Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tacoriffics!

Friends of ours had a taco party last night. We had a good time. Such a good time that I don't have the energy to talk or write about it. But I did have the energy to make this delightful movie of the evening. Watch and learn...

video

Today's lesson: mix costume designers, gay men, sombreros and tequila at your own risk!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rufus! Rufus! Rufus!

The Hollywood Bowl goes Over the Rainbow.

On Sunday we saw Rufus Wainwright perform Judy Garland's 1961 Hollywood Bowl Concert. Strange concept. Very intriguing. We were trying to get four terrace level box seats, but since I drug my heals, we wound up in the Benches. The joke of that is that for the price of ONE seat in the terrace box level, we had four seats and parking for one dollar more. YAHOO!

I won't bother to give a review of the concert. Many others have done that better than I can.

I likes me some Judy Garland. I'm not a crazed fan. I likes me some Rufus Wainwright. But again I am no crazed fan. I can tell you that some people seemed disappointed that Judy didn't show up. I say go see and impersonator. Some thought Rufus' voice sounded tired and there were times on some song endings where his voiced seemed to give out.

It seemed to bring home the point of how amazing must that original performance have been. At three hours of non-stop singing and you know Judy Garland was still belting them out. Murder I tell ya'. Murder.

What I enjoyed the most was the one of a kind experience it was. Rufus is doing this mini-tour recreation of the original tour. New York at Carnegie Hall, London at the Palladium, Paris at the Olympia and finally in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Bowl. I am always up for one of those "Only in LA" type of experiences, though in this case it was actually "Only in New York, London, Paris and LA" I still wanted to go. (the Carnegie Hall album and DVD will be available in stores December 4, 2007 - you know I'm getting that.)

I knew from reading a little in advance that he should at some point come out in the classic Judy Garland wardrobe for "Get Happy" which is a double breasted black tuxedo jacket,a black fedora and fishnet stockings. After he allegedly had sung his last song bu the orchestra was still on stage, I told my little group to stay put, they were going to love the encore. And sure enough he did not disappoint.
Judy "Gets Happy"

Rufus "Gets Happy"

So I enjoyed the spectacle of it all. I loved the part where he went out into the audience and gave Debbie Reynolds a kiss. I loved that he brought out his performing mother and sister and included them. I loved seeing Lorna Luft (Judy Garland's daughter) perform and being able to close my eyes and hear Judy Garland on the stage. And in the end I'm glad we bought our $22 tickets and not the $100 tickets because then I can do more things like that.
Debbie Reynolds gets a hug from Rufus.

Lorna Luft and Rufus Wainwright.

video
This is a mini-movie I made with low quality images from my cellphone video camera. Clearly I added the soundtrack.

Here are some much better video's shot by other people:


That was all fun and great, but now for the most interesting part. The stacked parking lot at the Hollywood Bowl. There were two lanes of cars parked between a green strip of grass wrapped in concrete curbs with Palm trees spaced in the middle close enough that you could not drive a car between them. In Stacked parking, no one goes until the cars in front are occupied and leave. You know this when you pull in. Oh well, such is the parking at the Hollywood Bowl.

Except for the Asshat in the minivan three cars back and one lane over.

Since we had been sitting for about three hours, when we got to our car and found no one in the four cars in front of us, I said, "No point in getting in the car and sitting some more. Let's just hang out here next to the car." A common sentiment around us as three other groups of people waited around their cars next us.

Then the minivan man flashes his lights and sticks his head out his window, "COME ON! LET'S GO!! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU WAITING FOR?"

Mostly the groups of people glance up then sort of laugh it off. He gotta be kidding. Right? Too bad he's not really funny.

Then he repeats his light flashing, shouting tirade. This time accompanied by honking his horn.

Oh my God. He's serious.

So I walk back three cars and ask him what he wants us all to do? "MOVE YOUR CARS!"

"Well that would be great!" I tell him, "Did you bring your car jack that lifts 3 ton cars and moves them to the other side of the parking lot? Or are you just so big and burly that you're going to come out of that car and he-man lift them all by yourself. We're not all just standing around for the love of standing. We have to wait for the cars that are in front of us, just like you do. So if you have some magic powers that the rest of us don't have, be my guest and come on down."

To which he responded, "Oh I'd like to 'Come on down' for you sweetie." with a slight mocking tone. To which I replied, "I don't think you'll ever be man enough to do that!" as I walked away.

I got back to my group of friends and asked them if they would tell me if he was getting out of his car with a crowbar and walking towards my back. They promised they would.

A minute went by and a man approached from behind nearly scaring me, "I just have to tell you, that was brilliant. Thank you." and he went back to his car which was parked next the the Asshat.

We continued to wait for the cars in front to be moved by their owners. Still not enough had arrived to free us. Then the lane behind us started to open up. The last car left, the next car left... but still one car was sitting behind us keeping us from a reverse exit. Oh well, what can you do. We started chatting to the people around us as we were out of topics to discuss amongst ourselves.

By now the lane next to the minivan was open but neither car in front of him nor behind him had come to drive away. Stacked parking has attendants that encourage you to pull in as tight as you can so they can fit one more car, one more car, one more car at the end.

But the minivan believed he could get out.

He started inch forward, turn wheel, inch back, turn wheel other way. Inch forward, turn wheel, inch back, turn wheel other way. This was going to be a lengthy 18 point turn. Then on inch forward and back number 16, he thought he could skip a step and pulled forward past the car in front... or rather he thought he would but instead scraped the hell out of the back bumper of the car in front. Then continued to jockey back and forth.

This did not sit well with the witnesses. One man from the car next to us reached into his car, got out his camera cell phone and went over to eh minivan and took a close-up photo of his license plate.

