Sweet Painted Ladies*
This news story explains all those butterflies we saw Saturday while driving through Laguna Canyon. The painted ladies, as these butterflies are known, migrate every year from Mexico to Oregon; this year - thanks to the heavy rain storms - many of the plants upon which they dine are incredibly abundant: mustard grass, California poppies, all sorts of wildflowers. So we are treated to hundreds of those little beauties flitting and fluttering about.
* song title from Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album
image from The Monarchy.com
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Sweet Painted Ladies*
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
The comments aren't working properly and haven't been for at least a week or so. It's either the new White Screen of Death -- a distant cousin to the Blue Screen of Death -- or a 404 error message; this also happens when trying to post a comment on other blogs, I've noticed. I'm debating about whether to turn them off completely or not.
In the meantime, enjoy this update of the classic Hamster Dance.
Monday, March 28, 2005
I almost didn't recognize that large, yellowy, shining thing in the sky during the weekend. It seems like ages since the last time it appeared, and wanting to take full advantage of this lull in the rain, CS and I drove to Laguna Beach with the intention of getting tickets to see Steve Martin's Underpants. We met in Irvine at my office so we could carpool because parking, we knew, would be almost impossible. (Sun + Laguna Beach = cars circling like vultures for open spaces.)
We hopped onto the 405 South Freeway and, a short time later, were merging onto Highway 133 which would lead us to downtown Laguna Beach. As CS's Aurora curved along the connector ramp, I looked out the passenger window and saw dozens of orange-black butterflies scatter from the tall grass and mustard plants like ducks frightened by a hunter's dog. They clouded in front of the car, trying to fly to the taller grass on the other side of the highway. Some became caught in the aerodynamics of the car and were pulled up and over us; some weren't quite so lucky. A few for some unknown reason even alit on the asphalt, resembling bits of loose gravel or chunks of highway. CS and I oohed and aahhed at their numbers, wondering if the recent storms had palyed a part in the invasion. They swarmed around us at every twist and turn of the canyon until we neared the downtown area, finally disappearing altogether only to be replaced by the hundreds of people crowding the sidewalks, streetside cafés and art galleries.
CS found a vacant, metered spot just in front of the Laguna Playhouse, and we bounded up the steps to the box office. Unfortunately, the coupon I had for a "Buy One, Get One" offer was of little use as all the associated seats had been sold. After a bit of deliberation, we did buy tickets for next Sunday. Might as well, since we'd driven all this way. Then, we attempted to find a parking spot near one of our favorite restaurants. We circled both levels of the parking structure for about 20 minutes, gave up on that one and tired Las Brisas just up the highway. Again, more circling with no results so we drove down the coast to check out some of the restaurants near the gay bars. All closed, excpet for the Heidelberg Bistro and Pastry Shop. We managed to find a spot across the street, braved the crosswalk and ordered two grilled chicken breast sandwiches which turned out to be delicious.
After lunch, we drove down to Dana Point to walk around the harbor. Quite a few poeple there, as well, so instead of walking, we sat on a bench watching sailboats come in and one handsome man in a black t-shirt swabbing the deck of his boat. Not to mention the other hunky men and gay couples we saw running along the docks and through the shops. Sitting to watch boats, chatting away about this and that, was just so relaxing. I could have sat there the rest of the weekend and considered it time well spent. But the sky slowly darkened, and CS remembered that he had to stop at a store on his way home to find a necklace, so we called it a day and took PCH back into Laguna. I suggested making a stop at
Main Street Bounce for a drink before heading out, and believe it or not, I finished about three-quarters of a peach piña colada before we left Laguna for good.
Friday, March 25, 2005
Off the Map
I enjoy finding obscure little art-house films; you know -- the ones that are incredibly good but screen in maybe 5-10 theaters for a few weeks then disappear. Blink an eye, and you could miss something wonderful because few want to give these films a chance. I hope that Off the Map, from director/producer Campbell Scott, doesn't become one of those.
