A-HA! A good catch here, by my friend Todd. Hot cha cha!


I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions. ~James Michener

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabakov

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath

With apologies to the late Ms. Plath, the worst enemy to creativity is self-destruction, ma’am. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitch…oh, alright, I’ll stop.

It’s a regular Sunday here, late in the morning with the nagging screech of cartoons in the next room. I am still fuzzy-headed from sleep, drinking coffee from a huge white mug that says “DENVER” on it, which I bought precisely for its ability to hold a large amount of caffeine so I don’t have to keep going back and forth to the coffeemaker. The sun fences with the clouds – advancing with little shafts of light, then retreating behind the grey again. Every few minutes a jet rumbles overhead, in final descent to Sea-Tac. An assortment of spring birds chirp in repeating patterns outside the big window by my shambles of a desk, where I sit and write every day. It’s a regular Sunday, but also a day of note for me. Today is the two-year anniversary of this blog. This is the 884th post I have made.

Holy crap! That is a big-ass coffee mug ‘o words right there. Don’t ask me where they all came from. I don’t drink that much coffee. But I feel good about it. I do. I do, and this is why: this is one strange blog. On any given day, you and I might find a concert review, a political rant, something surrealist my daughter said, a piece of fiction, YouTubes of loud goats, a collection of small-town crime reports, a detailed recollection of something I did 35 years ago, or a photo of some weird person at the beach. I say “you and I,” in the above sentence because I have no idea what I am going to write on any given day. None. Zip. Zero. Nada. But 884 times over 730 days, I wrote something, I liked it, I put it here, and sometimes other people read it and liked it too. Every day, something will appear here – not often painstakingly crafted or blindingly insightful or definitively informative – but, I think, more likely than not to make you smile or think, or possibly think and smile at the same time. Hurray!

Someone else who loves their own damn blog is the rawthah-famous film critic and author Roger Ebert. I am a big fan of his, from the earliest days of Siskel & Ebert – a never-missed TV program in our house when I was growing up – and I came to appreciate later what a really good writer he is. His work is elegant without being precious or pretentious, clear and concise with just the right amount of detail and emotion. This is a big deal, you know. It is not all that often that you find a career journalist who can expertly express feeling and texture and depth as well as Ebert can. When reading his pieces it becomes so clear that Ebert is happiest when he is able to communicate: to illuminate, to explain, to persuade, to celebrate, to deconstruct, to catch and then shape something intangible into something we can keep.

It was with great sadness that I first heard of Roger Ebert’s battle with cancer a few years ago, just a few years after Gene Siskel died of the same disease. It’s been an exceptionally tough fight. You can learn something about real strength of character by seeing how he has handled his illness and its costs, and I say that not in some weepy maudlin pity tone, either. You want to learn something about how to live your life, not just how to get by – look at what Ebert is doing, and what he has learned. Yesterday I read this Esquire article about Roger Ebert written beautifully by Chris Jones, and you should see it too. It’s not a easy read, I will warn you – I ended up in tears by the end – but it was very well worth the sadness for the ultimate sense that Roger Ebert is still Roger Ebert and the maker of The World’s Finest Lemonade.

Ebert has lost his ability to speak. His lower jaw is gone, taken by thyroid cancer that spread, and reconstructive surgeries that failed. He is fed through a tube. Consider the ramifications of those particular cruelties upon someone who talked on TV for a living, how it would feel to have your physical voice taken from you as well as your familiar face, all on public view. It would not have been at all unexpected for Ebert to retreat into his lovely Lincoln Park home with his devoted wife Chaz, and never be heard from again.

So…what made the difference? Roger Ebert started writing an online journal, a blog. Able for the first time to “speak” at length about anything he wished, to the entire world in real time (which is what the internet is really all about, Charlie Brown), freed him from many of the constraints of disability into something with endless possibilities for expression and communication. From the Esquire article:

“The existence of an afterlife, the beauty of a full bookshelf, his liberalism and atheism and alcoholism, the health-care debate, Darwin, memories of departed friends and fights won and lost — more than five hundred thousand words of inner monologue have poured out of him, five hundred thousand words that probably wouldn't exist had he kept his other voice. Now some of his entries have thousands of comments, each of which he vets personally and to which he will often respond. It has become his life's work, building and maintaining this massive monument to written debate — argument is encouraged, so long as it's civil — and he spends several hours each night reclined in his chair, tending to his online oasis by lamplight. Out there, his voice is still his voice — not a reasonable facsimile of it, but his.

