Sunday, August 26, 2007

From Monsterpiece to Gorey

A study in derivations and distractions: For reasons soon after forgotten, I was trying to explain a Sesame Street series of sketches over the phone. Moreover I was trying to explain a single sketch, "Upstairs Downstairs" (I believe this is the title), starring an increasingly fatigued and exasperated Grover who runs, true to the title, upstairs and downstairs, exclaiming each destination as he travels. The moronic repetition and Grover's frenetic, panting delivery endeared this sketch to me for life.

But in order to put the sketch that I was explaining (or attempting to explain) in context, I needed (or rather, my tangential brain required me) to explain Masterpiece Theatre, hosted by Alistair Cook, from which flowed the parody host of Monsterpiece Theatre, Alistair Cookie, played by the smartly smoking jacketed Cookie Monster.

Sadly, I couldn't find that exact sketch, the Monsterpiece Theatre parody of Upstairs Downstairs, though I was able to find the parody of "The 39 Steps" (the above "The 39 Stairs," similarly themed to the sought-after clip, though emphasizing teaching numbers rather than "up" and "down").

That film, parodied so succinctly by Frank Oz's hand up a puppet's rump (two puppets: as he is both Cookie Monster and Grover), was directed by Alfred Hitchcock (for an extensive overview of the film and an obsessive, ongoing dissection of all films in the Criterion Collection, you can peruse this blog), from the book by John Buchan.

I read the book sometime during my freshman year of college and it's been on my bookshelf since. Still, less than two years ago, I purchased another copy of the book. Not because I loved the book so much (though I enjoyed it), but because I came across an edition too beautiful too pass up. This hardbound edition is impeccably designed, with gold edged pages and gold foil stamping on the cover and spine, and, more importantly, is illustrated by one of my lifelong favorites, Edward Gorey.

Gorey is of course better known to some for his brilliant work on the introduction to the (for an appreciable run) Vincent Price hosted "Mystery!" That title sequence was one of my introductions to what animation could be, though I see it so rarely in American television and film: seemingly two-dimensional characters that, while moving and living in the world of sound so often reserved for the cute and the bumbling, are not clowns... these characters did not exist for sheer comedy (while not ignoring comedy at the same time). I have never been able to shake this minute-long revelation (following it with Vincent Price's dry throated greeting didn't hurt in insuring its impact).

Not to leave these out of the meandering path of this post, here are some other Monsterpiece Theatre parodies I came across while snooping in vain for Upstairs Downstairs:

The Sound of Music
The Postman Always Rings Twice
Inside/Outside Story

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Wild and Floating Brain of Spike Jonze

Spike Jonze has long been one of my favorite modern directors. Few directors (Michel Gondry arguably among them) have shown the ability to surpass Jonze in inventiveness and, well, just plain fun in film.

A perfect example of that invention and fun is this (above) commercial (which I never saw on television, but loved from the second I caught it on the internet). The effortless hypnogogic floating in this video makes me all the more excited to see what he does with "Where the Wild Things Are" (a sneak peek of which is below). The film's October 2008 release can't come soon enough.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wedded Topography

While I couldn't post this before the wedding had happened, I wanted to share this invitation I designed and drew for my good friends James Kennedy and Heather Norborg, since it ended up being such fun to produce. James and Heather were willing to part with sanity enough to let me do whatever I wanted, so, knowing their affinity for travel, I had Heather draw up a list, in chronological order, of all the places they'd been together. She then had to say how long they'd been at each of these places and how significant/great their time there was, on a scale of -10 to +10, and I used all of that data to build their mythological island (I should probably also mention that Heather is a librarian and James is an author of fantasy/adventure books for young adults, so a map that looked like it might come from an ancient book seemed all the more appropriate).

To shape the island I used the time spent in each location as the size of each land formation, and the significance/greatness rating as the altitude for the land formation. Starting from the left hand edge and spiraling inward, I posited the land masses and – presto – the land of Noredy. The water around the island stems from where they grew up and where they live now. The ugly slug in the water was based on their answer to my question of "What is you biggest fear as a couple?" All those ancient maps have a cool sea beast in them, after all. (I based the beast's look on an old Icelandic map creature.)