"What the hell are you doing?"
"If you aren't going to leave your contact info, I will." said the camera man.
"I didn't even hit it!"
"How would you know? You never got out of your car to check. Even Britney Spears got out of her car to check!" Which of course you must have figured out by now, that a Judy Garland Tribute concert there were in fact quite a few gay men waiting for their cars to be unblocked. Gay men love a good Britney in trouble reference.

So the man got out of his car to come and check the damage to the front car's bumper. He deems it just minor dust disturbance. And his wife shouts that he doesn't know how to drive and she will now be taking over. She gets out of the passenger side, wobbles, then staggers to the driver's side and revs the engine.

"Oh my god, she's hammered!" says Lyle.

She pops it into reverse, jumps the curb behind her, pushes on the palm trees (which luckily stopped her from going into other traffic) then swings the car hard around to ram into the front of the car the used to be behind her. Hell yeah,she's the better driver! She made a much louder noise!

With no intention of leaving anymore information this time either, the husband goes to get in on the passenger side and the pair of them will make their getaway. Except for all these pesky people who've been watching. The mob drags over a parking attendant who has been watching but from a distance. As if to protect himself from becoming involved.

Mob member #1: You need to stop them!
Mob member #2: Don't let them drive away!
Mob member #3 (to different attendant): You! Go get the police!

And the mob steps into the van's way and the parking attendant walks over to tell the man that he's going to have to wait where he is.

It takes longer than it should to get the police there. They are standing at the base of the driveway (about 500 feet away) and seem reluctant to step away from watching traffic drive past them. But finally one officer arrives,then a second. The drivers are both removed from the minivan and it is discovered neither one has brought their license.

Now the owners of the scraped cars return. Cameraphone photos are sent and finally the drivers of the last car behind us has arrive. Except that blasted van is now blocking our reverse escape!

Lyle tells the police to move the van. The protest that it is now a crime scene and can't be moved. Lyle tells them that the crime happened one lane over and the van has already been moved so why not let all the nice people who did their job of holding the drivers leave by the reverse escape route and the police finally agree.

As we are departing, one friend in our car is chanting "Cuff 'em! Cuff 'em! Cuff 'em!" and I make Lyle promise to lock the windows so he can't shout that as we drive by.

So, to the Asshat who was in such a hurry that he thought he could do a 36 point turn and leave after the Rufus Wainwright concert, I hope those 15 minutes you thought you could save were worth the night you probably spent in jail Smart one.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Shit. It's raining

Took this photo of an umbrella for sale in Montreal.

I hate the rain. It's not a love/hate relationship. Just hate. Fall arrived on Friday and I hate the Fall as well.

I have nice Fall/Winter clothes. I love Christmas. I have travel galore booked to cover the time until Summer returns to me. I live in California. How bad could it be?

But the days get shorter and shorter. The temperature requires I wear actual pants and (oh horror) socks.

Last night as the heavens opened and the rain beat the crap out of the house I tried not to cry myself to sleep. It feels as if my best friend just took a job far, far away. I won't get to see him/her for at least 6 months. Oh sure, we'll e-mail, we'll talk on the phone. We may even get to see each other however briefly in the meantime. But he/she won't be here with me day to day making me smile and giving me all that warmth I need so badly.

So, I've hauled out the boots, switched the sweaters lower and the T-shirts higher and moved the rain proof outerwear to the front of the hall closet.

Goodbye Summer. Don't forget to write!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Personal Assistant


One of those rare "Only in LA" type of moments happened yesterday. I was at Cost Plus Imports looking for cheap blinds for outside - found them - when I overheard what must have been two brothers arguing one aisle over.
"No that's not fair you HAVE TO."
"No I don't."
"Yes you do. You're my PERSONAL ASSISTANT. You have to do whatever I tell you to do."
"No I don't."
"Yes you do. You HAVE TO. You're my PERSONAL ASSISTANT! You have to do EVERYTHING I SAY!"

Back in my day (hi grandpa!) we had slaves. It's nice to know that we've moved beyond fraternal slavery. But it did creep me out to know that one aisle over this kid must have parents who have a personal assistant. Must suck to have that job.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Out of the closet

And now a rare glimpse. Not just at my giant hair from 1990 (oh my god! It's so DARK!), but inside my closet!

I must preface this with an anecdote from my first year in college.

When I had my handbook on dorm living for my first year at college, I saw there was a photo of a girl walking into the dorm on move-in day carrying all her clothes folded over here arm. OH THE HORROR! All the world seeing all her clothes right there in black and white in print FOREVER. I swore a solemn vow at that moment, that girl would not be me.

On move-in day, I had every item I owned locked up tight inside luggage, wardrobe boxes or inside garment bags. "If I want someone to see my clothes, I'll wear them!"

Later in life I developed a strange phobia about going to laundromats. Complete strangers would be able to see my entire wardrobe laid out for free peeking while I folded and waited for the final load in a dryer! That fear was realized when someone asked me where I had purchased a rather cute pair of boxer shorts. I took another vow on that spot to get a washer & dryer at home and never air my laundry, dirty or otherwise, in public.

I tell you this, so you know what a big deal it is for me to put these photos here. I am reconsidering as I write this. Read quick! I may change my mind.

We moved in a year ago, and the master bedroom closet was a sad place to put clothes. I hate things being hard to find. I knew what I needed, and it would require effort. The closet has been the last project.
Old closet above. I've built a panorama photo of three shots, left center and right, to give a better perspective. On the left, shelves, then half a rod. Across the back, a full rod that you can only use the center of due to the rods going back on the left and right. Above shelves that needed more shelves above, but why do something just to tear it out later. Below, wasted space. (center: Pink stuffed pig for dog toy. Cooper was ripping it up and I had to find a high enough place to keep it from him)

This is the computer drawn plan to change the closet! Click on this photo above to enlarge and witness its inherent beauty. (oops, what a goof. I placed the center panel on the left and the left panel in the center when I built this picture. It was annoying to put together, and I'm not re-doing it. So figure that out for yourself. Maybe this is the sign that I shouldn't be putting all this up here after all...)

