Photo Friday: Darkness

This week's challenge: 'Darkness'

Looking up from the alley behind the Spring Arts Tower, Los Angeles, CA.


Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

Our seasons here in Southern California are not typical. Instead of the normal four, we have Rainy, Mudslide, Summer, and Fire. June is gloomy. For most of the year, this is a really nice change from the humid and cold climates I used to live in.

Unfortunately, Fire Season is upon us and there is a huge fire burning west of me. The air is thick, smoky, and pungent. I already have a bit of a cold and there is a likely chance the smoke will trigger my asthma. This is aside from the fact that people are having to evacuate their homes, not knowing whether they will be there when they return.

The smoke and fires do add brilliant colors to the sunset. I'm sure we'd all breathe a bit easier with just a regular old sunset though.

Heading west on the 101 Freeway.


It's THAT Time of Year Again

Yep, I mean the new fall tv season. I've checked out a few new things. I did not care for How I Met Your Mother or Threshold.

I did enjoy the premiere of Lost and the first two episodes of My Name is Earl. It was fun to see a friend of a friend guest starring on tonight's episode of Earl. I was also quite amused by the bumper sticker "Jesus is my airbag."

There is still a bunch of stuff on the Tivo waiting to be watched, but who has the time?


Ren Asks, I Answer

...but not necessarily in the most coherent manner.

1. How many (paying) jobs have you had in your life time?
I suppose this discounts the numerous babysitting jobs I had since I started doing that in 6th grade (which is exclusive of all of the non-paid babysitting I did for my brothers). Okay, I'll get to the point. The answer is 6. Only 6.

  • Kinney Shoes, Exton Mall, Exton, PA
  • Western Main Line YMCA, Downingtown, PA
  • Student Cook, Terrace Dining Hall, Ithaca College
  • My first job as a Physical Therapist at a hospital in Jacksonville, FL
  • My current job as a Pediatric Physical Therapist (11 years in a couple of weeks)
  • Per diem job at a local hospital I had for a couple of years approximately 5 years ago

Pretty limited and boring. Maybe I should branch out and become a waitress or something.

2. Please name three things you have learned from television.
  • The scary monster is usually just the town creep wearing a mask to frighten people. He'd get away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids!
  • The Smurfs theme song, which I hum (out loud) on nearly a daily basis.
  • "Reality" as portrayed on tv is not very realistic.

3. Please name three things you have learned from books.

  • Male dogs like having their chests scratched/rubbed because it mimics the feeling they have when mounting another dog.
  • Florence Nightingale observed the benefit of animal companions for sick people in the 1800s.
  • Often we have to choose between what is right and what is easy. (Albus Dumbledore)

4. And now three things you have learned from ME! Heheh yeah, I know, I know, it's a tough one.

  • Unfortunately, the definition of a "merkin."
  • The New Pornographers are a great band!
  • Blueberry wine from New Jersey rocks!
5. Someone's BIRTHDAY is coming up!! Did you ever want a pony when you were a little girl?
Honestly, no. My best friend in elementary school, Vickie, actually had one named Pepper. We occasionally rode her around the front yard.

6. What did you most want and never get for your birthday?
I'm sure there is something, but I honestly can't remember. Since my birthday is later in the year, I have probably ended up getting whatever I didn't get (and bothered to complain about) for Christmas.

7. What did you get that you really, really loved?
A certificate for my own dog, which ended up being Little Guy.

8. What would be your ideal way to spend your special day?
I'd love to spend the day at a spa, being pampered and relaxing. I could really use a massage, that's for sure. After the spa, I'd have a nice dinner and a drink or two (and maybe a movie or show) with Eric and possibly some friends.

9. Do you feel old yet?
On some days, no I don't. On others (like most Mondays), yes. Ask me again this weekend. I may feel old by then.

10. You've got a long way to go before you are old. Any goals to achieve before a certain age?

Lots of goals, but one of the problems is I do not have a certain age to meet them by, so they end up being vague.
  • Lose weight
  • Write a book or two
  • Practice animal-assisted therapy
  • Take a photography class
  • Travel to New Zealand
  • Travel to Europe


Photo Friday: Burn

This week's challenge: 'Burn'

Unfortunately, I already used one of my firey robot photos for 'Chaos.' I like the flame on this photo of a citronella candle.


The IF YOU Edition of Ren's 10

1. If you were a tv show, what tv show would you be?
Six Feet Under. I am fascinated by life and death, as this show was as well. I tend to be a realist and SFU dealt with things realistically, not in a sugar-coated, wrapped up in a pretty bow way like a lot of programs tend to do.