Congratulations to James and Heather (one of my favorite couples (in addition to being stellar people individually)), and thanks for letting me produce a slightly insane, 18 x 24" fold out map for your invitation. Hopefully no grandparents were scared by the Beast of Boredom. That creature certainly wasn't present at the wedding itself.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I'm combining Seattle and Portland into one massive post. It's done. It's finished. No more whimpering. Here we go.

For the most part this will be light on text (because, come on, really, who cares what I'm saying, right? Right.) and heavy on pictures.

Our hosts in Seattle, the ever reliable Eric Reynolds, and his wife, Rhea, showed us a great time in our two day stay there. After finding their house (and passing a car decorated as a boat carrying about ten screaming pirates, one of which lost his hat in the intersection, hopped out, scooped it up, and rejoined his slow moving band of lunatics half a block down the road), we grabbed dinner, and then headed to the event at the Fantagraphics store. It was sparsely attended but the art was arranged nicely, and the shop itself is a treasure trove. Some pictures from the event are here.

That evening we fucked shit up darts and billiards style with Eric, Rhea, and a special appearance by Fantagraphics movers and shakers Adam Grano, Mike Baehr, and Ms. Pacman. We had the Irish nachos (huh?): they were delicious, if confused about their ethnicity.

The next day in Seattle, after a stellar breakfast by Rhea, we went to Fantagraphics' offices, which are, as expected, a bit of a geeks paradise. But the real show was their next-door neighbor. This was the genuine article: true outsider art, manic construction, hoarding... call it what you like, it has to be seen in person to be believed or appreciated.

Gary Groth met up with us at the office and we headed to lunch, then back to the offices (where Kim Thompson now was, along with the Fantagraphics' wiener dog extraordinaire, Ludwig, who I took a liking to immediately). Juliane snapped a picture of Gary beaming over his domain, and we said our goodbyes.

Shortly thereafter it was off to see the Angry Monkeys, Eric's softball team (with shirt design by Adam). Sadly, we didn't take any pictures of this, as we were too wrapped up in the game, but the Monkeys won, apparently their first win ever.

Then it was a quick dinner, a quick final farewell to Eric and Rhea, and a quick couple hours down Highway 5 to Portland. We got to Farel Dalrymple's place around one in the morning, talked some incoherent nonsense, and went to sleep.

Our first full day in Portland was easy going, completely unhectic or scheduled. Farel took us around town, showed us his studio, The Burnside Skate Park, and Powell's. We spent a good amount of our time just perusing Powell's and I spent a good amount of my money on old Charles Addams books (I couldn't help myself! The place is evil). Zack Soto showed up and drew with Farel in the coffee shop while I spent all my money. Eventually we left Powell's, got some sushi, went back to Farel's place and for reasons that escape me watched "Mystery Men" while people drew, and then we collapsed.

The next day could not have been more opposite, bringin one event after another. I scheduled two get-togethers and briefly sat with Farel while I made the "Wise Guy in the Sky" mask for that evening's puppet show.

The moment I completed the mask it was time for the schedule to kick in: We met with "Mother, Come Home" editor Diana Schutz at Dark Horse comics, who gave us the tour and took us to lunch, then we met with my good pal Charles Hartman at his new gallery space in the Pearl District. Pictures from either one of those places? No, I am an idiot.

I had time for something (a muffin? a scone? I have no idea), and then it was time for the Powell's reading (which Juliane was kind enough to document). Craig Thompson and a slew of other people came out for the event, and it went amazingly well. The proceedings went this way: there was a puppet show (which I think was quite possibly the most amateur/best thing I've been involved with in a long time... including "The Wise Guy in Sky" running the computer (extra irony: this character, clearly symbolizing a powerless or incompetent God in the book, wasn't able to read his lines from his vantage point, so I had to read them for him. Perfect! Couldn't have planned it better) and then I did a short reading. Steve Duin described things a bit more thoroughly than I will here. Anyway, more pictures (whatever happened to not being text heavy?):

Having still had only one meal thus far that day, I was pretty wrecked after the reading and signing and in need of something in my stomach... but, whether from fatigue or something more specifically gastrointestinal, I didn't see consuming a full meal. What to eat when your body is shot, you're tired, and you're low on nutrients? Why, donuts, America!