11-year-old Bo Groden lives with her family in a small house on the outskirts of Taos, New Mexico. It's the summer of 1974, and Bo will always remember this as the year her father, Charlie, suffered from depression. Her mother, Arlene, does her best to keep a level head while trying to help Charlie snap back to normal. And all Bo wants to do is find some way out of the hell hole in which she lives. Their easy way of life, living without phones or worries about money, is interrupted by the appearance of William Gibbs, sent by the IRS to find out why the Groden's haven't been filing their taxes for the past 7 years. Gibbs is fresh from Boston, having only been in New Mexico for less than a month. Arlene warns him that New Mexico is a powerful place, and Gibbs soon finds himself falling under its spell, throwing away his short-lived work with the IRS. Gibbs and the Grodens all learn and change with one another's help -- Gibbs uncovering his hidden creative talent thanks to Charlie's watercolors, and Charlie breaking free of what keeps him trapped in depression.
Joan Ackermann's script is filled with love, a quirky sense of humor and a magical connection with the landscape of New Mexico. Each of the actors gives top notch performances: Joan Allen as the no-nonsense Arlene who is in very much in touch with her surroundings; Sam Elliot as the confused Charlie, unsure of what's happening to him and unable to change things; Jim True-Frost as Gibbs, the IRS worker whose eyes are opened to a new world full of possibilities; and Valentina de Angelis as the young Bo, a highly imaginative and strong-willed young woman who wants to escape the desert of New Mexico and to see the world. This is one of those quiet films that just charms you from beginning to end, with a good story and subtle acting.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
The Fear of Death often proves Mortal, and sets People on Methods to save their Lives, which infallibly destroy them.
-- Joseph Addison (1672-1719), English essayist, poet, statesman
The Associated Press just reported that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to intervene in Terri Schiavo's case. My own opinion is that this case should never have been brought before them to begin with. The court system handed down its decision to not re-insert her feeding tube. The battle should have ended right there, but unfortunately, this has now become a political issue with the government attempting to interfere in what should be a private matter.
What really irked me about the article, though, is what the Reverend Patrick Mahoney, an advocate for Terri's parents, is quoted as saying:
"This is not a death with dignity," Mahoney said just before the Supreme Court decision was announced. "If Terri were an animal, she would not have to endure this."
You're absolutely right, Reverend. It's my understanding that an animal in such dire straits would be euthanized so that he or she would not have to continue to live in torment or in pain. It's the humane thing to do, isn't it? In discussing the issue with friends, one said that Schiavo's been in the vegitative state for 15 years. That's 15 years for her brain to heal. More than likely, it already has healed into its current state, and it would be nothing short of miraculous to return to what would be considered normal.
I understand the family wanting to keep her alive, in the off chance that she will come out of it. But 15 years later.... How is it serving Terri to keep her in such a state?
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
I thought this was too funny so I had to borrow it from this sexy man's blog who borrowed it from this man's blog. Here's what Google thinks of me (last name removed to protect the innocent):
greg is in his seventh season as an assistant coach at his alma mater
greg is the founder of the maritime jazz orchestra and lists kenny wheeler
greg is rollin
greg is a second year graduate student pursuing a masters degree
greg is president of the rockaway sports association
greg is part of anderson county's traffic unit
greg is an environmental engineer with reep tool company
greg is a natural with children
greg is the chair of the h&hs committee
greg is raising money for ms. he doesn't have much time
greg is chairing the selection committee, and he will be sending you the appropriate application soon
greg is an associate professor of rehabilitation medicine at the university of washington school of medicine in seattle
greg is to blame for most of this stuff
greg is the paducah project manager, and we are fortunate to have him here at this site
greg is not a misprint
greg is the head of the school's music faculty
greg is going to talk to you about it
greg is with the way everything is going
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
3 Hours of My Life I'll Never Get Back
I rushed from work thinking it would take at least 45 minutes during rush hour via the freeway to make it to the theater. The free showing was held at a movie house near The Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim. I nudged my way onto the 405 N, then veered onto the connector for the crowded 55 N. Traffic moved at a surprisingly nice pace and before I knew it, my exit appeared. CS and I agreed to meet around 6 PM; I managed to arrive at 5:15. Damn my lack of gay timing!!!