2. If you were a dog, what kind of dog would you be?
According an online quiz I've done, a French Bulldog. I've done it more than once and always come out the same. Funny thing is, I happened to meet a cute French Bulldog puppy in Michael's Wednesday evening. Her name is Bella.

If I got to choose though, I'd be a mutt that looked like Little Guy with Rusty's personality and Cosette's intelligence.

3. If you find these questions as silly as I do then tell me. I see you bought a book about skepticism, tell me one thing you are skeptical about.
The questions are silly, but fun. Fun is good.

I'm skeptical about lots of things. Some specific things are chiropractic, the realism of "reality" tv, whether or not I'll ever be on time for work...I could go on and on, but won't. Just suffice it to say, I lean more toward a scientific explanation for things as opposed to just having faith.

4. What in particular tends to catch you eye and make you want to take a photo?
Animals, nature, color. Things that are orange, interesting or funny signs, dogs, unique street lamps, colorful flowers, sunsets, tiny cars. There are a lot of things around L.A. I'd like to photograph.

5. Please name one thing you would like to know how to do but don't YET know how to do.
Fix photo flaws, such as a giraffe wound, in Photoshop.

6. What was your first real job and did you like it?
Salesperson at a shoe store. I did not like it. I do not like to sell. I would get reprimanded for not being pushy enough. I also worked with some really creepy men there.

7. What one very expensive thing would you like to have but can not justify so you will do without?
A new car.

8. What one very inexpensive thing has made your life so much better?
Berry flavored sparkling water. It is pretty inexpensive at Trader Joe's and is helping me drink a lot less soda.

9. What impresses you?
People who are incredibly talented either artistically, professionally or otherwise, but who remain grounded and humble.

10. What are you thinking about doing this weekend?
I'm going to the Hollywood Bowl on Friday, working Saturday, and going to watch some kung fu films at a friend's house on Sunday. Other than that, I plan to help Eric get things ready for an upcoming screening, do some household chores and some reading.


I *heart* Emo!

Last night was the next to the last Monday that Emo Philips will be performing at the Steve Allen Theater in L.A. He's been there since July and I've gone to a number of the shows. Eric and I have talked to him several times, so now he recognizes us as regulars and even let us give him requests for jokes for the last show. I couldn't think of anything except one about his mother going through his socks and underwear ("it tickled!") while Eric, of course, thought of the more intellectual French, existentialist seagull joke. That is one of my favorites too.

Having gotten various things signed at previous shows (photo, cd, t-shirt) I decided to get a photo with Emo this time. He even had a matching jacket for me to put on! And he told me to mess up my hair like his!

I'm going to miss my Monday nights with Emo. *sniff*


Recent Literary Purchases

Okay, the "literary" adjective can probably be disputed in a few of these cases.



Now, I just have to make some time to sit down and read all of this, along with my current reads Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan, Spiral Bound by Aaron Renier, and issues 3-6 of Tramps Like Us.


Easy Come, Easy Go

Another weekend come and gone in the blink of an eye it seems. I'll give a brief rundown of my various adventures. I'm also in the process of uploading lots of new photos to Flickr, which may take me awhile to complete.

Thursday 9/15
  • My monthly geek-out at the Stereoscopic Club of Southern California meeting. I mostly go to help Eric with his 3D computer display equipment and to hang out with my friend Robin whose boyfriend is the president of the club. It's the only time outside of weddings or funerals that you will find me in a church.
  • Cagematch at Improv Olympic West. Our friend's team lost after winning four weeks in a row. It was fun anyway.
  • Dinner at the Nova Express Cafe on Fairfax. Cool, funky sci-fi and comic book decor and excellent food.

Friday 9/16:

  • Dentist. I don't have to have any work done. Hooray!
  • Trip to Swain's to purchase supplies for mounting some photos I'm displaying in an employee art show at work this week.
  • Mounted my 5 photos with lots of help from Eric and then rushed them to work to meet the submission deadline.
  • Late dinner at The Cheesecake Factory in Marina del Rey. A bit of a drive, but Eric had to return a video camera to a friend there. Besides, they have nice outdoor seating right on the marina so it is my favorite branch of the chain to go to.
  • Stopped at the World Book and News 24-hour newsstand in Hollywood. It was just about 2am, so all of the obnoxious drunks were pouring out of the bars. Good times. We stopped to see a magazine Eric wanted to check out. I wasn't planning on making any purchases. I bought several magazines and he only got one.