Actually donuts sounded great.

And since the donuts in question were from Voodoo Doughnuts, and all named things to make your Sunday school teacher crap on her rosary, we really couldn't go wrong. Nothing picks you up like a Rice Krispie, peanut butter, and chocolate donut (yes, that's all on one donut).

Fortified by sugar with a chaser of sugar and a dash of sugar, it was off to Tube, to meet up with Zack Soto and various other sorts and see the (previously unknown to me) Glass Candy. They were amazing, they got my shaky donut brain back to solidity. The crowd was genuinely into it, moving, dancing (a hard thing to instigate with crowds here in Chicago) and Juliane took one of the best pictures of me I've ever seen (the second of these three below, the red fellow), as far as representing what it's like so often in my head.

Then it was time for a bit of a wind down, a brief sleep, and off to the airport to drop off the rental car, board the plane ( and a special thanks to the woman from the airline for getting us a nonstop flight that got in four hours earlier than originally planned), and back to the lower-key life I call my everyday.

Thanks to everyone who put us up, or who put up with me. Thanks to everyone who came to the events, especially the Paradox Players at Powell's (you guys deserved more than the button sets you got). It was a ball, if exhausting, and we'll all have to do it again some time, right after I wake up from my year long coma.

Highway 101: Day 2, Journey to Paul Bunyan's Crotch

In the morning everything seemed less desperate. For a minute anyway. We went about morning bathroom rituals and packed up our things while peripherally listening to tales of horrific shark maulings on the television. My favorite part of the morning was noticing that which had been overlooked in the fatigue of the night previous: the Euro Bath. This was a soap pump installed in the shower. In attempting to assure us that it was European ("Lewk aht may leetle flahg! Zees iz naht Ahmericehn!"), it only dug itself deeper into its obvious white-trashiness. Thinking of the process this thing went through, from someone conceiving it, to the salesman talking the hotel into installing it, to people actually using the thing (I didn't, wanting to keep it a mystery... and partially suspecting it would burn my flesh off), well, it was impossible to not love the poor little guy.

We finished packing up our things and then I realized something was missing.

Where was my portfolio?

Ummm... okay? I started looking under everything. No portfolio. Juliane and I went over the night previous, as I started sweating. Did she bring it in from the car? No. Did I? Think, think... no... I took it out of the car, but... I took those pictures and... Fuck! I must have put it down while I was taking the pictures.

Two portfolios, one inside the other. Dozens and dozens of pages of art. Gone. Okay, but maybe someone turned it in. Maybe someone was nice enough to do the right thing and turn it into the hotel?

We wheeled our luggage out of our room and I saw Robin, who was singlehandedly changing out all the sheets from our wing of the small hotel. I asked if anyone had turned in a black portfolio. She said no, sorry.

I was crestfallen. Juliane went outside to take her luggage to the car.

Robin was trying to reassure me, sensing that I was upset by whatever was going on. "You can leave your address and we can always ship it to you if someone turns it in..." I tried to respond, "Sure... yeah, I'll..."

Juliane botled back in the door, "It's outside on the car!"


"It's on the trunk, right where you left it."

And sure enough, there it was. Needless to say, this would not, in all likelihood, have happened in Chicago. But the morning campers and tourists of Myers Inn (who had all left by the time we were heading out) had left what wasn't theirs alone. What a novel concept.

I went back inside to tell Robin that we'd found the portfolio, that I'd been an idiot and simply left it on the car, and then followed up with asking what the Avenue of the Giants was.

