Friday, March 28, 2008

Muggy

The wit and wisdom of a coffee mug at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Buona notte Gorino!

Christopher is fabulous but still decided to "tag" me with a meme (I still can't figure out what the hell that means) wherein I must now answer questions that I would never have thought of.

1. Pick a single person, past or present, in the film industry who you'd like to have dinner with, and tell us why you chose this person.

Wow, First I only get to choose one? And my mind begins to race... I've always wanted to meet Alison Janney because I think we'd be fast friends. But that will happen one way or another I don't need a magical dinner. I love Rosalind Russel, but i think I would run into that old adage of thinking I invited Auntie Mame to dinner and then would wind up with some very selfish actor. Better Davis has her legendary dinner temperament to consider, but since I've heard a first hand story from a director who did have her for dinner I think I've gotten close enough.

So on to my actual choice, I just read a quote from him today and I've actually met him once at a big Hollywood benefit where we chatted for about ten minutes over cocktails and I blushed repeatedly and found it hard to breathe as I was so intimidated. All of this earned me the nickname "Gore Vidal's Boy Toy". So I would like to invite Gore Vidal.

2. Set the table for your dinner. What would you eat? Would it be in a home or at a restaurant? And what would you wear? Feel free to elaborate on the details.

We'd eat at my house. That way we wouldn't be interrupted by strangers. I know he has lived in Italy but I fear my Italian dishes are too heavy. We'd go French. And that means I'm going to make Lyle cook. Duck confit, prosciutto and filo wrapped asparagus, baguette, a lite salad, a cheese course, chocolate chip cookies and ice cream for dessert (something homey). Oh and numerous bottles of expensive Italian wine.

The dogs would be freshly bathed. The table cloth would be ironed. I'd hire a server for the evening. I would wear my black Prada pants, black patent loafers, a crisp white shirt with cuff links (good for conversation starting) but no tie or jacket. Wait, do I look like the waiter now? I'm changing my shirt to light blue. I'd also be obsessed over my hair. It would start crazy to look hip, then I'd freak out and make it very preppy conservative. I'd wear my black Hermes belt.

3. List five thoughtful questions you would ask this person during dinner. As if I'd be able to speak... well, I can write these down and just slide them across the table.

When I met him the first time (okay, the only time) my friend Cindy told me I should have asked him about his feud with Truman Capote. So this time I would.

I'd ask him about what drove him to buy a villa in Italy, how it felt to be an expat, and why he has returned to the United States.

I'd ask him what he thinks of the literary world today. Has it really changed from when he started. Is it like everyone childhood memories that get over romanticized in the fuzzy hindsight and things weren't much different?

I'd ask him what he would do to solve all the ills that the last 7 years have brought us and how would he go about raising the standard of the 24 hour news media world we live in.

I'd force him to dish deliciously on the entire experience of making "Myra Breckenridge".

(If you're curious about some of his answers - there's an interview with him)

4. Link back to Lazy Eye Theatre, so that people know the mastermind behind this meme.

5. When all is said and done, select bloggers to pass this Meme along to:

You can't make me do this.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy. Easter Weekend.

Wow. What a whirlwind weekend. So many champagne bottle caps. And to think, it all started on Friday...

While working on Friday I received a phone call from a couple friend of ours:
"It's our 14th anniversary and we are staying in hotel!"
That's so cool. Are you calling everyone to tell them?
"It's such a great room we decided we couldn't keep it all for just ourselves. You wanna' join us for drinks tonight at the hotel?"
Sounds fun. Which hotel? What time?
"Drinks at 9-ish. We're staying at the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood. Call on the cell when you get here because I have to come down with the key to bring you up."
Great, see you then!
We decide to take a bottle of champagne for the couple and another bottle for drinking that night. This is a very auspicious beginning. We also decide to take a taxi because a) it's close, b) parking up on Hollywood Blvd is CRAZY, and c) won't that be fun?

We get to the hotel and our friends come get us in the lobby. Which by the way, if you don't know the history of this hotel it is amazing. It was the home of the first ever Oscar ceremony. It was old Hollywood Glamour waiting to grab you and eat you up. By the time we moved to Los Angeles in the early '90s it had already slid into the category of faded glory. But recently they did a major overhaul of the property and the place is once again stunning. Really beautiful how they managed to bring a modern sleek design sense and meld it with old Spanish style architecture.

Anyway, we are whisked up to the hotel room and are stunned to discover they are in the Gable /Lombard suite. This was the love nest of Clark Gable and Carol Lombard. and it has been lovingly updated to be lean mean pleasure palace machine.

