Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

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National Bovine's L.A. Vacation

When last we left our intrepid Cow, he was sitting in a Hollywood library reading Midnight's Children and avoiding being shot. What adventures awaited him in Los Angeles? Proceed, dear reader, and find out!


Not too long after the main character of Midnight's Children finally got himself born, Ivy (ivyisgilgamesh) & her fiancé, Nick, picked me up and whisked me back to their apartment, where I was exuberantly greeted by their dog, Memphis. Memphis was a bullmastiff with a bit of terrier and chow, and every doggie part of him seemed to love me. According to Ivy and Nick, he delighted in trying to win over people who didn't love him immediately. And I didn't not love him, but he was very excited, and I feared for something happening to my shoulder in all the excitement. He was three hundred pounds of energy in a fifty-pound bag. And, at nine months old, still a puppy.

I presented Ivy with her mix CD. I had made personalized mix CDs for my five hostesses; Ivy's was entitled Coffee and Alcohol, featuring songs with "Coffee"/"Java" and various alcohols or references to drinking in the title. I thought it was the lamest of the five, but she loved it on concept alone, which was heartening.

They offered me refreshments, and once Nick decided to make popcorn, I declared that we had to watch a movie. So I scoured their collection to find a movie I hadn't seen but really wanted to see at the moment. I narrowed it down to five: The Third Man, Rebecca, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, and The Day the Earth Stood Still. I asked Nick to pick one, and after some thought and discussion, we settled on The Third Man, which Ivy had not seen either.

The Third Man was good stuff in that classic noir way. Beautiful black-and-white cinematography, moral dilemmas, rampant corruption, the dissolution of innocence, all that business. Plus a zither score, which was...odd and unexpected.

After the movie, we sought out dinner. I was into going to L.A.-ish places I wouldn't find elsewhere. Nick made a good case for Fred 62, so we headed out. Out went the Juno soundtrack, in went my mix CD. Ivy took an immediate liking to Spek's "Smell the Coffee," with good cause.

Fred 62 was an odd little diner with a menu overflowing with things I wanted to try, all with crazy names and nonstandard prices like $9.62 and $8.47. I went for the turkey meatloaf sandwich ($10.10) because...where the hell else would I find something like that on the menu? It was rather soggy, but good. And it was held together with a potato chip lollipop. It was a potato chip on a toothpick. We spent a good deal of time trying to figure out how they made them. Nick got their famed mac and cheese (there have been many places that have purportedly "awesome" mac and cheese, but I'm not sure I can pay for...macaroni and cheese), and Ivy got a smoked salmon salad off of which she didn't actually eat the salmon. I was all set to pay for dinner as recompense for letting me crash for the night, but then Ivy unexpectedly took the bill, so I declared that I would be paying for breakfast (which would be at Doughboy's, a runner-up for dinner).

On the way back, Nick gave me a little tour of Hollywood, which was now all lit up. He was himself baffled at the idea of anyone visiting Los Angeles, as he didn't really understand what people did when they visited L.A.

We stopped at Ralph's for essentials like water and beer.

Back at the apartment, we needed to lighten the mood set by The Third Man, and I found Monty Python's Life of Brian hidden behind other DVDs on the shelf. That was very funny, as expected, my favorite scene being the riff on Latin grammar. I still don't understand the aliens, though.

Ivy and Nick retired to bed, but I stayed up and watched The Day the Earth Stood Still since I had heard they were remaking it with Keanu Reeves. It was good classic sci-fi, and now I finally get that "Klaatu barada nikto" thing. Even though I'm still not entirely sure what it means.

Sunday: New Year's Eve Eve

In the morning, we walked to Doughboy's with Memphis, who also took an incredibly smelly shit on someone's lawn; Nick had the dirty job of placing it in a plastic bag emblazoned with hearts.

Like Fred 62, Doughboy's had a menu that made it hard for me to choose. I debated between the jellyroll omelette (with chicken sausage!) and the almond-encrusted French toast (with strawberries!). Again, I made my decision based on the fact that the "jellyroll" omelette style was unique to this establishment and it had the bonus of being made with chicken sausage, which I did not normally get to eat at restaurants. Almond-encrusted French toast, on the other hand, I could surely get if I walked into some random café in Paris.

Nick had his eye on the PBB&C (peanut butter, banana, and chocolate pancakes...or waffles), and Ivy was adventurous enough to order the shit on a stick, which included the appetizing-sounding creamed beef.

My decision to order the jellyroll omelette was justified when the waiter informed me that it was made with veggie chili. Veggie chili!! Because if you're ordering something with chicken sausage, it's likely you don't eat beef! GO DOUGHBOY'S! And, in fact, the chili really made that dish, so I was glad to be able to eat it the way the menu intended.

Nick, to his surprise, thought his dish could use a little less chocolate; he was normally not unhappy with his food at Doughboy's. Ivy's dish looked like its name, but it must have tasted better, because she packed up the rest to take home.

Next on the agenda was a trip to Sprinkles, as Ivy wanted me to try the best cupcakes in the world. I had never been to a cupcake place, not even the one with all the bomb frosting.

As we entered Beverly Hills, an old man made a left turn in front of us while we were stopped at an intersection. Ivy joked that it was Stan Lee, and it might well have been. Random celebrity sighting, ho?

Ivy and I ordered while Nick looked for parking. So many choices! Ivy asked for a half dozen so we could cut them up and share back at the apartment. The red velvet was the famous one, so that went in. I asked for chocolate peppermint and dark chocolate. Ivy threw in eggnog. Peanut butter chip and black and white filled us out. Cupcakes were $3.25 each, but they were sizable, bigger than your fist. I did the math in my head several times, however, and I noticed that, upsettingly, while there's a discount for buying 4 or 12, you don't save any money at all by buying a half dozen. Very shrewd. As Nick noted, that was likely the most popular option, and they weren't losing any money off it.