CS arrived around 6, and we managed to run into a friend of ours from The Center who had also been invited to this showing. While we waited in the chilly wind, people from the Neilsen Research Group took a head count and asked questions about ages, income, where we lived, if we had seen the original release of the film, etc. They then handed us each a blue ticket that thanked us for attending the screening. After 15 minutes, we filed into the theater to go through a bag search and quick metal object screening with one of those wands used for airport security before being ushered into a screening room. Even with a packed room, we managed to find 5 seats together along the left aisle. Looking around the room, I admit that I was impressed at the crowd that had gathered: men and women, ages ranging from 18 to 50s or 60s (under 18 not allowed because the film hadn't been rated yet), a great mix of ethnicites, and quite a few representing the gay community. (At The Block on Sunday, I watched the reps from NRG being selective about who they approached, tending to avoid the hispanic/latino visitors and people by themselves. They didn't about me until CS showed up and joined me on a bench.) Finally, after 30 minutes, a man spoke into a microphone that wasn't turned on and thanked us for attending the screening. He said that the film was three hours in length and that once it was over, we needed to remain in our seats because they had comment cards for us to complete.
What followed was three hours of bad acting, overly long and drawn out battle scenes, and obtrusive music. Colin Farrell's portrayal of Alexander came across as wooden. He definitely did not come across as an inspirational or charismatic leader. Perhaps a maniacal leader because he had the moments of madness down pat. Angelina Jolie was okay as his mother, Olympias, once you cut through the accent. (Still not sure if it was supposed to be Itallian or Greek) With few exceptions - Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Plummer, Brian Blessed and Jared Leto - the rest of the cast came across as trying to pull off a Shakespearean tragedy without success, over-dramatacizing lines and speaking with so many versions of English accents. Normally, I love Vangelis' music, but in this film, it overpowered and distracted. Instead of allowing you to feel along with the characters, it instructed you as to how you should feel, as if someone were holding cards to cue the audience. As for the battle sequences, the first one appeared 30 minutes into the movie, when Alexander leads the Macedonians against the Persians. This lasted for 30 Minutes, with body parts flying, blood splattering all over the place, lots of aerial shots to display the CGI warriors and fighting, myriad clouds of dust to obscure some of the sequences. A few audience members walked out of the screening as the battle dragged on. The entire scene bored me after about 15 minues, and I became fidgety. By the end of it, I wasn't sure who had won the battle until Anthony Hopkins stated that Alexander was victorious. It sure didn't appear that way on screen. Another battle, almost as long, popped up toward the end of the film, but this had the distinction of turning into psychadelia once a spear pierced Alexander. This battle continued for another 5-10 minutes after that. And then, there's the small matter of the many, many flashbacks. Geez! They should have just been shown in proper sequence! All that jumping back and forth made me nauseous!
One of the few redeeming features of this film was the romance between Alexander and Hephaestion (Jared Leto). I've heard that in the original release, much of their relationship was left on the cutting room floor. We can show buckets of blood and guts on the screen but Heaven help us should two men kiss for a few seconds! Director Oliver Stone kept their romance in this newer version, and it's one of the more believable aspects of the film. Farrell's performance in Hephaestion's death scene almost redeems him in my eyes. Almost.
Once the torture was over, we sat in the audience completing our survey cards. I sped through mine so I could rush to the bathroom. (I can't believe I held it for that long!) Wonder if you can guess how my review went? Our small group talked about the movie outside, and apparently, I was the only one who severly disliked it. One of the women said it was amazing! "It didn't even seem like three hours!"
"No," I said. "It was more like eight."
Image from Killer Movies.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Alexander, the Great?
Yesterday, CS and I wandered around The Block at Orange, trying on clothes at Hilo Hatties and dining at the Alcatraz Brewing Company before seeing the 2:45 PM showing of Robots. (Yes, I did see it again!) As we neared the theater, an odd little man carrying a clipboard with white and yellow papers approached us. He worked for some movie promotion company (supposedly) and wanted to know if we were interested in seeing Wes Craven's latest horror flick Red Eye or a special director's cut of Oliver Stone's Alexander. CS severly dislikes anything horror related so we asked for more info about the toga flick. Apparently, Stone was none too pleased with the version of Alexander released by the studio so he recut the film, adding and removing scenes to fit his vision of the film. They were looking for a test audience to determine if this newer cut is worthy of release. And, it was free.