"You're on the Avenue of the Giants"


She explained it was a thirty-one mile stretch of road through the redwoods, and that the Avenue of the Giants was simply the old 101. She recommend parks we could stop at (though I figured we wouldn't really have time for that) and told us how to get back on to the modern 101. I thanked her profusely and then dragged my semi-bedraggled self across the street where Juliane was taking pictures and we grabbed a couple sandwiches for the road.

Finally we pulled away from Myers Inn and started down the Avenue of the Giants. The sparseness of traffic was remarkable, given that this is an obvious tourist destination (I even recognized some of the "Drive Through a Tree!" spots.)

Of course, one can't drive among the redwoods without taking the obligatory look-how-large-these-things-are-compared-to-me pictures. We had far more time to stop and admire the sights that day (without actually delving too far into any of the parks, unfortunately), so we pulled over on several occasions and documented our dwarfishness among the massive locals.

These three shots (below) were of one of the larger trees, which I walked inside. There was easily room for five people to stand comfortably. Graffiti from such parties (singular as mine or, from the look of it, couples) over the years had been inked, etched, and painted inside the tree. But the tree just stands on, indifferent to its guts interlopers and their little histories.

I think we saw the sign warning of elk crossing before we drove past a cluster of cars pulled off to he right side of the road. I saw what they were looking at just as we were passing, and pulled the car to an abrupt stop, threw it into reverse, and parked alongside the other vehicles. A good amount of the people were taking pictures, but more were just watching. These elk just munched the grass, occasionally turning an only mildly interested head in our direction, mimicking the understanding and age of their taller, trunked neighbors.

Next we were obliged to pull over at the Trees of Mystery, because, well... the Trees of Mystery have a gigantic Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox that are too remarkably cheesy to not appreciate and love. Juliane took this picture of the main building (gift shop?), and I think it has to be one of my favorite pictures of the whole tour (with one of my other favorites to come shortly, further along in this post).

Sadly we didn't have time to take the Trees of Mystery tour, but we were fortunate enough to see Paul move his head, wink his eye, and wave his hand, all of which clearly blew the minds of the little kids clambering on his car-sized boots.

From there it was higher up and back toward the coast before crossing over and joining the infamously boring (according to PK and Eric) Highway 5. But that last stretch of Highway 101 yielded this picture, which is my other favorite picture of our trip, the white fog settling and wafting, slow driving uphill behind a logging truck.

We opted not to arrive in Seattle that night, staying somewhere south of Portland. But the next day it was on to Seattle, and the infamous land of Fantagraphics. And, though I said I wouldn't post any more about the tour – to hell with it! – there was too much weirdness to not say something about it. Weirdness abounds.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Highway 101: Nocturnal Reggae in the Redwoods

Alright! This posting about the west coast tour is becoming an exceptionally drawn-out regurgitation, which I believe is bad for the esophagus. So I'm posting these last two, about the beautiful strip of black known as Highway 101, and then we'll move on to the here and now, where I can be more ridiculous and less burdened by remembering facts and time tables.



From San Francisco we headed north up Highway 101, at the suggestion of Fantagraphics' publicist and all around nice guy, Eric Reynolds. Our main objective for the San Francisco to Seattle stretch was driving through the fabled redwood forests, a setting I've been planning on including in an upcoming book. I assumed we wouldn't get there before nightfall, which was fine, but I certainly didn't want to dart past all of that gargantuan beauty in the dark.

So the goal for the night – given that we were starting late and had a solid thirteen hours between us and our destination, Seattle – was just to get in a few hours driving, hopefully involving a nicer dinner and ending at a hotel devoid of creepiness either in bug or human form... and then explore the redwoods a bit the following day.

Dinner was procured easily enough, if tinged with that slight but unmistakable truck stop eeriness, in Petaluma, at the edge of Napa wine country. Our selection, Cattlemens, was based chiefly on the fact that it looked strange enough to be interesting. I had never heard of Cattlemens and wasn't sure what to expect, though something of the buffet or "endless 'tater bucket" variety wouldn't have surprised me.

