Thursday, January 29, 2009

Well if you're gonna complain... make it snappy

And this guy did.

Best complaint letter ever.

But remind me when I fly Virgin to bring my own lunch, mmkay?

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Phantom of the Opera @ The Pantages Theatre

I confess - sometime I'm just a slave to the pretty. I can be a shallow fool, and I admit it readily. But sometimes, things are just too too pretty not to just sit and stare in awe!

Like Gorgeous Spanish Model Laura Sanchez.

Or pretty pretty Jon Kortajarena.

I'm on a Spanish Model kick. Sue me.

Anyway - like I said, I'm a slave to the pretty. When that happens on a tv show or in a musical, I tend to forgive a whole heck of a lot in terms of story/plot/direction, mostly because I'm so easily enthralled. It's not often that I get to watch something that is both pretty and well done.

I was so so happy that The Phantom of the Opera turned out out to be both. I have to admit, I never had much interest in seeing the musical until the movie. I knew a lot about it, I knew the general story, and I enjoyed the music, but there were other musicals I wanted to see before Phantom. Boy, i was missing out! I heard the production was lavish, but I've never been as boggled by set design and costumes as I was this time around. It was just so... pretty!

The decadance of the costumes, and their lavish detail was astounding. There's no less than three 'mini' operas in the musical, and for each there is a menagerie of costumes and sets that work as if they were for an entirely new production. I didn't want the 'Masquerade' number to end because I couldn't get enough of eying each and every distinct costume created for the number. The smoking mist and pyrotechnics and constantly moving sets prove consistently that there is no 'box' when it comes to theatre. There is simply imagination. And the music - haunting and wicked, rife with lust and sadness and pathos, takes over the theatre, and leaves you enthralled. One of my favorite ballads 'All I Ask of You' comes from the Phantom of the Opera, and it was beautiful to hear live.

A gorgeous, GORGEOUS experience. And a definate must-see. Especially if you saw the movie, because Christine in the musical? Actually HAS a brain. And uses it! I know! She's not just a passive reactionary character!

... so maybe the pretty doesn't blind me as much as I think it does.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wake Up Calls Aren't What They Used To Be

So my effort to better myself has been going fairly well. At least in the physical sense. Getting up at 5AM to workout is not nearly as painful as it once was, but I have noticed that the weekends throw me off quite a bit.

I end up pressing the snooze at 6:30AM (a later indulgance than the usual rooster-braying 5AM weekday hour), and if that happens I end up sleeping in until 10AM, which annoys me to no end. Fallacy of being a morning person - the hours between 8-10AM on a weekday are invaluable. They can be used for doing any sorts of nasty chores or working out or things that just need to be gotten out of the way before the fun begins. If you sleep through it? It's... a pain.

Of course when THAT happens, it becomes a bit of a chore to get up at 5AM. My weekend habit of pressing the snooze and crawling back into bed manifests itself and I'm up at 7AM, stumbling into the shower, and scurrying out the door - neglecting not only my morning workout, but my dog's morning walk (though the poor dear DOES get let out to go pee eventually), hungry and grumpy on top of all that, because I've also managed to upset my evening. Mostly because now that a work out was not taken care of in the morning, it will have to happen in the evening, and that's completely distasteful when there are twenty other things I'd rather be doing.

Apparently, my puppy agrees that becoming too friendly with the snooze is a bad habit, because this morning she decided to leave right under my alarm clark a present of the dark and stinky kind. One I did not discover until I was stumbling around the bed barefoot, ready to shut off the buzzing, and found my feet sinking into something soft, squishy and wet.

Immediately, I knew what it was, and my glare jerked toward my dog. Thalia, nose poked out from beneath her very own sleeping bag, seemed unrepentant.

Her large ears quirked, her muzzle quivered, and then her chin came down again.

Feeling highly undignified, I hobbled as best I could to clean myself up, and then returned to my room to assess the damage.

Again, my little chihuahua, not more than 7 and a half pounds (and she is on the fat side), merely stared at me from her place on my bed, as if daring me to comment on her little surprise for me.