Our cashier was cute indeed but also slightly vapid, which was typical of girls who worked at Sprinkles, said Ivy. She somehow hadn't realized that Ivy had ordered an additional milk (for me) besides the milk she asked for her in her coffee. It was quite silly.

On the way back, Nick pointed out the diner from Pulp Fiction. Cool! Oh, L.A. Where you see signs on buildings that read, "Available for Filming!"

Back at the apartment, we cut cupcakes into quarters and began to gorge ourselves. They were really good, but they were just cupcakes, in the end. Ivy donated the two remaining (black and white and dark chocolate).

It was time to leave, and Memphis wouldn't let me go! He bounded out the door and down the hallway. Ivy and Nick said he'd never taken a liking to a stranger like this before. They did finally get him back inside.

Once I got outside, It was time for Buffista Day! I was picked up by omnis_audis, one of the few, the proud: the male Buffistas. We made our way to the Museum of Jurassic Technology, which Sean (seankozma) had told us didn't look like a museum, but I spotted it due to the necessary MUSEUM sign on the sidewalk to inform people that, yes, there was a museum there, by the way. Sean & S weren't far behind. S looked much better than when I'd seen her in the hospital a few weeks ago; hell, she was positively glowing in comparison.

Now, I have been told by many Museum of Jurassic Technology aficionados that it is best to go in knowing as little as possible about it, and that's the way I went in. I wasn't sure what to expect, and I think that definitely adds to the appeal. So I'm not going to tell you what's inside, but I will tell you that if you are in the Los Angeles area, you really should allot a couple hours for it. At only five dollars, it's a bargain. I even bought a couple things from the gift shop, and I never do that sort of thing. It's a very...unique place. Sean and S really enjoyed seeing our reactions as first-timers.

Upstairs, when I found Sean and S in the tea room, I also found an attractive Indian woman who, upon seeing me, smiled at me. Or did she? Was she smiling at me? Did she smile at everyone who walked in? Did she work there and thus was being paid to be friendly?

I walked over and got a cookie. I turned around. She smiled at me again.

I am still completely incapable of dealing with this situation! If a girl smiles at me, I immediately look away, afraid that my face might betray me. What if I smile back? Does that mean something? Does that mean I like her and think she's pretty and we should get married? Why did she smile at me in the first place? Does that mean I can talk to her? Does that mean she wants me to talk to her? Are we going to make out? Maybe she just got her braces off and wants to show off her teeth! Maybe she's just happy about life in general! Maybe she has some psychological disorder that causes her to smile at people who look just like me! Stop smiling at me, ladies! It won't get you anywhere, for I am completely useless.

Wait wait wait keep smiling at me, ladies, because I totally like it.

From the museum, we headed up to Pasadena. On the way, I played the mix CD I had made for Laga (1_aga), entitled Weird... It was crammed full of some of the weirdest music I have. Omnis was very confused by most of it, though he did dig some of it, like the MC Hawking ("The mighty Stephen Hawking is a fucking Quake Master!").

Kristin (pix_kristin) & Drew (noisedesign) rented a lovely little home in Pasadena, and as I walked in, I sort of coveted their life. I have not put much effort into making my apartment a home. What I have is a place to live, a place for my stuff. I'm too cheap to play interior designer. And I find the idea futile anyway when, even though I feel settled down enough, everything feels the slightest bit temporary, especially with this insane push for me to buy a fucking house. My own inadequacies as a human being aside, it was great to see Kristin and Drew.

Also present was a delightfully pretty woman I discovered was erin_obscure on b.org. Who, as it turned out, was moving to Portland in a couple days. This is what happens when I visit, I guess. Sorry to totally drive your friend away, Kristin.

Sean arrived eventually, after dropping S off and checking something on his car.

And then we all had A Very Buffista Conversation, sometimes two at once. A Very Buffista Conversation rather resembles A Very Rice Conversation in that it will jump wildly among topics mundane to esoteric. Drew explained the renting process in L.A. and the importance of a good landlord. Kristin (a teacher with an awesome teaching blog) talked about teaching the Bible as literature, how you could even unpack multiple translations of the first line and learn more about the story. This of course led to discussions on etymology and linguistics mishmashed with examinations of mythology and oral history.

I had come over to play Rock Band, but this was a more enriching experience.

And speaking of enriching experiences, I brought in the extra cupcakes to share with everyone. They were well received. Kristin was a fan of Violet's Cupcakes. I don't know how many goddamn cupcake establishments L.A. has.

We were listening to Kristin or Drew's iPod, which contained such delights as the Wet Spots' "Fist Me This Christmas" and MC Frontalot's "It Is Pitch Dark" (you are likely to be eaten by a grue/if this punishment seems particularly cruel/consider whose fault it could be/not a torch or a match in your inventory).

For dinner, the general consensus was Indian food, though Kristin apologized to me. Most of us were fans of chicken tikka masala, but only I would denote my dish as "very spicy." While it wasn't necessary, Kristin added our names to each dish; perhaps the restaurant would see my name and realize I did actually want it to be spicy.

While we waited for our food, Laga finally arrived! It was a big Buffista party.

Now it was time to actually get the Rock Band party underway. Since I had played enough Guitar Hero lately, I went for the drums. Which turned out to be ridiculously hard. Because with the guitar, you only have to coordinate your fingers on the buttons. With the drums, you have to coordinate your whole arm and hand and your foot. It's so confusing! I stayed on Easy for a long time; my one attempt at Medium was pretty disastrous.

When the food came, Kristin realized she didn't have milk, and she liked milk with Indian food, so she and Laga went to get milk while the rest of us accidentally ate up all the garlic naan. The chicken tikka masala was good but not spicy at all; Drew said that was atypical because this place usually had a very spicy mild. He thought they must have assumed we were joking about my being Indian ("Erin, Kristin, Drew, Sunil? Yeah, right!"). We all donated a little bit to Laga, giving her a full meal among us.

