Food Review: Juanita’s

A lot of people kid me for not liking Mexican food. Others playfully harass me for not being a foodie, which is harder for me to understand, even when they mention my tastes in literature, music, movies, and so on.
The truth is I’m a man of simple tastes (that includes women, before you ask). I order my burgers plain with cheese only, my country fried steak without sauce, my bacon and eggs without anything else. I could tell you about my hypersensitivity to spices and such, but I don’t want to give you any more easy jokes.
So with all that, Juanita’s on Olvera Street makes the best bean and cheese burritos. Whenever I’m at Union Station with time to spare before going somewhere else, I’ll walk over there and talk to Edward about Firefly or cosplay or something else geeky while savoring the easy smooth flavor the only two ingredients mix into. . . three, if you count the tortilla. This is especially important ever since my favorite downtown eatery, the Yorkshire, closed down, and Clifton’s changed for the much worse.
You may now expect my next food review sometime in the next decade.

;o)

Paramount Plaques

7 of Fine! Jeri Ryan was here!

7 of Fine! Jeri Ryan was here!

Every Star Trek except DS9, plus NCIS: Los Angeles.

Every Star Trek except DS9, plus NCIS: Los Angeles.

I shoulda checked if that anachronism still worked or was just a prop. . .

I shoulda checked if that anachronism still worked or was just a prop. . .

Star Trek movies are Pretty in Pink

Star Trek movies are Pretty in Pink

Katherine Heigl was here! So was Terry Farrell!

Katherine Heigl was here! So was Terry Farrell!

Facebook Memories reminded me that it’s been a year since my visit to the set of NCIS: Los Angeles. Walking around the lot doesn’t make for many great shots, with almost everything inside the stages, so I had to make fun by shooting the historical plaques that mentioned shows I loved, or at least actresses I enjoyed looking at.

 

;o)

Jetting to JPL

Finally got to do the Jet Propulsion Laboratory tour! Considering I’ve been to Houston, Kennedy, and SpaceCamp, why did it take this long to get to the one so close to me?

Here’s a few images from the almost three-hour tour. . . try not to sing along to that one. . .

!IMG_3148 Cassini !IMG_3150 Voyager !IMG_3164 thermal selfie !IMG_3169 deep space dish menu !IMG_3175 where we at !IMG_3178 control room 1 !IMG_3179 control room 2 !IMG_3180 rover crossing !IMG_3187 scardey

 

;o)

Travel Thursday: A Walk in Temple City

Temple City is a town in the San Gabriel Valley east of downtown Los Angeles. Hadn’t been there in ages, but after visiting a friend I walked along the newly redone big street–they took out all the parking and made bike lanes–and on the sidewalk they put stuff like this.

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Not as old as a Roman mosaic, but nice to see this beautiful art form is still in use.

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And now you know how it was named. Isn’t history fun?

;o)

Wilshire is Telegraph Road

Saturday started on an inauspicious note when, as I’m waiting for the subway at Union Station, a SEA of Trojans surrounds me! Arrrgh, help me, I’m drowning! This cannot be good for anyone’s health. . .
Even though I’m enjoying my first country-fried steak in months, I’m pretty bored at Denny’s without my Kindle. . . or, you know, a date. They have a machine that checked if my $50 bill was real; kinda about time.
Once again I got it wrong, it was doors at 7, not concert. So back to Union Station, over to Olvera for ice cream; Creepy Day of the Dead stuff in full gear all over the plaza, soundtracked with Peruvian pipes, which only made it more creepy.
Stepping out of the subway, there’s the Wiltern Theater across the street, it’s huge marquee proclaiming what was up. Guy in his 80s taking the same shot with his cell phone, which to me was a much bigger surprise than him coming to see Mark Knopfler.
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Security only looking at bags, so I walk right into the old-looking place. Don’t remember a thing from the last time I was here, which was only a few years ago, but before that it had been in the late 80s. . . I think I lost my point. Anyhoo, at the Rush concert I bought my mom a tote bag for $10, but here they wanted $20, as well as $35 for a shirt. Luckily I will have my memories. . .

