Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pix from Christmas

I consider myself very grateful that I can spend several days with my family and we can all get along.

We may have our disagreements but generally there isn't any bloodshed.

That's why I didn't mind spending time over Christmas with my parents, my brother, his wife and my most awesome niece. They live near San Francisco so I was able to escape into the city for a couple of hours and wander around. Of course, I brought my camera and shot some touristy pictures.

If you didn't notice, the pics are a little photoshopped.

I hope everyone had a great holiday and I'm looking forward to a fantastic 2010!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Vegas Baby Vegas

I'm like a shark. I can't stay still for too long or else I might die.

So to stay alive, I decided to go to Vegas for a couple of days. It took me four and a half hours and a tank of gas to drive there from L.A. Not too bad. My iTunes kept me company and my 19997 Chrysler Sebring is always up for the task.

If you've never been to Vegas, you MUST go at least once in your lifetime. It is a crazy unique city and I'm not sure when all the insanity will end. I was thinking that the city would literally dry up after using all its water supply but somehow they keep on finding the necessary H2O. I've heard that they recycle all the shower and toilet water but my guess is that they are stealing all they need from Arizona. Las Vegas doesn't strike me as exactly "green."

If you're planning a trip, four days in Vegas is probably enough. That's enough time to loose all your money, stuff yourself on cheap buffet food and see a glorified circus act. I don't recommend staying for 12 years like I did. I think I am permanently damaged. Of course, I can't blame it all on Vegas but I'm sure it played a big part.

As always, I was armed with my camera and snapped a few pics. I didn't have time to retouch them so you will see them in all their original glory. Sometimes I think I am a little too fond of photoshop.

Here is a very sad picture of The Huntridge where I attended many great concerts. It is now closed and run down, probably awaiting demolition.

I think they stopped having concerts there after the roof collapsed.

It was a great piece of art deco architecture.

I made my way out to Red Rock Canyon, one of my favorite places to go near Vegas.

As you can see, it is quite easy to get away from the slot machines, $2 margaritas and the cheap hookers. Red Rock is only ten minutes outside of Vegas and it has awesome scenery.

The day I was there was particularly beautiful.

There was snow on the ground!

Okay, enough of the desert scenery. You just have to be there to enjoy it. The pictures can only take you so far.

My other favorite place in Vegas is the Conservatory at the Bellagio hotel. It should have been bigger but it is still a great place to experience the different seasons. As you might have guessed, it was all dressed up for Christmas.

The polar bears were out in full force.

And since Vegas loves to build bigger and better, there is a new BIG kid on the block.

CITY CENTER.

It cost 3 trillion dollars to build. (This is just a rough estimate.) I think it also went bankrupt but they kept building anyway. In this city, it is important to do everything in a big way, even failing.

And whenever a new property opens, there has to be a new Cirque de Soleil show to go along with it. In this case, the new show is called Viva Elvis and I think it's about the Beatles.

But I could be wrong about that. I tend to get my facts confused.

Go see it. I'm sure it will be awesome.

And I love the fountains at the Bellagio. They are free to watch and pretty darn spectacular.

I had dinner at Caesar's palace near the big Trevi fountains. I look like a total tourist with my big cheesy smile.

I lived here for twelve years. I'm a local damnit! I know all about Keno and paycheck giveaways! I've eaten a deep fried twinkie and lived to tell the tale!

I drove back to L.A. late Thursday night. I arrived exhausted around midnight.

Work was a little painful today due to lack of sleep but it was all worth it.

Thanks to all my friends who turned my mini vacation into such a great time!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The laws of L.A.

If you are schmoozing at a cocktail party, it is important to glance around the room every two minutes to see if you should be talking to someone more important.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Remembering John Lennon

Today is the 29th anniversary of John Lennon's murder outside his Dakota appartment in New York City.

I remember the day it happened. I was in high school and I heard the news from my English teacher. Instead of teaching us that day, she played his songs and cried. All the students looked at each other, feeling awkward. We were a little too young to understand what all the fuss was about.

Years later, I travelled to Strawberry Fields in Manhattan and saw the memorial. His message of peace and love still holds strong.

Perhaps more now than ever.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Street Art

Taking pictures is one of my favorite things to do. I think it drives my friends a little batty when I always want to stop and snap a photo but they should realize how blessed they are to be in the presence of such a creative mind.

Anyhoo ...

I realized that I've got a couple of interesting street art photos taken during my travels.

And guess what? I've decided to share them with you. Now you are blessed too.

This one is all the way from Austin, Texas. I sense a Cash/M.A.S.H theme.

And these angry squiggle faces are from Amsterdam.

And with all the pot smoking going on there, you would think it would all be happy graffiti. Au contraire, mon frere.