(Why is Indian food so ridiculously overpriced in comparison to other ethnic food? The dishes all cost more and you don't get a whole lot of food per dish. And this is true for every Indian restaurant; it's not like Chinese restaurants where the portion size can vary greatly.)

My mom called during dinner. I went over to a quiet corner to answer. They were on the road. I said I was with friends. She asked if they had names, and I said, yes, but she didn't know them, so she said she wanted to know anyway. So I named everyone. I told her I was staying with Laga. She reminded me that even though I was staying with a girl, there should be no hanky-panky (she didn't actually say "hanky-panky"). If only she knew that I was staying with five different women in L.A., four of whom were single! Oh, the rakish mischief I could get up to! And we all know that all it takes is for me to be in the presence of a woman before we start going at it like bunnies and disgrace the whole damn family.

My dad took the phone, and I told him I was with friends. My dad asked if they were from Rice, because in my dad's world, everyone I have ever known is someone I knew at Rice. No, I said, I knew them from the Internet. Sometimes I'm just too tired to lie. Also, it's fun to see what they'll say. Unfortunately, that didn't garner any reaction at all. That was no fun. He wasn't afraid they were going to kill me and steal my stuff?

Kristin and Drew still had to pack for Disney World, so we didn't have much time after dinner. Having been confounded by drums, I switched to vocals and kicked some ass on "I Think I'm Paranoid," although I was an Energy Hog for not actually using my Star Power...since I hadn't realized how to use it. During "Sabotage," I made sure to bust out with some scat at the appropriate section, chanting "Maps maps maps maps maps m-m-m-m-m-maps" in honor of Kristin's repeatedly shouting, "Maps!" during "Maps" and every song thereafter.

Rock Band was a lot of fun, and I wished we could have played longer. And stayed longer! Buffista time is fun time.

Laga took me back to her place in Redondo Beach, where I was greeted exuberantly by another dog. I popped in Weird..., which met great approval, especially when she accidentally noticed that I had not only put on a Toy Dolls song, but a Toy Dolls song she'd never heard ("James Bond Lives Down Our Street"). I say accidentally because Laga was my ideal mix CD receiver: she didn't want to spoil herself for my CD. Damn right she didn't! I concoct a unique musical experience! It takes hours of planning and preparation and tweaking!

"Do you smoke pot?" she asked.

"No," I said.

"Then I won't offer you any!" she said.

And that was possibly the first time anyone has offered me pot! Maybe. Directly. Sorta. I'm lame.

Laga was very cute. She didn't look (or act) her age at all. As she said herself, the place looked like it was inhabited by people who never really left college. The dinner table was a poker table.

Since one of the songs I'd put on the mix was "Everybody to the Limit," I had to show her the video. And then introduce her to the wonder and glory of Strong Bad E-mails and Teen Girl Squad.

I slept on a nice little recliner.

Monday: New Year's Eve

In the morning, Rachel (the famed rachelmanija) picked me up. I presented her with her mix CD, Jazz-Metal Fusion Extravaganza, which was actually loaded with quirky singer-songwriter/folk/indie rock/pop. Rachel glanced over the tracklist and said that about half the artists were ones many people had been telling her to listen to forever but she had yet to hear anything by. Well, that was about to change. This was probably the best CD out of the five, as it had the fewest constraints put on it, and I had the freedom to really make it the best it could be.

Butterfly Boucher kicked us off on our way to Caffe Latte, a replacement for the place Rachel normally took people for breakfast, which was closed for New Year's Eve. It was a cute little place, and I noticed that we had actually passed it on Saturday on the way back from Sprinkles.

Upon sitting down, Rachel asked for a coffee, which somehow got translated into our both wanting coffee. I had to politely refuse mine. They brought us each a complimentary muffin, which was a little overcooked, but that meant it was cooked. Baked fresh! That was neat.

I had looked at the menu online before coming, and I was really impressed with the fact that pretty much everything was available with turkey bacon or chicken sausage or turkey sausage or chicken breast. I thought it was a rare option on menus, but it seemed to be pretty normal in L.A. I had my heart set on a breakfast burrito because I normally can't order a breakfast burrito.

Now, the breakfast burrito contained, according to the menu, "Scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, bacon or herb chicken breast, pico de gallo, avocado, spinach, jack cheese." Doesn't that sound like you get turkey bacon and then a choice of bacon or chicken breast? Right? I told the waiter I wanted it with turkey bacon and chicken breast, and he was all, "You want both?"

So I pointed to the menu and explained what it read like. He agreed that it was confusing and needed to be reworded. THIS IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SERIAL COMMA, PEOPLE. So I got it with just turkey bacon. And it was very tasty. I'm rediscovering pico de gallo, guys. That shit adds flavor.

At breakfast, I got a call from none other than Natilee, a friend of mine from Rice whom I had not seen for years. We had been leaving each other voicemails for a week, and now, finally, we were talking to each other directly! She had just gotten in from the airport, and she was almost presentable. The only thing on my schedule was the Tar Pits.

And then Natilee hesitantly suggested the LACMA, which was bloody perfect, as Nick had just pointed out the Dali exhibit on Saturday and recommended I go there! AND Sean had also expressed an interest in going to the Dali exhibit, so I called him, and he was up for it, and he was a member, so he could totally get me in free. Also, it was right next to the Tar Pits. Score one for Natilee!

I paid for breakfast as part of my one night/one meal plan. We proceeded to search for parking in L.A., which was about as fun as searching for parking in S.F. On the upside, Rachel finally heard a Sufjan Stevens song ("The Dress Looks Nice on You": Sufjan is problematic for mixes because his best songs run five to seven minutes, taking up two songs' worth of space).

The La Brea Tar Pits themselves are free to see. Rachel explained to me what they were and how they were formed. They're still bubbling, which is kind of freaky.

That mammoth isn't real. But the true horror of the scene is not apparent until you pan left:


Inside the Page Museum, Rachel pointed out the amusing sign that reminded everyone that no dinosaurs were found in the tar pits, as they were all long gone by the time the tar pits formed. I totally whored out my U of M ID for a student discount because that's just the kind of unethical fellow I am. But, truly, are we not all students? In the SCHOOL OF LIFE?

