Thursday, March 29, 2007


I'm speechless.

Imagine My Pride

Mostly, I love the little town I call home. It's small, it's safe, it's friendly, it's ocean adjacent. But I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that the average local IQ is probably, well, below average. And because I'm a big fan of avoidance as a defense mechanism, I typically steer clear of the local weekly throwaway newspaper. You see, it's rife with ignorance, and today's issue was no exception.

Each issue has a "question of the week" where the editors ask people on the street the current query. This week's question was "who was the most influential woman in the past 100 years?" Got that? One hundred years. Two of the four responses were Harriet Tubman and Betsie (sic) Ross. (Yes, the paper misspelled Betsy.) Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Harriet Tubman or the Underground Railroad. I think her story is amazing and her work inspiring. Thing is, the U.S. Civil War ended in 1865. And don't get me started on Betsy Ross. Do you think they printed the best answers? Some day, I'll regale you with stories from another feature, the police blotter.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Did he get a Tall, Venti or Grande deal?

Paul McCartney is the first artist to sign with the new Starbucks record label. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not dissing Paul. He’s got an expensive divorce in his imminent future, and I’m glad he finally saw the light about his soon-to-be ex. No, I’m wondering instead what Starbucks’ next venture will be after it takes the music industry by storm. I’m thinking athletic shoes or electronic mobile devices.

Anyway, rumor has it Paul is dating Sabrina Guinness (heiress to Guinness Brewery). The story goes that he was photographed on a double date with her, the other couple being his daughter Stella and her husband. Of course, Paul’s denying it, but I think it’s a good sign if Stella approves of this one. I also don’t think that it’s a coincidence that he went out in public with a new woman while the ex is trying to forge ahead with her D-listed brand of celebrity on that dance show I don’t watch. Good move, Paul; I love it!

Does everyone know it’s “new music Tuesday?” You don’t have to own an iPod to use iTunes (freeware) and download the complimentary tracks that are available each week. I highly recommend it as a great way to gain exposure to talented artists you may otherwise never hear about.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Start Spreading the News

This past weekend, I attended a going-away party for the latest in an unrelated set of friends packing up and leaving California. This is the third time in the last 9 months I’ve said goodbye to native Californians who by and large have lived their entire lives here. In no case was anyone transferred out-of-state for a job; the choice to leave their home state was made 100 percent by free will.

So now that a trend has been established, one I’ve contemplated participating in myself, the question must be asked – just what the heck is going on?

The first family to vacate California is that of a college friend. She, her husband, and their two kids sold their house in San Diego and moved last summer to Austin, Texas. This move, of the three I am describing, is the one that was most financially motivated. They had a nice house in San Diego, but now they have a much larger one with a smaller mortgage in a better neighborhood and school district. Plus, they are doing this on one income instead of two, which facilitates her ability to stay home with their young children, something they really wanted at this stage in their lives. They leave behind their entire extended families – she, especially, is close to hers – but the urge to shake things up and change their quality of life ultimately sealed their decision.

The second friend is a woman I met back when I was a volunteer at the local animal shelter. In her case, she was fortunate enough to sell her company a couple years ago and retire in her early 50s. She’s very well traveled, and in the years I’ve known her, she’s always managed to slip in a trip to New York in between African safaris and tropical cruises. About ten years ago, she considered buying an apartment in Manhattan as a second home, and I don’t recall now why that plan was abandoned, but it never came to fruition. Now that she’s retired at a relatively young age, she decided to make the move. She didn’t end up moving to the city but instead bought a sizable home on a large piece of land (especially by California beach standards, where she lived here) in Westchester near Connecticut. She’s been there about seven months now.

Last in my tale of exodus is the couple moving at the end of the week. They are my age who, after selling their restaurants last summer, viewed the world as their oyster. They almost bought a home while on vacation in New Zealand several months ago, but instead opted for an apartment in New York City’s Upper West Side. They liquidated a car, their house (truly Shangri-La), most of their furniture, and the aforementioned business to follow their dreams and pursue their new start. As an aside, I should mention that he is an artist and musician, and theirs was the only party I’ve ever attended where the guests received an original painting of their choice as a party favor. Extraordinarily dope.

The reason I detailed each of my vagrant set of friends was to illustrate the myriad circumstances in which these folks differ from one another. Yet I think it is notable they ultimately reached the same life-altering decision, in all cases voluntarily leaving behind a lifetime of family, friends, and homestead. The single unifying factor I can find in common among them is a profound sense of restlessness.