I glowered. I simpered. I knelt down on the floor and scrubbed her mess out of the carpet, and in my head I thought what a fool I could be for a little animal who I love so dearly.

Actions are not without consequences - this is not the best habit of hers, and tonight will be spent in her crate, so as to avoid another... surprise, but I have to admit - the puppy gave me an entirely new menace this morning that swept the sleep from my eyes.

I'd rather she not make it a habit though. This by far has been the grossest thing that has happened to me, since the morning my old cat Cleo put a dead mouse in my bed and I slept on it all night.

... and I just revisited that moment.

I think I'll need about three more showers today.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Laughlin Retirement Center

A while back a friend scored a couple free rooms in Laughlin and invited us to go with her. Somehow or another, it ended up just being my friend Sam and I, and we’re not big gamblers. Well, Sam isn’t a big gambler, I have impulse control issues, and tend to get irrationally upset at slot machines, so I tend to avoid them altogether.

But still, a chance to get away is a chance to get away, and we figured that there had to be SOMETHING to do in Laughlin that didn’t involve the freezing cold river or gambling or an incredible expense. What we ended up doing was basically a vacation for geeks.

A planned trip included horseback riding and a trip to Oatman, Arizona, a defunct mining ghost town about an hour south of Laughlin, famous for its tame wild burros that now come into town and roam the streets, searching for a carrot or two from the tourists that come and feed them (yes, people will drive an hour south of Laughlin just to feed carrots to a donkey. Go with it).

The day after, we decided to hit up another ghost town, this one in california, called Calico.
Yes, we’re geeks. Okay, I’m the geek because I came up with all the suggestions, but you know what? I’m glad I did, because what we very quickly discovered when we landed in Laughlin was a sea of gray hair and the glint of bifocals.

We were the only people there under forty-five. I kid you not. It was frightening.
So off to Oatman we went, where we met up with Jessica of the Oatman Stables, who had two horses ready for us, and an hour trail ride where we got to see the real remains of the town: piles of antique trash, the old foundations of the hospital and the brothels, and old mine shafts. The view was gorgeous.

Then it back to Laughlin – to revel in our youth, before we headed on Sunday to Calico, another abandoned mining town that was… semi-abandoned actually. We got to actually tour one of the mines this time, and it was… well… when someone shoves you in a dark cave, closes the door behind you and leaves you in total darkness, it’s creepy.

But historically fascinating, as well.

Still beautiful though.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The World is my Television Set

I love the internet.

With each passing foreign show I come across, I become more and more convinced that I need to move to Europe - if only for the TV.

Okay, not only for the TV. I also like the trains.

And the accents.

But seriously, this fascination for European television is SO bad for my health. Los Hombres De Paco premiere's its seventh season on Tuesday, and the network that airs the show has decided to become AWESOME and post the complete episodes as they air on the website . That mean you can watch the premiere of this season, wherever you are in the world at this link. The problem with this is that they have also provided all their other shows as well, and they give you little blurbs, and I find myself wanting to suddenly watch THOSE shows too. What's wrong with me?

Stupid show. Best show ever. Below is a teaser for next week's episode:

And if that wasn't bad enough, the UK feeds my inner geek SO well. First they gave me cop soap Bad Girls, Coupling and sweet, sweet Monarch of the Glen, and then they gave me the chilling and well acted Wire In the Blood and soapy goodness in the form of Mistresses. Then came cracktastic Lost In Austen, about an ordinary girl stuck in Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice and basically screwing it all up, and Robin Hood, and now they've given me Merlin.

Merlin is a series in the vein of 'Young Hercules', 'Young Indiana Jones' or Smallville, in that it takes the legendary characters and introduces them as young adults, still in the process of becoming the legendary characters they're destined to grow up to be.

Merlin, a teenager, comes to live in Camelot under the guidance of the court physican. Camelot, under the rule of battle-scarred King Uther, has banned magic, and the price for practicing it is death. Bad news for Merlin, who has never studied magic but is still blessed with so much raw talent he can move things instinctively with only his thoughts. At the castle is also the gorgeous Morgana, a reluctant ward of King Uther who is fast friends with her maidservant, Guinevere. Gwen (for short), is a humble, subtly pretty (but not beautiful) young woman who is aware and happy with her station, and seems to be developing a crush on Merlin.