"It is saving me," he says through his speakers.

Roger Ebert, in the parlance of this indelicate place, has balls. He still goes out, still travels, still sees his friends and colleagues, still scraps with all he has to define his place in the world while he is here. I’ve said these very same sentiments here – I don’t know how many times because there’s an f of a lot of words here – but I’ll let Ebert say them this time:

“I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”

When you absolutely know this, everything you do makes sense and life is immeasurably better. It doesn’t always take a tragedy to reveal – maybe just enough years on the planet and a little time spent in reflection and observation. At the end of the day, if you have left someone smiling when they think about you or something you said or did or made, there really isn’t anything a whole lot better. You don’t have to be grand or famous to have done amazing things -- things that may have such deep and radiant effect you can’t even begin to understand it all or where it all goes.

So, honestly, I feel pretty damn good about making myself AND someone else giggle over a goat that sounds like a man or turning someone on to a great new band or maybe saying something in my voice that someone else would think but never say. It’s a lot of fun to write and do stuff. So hurray to me today and hurray to Roger Ebert and hurray to you for being there too. I hope we all can keep doing our things for a big-ass coffee mug o’ time.


Last minute ask for your kind help...the very worthy All-Ages Music Project needs your vote NOW to win a grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project. The top ten vote-getters get 50K each to help their causes, and voting closes February 28th. This is a smart organization that understands the great power that art and music can have in bringing people together and how the arts can be especially important to young people -- vital, even. I cannot imagine how my life would have gone without early exposure to music and opportunities to see, hear, and create it. I don't want to imagine it.

When I was a young teenager, I got my horrible fake ID out of the back of CREEM Magazine not so I could buy beer -- it was so I could get into clubs to see bands play. AMP works to create situations where this isn't necessary, and gives young people a chance to create and have a real say in their own arts community. It sure beats some 15-year-old girl from North Naive, WI. next to Drunky McPickup at some creepy bar just to be able to see the Flying Farts or something.

AMP: The What What from Shannon Stewart on Vimeo.

Anyway, I encourage you to look into AMP and to VOTE BY CLICKING HERE, NOW! Thank you!

Jenny said, when she was just five years old
There was nothin' happening at all
Every time she puts on the radio
There was nothin' goin' down at all, not at all
Then, one fine mornin', she puts on a New York station
You know, she couldn't believe what she heard at all
She started shakin' to that fine, fine music
You know, her life was saved by rock'n'roll

Despite all the imputations
You know, you could just go out
And dance to a rock'n'roll station
And it was all right, hey baby,
You know, it was all right

Jenny said, when she was just about five years old
`You know, my parents are gonna be the death of us all
Two TV sets and two Cadillac cars
Well, you know, ain't gonna help me at all`

Then, one fine morning, she turns on a New York station
She doesn't believe what she hears at all
Ooh, she started dancin' to that fine, fine music
You know, her life was saved by rock'n'roll
Yeah, rock'n'roll

Despite all the computations
You could just dance to that rock'n'roll station
And baby, it was all right, yeah
Hey, it was all right
Hey, here she comes now

Jenny said, when she was just about five years old
'Hey, you know, there's nothin' happening at all, not at all
Every time I put on the radio
You know, there's nothin' goin' down at all, not at all
But, one fine morning, she hears a New York station
She couldn't believe what she heard at all, hey, not at all
She started dancing to that fine, fine music
You know, her life was saved by rock'n'roll
Yes, rock'n'roll

Despite all the computations
You know, you could just dance to the rock'n'roll station

All right
All right, all right, and it was all right
Oh, listen to me now, it was all right
Come on now, believe me, it was all right
it was all right
hey, it's all right now,.......