best part of the lobby

best part of the lobby

Way up in the boonies, about 3 rows from the very back, but at least I’m on the aisle seat, even though my right knee was painful by the end. I think the guys sitting next to me are Russian, though it’s been a long time since I’ve heard it talked so fast.
On the stage are two keyboard stations–one of them also played guitar at times–as well as a violinist/flutist, flutist/guitar, bass/upright bass, another guitarist, and of course Mark Knopfler.
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As I’m waiting for him to come out, it finally hits me: I’M FINALLY ABOUT TO SEE MY FAVE GUITARIST OF ALL TIME! The only other time I had a chance to see him, a girlfriend got me fourth row center on my birthday at the Greek, but he had a motorcycle accident and had to cancel his whole tour. I didn’t care that I was about fifty yards further away this time, this was still gonna be a bucket list checkmark night. . .
He started out with a song I like, What It Is, but not one of my faves; I think I like it much better live. I didn’t anticipate he’d be funny to the point of hilarious, at one point saying he was glad to still be vertical. He told someone to “Send an email or something,” though I never heard the original shout from up there.
There were plenty of new songs, since his double album just came out last month, so I didn’t know most of them, but it was easy to tell when he launched into the title track, Privateering. Yep, it’s about a pirate, albeit one sanctioned by British royalty; long story, read up on it. Starts with just him and another guitar, but soon everyone joins in, giving us moments of fast Irish jig; you can tell Mark, along with all the others, loves jamming.
Next came another newbie, Kingdom of Gold, which reminded me a lot of Sands of Nevada from Sailing to Philadelphia. A couple of times after applause he’d say, “You’re very sweet,” and I can’t imagine another artist putting it that way.
Before the next selection he introduced Nigel Hitchcock on sax, which for a moment made me think they might do Your Latest Trick, but no such luck.
Of course the audience was waiting for some beloved older songs, and we got one here, though with the sax start there was no way to recognize ROMEO AND JUILET! until the soft guitar started. I was far too into enjoying this to really think of anything during the sweet sounds, although I did notice the sax came out again while he changes guitars for the outro. . . I’d never seen that. . .
Some gal screams a song request, to which he replies, “Love to oblige, darlin’.” I hope that was adlibbed, though I imagine he gets so many requests he’s probably learned that. There were also plenty of long instrumental parts, sometimes solo, sometimes only drums and upright bass, sometimes all of them, and I can’t remember a time I’ve ever seen so many great musicians on one stage; I particularly loved the soft Celtic pipes. Then came the musician intros, starting with the drummer; as each is introed, they add to the song, and I can almost swear there’s a few seconds from Princess Bride until they go into Postcards from Paraguay, which included some pipes that reminded me of the ones at Olvera earlier.
Going even deeper into the bluegrass, I’m pretty sure the next piece was Marbletown, featuring some of the most awesome violin I’ve ever heard, with really high yet soft bowing and picking.
This is how you do it: you save the best for last, or nearly last: TELEGRAPH ROAD! The 14 minute version, too, just like I’ve been listening to all these years on my player. Granted there are other songs I would have loved to hear, but this made it all worthwhile; I am literally almost in tears.
I’ve never understood the reasoning for encores, unless it’s to let the audience scream for a while, but they came back to add Our Shangri-La and Coming Home, from the movie Local Hero. Standing ovation ensues, though I know there’s not going to be any more songs, and being on the aisle helps as I dash out, figuring if I can catch the next subway across the street I might get home at 11.
No such luck, but I wasn’t the only concertgoer on the train. A couple of guys and I passed the time with the Wish He’d Played game, with me going with Sailing to Philadelphia and Tunnel of Love, them adding Sultans of Swing and Brothers in Arms. A few minutes later some chick, who didn’t look all that wasted, throws up on her friend’s lap. Wonderful. . .
So I had about a 45 minute wait at Union Station, where I ran into some rather surreal stuff, like the fat black guy pushing a wheel chair while singing–loudly–in Italian, and a girl kneeling in an incomprehensible getup with an antique radio to her ear while also singing. More interesting were the two post-mod chippies who escaped from a Robert Palmer video strolling along holding a dirge-like note for what seemed like a ridiculous amount of time, but kinda scary were the acrobats in the main passage, along with some emaciated-looking crawler. Better was the sign on the information booth that read “Please do not bother the nice person on the computer. She is part of an opera performance.”
Ah, I got it now: it’s that opera I read about, where you listen with special headphones that beam the music to you. Okay, but at least the visuals were free, though being a fan of Marco Polo and his trip to China did not help in figuring out the plot, if indeed there was one. Guess they had a good reason for calling it Invisible Cities. I’m gonna go find that book now. . .

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A black lab in the train station restroom gave me a wet kiss on knee. . .
So, looking at the calendar, this has to be the first time in my life I’d gone out seven Saturdays in a row! No wonder I’m so exhausted. Let’s see if I can remember them. . .
1 Natalie Gelman at Hotel Café
2 Marina V house concert
3 Gin Blossoms at Saban
4 Riddle the Sphinx at Decompression
5 NCIS: Los Angeles meetup
6 Shannon Curtis FrontYardFest
7 Mark Knopfler at Wiltern
(Nothing this Saturday, but there’s something on Sunday. . .)

;o)

Fun with NCISLA

So, one of my fave shows–more importantly, with one of my fave actresses–is having a little convention in town, so why not go?
The night before it started there was a small dinner gathering, which proved interesting as I was the only local. Missed the first day, where the big feature was a table read of an episode, but the next day. . .

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Having to wake up before the sun. . . I want to say it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the sunrise from this direction, but it happened just a few months ago when I went to Catalina. Still, an event better be damned good if it makes me wake up that early.
Luckily it was, and I didn’t yawn once. In case you didn’t get it from the title, NCIS: Los Angeles was in the house, more specifically a couple of writers, behind the scenes people–including the special effects supervisor, stunt coordinator, and technical consultant–and other assorted crew. The big deal of the morning, though, was the lead actors answering questions via video that we’d sent them earlier. Of course my question was for Daniela, asking her what undercover role she’d love to play; since she often goes glam, she crossed me up by saying she’d want to do the Deeks thing and lay homeless, which she may have done in real (TV) life, when she ran away from home. . .
After lunch. . . dramatic music sting!. . . Nell showed up! Yep, Renee Felice Smith came by to answer questions and show off her short film, which was excellent; couldn’t find it on youtube, so it must be set to private, but if you’re in Austin go see it at the film festival. And say hi to her, she’s really fun and even more cute in person.

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;o)