It turned but to be a fairly decent steak house. And we were lucky enough to hear their blazingly fast, completely indecipherable version of the birthday chant (sounding here more like an auctioneer under duress) not once but twice. Though it was the sort of place in which I'd not have been entirely shocked had I been told I looked gay, it was a great meal. All in all, it was just the dinner we needed.

Filled with juicy carcass, potatoes, and other things soundly not in the "keep you awake behind the wheel" category, we bought a road atlas (that I did not already have one on hand during our drive up Highway 1 is only further testament to my stupidity) and headed north. And north.

And north.

I was ready to stop for the night. I think we both were. So we started looking for hotels. This proved far more frightening and desperate than I could have imagined.

We stopped at several motels and hotels, most of which had only one room and seemed like that room was reserved for serial killers, transients, or transient serial killers, or had no rooms, or the establishment itself looked like it was run by transient serial killers. One "motel" (that term has never been applied more loosely) was a cluster of shacks (so called "cabin motels") with residents (and I do mean residents: these people had put down roots) slumping outside in cracked plastic lawn chairs next to paramilitary vehicles. I wish I was exaggerating about the conditions, but the second we pulled into that lot and I surveyed the human wreckage and the dead, hungry eyes, I thought we would move on, preferably some place where we would both stand a decent chance of waking up.

So we drove on. We drove through some sort of traffic congestion involving police waving people through and an entire field of orange reflective cones. It seemed strange, and unlike any construction scene, but I was so focused on finding somewhere to collapse that I gave it little thought. We cleared the congestion and moved on. Dark trees and increasingly wide trunks were visible now. I was afraid we were going to drive right through the redwoods.

But after a few more failed attempts, and being depressed that we were passing a sign that said "Avenue of the Giants" (which either had to refer to the redwoods, actual giants, or some schlocky road side display with touting someone with an overactive pituitary gland and corresponding novelty item concepts, any of which would be a tragedy to miss), we located Myers Inn.

We pulled our luggage out of the car, and, despite how tired I was, I couldn't go inside without taking a few pictures. Everything surrounding us was too ideal to not attempt to record it in some way.

We walked in and were greeted by a pleasant woman, Robin, who was about our age and looked tired, but with kind eyes that let me know this wouldn't be a bad exchange, regardless of the answer to my opening question.

"Hi. Do you have any rooms?" I asked.

"We have one left."

"Great!... Umm.. how much is it?"

She paused. "Wait, are you two NOT here for Reggae on the River?"

"Ummm..." I invited an examination of myself and Juliane with my eyes. Our non-reggaeness could not have been any more clear. Robin seemed to get my unspoken meaning.

"Yeah, that's the problem... see the room's supposed to be $240 for one night..."

My mouth dropped open. We were in the middle of nowhere. $40 per night was understandable, but... $240?

"... but that's because of the festival. If you guys are just staying here for the night and... can you skip the included breakfast...?"

"Sure, no problem," we both responded, willing to forgo any frills to get this to work out. Broom closets were looking good at this point.

Robin cut us a massive break and briefly explained Reggae on the River, which turned out to be the congestion we'd driven through earlier and the subject of some controversy: cancelled according to main web site, but not as cancelled as one would think according to the police directing traffic and the people showing up for it. Who knew the world of reggae was so gripping? Who cares? Definitely not me, I just wanted a room.

We dumped all of our luggage – or what we thought, at that time, was all our luggage – on the floor of our room and, after killing a couple bugs, went to sleep, not knowing where we were, too tired to figure it out, and cursing Reggae a little more than usual.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Highway 1: Rubbing America's Tummy

When faced with the trek northward from Los Angeles to San Francisco, we were directed, by internet sources, to travel the utilitarian route of Highway 5. This road, we were assured in a late night sermon by our host PK, would rob of us one of America's great experiences and drive us past CAFOs (about which I'm sure I'll rant some day in the near future) that would induce (according to PK) at least twenty minutes of rasping screaming from the incapacitatingly awful smell alone, let alone the barren visual wasteland.