So tonight, we're throwing caution to the wind and attending this special screening. (C'mon...Colin Ferrell in a toga...possibly kissing other guys...for free?) We actually have to dress up, too, or we could be denied entry into the theater. Just for a movie. I feel so Hollywood. Wonder if they'll interview and film us afterwards?
image from The Hollywood News
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Smoke and Sound
I've lived in Huntington Beach for just about 5 years now. This Spring Break, however, is the first I've spent downtown. Parking becomes almost non-existant, as by brother and his girlfriend can attest. Saturday afternoon, neither one could find curbspace close to their house because tourists and sightseers had overtaken any free space available. All parking closer to the beach is either metered or in a parking structure. Why pay when you can take a resident's spot for free? I know, the streets aren't marked as such, but a great majority of the houses in downtown don't have garages or carports. I wonder if the City has considered permit parking? Hmmm.....
Saturday, I cleaned house, washed a few loads of laundry, bought some meager groceries, and finished two novels. I stepped out from house only to check on my clothes and the mail. But each time I could smell the burning wood carried on the breeze from the many fire pits along the city beach. The smell reminded me of the times my family would pack up the motorhome and camp along the Owen's River near Mammoth or in Tinnemaha or near Big Sur. We'd sit around the campfire roasting marshmallows or drying our clothes from unexpected dips into the ocean or a lake, feet propped along the concrete rims to warm. Bits of ash and smoke funneled upwards, always sending the smell of charred wood into the air. In Huntington Beach, this was magnified tenfold, partnered with the muffled noise of loudspeakers -- probably from around the Pier -- shouting names or numbers from a volleyball match, a surfing competition, a kite competition.
So I spent the day relaxing and even managed to watch the first two episodes of I, Claudius from a box set that joela loaned to me. (Only 11 more episodes to go!) I left the TV on for the rest of the night, not paying too much attention to it and finally falling asleep on the couch.
Yes, Spring Break is here.
Friday, March 18, 2005
My life appears to be falling into a rut. Go to work, come home, plop down in front of the TV or read. Throw in the occasional foray to the gym or in search of food and you've pretty much got me pegged. Last night, I decided to combat my funk with a movie. So I hopped in my car and drove all the way to Long Beach to see Robots. The movie's playing in any number of theaters near my house, but I like escaping from behind the Orange Curtain every so often, and the theater in Long Beach offers nicer, cleaner, comfier seats than many of the dilapidated movie houses in OC.
At night, the drive up the coast feels more like an escape. Once you leave the lights of Huntington Beach proper behind, you speed along a peninsula of highway separating the beach from the wetlands. The light from distant orange street lights flickers across the water, capturing the small black dots of sea gulls and wading birds at rest on the glassy surface. The opposite side is spotted with beach bonfires, huddled forms surrounding them and stretching out hands to touch the warmth. Beyond them on the dark ocean surface stand the oil drilling platforms aglow in orange and white lights. An occasional small green or red light darts past just below them, most likely a small fishing boat heading back to the docks. All this last for only a few moments as you dash out of the darkness and into the fluorescent lights of Seal Beach.
Not many people were at the theater. I guess most were spending their St. Patty's Day celebrating at any one of the local Irish pubs. They missed out on a great movie. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of a young robot, Copperbottom, following his dreams to meet his hero an to become an inventor. When his hero is missing and the rotten Ratchet is out to take over his empire, Copperbottom sets out to find him and to bring hope back to the out-moded robots of Robot City. Lots of action and slapstick comedy. Very stylish with it's look, too; almost a '50's retro feel to the character design. Great animation. And some fine voice work, not just by Robin Williams, but also Ewan MacGregor, Mel Brooks, Halle Berry, Lily Tomlin, Amanda Bynes, Greg Kinnear and Drew Carey. I was surprised at how much the film was geared toward the adult crowd with references to The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, Britney Spears and the sexual innuendo. (The Britney Spears sequence had me in tears!) This was just what I needed to get me out of that awful funk of the past few weeks.
