Friday, June 29, 2007

So they found a second bomb-car in London

Aw hell.

This satisfies my obligation to say something about the global war on terror

It's really easy to ignore all of the news stories about terrorist bombings in places we're at war with (Iraq and Afghanistan) or places that have never not had terrorist bombings (Israel). But every time something happens in London, I get a little freaked out by it. This makes sense, given the fact that I lived there for 6 months during my college study abroad, and I'm very defensive about the place. But it also feels like all the stuff that happens there is somehow very close to me and to people I know and care about.

When they had the big bus and subway bombings in London in July 2005, one of the buses exploded at a bus stop by Tavistock Square, right by Russell Square, both of which were about a two-minute walk from the dorm where I lived. The bus stop that was hit was one that I used from time to time. And, freakiest of all, a friend of mine from my study abroad (who still lived in that dorm at the time) was walking TO the bus stop and saw it explode.

With this latest car bomb near-incident, the car was found in Piccadilly Circus, outside of a club called Tiger Tiger. If you know me well, you might recognize that club from one of my favorite stories. The last time I was there was February 14, 2004, and it was by far the weirdest Valentine's Day of my life. The post about it from my old LiveJournal has since been locked (as have all of the posts from that era), but I'm posting it below because, under the circumstances, it seems worth retelling. I'm not trying to make light of what happened in London this week, this is just may way of coping with these things. It's easy for me to look at the news and think, "Gee, guess I better push back my planned visits to Baghdad and Kabul to never-in-a-million-years!" I hate seeing London -- a place that is more home to me than anywhere other than Southern California ever will be -- threatened.

So here's the post, from February 14, 2004. A little taste of 19 year-old Ken:

-----------

HOLY CRAP. Valentine's Day MADNESS today! Hahahahahahahhahahaha......

All quotes are represented without embellishment to the best of my recollection from the last few hours.

So you may recall from my last post that I was on my way out to play pool with the singles from the Hall. Oh my was I mistaken.

At brunch today, my Italian friend Giuseppe asks me if I want to go "pooling" with him tonight. I assume he means play pool, as in billiards, so I say sure! 8:30 pm comes around, and I go to meet him at his room and we go off on our way. First thing as we're walking toward the station, he tells me, "Solmaz does not love me." Solmaz is an American girl here in the Hall. Giuseppe is one of the top-two skirt-chasers I've met in my time here, and he's freakin' wacky.

So I go, "You asked her to be your valentine?"

And he sort of sadly says, "Yes, but she does not love me." He then asks me to rank my preference of all the American girls in the hall, which I do, and it matches his own. I think it's funny that even as the single men are just going to play pool on this stupid love holiday, he's thinking about women in his mind.

When we're getting off the Tube, I ask him, "So what's this place we're going to like anyways?" He replies by asking, "Have you ever been to Crush?" Crush is the student club night at LSE.

"Yeah, once," I answer.

"Forget everything about it." Instantly, I'm like, ooookay, what does THAT have to do with pool.

Then he says, "We are meeting my friend Alessandro there. He specializes in 'pooling' women over 35." Then it hits me...he didn't say "pooling," he said "pulling," as in picking up women for one-night stands. He proceeds to tell me about the club we're going to, Tiger Tiger. "This club is not ranked the best for women over 35, but it is ranked the best for pulling in general, for getting women to come home. Alessandro went home with one woman over 35 to her home in Wimbledon, and he is now the new 'uncle' for her kids."

I need to change the subject at this point, so I ask, "They have rankings for these things?" He doesn't acknowledge the question.

We get there - a vaguely seedy looking place just off Piccadilly Circus with a tacky, and yet postmodern, orange sign in front - and we have to wait for Alessandro to arrive. I can hear Justin Timberlake playing inside. I'm practically ready to leave, but I figure, this is free entry to this club before 10 pm, so I might as well go and see the dynamic of this place. I feel competely out of place...unshaven for 3 days, my worst pair of jeans, a mediocre shirt, no gel in my hair, which has been matted all day. I wasn't planning on being at a club. And little do I realize the dynamic I'm being prepared for, anyways, because apparently, this place is known for mismatched age pairings, and people who are there to find someone to go home with for the night. And it's VALENTINE'S DAY. As we're waiting for Alessandro to get there, Giuseppe tells me has to start training me.

"First, don't buy any drinks for the women here. They want the younger boys, so make them buy the drinks for you." Already I'm envisioning Stiffler's mom...and I watched American Pie 3 the other day.