Saturday, 9/17:

  • Woke up fairly early to clean the backyard, patio and house in preparation for a screening party that night.
  • While doing some laundry, the plumbing backed up into laundry basin.
  • Eric resolved the plumbing issue around 3pm, leaving us 4 hours total to get it together.
  • Somehow we managed to get everything prepared and had a barbecue and screening of Better Off Dead with 15 people, starting at 7pm.
  • One of the highlights of the evening (besides Ren's fabulous dark chocolate cupcakes!) was having our filmmaker friend Devi, who lives in Indiana, join us as she was in L.A. for a film festival.

Sunday, 9/18:


Photo Friday: Divine

This week's challenge: 'Divine'

Buddy Christ, 2004 San Diego Comic Con


Hitting the Trails

I went on a hike tonight and it kicked my butt. I haven't been for a few weeks, but decided to go with six other women from work. We were chatting and trying to beat the impending darkness, so we really booked up the hill and up the hill and up the hill. Since I'd been snacking on sugar-loaded Japanese candy all day, I kind of hit an energy low a bit before leaving for Griffith Park.

Some of the girls were nervous because they saw a very large snake last week that was swollen from eating some poor woodland creature. It was pretty lethargic, but then this doofus came along and poked it with a stick and it got (understandably) very angry. There was much debate at work today as to whether anyone would even go.

We went and we didn't see any snakes, but there were a couple of snake trails across the dirt path that we spotted. A guy in the parking lot told us as we were setting out that he had seen a snake up near a particular water tower. I think it was getting cool enough and dark enough, it had gone to bed when we got up to that area.


I'm mildly obsessed with Japanese pop culture. I heard about this upscale, Japanese-style "convenience store" in West Hollywood and just had to check it out! It's called Famima!! and yes, the exclamation points seem to be part of the name.

Last night after seeing Emo Phillips perform his unique and hilarious comedy show and a bite to eat at Canter's Deli, we stopped in Famima!! It's open and bright and green and shiny and I really, really like it! You can see here what Famima's roll-out plan is for L.A. I was dismayed to find out I don't live in an area with high living standards.

I made a few purchases at the shop, including some Japanese candies, one of which came with a toy surprise I discovered this morning. I also got some fancy teas and a cleaning sponge. Besides basic food items, internet access, coffee, magazines in English and Japanese, you can get fancy chocolates, stationary items, and toiletries at Famima!! They even had black Q-tip type ear swabs. Now, I'm not quite sure why one would want these. Perhaps to see the ear wax better? Ew, no thanks.

Oh yeah, I also bought a dark chocolate candy bar called "Dagoba." Okay, that has to win me some points on the geek scale.


The Monday Ten From Ren

9/13/05 @ 1:00 am: I wrote these answers when it was actually still Monday. I was feeling really awful, thought my head was going to explode, so I went home early and saved this.

This week: It's all about you, baby!

1. How are you today?
Tired and headachy.

2. What would make your day better?
No work, a tall rum drink, no headache, a nap, and a good book.

3. Is there anything I can get you?

4. What would you like to do today?
I'd like to go see Emo Philips, so I will do that!

5. Let's say I'm making dinner for you. What would you like to have?
I could really go for a nice filet mignon with mashed potatoes and green beans.

6. How was traffic for you today?
It was great since I overslept and then slept some more. I was on the road at 10:15 instead of 7:00 and it was lovely. I'd planned on taking the subway today actually, but by 10:00 there is no more parking.

7. You get to watch whatever you want on tv tonight. What will you be watching? (assume you will be watching tv and not doing something else)
I don't even know what comes on tv on Monday nights. If I got to watch anything I wanted to, it would be my new Barenaked Ladies dvd that I got last week and haven't opened yet.

8. How's your CMYK and RGB? (heh)
They are both moist, thank you very much.

9. If we went to the movie tonight, what would YOU want to see?
I'm too tired tonight and already have plans, so let's wait until Friday and see Thumbsucker.

10. Well,l I asked BeaucoupKevin for one question: Miniature or regular golf? Show your work.
Miniature. I've tried 9-hole "real golf" with James and Eric. It was so boring...ugh! I suck at mini golf, but it's fun.

The Forgotten Favorite

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

-Groucho Marx


Rockin' The Suburbs

Ben Folds' first solo album Rockin' The Suburbs was released on September 11, 2001. Eric bought it that day and it sat, unopened, on our dining room table for a couple of weeks. We just couldn't bear to listen to it while being in shock, etc. over the events that had occurred. Once I finally got around to listening to the cd, I found it to be healing. Music often does that for me.

That October, Ben did a couple of shows in L.A. and we were lucky enough to be able to go to a very intimate show he did at a bowling alley in Eagle Rock. This (crappy) photo is of him while he was being interviewed.

After the interview and show in the bowling alley bar, Ben met all of the fans and signed autographs. I told him how much his album helped pick me up from feeling so low after the September 11th events. I think he really appreciated it.