The drive back was thoroughly enjoyable with cool ocean air blowing through the windows as Pink Floyd's Shine on You Crazy Diamond blasted from my speakers.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Yesterday after work, I became one of the hundreds of thousands of consumers to purchase The Incredibles on DVD. Great movie, wonderful animation, fantastic story, and the endearing Edna Mode - now, who could really pass all that up? (And, yes, I have seriously contemplated buying the Edna Mode Talking Doll, dahlings.) The extras seem appealing, too: deleted scenes, and alternate opening, two animated shorts, and featurettes galore. The low $15.99 price put me in such a good mood that I even purchased a copy of Lost In Translation that was on sale for $9.99!! (Usually, I'm not that into shopping. I take the straight man's approach: know what you want before entering the store, make a b-line for it, then dash to the register. When I find a bargain, though, don't even think of getting in my way!)
After the adrenalin rush began to ebb, I leisurely drove to The Center for a little bit of volunteer work with my friend CS. Most Tuesdays, this consists of creating many "Safe Sex" kits: one latex condom, lube, instructions for proper condom usage, and information about The Center and its free HIV and Syphilis testing. On a good night, we can usually assemble about 300 - 400 of those kits. Various groups use these kits for their Outreach sessions at the local gay bars, clubs and bath houses. Other nights, we could be stuffing envelopes or - such as the case last night - setting pieces of metallic paper into roughly 50 picture frames to be used at a large fundraising dinner in May.
CS and I were hard at work when the program coordinator for Lifeguard walked in looking a bit upset. "Will you two come to our presentation? We brought a doctor in to discuss HIV and AIDS; we advertised it for a month; only 3 people are in there!" he said. (I'm most likely paraphrasing what he said. CS seems to think he mentioned something about blowjobs, but I think I would have remembered that. The guy's pretty hot!) We replied that sure, we would be there, and then went right back to work. A few moments later, CS peeked into the room and suggested that we stop with the frames and get in there.
Inside the white room, four rows of mostly empty chairs greeted us. The coordinator and the presenter - Charles M. Walworth, MD - crouched around a small projector, trying to get a PowerPoint presentation to display on the wall opposite. CS and I sat in the second row, and thankfully, a few more stragglers wandered in just as the projector finally started to work. Dr. Walworth began his medical career back at Georgetown in 1983 as a phlebomtomist. He worked with one of Georgetown's first cases of AIDS to display Kaposi's sarcomas, and he described his experience drawing blood from the patient: having to wear booties, gloves, a cap, mask, protective eye gear, almost a mini-HazMat suit because no one at the time knew what they were dealing with. Dr. Walworth discussed his experience with HIV and AIDS patients since the early 1980's, how treatment has changed with new drugs, cocktails, protease inhibitors, and how the appearance of HIV and AIDS has risen, fallen and started to rise again. He talked for an hour and a half, fielding questions, dispensing facts and figures, knocking down myths and misinformation. We discussed how some new HIV cases being reported now may have an inherited resistance to early drugs such as AZT; the best ways to deal with post-exposure prophylaxis; the appearance of MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which is a drug-resistant staph infection. Throughout his presentation, more people quietly sat down, but I think Dr. Walworth was disheartened by the lack of younger people. The numbers of new cases and conversions from negative to positve are increasing in the 20-30 age bracket, and some of this may be due to the fact that they have not seen the hardships, the transformations, the devastations that HIV and AIDS have had on the community, things which many of us have seen first-hand. They hear stories of being on a regimen of taking medications 4-5 times a day with horrible side effects and an unknown life expectancy. They now see that some treatment has dropped to maybe one or two pills a day with the probability of living a long, healthy life; they don't see any reason to fear, treating it much like diabetes, as something that they can control should they contract it so why worry?
CS and I returned to the front desk and the unfinished frames. We should have made more "Safe Sex" kits.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
This Post Has No Title
Sorry, I couldn't think of one. At least, not a catchy one. Perhaps it's too early in the morning for me to be thinking properly. I woke up at 5:30 this morning because I heard a glass breaking. I checked every room in my little place, all the windows, the washed glasses near the sink - nothing out of place or shattered on the floor. Probably came from one of the neighbors' homes. So now I'm up well before my alarm sounds. I hate that.