Rachel then showed me the part of the museum that always traumatized her as a child. I asked her if it was a saber-toothed tiger eating a little kid. No, she said, it was worse. I didn't know what could be worse. Apparently, it was a saber-toothed tiger skeleton in a small room. I guess it looked kind of creepy. I turned to Rachel to comment on it. When I turned back, it had turned into a saber-toothed tiger OMG. As I watched and waited, the image faded to reveal the skeleton again. Okay, I could see how that might freak children out.

The first skeleton we saw was of a giant sloth. Oh, sloths. You became so small and inconsequential. You used to be as big as trees, and now you just lie in them all day, personifying a deadly sin.

Next to it was a giant bison, which could have been Appa if you added a pair of legs.

We perused the fossils behind the glass and learned all sorts of interesting facts that I have now forgotten. Oh, obliscence!

You see that ginormous thing on the right? THAT IS A FUCKING TOOTH. Can you imagine a mammoth with a tooth that big? Criminy.

Rachel demanded I show this to you guys. I have no comment.

There's a mammoth, with some small children for scale. Sure wouldn't like to be chased down by that thing:

And this would be the last thing you'd see:

If you were a vegetable. Who could run.

There was also the obligatory display of the Actual Fossil Lab, although there was no one in there working on New Year's Eve.

We also viewed a big wall of dozens, perhaps hundreds of dire wolf skulls, which led us to believe that the dire wolf was a fucking moron. I mean, seriously? You'd think after the first ten or twenty wolves got caught in the tar, you'd STOP GOING IN THE FUCKING TAR.

Someone who was not a fucking moron, however, was the living incarnation of the kid from Jerry Maguire, who took it upon himself to enlighten us on the dire wolf and the birds and that one likes to hunt and this one was doing this and it was completely hilarious.

We had neared the exit, and there, waiting in the gift shop, was Natilee! And (&, presumably?)...Michael, I think he was. I noticed that the three of us were all wearing appropriate shirts: Natilee had fossils, Michael had tigers, and I had skeletons. Rachel tried to squeeze in on a technicality.

Natilee and Michael had noticed some sort of hideous line outside the LACMA, so they went ahead while Rachel and I moved the car (curse you, 2-hour parking!). Sean was also set to arrive pretty soon; it was hard for us to be better timed.

It turned out the hideous line was just to get into the Dali exhibit; it was so popular they were selling entrance times every hour. We had just missed the 2:00, and the next available slot was at 4:00. After some debate (and after Natilee decided to just become a member so she could get in free as much as she wanted), we decided to stick around. Rachel was the only one who had to buy a ticket. "I've already got a ticket," I said, pointing to Sean. "I knew there was a reason I knew you!"

"You only want me for my access!" he lamented.

We entered the SoCal exhibit, which began with a lovely batch of colors resembling a sunset (which is what the piece was called: look at me, interpreting modern art correctly!). Then there was a nasty abortion thing and a controversial piece with freaky wire people getting backseat nookie.

You know what's really cool? Going to a museum with an art historian. Natilee already had a Master's in art history and was working on her doctorate. So she knew things! In fact, she even recognized my crappy description of an installation Shari and I saw at the MOMA!

And then I had my mind completely blown in the next room as we encountered the work of a man I think was probably Larry Bell. There was a glass mounting on the wall with a cube etched into it, and the image created a shadow on the ground. In the middle of the room were some sheets of coated glass, and if you stood behind them, you could actually project the image of the cube onto the piece on the adjacent wall. Then if you walked to your left and looked in the reflective glass, you slowly faded away like a ghost due to the change in the coating gradient.

There was one installation that was an entirely purple room with what appeared to be a floating sheet of cardboard in the corner...except when you got closer, it was just light. And if you stood back a few feet and squinted like you were doing a Magic Eye picture, you could see a floating purple cube. Except all it was just light projected on the wall in that shape.

There was a glass prism that cast at least three different shadows.

There was one room that asked you to take your shoes off. Inside was a completely white room except for the far end, on which was a black square outlined in a glowy white that honest-to-God looked like a fucking portal to another world. And when you got closer, it was revealed that the black was in fact an inch or two in front of the wall. But if you stepped back, it seriously looked like the black was right on the wall, like you'd subtly cut open a window with a knife.

Then there was a neat floating egg that cast five or six shadows on the wall behind it. Except when I looked at it from another angle, I saw that it was flat. It was just a two-dimensional ellipse. I could have sworn it was a three-dimensional egg.

And there was an empty room where we couldn't find the piece until someone noticed a card before we entered that read Stretched Canvas. At which point we went to the far wall and discovered that it wasn't the wall. It was just the blank canvas; you could see the wall behind it if you looked closely.

The whole thing was just amazing and completely changed my conception of what art could be. I'd never seen anyone play with light and space like that, and it's the type of art for which taking pictures is useless because it's all about the space. It depends on how you interact with it; it's not just a picture on the wall. You can't just buy it and put it in your apartment; it has to be installed because it needs to be displayed a certain way for it to provoke the intended effect. The SoCal exhibit is at the LACMA until the end of March. I don't know where it's going after that, but if it comes to a museum near you, fucking go. It's so much fun.

We moved onto European art, with iguana/parrot dragons and lots of SYMBOLISM. Art museums are much more fun when you go with friends.

Sadly, Natilee decided to leave before Dali, so we said goodbye in front of Balzac.

And Rachel wanted me to show this to you guys. We had seen some pieces with a "Temporarily Removed" note, but this was different:

Now, like my innocence, foot gone.

Rachel wanted to see the exhibit on Japanese art, and Sean needed to move his car, so Sean checked out the Japanese exhibit while Rachel and I moved Sean's car for him. Or maybe it was the other way around.