We walk in and literally my jaw drops. Luckily I brought my camera. And though none of these will do it justice, here I go with my photos and a few I stole from the web.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt recently helped christen the "Gable and Lombard" suite at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

The three-floor penthouse suite, where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard once secretly trysted before going public with their love, is reopening after a major face lift. The 3,800-square-foot suite, decorated in hues of black, white and platinum, had to be a hit with Pitt, who's a fan of sleek contemporary design.

It boasts a stainless-steel soaking tub, black leather dining table with Mies Van derRohe dining chairs, floor-to-ceiling arched windows, a four person jacuzzi tub, and three plasma TVs. A star feature: the 1,000-square-foot private roof deck.

Enter room. First seating area.

From the dining area back towards the living room.

The nook off the dining area where the bar and kitchen are.

From the bar and kitchen nook back towards the dining area. (gaming table designer's link)

We took ourselves on a private tour to just gape and ogle everything. We even explored the bathroom off the living room which features an extremely large shower with a full length picture window that opens to the bed. Love palace indeed.

On the left, the view from the bed to the shower.
On the right the view from the shower to the bed.

We re-joined the other guests all a twitter about the scandalous bathroom. "That bedroom is for the servants!" said our hosts, "You should see the bedroom upstairs..."
UPSTAIRS!?! Lyle and I said in unison. And off we went...

See those stairs in the background? Those lead up to the rooftop terrace...

The silver cowhide ottoman.
Oh. My. God. I. Must. Have.

I love this window treatment. The windows that existed were very small about one foot by one foot. So they framed them in like a picture frame. I need this in my life. Everywhere I go.

Next we were led up another flight of stairs to the terrace. When I got out there I asked How many other rooms share this deck? "None. It's all ours." That deck is as big as my house. I kid you not.

Soaring out of the deck is the Roosevelt Hotel neon sign. The one you can read from the freeway.
See up there? That little inset below the sign?
I'm right there. Taking this picture below.
I was still so stunned. And from under the neon sign is the most incredible view of Hollywood blvd where the Oscars red carpet takes place. I remember a couple of years ago E Television had Jennifer Holiday standing on top of the Marquee for the Cinegrill Lounge at the Roosevelt Hotel singing during the pre-Oscar telecast - I am now about 10 floors above that.


The view from the room of Hollywood Blvd by night.

And The view from the room of Hollywood Blvd by day
(there's the Chinese Theater and the Kodak Theater entrance).



I think our friends bought the hotel room as part of a charity auction. But if you must know for curiosity's sake how much Suite 1200 goes for for a night. Click on the picture above to embiggen and find out.

After quite a few glasses of champagne and then a few cocktails it was time to leave. We made our way downstairs and asked the bellman for a cab. He came back and told us our car would be right here. While we waited, a Town car pulled up. Who would be getting out? Would it be a celebrity? WHO?! "Here's your car" said the bellman. Imagine my disappointment. It was just us.

On Saturday we started our "weekend project." We were building a room divider for the deck. Odd thing I know. But our deck off the back of the house is high up and unfortunately we have a really good view of the neighbors. I think the neighbors would like some privacy as well. Especially after Lyle saw one of the less than svelte ladies next door taking out her garbage completely topless. It was an honest mistake. He should never have had his eyes open in his own backyard. I promise you he regrets it more than she does.

We are putting up an attractive wall to stop from seeing the view next door. Nice enough people but can anyone explain to me why the ladies who emigrate from Russia and other former Soviet countries have no idea about pattern combining? This is really a hot topic for me. I've considered taking my camera to West Hollywood where there are many nice Russian ladies in a crazy clash of patterns and colors. I want to do a book. I think I'll call it "One of these things in NOTHING like the other".

Anyway, so we've been looking for just the right room divider since we moved in. About tow years. Some of the requirements were that it be attractive, not a big ugly wall, fit in with the surroundings, and not cost more than a vacation to Paris. Amazing how you can't find all that together. But last week while walking the dogs we passed by some old French doors that were being thrown out. I had an idea we could use them. We had to act quick as the idea came on Wednesday night and the garbage truck comes on Thursday. We walked over to get the doors and when we tried to pick them up we reconsidered the idea. The doors were real old fashioned solid HEAVY doors. But we took them anyway.