Lou Reed, "Rock And Roll"

The Velvet Underground-Rock`n Roll - MyVideo


It's true. This ad from 1960 tells me so. Wait for the last line.

I wonder what the Rolling Stones would have to say about that. HEY...WAIT...

...HEY...what about "Gaylord?" He comes with a bone of his own!

Shut up, doggie. Winner comes from Australia. "It's so hard to have a Gaytime on your own!"


I know a bit about patents and patent law by proxy – it’s one of the many information sets in my head that gain me absolutely nothing. It’s not even good for social talk, unless you are a patent lawyer, patent examiner, or inventor, and even then it’s pretty dry stuff. Go look up some random patent and attempt to read it if you are suffering from insomnia or want to blow your mind up. Legal writing drives me wild in frustration, and patent documents in particular. It’s kind of like being in some endless overcomplicated corn maze where the logical and direct path you think you are taking is actually leading you back to dead ends and $6.00 cups of tepid cider and yet you have to keep hacking your way out. The peculiarities of legal writing are formulated to both persuade the reader and protect the client, and to jam in as much arcane and obtuse elitist legal jargon to sound 100% assured of your position, even if you know you may be full of horse hooey. It’s all about someone winning and someone losing, if you want to strip it bare. Games, bah.

I propose that most patents are written to confuse the examiner so badly that he or she just gives up and says OH WHATEVER, GRANTED. Maybe that’s what happened with United States Patent # 7,669,123, awarded to social networking giant Facebook. It covers the minutia of a Facebook user’s real-time news feed, similar to Twitter’s rolling status world, including links to related information and the order and control of the individual’s news feed. The flow chart looks like this:

Do note that this patent was filed in 2006, which means it’s been bouncing back and forth between Facebook’s legal team and the USPTO for tweaking all this time, kind of like when you go the wrong way in your car with your nav system on and it sighs and goes, “…RECALCULATING.” Why did Facebook invest the significant time, effort, and money in this patent? Duhhhhh, they want to make MORE MONEY. If they secure the legal rights to this particular set of networking tech, then all the rest of the social sites will either have to markedly change the way their news feeds are set up or tithe $$$ to Facebook, or risk getting sued. Here’s where everyone starts playing legal chicken. This is a fact I learned when I was a child, via a little steel-testing invention my dad patented that ended up being used industry-wide, while our family dodged creditors: your patent is worthless if you don’t have the time and money to defend it. Is Facebook going to further go down the IP-protection path and aggressively sue Google or MySpace for infringement? Will those sites take their big money and fight back, trying in the process to weaken Facebook’s patent? Facebook has absolutely won an intimidation factor here with this patent, and that may be enough – too early to tell strategy yet.

When you start to think about what this all is really about, it gets pretty absurd:

Who wins? Duhhhhh, the lawyers, again.


Oy friggin' VEY. This is a graphic representation of my emotions while watching the Top 12 male contestants perform last night on American Idol:

WHY do I keep doing this to myself??? I DON'T LIKE THIS SHOW AT ALL!!!! I need help.

Sorry, singing dudes, but I just kept thinking, out of the thousands and thousands and thousands of people who tried out for this show, YOU GUYS are the BEST? Aw, man. Between severe nerves, song selections that could be used as general anesthesia for surgery patients, and a complete and utter lack of freshness or star quality from the 12, it was a very long and PAINFUL 2 hours, even with skipping the commercials and most of the useless awkward fill chat.

This is a horrible show and I admit to something lacking in my will and character that I watch it. I don't EVER watch TV, and I watch this? WHY? I never like the music. The judges babble stupidly with the same moronic buzzwords over and over and over and over again, not even making any sense at this point. They barely try to hide the fact that the show isn't really looking for someone great, or even good -- they are looking for someone to MAKE THEM ALL SOME MONEY. PILES AND PILES OF MONEY. Really, why bother saying "pitchy" or "dawg" or "not quite feelin' it" or "harrrible choice?" Judges, just keep your comments to either, "Yes, with that performance you may have increased your chances to be owned by a large corporate music raping machine, thank you," or "No, with that performance you have not increased my chances of installing a new 100K water feature in my garden off of your abilities. You are dead to me."

