Last night we had a great time at the Hollywood Bowl to see the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. The show itself was pretty good, but a bit odd. It was supposed to be the "Great America Concert: Great American Women" so it made total sense to bring out an opera singer and have her kick off with a Wagner song in German followed by two Puccini. Okay, then we realized that all of the composers were men, but the 3 singers were women so perhaps that's what we were celebrating.
Personally I don't like opera, and while she had a good voice, the ululations always annoy me. So it was particularly annoying when she sang "I Could Have Danced all Night," a musical number from the broadway show My Fair Lady. It's difficult to describe, but it sounded just like an opera singer singing a show tune.
The second singer was a jazz singer whom I liked very much. I don't normally like jazz music all that much (like opera, I just don't get it) but the singer really pulled me in. The third singer was a former Broadway star who probably should have ended her career a decade ago.
But music aside, the best part was the company. We went with my parents and their friends Debbie and Martyn, and we met in Torrance to pick up the bus and go. Why go all the way to Torrance (for you non-Southern Californians it's about a 45 minute drive from Anaheim)? There aren't any busses that go to Orange County. And we certainly weren't going to park like we did last time.
Once we hopped on the bus, luckily getting a row of 6 seats, we broke open the coolers for our hors d'ouevres. We whipped out our plastic wine glasses and started with a nice Vigonier, one of Kevin's preffered varietals of white wines. Cheese and sausage were passed around along with stuffed olives and toast with pate'. Upon arrival at the Bowl we had a little picnic with Mom's oven-fried chicken, bruschetta, very spicy green beans from Debbie, and our famous potato salad. Okay, we bought the potato salad from the grocery store, but reports are that it was good anyway.
There was, of course, more wine, followed by some wine. At intermission we passed around the desserts--fresh berries and cream and chocolate cookies--and more wine. The end of the performance was highlighted by a very cool fireworks show. Not as cool as Disneyland's of course, but still very cool. We then boarded the bus which was nothing like getting on the parking bus, and headed home with half of our group falling asleep.
All in all it was a very good time and I hope to do it again next year.
More meme-y fun and games. Yes, I know some people (coughKevinchough) don't really like these, but they're fun to me and they give you all something to read rather than the non-entry I might be puttting here (or, actually, leaving blank) instead. Soooooo...
Borrowed from Katie
Following is a list of 26 words, one for every letter of the alphabet. When you read each one, write out the first memory that is triggered by that word. If nothing is triggered, skip it and move onto the next word.
Astronaut The Challenger Explosion. I remember exactly where I was when that happened--in 7th grade math class. Also Discovery--if I were a crewmember right now there's NO WAY I'd be taking that shuttle back down to earth. NASA is "sure" that the falling pieces of foam did no damage and present no danger? Yeah--just like they were "sure" it wouldn't fall off again. Sorry--I'd be taking up residence in the International Space Station until someone could get a decent spaceship up to get me down.
Banjo Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah--strumming on the old banjo--is that what they call it these days? Anyway, I remember them being twangy and annoying.
Crystal deodorant. You know those crystal deodorants that's basically a rock you're supposed to wet and it banishes the stink naturally? Two words: "Doesn't. Work." I used this once on a very important night to a teenage girl to disasterous results. Never again.
Deviant Art at the Erotic Art Museum in Hamburg (don't bother clicking unless you speak/read German)
Erotic literature. My memory is this girl in high school who adamantly insisted that Harlequin Romances were hard-core erotica and felt compelled to hide them from her parents (and no, they were'nt super Christian conservatives either).
Fall down. I'm a klutz and I do that a lot. The one that immediately comes to mind was when I was walking Scout in Germany and tripped over her, bashing my knee into the ground and abrading my chin (of all places).
Gangster rap. Kevin tells this story of when he went to Germany and got into one of his co-worker's car and suddenly the radio was blasting gangsta rap. Hunh?
Hopeless depression, lots of it.
Idiotic people, and there seems to be a glut of them walking around. For example, everyone in the state of California who voted for Schwarzenegger.