So here’s the point, and I’m not so sure the question is a rhetorical one. Where does the restlessness come from? And why now, why all at once? Is the restlessness some kind of post-apocalyptic aftershock to 9/11, Katrina, the Southeast Asian tsunami disaster, global warming, genocide in Africa, never-ending war in the Middle East, and all the other devastation we’ve suffered in the short time since the millennium? Or maybe it’s the precursor to something worse ahead, like the restlessness of animals before an earthquake or storm. Perhaps the people in my world are having a midlife crisis all in the same year, or even still, I suppose it’s possible I’m over-thinking the entire thing. Nah, it’s not the latter.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Van Halen Rant, Continued

In my last post, my OCD got the best of me, and I obesssed over the fact that Eddie Van Halen is a giant douchebag. What I failed to realize, however, is that he's also an amazing moron. The following is like a gift from Wikipedia. I love it when narcissists rationalize the crap in their lives. (source)

During the late 1990s Van Halen was treated twice for tongue and mouth cancer. During an interview with Howard Stern on Sirius satellite radio channel 100 on September 8, 2006, Eddie claimed that holding a metal pick in his mouth 12-14 hours per day while immersed in the electromagnetic radiation of his music studio caused his tongue cancer (despite this seeming scientifically unlikely). He said he continues to smoke because "cigarettes didn't cause the cancer."

Eddie also revealed that he stopped the cancer via an illegal method (the nature of which he declined to specify) in conjunction with a pharmaceutical lab with which he's affiliated in New York state. He said a portion of his tongue was removed and experimented on, and then the technique was performed on him. He said he has lost one third of his tongue, though his speech sounds virtually unaffected. Despite his battles with oral cancer, Eddie has been photographed in public as recently as July 2006 smoking cigarettes.

Eddie, I've got another hot tip for you. Don't hold an iron golf club outside during an electrical storm. That's how my uncle got struck by lightening and lost an eyeball.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Conflicted about Van Halen

There was lots of chit-chat last week about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I hope I’m not too late to add my 2 cents about Van Halen.

First off, let me just say up front that I’m not a Van Halen fan, never have been, never will be.

That said, however, I disagree with the outrage people are expressing that they were inducted. I absolutely think Van Halen earned their place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I actually think their contribution to rock is pretty significant, and it’s inarguable that Eddie Van Halen inspired an entire generation of guitarists.

Okay, that said, I also think Eddie and Alex Van Halen are probably the two biggest douches in the industry. And the fact that they both skipped out on the induction ceremony for the band that bears their name is indefensible.

Eddie presumably entered rehab a mere four days before the ceremony. I haven’t heard why Alex didn’t go, but it probably has something to do with his 3 remaining brain cells being otherwise busy that day. David Lee Roth skipped out because he disagreed with the song chosen to be performed live during the event. So the only members representing Van Halen were original and long-time bassist Michael Anthony (who was being replaced for this summer’s now-canceled Van Halen tour in favor of Eddie’s son) and second-string singer, Sammy Hagar.

You know what I say? Props to Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar for giving a shit, and fuck the rest of them.

I don’t know why I’m so worked up about this, but I am. So with the report that Eddie went to rehab four days before the Hall of Fame ceremony in mind, imagine the gasket I blew when I read this:

Sources close to Eddie Van Halen reported that the rock guitarist is pretending to enter rehab in order to get out of touring with David Lee Roth. "It has nothing to do with drugs or alcohol," said Halen's ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli. "He just can't stand Diamond Dave's antics." Van Halen has been telling friends that he couldn't bear seeing the ridiculous pelvis-thrust dance Roth always performed at the end of their hit, "Panama."

Faking rehab is pathetic, and I sincerely hope that story is false. But it kind of has that Eddie Van Halen stink to it, and if it is true, he’s a bigger asswipe than I previously imagined.

Again, I have no clue why I’m so angry about this.

Here’s another thing that pisses me off. In the 21 years since the first “class” was inducted, why the hell hasn’t the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognized more prog rock groups? So far, the only one that has been honored is Pink Floyd. Where’s Yes? ELP? King Crimson? Seriously, ZZ Top and Bob Seger over Yes? WTF? That’s just wrong.

UPDATE: Here's a listing of all the inductees to date.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Test Only? What's the Point?