Even the early auditions busting on the weirdos and mentally-ill who try out isn't very funny anymore. Too many dumbass people are just wanting camera time and it is a little surprising after this many years in that the producers haven't been sued or shot by the many Asperger's or actual sociopaths that end up there. Ugh.

No one even struck while the iron was hot for the charming-if-possibly-addled General Larry Platt and his "Pants On The Ground." Dammit.

The day I fast-forward through the entire program is coming soon.


Alright!! More goats!


Me: Whoa! A killer whale killed a trainer at Sea World today!

Couch Teen: Game over.


I laugh at people who say there is no good music to listen to these days. Here I go: HA! And again: HA! I laugh because it’s so ridiculously untrue. All you have to do is take the time to find it, which I know is easier said than done, but then again you should be really motivated to de-crap your ears from the misery of the commercial bilge that people who DO NOT LIKE MUSIC force upon you, or things that you’ve heard 8 billion times already from your archives. HA! HA! Do it! There are wonderful new songs floating all around you RIGHT NOW…you just have to reach up every so often and grab one or two.

Last night I went to see The Magnetic Fields in concert at Seattle’s Town Hall. Until a couple of years ago, I had never heard of them until I heard this mostly-instrumental song, “Three-Way,” from their 2008 Distortion album.

Totally my thing, right? Noisy, retro, garage-gaze rock, simple and smirky. Imagine my surprise when I saw this video of their live performance of the song.

HA! Well, I was pretty happy about that…surprise me with an acoustic version with a cello and you’ve got a new fan. Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields have been putting out music for almost 20 years, as it turns out, known for Merritt’s intelligent brooding-yet-humorous lyrics and very diverse range of musical styles, broadly covered by the “indie” label. Dig further down and you find out Mr. Merritt is quite an interesting and complex fellow. From his Wiki page:
“Merritt was raised Buddhist by his counter-culture mother, though he is now an atheist. He has never met his father, folk singer Scott Fagan. He has worked as an editor for Spin Magazine and Time Out New York.

Merritt is known for having a dry personality, embracing a persona and life that is very different from the traditional rock star image. In a September 2005 interview conducted by The Onion's AV Club, alternative rock musician Bob Mould was reminded of an interviewer who once referred to Mould as "the most depressed man in rock." Mould's response was, "He's never met Stephin Merritt, obviously."

Merritt suffers from a hearing condition known as hyperacusis; any sound heard louder than normal begins to "feedback" in his left ear at increasingly louder volumes. This has largely influenced the reserved live setup of The Magnetic Fields, which usually consists of acoustic instruments and little to no percussion. Merritt also wears earplugs during performances, and typically covers his left ear if the audience applauds.

He briefly used the name The Baudelaire Memorial Orchestra as an attribution for a song written for Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, entitled "Scream and Run Away." Further music was recorded for the audiobook versions of the series and is attributed to The Gothic Archies. The Tragic Treasury was released by Nonesuch Records in October 2006 along with the 13th and final book of the series.

Under his own name, he recorded and released the soundtracks to the films Eban and Charley and Pieces of April. The soundtrack to the Nickelodeon show The Adventures of Pete & Pete featured many of his songs.

He and director Chen Shi-zheng have collaborated on three pieces of musical theatre; Orphan of Zhao (2003), Peach Blossom Fan (2004), and My Life as a Fairy Tale (2005). Select tracks from these works have been released on Nonesuch Records under the title Showtunes.

Additionally, he is one-third of the infrequent, live-only musical extravaganza the Three Terrors ensemble, whose other principal members include 69 Love Songs album's Dudley Klute and LD Beghtol; past themes of these performances have included: French pop, movie themes (including the title song from Deep Throat), intoxication, and New York. Kenny Mellman (of Kiki & Herb), James Jacobs, Daniel Handler, Jon DeRosa and others have performed with T3T at these sporadic gala events. Merritt was referenced in the Beulah song "Popular Mechanics for Lovers."