The Japanese art didn't do a lot for me since it was mostly calligraphy, and I didn't know any of the characters, but there were bits of shaded drawings that were pretty cool. And a samurai warrior outfit. That included teeth. The coolest part was the building itself, which curved upward in a spiral and bathed the collection in a dim half-light.

When Sean returned, we got in line for the Dali exhibit. Sean and I, having Member tickets, could have stood in a special, shorter line, but that would have just been mean.

The Dali exhibit was packed, making it hard to move around in the hall and see the pieces on the wall. I took great amusement in the sight of a teenager with extremely spiked hair that must have taken a lot of gel to style that morning. I'm talking five or six large, individual spikes of hair radiating from his head. Like he intended to headbutt people and pierce their hearts. And possibly their spleens.

Another source of amusement was a twentysomething guy who was so blown away by these Dali paintings, man, because he totally redefined our perception of reality and what's real, and...I really can't describe what was so hilarious about it, but it was the combination of A) his unscholarly voice and demeanor, B) the sincerity of his analysis, and C) the sense that he believed himself to be saying something completely profound and original.

There was a lot of focus on Dali's film work, including his collaboration with Buñuel. They showed some of his letters to Buñuel, one of which was completely adorable because it included this line in all caps: "I LIKE OUR MOVIE MORE EVERY DAY!" (Translated from the Spanish, of course.) It was heartening to see that Salvador fucking Dali felt like that sometimes.

They also showed a bunch of storyboards for the dream sequence in Spellbound, which I have yet to see, although they were playing the dream sequence on a loop. I was disappointed that, as far as I could tell, they weren't showing Un chien andalou, so I could not see slicing up eyeballs, whoa oh oh oh.

The highlight of the exhibit for me was Destino, a collaboration between Dali and Walt Disney begun in 1945 but never finished. In 2003, it was finally released, having been animated from the original storyboards and Dali's notes. It's only six minutes long, but, holy God, it's fucking beautiful. It's like a Dali painting come to life; hell, it's all of Dali's paintings come to life. You can see a lot of objects and themes from other works. And it's extremely compelling; I couldn't take my eyes off it even though I didn't know what was going on. The only rules were the ones set by imagination.

In my favorite sequence, the woman examines the shadow of bell on the ground. She stands so that her shadow and the bell's overlap. Then, she lifts up her arms so that they, too, overlap with the shadow on the ground. (The whole film plays with shapes like this.) And then, and then, you guys, she dives into the shadow, and when she comes out, the shadow has become a beautiful new dress for her.

I watched it twice, and it was even better the second time around because I could follow everything a little more and catch more of the shapes. It was just so fucking cool.

Then we saw those damn melting clocks. Persistence of Memory is surprisingly small. It's about the size of your computer monitor. And I never noticed the ants on the clock before! This is what you see when you can get up close. There was another cool painting that had this woman being attacked by the manifestation of cinema or whatever, but the fun part was the burning giraffes in the background. I felt like changing my LJ name to burninggiraffes.

We learned from a girl that according to her art teacher, ants represented pubic hair. Well, good job, Dali, spraying pubic hair all over your paintings.

After the Dali exhibit, Sean left us, and Rachel took us back to her humble abode, where I was greeted by...not a dog. And, actually, not greeted, because the cats ran away as soon as they saw me. Rachel said they ran away from everything, so I tried not to take it personally.

I admired Rachel's books for a long time. We also talked about ARGs for a while.

For dinner, Rachel had put forth a Japanese pub called FuRaiBo that had famous chicken wings, but once we got to the area, we opted for Yakitoriyo, which was exclusively chicken/poultry. A yakitori, it seemed, was some meat on a stick. It was $2.50 a stick, and you were required to order at least 5 sticks per person. I went for breast, thigh, meat ball, quail egg, and duck, along with a small bowl of rice with seasoned ground chicken. Rachel ordered some chicken broth in case she felt she hadn't had enough chicken.

So the service was absolutely atrocious. I wasn't sure whether we were invisible because we were the only non-Japanese people in the restaurant, but I know for a fact that people who entered after we did got their food before we did. I swear there were times when we motioned to the waiter and he looked at us as if he just remembered that we existed. I got a stick of breast meat eventually, and then nothing came for twenty minutes, though they thankfully brought us the rice. And the rice with ground chicken was way better than fucking larb.

Each meat was prepared differently. The breast meat came with a dab of wasabi on each piece. The thigh pieces came with onion. The duck came with green onion between the pieces. The meat ball was just meatballs. The quail egg was interesting because I don't normally eat hard-boiled eggs, but there was something about the texture of these tiny eggs that wasn't too bad; rather than being yolky in the middle, it was just a little softer and creamier than the shell. The sticks were brought out one at a time so you could savor them properly, and they were good, but, seriously, $2.50 a stick?

At the table next to us, a man was having trouble trying to pay because the waiter had gone to get a pen in order for him to sign the receipt after paying with a credit card. Rachel suggested we pay in cash.

The total came to $39.52, so that was twenty bucks each, but what about the tip? I tried to estimate 15%, but for some reason, I was looking at the tax of $3.09 because of the "double the tax" trick, except I was attempting to take 15% of $3.09 with crack math. So 10% of $3.09 was about $3.00 (CRACK MATH), and then half of that was $1.50, so the tip should be $4.50. I was looking at Rachel to see what she would do, but she was clearly looking at me to see what I would do. The guy clearly deserved to be undertipped, so if $4.50 was the tip, then $4.00 it was. I cautiously put down two dollars, and Rachel followed suit.

It was only in the car that I realized I'd totally done the math wrong, and the actual tip was supposed to have been closer to $6.00, meaning we had undertipped him more than I thought. Which...I don't exactly feel bad about because we spent like a damn hour more at that restaurant than we should have. At least half an hour.