On Saturday we stripped them of hinges, doorknobs, weather stripping and dirt. Then we painted them out to match the brown trip of the house. Scrape paint off window glass, then spray with a frosting spray paint to diffuse any possibility of a see through view.
Both sides to clean. Both sides to paint. Oh, and there are two more small side panels as well. I thought we'd never finish.

As we painted on into the late afternoon and the sun began to set we suddenly remembered a friend from Lyle's work was having a birthday party that night. Oh my god! We had plans! Oh my god! We're supposed to be there in an hour, we're filthy and she lives about half an hour away in the hills above Malibu!

We decided we would go. We would show up late. But we would show up clean.

It was supposed to be a wine party, but I wasn't in the mood for wine. I was actually in the mood for champagne... So we decide to take a bottle of champagne for the birthday girl and one for drinks that night. Hey, it worked last night.

Since we had forgotten we were going, our champagne that we took wasn't cold. We apologized to our hostess and she said she had a bottle of champagne in her fridge that she had been saving for a special occasion and hey, we'd finally made it to her house, so this must be special... It was a bottle of Dom Perignon 1995. A very good year. By the time that bottle was done, the next bottle was chilled. I did not want to leave that party!

But Sunday beckoned and we still had our weekend project to complete.

From this...

...to this!

I can't even begin to tell you the messy story about our Easter chocolate experience. I'll boil it down to the bare points. We were tired. We did not want to deal with going to the neighborhoods where the best chocolates stores we know are (Teuscher in Beverly Hills, Leonida's in Larchmont) so we stopped at great cheese shop near out house that I thought might have good chocolate. They had some Italian novelties that looked cute by a company I've never heard of, Bedetti. We grabbed a hollow chocolate chicken. We grabbed a hollow chocolate egg. We didn't look at the prices. We wondered how chocolate, some olive oil, a sandwich and few other things could come to $150.00... oh, each chocolate treat was $45.00!!! I could have hired a courier to go to the other chocolate shops and do my buying for less. Lesson learned.

I had a great weekend in spite of our chocolate misstep. We completed a long waiting project. I had a lot of expensive champagne. I've eaten about half of all that most expensive chocolate. The sun was out and I got some good sun time (I'm very warm as I type this late at night) and I've rolled around in the same bed as Brad and Angelina - though I hope they've changed the sheets since then.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Boozing it up in Nova Scotia

No. I have not taken a trip. But this fascinated me. From CBC.ca:

People in Nova Scotia prepared to uncork a new tradition on Good Friday across the province: drinking alcohol in a bar or a nightclub.

The new rules are part of sweeping changes to the province's Liquor Control Act that came into effect last summer.

Previously, anyone wishing to drink in public had to order alcohol at an eating establishment, and the cost of the drink was not allowed to be more than the cost of the food consumed.

The new regulations also affect sales of alcohol on Christmas Day.

"I am a little excited to see what happens," John Williams, the manager of the Split Crow bar in Halifax, told CBC News on Friday.

"We honestly don't know what to expect today," Williams said, adding that his staff members were expecting to treat it "as an ordinary day."

Still, not everyone is happy to see bars open.

"It's disgusting," Brent Taylor, a bartender at the Old Triangle Irish Ale House, told CBC News on Friday.

"I have a problem with the government making it so we have to work," he said.

"It seems to me that there's nothing sacred anymore."

But Taylor said a lot of people are keen to know the bar's holiday hours. "We had a tonne of phone calls from customers asking, 'Are you open?'"

Taylor said his place of work "got over 40 calls in one hour" on Friday morning.

"We're expecting to be busy and to stay busy straight through to the end of the day," he said.

Bars and nightclubs also no longer have to provide Nova Scotia's Alcohol and Gaming Authority with monthly reports detailing the sales of liquor and food, although the businesses are required to still maintain those records.

Last July, Nova Scotia changed rules affecting provincially owned liquor stores. Dozens of stores were allowed to open

Out of 107 stores, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation allowed 51 to open as of July 8.

Uh, dude, take a vacation day. Close up if it's your own bar. Oh yeah, and prohibition is over.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Spring/Purim/Vernal Equinox

In many parts of the world Spring has Sprung. For me, the yard came to life quite a while ago. The Orange tree in the backyard has it's tiny little blossoms out and they are just starting to open up. In a few weeks it will be in full bloom and we will be able to open the french doors at the back of the house and the fragrance will waft into the house and down the hallway. It only reaches about halfway as the scent is so subtle and mild it can't get further. It's already too late in the season here to plant things from seed. I now must find all my Spring plants sprouted in starter packs at the local garden shop. Since I don't get as buried under winter as other places the timing of Spring doesn't mean the same to me as it would if I were outside near the tulip bulbs with a blowdryer.