Merritt wrote and sang "I'm In a Lonely Way" in a television commercial for Volvo that aired in the Summer and Fall of 2007. He also performed "The Wheels on the Car."

Merritt penned the music and lyrics for a 2009 off-Broadway stage musical of "Coraline," based on the novel by Neil Gaiman. In the MCC Theater production, his music will be performed by a piano “orchestra” – complete with a traditional piano, a toy piano, and a prepared piano (a piano that has had its sound altered by attaching objects – such as tin foil, rubber bands and playing cards – to the strings).

He is currently working on a score for the silent film, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, to be performed at the Castro Theatre, San Francisco on May 4th, 2010.”

Ah, well, all that explains the acoustic live set-up, and probably why the Town Hall was sold out last night, and sold out for their second show there this evening. Guy is a musician, has a serious hearing issue, is too smart for his own good, and found fans via many different avenues, and is rawthah talented. Merritt is clearly someone who must write music, and is compelled to look for real challenges in his work. Thumbs up, sir.

The crowd last night was distinctly vision-challenged as noted by the 70% like me wearing dark plastic glasses, as well as mainly 40+ in age with a decent showing of 20-something indiekids thrown in for good measure. Very unlike any of the shows I attend, there were also quite a few couples in attendance who looked more like art gallery/symphony people with disposable incomes. A woman in front of me who looked like she would be offering a poisoned apple to children from a hole in a twisted old tree creepily massaged the shoulders of her paramour, and I imagine the rest of the crowd discussed French literature, in French, and wondered why that one woman in the glasses was staring at them all and taking pictures. The Town Hall was certainly a lovely venue to welcome us all with its vintage charm and long dark curving wooden pews.

Best known from San Francisco’s American Music Club, Mark Eitzel (and accompanist friend) opened the show with a short set. Eitzels’ grim gritty city kitty lyrics combined with nice range-y melodies were interesting – it made me think of Morrissey if Morrissey were a better singer, and Elvis Costello in his churlish furious note-scribbling holding-very-long-notes period. Eitzel was either very nervous or just very hyper onstage – you could see it was impossible for him to not be moving at all times, even when not singing, which was a bit distracting. He seemed to be aware of this and had a good sense of humor about it. He also looked like most of the audience members.

After Eitzel flew offstage after his last sung note (like, really, just sang, waved and GONE, leaving the other guy to finish up alone), there was a short break and then the Magnetic Fields appeared. The second song up of the night was this, “You Must Be Out Of Your Mind,” one of my favorites from the band’s newly-released Realism album.

Merritt’s unmistakable deep voice has the low, long resonance of a big bowed bass. It plays well off of the high curbed flat sustain of the traditional female folk vocals of Merritt’s high school pal and longtime musical collaborator Claudia Gonson and vocalist/autoharpy (heh, sorry) Shirley Simms. Merritt’s ukelele (I swear, the hottest instrument going), Sam Davol’s cello, and John Woo’s guitar blended together seamlessly to create a modern pop-folk sound, pleasant but not dull, pretty without being cloying. Davol seemed to have just rolled out of bed, shaking his head several times, running a hand through his hair, and Woo seemed to have been plucked from Microsoft for the day. Wry n’ dry banter between Merritt and Gonson got plenty of laughs from the audience, as did a rogue spider hanging down from the main lighting rig. No one was injured.

Merritt’s unfortunately-timed headcold required a few Kleenex blows, but he held his vocals together, his illness really only apparent when he went to the higher reaches of his range and I heard some thinness and cracking, but nothing major. One had the feeling that Merritt just doesn’t tolerate anything less than best effort, from himself or anyone. His smart lyrics kept me thinking and smiling, and the music was deftly-performed and charming – definitely inspirational. Here's "I'm Sorry I Love You."

So HA! I encourage you to explore the back catalog of Mr. Merritt and the Magnetic Fields – see what you might grab out of the air.