Everything torn out. We lined the back of the closet with aromatic cedar. The ceiling was covered in the popcorn fleck stuff so I covered it with a cheap white sheet and now can place things up high next to the ceiling without emerging in ceiling dandruff.

Finally, a poor quality photo to show off all our hard work! On the left, one hang bar high, one hang bar low. Shelf above holds boots. Laundry baskets across the back floor, full length mirror ($14, thank you Ikea!) with a shelf above. On the right, shelf after shelf for sweaters (up high, we live in California) T-shirts (by color - I used to work in retail), shorts, pants, jeans then shoes. The mirror really is square in real life. The laundry isn't always that high.

And finally, for Carolyn who asked to see my shoe collection. Here's a brief glimpse at the boots. From left: Lyle's suede engineer boots, my silver (yes, gun metal silver) boots, then the Gucci boots (go ahead, click on the photo and see if you can read that little square label. I can't.), my brown engineer boots, and my nearly knee high black boots. Can you believe I almost always have on flip flops? Oh, and isn't that sheet pulled nice and tight across the ceiling!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Rocks, Paper, Scissors?

You Are Scissors

Sharp and brilliant, you can solve almost any problem with that big brain of yours.
People fear your cutting comments - and your wit is famous for being both funny and cruel.
Deep down, you tend to be in the middle of an emotional storm. Your own complexity disturbs you.
You are too smart for your own good. Slow down a little - or you're likely to hurt yourself.

You can cut a paper person down to pieces.

The only person who can ruin you is a rock person.

When you fight: You find your enemy's weak point and exploit it.

If someone makes you mad: You'll do everything you can to destroy their life


Well, isn't that just the truth.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Scott!


video
Today is my brother Scott's Birthday.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

The more we change... the less we change.

I was searching for something in old e-mail and found this from 2002. I still believe it.

Welcome to the next edition of getting to know your friends (part II). Once again, you're supposed to copy (not forward) this entire e-mail and paste it onto a new e-mail
that you'll send. Change all of the answers so they apply to you. Then, send this to a whole bunch of people you know *INCLUDING* the person who sent it to you. The theory is that you'll learn a lot of little known facts about your friends. (ah e-mail chain letters left over from high school note passing. Now we have MEME on our blogs.)

1. WHAT TIME DO YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING?
As Late as Possible! 7:30 for a work day, 10:30 on a weekend. Noon if left to my own devices.
(Now I work from home. 9 or 10 still holds)

2. IF YOU COULD EAT LUNCH WITH ONE FAMOUS PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE?
Allison Janney – from the West Wing and other films. I’d tell her all about that silly dream I had and we become fast friends. My dream had me at a house party at her house. She had a 60's theme and was wearing this fabulous A-line dress with a Mondrian - think Partridge Family bus - pattern to it. At midnight she made everyone (in my dream) get in a circle, take off their costume and pass it to the person on their left. I wound up with her dress but couldn't fit her white go-go boots on. Oh how we laughed and laughed! (in my dream.)

3. GOLD OR SILVER?
Platinum.

4. WHAT WAS THE LAST FILM YOU SAW AT THE CINEMA?
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Now its Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

5. FAVORITE TV SHOW(S)?
Carol Burnett Show
The Simpsons
West Wing
Daily Show The Simpsons Oprah - when it's a happy topic.
Robot Chicken
Project Runway

6. WHAT DO YOU HAVE FOR BREAKFAST?
A drive to work. Oh, this one has changed! Now it's two eggs scrambled or two pieces of toast or granola with yogurt and fresh berries.

7. WHAT WOULD YOU HATE TO BE LEFT IN A ROOM WITH?
A box of bananas and a box of spiders.

8. CAN YOU TOUCH YOUR NOSE WITH YOUR TONGUE?
Ew.

9. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Smart and/or sexy old people.

10. WHAT'S YOUR MIDDLE NAME?
Michael

11. BEACH, CITY, Or COUNTRY?
City by the beach.

12. SUMMER OR WINTER?
Summer.

13. FAVORITE ICE CREAM?
Danish Sweet Cream – butter on a stick.

14. BUTTERED, PLAIN, OR SALTED POPCORN?
Extra butter light salt.

15. FAVORITE COLOR?
Khaki. Still true, and strangely, lately, Orange.

16. FAVORITE CAR?
Range Rover or just about convertible anything.

17. FAVORITE SANDWICH FILLING?
Tomato & Mozzarella

18. TRUE LOVE?
Definitely.

19. WHAT CHARACTERISTICS DO YOU DESPISE?
Bad driving, poor manners, no sense of humor, cruelty.

20. FAVORITE FLOWER?
Lilacs, Gerber Daisy, Gardenia and tulips.

21. IF YOU HAD A BIG WIN IN THE LOTTERY, HOW LONG WOULD YOU WAIT TO TELL
PEOPLE?
Less time that it took to tell them I was gay.

22. FIZZY OR STILL WATER AS A DRINK?
All water is good.

23. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR BATHROOM?
Putty. One gold, one white with cobalt blue one light grey with lilac (the lilac is the original tile)

24. HOW MANY KEYS ON YOUR KEY RING?
2 (I still believe in simplicity. One key for car. One key for house.)

25. WHERE WOULD YOU RETIRE TO?
Frejus, France. Birch Bay of the Riviera.

26. CAN YOU JUGGLE?
Lies.

27. FAVORITE DAY OF THE WEEK:
Saturday.

28. RED OR WHITE WINE?
Red. Expensive red.

29. WHAT DID YOU DO FOR YOUR LAST BIRTHDAY?
Flew to NYC. Dinner at a lovely French Bistro on the Upper Eastside. Shopped on Canal Street for fake Christmas gifts. (they’re real gifts, but knock off’s of real designs.) (quick check of old e-mail reveals... "My cold was bad (VERY BAD) last night. Slept in the guest room and unintentionally woke up the whole house coughing through my pillow... Me-thinks it will be a quiet evening home... Laying low today to conserve my energy..." Hey, it sounds like I get sick a lot...) So I don't seem like a complete loser, the year before I spent my birthday in Buenos Aries, Argentina.