This weekend was Disney overload: Saturday, I joined RG, his sister and her three children for the day at Disneyland. Sunday, the Disney Gay Pass Holders held their monthly meeting so CS and I met with about 18 others to enjoy the crowds and a few attractions. The parks were jampacked with people both days, more than what's normal for this time of year. Every line offered at least a 45 minute wait, but fortunately, the tons of eye candy made up for that. Canoe paddlers, daddies pushing strollers, young men in tight t-shirts or polo shirts walking alongside their girlfriends, covens of the requisite twinks flaunting the fact that they're gay and have nice bodies.
**sigh** Funny how the Happiest Place on Earth can feel like the Loneliest Place on Earth even when you're with a group.
UPDATE 1:53 PM = As I prepared to leave for work this morning, I noticed one of the terra cotta flower pots in my carport had shattered on the cement. Probably the paw-work of one of the neighborhood cats. That accounts for what woke me up this morning!!!!
Saturday, March 12, 2005
Originally uploaded by mrgregoc.
I called CS to see if he wanted to meet at Disneyland to check out their newest attraction: Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters. The scheduled opening date was for March 18th, but I'd heard a rumor that it was being soft openend just to see what crowd reaction would be. CS readily agreed and met me in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. From there, it was a quick walk to the end of the line for Astro Blasters. We only waited for 20 minutes which was somewhat surprising. But, I know once it has officially openend, the wait will most likely be an hour or more.
The ride itself consists of a conveyor belt with vehicle after vehicle. Each one is big enough for two adults and comes equipped with to laser guns. Once the door to your vehicle shuts, the guns become active, and you fire at targets throughout the attraction, earning points as you go. They've also installed a joystick which allows you to spin the car 360˚ in both directions enabling to turn around and hit targets behind you. With all the neon blacklight colors swirling around you, it's like the Tea Cups on acid, only not as fast. Upon exiting the ride, a number of computer stalls await you so you can email a picture that was taken during the attraction (see above).
I have a feeling this is going to become a very popular attraction for both kids and adults. I'm glad we were able to ride it twice because the line is going to be horrendous once it officially opens.
Friday, March 11, 2005
I visited the gastroenterologist yesterday to discuss my upcoming colonoscopy. He asked if I were in any pain? bloated? bleeding? Had I noticed any changes in my bowel movements? I assured him that things seemed to be running smoothly, but I also mentioned the incident with the walnuts at the Oscar Party.
He recommended I stay away from walnuts.
After all this smalltalk, the doctor said that my exam was scheduled for Friday, April 8th, at 8 AM. I know my eyes opened wider in surprise; I thought it would be within the next week. A month had passed since my last visit so I was under the impression he would want to get the procedure over with and the results tallied as soon as possible. Maybe that was just me wanting that. But no, I get to drag this whole process out for another month. At least this time, I won't have to shove a Fleet enema up my ass. Instead, the doctor prescribed what is known as a Fleet Prep Kit #1, consisting of a soda-like drink, 4 bisacodyl (laxative) tablets and one bisacodyl suppository. This, coupled with the liquid-only diet for Thursday, April 7th, should start to cleanse my system. I'll be at work all day Thursday, too, and making runs to the restroom often. Yea for me!
We talked about what the procedure entails, what he'd be looking for, what I could expect and feel. He also mentioned that I would be doped up so as not to feel much of anything though, to most people, it's like having a bad case of gas.
