Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Anyone for tennis?

This evening I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of three tickets to the first round of the Mercedes-Benz Cup held at UCLA. Steve, Nick and I went expecting to meet up with the work-folks who provided the tickets, but somehow that never quite meshed. I'll remember to bring the cell phone next time. In fact, I'll remember to bring the camera too.

I had a great time, but first let me start with the disclaimer that I'm by no means a knowledgeable sports fan. Luckily I had two charming gentlemen to explain the finer philosophy of the second serve, court positioning, top spin, and of course mental warfare. I have now witnessed how a killer serve and ruthless domination can break a man's spirit. What power!

The first match was a blowout between Andre Agassi and Jean-Rene Lisnard. Agassi dominated, giving up only one set to Lisnard. You could tell that he was playing a pretty reserved game, too. He's scary-good. Both contestants withdrew from the next match for health reasons (Mardy Fish/Taylor Dent) so it instead ended up being between "lucky losers" Noam Okum from Israel and Dmitry Tursunov from Russia. There was a lot more passion in this match from these guys who were all ready to get on the plane back home. I found it to be much more exciting, although it helps also that we moved over to some empty seats a few rows up from center. Great view, I highly recommend it! Tursunov played a great and very powerful game. He had a wicked serve that hit 130-mph at one point. Poor Okum was no match and was quickly defeated (i.e. mentally destroyed). The buzz is that our young Russian friend is an up-and-comer, so keep your eyes peeled.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Tuesday night I went to see Wicked The Musical at the Pantages Theater. I love this theater. It's one of the Hollywood golden oldies, built in 1930, and for many years was home to both the Oscars and the Emmys.

Wicked was a very entertaining and flashy show: lots of cool costumes and sets. It's more light and fluffy than the book (where all the cool people die) but I actually liked the ending better in the play. I would recommend seeing it if you have the chance because the two main actresses really stole the show. Glinda is a riot as the popular and rich bubble-head, and Elphaba (Wicked Witch of the West) was so powerful. Quite an amazing voice.

That's all for now kids, so be good. Ciao!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

It's here!!

The day has finally arrived! I can hardly believe it. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, the 6th book in the series, has been unleashed on the public. This is a bittersweet moment, for while I'm desperate to know what happens next it just means that we are this much closer to the end. Whatever. Give me the book!

Ensuring that we got our copy as quickly as possible was an elaborate affair. First, we had to go to our local Barnes and Noble a week ahead of time to put our names on the reserve list. Then, at 6:00pm on Friday night, we waited in line to get special wristbands which indicated the number book we would get at midnight. Brian and Kara were #44, Steve and I were #45. While waiting for the midnight unveiling Steve and I enjoyed a lovely dinner of gazpacho at Brian and Kara's apartment.

Brian and Kara

Just for fun I decided to decorate myself with a lightning bolt scar and the Harry Potter glasses I got with my wristband. But then I got chicken and took it all off. I prefer to be a closet, fringe-fanatic, and did not want to be associated with the sluty crazies who wore tight t-shirts reading "Half Blood-Princess".

So at 11:30 we headed down to the bookstore in Manhattan Beach and waited with several hundred other fans for the stroke of midnight. (For those of you who know the store I'm talking about, the line stretched almost to the REI at the other end of the mall. Yeah, I know. We're all insane.)

This is the scene awaiting us when we showed up. Literally hundreds of people! Sometimes it's nice to know you aren't alone.

The Midnight Party

Waiting for the doors to open

I didn't have to wait long until I got my very own copy in my greedy hands. I promised myself that I wouldn't rush through this one like I did two years ago with #5, The Order of the Phoenix.

My copy

But in the end the temptation was too great. I had a marathon day on Saturday, reading on and off (but mostly on) for about 12 hours in which time I finished the first 480 pages. And although Steve knew that I would be completely out of commission for reading the book, I think that came as little consolation when he instead spent a marathon day fixing the busted hot water heater.

Our old hot water heater

What a great guy I've got. He fixes the heater, and I get Harry Potter and hot showers.

Steve fixing the heater

So now it's Monday and I've long since finished the book and am contemplating a second go (after Steve gets his turn, naturally). If you share my secret passion then write to me! We have much to discuss!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ugliest Dog in the World

Ladies and gentlemen, the results of the World's Ugliest Dog contest are in. I know what you are thinking. Dogs are dogs! Sure, you have big ones and small ones, fluffy ones and horribly shorn ones. There are flea bitten mongrels and disgusting droolers. But nothing, I repeat NOTHING, will prepare you for the horror that is Sam. The world's ugliest dog. If you feel brave then click this link.

This dog has been rated R, for mature audiences only. Oh, the humanity!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Thank you sir! May I have another?

While I was perusing the headlines at lunch I came across yet another quote about how Katie (excuse me, I mean 'Kate') Holmes thinks that "Tom is just the best-est man in the whole wide world", and how he is coaching her in the ways of Scientology. Just for fun I decided to go to the Church of Scientology website and see just what exactly they do to these otherwise normal people. What are the bizarre rituals? What are their philosophies? What's the point? According to the website, Scientology is just the best-est religion in the whole wide world and it will make you happy and bring world peace. I guess you have to go to the church to find out exactly how to obtain these wonderful ideals. Lucky for me I found something just as good and even closer than Malibu: an on-line personality evaluation test! First they want every scrap of personal information they can squeeze out of you (hello, my name is Q from Alaska) and then you have to answer 200 multiple choice questions. Here are some of my favorites:

* Are you a slow eater? (yes)

* Would you use corporal punishment on a child aged ten if it refused to obey you? (sure, if "it" was my kid)

* Do you get muscle twitches for no logical reason? (sometimes, but I'm sure there is a logical reason)

* Do you ever get disturbed by the noise of the wind or a “house settling down”? (if I'm home alone)

* Provided the distance were not too great, would you still prefer to ride rather than walk? (no)

* Do you chew your fingernails? (yes)

* When recounting some amusing incident can you easily imitate the mannerisms or the dialect in the original incident? (Does this mean, would I fit in with all the other actors?)