30. DO YOU CARRY A DONOR CARD?
No.

31. FAVORITE PERFUME OR COLOGNE?
Chanel Anteus on me. Desperation on others. (not so much anymore, just clean smelling.)

32. IF THERE WAS ONE PLACE YOU COULD GO FOR VACATION WHERE WOULD IT BE?
South Africa (this week). Now I'm more inclined to go to Australia. This week.

33. SAY SOMETHING NICE ABOUT THE PERSON THAT SENT THIS TO YOU:
She may be crazy, but it’s my kind of crazy. (it was Rachel)

34. WHO DO YOU LEAST EXPECT TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU?
Lyle. (he rarely leaves comments on the blog either)

35. WHO IS THE PERSON YOU EXPECT TO SEND THIS BACK FIRST?
Rachel sent it first. (and will probably be the first to comment on this)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What can you say?

I'm not the sort of "me too" person who has to comment on current events. As I was reading a blog out there in the nether worlds today someone posed the question of why should there be a big deal about September 11 in their hometown in Florida.

We all have our memories of the tragedy that happened in New York in 2001. I think it's important to remember the event to honor the people who lost their lives. I do think it is wrong to commemorate it as some national knee jerk response.

Today I am reminded of my own very small personal experiences. I remember being woken up at my brother's house where Lyle and I were staying. Lyle's mother was trying to find him to make certain he was on the ground and not flying anywhere. I recall being so groggy and not understanding what was happening, then being sick to my stomach and trying to avoid any mention of what was going on as the news channels played and replayed footage for hour upon hour.

Having friends in Manhattan and being unable to locate them, the e-mail tree went up and the first to get contact would spread the word to the rest of us worrying far away.

One good friend worked across the street from teh World Trade Centers. He arrived late to work. His tale is as horrifying to me now as it was then and I try to block it out of mind.

His birthday was two weeks later and I announced that I would be coming to New York to see him. Not for him as much as for me. I NEEDED to SEE him. To know he was alive and in one piece. I needed to (s)mother him.

The whole time I was there I chatted, nattered and took care of him, fixing up parts of his new apartment that weren't done yet. Trying my best to ignore what had happened before my arrival.

I remember coming out of a restaurant in Chinatown and the wind suddenly shifting and getting a smell of something that smelled like burnt metal, rubber and fuel mixed with some other awful undefinable smell. When we realized it was the wreckage of the World Trade Center, I took hold of my friend's hand and we walked as fast as we could back to his apartment.

I kept it together throughout my visit and knew my friends in Manhattan would all survive. They had a great support between them all and a thirst for living life that survivors tend to get.

When I got home I cried for three days. The one thing that stood out in my mind were the makeshift memorials of "missing" posters with photos of loved ones lost in the tragedy. Everyday pictures of people at a barbecue, at their desk, holding pets, young, old all "missing".

There is no tidy ending to this post. I don't believe a national observation every year across the country is the most appropriate response. I believe our government still has some answering to do on the topic of those who survived and how they are being taken care of. And I also think that each and every one of us can take a moment and reflect, remember and honor those who lost their lives on September 11.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Getting Figgy With It.

I am getting better. Not at 100%, but at least back up near 75-80%. I must be feeling better because today I was out harvesting the fig tree in the back yard.

Its not completely MY fig tree. In fact it grows in the neighbors yard. Back in a part of their yard they never tend. And the tree exclusively hangs over the fence into my yard. Where is drops its over-ripe fruit and makes a mess.

So I harvest to preempt the mess.

Here's today's harvest. Last harvest a couple of weeks ago yielded enough to make a medium batch of fig & orange preserves. Today was enough for a triple batch of preserves, a double batch of dessert for dinner and another group yet to be dealt with.

I think the figs that are split open look like Audrey 2 from the movie "Little Shop of Horrors." They scare me.
Audrey 2

Here is the pot of preserves. The recipe I use is from Epicurious.com:
1/2 lemon (unpeeled), thickly sliced, seeded - I used Lemon the first time last year. I substituted an orange this year. Much better to my taste.
1 1/2 pounds fresh ripe figs, halved (about 4 cups)
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
2 1/4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Finely chop lemon (Orange) in processor. Add figs. Using on/off turns, process until figs are coarsely pureed. Transfer mixture to heavy large saucepan. Add 2 1/4 cups sugar, cinnamon stick, 2 1/4 teaspoons minced ginger and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves. Simmer until mixture thickens to jam consistency and candy thermometer registers 200°F, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick. Divide hot preserves among hot clean jars. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 2 months.
Bad photo of it. It tastes amazing.
(or I would never have repeated the recipe)

Then I still had too many! SO I searched for a dessert recipe. I really liked this one.

Raspberry & Fig Gratin (from Epicurious.com):
2 baskets fresh raspberries
6 fresh figs, quartered
8 ounces sour cream
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
Mint sprigs (for decoration. Even though I have mint in my front yard, I still skipped it)

Preheat broiler. Arrange raspberries and figs in 10-inch-diameter broilerproof baking dish. Stir sour cream until smooth; spoon evenly over fruit. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Broil close to heat source until brown sugar melts and bubbles, about 4 minutes. Garnish with mint and serve warm. At the suggestion of another person on Epicurious, I placed ingredients in ramekins for individual serving. Much better presentation.

