Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas cheer.

So my giddy Christmas spirit was short-lived, but still lingering. After a few weeks I became stressed with figuring out gifts, packing, moving, errands, and seeing that credit card bill creep up higher than it's been all year... :\
Regardless last night I got to go to Christmas Around the World with Kristina, my coworker and friend. We are big fans of Christmas, and this was a spectacular experience. They have about 30 different trees decorated for a different country that Reagan had visited during his presidency. The neatest part was to read about how other countries celebrate Christmas and the traditions different from ours. Some don't open gifts til the 6th or 7th of January, which is expected to be when the 3 wise men arrived to bring baby Jesus gifts. Some wait til Midnight Mass on the 24th, then open gifts, then have a huge meal after that: An all-night event! Most countries, whether they celebrate Christmas for religious or social reasons, are united with the feelings of joy and giving that come from the season.

Below is the sunset last night from Simi Valley. Sorry for the cell phone pics, they don't capture it all that splendidly. But it was breathtaking... and chilly!

Well it's off to Flagstaff for a few days, then packing up the apartment til New Years. Thank you for reading, and thank you for the role you play in my life. Much love and merriment sent to you this Christmas, and wishing you a wonderful time with your friends and family and a very Happy New Year.
I'm really looking forward to 2010! New Year, New Decade, gladly welcomed...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cole's & Varnish

Your next outing: Cole's 118 East 6th Street, in the Historic District of Downtown Los Angeles.
This was an amazing historic restaurant. It claims to have invented the French Dip sandwich (along with Philippe's, another downtown restaurant), but regardless of who invented it, Cole's French Dip is much better than Philippe's. The best part about this place is that if you go to the back of the restaurant, there is an nondescript door that leads to Varnish, the small bar in the back. This classy low-lit speak-easy has a live piano player and elegant cocktails. They'll take 5 minutes to make your drink, but it will be worth the wait. I would definitely suggest checking this place out for a nice outing. I'll definitely be returning.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mew at the Fonda Music Box, 12-14-09

Mew was incredible last night. It's a band that I wasn't initially crazy about, but it was Sam's Christmas gift (mine is seeing Joseph Arthur in January). And I was blown away! Such amazing sound and unique performance. They had slightly disturbing but playful images behind them during songs, and the lighting was fantastic. They sing together beautifully and I felt like I was in a dream world at times. Here are some images from the show, and a video of one of their most well-known songs:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Saint Motel

A few months ago, I stumbled across a band called AM, who is now going to be touring with Air (another band I've written blogs about). The Los Angeles show at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in March was sold out in 30 minutes. Amazing!
Today I stumbled across another LA local band that I'm excited to check out live. They're called Saint Motel, and have very creative music videos and lovely upbeat music. I'm going to try to make their next show, this Wednesday, 8:30 at Spaceland, but it is quite short notice, and am not guaranteeing anything. In the meantime, enjoy this "whodunit" video (you may need to watch it twice):


"I don't know what it is, but I like it." This was once said to me, and I've been thinking about it lately. Such a simple statement, but I find I can relate. I like something and really have no desire to figure out why or find an explanation. I just like it. Not that this is bad, but I've been trying to explore reasoning behind some things. Might as well start with the small things:

Thanks to coworker Kyle Johnson and his wife Jen, Sam and I got to see Morrissey at the Ventura Theater this past Friday. I saw Morrissey last year for my anniversary at the Palladium in Hollywood, but the Ventura Theater was small and an amazing place to see such an artist. If you're unfamiliar with Morrissey, he is a British singer/songwriter whose sexuality has always been a mystery. Reportedly "asexual," he is able to seamlessly sport femininity and masculinity, sometimes reminding me of Elvis, other times of George Clooney. He is cocky and charming, romantically swelling lyrics such as "Leave me alone, I'm only singing" or "You're the one for me, fatty. You're the one I really, really love." Above is a video of the song he opened with (not the same venue or year, even), originally one of The Smiths hits, the well-known 80's alt. rock band. I think the thing I like most about Morrissey shows, besides feeling like I'm being serenaded, is the audience. The wide variety of fans are united with these shows: dancing, arms flying, singing along to every song. It is quite an experience.
Morrissey surprisingly only played for an hour on Friday night, so Sam and I went back to Kyle and Jen's house and had a blast having drinks and talking til 1am. They are such a great couple and wonderful company. So, many thanks to the Johnson's for one of the best nights I've had in a while!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Miami, part 3

In Miami, I got to play around with infrared photography for the first time, borrowing Aunt Cheryl's Canon Rebel xT infrared camera. Below are some of my favorite pictures from our visit to Key Biscayne.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


It's always so hard just to choose one song from Ryan Adams. I think he's probably my favorite artist. Here's one for today, called Stop. It always initially grabs me because of the piano, but when I sit and listen to the lyrics, I feel my soul relate. This song's lyrics are so tough, so true. I think we all struggle at times with doing the right thing, and sometimes the answer is so simple. But we are not alone in this life struggle, we can "call in the backups." The last section of this song says it so beautifully: "There is a darkness and there is a light and there is a choice. For a balance to be made every night, a weakness must be found. If you want it to stop, [then] stop.