Jump Rope rhymes--the ones you'd sing in elementary school
Kite The Kite Runner, a most excellent, excellent book.
Love buying Hallmark cards. How cynical is that? Hey, they said to say the first thing that pops in your head.
Merry-Go-Round vertigo and nausea, also trying to jump on while it was going and getting biffed and rubbed in the sand. Fun times!
Nickname I got called Shelb a lot as a kid. Still do but not as often.
Ouch "I am stuck on Band-Aids, 'cause Band-Aid's stuck on me" (watching tv in the 80s is the specific memory here.)
Purple my childhood favorite color
Quiet a command that means "No barking!"--we're still working on that one. In fact, it happened yesterday, so consider this a recent memory
Rabbit Our first pet rabbit Brownie. Brownis had some issues but he was awfully cute. I'd get another one, but they're loved by humans and hunted by beagles, so maybe not the best pet idea.
Stickers the premium ones to have in your collection--puffy, changeable, scratch and sniff, and googly eyes.
Toes Heads, shoulders, knees and...
Unique Me! As for a memory--well I've always been unique :).
Victory Winged, as in the Winged Victory statue displayed in the Louvre. I found it very impressive both times I went there. I love the Louvre. Except the getting lost part.
Wistful working at camp.
X-ray way too many to count, but a memorable one is one that Digory got recently of his leg. I was surprised to see how closely the bones matched those of humans.
Yellow or blonde, actually. I was just talking to someone about dying my hair again and I looked through a few pictures of me as a blonde. I think I make a good blonde, but I'm still not convinced I'm willing to spend the money to get a good colorist.
Zebra My parent's pictures of their trip to Africa.
Here's 1/2 of a meme I took from Annastazia.
Ten years ago: I was working at what would be my last year at Girl Scout camp.
Five years ago: I was corresponding by mail with the man who would become my husband.
One year ago: I was living in Germany and packing to come back home.
Yesterday: I worked out
Today: I went to the post office to mail 2 packages.
Tomorrow: I'm going to work out again.
Whenever I talk to a person who knows I'm writing a novel (which is pretty much everyone) they ask how it's going. So I thought I'd make a more public annoucement. I'm about 1/3 of the way through. I don't think I'll make my goal of finishing it this year, but I do feel I'll be able to get close to 2/3 done by the end of the year. This is a big leap forward to me as I was pretty stalled out for a while so I'm very glad to be on track.
Also, Kevin and I are going on a cruise to Mexico in December! Kevin has never been on a big ship cruise and I have only been once--when I was 13 or so--so I think we're really going to have a good time. Mom, travel agent extraordinaire, got us a fantastic deal and it was too good to pass up. We'll be in the highest bracket with our balcony, personal butler, and deluxe shower head for a great price. I can't wait!
Yesterday we went to the Orange County Fair. It was really fun! Kevin and I couldn't help comparing it to the Hamburger Dom (a carnival held in Hamburg 3 times a year). The midway and rides were the same but OC excelled in exhibits, shopping, animals (it was the County Fair after all), and most of all, the cost of concessions.
I'm telling you, we paid a mere $8 to get in, but once inside it was like Disneyland as far as food was concerned. Not that we let that stop us or anything. Throughout the day we snacked on homemade potato chips, fresh squeezed lemonade, funnel cakes, bratwurst (a little taste of Germany all over again!), and fried avocados.
Yes, that's right, fried avocados. The big theme of the fair this year was the Mighty Avocado. I'm not sure what this delicious piece of produce did to be named "Year of the Avocado" but I wasn't going to complain. When we'd gone to a wine tasting at the Wine Exchange on Saturday, the pourer told us about the fried avocados. Although he claimed they were "all over the place"--we wandered practically the entire fair looking for them before we found the ONE place that sold them. Anyway, curiousity got the best of me and I simply HAD to try the deep-fried avocados.
They were...interesting. Good, but nothing I'd write home about. I don't think I'd have them again. All of the other fair food was yummy but as I said, pretty expensive. I was reminded again how much I love fresh-squeezed lemonade, and Kevin very rightly pointed out that we have a million lemons on our own tree and really, I could make fresh lemonade any time I wanted. I never really thought of that.