* Are you opposed to the “probation system” for criminals? (I guess not)

According to the personality test I am in serious need of some therapy, Scientology-style.

Good news: I'm stable, certain, active, and aggressive (I guess agressive is a good thing)

Bad news: I'm nervous, irresponsible, critical, withdrawn, and have a lack of accord. Save me L. Ron Hubbard!!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Beach Ultimate

This evening I will be partaking in a new twist in the Ultimate Frisbee game: shoes off at the beach. It's very possible that I will end up vomiting all over myself since I haven't played for a few weeks.

Beach Ultimate

If these guys are in, I'm toast. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up enough not to embarrass myself. I've been told that everyone goes for a swim after the game; I haven't had a chemical peel for a while so that should be fun.

White Water Rafting

Last night I picked up my pictures from the underwater camera I used on my two recent whitewater rafting trips. If you want to see all the photos, go to my online photo album at picturetrail.com and type LADOTYK as the member name. There are two albums, one from my trip to Colorado and the other from our trip to Diamond Springs for the 4th of July. Here are a few of my favorites:

I took this picture in the car on the way to the raft site. We drove through a huge alpine valley that was bordered by some of the Rocky Mountain 14ers (14,000+ ft mountain peaks). This was the first time I'd been in this area and it was absolutely spectacular. And the best part is, Steve and I got to put another pin in our travel map!

Rocky Mountain 14ers

This is looking down on the Arkansas river right before the trip. It was a little bit stormy but nothing too bad. The thunder sounds great booming through the canyon.

Overlooking the Arkansas River

Isn't this a great picture of Christine? I'd love to have some pictures from the actual rapids but for some reason they want you to paddle at those key moments.

CW, River Woman

Now we jump to the next trip on the South Fork of the American River. Here is Brian and me during the lunch break. This is after I got tossed out of the raft on a particularly nasty rapid called "The Meat Grinder". Luckily I bobbed right back to the surface in my child-size life jacket and was hauled back into the raft. And most importantly, I didn't loose my paddle! I'm very proud of that fact.

Ferg and Brian on the South Fork of the American River

At the end of the trip we shouldered the raft back to the bus and headed back to the homestead for some more croquet and leftover sausages.

Hoisting the raft back to the bus

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Croquet and Sausages

I'm back from my latest vacation up to Gold Country to visit with friends and family for the 4th of July holiday. Steve, Brian, Kara and I flew to Sacramento last Thursday where we were picked up by Steve's parents, and his brother Russell and wife Angela. It was a tight squeeze with eight of us in a 7-seater SUV (and if you count Kara's fetus (Bean), it was really 8.05 of us!) Thus ensued a lovely weekend of gluttony, sloth, and heated croquet tournaments.

Although it had slipped my mind after living near the temperate coast for the last four years, I was quickly reminded that the central valley and it's environs are F'ING HOT in the summer! Oye. Russ and Angela headed down to the bay area to visit some friends, so Brian, Kara, Steve and I headed up to Boa Vista Orchards on Apple Hill for some fresh fruit.

This is a great farmers market area that is open all year round. A few pounds of cherries and apricots later and I was quite content. On the drive back down the hill we saw a wine tasting sign for the Boeger Winery so we stopped in for a swig. There was a moment's hesitation as we walked past a limo in our dirty play clothes but in the end they love your money, regardless of your attire. One bottle of petite syrah later we were back down the hill and off to escape the heat and see War of the Worlds. It's entertaining enough if you don't have any expectations beyond: aliens blow us up, we freak out. I guess it's a tribute to Tom Cruise's acting that you can watch the movie and not think "There's that freaky dude Tom Cruise". One interesting side note, there was a scene with a plane crash that we saw being assembled during a recent trip to Universal Studios. Cool.

A trip to the local hill-billy Walmart yielded the greatest treasure of our weekend adventure: a brand new croquet set. (We reluctantly bypassed the enormous titanium deer huntin' arrowheads.) There's just something great about getting a group of friends together, kicking back cold beers and whacking plastic balls with stubby mallets.


Kara and her Bean kicked back in the hammock while the rest of us navigated tree roots, deceivingly thick grass clumps, flower beds, and the treacherous vigilante opponent.


This was my most wicked shot of the weekend. How the hell was I supposed to hit my red ball in this four car pileup??


Brian entertained us with his seal tricks.


In between croquet games we did some more wine tasting at Madrona Vineyards (delicious port)and the Lava Cap Winery (tasty syrah). For the first time in my life I can say I've been tipsy before noon.

We capped the evening with a family BBQ that included more meat than you can possible imagine. Luckily we were up for the challenge. After the crowds departed the six of us kids went back for seconds, sitting around the table snacking on sausages and playing pinochle. Man, what a great day!

I should be getting my rafting pictures back tonight so stay tuned for more exciting tales from El Dorado!