Spending a few days in the L.A.nd of the See and Be Seen got me thinking about what makes up Los Angeles Cool from when I first stayed there in 1983 to what it is now. It is remarkably the same. Broadly- and incompletely-painted, we have:

Sunny Money: High-end black or silver German sedan or immaculate purring Italian sports car. Overdressed with perfect hair and makeup, and many accessories at all times, even to make a run to the Rite-Aid. Watch that costs as much as Rite-Aid clerk’s salary. Too rich to smile or sweat. Never not taking an important call. Shops at tiny famous stores that have security guards wearing suits that cost more that the monthly salary of the Rite-Aid clerk. Gated driveway and/or comprehensive home security system. Spray tan and trainer body. Seemingly in invisible plastic bubble at all times. Wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire, unless there were an exclusive and profitable licensing/merch deal in the process.

Artster: So self-consciously unique and individual as to be utterly recognizable: select vintage clothing picks paired with ironic t-shirts or hats, indifferent or retro hair, liberal use of the color black without going over to the uncoolness of the suburban goth, amusing shoes, ready to smirk at all times. Shops at stores that sell the above clothing plus outsider art, kitsch, Japanese toys, peculiar candies, funny sexual aids, horror movie props, or books about the above. Probably makes less than the Rite-Aid clerk, or pretends to. Drives parents’ old car (as long as it’s not from Sunny Money), or an intentionally snarky vintagemobile like the AMC Pacer, a 50’-long early-‘70s convertible, VW van, ‘60s Vespa, or refurbished hearse. Looks tired, pale, and messy enough to let you know they were up all night doing cool stuff. If at all fit, it is unintentional. Would piss on you if you were on fire, so they could make a viral YouTube video about it.

The Guy In A Tiny Little Car With Big Tires Or A Huge Truck With Big Tires Playing Boom Boom Music And The Girls Who Like Them: Are never not driving and blasting music. Are never not hoping someone takes notice of said activity. Would piss on you if you were on fire, have a giggling friend take a picture of it, and then paste it in the back window of their vehicle.

Crazy: Talks to self in different levels of agitation. Would piss on you, fire or no fire.

I think that covers it all OK.

I’m going to suggest some changes now for these categories, as I feel an update is long overdue and trends might as well originate from Diarrhea Island as anywhere. Nothing is really new, but why not throw a bunch of crap in the Trendblender and give it a try, Los Angeles? You may GET NOTICED FOR YOUR ADVANCED COOL, and this is what L.A. is all about.

Sunny Money 2010: Drive a small Japanese pickup truck that you can put your garden staff in for little gratis coffee runs or Army surplus tank. Think about living in a high-rise in Downtown L.A. and use the Metro and pretend you are in New York City when the weather is bad. Use only ONE accessory per outfit, but make sure it is one-of-a-kind, preferably designed for you by an Artster or indigenous person. Do your daily jogs in 6” Choos. Befriend a middle-class shlub from the Valley as a character-building experience, and piss on him or her if on fire.

Artster 2010: Walk more. Throw out 50% of your black clothes. Drive SmartCars in neon colors with booming stereos playing Bon Iver or Sigur Ros. Men: start a “Dragnet” trend, with ill-fitting, very plain off-the-rack suits, white shirts, dull ties and sensible shoes, and carefully controlled hair. Never smirk. Hang out at Red Lobster, the Olive Garden, or Home Depot. Women: Swirling body paint instead of tattoos. Braids, very tall ratted up-dos, bangs cut by a 6-year-old, religious-cult overly-long hair, or 20 small pigtails. Re-visit ‘70s sleazewear like side-lace velvet hiphuggers, visible pasties with tassels, red see-through babydoll nighties with jeans and Stan Smith white tennis shoes, and bright blue eyeshadow and nude lipstick. Hang out at Wal-Mart, psychic readers, or hot dog street carts. Try not taking your phone everywhere, or use one of the big old clunky ones. Go to the beach and get some Vitamin D and piss on a out-of-control beach fire.

