Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm Not Bad, I'm Just Drawn That Way

If you've paid attention to the links I've posted on this site (and why haven't you?), then you'll notice I link to a webcomic called Eros Inc. This is a strip done by my good friend Mike (not Funt) Smith (code name Michael May, aka Captain Spacebeard) that revolves around a young cupid and her ragtag, zany bunch of friends in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Ok, that's not the best description, but trust me, it's fantastic. And I'm not just saying that because he's a friend, I really dig it and look forward to reading it 3 times a week (he publishes MWF. If he published on Tuesday and Thursday, I'd look forward to it 5 times a week. How funny would it be if he published 5, and I only looked forward to 3 of them? Ok, this parenthetical tangent has gone on long enough). You should really check it out. Take the time to go back to the beginning and read the existing chapters, it will make a lot more sense that way, and I promise you'll enjoy it.

Why do I mention this? Well imagine my surprise on Monday when I open my browser, click my way over to Eros Inc, and see myself, right there in a flashback sequence!

I wasn't positive it was me, but the Haunted Mansion t-shirt gave it away (and yes, Mike knows it's 999 Happy Haunts, I already teased him about it). I'm standing with Melissa, and if you look at the full picture, Mike (Yes Funt) and Bailee are at the party, too. You can check out the full strip here, but you're not likely to know what's going on without reading the whole series (which I've already told you to do):
Memories Pushed Down Below

I was delighted and honored to have a cameo in the strip. Maybe one day I'll repay the favor (he said, blatantly hinting at something).

Now if only I could convince Chris Onstad that Achewood needed me in some way...


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Metro Musings

So, I've been wanting to post something about this for a long time, and today seems like as good a day as any. Since January, I have been commuting to work using a combination of bus and rail. In that time, I have driven a car to work exactly twice- both times to accommodate a dentist appointment. On the whole, I enjoy it. It gives me a chance to read and do the crossword and takes away the stress of having to drive in rush hour in LA. It is, however, not without it's quirks. And why write a blog if you're not going to complain a bit, eh? So here we go, my observations on LA Metro:

1. I'd rather take the train. Our subway system is fantastic. The trains are relatively clean, they run on a tight schedule, there's plenty of information about schedules posted and updated throughout the stations. The only problem is it doesn't really go anywhere. At least, not anywhere that most people need to go. Melissa and I use it to get to the Ahmanson (Spamalot was a riot, by the way) and the Arclight (the one in Hollywood, not the abomination in Sherman Oaks where we saw Harry Potter. That theater should be ashamed to call itself an Arclight), and I can take the train to Hollywood and Highland and transfer to a bus. In a real city, I'd be able to take a train to West Hollywood or Beverly Hills, but that just isn't the case. And the buses run on no apparent schedule whatsoever, especially in the evening. I arrive at my bus stops at the same time every day. Sometimes I wait 5 minutes for a bus, sometimes 45. And it has nothing to do with traffic. Most of the time I'm waiting long stretches, traffic is moving easily. My bus in the morning is usually there within the same 5 minute window, but once or twice it just hasn't come at all. What we need is a system (like they have in Chicago and other major cities) where the public has access to the bus's GPS (and they are being tracked, you can follow it on a screen when you're actually on the bus). Port that information to a web or mobile phone app and the system becomes much more tolerable. It makes it easier to decide whether I should wait for a bus or hike to the train station.

2. One person, one seat. This may seem like common sense, but I'm amazed at how many people put their backpacks or purses on the seat next to them and won't move them if someone asks for the free seat. Also, 90% of men I see on the bus sit with their legs spread as far apart as possible, making it impossible to sit next to them. Your junk's not taking up that much room, fellas, let other people sit.

3. You're Fat. I get it. Americans have been raised to think of eating large amounts of food as normal and admirable. But this is getting out of hand. Busses are not built for the Rubenesque. If I am sitting and there is a seat between me and the next person on the bus, most patrons can not fit in that single seat. This does not stop them from trying. This morning, I sat on a seat next to a wall. The seat on the other side was unoccupied. A large woman came on the bus, and I saw right away where she was headed. She wriggled and squeezed her fat ass on the seat, forcing me to turn my body and give up 1/4 of my seat if I didn't want her sitting in my lap. I took out my iPhone to load up a new podcast, and I could not have put it back in my pocket without literally lifting her thigh flab off of my leg. I was cramped, uncomfortable, and disgusted. Airlines have started charging the overly overweight for a second seat, and I don't think it's out of line to consider similar behavior on busses. Obviously Metro can't enact anything, but have a little courtesy, people! And as if to rub it in my face, Metro doesn't enforce their "no eating or drinking on the bus" rule, so I'm constantly watching people cram fast food into their faces while they ride. Today I saw a woman drinking coffee creamer straight from the little cups at McDonald's. She must have downed half a dozen of them in the short time I was watching. Seriously, people, put down the burger and make an effort to take a little care of yourself. If not for your sake, then for the sake of people around you.