This one I snapped just recently. I have no idea what the artist is trying to say but it is interesting. This mural is from the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.

I'm guessing this one was done by a Russian. Or maybe not. It is located in Key West and people just make up shit down there.

Intentional spelling mistake? Once again, in Key West, people make up their own rules.

Nothing says happiness like a big blue eye crying tears.

You can see this big bad baby in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles. In Venice, people look homeless but apparently they have enough money for paint (and pot).

At least they know how to prioritize.

And this one is also in Venice. That's me in the lower left hand corner. Even though I sat there for several minutes, no one gave me work or food. Damn this economy!

And right beside Venice is the more uppity Santa Monica neighborhood where this classy piece of artwork is located.

I've never seen Patrick wear sunglasses before. Why does he need them? He lives under the sea for godsakes.

Of course, he also wears pants which are likewise unnecessary.

And surprise, surprise, there are some creative types in Hollywood who like to paint on walls. I'm guessing this mural was not based on an actual photo but I could be wrong.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Breakfast at The Alcove

This morning I decided to have breakfast at The Alcove which is an awesome little restaurant in Los Feliz.

Although I am enjoying my Salmon platter immensely, I am secretly hoping to be discovered here by a casting agent.

A few people have looked at me but I think it was because I was staring at them first.

I must try to look more alluring.

I wonder how long I can sit here and drink coffee ...





-- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Snuggly Dusty

Just thought I would post a Dusty pic.

Life can be pretty good no matter how old you are.



-- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why I hate Artie Lange

I suppose I got what I deserved.

Last week, I ran into a bookstore hoping to pick up an easy read. Something funny. Preferably autobiographical. A best seller would do. My eyes landed on Artie Lange's (relatively) new book, Too Fat to Fish and after flipping through a couple of pages, I knew it was what I wanted. I grabbed the paperback edition and headed for the counter.

Artie Lange is best known for his appearances on Howard Stern. He has made a few movies but as I soon found out, his personality is much better suited to live radio than it is to working long hours on a film set. He is definitely a "shock jock"; he isn't afraid to say what is on his mind and his mind is a rotting cesspool of shit and vomit which you might expect from a regular on the Stern show.

The book starts out in a nostalgic way. He talks about his bizarre meeting as a baby with Frankie Valli, his love of baseball and his happy upbringing. The tone of the book gets obviously darker when he writes about the accident which left his father a quadriplegic and his family's subsequent struggle for survival. He made his way to New York and after three and half years of trying to break into the biz, he landed a sweet role on the new show MADtv. This seemed to be when the real insanity started and he indulged in a lot of booze, coke, heroin, pills ... oh who the hell cares?

The guy is just another dumb asshole.

He was given opportunities in life that thousands of people would kill for and he self destructs. Despite his grand fuckups, people in the entertainment industry looked the other way. Even though he promised Bob Saget and Norm McDonald that he was clean so that he could be in their stupid movie Dirty Work, he tried to score drugs right in front of them even before he had got the coveted part. He still managed to get cast in a starring role despite the fact that he was a loser and a liar. Yep, Hollywood is the only town where you can fail upwards.

This guy has obviously burned a lot of bridges in his career and in some ways he seemed apologetic. He thanked several people (even a coke whore) for saving his life even though he has no value for life. He described in detail his one attempt at suicide and it truly is amazing that he was found before he completed the plan. You would think that Artie would be a lot nicer to people in general after all the help he has received but NOPE, he is 100% certified grade A fuckwad who will be that way till the day he dies.

I think I would hate him more if he were good looking with a smokin' hot wife. Thankfully, God has been merciless in giving him the body of a whale and the face of coked out pedophile. He looks like he stinks and any whore who is willing to sleep with him truly deserves what she gets. Fortunately for him, the Stern show specializes in these type of dumb broads and the smell of celebrity makes them forget about fat, sweat and stupid jokes.

On the back of the book, the cover reads "We don't want to make you feel bad or anything but the author of this book may be dead soon."

We can only hope.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Memories of Rent

I remember the first time I saw Rent although the details surrounding the occasion are quite blurry; I was in New York in the late nineties and I believe I saw it with my brother. I have no idea why we were in Manhattan together but I must have convinced him that we had to see the new musical on Broadway and I must have assured him that it had nothing to do with opera. We sat in the balcony off to the far side because that's all we could get at the last minute.

Rent was, and still is, a very unique musical. It tells the story of a group of colorful characters living in New York's Alphabet City. Most of them are struggling artists and four of the main characters have AIDS. There are no dancing clocks, no sexy Egyptians, no one glides around on roller skates and a chandelier does not come crashing down at the end of the first act. Instead the audience is served a generous dish of reality addressing issues such as poverty, homelessness, drug abuse and of course, AIDS. Despite all these dreary subjects, the overall message of the play is hope, love, friendship and having no regrets about life. The title of the musical refers to the fact that nothing is permanent; we are given our lives for a short time so we had better make the best of them. There is no day but today.