As appealing as all that screaming and stench seemed, we asked for more information about this alluded to American Experience. PK said all we needed to do was reach Highway 1, and we would see, and we'd understand immediately why we'd be sorry if we'd missed out on it. He also said we should roll down the windows and put on America (the band), just to round out the ultimate coastal driving experience. We were sold. But I promised him that, as this was adding on three hours to an already full day of driving, I was expecting something pretty damn mindblowing. (Not to mention my apprehension about driving on the side of a cliff for the better part of seven hours (though in my effortless and constant combination of over-calculation and paranoia, I reasoned that at least, as we were headed north, we would be on the inside track, closer to the cliff, farther from the abyss waiting for me to poorly negotiate a hard bend in the road on four hours of sleep).)

Finding the infamous Highway 1 took us a while, and resulted in a few false starts, as Highway 1 is a bit irregular south of Saint Louis Obispo. But once we were on it, we understood why we'd been looking for it, just as PK had guaranteed. Every corner we rounded seemed the greatest view mankind was likely to behold, until we rounded the next corner and nature one-upped itself. Mindblowing hardly does it justice.

Due to an iPod updating screw up (resulting in me inadvertently clearing out my iPod with not enough time to fully restore it) just before leaving Chicago for the book tour, I had no America on hand. I had no Neil Young, which seemed a decent runner up (despite his Canuck-ness). I scrolled through looking for Simon and Garfunkel to no avail.

But driving along and looking at the water, far beneath us, slapping the crag shore, the ending of "Harold and Maude" came to mind, or, more specifically, the music from "Harold and Maude." I looked through the paltry tracks and found, yes, Cat Stevens had made the truncated, seemingly arbitrary music library restoration. I put on Mr. Stevens and rolled the window down, but only half way, because even in the face of majesty and the boundless freedom of the sea, I am a colossal pussy.

Enjoyable as it all was, we were pressed for time and couldn't stop very often, certainly not as often as I'd have liked. But if we'd driven that stretch up America's coast without even once touching the water, I'd have regretted it, and I'm trying more and more to eradicate those "should haves" from my life. So at one of those innumerable best-vistas-ever, we drove to down to the sand.

Juliane took off her flip flops, rolled up her pant legs and walked into and out of the ocean's lip, anticipating the rise and fall from incoming waves, some porcelain sylph waltzing with a giant.

I kept my shoes on, and, as if winning something by technicality only, dipped my fingers into the water's thinnest advances.

Thanks to PK (and of course to Juliane) for an experience – however rushed or hesitant I might have made it – that I won't soon forget.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

This is (Really) The International

Today, Arks' first full length album, "The International," is officially released. And on Thursday we'll be celebrating with our good friends (and, in my opinion, Chicago's best band) Sally. The night starts off right with a kick to the sonic nuts courtesy Pyrite. Come out (18 and up, so feel free to bring your little sibling, cousin, or questionably immature date) to Subterranean this Thursday.

Far more information than is necessary:

The International Record Release

Subterranean | 9:00 PM | $7
Thur. Aug. 16 | 18 & Over

For tickets click here

Dinah's Is Not a Winding Ocean Highway

After returning from the west coast and being immediately engulfed in midwestern humidity, a family birthday (Happy Birthday, little sis), and a wedding (more on this shortly), I've finally started that task of answering e-mail, finding my apartment's floor beneath tumbleweeds of cat hair and junk mail, and getting back to posting things about all important topics like... well, like Dinah's Fried Chicken. I wanted to post something about driving up the coast, along Highway 1, but Dinah's doesn't fit in that story. Which is what I liked about the place anyway. It doesn't really fit in, at least in any preconception of Los Angeles that I had. It's a little spookily familiar, a little cramped, a little over-decorated, and completely perfect. The macaroni and cheese was mouth watering. I expected my late grandmother to come out of the back, still with a million rings on each hand, a glass of 7-UP sizzling with freshly plunked ice.

