, but luckily there was a change of drivers and we took off only two minutes late. Still, I got home after four, so it took well over two hours when the morning ride, even with the latebusness and weirdness, took only an hour fifteen.

Sunday
So tired I had to forgo UCLA gymnastics, and on Senior Day. Miss Val and Sam are so gonna kill me. . .

Monday
Earthquake at 6:26AM. Nice. . .

;o)