In a strange twist of fate, the writer of the musical, Jonathan Larson, died the night before the off-Broadway premiere of Rent at the painfully young age of 35. Obviously his own life echoed everything he preached in his famous musical.

I had the chance to see Rent last night. Over the years I have seen it many times (I think eight or nine times?) and it was a great pleasure to sit down with the denizens of the Alphabet city once again. It was a special treat that the two main characters, Roger and Mark, were played by the original Broadway cast members. Although it was a touring production, the quality was very high and the audience was wildly enthusiastic, breaking into the fastest standing ovation I have ever seen for a Broadway musical.

For me, there were a few disappointments. The powerhouse lesbian song, Take Me or Leave Me (it sounds kinda funny to put it like that but that's exactly what it is)didn't quite have the energy it was supposed to have and neither of the women had strong enough voices to really pull this song off. The actor playing Tom Collins was a little shaky in his early singing but he redeemed himself with his signature song, I'll Cover You. On the plus side, Mimi played by Lexi Lawson rocked the house with one of my favorites, Out Tonight and Angel, played by Justin Johnston, was appropriately exuberant as the Christmas transvestite. The company song, Seasons of Love, was very well done and was worth the price of admission by itself.

It was a great night despite the fact that I was seated far, far away from the main stage. I had tried for front row tickets (the rush seats) but found out at the box office that these were only available to students and seniors. Bah-humbug.

If you haven't seen this musical, it is HIGHLY recommended. Do NOT see the movie and think that you have seen it. The movie is an embarrassment and should have been straight-to-trash DVD. Rosario Dawson playing Mimi is just one of the movie's many painful problems.

So go see Rent. It is still touring around the country and although it has left SoCal, I'm sure it will be back at some later date.

And remember ...

FORGET REGRET OR LIFE IS YOURS TO MISS!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dinner before Rent

I decided to run out of work and drive down to Orange county to see Rent.

Didn't have much time for dinner as you can see.

The show starts in 30 minutes!!


-- Posted from my iPhone

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The laws of L.A.

Los Angeles is the only place I know where jeans and a tshirt are formal attire.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Masturbating dog

I'm not usually one to put stupid videos up on my blog but this one I just couldn't pass up.

Now where would he learn that?!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Photographing Dusty

A pet photographer must be one of the most difficult jobs out there. Sure, there are well trained labs that are cooperative but most of the time, I'm sure these photographers are dealing with out-of-control subjects who want to do ANYTHING but sit still.

Dusty had to go into the clinic for another antibiotic injection and I decided that I would photograph him while he was in his cage. Not sure why. Perhaps it was a slow day. Perhaps I just wanted to document his humiliation like some sort of sick pet owner.

Anyway, it was not an easy photo shoot. Dusty didn't know why his owner was trying to shove a piece of metal in his face, especially when it didn't smell in the least like his dog treat. He kept on moving his head and my iphone camera didn't have image stabilization.

It was a painful experience for us both.

Here are just a few of the great shots I took.

Although it does look like I'm strangling him, I assure you I was only thinking it and not actually doing it.

Finally I gave up and took a video. Now you can see why my photo shoot was such a challenge.

video

NEW BLOG!!!

As if I don't spend enough time in front of the computer, I have decided to start another blog.

Yes, I know what you're thinking--the world NEEDS another blog and it's a good thing someone is stepping up to the plate and trying to fill up cyberspace.  So thank you for your support and all your well wishing.

This new blog will be much more specific (unlike this blog which rambles on about my dog, living in Los Angeles, new movies coming out and my travels to corrupt foreign countries.)  The idea came to me after I found out that my most popular blog topics were about filming locations in Los Angeles.  Since it doesn't seem like anyone has covered that subject in any depth, I decided to come up with ...

Are you ready?

POPSITES 

I will be focusing on locations (mostly in Los Angeles) which have been made famous because they are associated with a movie or a television show. 

The blog has already been started but as of right now, it is just a rough template.  You can check it out at http://www.popsites.blogspot.com/.  I'm not thrilled with the overall layout and design but you have no idea how difficult it is to find a good template out there in cyberspace.  Either the templates are just plain boring (what accountants use to write a blogs about numbers) or they are for teenagers (glowing stars and myspace-style backgrounds which make reading almost impossible.)  Since I know very little html, I had to go with a fairly generic template and despite several hours of trying, I was able to do only the slightest bit of customization.

So what do you think?  Yeah or Nay?  Keep in mind that my feelings are easily hurt. :)

I will still continue with this blog so don't forget to keep on checking in.  You never know when I'll post a stupid video of my dog doing something.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Laws of L.A.