We did stay to watch the Peking Acrobats. They were quite good, especially the gymnasts and the guy who balanced on 6 chairs on a platform with the bottom one being held up by champagne bottles. I was sure he was going to fall and crack his head open. If you happen to go by the fair, I highly recommend the Peking Acrobats.
About a month ago my cousins proposed having a BBQ for some family in the Southern California area. We figured it was going to be a smallish affair--the adults and kids (who are also adults) and the grandkids--grilling up some tri-tip and hanging out.
And then it went nuts. When Saturday rolled around, 3 folks came from Vegas, bringing Uncle Norb, who is in his 80s and is especially close to my grandfather, who is now 92. Then the "Mystery Guests" arrived--3 relatives from Arizona whose arrival was a complete surprise to everyone.
The little BBQ turned into a family reunion of sorts--all 29 (or so) of us. It was so much fun! Many of the relatives I hadn't seen since my wedding (3.5 years ago) and it was really wonderful to have such a great get-together. This pictures tells it all, I think:
Well we finally watched the acclaimed movie Sideways. My review can be summed up in one word:
Yes, I know it won an academy award for best writing and was nominated for several others. However, my impression of the movie was:
And please, if you loved this movie don't leave a comment telling me how much I don't understand or appreciate cinematography or moviemaking or whatever comment you're thinking of leaving. Frankly, movies fall into 3 categories for me: Love It, Hate It, or Don't Care. I'm not going for major movie criticism here, nor am I looking for a debate. Thank you for your understanding.
Kevin and I are cheap and don't like to use our air conditioner. However, when the inside thermostat hit 89 degrees, we decided it was time to crank it up. Today we're supposed to get a high of 92. I think I'll go out and sunbathe. Not.
Our trip to Berkeley was fantastic. Our main purpose was the wedding of Anita and Derek. Anita is Kevin's friend from college and she stood up to our wedding. In absence of a picture from her own wedding, here's a picture of Anita from our wedding with our best man David (please note that David is not the groom/her new husband):
The wedding was quite lovely and it was really nice to see Kevin's home church while he was at Berkeley. The only people Kevin knew there were the pastor and her partner, but we sat next to them and had some great conversation.
The night before the wedding was the night that Harry Potter came out at Midnight (see below). We hadn't planned on getting Harry Potter at midnight but it just kind of turned out that way. We originally went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a movie by Tim Burton starring Johnny Depp based on the book by Roald Dahl. We got ourselves all settled into the theater, made it through the pre-movie show, half of our Tub O' Popcorn, and the previews when the lights went out. A few minutes later an employee came out and said apologetically that the power was out on the whole block and we had to leave, getting free passes for our trouble. I was bummed but I would have been more bummed if we'd been halfway through the movie and had it crap out then.
So at 11:30 pm we found ourselves wide awake and antsy from the drive up with nothing to do...
We walked over to the nearby Borders to get a Harry Potter book there, but it too had closed and was dark. They must have been REALLY bummed because they were having an HP release event and were probably expecting to sell a significant number of books.
We then headed over to Cody's Bookstore, a Berkeley tradition (although the newer, fancier branch) and got in line there. The woman and two girls (wearing Potter costumes) directly behind us had come over from the doomed Borders as well. At midnight the doors opened and we made a dual entrance. I grabbed the Harry Potter and waited in the register line while Kevin dashed to the children's section to get a copy of Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the book). Cody's was extremely well-prepared. We were in and out in about 10 minutes.
Oh, I forgot to mention our other Friday activity--the Getting of Things Forgotten. I had just about the worst pair of dress shoes ever and Kevin had forgotten black socks so we popped into a shopping center that had a Ross and a shoe store. The next day we realized that Kevin had forgotten undershirts and I'd neglected to determine whether my dress could be worn with knee-highs (as it turned out, it can't, so I had to get a full pair of nylons).
