Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Last 3 Months in 3 Minutes Flat…

So… it’s been awhile since I last made any major posts in here. Let’s see if we can sum things up a bit:

* Well, the Chatsworth/Simi Valley brushfires in late September thru early October burned thru 24,000 acres. Luckily, no one was killed, and only a few homes were damaged or destroyed. The smoke and ash were extremely thick where I work, and we were closed for two days, but all was well, otherwise.

* In mid-October we had an actual thunderstorm along the southern California coast. What’s the big deal about that? Well, oddly enough, although I’m used to thunder and lightning having grown up in Philly, it’s actually a rare event over here. Sure, we get rain… but thunder (for whatever reason) doesn’t make its voice heard much in this region. It brought back fond memories.

* My nephew, Vinny (the bass player from the now defunct band, The Writ), ended up working for us in the warehouse for a few weeks at my place of business. Things got really hectic at the office, and he needed cash. It worked out well. I’m sure we’ll call on him again when things get crazy again.

* One of the guys from my bible study group died suddenly of a massive heart attack. Shocked everybody. Granted he was in his 60s, but he was fit and healthy. What made it even more shocking was the fact that his daughter’s husband had just died 40 days earlier after battling brain cancer. His son-in-law was in his 20s, and left behind his wife and a 1-year-old son. Everyone was devastated at the double tragedy for that family.

* My Dad (who just turned 80, by the way) and my oldest brother Ray (who just turned 50, by the way) came out to visit me. It was the second time my Dad has flown out in the last few years, and it was the fourth trip for my brother. It was a great 4-day visit, and I was happy to see their faces again. We went to the President Reagan Library & Museum while they were here, and had the chance to see the new Air Force One exhibit (damn, that Boeing 707 wingspan is huge!). I'll probably be visiting family and friends back east later this year.

* By mid-November, the Santa Ana winds kicked up (they usually do this time of year), and started another brushfire – this time a lot closer to where I live! My place wasn’t in harm’s way, but one of my colleagues from work lives just a few blocks from the edge of that blaze. He and his wife were a bit frantic that first morning, but thankfully the firefighters did another excellent job in containing the fires. Once again, no one was harmed and no property was damaged.

* I went to the Farscape convention for only one of the three days in Burbank @ the Hilton, and had the chance (although briefly) to meet up with some good friends from on-line. Saw actress Gigi Edgely up close (damn, she’s so cute!... even though I tend to like brown-eyed brunettes).

* My neighbor and good friend of 11 years moved up north. I’ll miss her.

* My nephew and I went to an L.A. Kings hockey game at the Staples Center (first time there). They certainly don’t give you much room to sit, let alone move, in the upper level. The game was good (Kings 4 – Coyotes 1), but way too many ticky-tack penalties were called (18 total) throughout the game. It’s a trend this entire season throughout the league, and it’s starting to make the game boring if the refs don’t let up.

* I spent waaaaaaay too much money for Christmas gifts this year, but hey… it’s Christmas, right? Besides… I got a pay raise and a nice Christmas bonus.

* Over the course of the last several months I saw a handful of films (either in the theaters or on DVD). “Sin City” is visually stunning in somewhat the same way that “Sky Captain” was. Both were done as a mix of live action and computer generation - the former in graphic novel black and white, the latter in Buck Rogers-esque sepia-tone. “Sin City” is quite violent and the dialogue is at times very lame, while “Sky Captain” was dry and boring. The extras on the DVDs definitely add to the experience, and I’d give both films 5 wine bottles out of 5 for stunningly unique eye candy, but only 2 bottles out of 5 for storyline and dialogue.

* “Wicker Park” was a bit predictable, and “Garden State” was okay in parts, but neither rose above 3 wine bottle level.

* The latest “Cube” flick is out on DVD, called “Cube Zero” and it’s a prequel to the successful independent sci-fi franchise. For those who are unfamiliar, I’d highly suggest renting all three films: “Cube”, “Cube 2: Hypercube” and “Cube Zero” (in that order). Granted, some of the various death scenes are violent in their ingeniousness, and the dialogue gets a bit stilted at parts. But it’s a unique concept that's perfect for those who like “Pi” and “Momento”. For the whole Cube series, definitely 4 wine bottles out of 5.

* I also checked out “The Chronicles of Narnia” during the holidays, and it is wonderful! The young actress who plays the lead role is fabulous. For those of you who liked the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, this is right up your alley. It’s less epic and more fairytale, but then that’s the direction that C.S. Lewis took with his novels back in the ‘50s. He and Tolkien were good friends and encouraged each other to continue with their fantastic literary universes. It's another film worthy of 4 wine bottles out of 5, with more films in the series to come.

* I’ve seen three other movies worth mentioning: “Broken Flowers”, “The Jacket” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” I want to re-watch “Broken Flowers” again (now that it’s out of DVD) before commenting on it. I’ll also give a brief write-up of the other two films later.

* I’ve been extremely busy with work since mid-October. Exhaustingly so! We’ve been short-staffed as well, which doesn’t help.

* And, I haven’t touched my new guitar in, like, two months!!! It sits there on it’s guitar stand right by my TV and it mocks me every time I sit down on the couch. I feel guilty for neglecting her. I haven’t even named her yet. But things at work will continue to be crazy for another month or so…

*... especially with the annual NAMM Trade Show coming up next week at the Anaheim Convention Center (Jan. 19-22). Imagine anything and everything ever manufactured for making and performing music in one place at one time. It’s like the largest music mall in the whole world, and it fills up practically the entire convention center: guitars, keyboards, pianos, drums, cymbals, violins, saxophones, trumpets, microphones, mixing boards, lighting, rigging, recording equipment, amps, monitors, speakers, sound systems, sheet music, strings, straps, stands, sticks, cables, cords, computers, sound cards, software, hardware, samplers, sample libraries, virtual instruments, promotional items, clothing… it’s endless. With various famous, non-famous, and infamous musicians signing autographs and performing songs. And businesses making contacts, signing contracts, making deals, introducing new products, pressing the flesh with dealers and retailers. It’s insane. And I’ll be there next weekend smack-dab in the middle of a 12-day straight work stretch.

Well… that’s more than 3 minutes of reading, but that’s my life these last 3 months (give or take). All that’s missing is a beautiful woman (and a slightly higher pay check to pay off my Christmas debt).

‘Til next time...