When Merlin unwittingly becomes the personal servant to the arrogant and strapping Prince Arthur, the show begins it's magic, never letting us forget that destiny is unavoidable, and still, what you make it.

The show is cheesy, and it's fun. Very much in the vein of Hercules and Xena in their best years, and quickly addicting for the likable cast, and easy storytelling.

Dammit... I didn't need anymore shows.

But if you're interested, feel free to watch at

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Balance Board - My Nemesis of old.

I'll say it. I hate my Wii Balance Board. It may be the most transparent personification ever, but I think she's a cocky sonofabitch.

Why? Because the bitch made me fat! Well, okay, I was already chubby - but my poor little Mii character wasn't. She was just happily oblivious, moving along in her own little Mii world, playing with the other Miis, when I went and bought the Balance board and did my 'body test'.

Little did she know that as soon as my board decided I was overweight, it would grab hold of her and balloon up her weight to make her look like she had a basketball stuffed under her generic red shirt! The look on her poor face!

I was horrified. I was scarred. How Rude! And I decided that I hated my balance board, and I swore to my poor little Mii that I would free it from the tubs of lard it had inherited for having the bad fortune to be MY Mii.

Since then, my Balance Board and I have engaged in a battle of wills. It scolds me, I flick it off. It tells me I need to train every day, I glare. It offers a healthy 'tip' and I explain to that bastard that I can read a book for that.

And I ignore the running game completely. But that's more because no matter how 'interactive' that thing wants to be, I'm still running in place.

But at least some of my hard work has paid off - my little Mii is less round than she used to be.

Still, I doubt that immediately inciting horrified gasps by mutating your poor little Mii is quite the approach the WiiFit should take to get results from its buyers.

Then again, this is the game that shoots shoes at your head.

It's such a sadistic little bastard, isn't it?

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Return of 'Los Hombres De Paco'

One of my favorite television shows is coming back for it's seventh season, and it doesn't even air in the states. Thank God for the internet, because how on earth did I live before Los Hombres De Paco?

image thanks to the Pepa & Silvia message board.
The show, which airs in Spain, translates literally into 'Paco's Men', and it revolves around Paco, a bumbling inspector, his family (most of whom are cops as well) and his band of merry men. The show is dark, hilarious, tragic, dramatic and incredibly well written, and I've been in love from the moment I came across a compliation video. Even if it can get confusing as hell sometimes. The family dynamics of this show are MIND BOGGLING. The main love story has to do with a man in his thirties who was raised like a son to Paco, and his forbidden love with Paco's 18 year old daughter. This romance started when she was 15. And Lucas, the older man, has also been married to Sara, the daughter's aunt, Silvia. The crazy thing is that the chemistry of Sara & Lucas actually works - despite the insane age difference, and the fact that Lucas is like a son to Sara's dad and the fact that Lucas is Sara's ex-uncle. But that's how the show is. It makes the implausible seem destined.

One of my favorite storylines has been the development of the romance of Pepa, Paco's rascal of a sister, & Silvia, Paco's sweet sister-in-law, who grew up together, shared an illicit smooch when they were eighteen and then were torn apart to reunite 8 years later when Pepa transferred to the San Antonio station to be closer to her brother. What follows is a terrifically told story of confusion, lost love, first passion, and overcoming doubts.

In the midst of the heavy stories is the silliness, and what's amazing about this show is that the cast can play both sides of the fence so easily. This season, the cast has had its change ups. Lucas, played by leading man Hugo Silvia, is leaving the show, and also leaving is Lola, played by Adriana Torres, who served as the show's matriarch. The result is a sort of reboot of the series, which lays to waste the OTP's that the show has relied on so faithfully (the forbidden love of Lucas/Sara, the adorable romance of Povedilla/Rita, the mainstay couple of Lola/Paco), and leaves intact only one: Pepa and Silvia. All bets are off - and it should be interesting to see where this show goes.