I know a sickness so ancient and cross
No crucifix could ever fix enough
In the basement of a church
These people, they talk
There is a line that must be walked
If you wanna make it stop, then stop

I know a place where the future is denied
I know a hand that twitches inside
For some of us the glass is filled with lights
But if the honey makes you sick
Honey, there is a line that must be walked
If you wanna make it stop, then stop, stop

Slow down, You don't have to talk
Lie down, breathe, stop
Slow down, It's not your fault
Look around, There's so many of us
So many of us
You are not alone ever, ever, ever

Call in the backup and the backup comes
Nobody can help you if you won't
Inside your chest your heart is just hurt
Behind your eyes, a need replaced, a want

I know a sickness so ancient and cross
A crucifix can never fix enough
I know a past when the future is lost
I know a line that must be walked

There is a darkness and there is a light
And there is a choice.
For a balance to be made every night
A weakness must be found
If you want it to stop, stop,

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Adagio For Strings

(taken with infra-red camera on Key Biscayne, FL)

Lately, this song by William Orbit called Adagio for Strings has brought much comfort to me (I know it's probably in some movie score, but I can't place it). It's one of those emotional depressing songs that makes your heart feel sorrow. So why has it brought me comfort? Well, I think there's something to be said about going through pain in our lives. Most of the time, with pain comes growth, understanding, loss with some sense of newness. I recently heard that the Japanese symbol for "crisis" is a combination of the symbols for "danger" and "opportunity." I can definitely relate to this. William Orbit's "Adagio for Strings" reminds me of the calms after the storm. When I am overwhelmed by loss, tragedy, or sorrow, I also catch glimpses of hope and revival. New beginnings are offered and a chance to slowly rise from the pain. I don't know if I ever understand the pain completely, but this song helps me to be ok with pain in my life, and then move forward with hope.
While looking for a video of the song, I found it was originally composed by Samuel Barber. Here is a youtube video of the song. Take some time to relax and feel the emotions in this piece. "Digest slowly..."

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas time is here!

I knew this year was a bit different when I turned on my radio to The Kost 103.5 a week before Thanksgiving and found myself pseudo-conducting to this version of Carol of the Bells, indeed my favorite version:

Ring Christmas Bells - John Williams & Boston Pops

Don't get me wrong, everyone knows I love Christmas music. But this year has brought on that giddy joy that I haven't felt for years. Which has to be a gift from God, cause this year has been one of the most emotionally exhausting years of my life. So a little bit of refreshment in the form of sweet melodies was gladly welcomed. In fact, Thanksgiving came and went without much attention because I was already in the Christmas spirit. I did spend a delicious and delightful Thanksgiving with my in-laws. And Sam is an absolutely amazing chef! Just LOOK at this turkey:
We went to the zoo on Saturday and it was such a blast to see my niece and nephew. Audrey's almost 3 yrs old and Lukas is 7 months.

I haven't started shopping yet, but very much enjoying the delight of the Christmas spirit and wishing everyone a very merry Christmas season as well.
Also, I just learned today that Nat King Cole's version of The Christmas Song is the original version and was written by two writers in Toluca Lake on a very hot "winter" day. I'll post that, along with the lyrics below...

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping at your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,
Help to make the season bright,
Tiny tots with their eyes all a-glow,
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Santa's on his way
He's loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh,
And ev'ry mother's child is gonna spy,
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.

And so I'm offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although it's been said
Many times, Many ways
Merry Christmas to you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Miami, part 2

Miami is the art deco mecca! The city has myriads of buildings and structures, mostly art deco. I was super impressed. Below are some collages I put together. Great design ideas/reference. As always, click on any photo for a larger view:

Lovely Rita

Lovely Rita!

(photo above compliments of Courtney Brillhart)
If you have 3 seconds, vote for Rita on the cutest pet contest website:
Thanks! She has been loving the yard! She found two vertebrae this weekend... We think they might be from a dog, but I can't find where she's digging them up, so who knows.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Miami, part 1

Miami, in a few pictures...

(click picture above to view in more detail)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Melody Gardot at the Troubadour, 10/26/09

Melody Gardot's "Baby I'm A Fool"
Click to watch the video. Last scene is the best part!

I saw Melody Gardot a little bit ago at the Troubadour. She has a phenomenal voice. She was disabled at the age of 19 because she was hit by a car, and became more serious about music at that time, using music therapy to recover. More about it on wikipedia, if you're interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melody_Gardot

Monday, November 02, 2009

More hikes and Meet Rita...


Rita is our new pup. She's about 2 months old and she's a Rottweiler mix (probably with German Shepherd?). She's super mellow for a pup and is starting to learn the potty training process. Training is tough, but hopefully we'll be good at it. We've been having a blast with her.


If you take the 101 west to Las Virgenes Rd and go north a couple miles, there's a peaceful walk with rolling hills and beautiful oak trees. I'm guessing that the loop I did with Rita was about 5 miles, but I'm not sure. We had a splendid time and she stayed right by me the whole time. She loves being outdoors off the leash!

And then there's Runyon Canyon, which we took her to on Saturday and Monday morning:

It's just a couple miles from where we live and a perfect place to socialize the pup with other people and other dogs. Above is a map with three routes. The red is the main route. The easiest way is to go up the paved route and down the side with stairs. I suggest going up the stairs (via Fuller St entrance), it feels like a better workout. The blue path is the most challenging. Such a fun hike, but definitely not one to do in extreme heat. The yellow path is a steep cliff of loose gravel where you travel about a yard in 6 steps because you're slipping so much. My brother and I did that together once. I wouldn't suggest this path to anyone. However, Runyon is a great place to go for some views of the city and a good hour-long workout.