Low Budget Fun

This weekend's (includes Thursday night since I was off on Friday) activities included:
  • Pictures at an Exhibition at the Hollywood Bowl ($1 tickets)
  • Late night improv competition at Improv Olympic West (free)
  • Vaudeville show at the Steve Allen Theater (free since a friend was performing in the show)
  • Dinner at Simply Thai in Los Feliz with the lead performer, some of the musicians, and the director of the vaudeville show (not free)
  • Fantazius, an art, film, music, fashion, and poetry event at the Spring Arts Tower in downtown L.A. (free with the catch of running the projection system for the short films and poetry reading)
  • Pizza slices at Albano's on Melrose (not free)
  • Midnight comedy show at the Steve Allen Theater ($5 per ticket)
Lots of fun for not too much money. There are actually a lot of low-cost and free things to do in L.A. We mostly spent money on food, which wasn't that much. I ended up spending more at Target this evening when I ran in for a few items than I had on entertainment for two for the entire weekend!


Photo Friday: Massive

This week's challenge: 'Massive'

Gorilla, San Diego Wild Animal Park, June 2003


Reality Check

I claim to not like so-called "reality tv." We all know those shows are creatively edited (and at times even scripted), so few truly portray reality.

Apparently, Americans can't handle reality anyway. The government has once again put a ban on reality. Personally, I'm a realist and like to know what is going on.

Anyway, that was an aside. I really came here to confess. There are several of those programs I do watch. I'm late to join in, but have recently become hooked on Rockstar: INXS. I even voted last night! Ack! (I'm pulling for Marty and I think he has a good shot).

I'm also watching The Real World: Austin. I haven't watched that show in years, but I work with a relative of one of the people of the show, so it's for the curiosity factor.

Tellin' You Questions, Asking Me Lies

More fun questions from Ren!

1. Do you have a favorite restaurant in L.A.?

Wow, there are so many good restaurants here. I honestly can't say I have one favorite. So, I'll list some of my favorites by cuisine or type of place:
  • Indian: Electric Lotus
  • Thai: Ruen Pair
  • Pizza: Albano's
  • Diner: Fred 62
  • Deli: Canters
  • Mexican: Casita del Campo
  • Japanese: Yamakawa
  • Burgers: The Counter
  • Italian: Vitello's
  • Fast Food/Chain: Sharky's
2. How about in the world?
Glenwood Pines, Ithaca, NY. (First thing to pop into my head). I haven't really been too many places in the "world" and certainly didn't have very good food on my limited travels abroad...we can discuss steak and kidney pie in another entry sometime.

3. Do you have a favorite quote?
No, I don't. I did see a quote recently that I like though:
"Anatomical dissection gives the human mind an opportunity to compare the dead with the living, things severed with things intact, things destroyed with things evolving, and opens up the profoundness of nature to us more than any other endeavor or consideration."
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German Poet

4. Depeche Mode is going on tour again. I saw them a long time ago and although I have always liked them, I was a little surprised how much I loved them in concert. Is there any band that you kind of went to see begrudgingly and then ended up loving?
Great Big Sea. We went along with a friend who was a big fan. I went thinking it'd be okay, but not expecting much. What a fun one of my favorites! (I'd love to see Depeche Mode sometime).

5. What is the coolest thing you have seen in the past seven days?
Chocolate Peeps!

6. Are there any new tv shows you have heard about that you are curious to see or looking forward to seeing?
  • My Name is Earl
  • Prison Break
  • Invasion
  • Extras
7. When you go in a bookstore, what section do you head to first?
The dog section of animals. That or humor.

8. If you got a tattoo, what would it be and where?
I have no idea. If I knew, I'd have it.

9. What one skill do you not have but wish you did?
Musical ability of some sort. Maybe singing.

10. What is your favorite flower?

Answers subject to change depending on day, mood, hormonal state, etc.


The Shell in the Canyon

I spent a great deal of my long weekend at the Hollywood Bowl. Three nights in a row, three very different shows with very different crowds. All fun. All attended with different groups of good friends. I'm in the process of getting photos uploaded to my Flickr site, but that may take me awhile.