4. No one cares what you have to say. Please put down the phones, and keep conversation with the friends riding with you at a polite volume. The bus is loud, but there's no need to scream at the top of your lungs. If I can hear every word your saying from 7 rows away, the person next to you (or on the other end of that call) can hear you just fine. An observation (not a judgement): People, especially women, who speak in a foreign language speak it at least 5 times louder than everyone else on the bus.

5. "Please use rear exit" means "Please use rear exit." There are signs and announcements everywhere on the bus imploring people to use the rear exit. And yet, about half of the people at any given stop will march up and push their way out the front of the bus. The rule is there for a reason- People are entering at the front door. If they have to wait for you to get off, that holds up everyone. This will often cause a bus to miss a green light that it normally would have made. Congratulations, you just made a busload of people late because you couldn't follow instructions. (Note: This complaint doesn't apply to bike riders who are supposed to exit at the front so the driver knows not to run over them when they go to take their bike off the rack). Similarly, when buses are standing room only, the first place to fill up is the well by the rear door. This may put you out of the aisle, but it also blocks the rear door, forcing everyone to push and squeeze past you to exit. Again, courtesy, people.

So, thanks for bearing with me while I vent a bit. There are other pet peeves I have (people who pay to ride the bus for two blocks, people who "hail" the bus as if it were a taxi, people who wait 30 minutes for a bus only to not have their fare ready when it pulls up), but like I said, I mostly enjoy taking public transportation. It's cheaper than gas, and I get to be all smug about my carbon footprint. See you on the rails!


Friday, July 17, 2009

Beggars and Blighters and Ne'er Do-Well Cads

Avast, matey! (According to crosswordese, that means, "Stop, sir!"). Today is the first entry in the Adventure Eli series, as evidenced by the lovely sketch to the right. If you're upset that it's been a while since I posted, blame that drawing. I couldn't get up the energy to draw it, but I didn't want to post this without it. That's supposed to be a toothpick I'm chewing, by the way. I could never quite make it look right.

So why the adventure theme? Well, last Saturday was Mike Funt's annual Pirate Day. We started the day at the homophonically appropriate Point Dume beach in Malibu. It was really a beautiful beach. I floated in the frigid waters longer than I had thought I would, to the point where touching my skin felt like needles. Mike had an inflatable pirate ship which he took to sea until an unforgiving wave sent him flailing down to Davy Jones (if Davy can be said to exist in the shallows). We were prepared to relaunch the vessel, but a laughing lifeguard told us that inflatables were prohibited. It makes sense, I guess, to keep the kiddies safe, but adults who are just goofing around should be allowed to play, says I!
Up next, a treasure hunt. Mike claims to have buried a treasure under an X of seaweed, and plotted a treasure map to find it. Well, we found the X, but we dug down about two feet and there was no treasure to be found. I expect that this will become something of an urban legend on the beach, and children for generations will talk of the Legend of Mike Funt's Gold.
For lunch, we walked to a seafood restaurant about 2 miles down the beach. This was pitched to us as a leisurely stroll through the sand with some slight climbing. What it actually was was a treacherous climb over craggy rocks as the waves crashed around, threatening our very lives. This was true adventure! We all made it to the restaurant in one piece, if a little shaken. Our Captain, Mike, was kind enough to buy a round of drinks because he felt bad about the ordeal. But it just served to make the whole event more exciting or piratey (though, as someone noted, real pirates would have had a ship to sail to lunch).
The evening ended back at Captain's Quarters (ie- Mike and Bailee's apartment complex rec room), where we ate and drank and played piratey games and watched piratey movies (specifically, Hook). It was a fantastic day and a hell of a lot of fun. Can't wait to see what he's cooked up for next year.