Sunday we walked around and while we were eating lunch we spied a piercing studio across the street, so we stopped in. I've been meaning to get pierced for a while now but had never gotten around to it, so now was the time. Don't panic, I just got my ear lobes re-pierced. I had them pierced but they closed up so I needed to get them redone. Yes, only one hole in each lobe. I'm such a lightweight. Sunday night we met up with my friends Hai-Nhu and John and had the best pizza ever.
Monday we finally got back to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Oh my god, this movie is awesome! I'll review it in another post. Monday night we hit a great Chinese restaurant that we stumbled upon. It was like P.F. Chang's except, you know, real Chinese food. I had an awesome duck dish. After dinner we decided to stop by Ben and Jerry's for some ice cream.
We were the only customer at Ben and Jerry's until this man came in. He seemed really cagey and kept coming in and out of the restaurant looking very nervous. Naive me thought that he was double-parked and kept checking on his car. So he orders a sundae and then seems very confused when the girl asked him if he wanted a cherry. We sit down in the restaurant at a table where I was facing the cash register and Kevin's back was to it. He ordered another sundae and I (again naively) thought that he was going to take the ice cream and run.
After some discussion I couldn't hear, I saw the cashier nervously punching several buttons on the register to open it. At this point it finally dawned on me that he was probably intending to steal more than the ice cream sundaes. As he dived across the counter grabbing cash I kept saying to Kevin in a low voice "Look down. Look down. Look down." which he did. A million scenarios ran through my mind--did he have a gun? Was he going to come over to us and take my purse or my jewelry? Were we in danger?
As it turns out he was one of the world's most inept criminals. He grabbed what couldn't have been a lot of cash (I mean how much money do you really think you're going to find in a Ben and Jerry's register?) and left the store. Kevin then turned around to watch him jog away while I was still concentrating on looking down at the table. The cashier was totally and completely calm and simply called 911. Kevin of course missed the whole thing but I was a little freaked out so we took our ice cream and went back to the hotel.
Tuesday morning we did a little shopping and then headed back down to Anaheim, concluding our trip. So other than the robbery, it was a great trip (and once I realized that the robber didn't have a gun I was very much relieved).
I'm back and I have read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, book 6 in the series (of which there will eventually be 8).
There were two things known prior to the book release, which was on Saturday though many like myself (long story) bought the book at Midnight Friday night/Saturday morning. The first was the title and the second was that a character was going to die. This, of course, spawned 3 questions:
1. Who dies?
2. Who is the killer?
3. Who is the Half-Blood Prince?
After finishing the first chapter or so I had numbers 1 and 3 figured out--who died and who the Half-Blood Prince was. The killer surprised me although there was a setup for it in the first chapter.
All in all review? 3.5 out of 5 stars. Some things were poorly handled, some things were REALLY poorly handled, some things were same old-same old, but the story was still engaging and had a satisfying ending. Don't know how the author is going to stretch this series for 2 more books when 1 would cover it quite well enough. Also, Kevin and I have been speculating on what will happen post-Harry. Will J.K. Rowling quit writing? Or will there be something else? The future shall tell.
Why? Because I said so. Hey, at least I warned you before I disappeared!
In the meantime, check out my friend's Confessions of an English Teacher blog, or feel free to click on one of the appealing options found to the right.
When we got married, I'll never forget talking to the DJ about our parents. He asked us how many parents there were between us, and I said four. Four? Yes, my mom and dad, and Kevin's mom and dad. He couldn't believe it. No step parents, no divorces, no "I can't be on the same side of the room if he/she is there." The DJ actually admitted that he couldn't think of a wedding in his recent memory that had only four parents involved. He said, "Well that makes things a lot easier!"
Flash forward nearly four years and yes, we still have four parents between the two of us. And they're good parents too. Everyone I talk to has a problem with their parents or in-laws or both, making my four parents stand out as remarkable people. For example, here's a list of complaints other people have about their parents/in-laws. Our parents have never:
-Nagged us about having children
-Made comments about my weight
-Complained that we don't see them enough
-Stated implicitly or explicitly that I wasn't "good enough" for their son
-Compared us unfavorably to our siblings
-Made "helpful" suggestions on how to better live our lives
-Asked us for money
-Tried to guilt us into anything
-other things that aren't coming to mind
On the other hand, our parents have been generous enough to do things like care for one (or both) of our dogs while we vacation elsewhere. Although this is the trial run with Kevin's parents having both Scout and Digory in addition to
The White Menace Harry, their small, white dog. We'll see how the 3 of them all get along.