You can just see the raspberries peaking out from under...

All cooked and gorgeous.
The sour cream with a little burnt brown sugar on top reminded me of toasted marshmallows. I will make this AGAIN!

Friday, September 07, 2007

And now...

I am shocked.

I have a cold. Don't worry it's no "Je Suis Malade" cold. Just an unpleasant runny nose, which leads to sneezing, then a cough. Which leads to achey me. But with the voice of Patty & Selma from the Simpsons.

I am forging ahead.

I can't imagine what led to all this.

I blame the air on the plane.
I blame all those germs you have to touch when you travel.
I never blame my late nights.
I've had many a late night that didn't lead to this.
I swear.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

And now for the worlds longest recap...

Thunderclouds look lovely from above. And thoroughly piss me off.

Our flight from Los Angeles to New Orleans had a connection through Dallas. Our flight was delayed by half an hour leaving LA due to mechanical issues. My brother’s flight to Dallas landed on time at about the same time ours would have. But then came the thunderstorm. That kept my brothers connecting flight (and ours had we been able to get there) on the ground an extra few hours. Us? We circled for half an hour then we got low on gas and we were sent to Austin to refuel and wait. And wait. And wait. We were the second plane to pull up out in the far field at Austin. Then came three more. Five in total. As all this is taking place, we are officially missing our connection. So Lyle calls American and the tell him to not worry. We have been automatically rolled over onto the next flight. We are platinum members of American Airlines and since we have given them all our flying loyalty, they claim they will take care of us. So far, they just did that.

In the end, we were the last plane to leave Austin to head back towards Dallas. Having flown a fair bit and anxious to make any connecting flight, I was quite tuned into the plane. I turned to Lyle and said, “we’ve slowed down quite a bit. I think we just up here killing time in a circle.” A minute later the pilot announced we had slowed down and started to circle to wait for a spot to be added to the landing line-up. Then we circled some more. When we finally landed there wasn’t a gate available. So we sat in view of the terminal but could not get into the terminal.

The first flight that would have been our connection did take off 3 hours late (as we were sitting on the tarmac in Austin). My brother was on that flight and sent me text messages of his movement as well.

As we are sitting on the ground at Dallas viewing the terminal, we realize that we are no longer making our new connection either. So Lyle calls to remind the airline to roll us to the next flight. “That flight just has one seat left,” he is told. Okay, I’ll take that and can you put the other person on a standby list. “I’m sorry, the standby list already has over 30 people on it. Oops, that last seat was taken before I could put your name on it.”

WHAT THE HELL? Apparently our connection that we were sitting and missing was no longer going. They cancelled the flight altogether. Now everyone from that flight was rolling onto the LAST flight to New Orleans. But no one had done that for us. This is what loyalty will get you. One person on the phone talking to Lyle hung up when Lyle asked him for a supervisor and what his name was (it was Ron, he’d made the mistake of telling us early in the conversation). When Lyle called back to tell someone that Ron had hung up on him and he wanted to fill a complaint, they told him there were four call centers and just no way to know who exactly he had been speaking to. EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE (he said sarcastically).

So here is what was about to happen to us. We were going to be stuck in Dallas with no hotel, no compensation for food or hotel (the airline would claim “weather” delays) and we would be paying full price for our hotel room in New Orleans. The one we wouldn’t be sleeping in. All American Airlines offered to do was guarantee us a seat on a flight for Friday Morning. We also took that.

Then Lyle came up with a plan. Bribery.

American Airlines sent us a bunch of coupons to carry with us when we travel. If you receive excellent service, you are to give that employee a coupon they can turn in for some sort of reward. We don’t often carry them because it’s hard to remember one more item when you’re packing at the last minute. We don’t often get the kind of service that goes above and beyond your expectations. For some reason I had thrown four of these coupons in my bag this trip.

We got off our or plane at last at 8 p.m. we headed directly to the gate of our next flight that we were not supposed to get on. We found a gate agent who offered us help. Lyle began our tale of woe. He finished up with, “I’ve got four of these coupons for excellent service in my pocket. You get us both seats on that plane and you can have them all.”

When seats 23D and 23E were handed to us I nearly cried. And yes, he did get all the coupons. I hope he gets a huge bonus.

The boarding area for our flight was a mess. A flight from Brazil had just left, our flight was next, then a flight to Phoenix. As they announced pre-boarding for our flight, the reader board at the counter rolled over to the Phoenix flight and all the people flying to Phoenix began to push forward. There were now 42 people on the standby list for the flight to New Orleans and they were pushing forward as well. At one point the gate crew made the announcement, “Ladies & Gentlemen this is the flight to NEW ORLEANS. We have not begun regular boarding. We will begin regular boarding in a moment and we will board by the group number on your boarding pass. If your group has not been called would you please BACK OFF away from the gate. Once again, BACK OFF FROM THE GATE.” Emphasis theirs, not mine.

We boarded and the flight attendant greeted me. I told her it looked like the last flight out of Saigon behind me and she should brace herself.

At last we were on the ground in New Orleans, I can’t say the same for our luggage. We filled out the paperwork and just got the hell out of that airport. We had left our house at 8 am and we got to our hotel at midnight. For that kind of time investment we could have been in Paris.

We checked in, I splashed my face with water and went out for the first time ever in open toed shoes. What else could I do? I had no luggage. But as angry as that made me, I was most disappointed about the fact that I had missed a meal in New Orleans! I managed to drown my disappointment in numerous cocktails, getting home around 4 in the morning.

The next morning I was up at 8 am and went straight away to Walgreens for toiletries. $116 so I could smell like a person again. But after my shower I still had to put my old sticky stinky clothes on from the flight. The airline is only required to reimburse you for costs incurred due to missing luggage if your luggage is gone for 24 hours or more. So I was supposed to live in these clothes for 36 hours with no toiletries. (Of course I used to carry all my toiletries with me on the plane, but that is no longer an option. Clever people these travel folks.)