The Vernal Equinox does get me fairly excited. Finally, it's all downhill from here. The days get longer and I live to see the daylight. Sunshine and daylight make me VERY HAPPY.

But the activity that has me all agog today is Purim.

Nope, I'm not Jewish and I think this is why I get so excited. I live in a predominately Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. It's a very nice place to live. Because of restrictions on working on the Sabbath the neighborhood has a lot more foot traffic and in general feels more neighborhood-y than many parts of a big city. We see our neighbors. They stop and talk to us while we dig in our front yard and they walk to Temple. While I wouldn't go so far as to color them all with the exact same paintbrush, I feel safe to say that on the whole our the neighbors that we see come across as a little serious. But Purim, like Spring, seems to bring out the full bloom of color here.

Which is why it should not have seemed so shocking to see Austin Powers coming out of Temple yesterday but it was.
Oy Vey Baby, Yeah!

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Purim, the holiday marking the escape of the Persian Jews from a plot to exterminate them devised by Haman, vizier to King Ahasuerus who ruled Persia in the 5th century BC. The Book of Esther tells the story of the plot and the reversal of fate by which the community was saved.

There are a number of reasons for dressing in disguise on Purim. The simplest is that it is a remembrance and thanksgiving for how G-d saved us while staying anonymous. How behind the scenes G-d caused a miracle. G-d was "masked," so to speak -- disguised as "nature" -- so we also disguise ourselves, to remember this.

Another reason is to highlight the concept that even the Gentiles disguised themselves, pretending to be Jews.
They merely masqueraded as Jews. Thus, the custom has arisen to masquerade ourselves on Purim, to commemorate the miracle, whereby a complete turnabout caused the Gentiles to fear us and not kill us, as they had originally planned.
For Purim, my neighborhood goes nuts! There are "pop pop" cap snappers going off all day and night with royalty, gypsies and various midget synagogue leaders wandering amongst them.

Today we went for breakfast at Lulu’s just down the street where we sat outside and watched the world go by... Specifically we saw: Raggedy Anne, a Hatzoloh ambulance worker (lame - he just borrowed his dad’s vest), a cowboy, Mulan, three little maids from school – seriously they were three little girls dressed from the Mikado all walking together, a wicked witch, King Aurthur – that was someone’s dad driving a car, quite a few clowns with rainbow wigs and a Pippi Longstocking! All that was in just two blocks.

Who wants to be the Torah this year!?!

What's really funny is we saw a group of girls going out dressed as Hula dancers. In Orthodox Jewish tradition, women must keep arms, shoulders and legs covered so these were Hula dancers in traditional grass skirts and coconut bras over long black skirts and black turtlenecks. Obviously this costume company just threw together their advertising.

Or perhaps they going after the Kabbalah market as this was a photo taken last year at their Purim party.
Stop! Or my mother will shoot!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mexico round up!

Ceviche at Ana y Jose on the beach in Telum.

Can you see the color of the water in the background? Amazing.

You didn't think I'd stop posing did you?

Hola Señor Frosty!

Located on the west side of the main highway near Puerto Aventuras (by the Pemex gas station). This is the bargain bonanza for good food at low, low prices. Stop by for no-frills dining and enjoy the delicious food and hearty portions. Choose from fish or shrimp tacos, then visit the taco bar for toppings of your choice and a variety of salads.

Check out the prices at Taco Paco. $1.60 for a shrimp taco. $1.60 for a fish taco. $2.40 for chili relleno and for an entire shrimp cocktail - $5.50. Oh and these taco have enough in them to split them into two tacos which makes them really about 80¢ a taco.

Then you haul you soon to not be little bottom over to the condiment bar. All the traditional things are there including many, many salsas. But what I enjoyed was putting mayonnaise and pickled cucumber on my fish taco as if it were fish and chips in a tortilla.

There was also a peanut sauce that I paired up with the shrimp taco and it gave it a lovely Thai feel. All the food there was DELICIOUS.

This is not sunset over Akumal Bay. This is sunrise. I got this photo from the nuttiest person I know on a vacation, Brad. He kept telling me that he was up for sunrise every day of our vacation. He would have his coffee, watch the sun come up and then go for a stroll on the beach. I told him to take a picture for me because there was no way in hell I was going to be up early enough to see that. Thanks for the photo Brad, it's gorgeous!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Coba, Coba, Coba...

