Archive for November, 2006


Well, we’re back from our boomerang trip across to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The traveling was easy and uneventful and on-time and while we were there we enjoyed an excellent unconventional “southern boil” feast for Thanksgiving with Susan’s folks who are within a stonecrab’s throw of a magnificent stretch of white sand and surf that’s loaded with all sorts of shells, seabirds and stuff. Susan and I took two good walks on it, one to the north on Thursday and then another south this morning.

We got home to find my mom’s nerves a little frazzled from having to care for our zoo, but she managed, and all our four-legged fiends were none the worse for wear.

I’m hoping the next time we’re down Myrtle Beach way we can stay an extra day and go explore Charleston which is only about an hour’s drive.

A photoset of pix can be found here on Flickr.

Susan and I are packed up and ready to head out waaaaaaay early Wednesday (6 a.m. flight) for a good old-fashioned “southern boil” Thanksgiving with her folks in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Be back Friday.


Putting aside that it’s not even “officially” the holiday season yet, and also putting aside that every other night of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Festival of Lights cyclists are categorically banned from enjoying the public light show, last night was the one-night-only bone thrown by LADWP and city officials to us whacky two-wheeling advocates so that we could roll up and down the mile-long displays of illumination without any vehicular integration or interference.

I’d guesstimate turnout in the couple hundreds — a big increase over last year.

A set of photos from the festivities can be viewed here.

So yesterday Susan and I head downtown to the Laemmle theaters on Fig north of Fourth to catch a matinee of “Casino Royale.” Unaccustomed to such gridlock-less convenience, we found ourselves with more than a half-hour before showtime and so went for a brief exploration of the Marriott Hotel, which sits atop the subterranean theaterplex.

Inside we appreciated the hotel’s expansive and well-appointed lobby space and migrated our way towards the south end where a flat-screen TV was broadcasting the Colts/Cowboys football game. To the right by the entrance to an eatery called The Back Porch was a bar with a couple smaller monitors showing the same game where sat several patrons. With time to kill Susan asked me if we should indulge in a pre-movie cocktail and I said why not. At the bar she took a seat upon one of the stools and I stood behind the other, more interested in getting our drinks and adjourning back to the center area of the lobby where there were tables and more comfortable chairs.

The initially cheerful barkeep, a tall dark-haired woman, came over without delay and asked what she could get us. Susan ordered a bloody mary for me and a cosmo for her and the mixologist went right to work mixologizing. Sometime during her efforts another gentleman came up and stood behind the empty stool to my left patiently waiting his turn to order. When the bartender delivered our cocktails I was somewhat engrossed in a nice Dallas defensive play and so when she asked if we “have a second or do we want to pay now?” I wasn’t quite clear on what she was asking and initially I was curiously left wondering why she would presume we wanted a second round before even starting our first and also why would we have to order a second round before paying for the first.

I believe I vocalized my distracted wonderment with either an “Ahh…?” or a “Huh?” or a mixture of both. Susan was non-plussed as well. And having failed to provide a definitive answer in the minimal time frame the bartender surprisingly required at the helm of an unbusy hotel bar on a lazy Sunday in an obscure slice of drowsy downtown, she followed up with a tersely clipped “Are you on the run or do you have a second so I can take this man’s order,” indicating the one standing to my left.

By now Susan and I had figured out that what she meant had nothing to do with additional rounds, but both of us were equally left agog because not only did Susan have a $20 bill out on the bar ready to go, but as far as my experience as a bar customer is concerned the bartender/drinker communication breaks down in this smple progression regardless of how busy or not a bar is:

  1. Customer orders the drinks
  2. Bartender makes the drinks
  3. Bartender delivers the drinks
  4. Bartender asks if customer wants to run a tab
  5. Customer indicates yes or no
  6. If yes customer provides credit card upon which tab is to be run
  7. If no bartender communicates the cost for the drinks ordered
  8. Customer provides cash or credit card payment for drinks at hand
  9. Bartender provides change or credit card slip for signature
  10. Bartender moves on to next customer

Certainly if a customer is seated at the bar and planning to stay the bartender may decide to move on and serve another customer after delivery of a drink order, returning later to pick up at No. 4 where they’d left off, but never in my history as a drinker has a bartender amended that format in such an inquisitional and attitude-heavy way as was being inflicted upon us now.

