Sunday, July 30, 2006

Settling in

I'm adding a couple of items to the blogroll: Defamer, because I feel obliged to feature L.A. news now; and L.A. Observed, which is very much like The Cincinnati Blog in concept, if more polished in execution. It also features more behind-the-scenes news about the media; it's where I learned, for example, that the Times managing editor gave his metro staff pony rides this week.

Today's book: "Ghost Story" by Peter Straub. Years ago, after a particularly bad week involving "'Salem's Lot," I swore off horror novels until I had a roommate. Now that Art Boy lives in my house (hi Mom!), I am diving in with this classic. It's pretty blah so far - four old men are being haunted by something nasty they did as kids. It sounds like they probably ran over a girl with their car and then buried her out in a field without making sure she was really dead. I'm just guessing. I'm about 150 pages in and realizing it's going to keep up this slow, moody pace. That's OK. There are a lot of descriptions of snow, which is satisfying to read about in Santa Monica, and the mood is effectively creepy. Art Boy is going out of town next week and I expect to terrify myself.

Today's plant: My beautiful, beautiful Sarracenia flava, which I got at the Delhi Garden Center in Tri-County (the only one now! Crazy) and which succumbed to something or other during the move from Pasadena. I brought it all the way from Ohio. It was fine in the car, but something about Pasadena disagreed with it - too much heat, too little sun or both. All of my favorite carnivorous plants are now dead. God, that's depressing. Guess I shouldn't have run over that girl and tried to bury her when I was 18.

Save Ginny Weasley!

Art Boy and I went to the central library of Los Angeles yesterday - there really is a downtown, and that downtown has a library, and I like it quite a bit - for a concert by Harry and the Potters. God, we like them! Unfortunately, the concert was in the library's rotunda, which was quite grand to look at but the acoustics were miserable. Most of the songs just sounded like a bunch of noise, and you couldn't understand anything the boys were saying, which drove us absolutely wild. Still, we enjoyed the spirit of the thing. Their enthusiasm was so unabashed, it was inspiring, and it was fun to hang out with such an interesting cross-section of fans: families, hipsters, kids, a couple of folks who looked like they might have been homeless and just wandered in. We particularly loved the opening act Draco and the Malfoys, who are in fact two other band members and not the Harrys wearing blond wigs as we had speculated. Their songs included "My Dad Is Rich, And Your Dad Is Dead," "Hippogriffs Deserve to Die," "I Have a Broomstick That's Better Than Yours" and the crowd-pleasing "Tom Felton's Kind of Hot." We wore our homemade shirts and I bought a beautiful new one that says "Save Ginny." I wore it to work today, but so far nobody's asked me about it. Hmph. Anyway, we talked about how much K-Hud would have liked it (except for the acoustics) and we've been singing "Save Ginny Weasley from the Basilisk" at home ever since. Art Boy wants to get their new album so we can hear "Save Ginny Weasley From Dean Thomas," which they did not play.

Friday, July 21, 2006


We spent our first night in the house last night and were not devoured by goblins, so we're going back for good tomorrow. It'll be a week or so of radio silence from here except for whatever time online I can snatch at work. This also goes for Art Boy who had only just started his blog back up again (albeit in a new Snarky Celebrity format). I'm sort of cranky about the whole thing because we had just gotten to know this bit of Pasadena; the library, post office and grocery are all within a few blocks, along with a decent yoga studio and some bars/ restaurants. Santa Monica seems a little more sprawly. We'll figure it out but it feels a mite exhausting to start from scratch *again* ... oh well, this is an adventure.

Be well, safe and happy, gangstas.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Moving, again

We're moving very, very slowly out of our extended-stay rooms in Pasadena, because we won't have an Internet connection in Santa Monica for a week and a half. Apparently the house has been empty so long that all the phone lines & whatnot need to be all set up again.. it's not like someone else just moved out and the company can just hit a switch. At least, this is what Art Boy has figured out. Blast! He will be rather bad off without the Internet, but I suppose we'll both appreciate it all the more once it's back up. And it's not as though we won't have plenty to do. Anyway, we're off to IKEA in a moment and then taking most of our stuff to the new house for tonight. The kitties are spending tonight in Pasadena by themselves. I think they'll be fine. *pauses to listen to hissing.*

Thursday, July 13, 2006

OK, I am caught up

Apparently my beloved A Common Reader, referenced in yesterday's perhaps overlong post, has gone bankrupt. A while ago. Like, in January. Sorry, readers! I will remove it from the blogroll posthaste.

In its last months, the company angered me with some really crappy service (something about mail-order packages being sent in the most complicated and annoying way possible, without notification, which was bad because they were gifts being ordered at the last minute) and a hideous redesign of its previously beautiful catalogue. Nonetheless, I mourn its passing. It introduced me to Alice Thomas Ellis and Barbara Holland, as well as to many children's books such as Maurice Sendak's "In the Night Kitchen," which my 3-year-old nephew memorized after I gave it to him. Also to my family's favorite trashy romance novel, "Emerald," which I gave to my grandmother just as she entered a nursing home. A Church of Christ volunteer visited her shortly after her arrival to Provide Succor, and Granny, hoping to shut the volunteer up, asked her to read "Emerald" aloud. A few paragraphs in, the volunteer closed the book and excused herself for the day. Granny was pleased.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

From Lookout Joe to Trader Joe's

I brought two pounds of Lookout Joe out here with me, and they're almost gone... there are about 3 tablespoons left. It is the end of my five-year era of drinking no other type of coffee. Goodbye, Mount Lookout. Out here is the land of Trader Joe's. I had been to the one in Kenwood a couple times and found it irritating; first, you have to go to Kenwood, find the right shopping-center driveway and park by David's Bridal. Then you walk in with your grocery list and find that half the stuff you want is either not currently in stock or has never been in stock. "But try these fantastic chocolate-covered frozen strawberries!" a brightly colored sign will say. I am not that kind of grocery shopper. If the store is trying to push strawberries on me, by God I want to know what's the matter with those strawberries that they want to get rid of them so fast. What kind of sucker do they think I am? I am here to buy vinegar, dammit.