Like these outfits? We've been in them for almost 24 hours by now...

By 10 am I was showered, fed and at the mall for opening. By 11 am Lyle and I both had on brand new... EVERYTHING. Shoes, shirts, pants, underwear, socks... EVERYTHING. It was most important we be clean and smell free as we had reservations for lunch at Herbsaint.

Before leaving LA, Lyle did a little research and came up with 8 restaurants he wanted to go to while in New Orleans. I looked over the travel calender and told him he could have 3. The limited number due to restrictions on who was open for lunch, who was not open on Sunday, etc. (Thursday night was to have been Acme Oyster House but the airlines screwed that one up for us.)

Lunch at Herbsaint was amazing. I started with tomato and shrimp bisque then had olive oil seared gnocchi with lemon, Parmesan and local tomatoes. Lyle had the crisp lettuces with crumbled bacon and buttermilk blue cheese dressing and then a grilled pork sandwich that came with fries. Scott also had the bisque and then a hangar steak that came with onion rings. We had seen those onion rings while we were waiting. They looked delicious and tasted as good as they looked. We finished it off by sharing a plate of house made chocolates and coconut cream pie with macadamia nut crust. If you go (and you should, you really should) I’d recommend the bisque and the grilled pork sandwich with the fries. Definitely have the coconut cream pie to finish.

After calling American and being told they had “absolutely no idea” where our bags were, we continued to shop. Now if I’m not mistaken there is a whole system in place to make certain the bags travel with a person. Your bag can not go on a flight you are not on. They pull luggage off of planes if the person doesn’t get on. So why do they have NO IDEA where my luggage is? Los Angeles, Dallas or New Orleans. It can’t be that hard.

As we shop and explain that we have no luggage, we hear repeatedly from every single store (yes, EVERY one) that this happens all the time. There is even a joke that this is how they plan to re-build the economy of New Orleans by delaying luggage so everyone has to spend more money. Hmmm.... not really amusing me.

Our new outfits, and my old hair.
Funny, we both bought silver shoes...

While Lyle was buying a T-shirt at Saks, his salesperson, Wes, had super cute hair and I asked him where he would recommend me getting my hair cut within walking distance and he suggested Tommy at the Aveda salon one floor down in the mall. I made an appointment for 4:15 that afternoon. Tommy is a jewel and if you need your hair cut go see him. He also gave me some local insight into what’s going on in New Orleans. I mentioned a restaurant we’d be going to on Saturday night, “Oh, that’s on Dauphine one past Bourbon. Be careful on that street. The further past Bourbon, the more you need to be careful.” I told him we’d been there the year before and had no worries. He said that the police would be out extra heavy this weekend but, that crime had gotten worse since last year. To be always aware. Well, I am always aware no matter what city I’m in. Even Bellingham.

Tommy also shared with me the local topic of “the Katrina 15.” Much like the Freshman 15 is the weight you gain when you go away to college, Tommy claimed much of New Orleans had gained 15 pounds since Katrina. We spoke about the thirst for living in the moment that I know many New Yorkers experienced after the attacks on the World Trade Centers.

When I got back to the hotel at around 5:30. Our bags had just arrived. Of course they did! In 6 hours it would have required the airline to start paying for stuff. On the bright side, I had so many cute outfits planned and now they were all here! On the downside they’d torn the handle off one piece of luggage. Trust me, it can’t have been easy to do.
Who in their right mind wears a necktie out in New Orleans?
Who said I was in my right mind?


I went to the gym (I now had gym clothes, and I had a charger for my ipod). I knew I would probably not go again after Friday. I also really wanted to go to work off some of the anger I had towards the airline. By the way I was right, I did not go to the gym for the remainder of the trip.

Friday night we had reservations at Stella! Having just watched the “Oprah: Katrina Two Years Later” episode before leaving for New Orleans, imagine my excitement when Anderson Cooper mentions that one way to support New Orleans is to go there and eat (I’m doing just that!). Specifically he mentioned one of his best meals was served up at Stella! (I’m going there too!). Just so you know I understand punctuation, Stella!’s name includes the exclamation point.
Earlier in the day. Not what we wore that night.

We went in and immediately decided on the tasting menu of 7 courses.
It began with a complimentary “amuse bouche” of watermelon granite and a tuna tartar.
Course 1) Heirloom tomatoes with jumbo lump crab and gulf shrimp remoulade, cucumber salad and three heirloom tomato gazpachos, green, yellow and red.
Course 2) Can’t remember this course. It wasn’t the one listed on the menu on-line (what? You thought I knew everything I ate and could spell all this stuff?)
Course 3) “Lobster, Eggs and Truffles” Canadian lobster, Clyde’s farm aracona egg and Italian summer truffles
Course 4)“Fish & Chips” tempura beer battered Hawaiian sunfish with local sweet potato purée, curried taro root chips and spicy red chili caramel
Course 5)“Surf & Turf” seared prime filet of beef tenderloin and grilled gulf shrimp yakitori with sake glazed sweet potato and wilted lacinato kaleont
Course 6)Persillé du Beaujolais cheese with Granny Smith apple and toasted pinenuts
Course 7) a selection of fig inspired desserts. But I got Lemon-Rosemary Creme Cannoli with Blueberries and Lemon Sorbet because I have a fig tree in my backyard and am over them.