And the indignation only got thickerer when we still did not provide her a proper response (though I don’t quite know how Susan’s cash on the figurative barrelhead wasn’t proper enough). I instead looked at my watch to see we had about 15 minutes before the show started and Susan gave me a look that said “What kind of rare idiocy is this!?”) and rather than the barkeeper chilling she just huffed a petulant “Fine! You want to pay now!” and quite literally stomped in a bit of a tantrum over to the register to ring us up.


As she did this I turned to Susan and said something like “Wow! I’ve never felt so guilty about wanting to pay for a drink…” and Susan said “No kidding!”

I’m not sure what, but something happened that broke the bartender’s fever — maybe she heard my comment or maybe it was the realization that tip time was nigh. For when she came back over to announce that the total was 54 cents over the twenty that Susan had proferred (that’s right: $10-plus for each drink which is a separate yikes in itself), she was moderately calmer and certainly suddenly more personable. Susan quickly delivered an additional fiver and was ready to bail leaving her a $4.50 tip but I was more than willing to wait for the change, and in the interim toyed with the ramifications of grabbing the four dollar bills and leaving her the 46 cents as her just reward for such craptastic service.

But I’m not that big an ass so I withdrew the coins and a couple of the bills and left her with the rest and whatever conscience she has to mull over how much she sucked. Thankfully and appreciatively, her drinks didn’t.


Above in my hands I hold a book I’ve had in my possession for more than seven years. Scanning my bookshelf a few days ago for something new to read — in English— I spied it jammed in between a biography of Theodore Roosevelt and a book of poetry and essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson and pulled it down, immediately deciding that it was high time to get the low down on giving myself some Spanish-speaking ability.

I begin tomorrow. At least an hour a day with a goal of writing a full post in Spanish on or before February 20, 2007.

I won’t go into the reasons behind my long-distance fanaticism other than it was a combination of my mother being an alum and my unconditional love of Coach Bear Bryant that made me a University of Alabama football fan from an early age, and that explains why if there’s one game each football season you can bet I will not miss it is Auburn v. Alabama — known as the Iron Bowl — one of the biggest and most heated rivalries in all of sports.

My connection to ‘Bama football dates back to the 1972 heartbreaker when the Tigers beat my Crimson Tide 17-16 and I watched tha game at a downstairs neighbor’s apartment with my nose practically pressed against the TV screen. I was so into it I even went so far as to vehemently yell at my mom and my neighbor to shut up when they burst into unrelated laughter from off in the kitchen just as Auburn blocked the second Alabama punt and ran it in for what would be the game-winning score. And I cried when time ran out.

This match-up is so significant for both schools that even if either or both team is winless going into it, whoever emerges victorious can literally salvage their season. And for the fifth year in a row, that won’t be Alabama, who just lost 22-15. Of special pain is the newest statistic being that Coach Mike Shula (legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula’s son; and former Alabama quarterback) now in his fourth season at the helm is the first in the team’s history to ever have lost four straight to their cross-stated nemesis. Part of the reason for that is because you just don’t live long as Bama’s head coach if you lose to Auburn. Once is tolerable. Twice you might get away with. But three times and your gone.

I suppose there’s some consolation in that it was a close game and that Shula and his boys certainly had multiple opportunities to win against No. 15-ranked Auburn. But they failed to convert on two two-point conversions and also turned the ball over four times (the first two both resulting in Auburn touchdowns).

I like Shula. He took over a team in disarray in 2002 after cut-n-run Dennis Franchione notoriously bailed out for Texas A&M. I’d keep him around at least for one more season/rivalry. But with this fourth loss in a row there’s going to be a very local and vocal contingent that’ll demand he be given the axe.