As I was getting ready to leave, he asked if I had any other questions. Something had been nagging at me since entering the exam room. On the wall opposite me was a poster of the digestive system, showing where all the organs ar (liver, intestines, stomach, etc.). Fairly normal stuff for a doctor of the intestines to have in his office, but I noticed what appeared to be a fork stuck in the gall bladder. At first, I thought it to be some kind of joke and touched the poster to make sure. It wasn't a sticker of a fork but an actual part of the poster. Why on Earth would the poster's creators stick a fork in the gall bladder?! So I asked the doctor. He looked at me funny then examined the poster himself. Turns out it wasn't a fork but some kind of grabbing device, and it wasn't stuck in the gall bladder. The "fork" was lifting the liver to show that the gall bladder sits behind it. I looked closer and could have smacked myself because I could see that the tines were, in fact, curled under the liver, pulling it up to display the bladder. "That poster's been hanging there for 20 years," he said, "and you're the first person to notice that." He laughed heartily; I turned a new shade of red.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Hitting the Gym
Monday and today mark my first forays to the gym since the diagnosis of diverticulitis. One and a half months of coming home after work, sitting on the couch to watch TV or read, and very little exercise. I felt guilty and fat, but at the same time, unsure of what would happen if I returned to my regular workouts. The first signs of the disease struck while at the gym, after completing a set of crunches. Sharp pain in the lower left side of my stomach. Excruciatingly tender to the touch. After my first visit with the gastroenterologist, I learned that the exercise had nothing to do with it; something I ate either reacted with the intestinal lining or became trapped in a tiny pouch (diverticula). Yet I associated that first painful experience with working out so the gym became my No Fly Zone.
Oddly enough, I didn't gain (or lose) any weight during my hiatus, but my stomach expanded a bit and what muscle tone I once had slowly disappeared. The doctor told me to go back to the gym because the exercise would do me good, not just for losing weight but as a method to get my insides back into proper running order. Get the juices flowing, so to speak. I finally dragged myself onto the treadmill and completed numerous sets on the machines. One of these days, my arms may forgive me. I haven't, as yet, attempted crunches or the back press. Eventually, but not in the next few weeks.
As for my diet, neither my GP nor the gastroenterologist believe that nuts have anything to do with diverticulitis. WRONG!!! I ate some walnuts at an Oscar Night party, and within two hours, my stomach was racked with pain that lasted a good two to three days. So I'm cutting nuts from my diet.
Tomorrow, I visit the specialist to discuss my upcoming colonoscopy - setting the date, going over what I can/can't eat beforehand, how many Fleet enemas I'll need, all that fun stuff. See kids? Isn't getting older fun?!
I think I'll go devour a box of Thin Mints.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Too Much Culture for One Weekend
Not only did I see a wonderful musical this past weekend, but I finally managed to take in a showing of Ray featuring Jamie Foxx's much-deserved Oscar win as Best Actor. It was one of those performances during which you forget that you're watching an actor. His portrayal of Ray Charles is astonishing. Not only his performance, either: Kerry Washington as Della Bea Robinson, Charles' wife; Sharon Warren as Charles' mother Aretha; Regina King as Marjie Hendricks, one of his background singers and lovers - all were phenomenal. And, it was good to see Booger (Curtis Armstrong) from Revenge of the Nerds starring as Ahmet Ertegun, head of Atlantic Records. I left the theater amazed not only with the fine performances, but with Charles' career and life, the drugs, the women, the music. (And, fortunately, my brother gave me the soundtrack as a Christmas gift so I've played it over and over since Sunday.)
During the weekend I also managed to finish reading a play, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. While Thoreau was living at Walden, then President James K. Polk declared war on Mexico without Congressional approval. To protest this and the government, Thoreau refused to pay his taxes and was sent to jail. This play fantasizes on what might have been going through Thoreau's mind as he spent the night in jail: reflecting on his childhood, his idol Ralph Waldo Emerson, what lead him to his solitary life at Walden and the impetus for his refusal to pay the taxes. I enjoyed reading this very much as it gave some insight into the great thinker who influenced the likes of Gandhi with his non-violent form of protesting the government.
Oh, and CS and I watched the movie De-Lovely starring Kevin Cline as composer Cole Porter. The movie was kind of de-bland, not giving the viewer enough time to enjoy the music nor to get into the characters. Kevin Kline and Ashely Judd were both good, but the film jumped around too much between Porter's life (and the many men in it) and an attempt at a movie musical that it didn't work too well for me.