Add on two bottles of some very nice wine for three of us and we were feeling VERY good indeed. The restaurant has the potential to be rather full of itself. On the door it says there is a dress code. I had on white jeans, Lyle had on jeans and Scott had on shorts. We also saw some biker dude with a hat on. The service was spot on. Each course arrived with 4 or more staff to present it. One person for each of us bringing the plate in from the left (and removing from the right, thank you) and another staff member to tell us what we are about to enjoy. The owner and executive chef of Stella! Scott Boswell came by and we met his niece who is working as his personal assistant. You may get the idea that it was all very stuffy but I can assure you that it was not. If you know me, you know I was there to have a good time and the staff was eager to enjoy our enjoyment. I even traded hair tips with the niece who was working hard to get a bump in the back of her hair with all that humidity.

After dinner our friend Dean joined us during coffee. Lyle and Dean headed out, I went home to change into shorts (but kept my necktie) and met up with Lyle and Dean. After one drink out, Lyle headed in. As Dean and I walked to another bar I was taunted by the catcall of “Britney!” obviously due to my delightfully impish schoolgirl attire. Dean bailed after a round of drinks, but by now I had caught up to my brother. Since the bars in New Orleans never close, I always have a difficult time knowing when to go home. I’ve usually gone with the same system I have for driving speed at home “keeping up with traffic”. Keeping up with traffic in a bar in New Orleans during Southern Decadence takes a lot of fuel in your tank. I got home about 7 am.
Lyle got up and had breakfast with other friends and let me sleep in until a blissful 10. Then it was rise and shine and off to Cafe Du Monde. They have the best beignets. Smothered in powdered sugar, they are the perfect way to jump start your day.
Still drunk at 10 am...
From our panic shopping the day before, we were, understandably tired of shopping (yes, you read that right). Luckily our hotel was having a party that afternoon. We invited over a few friends and hung out in the pool, drank free champagne (okay, that was Paul. The rest of us have much more expensive taste in champagne). Me, I drank water. They were also serving barbecued tuna and shrimp which they cooked right there on the patio. The whole hotel seemed so gay, gay, gay. Finally a heterosexual couple came and hung out at the pool. Oops, not correct. It was a gay guy and his best girlfriend who were in town to celebrate his birthday. The pool was officially Gay.
The view from our balcony.

Look closely at my sunglasses and you can see my friends...

Paul enjoys two glasses of complimentary champagne.

Who's got the bigger balls?

The pool party ended around 3 and dinner was planned for 8. But I was hungry! We decided to try Acme Oyster House since we had missed it our first night. Let me tell you the service there is legendary - for being rude. We started to wait in line, but after trying to get some answers from the staff and being rebuffed, we gave up. We went one block further up the road to Deanie’s. This, I am told, is the local’s preferred haunt over Acme. We’d been there before and to be fair, it was my first choice. Not the same ambience, much brighter and cafeteria looking, but oh the food! I got what I always get, Crabmeat Au Gratin - Jumbo Lump Crabmeat baked in a creamy blend of four cheeses. Of course I pronounced it very French and nasally, “o gratn” and they couldn’t understand me until I pointed and they said, “Oh Grattan?” But really everything on the menu looks good, and usually we do that, we eat everything. I limited myself to just one dish. Then Scott and Lyle ordered a double serving of shrimp and a seafood pizza which I wound up eating as well.

As we finished up the platters of food, a thunderstorm broke out and the heavens poured down. The streets filled quickly and soon the water was over the curbs. Oh well, silly people outside, you should be safe and warm in here in our gracious restaurant. Soon it will blow through and in the meantime we will stay dry and have dessert. Yummy coconut custard bread pudding. That finished (best with whipping cream) and I really wanted to have a nap. But my hotel was 5 blocks away with no end in sight to the rain. After another 5 minutes of waiting, we decided we were probably not going to melt and we’d just walk back. With no jackets. No umbrellas. In flip flops. Lyle was smart enough to ask for two plastic bags from the restaurant and we placed our cell phones, wallets, money and glasses all inside then tied it off. Truly a stroke of genius.
About to enter the wet T-shirt contest...

We dashed home in under 5 minutes. The storm had to have been directly above us. You’d see the flash at the same time as the thunder physically shook you where you stood. By the time we got home we were soaked through our underwear. It also took two days for my shirt to dry in all that humidity. Lyle told me he kept thinking how fun it was to run in the rain. I told him I just kept muttering under my breath, “Thirty years of being stuck in the rain. This is every day of my childhood on the way to school. I hate being wet.” Oh, and I had brilliantly placed all the swimsuits out on the deck of our hotel room to dry faster in the sun. Now they were wetter than when they came out of the pool.
We have a winner (or is it loser?) in our wet T-shirt contest!

When I woke up from my nap, the world was quiet and already dry. Tonight we dined at Louisiana Bistro. We had been there before (I think this would be my 4th time eating there). They have a “feed me” option where you just say you want 3 or 4 courses and then let the chef decide what you will get. Once I got frog legs (not too thrilled with that) but ate them anyway. I’d have never ordered that on my own. My favorite course that night was the crawfish beignets.
I guess I got a little sun that day.
Crawfish Beignets. Amazing!

After dinner, Lyle went home, Scott and I went out. We met up with friends from Florida and their friends from Denver. Then I drug us all to One-Eyed Jack’s where Playgirl was throwing a party and I was on the list. My friends were impressed that I had also placed them on the list. The few whose names I didn’t know, I made up and then just pointed at each of them and motioned them in past the bouncer. One guy told me he felt like he was travelling with Madonna. I think I’ve lived in LA too long, I just expected it.; Besides Madonna would never have to stop and say, “I’m on the list” she just is. As it was already past midnight it seemed the venue had emptied out a bit and I thought we’d missed the entertainment. How wrong was I? The entertainment didn’t even begin until 1 am. We hung out and then there was some sort of stripper competition hosted by drag queen Bianca Del Oro “The Mouth Of The South”. She was NASTY and very funny. After the show, the group split up. Some went home, some went out, some went out to a different bar. I went with Dean and we did a minor pub crawl. Until I lost him in the 2nd or 3rd bar.; It was then I headed to where my brother would be, found him and stayed out until 6 am. Oops.
Uh, there may have been some other photos taken, but this was the cleanest one I could find.