Last weekend, I took my car to be smog tested. I don't know if this is the law in other states (or countries), but in California, you have to get the emissions on your vehicle checked every couple of years before the state will let you re-register. It's a good law, and pollution here has improved enormously over the past 10-15 years. I went to my usual service station where my car typically gets smogged (walking distance, only a few blocks away) only to be turned away and sent to a "test only" center inconveniently located several miles from home.


Come to find out, when a car in California reaches a certain age (looks like it must be 10 years, based on the age of my car), they are sent to these special test only smog check centers, the purpose of which I have yet to determine. It was a royal pain in the ass, and I don't understand why these "test only" centers are a benefit to the consumer when they are much fewer and farther between than normal smog check businesses. If memory serves, the price was the same ($50, including certificate and electronic transfer to the DMV), and the process appeared to be identical. Anyone know anything about this before I'm forced to write to the Governator?

A Follow-Up

Leave it to People magazine to explain why the actress who plays Izzy was in the LBC, shopping at my favorite yarn store last weekend. Apparently, she was on a photo shoot for Nautica in the marina, only a few short steps from where I buy yarn and hold Stitch 'n' Bitch.

A new episode of Grey's airs, finally, this Thursday. It will be interesting to see how it holds up after the shark-jumping, ferry boat episodes.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Newest Obsession

HGTV has a new feature on their website, Rate My Room. Regular folks can submit pictures of rooms they've "decorated" so that other regular folks can abuse and degrade them. Seriously, when you upload pictures of shit, how can you expect people not to flush? If I'm going to self-flagellate, I'm going to do it in private.

So daylight savings time takes place on Sunday, several weeks early this year, and my employer sent out an urgent email late yesterday telling everyone to "upgrade" their computers before Sunday. This edict came down with absolutely NO details about what "upgrade" might mean. The email advised employess to call the Help Desk with questions.

Now, I was reasonably certain that they wanted us to log into and run whatever current upgrades were outstanding, but I've learned from experience that it's better to be safe than sorry with my employer, so I decided to call the Help Desk first, just to confirm. My call to the unHelpful Desk produced a typical result, "Um, we don't know what you're talking about. Could you send us a copy of your email, and we'll get back to you?" The originator of the "upgrade" email and the Help Desk both work for the same IS department in the hospital. It took incredible restraint on my part not to type "right hand, meet the left hand" when I forwarded the email. I have no patience for incompetence.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Izzy Knits

I'm just coming out of a terrible knitting slump. The last 3-4 months have been horrendous for my creative juice. At my Stitch 'n' Bitch group, I spend 99 percent of my time bitching and only 1 percent actually stitching. But the spark is coming back, and my hands are itching for yarn again.

So I went into my local yarn shop earlier tonight to get a little help on a project that has been stalled. It didn't take long for a couple of the employees to tell me that Katherine Heigl (Izzy Stevens on Grey's Anatomy) had been in MY yarn store just this weekend where she dropped several hundred dollars on cashmere. The LBC is just far enough outside of LA proper that I don't see that many celebrities here. The last celeb I saw in my yarn shop was this D-lister. Yeah, I almost wet my pants, too.

Friday, March 02, 2007

On Crack

I’m not sure if this represents a critical review or not, but I got a DVD from Netflix that arrived looking like this.

I’m almost certain it’s a metaphor; for what, I don’t know. It's Sex in the City, season 2, disc 1.

Speaking of which, I found a fairly comprehensive and interesting article on the real Mr. Big.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Investor Savant?

Only because of my anticipated real estate purchase in the next 6-18 months, I’ve acquired the annoying habit of obsessively checking my investments every single day. So I knew exactly what my balance was going into Tuesday, the day the Dow dropped almost 500 points. Like serious investors, I imagine, I nervously waited for my new balance to be posted, naturally fearing the worst. Somehow, I had a gain. And not just any gain, I had a 3 percent gain in one day. I had my best single-day gain ever.


Seriously, there is NO logical explanation for this. My lack of experience and skill as an investor is exceeded only by my lack of experience and skill as an heiress. I equate this bonanza to that of the ditzy blonde winning the office football pool using the cuteness of the teams’ mascot as her sole criteria for making choices.

Just to Clarify

The pictures in the previous post aren't from a new construction project. They are from a condo for sale in the grande dame of Long Beach, the Villa Riviera, built in 1928, pictured here.

I blew off photographing the new construction since it's a nonissue. Sorry I wasn't more clear in the original post.