Two mix CD moments placed here due to inability to place them temporally: During conversation earlier in the day, I discovered that Rachel had a particular fondness for zombies. To my delight, she had somehow not heard Jonathan Coulton's "Re: Your Brains"! She turned it up and loved it hard. Later, I had to replay cadhla's "Evil Laugh" for her because we'd been talking over it the first time it played. When we got to the chorus, she turned to me in surprise, asking, "Wait wait, which came first??"

Back at the apartment, I admired Rachel's comics and her multiple copies of the Mahabharata. We had decided not to go out for New Year's Eve since we had to be up before dawn the next day to make it to the Rose Parade. After she went to sleep, I stayed up for another hour or so catching up online. I finished up at about 11:45 and just sat there on the couch with the laptop in my lap, waiting for 2008.

2008 came, and I crawled into the futon on her floor.

Minutes later, the phone rang. I hoped it hadn't woken Rachel. It was sophia_helix and hobviously wishing me a happy new year! Aww. They're the only people who called me. Everyone else loses.

Tuesday: New Year's Day

We woke up around 5 so we could head out by 6ish. Rebecca (tibicina) had scored us tickets to the Rose Parade, and we were supposed to be in Pasadena by 6:45. In the morning. There was a clear route to Pasadena, but Kristin had suggested an alternate route to avoid traffic. I remembered it had involved 10s and 5s and 2s or something, so I hit up Google Maps (Rachel, for some reason, did not use Google Maps! She preferred Mapquest! But Google Maps is the best!) to find the dopest route. Adding to the confusion was the fact that we were going to Rebecca's church, but she hadn't told us the name of the church or the address, just a nearby intersection. But that's all you need! I zoomed in to see that, right by the intersection was Fuller Theological Seminary. That sounded church-y enough. Then I dragged the route to various highways that sounded like what Kristin had suggested. 110 -> 10 -> 5 -> 2 -> 134. Rachel thought she could handle it. Possibly. It was my fault if we got lost.

We didn't. Moreover, we encountered very little traffic on the way there, making the highway-changing shenanigans seem like a waste of time. It was smooth sailing!

Until we actually tried to get into Pasadena, which took us twenty minutes. At least we got a puzzling view of a highway below us that seemed to have horses roaming around. I also thought I saw a camel, but that was just my mind playing tricks on me. I'd seen a few camels recently, okay?

We were sort of going off-book at this point, however, and we weren't sure what kind of directions to follow and how to follow them, but we ended up on the right street and encountered ten-dollar parking in a lot reserved for...Fuller Theological Seminary. Well, that was convenient. I asked the attendant how to get to the seminary, as that's where we were seeing the parade. He was a little confused until I told him we didn't really know for sure, we just knew it was a church near Union and Oakland. The First Presbyterian, he said? That also sounded church-y!

We followed his directions and, right by the church, we saw that there was five-dollar parking. Consarnit. Rebecca and I played Where Are You? on cell phones until we saw each other.

She led us inside the church, where they were serving hot beverages and breakfast! I made the ill-advised choice to try some sort of low-fat, no-sugar-added hot chocolate, which was not very appetizing. For food, I grabbed a granola bar (actually for later), a muffin that wasn't freshly baked, and an untoasted bagel with cream cheese. Hey, it was something.

Rebecca introduced us to her family. "This is my online friend I know through another online friend," she didn't say.

It was when I went to the bathroom that I realized that the color of my Juno shirt was the same color as all the Illinois garb people were wearing. People were going to think I was an Illinois fan. Oops.

We went out to the grandstands. For all of you who have never been to the Rose Parade, this is what it looks like:

There are a lot of people out there early in the morning. Before the parade starts, anyone is free to walk the route. There were several Ron Paul supporters who got no response from the crowd (sorry, allsunday). Then there were the crazies!

Yes, that last one does say that GOD CAUSED 9-11. They leave that stuff out of the television broadcast.

The beginning of the festivities was signaled by a flyover by some very loud stealth bombers (not so stealthy this morning). According to the program, they had taken off from fucking Louisiana just for this three-second cameo appearance.

You may notice that the sky was very cloudy. This made it difficult to read the skytyping that followed, reading, "HAPPY 2008." By the time they'd finished the 8, the H was already fading away.

Then it was time for cops on motorcycles!!

They were pretty fun, driving around in circles and being crazy. And we all cheered them on much more exuberantly than anyone had cheered for Ron Paul (Rachel's observation, not mine).

We were right across the Illinois contingent, as you can see from the orange.

"Oh, who won the Rose Bowl?" I asked Rebecca. I was informed that they hadn't played it yet. Ooooh.

There was a man on the ground who was some sort of spiritmonger, encouraging the stands to cheer and then leading everyone in a spirit duel: "We've got spirit, yes we do, we've got spirit, how about you?" Because we were back in high school or something.

Finally, the beginning of the parade reached us! There were lots of flags:

And then there were lots of floats. I'm not going to post about every single float; you saw them all on television. If you want to see pictures, start here. I'll just comment on a few.

That woman is on stilts. The parade route is five miles.

There was a Wild West float that was pretty neat because there was a barroom brawl going on on top of it. The dudes were punching each other, and then the good guy even knocked the bad guy off, and he fell into something underneath. The floats were nice to look at, but it was the human element that added spice to most of them. Several floats had bands playing music on them. Some just had people waving. How creative could they get?

You don't need humans when you're TURNING A CAR INTO A SPACESHIP. We were lucky to catch it transforming as it moved toward us. By the time it was right in front of us, it had already become a spaceship and elevated. And then: FLAMES! FLAMES CAME OUT OF THE BACK! You don't feel the heat on television.

I'd forgotten that in addition to the floats, the Rose Parade was full of marching bands.

These guys, however, had not. They implored the bands who passed us to please play music and showed them smiley faces when they did. There was a high school marching band from JAPAN that was fucking amazing. They weren't just marching; they were bending down and sideways to the music; they were kicking; they were practically dancing. It was so cool to watch. They have better education and better marching bands?? The University of Illinois marching band was also really good, full of energy. They also pulled out some high kicks. It was interesting to watch the different bands and their different styles. Of course, then I started to wonder what the purpose of marching bands was in the grand scheme of society and art.