Talent will only get you so far. Good looks will take you the rest of the way.


-- Posted from my iPhone

Monday, October 12, 2009

Becka Boodles

Becka sleeps in the drawer beside me while I work at my desk.

She always looks so peaceful and content.

She is a zen master.


-- Posted from my iPhone

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kung Fu Hustle

Last night I saw one of my favorite films on Spike TV.

It's called Kung Fu Hustle and if you've never heard of it, I urge you to take a trip to Blockbuster, fire up your Netflix queue or download a copy as soon as possible. You won't be disappointed.

KFH is a Chinese film about a middle aged couple who must defend their slum against the infamous axe gang. It's not yer typical Hollywood film and there are surprises around every corner, both visually and emotionally.

I suppose it could be considered a comedy (it's almost like a live-action cartoon) but there are elements of drama and suspense mixed with great action sequences.

And the best news? There is supposedly a Kung Fu Hustle 2 coming out next year.

Let's hear it for the landlords!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A writer's life

When I was in high school I had a very strong philosophy about life. The fact that I had a philosophy about life in high school probably tells you what kind of loner geek I was but that's beside the point.

At the time I felt that life was just absurd. No fate. No purpose and especially no meaning. I was a huge fan of Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot. If you're not familiar with the play it's about two men who are waiting for someone named Godot to show up. In the end Godot doesn't appear and we get the idea that the characters will continue to wait indefinitely. As a play it is as exciting as watching paint dry but as a concept it appealed to my burgeoning sense of pointlessness. There is no reason for the men to wait and yet they do. Some people have said that Godot is a religious play; Godot represents a God who has deserted us but that would imply that the two characters have a purpose to their life which goes against everything The Theater of the Absurd is about. Godot is simply nothing. Our lives are about nothing. And we try to give our life meaning and purpose where nothing exists.

This may sound a little unsettling to some but to me it was very comforting. If nothing mattered then I could do anything I wanted. This freedom was exhilarating.

After graduating high school, I made a big mistake. I started to care. I cared about making money. Cared about what I looked like. Cared about what people thought of me. Cared about being successful. Life suddenly had a purpose. My purpose was to care. This might sound all well and good but it was actually a very bad thing. When I started to care, I became vulnerable. And when someone is vulnerable they are open to attack.

I always thought I was good at writing. When I was younger, I received plenty of writing awards and aced my English tests. Before my fourteenth birthday my first book was published. (Okay my dad published it and to my knowledge no one ever bought a copy but still it was a book and it was published.) When I was in my noncaring, life-is-absurd part of my life, writing was pure enjoyment. I wrote for anyone who wanted to read it--what did it matter if it was good or bad? As soon as I started to wonder what people thought of my work, it was all over. Oh the agony of suffering through other peoples’ opinions. I soon found out that I wasn’t the young Shakespeare that I had always thought I was. I tried selling my short stories, my plays, my screenplays. I entered contests. Tried to find an agent. No dice. I cared but apparently no one else did. After watching American Idol one night, I feared that I was one of those Idol hopefuls who had no clue about their lack of talent. The next day when I was feeling a little more optimistic, I told myself that I knew how to write and I was pretty good at it, but just not good enough.

Last year I took off four months to write about my experiences as a veterinarian in a large city. Although I wasn't writing full time (I did quite a bit of travelling on the side) I managed to write almost a complete book and put together a book proposal. I called it The Pet Doctor’s Shoes and sent it off to a variety of publishers and agents. For people who love their pets I thought it would be a great read. My job is anything but dull and I get asked all the time what it is like to work with animals all day. It was a no-holds barred look at my professional life. Within a month I had received all but one of my proposals back. No one was interested. Yes I know a writer, any writer, must be able to handle rejection but that still didn't take away the bitter sting of opening all those "we regret to inform you" letters.


I'm not asking for sympathy here. I realize that there are a lot worse things than getting rejected by a bunch of strangers. I could have cancer. I could be blind. I could have been born in Afghanistan. I do have a steady job and I'm not starving. I do have people that love me and want me to succeed. My problem is my own.

I simply care too much.

This past week I've been thinking a lot about my writing. I even considered giving it up. I'm too tired to keep on putting myself out there only to get the remains of my work shoved back at me. But here is my (frustrating) conclusion; writing is too much a part of me. It's like trying to rip out my liver and expecting to live. I have to write. God knows why and he apparently isn’t willing to give me the answer.

So there you have it. I will write and throw it out into the universe and see what happens. If it comes back to me broken, I’ll nurse it and comfort it and have no regrets. But if it takes flight, I hope it flies far and wide and high and becomes bigger than I ever expected it to be.

And maybe then there will be a purpose and it will all be worthwhile.