This show isn't shown subtitled - but fans of the Pepa/Silvia couple can read watch youtube videos with subtitles here, and read detailed recaps and a character guide here.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Just Another Manic Monday....

Tomorrow will be the first day I go to work for two weeks - is it weird that it's a relief? I like to pretend I'm a free spirit but the truth is, I need a little routine. And I can't really depend on myself for discipline.

The thing that gets me up in the morning isn't the drive to start a new day, but the knowledge that if I don't, my poor chihuahua will pee on the floor.

Which I really think she does just to piss me off.

This year, however, I've decided that I need to actually be an adult, whatever that means. I mean I have no idea what the actual definition of that is, but I imagine there are steps that need to be taken. I won't bore you with those specific goals, because there's goals everyone has: Fitness, security, debt control.

You know what? Forget that. My goal? Not to have these SAME fricken' goals next year. Because there's nothing lamer than to look back a year and realize you had the exact same goals and are exactly where you started.

So apparently my driving force is fear.

I can handle that.

Anything is better than sleeping in an extra twenty minutes and stepping into a wet spot on your carpet.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

it's funny, you would never suspect that everyone at this school is a professional dancer

I may not watch as much television as I used to (and what I do, tends to air outside of the country, like Wire In the Blood, Los Hombres De Paco and now, Merlin), but even so, primetime network tv seems out to screw me.

It was bad enough when they put How I Met Your Mother, Chuck and The Sarah Connor Chronicles all on Monday night - and I was forced to scrounge the internet in an effort to catch up with Miss Sarah Connor, since my TiFaux only records two shows at a time, but now, they have added to the line up House?

Why? Why? When they moved Sarah Connor to Friday nights I thought I was clear! This is not to be, however - how am I to decide between the joys of Robin Sparkles, BuyMoria, and ... the weirdly nonsensicle reason I watch House?!

I shall console myself with a reviewing of one of my favorite guilty pleasures: Not Another Teen Movie.

And look! It's Ted Mosby!

DINELA - Fancy A Bite To Eat?

DINELA is back with a vengeance this year, and it's your chance, if you're not on a diet like me, to try some of Los Angeles' many restaurants for a fraction of the price you usually pay for eating out.

We're talking three course meals. With dessert. For cheap. At fabulous restaurants.

I must wrestle with my inner self as to whether or not this can compete with my yearly New Years diet resolution.

On the home front -

-Klaus has gone to his forever home, and I am now down one reckless little kitty. It's both a relief and a loss. I'll miss that little purring monster, but I'm really happy that she's now going to be somewhere warm and happy and loved. Quite a change from the starving little fuzzball I found shivering and blinded beside my dad's grill a month ago.

-I have now seen Slumdog Millionaire three times in the theatres. It's no less gripping.

- I've become addicted to XBOX Live and Left 4 Dead. Who knew killing zombies could be so thrilling and frustrating?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I haven't had a kitten for quite some time. I'm recently discovering why they're so much work - it seems they go out of their way to cause enough of a ruckus to be the center of attention ... all the time.

It's okay though, Klaus is going to a nice happy home, and my Christmas deed has been done, fallen into my lap (or my backyard) in the form of a shivering, half starved kitty with infected eyes, who is now a fluffy, prancing little mischief maker who enamours everyone she meets.

Meanwhile, the frazzled foster mother has just been trying to survive the holidays. Loads of family time is amazing and appreciated, but family and friends can be exhausting for a brooding writer who likes to be independant.

But great fun was had - including a trip to Disneyland (in which I finally saw a Disneyland Parade and went 'eh'), an ice skating trip in Downtown Los Angeles (in which I discovered that I absolutely SUCK at ice skating, and didn't move an inch for fear I would bowl over some kid and kill them), the yearly Christmas tamales (in which me and my grandmother handmade over a 100 tamales and nearly killed our backs for it, but man they came out yummy), and hours wasted away banging on plastic drums thanks to a brand new Rock Band 2 for my XBOX 360. And Left 4 Dead.

I've discovered I have a thing for killing zombies.

Still, I decree this the year I grow up - and finally finish that damn novel.

Happy New Year!