Some floats were a little big. And for that, they got a prize! The program listed like fifty different awards given to floats, and Rebecca, our Rose Parade expert, tried to explain the nuances of each category. You know how it's good to go to an art museum with an art historian? It's also good to see the Rose Parade with someone who knows all kinds of history about the Rose Parade!

At just about 9:00, right on schedule, the Fans4Writers.com skytyping appeared in the air. Unfortunately, like I said, it wasn't a good day for skytyping. The only message I saw was the frickin' URL of the site, which was lame, but I heard there were other messages in the sky elsewhere. Check out the photoset. It was a futile effort, but, hey, maybe it reached some people. Oh, fandom.

What I failed to capture in this picture: the dudes SPINNING PLATES.

You don't see that every day.

The Día de los Muertos float was probably our favorite, spaceship car notwithstanding.

Then, after the parade was over: more crazies!

It is only now that I see that the sign says that I should believe on the Lord. Like, standing on top of his head? Believe in what? Shamu?

We participated in the mass exodus. Surprisingly, it wasn't too much of a chore to get out of Pasadena since a significant portion of the audience was staying for the game. We made it to Valley Village in no time at all. And then it was time to say goodbye to Rachel! Which was sad, because we had had a great time together.

It was now time for Dahlia (dahliam), my favorite/only friend I met at a movie theatre. Her suggestion for the day was to go down to Santa Monica, which sounded like a good plan since the weather was great.

Since Dahlia's Facebook profile listed her favorite music as "anything on KROQ," her mix was Anything on KROQ, featuring new music from mostly 2007 that would be up KROQ's alley. My CD was to be the first CD ever played in her new car, and, by a happy coincidence, the opener, "Misery Business," was Dahlia's current favorite song. There were a few songs on the disc that she knew, so it was fun to sing along together.

We parked by the Promenade and searched for food options. We walked up and down, enjoying the street performers buskers. Dahlia spent fifteen minutes picking out a new pair of sunglasses. We were waiting for anoel, who was coming in from La Puente just to see me. She got a little lost, though, and Dahlia and I tried to go and meet her, but she gave us the slip and took an alternate route, so all we got was exercise. We finally met at the foot of the Promenade, with its ridiculous dinosaur fountain.

After much deliberation, I had chosen the Broadway Deli because they had an ostrich burger on the menu, and I had just a few days ago mused upon the idea of eating ostrich. It was a bird, after all. I ate bird. It was a new year! A year of new meat!

When I ordered the ostrich burger, the waiter asked me how I wanted it cooked. I had no idea. "Medium," Dahlia said for me. They never asked me that for chicken! But apparently ostrich meat was more like beef. So I must not be missing out on much with beef because ostrich was kind of bland and not really that great. But now I can say I've eaten ostrich. Check.

I told Dahlia I was buying her lunch since she was letting me crash on her couch, and she was surprised and wouldn't let me at first. I don't know how these things work! What are the social conventions? Is it normal? I mean, I know no one expects anything when they offer you a place to crash, but is there some sort of unspoken requirement? My parents are into not owing people, into making sure everything comes out even. If someone gives you a ride, pay for gas. If someone gives you a gift, you need to make sure to give them a gift of equal value at some point. And so on. Except I don't know how the world is actually supposed to work. I've only recently gotten comfortable with the notion that friends like paying for friends on principle sometimes, as a friendly gesture, with nothing asked for in return, just to be nice. That the karma sort of works itself out as long as you're not a complete moocher who always takes and never gives. Hell, even people who aren't rolling in dough sometimes pay for others simply because they're good people who like doing good things. And now that I've overthought this enough, let's get back on the Promenade.

Dahlia had extolled the virtues of the Coffee Bean iced blend, and, even though it was now cooler than it had been before lunch, I wanted to try it. We walked up the Promenade. AND WE SAW A TRAINED MONKEY. Like, it was just like you see in TV and movies, dressed up in clothes and a funny hat, and he would take money from your hand and let you take a picture with him. Further along, we saw a guy about our age playing guitar, currently shredding electric. He had a money jar, and some little kid was trying to take money out of it, and when his dad took him away, he started bawling. The guy introduced himself and said that he was actually going to be in an upcoming movie, and we expected him to name some small film no one had heard of, but he was going to be appearing in Drillbit Taylor, which Dahlia identified as Owen Wilson's new movie. I wondered if he had been "discovered" on the Promenade or something. That was pretty cool.

At the Coffee Bean, I ordered the Ultimate Mocha Iced Blended whatchamahoozit, and we watched my name on the monitor. I waited over seven minutes, and I know this for a fact. And after all the wait, it wasn't even that good. I like my Frappuccino-esque beverages thick, not liquidy. Food and drink is all about texture, dammit!

Hadley had finally arrived, so we walked down the Promenade a final time (seriously, Dahlia and I had gone up and down that thing three or four times by that point). On the way, however, we were mesmerized by a Chinese man who was tossing bowls onto his head with his feet. It was incredible. He would place multiple bowls on his leg and give a little kick, and they would all flip just enough to land on his head in a stack.

At the corner, we met Hadley, who commented on my shirt and said he still hadn't seen Juno (Dahlia had just seen it a second time). We walked down to the beach. I had really wanted Hadley and Dahlia to meet, and my evil plan was totally on target, because it turned out they knew a bunch of the same people. Soon, the television industry will be run ENTIRELY BY MY FRIENDS.

Santa Monica beach is very pretty, as you'd expect.

Hadley now works at Sarah Connor Chronicles, so it's my duty to remind you guys to tune in for the premiere this Sunday at 8 on Fox! Then it'll be in its regular slot Monday at 9! Even though I wasn't completely in love with the pilot, Hadley assures me that it gets better and better with each episode. And he comes from Veronica Mars, so he knows quality! And speaking of people who come from Veronica Mars, it's the new home of everyone's favorite unicorn lover, John Enbom! (TiVo/DVR warning: the official name is actually Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, so you have to search under T.)