Sunday is the big parade day. Knowing how late people stay out, they hold the start time to a reasonable 2 p.m. Lyle and I went for breakfast then a little tourist shopping. For lunch we headed to a local bar with great food, Coop’s. Friends from Lyle’s work were in Baton Rouge for the weekend and told us they’d drive down on Sunday. Stormy and Mike met up with Scott, Lyle and I and we had lunch. The fried chicken is good, but I had the burger. I can also recommend the jambalaya. Then it was time to show Stormy and Mike what we had been seeing all weekend.

Stormy grew up in Baton Rouge which is about an hour away from New Orleans. She’d even worked for a while in New Orleans. Stormy also works in the adult industry. You’d think she’d seen it all. But there we were walking down Bourbon Street down by the gay bars and she literally had her mouth hanging open at what she could see. Since my parents read this blog, you can forget about me describing anything here. Halfway through our tour I looked down to see Scott’s bleeding toe. He had tripped in his sandals over a pipe that had not been cut off very well a few blocks before. He had also leaned up against something filthy with the back of his shirt. That was it for me, “You.” I pointed at him, “will walk straight to your hotel. Wash your foot. Decide if it needs a bandage or stitches. You will then put on real footwear with a closed toe, change your shirt to one that doesn’t look like someone took a crap on your backside and only then can you come back out. Do you understand me?” He gave the only correct response a brother can give, “yes mother.” Then off he went.
Looking down Bourbon Street, awash in humanity...

The view from above the scene...

I think you're getting the idea...

They are the "aging divas tour" really old Charo, Dolly and Bette.

I love my outfit the most.

Hard to believe, but it was getting boring. Shirtless man after shirtless man, so we headed up Bourbon to where every gay man goes during Southern Decadence, The Penthouse Gentleman’s Club aka a stripper bar. Stormy had worked there in the past and we were delighted to see her February cover image hanging at the top of the stairs on your way to the V.I.P. lounges. Scott had changed and caught up with us by then. I forced him to take a book of matches home. “Why?” he asked. I told him, “It’s a great conversation starter... ‘what are these Penthouse matches from?’ your guests may ask, and you get to launch in to ‘did I ever tell you about the time I went to the biggest gay weekend in New Orleans and wound up at straight stripper bar with a top adult actress?’”
Please note the clever hair placement I'm working on blocking anything on the photo behind.

He took the matches. Then he headed back out to Gayland. Lyle, stormy, Mike and I went to cafe Du Monde instead. This time for beignets and hot chocolate. We sat and talked and I kept trying to steer the conversation away from any work topics. Very difficult. After hot chocolate I was ready for bed. But I truly feared that I may be missing something on our last night in New Orleans. So I texted all my friends who could have still been out and was reassured to find that they were all back at their hotels. Mission Accomplished, I was in bed by midnight (shocking!).

On our final day in New Orleans we had breakfast quiche at Croissant d’Or. Just like a mini-French bakery in the middle of town. With nothing left to do, we went back to the hotel, packed, then went out and did touristy strolling.

We had been booked on a flight from Dallas to New Orleans for Friday morning as a precaution in case we didn’t get on the last flight Thursday night. Since we did get out Thursday night, we did not get on the flight Friday morning. Since we did not get on the “first part of our journey” according to the airline, they cancelled the rest of our reservation. Luckily Lyle had been vigilant about checking up on our reservations and the mistake was caught before we got to the airport. But our good seats were gone. Our upgrade requests were gone and the entire point of booking in May seems to have been a waste. We were thrilled to get on ANY plane to get home and surprisingly we made our connection with 10 minutes to spare after RUNNING from one terminal to another due to our first flight being delayed out of New Orleans.

Finally back in LA we phoned home to see what our niece wanted for dinner. “There’s no food here,” she told us. That was because while we were away our power had been off. After waiting for about 12 hours, a good friend had come over and taken EVERYTHING out of our refrigerator over to his house with power. Apparently a transformer had blown in our bloc and it was just our block, but still... no power. It was no back on, but all the food was still at our friend’s house. So we called our favorite Barbecue joint, Zeke’s and placed an order to pick up.

Lyle asked if I wanted to drive. I told him, “over my dead body.” So Lyle was the driver. I told him I would hop out and go in to pick up the food. As we pulled into a parking garage entrance I told Lyle he could turn around and park on the street and I would find him back there. Making a point to walk in front of the car so he could see me I headed into the restaurant. Lyle meanwhile was making a point to watch for traffic behind him as he turned the car around... and INTO ME! “Hey, HEY, HEY!!!” I shouted louder and louder and started to bang on the hood with my cell phone in my hand. Finally he noticed me and stopped pushing me with the grill, a look of shock on his face. I went on and got our food then returned to the car. “You know when I said, ‘over my dead body’ I didn’t really mean it.” Killer.

Which reminds me of a T-shirt I saw in New Orleans...

Monday, September 03, 2007

N'Awlins?

My Dolly. I bought her last year. Here she is showing off the view we had last year from our hotel. Now she lives on my Christmas tree. Up near the top. She makes me giggle.
We were at the W in the French Quarter. Behold our view this year. So lovely...

Home now. American Airlines will be getting their unpleasant letter sometime later this week. Not only was the flight to New Orleans a monumental pain in my ass, but the airline felt the need to add on pain by cancelling our return flight for Monday. They got us on the flights after Lyle caught their mistake, but by then our seats up at the front of the plane and our place on the upgrade lists were all lost.

The other thing lost was my voice. I think I left it in a bar the second night we were there. 7 am is still night if you haven't been to sleep, right?