If you find yourself lost in Glendale (or driving around needing to eat with no idea where to go, as was our case), stop by Dinah's. It's the one with the two story high bucket of chicken lording over the parking lot: hard to miss.

And stop by the bakery next door. English didn't seem to be spoken there at all, but I've never let language stand in the way of dessert. Point and smile, eventually you'll get a cookie.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Weltschmerz in Seattle

Saturday night in Seattle, paper will be on the walls and I will stand in the same room as those walls. I will occasionally look at the paper, probably while holding a soft drink, though it's bad for my teeth.


WHAT: "Adventures in Weltschmerz: Comic Art by Paul Hornschemeier"
WHEN: Opening reception Saturday, August 4, 6:00 - 8:00PM.
Exhibition continues through August 29, 2007.
WHERE: Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery
1201 S. Vale St.
Seattle, WA
PHONE: 206.658.0110
WEB: Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery
Open daily from 11:30AM - 8:00PM, Sundays until 5:00PM

I will be severely, excruciatingly on time, ready to defend my honor (after the San Francisco debacle), throw ink into things, and attempt to explain why I draw the pages at such an unwieldy size. Stop by. Bring your rave pants.

Give My Regards To Valencia

My most sincere apologies to those who attended, waited for, and ultimately (and quite reasonably) gave up on my signing at Modern Times Book Store on Wednesday. A combination of horrific traffic around Santa Cruz, confused road signs on San Francisco's perimeter, and nonexistent parking in the Mission all resulted in my being horribly late (the better part of an hour). For those few that – almost inarguably against better judgment – stuck around, you have my heartfelt and lasting thanks. That handful of resilient troopers (two of which were nice enough to ask Juliane and me out for a wonderful meal afterward) were treated to (or abused by) a reading, of which Mr. Chris Anthony Diaz (one of the Great Delay survivors) took some pictures that perfectly capture my frazzled, congested, sweating appearance (complete with facial contortions and underturned jacket collar).

Thanks to the staff of Modern Times for not shooting me in the face. To the civil engineers of Santa Cruz: fuck you.

Friday, August 3, 2007

PK and the WB, Hillside Sushi and DJ Douggpound

I'm a bit behind in posting, given the amount of driving (something in and of itself worthy of a couple posts) that's been involved in the last few days, but I'll do my best to rectify that delay over the course of the next couple days...

On Monday, we explored Los Angeles as fully as our already pop-culture-burnt-out brains would allow. Our tour guide was the ever hilarious and sonically talented PK Hooker, with whom we were staying.( Mr. Hooker, whose day job entails working on little indie films like "Superman Returns" and "Transformers" has been previously posted about for his affiliation with the infamous Pusy Gums Johnson)

PK was kind enough to show us around his place of work. For most people, this involves a cubicle and would be understandably yawn inducing, but for PK this involves showing you the set of "Animal House." As we explored the facades of the Warner Brothers studios, it was disillusioning (though only mildly, given the amount of "making of's" I've seen over the years), walking from a (now graffiti covered) "Annie" street to the town center of "Gilmore Girls," then shuffling mere feet to the faux grit of Chicago, in the form of the external set of "ER."

The evening set in with a dusk dinner atop the hills, at Yamashiro, which has excellent food, but could serve macaroni and poop with the view you're afforded (and that's not to mention the architecture, replicating a palace near Kyoto). One of our ordered rolls was the "Darth Vadar," a dish that I'm sure would have been ordered ad nauseam by the crowd we'd left in San Diego.

Then it was down to lower altitudes and comedy courtesy DJ Douggpound (PK's roommate, whose day job, just as boring as PK's, is working on "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job." Douggpound was the glue between the comedy shards, one of which was the aptly named "Rapping Jewish Grandma" (I apologize if I'm getting her stage name wrong, but, then, just about everything about her act was wrong... and simultaneously the best entertainment of the night: Doug is to be commended for not losing his shit entirely while she "rapped" (if one can call it that) in front of him on the turntables). Awful. Magnificent. She was LA with a microphone.