We walked and talked for about ninety minutes, and it was a good time.

From Santa Monica, Dahlia and I headed into Hollywood to the famous Arclight. We were itching to see No Country for Old Men, as neither of us had seen it yet despite hearing good things, and Hadley had also just said it was amazing and needed to be seen in a theatre. Thankfully, it was still playing at the Arclight. The Arclight is crazy expensive ($14 a ticket), but in return, you get assigned seats, no commercials, and only three trailers (but I like trailers!). Dahlia was a frequent customer.

We had an hour or two to kill, though, so Dahlia took me to Amoeba, land of more music than God. I saw that I could buy the new Eisley used for only six bucks. Yoink! Then I scoured the clearance racks for a long, long time (I even had to run to the Arclight to use the restroom in the middle), but most of the stuff I was looking for wasn't there. But, what the hell? A Miranda Sound CD?! An actual Miranda Sound CD! Western Reserve, with "Close Calls"! Three dollars! Yoink! And what is this in the Ps? Plumb's Chaotic Resolve, a CD I've been meaning to buy for months, for five bucks? Yooooooink! I wanted to take advantage of their 4-for-3 sale, but I just couldn't find any other stuff in the clearance racks. And if I went to the regular used section, I would be paying ten bucks for a used CD, which is stupid.

It was time to suss out dinner options. The Thai place Dahlia liked was closed for New Year's, there was a twenty-minute wait at the Arclight Cafe, there was too long of a wait at the Italian place, and she'd never been to this other place. So...we went to Baja Fresh. Cheap is good. And you know what else is good? PICO DE GALLO. I'm saying, people. Mmm, Baja Burrito.

We were half an hour early for the movie, so we rested in the very comfortable seats that could only be improved if they reclined. The theatre filled up pretty nicely for a movie that had been out for weeks.

Before the movie, an incredibly cute blonde woman walked out and said, "Welcome to the world-famous Arclight Theatre, woooo!!" It was adorable. She went on to say that this showing of No Country for Old Men would run two hours and ten minutes. And then someone in the front said something, I assume "That's a long time" or something. Without missing a beat, she responded, "I know, sir!" And it was the cutest thing in history. She continued with the standard requests to shut off cell phones and all that and said that attendants would be standing by the first ten minutes to make sure everything was functioning properly (another Arclight perk which shouldn't be a luxury, for God's sake (this had actually been a topic of conversation at Kristin and Drew's; apparently AMC is notoriously awful about this sort of thing)). As she walked away, she raised her fist in the air and told us to "experience the magic of No Country for Old Men, wooooo!"

No Country for Old Men is really good. The reason you need to see it in a theatre is because the sound is amazing. There's no music, so you hear every footfall, every crunch of underbrush, every cocking gun. Plus, you have the desert cinematography. I didn't really know much about the movie at all going in. No one told me that it was scary as fuck. It's a really fucking intense movie where the villain's weapon of choice runs on compressed air. So there aren't too many gunshots, just a lot of fwooms (again, the sound is amazing). It was three-quarters of the way through the movie when I remembered, "Oh yeah, these are the guys who made Blood Simple." Impressively, except for one glaring exception (which, according to some Internet comments, perhaps means I don't GET the movie), the movie is never boring, even though it's not fast-paced in any traditional sense. Something else I found notable was the use of still frames; I don't think the camera moved very much. And, because it's the Coen Brothers, there are some great laughs amidst the tension and violence. Definite thumbs up.

When the movie got out (something else about the Arclight: a higher percentage of viewers will stick around to watch all the credits), we made a beeline for the bathroom. There was even a line for the men's restroom. I didn't have to go, but I waited outside for Dahlia. As I was waiting, I saw a guy with very sharply defined features who looked very familiar, but I couldn't figure out why. I couldn't remember where I knew him from, like from Rice or I met him at a friend's place or something. Then it hit me.

It was Kyle from The 4400. Chad Faust.

Was it really? Could it really be him? Maybe I was mistaken. But my heart was fucking pounding; it was sure. I waited outside the bathroom to see him come out and get a better look.

On a second look...yeah, it was totally him!

I walked to Dahlia, who was waiting at the end of the corridor. "That was Kyle from The 4400," she said.

"Yep!" I said. He was a few feet away, standing with his girlfriend. I think there were a few people around sneaking cell phone pictures. I resisted the urge to go talk to him, even though I kind of wanted to tell him I was sorry the show was cancelled. (I don't think I've ever talked about it here, but I was definitely a 4400 fan from the very beginning. It was a fun, interesting show, and the TWoP thread was a lot of fun as well.)

As we walked to the escalators, I high-fived Dahlia. Random celebrity sighting! FINALLY.

On the way to the car, we saw Chad Faust and his girlfriend get into their car. They were leaving too. Odds were probably good that we had seen the same movie. Oh, Hollywood!

Back at the apartment, there was Dahlia's roommate, Jason, my favorite/only friend I met at an Irish pub. We watched some Boston Legal just to have seen what all the fuss was about. The filming style was far too irritating.

Dahlia and Jason both had work the next day, so they retired early. I stayed up to write down notes about the past four days and watch some old Daily Show and Colbert Report.

It is fitting, then, at the point in the narrative where I first put pen to paper to record my time in L.A., I run out of characters in my LJ post. Semagic won't let me babble on any longer, so the final day has to be pushed into its own post. Wednesday features picketing, another celebrity encounter, and Scrabble! You won't want to miss this one, folks.
Tags: art, being indian, buffistas, family, fandom love, food, girls, i am so awesome, in a world without threads, john enbom, lj friends, movies, music, my year(s) of (new) meats, not being a serial killer, not!drake and not!josh, personal, pictures, pimpings, real life friends, rice, such is life, the 4400, the sarah connor chronicles, twop, vacation, video games

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