In brief:
  • Saturday, 9/3: John Williams conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The Hollywood Bowl seats just under 18,000 and it was sold out. Lots of light sabers appeared during the last part of the show which was dedicated to his Star Wars music. (We followed the Saturday night show with a midnight comedy show in Hollywood. 4 of our 6 friends that were at the Bowl joined us).
  • Sunday, 9/4: Brian Williams with Polyphonic Spree. Not sold out, so we moved down to better seats. I enjoyed the good time, hippie vibe of the Spree. Brian Wilson was really enjoyable too, performing many Beach Boys tunes, taking a break, then returning to perform Smile. He followed that with a few more Beach Boys songs. He has a great band and strong back-up singers which help him out a lot. The crowd was generally older than Friday night and we had a great view of a dancin' granny right in front of us!
  • Monday, 9/5: Louis XIV performed followed by a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Again, not sold out, so we moved to better seats. Many people in costume and armed with all of the props needed for audience participation during the film. Louis XIV was great...I'd been wanting to see them live and was quite pleased. Jane Wiedlin hosted the evening. She's a hoot!

It was nice to have a long weekend, but it went by too fast. I had my usual Sunday night insomnia/bad work dreams when I finally sleep Monday night instead, so I feel Monday-tired today. At least it's a short week.


Long Weekend Quickly Coming to an End

It's amazing how fast a long weekend can go. I don't work on Fridays and I have today off, so that's 4 days in a row. And it's almost over. I've done a lot, in terms of fun stuff, but not accomplished as much otherwise. I keep getting distracted by things like sleep and CNN.

I have cleaned my house a bit and caught up some on laundry, but still have a way to go with that. I hope to get some photos uploaded to Flickr and start reading my library book "The Demon-Haunted World" by Carl Sagan. I finished the first issue of Legal Drug, a manga title that was pretty good. I just ordered several issues of Tramps Like Us, so I don't know when or if I'll get around to more issues of the other.

There is now some publicity about the rescue efforts for pets that were stranded on the Gulf Coast. I'm not trying to say that pets are more valuable than humans who are still in need of rescue and shelter, but having dogs who are like family members to me, I understand how important this cause is as well.


Laughter is Good Medicine

I finally saw The 40 Year Old Virgin last night. I recommend it for a good laugh. When it was initially advertised, I kind of rolled my eyes. But I then learned that Judd Apatow was involved and immediately gained interest. I was a fan of his two much-too-short-lived tv series Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. The film definitely had its low-brow moments, but also had a heart and characters I cared about. There were several good laughs which we could all use these days.

A couple of movies I'm looking forward to:

I snapped a photo of this poster at the theater last night. I really hope Rent doesn't suck. I'm a huge fan of the musical, which I saw twice. The movie has most of the original Broadway cast reprising their roles, except they're ten years older, so I hope it works.

I didn't get a shot of the ad for the upcoming Cronenberg flick A History of Violence. Two of my favorite actors, Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris, are in it, so I'm really looking forward to it.


Quotes of the Day or So Much for Not Getting Political

I never thought I'd agree with Newt Gingrich, but...

Gingrich said the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina “puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years, because if we can’t respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we’re prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?” (AP)

And from Sri Lanka...

"I am absolutely disgusted. After the tsunami our people, even the ones who lost everything, wanted to help the others who were suffering," Sajeewa Chinthaka, 36, as he watched a cricket match in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

"Not a single tourist caught in the tsunami was mugged. Now with all this happening in the U.S. we can easily see where the civilized part of the world's population is." (Reuters)

Roller Coaster

Sadness, anger, fear.

Disbelief, wonder, exasperation.

Frustration, sympathy, guilt.


I keep cycling through so many emotions that my head is pounding.

I'm turning off CNN, closing the computer. I'm not forgetting. I am not ignoring, but I need to focus on some things at home that I can actually address and do.

Photo Friday: Order

This week's challenge: 'Order'

Pineapple field, Oahu


Tramps Like Us

Even though I've attended the gi-normous San Diego Comic Con for the past 7 years, I'm still a relative newbie when it comes to comic books. This year I decided to try something I'd never read before...manga. I am somewhat fascinated with Japanese culture and thought it'd be fun to give it a try. So, I ventured to the TokyoPop booth to see what caught my eye. I got some recommendations from experienced readers, but could only find later editions. I wanted to get some Volume Ones.

I picked up a few titles and found out it was a "buy 4, get 5th free" special. So, I picked up a Volume 2 of one of the books, Tramps Like Us.

My first manga read turned out to be successful. I really enjoyed the first two books in the Tramps Like Us series. I just ordered the next four that are available. I read that these books were so popular in Japan that a live-action tv show was spawned. It is an amusing and charming story of a woman who adopts a young man she finds on the street as a "pet." Here's a real review, if you want to know more.

While I wait for the next books to be delivered, I've started reading (from back to front, of course!) Legal Drug. I really want to read all of the books I bought at Comic Con, but it's going slowly due to interruptions such as Harry Potter. I also just picked up a Carl Sagan book at the library in preparation for my book club meeting next week.


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