The Guy In A Tiny Little Car With Big Tires Or A Huge Truck With Big Tires Playing Boom Boom Music And The Girls Who Like Them 2010: Earbuds and iPod and a Subaru Forester. Read books at home and take swing dancing lessons. Piss in your own toilet at home.

Crazy 2010: Seek out appropriate social services and meds until someone listens. Diapers are OK.

Give it a shot and let me know how it goes, Los Angeles. I love you all.


I have a new definition of "AWESOME FRIENDS." Awesome friends are so kind and thoughtful and brave as to PURPOSEFULLY invite MissSeven and Mr11 to their home for a sleepover, thereby doubling their child population AND THEN arranging a lovely sitter to watch all four kids so the growns could have an L.A. NIGHT OUT. WOW. COOL. The kids were all besides themselves about this adventure, to visit their home up a winding road and high on a hill, with a treehouse in the backyard and this view.

So after getting the kids pizza'd and the beds made up and cell phone numbers written down, out we went for a delicious Italian dinner. Time flew by as we talked about music, the music business, the kids, Wisconsin, Brooklyn, hipsters, hepsters, no-sters, mechanical licenses, traveling, and more. I had squid ink pasta with shrimp, a glass of wine, and the giggles. After, we walked over to go to Wacko's again for a book event for "I Slept With Joey Ramone," but we yapped too long and it was CLOSED. I was indignant that Wacko's would not be open all night on a Saturday. So instead we walked over to the Dresden, which was a total time warp and packed with everyone from indie ironites to chubby Mexican dudes with their chubby glammed up gals to 40-something ladies having intense gf conversations, all over the sounds of L.A. legends Marty and Elayne.

The Dresden was a total hoot (which you may have seen in the movies "Swingers" and "That Thing You Do") -- incomparable over-the-top 60s decor, Marty and Elayne doing their thing. I hope I can come back in ten years and everything is exactly the same, still.

A try for a drink at a new hot bar in a "transitional" neighborhood proved slightly too transitional, so we went back to my friends' house for a beer and more chat. The baby of the kid group, just turned three, was up and feverish, but fell asleep quietly in her mother's arms after the babysitter was thanked, paid, and excused from further wonderful service.

The next morning (although I should say afternoon because I was slow to get up and get going, WHAT A SHOCK) we all met up again and decided to spend our last full day in L.A. taking the two families to the famous Griffith Observatory. This was another place that I had never been to -- a vast park in the middle of the city, even larger than Manhattan's Central Park. Everyone else seemed to think Sunday was the best day to do this as well. We had to park more than a mile down the hill, but the walk up wasn't heinous. I thank the treadmill for this completely. A few years ago I would've been wheezing and dizzy and whiny over such a thing.

After a long and costly renovation, the Griffith reopened to the public in 2007. It's beautiful, with views to rival the Getty Center.




Of course, the famous knife fight scene from Rebel Without A Cause was filmed here.

Not that I was thrilled to see clouds, but they made for nice photos.

We popped inside to see some of the exhibits. Here's me taking a picture of me on an infrared camera. Ooh.

Tesla coil and a camera obscura view of L.A.


Do you know what a Foucault Pendulum is? I do now, and you can if you click that linky thar.

Then we went downstairs for more hands-on planetary goodness. The kids liked the scales telling them how much they would weigh on all the different planets. I liked the one that said I weighed 98 pounds.



After a snacky at the cafe, outside again.


Should we go look at a telescope? Yes, we should.


One last look around before we head down and say goodbye.

Bye bye, my friends, we love you all. Bye bye, Griffith Obs, you are super-sweet, too.

And that's that for the vacay. This morning, pack, breakfast, and a quick swim, courtesy a warm sunny day and a 1PM check-out time.
Off to the airport down Fairfax.

A balloon at the airport that looked from a distance to be a white rat with red bloody eyes and mouth, but was in fact a Disney thing. I don't feel that was a coincidence.
A nice flight back to Seattle, and a reminder at the baggage carousel to talk to Piece Of Shit if you have any problems.

And the sexiest photo of the whole trip, right before I get on the elevator to the parking garage.

That's all, folks.