Ray poster image from Cinema Savvy; Thoreau image from FSG Books.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
A Song Played on a Solo Saxophone*
As I mentioned in my 100 Things list, I love going to the theater. I'm not sure from where this stems, but I do remember seeing plays and musicals as far back as elementary school when my parents to my brother and me to see Paint Your Wagon at the Harlequin Dinner Theater. Last year, my friends and I even made a resolution to see at least one piece of live theater per month for the entire year. While we haven't kept that up so far this year, CS and I did attend a musical last night at the Fullerton Civic Light Opera. CS found a flyer a few weeks ago while at The Center with FCLO's 2005 season, and I readily agreed that we should see their first show, Miss Saigon. So I asked around to see if anyone else were interested, but finally bought only two tickets for last night at 8 PM.
However, neither of us wanted to sit around in our houses waiting for showtime so we did the only thing we could: we went to Disneyland. **groans from the audience** Yes, I know. But, it had been almost a month since my last visit, and the DT's were starting to drive me crazy! We met at noon in front of the City Hall inside Disneyland and after fighting our way through the throng of people, worked our way to the Haunted Mansion. Many of the attractions in the park are closed in order to freshen them up for the 50th Anniversary Celebration in May so the remaining open attractions are packed with people. The queue for Haunted Mansion said it was only 45 minutes, but I think we waited a good 75 min. before actually stepping inside the Mansion. We grabbed a quick bite to eat afterwards, checked out the biceps of the canoe oarsmen, then weaved our way to the other park, California Adventure. More throngs of people - possibly even more than at Disneyland. We spent most of the time just walking around,
cruising people watching, with one or two attractions thrown in if the queues weren't too long. Finally, around 5:30, we called it quits and decided on dinner at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen.
The restaurant is styled after the big homes you'd find along the French Quarter of New Orleans: two story, huge inner courtyard, balcony with wrought iron railings. The inner courtyard of the Jazz Kitchen features an incredibly tall fountain made of clarinets, saxophones and musical notes. Off to the left is a small indoor dining area; to the right, a larger dining hall with a small stage for jazz combos and other musicians to perform. The maître d' lead us upstairs, past another large dining hall, and seated us on the balcony overlooking much of Downtown Disney. The menu featured Lousiana, Creole and Cajun recipes, most of which I wanted to sample. I controlled myself and ordered the Andouille Crusted Pacific Snapper (served on a mound of garlic mashed potatoes) while CS chose the Cajun Coconut Shrimp. Incredible food that really melted in our mouths, and even though we were stuffed, we ordered the Double Chocolate Cream Soufflé for dessert. Our waiter Lennie brought it to the table, broke it open with a spoon and drizzled in the fudge and cream. Oh. My. Gawd. It was incredible!! It was like drinking a cup of warm milk chocolate. I would have cum at the table if children weren't around.
We arrived at the theater around 7:30 and had to snake our way through the crowd to the Will Call window for the tickets. Once inside, we found our seats in the balcony and thumbed through our programs. I recognized one of the ensemble - an old roommate from when I lived in Irvine - and was still able to pick out his singing voice during the production. I had seen the National Tour of Miss Saigon a few of years ago and was curious as to how this regional production was going to pull off some of the more extravagant effects of the show, such as the landing and take off of a helicopter on-stage and a full-sized pink Cadillac for the American Dream sequence. They pulled it off - complete with a large helicopter landing on stage. In fact, that was one of the best scenes of this production. Choreography, singing, set design all worked perfectly to create a frenetic, chaotic, heartbrekaing scene when the soldiers are forced to leave many refugees behind in Saigon. The entire show dazzled, from the sets and choreopgraphy to the performances of all the cast, especially that of The Engineer. Damnit, I don't remember his name! (We didn't keep our programs as FCLO had not expected the show to be this popular and didn't print enough copies.) He expertly portrayed the conniving character. This production blew me away!
I love the theater!!
*= from The Last Night of the World, music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Alain Boublil, from Miss Saigon
Friday, March 04, 2005
The Last 50
The final little bits of info about me. (Sorry about the numbering. I haven't figured out how to make the automatic numbering begin at 51.)
Thursday, March 03, 2005
"Just a Lazy Cat in a Dog Eat Dog World"*
I can't think of anything blogworthy to post so I've decided to post something I should have when I started this blog over a year ago: 100 Things About Me. Here's the first 50....
* = from Golddigger by Supreme Beings of Leisure