So when I got out here and was told to visit Trader Joe's, I did so with some trepidation. The one near our hotel in Pasadena - which, according to a (brightly colored) sign, was the Very First Trader Joe's Ever! - is exactly like the one in Kenwood. I suspect the "handmade" signs are the same. (This was confirmed when I spotted three identical ones with different cheese names written in, prompting me to go "AHA!" and alarm the other customers.) One day I went with a shopping list of not-quite-basic things- rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil - so I could make my favorite peanut sauce. Well, forget it. Trader Joe does not want you making your own peanut sauce. He wants you to buy his Special Recipe in a reasonably priced jar with an amusing label! However, the goddamn place is winning me over. I have to shop somewhere, and I can't go to Bigg's anymore. The orange juice is reasonably priced and quite good. So is the milk. And the yogurt, and the bread. And, of course, the wine. I picked up some Trader Joe's Bock intending to laugh at it and actually ended up liking it. And I've gotten a couple packages of Prepackaged Fun Exotic Foods and found them fine - not as good as I can make, but adequate for a temporary kitchen. When Art Boy left here a few weeks ago, I was complaining about the store and snarling about its jaunty little signs that reminded me of college. When he got back, he found a weird object in the dryer and said "What's this?" I told him it was a Trader Joe's Lavender Laundry Sachet, of course. He looked at me for a minute and then walked off, shaking his head and going "I leave for ten days."

Anyway, I'm sure they have some simply adorably packaged coffee, perhaps sold by "Trader Juan" or some shit. It will probably be fair-trade, organic, reasonably cheap and quite good. Goddammit.

Today's book: "Unexplained Laughter," by Alice Thomas Ellis. Two London women spend a few weeks in a Welsh cottage and are creeped out by the locals, particularly someone's mad sister who's kept in her room when she's not roaming freely around the countryside spying on everyone. Mainly the women talk between themselves about love and death, and the sister interjects italicized commentary remarking that she herself is pretty much dead. Nobody actually dies, unlike in some of Ellis' other short novels. There's not much plot to speak of, but it's worth reading for the acerbic conversations and eerie setting. It reminded me of her excellent "Fairy Tale," except without the storyline; it felt like deleted scenes from that book. I highly recommend Ellis' "Home Life" column over at; I'd link to it if I weren't on the coding-unfriendly Mac.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A house! My kingdom for a house!

Actually, we have a house. Or we have an agreement to rent a house for a while. Wahoo! It is on the southern side of Santa Monica - not quite walking distance to the pier or Third Street Promenade, which is actually fine with us as congestion tends to surround those places. It is, however, ten blocks from the beach and a few blocks from Santa Monica College, which supposedly has a very nice community pool. It's in a very quiet and boring neighborhood full of single-family homes. There are three apartments crammed in a sort of giant shack out back, but other than that it's a plain old house and we have it all to ourselves. The kitchen is tiny, but it has a gas stove and is bigger than my last kitchen (thank God). It comes with a fridge, which can be rare out here. The bathroom has a tub. There's closet space, hardwood floors, a fireplace and a crazy little mirror/drawer thing built into the wall.

We looked at it last week at an open house and almost immediately were looking at each other wide-eyed. "I know," Art Boy said. "Shh, there are other people here." We took an application and went to fill it out in the car, so the other viewers wouldn't think "oh shit, this place is happening, we need to fill out applications too." After everyone else had left, the landlord came out to ask what on earth we were doing, so we explained our strategy to him. Art Boy likes to think that's why he called US yesterday to offer us the place.

By the way, I am now openly referring to him as Art Boy since, as my roommate, he is no longer able to pay me calls. (My parents' opinion of this situation is yet to be determined.) He was a nice gentleman-caller, but he's an even nicer Art Boy.

By the way 2: Kelly, we both thought Superman was great. I couldn't believe how many tightropes it walked without falling: the Christ imagery; the, yes, stupidity of Lois; the voyeurism of Superman; the nastiness of the "Weren't there two of those?!" scene with the dogs, which made me laugh out loud even though it's the kind of thing I normally hate. (It's Parker Posey's delivery that does it.) Thinking it all over puts me in mind of Snake in his wallet-inspector scene: "Oho, I can't believe that worked!" But it so did. The sweetness and poignancy of the Superman legend holds the whole thing together - he'll always be lonely, and even his mom can never really be his mom (didn't it kill you that she had to wait outside at the hospital?). I love the passing-the-torch storyline that develops - the final scene in the bedroom just gave me goosebumps. Very Tattooine-esque. And the scene where he takes Lois up ("But not like this") was the sexiest completely chaste love scene ever. But poor James Marsden, always being the comic-book cuckold.

Anyway, Art Boy and I will hand out our address when we find out the zip code. Rock!

Update: Apparently we are contributing to an area-code shortage! How strange. As if figuring out the freeways here wasn't hard enough.