Anyway, I just wanted to say a big cheer to our four parents for being the best parents and in-laws ever!
Have one of those "dangerous" breeds like a pit bull or a mastiff? Here's your solution: Doggie disguise kits!
On September 11th, I was just waking up when Kevin came into the room. He'd been online and wondered why his stock ticker wasn't working, so he'd gone to cnn.com and saw their coverage of the attacks on a primitive page I could have hand-coded. As I said, Kevin came into the room and said, "They've bombed New York" and turned on the TV where we watched the horrifying coverage. It was an experience I hoped to never repeat.
And then, this morning, it happened again. Same scenario, I was about to take a shower and Kevin was poking around on the internet (we no longer watch TV) and saw the news. He came back into our room with tears in his eyes and said, "They've bombed London--a double-decker bus. Just like Madrid." We were both in shocked. I dreaded the next question but I had to ask, "How many people were killed?" When Kevin said about 30, I sighed with a bit of relief. So far it looks like "only" 37 people were killed--not on the scale of 9/11 and Madrid, but I'm sure to the families of those 37 people it makes no difference.
My prayers go out to all Londoners at this horrible moment. And I don't want to wake up to this kind of news anymore.
I just got a piece of spam offering to sell me Adobe Creative Suite.
The funny part? Kevin works on Adobe Creative Suite!
Happy 4th of July everyone! Hope your holiday weekend is full of fun. Ours has been so far--Saturday we went to a wine tasting, Sunday I had lunch with a friend and then Sunday night we went to the Mark Taper Forum to see the play Stuff Happens.
Today we headed to my cousins Tracy and Geoff's house for a BBQ. It was really fun. Kevin learned how to play backgammon (as I sat on the sidelines attempting to remember what my dad taught me about the game 20 years ago), and we stuffed ourselves on some serious good eatin'. My favorite was the sun-dried tomato chicken sausages--mmmmm.
Tonight, however, our house is going to catch on fire and burn to the ground. Fireworks were made illegal in my hometown, Torrance, over 20 years ago. Many California cities (most, I think) have adopted this, but three cities, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and Costa Mesa still have legal fireworks. Let's all say it together: BOOOOOOOO Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and Costa Mesa! So of course it's illegal here in Anaheim but when you can drive less than a few miles to one of our insane neighboring cities it's pretty hard to control.
So the result is that many of our neighbors are
ringing in the New Year celebrating our country's independence by attempting to blow up the neighborhood.
Personally, at-home fireworks scare the crap out of me. Even when fireworks were legal, we were always taught that they were Dangerous with a capital D. We children were not, under any circumstances, allowed to light one (only an adult with a lighter and a death wish had that privilege). The rockets that did nothing but make a high-pitched noise made me clamp my hands over my ears and the ones that spin around on the ground shooting sparks while it goes in circles (or is supposed to go in circles) made me want to run far, far away. The only ones I liked were those pinwheels that you attached to a tree and lit and watched them spin around. But come on--it's California, which has a desert climate, and is putting open flames on wood really such a good idea? I don't think so.
Disneyland (which we can see from our kitchen) has a special finale to their normal fireworks show, but the problem is that a lot of D-land's new fireworks are quite close to the ground, so we can't see them all that well. Angel Stadium is supposed to be having fireworks tonight but I haven't seen them.
Anyway, one thing I found particularly significant about this 4th of July was our American flag. Not displaying the flag, but taking it down and folding it. Kevin is, of course, an Eagle Scout and I was a Girl Scout. Both organizations hold the flag in high regard and Scouts are schooled in the proper handling and respect for the flag. In case you didn't know, there's a certain way an American flag is folded. In half lengthwise, then again, then on corner is triangulated over repeatedly until the flag is folded in the shape of a triangle. The end is tucked in and the stars are showing. (ignore the sales pitch at the bottom of that webpage)
The American flag should never be flown at night unless it has a light shining on it. Since we don't have a light, we've been taking our flag down every evening. We then bring it inside and fold the flag according to custom. It went unspoken between us--of course it takes two people to fold the flag. Of course we both knew how to do it. Of course we would, in our own private way, pay tribute to our country by folding the flag properly instead of just shoving it into the drawer.