The same day that we went to Telum, we also went to Coba.

This now much more do-able than it used to be as they are updating and upgrading all the roads in the area. For instance as we drove into Coba we had to stay to the left on the old road as they worked on creating a new double lane road on the right. I remarked, "Wow, the next time you come here this could be a four lane road." As we left, we drove on the new road and the work crew had already torn up the road we drove in on which prompted me to say, "If we had stayed two more hours this would already BE a four lane road!"

Coba is an archaeological site that features a number of Mayan ruins. In years past you could climb many of them, but now to preserve as much as possible you can only climb one. From what I am told there are many more ruins like Coba and Chichen Itza but they have yet to be uncovered, literally. When these temples and the surroundings were abandoned, the jungle took them back. Now they sit out in the distance, little lumps in the otherwise flat landscape waiting to be discovered.

As we toured through the grounds we found that the climbable pyramid was about 4 kilometers down a path. That would be fine, we are young and hearty. Except we did already do our whole tour of Telum that morning. And it really as "down" a path which meant that the return trip would be "up" a path. And we would have climbed to the top of pyramid in between.

Then I saw the bicycles you could rent. Which led Lyle to see the pedi-cabs with drivers you could rent. How much? About $20. SOLD! And off we went into the jungle.
video

We arrived very fresh and smug at the pyramid.
Uh, people? It's tall. There is a rope down the center of the steps to help you if you need it.

Of course we did not use it. We are young strapping hearty men who just made some poor souls pedal us here so we could save our strength.

About halfway up. As you can see the steps are tall and rather narrow. As you get closer to the top they become more narrow and taller. This results in a net effect of forcing you to bow to the gods at the top of the pyramid.


The view from the top... Just between Lyle and Brad's shoulder you can see the other pyramid that has been uncovered on the Coba grounds. And if not for being uncovered, you can also see how the jungle could obliterate the discovery of these temples.

After our hike in the jungle, we stopped at the lake in front and paid a young man a dollar for each of us to have him throw chicken bits into the lake and feed the resident alligators. They freaked me out but here is good photo. I kept begging Lyle to not dangle his hand over the railing.
This was the pier. Made completely of medium sized sticks. Weathered and old. I kept shouting at Lyle and Brad, "DO NOT STEP ON THE SAME STICK AS I AM STANDING ON!"

And then we drove home.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Telum Me All About It...

As our little trip wound down towards the end, we decided it was time to grab a few quick moments and get some sightseeing in. Since we were only about 15 minutes from Telum we started there.

Telum is an ancient Mayan city. We did the required things of parking up by the shopping area then hiking down to the entrance (or you could take a fake train - actually a trailer with seats towed by a tractor all covered in fake train pieces) where we got in what appeared to be a short line.

The line got longer behind us and somehow in front of us as well. It did not move. Lyle went and spoke with someone about taking a guided tour. For about $10 more for our entire group of three, we grabbed a guide and jumped out of the ticket queue. Have money will travel.This is the ancient money dispenser of Telum. They were so advanced for their times.

Our guide was quite knowledgeable and I was completely uninterested. I have a problem that after about 10 minutes of lecture it all just starts to mash together and I can't take any more in. Imagine how difficult it was for me to remember all those cooking class instructions from the beginning of the trip. Luckily we had a handout at class. But here in Telum there was no handout. Not to worry, You can go here and read a very brief history of the location.

The beautiful part about Telum is that it is on the water. The location is drop dead gorgeous. And as our guide began to explain in great gory detail, many of the Mayans who lived in Telum did die in Telum. And that is when I started standing a little further away and let Lyle and Brad listen to the guide and I just took photos.

A face is carved into the corner of the temple. One half on each side.

Sunny, but not scorching. Perfect touring weather.

Just us three... and about 500 other tourists.

This photo makes me want to go back right now...

Excuse me, Mr Italian Tourist? I know those shorts are boxer shorts. I know you are just wearing your underwear out in public. I also know that that shirt clashes with your shorts. But I guess you don't know that I am secretly taking your photo...

What is it with people and their clothing choices?

The ruins started to get to me. I know I said I didn't listen to our guide (who was very knowledgeable and appreciated) but I did hear just enough to be creeped out by the scary human sacrifice vibe that just seemed to permeate the grounds. I was getting the creepy crawleys and wanted to leave. I had my photos. I was done.

As we walked back to our car we saw :

Which then became:

Featuring men in traditional costume:

And it was quite impressive.