I worry looking over this post that my blog has become a "what did I do last weekend" kind of thing. I apologize for that. And to make sure it doesn't happen again, this weekend Melissa and I are seeing Spamalot at the Ahmanson and catching the new Harry Potter. I realized today that several of the smaller blog entries I would like to post have become Twitter posts recently. Next week, I make a conscious effort to spend more time here, commenting on things like crosswords, public transportation, and the many varieties of idiots I see in Los Angeles. I look forward to it. Until we sail again...


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I Am Your Host. Your....Ghost Host.

This past weekend, Melissa and I decided it would be fun to have some friends over for the 4th of July. We invited a bunch of people, and pretty much all of them came. Now, we've had people over before for movie nights or dinners, but never more than 2 or 3 at a time. 8 people (plus the two of us) came by on Saturday. All of us crammed into our little living room of our little 1 bedroom apartment. Everything that could be a chair became one. But it was a ton of fun. I think everyone had a good time (at least, I hope they did).

A few thoughts on hosting: When having a holiday get together, most people would theme their party around the specific holiday. Melissa and I think outside the box (I literally almost typed "outside the bun"- thanks Taco Bell). Fireworks and patriotism? Try Rock Band and American Idol Karaoke! I bet our neighbors just love us now. This actually seemed to be a big hit, especially the karaoke. Of course, we're all artsy/performy-type people, so it makes sense. I must humbly say that I rocked out Billie Jean (during a round where we were selecting songs at random- even the PS3 knew to pay tribute to Michael). The only thing close to fireworks we had was watching the Capitol 4th and NYC fireworks on an HDTV. Once CBS's non-HD broadcast with Neil Diamond came on, things were pretty much over (Party Tip- if you want to clear a room, put on video of Neil Diamond. Melissa and I were by ourselves within 10 minutes).

The thing is, I missed a lot of the fun. I was out on our porch, grilling burgers, sausages, and veggie skewers. I learned over the course of the evening that my tiny camping grill is ill-suited to serve this many people. There were about 3 square inches that were consistently hot, and parts of the grill I could have kept my hand on they were so cold. Grilling that much food took far too long, and I'm still not happy with the way a lot of it turned out (especially the veggies). Still, people seemed to like it. I got many compliments on my burgers (which were hastily thrown together at the last minute) and my pepper and onion chili relish (which had the honor of being the first thing I cooked in my new pans, which I love).

All in all, I think it was a successful afternoon/evening. Spending time with friends is always a joy, and to be surrounded by so many really made me feel loved. Still, I think I'll let someone else do the planning and hosting for the next couple of turns.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Too Many Cooks

So, as you can see, I wasted no time in getting a new set of pots and pans. I wasn't in any real rush, but I got way too good of a deal on this set on a closeout at and couldn't resist. It was already almost 70% marked down from original price, plus they were offering an additional 20% off of the closeout price. I think it's because Cuisinart updated this set to include a lid for the fry pan and take away the steamer insert. I'd rather have the steamer insert, anyway. Unfortunately, due to the way my menu for the week is planned, I won't really get to play with my new toys until Friday.

Amazingly, I ordered this set on Sunday, paid for the cheapest shipping available and it got here yesterday. This is just one of the perks of living in Los Angeles. So many companies have shipping centers here that orders arrive way ahead of schedule (though, unfortunately, I have not found this to be the case with Amazon). Last week I ordered a pair of bluetooth headphones for my iPhone on a Tuesday morning and they came on Wednesday with basic shipping. If I order cables from, they almost always arrive next day. Now if only Apple would start building their computers here instead of in Hong Kong...

Now, to play a bit of catch up, I am sad to report that my meeting with agency went well, but not well enough. I'm back to square one on that front. Chin up, keep writing, and all that.

Also, I'm not sure if you may have heard this, but apparently Michael Jackson died last week. At first, I traded tasteless jokes with friends (my normal response to almost everything), but after thinking about his childhood and the life he led, it made me said. Not said that he died, but sad about the way he lived. I think Mike put it best - The guy was a musical genius, but like many geniuses, he went totally insane. I enjoyed watching all of his classic videos on VH1 this weekend and remembering the music I loved. But, in a sense, the Michael Jackson I loved died somewhere around 1995, so the memorials just feel redundant somehow. Still, maybe no jokes right now.


...Ok, one joke. In the Tonight Show-style: "Michael Jackson died last week after suffering a heart attack. As a response, Weird Al Yankovic died after suffering a grilled cheese sandwich attack." Not great, but the concept makes me giggle.