I think there is a lot wrong with this country right now. I didn't vote for and don't agree with the current administration. I think our privacy rights are seriously in danger. I disagree with this war. And I should probably stop there lest I go into a blood pressure-raising diatribe.
But despite all of that, I love this country. I love displaying our flag. I love folding it properly and respectfully. I love being an American. Happy Independence Day.
Today was the last day we can go to Disneyland on our Annual Pass tickets until the 3rd week of August. We got a discounted pass and in exchange we have blackout dates (every Saturday, Christmas, Spring Break, July and most of August), so today was our last opportunity to get our Disney on.
By far my favorite ride at Disneyland is Space Mountain. For you non-Disney fans, Space Mountain is an indoor roller coaster in a darkened room/mountain so that you can't see the tracks. Well, you're not supposed to see the tracks but in Space Mountain's previous incarnation you could see them dimly. They also had these cheesy "asteroids" flying around you, one of which looked exactly like a Chips Ahoy cookie.
So as you may have guessed, Space Mountain had been closed for renovation and has now (un)officially reopened. The entire inside was gutted and replaced and new cars and effects were added. The bummer is that they didn't change the tracks. Don't get me wrong, Space Mountain is a cool roller coaster, but pretty tame as far as coasters go, and since they already scraped it, you'd think they could build something a little more sophisticated (like in Orlando, Disneyworld has an indoor roller coaster with a loop. Now that's what I'm talking about).
The official opening is not until July 15th but they're doing a "soft" opening now, which means that you agree to wait in line for as long as it takes while they're free to shut the ride down or skip cars or whatever while they work out the kinks. It was a tough choice--take a chance at a long line and ride shutdowns, or try out my favorite Disneyland ride now instead of waiting until August 21st. Let's see...
We decided to get an early start (well, early for ME) knowing that it was the last day for passholders with our pass (a Southern California exclusive) and that Space Mountain was probably going to be open, so all of the die-hards were going to go on it too.
We approached the entrance, noting that they'd done away with the cool moving walkway but rather routed you through what used to be a restaurant (although it looked like 1/2 of it still is the restaurant). The sign telling you how long the wait was said 105 minutes. An hour and 45 minutes? Sure! I was expecting the line to be much longer and told Kevin that if it was more than 3 hours I wasn't waiting. 105 minutes was a pleasant surprise.
After a short period where we moved 10 feet in 10 minutes, the line picked up and at a pleasant clip and we moved along quite nicely. Except for the initial entrance, the line hadn't changed any--you're still zig-zagging in the hot sun on the roof of the building. I don't know why they didn't put misters in. I was quite surprised by the time it took us to move into the building. The queue inside the building was the same with the exception of tv screens telling you to buckle up and opaque panels where you used to be able to peek into the ride and see, well, the tracks.
I was very excited by the time we reached the dock. Total time from entrance to car=55 minutes--half of what they quoted us. The big changes in the ride were supposed to be the effects, including a great new soundtrack. Halfway through the ride I realized that we weren't getting any music--or any sound at all for that matter--the risk you take with a soft opening.
Still, it was worth it. The ride is totally dark now and you really feel like you're shooting through space (well, like you're on a roller coaster shooting through space). They did throw in a Chips Ahoy asteroid in the beginning, probably for nostalgia and a hat tip to all of us longtime parkgoers. The light effects in the beginning and end were very cool, but epileptics should definitely avoid this ride. The only bummer was that, like they said, didn't change the track! So unfortunately, having ridden this ride about a million times, I basically knew what to expect.
But overall, Space Mountain remains my favorite Disneyland ride, and I'm SO glad we got to experience it before August 21st.