"If a woman tells you, 'I could be your mother,' you should answer, 'I wish you were.' You should not say, 'You could also be my grandmother,' because that would be insulting," he says in all seriousness. Later, when he tested me on this question, I answered, "I should be so lucky," which I thought was more clever sounding. He admonished me to stick to the script. I begin to wonder if this isn't just a glorified brothel with a code of simple phrases for how you get yourself laid.

"Finally, how old are you?" he asks me. I answer honestly, 19. "No," he warns me. "Tonight you are...(stops to think)...25." Now I'm beginning to worry about women who could be my mother if I were really 25.

Alessandro arrives, and introductions are made. As we're standing in line making small talk, they're already at work. Giuseppe warns Alessandro that the ratio of men to women he has seen pass is unfavorable, and that there will be stiff competition tonight, but he plans on getting some. He assesses the quality of the women who have gone through the line since we'd been waiting outside. He'd been silently watching and judging the whole time. Alessandro asks Giuseppe where his other friend from the Hall is (there was originally another guy coming with us). When Giuseppe tells him that the guy couldn't make it, Alessandro (equally Italian) says, "Oh, well now there are 3 of us instead of 4, so we need to rethink how we go about this." Giuseppe points at me and reassures him, "Don't worry, I've trained him."

As we continue the small-talk, Alessandro asks me, among other things, my age. Thinking I'm just talking to a friend of a friend here, I answer truthfully again, 19. "Really?" he asks with a conspiratorial tone and a glint in his eye. "I would think you were 24 or 25." A wink. I look at Giuseppe.

"That was a test, wasn't it?" He nods silently.

We get to the bouncer, and he asks how many of us there are in our group. When Alessandro answers 3, the bouncer seems as disappointed with that fact as Alessandro himself was. He looks at me. "How old are you?" he asks, and, on instinct, I answer 19. Giuseppe and Alessandro immediately flinch, and I realize that I wasn't only supposed to tell the women I was 25...I also had to tell the bouncer. Instantly, he tells me I'm too young and opens the velvet rope for me to leave. Later Giuseppe tells me that the bouncer would have demanded ID had I remembered to lie anyways.

The Italians try to intervene on my behalf, "Please, he's our friend from America and he's not here for too long, we wanted to show him the club." Nevertheless, the bouncer refuses to have it, and frankly, I'm kind of relieved.

As I get ready to go, I look through the windows and scan up and down the line outside. I'm at least 5 years younger than everyone there. Usually 10 or more. Basically, the club is mostly lonely 30-somethings looking for some V-Day action. The women are Monets...they look beautiful from afar, and young - almost like the girls at the college clubs and student nights I go to - but if you look closely, you can see that they are desperately trying to conceal their age. The makeup, the clothes, the age-inappropriate nose and lip and navel piercings, everything.

I get the Hell out of there. Let Giuseppe and Alessandro work out a new strategy for just the two of them. Already this will be perhaps my most memorable Valentine's Day ever.

And there it is, the TRUE STORY of London according to Giuseppe. God help me.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

In defense of opulence

Yesterday was dinner at Spago with Pam, and amazingly, the restaurant was as good as it is famous. The prices were a bit out there, even with what I've been growing accustomed to. But everything was fantastic. One of the appetizers was this lamb ragout with spinach gnocchi, and it was the single best dish I've had all year, I think. Just as I was expressing this to Pam, Wolfgang Puck himself came up to the table on his "how is everything going tonight?" rounds. This was also about one minute after we complained that we didn't run into any celebrities there. Very appropriately timed in both respects, and totally amusing.

Because we bought a bottle of wine with dinner, they waved corkage on the bottle of dessert wine we brought: 2004 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc. It took us one year of searching to find this wine (and the time to drink it), and after all that, I can say without hesitation that it was totally worth the wait. This could become a very expensive habit.

Although now that I say that, I feel compelled to note one thing. Sometimes I think the people I talk to about food and wine -- who don't share my interest in it already -- write me off as being totally pretentious and snobbish when it comes to all of this stuff. That just isn't true. I love dive bars. I love the incredible $5 gyros at Papa Cristo's at Pico and Normandie. I will eat at In 'n Out any day of the week. It's just a matter of not discriminating. I enjoy the cheap stuff and I enjoy the expensive stuff and sometimes I'm willing to spend or not to spend the money for either. I derive a different form of satisfaction from each.

It's not like I think that a $150 meal at Spago is really 30 times better than my $5 French dip at Philippe, where they invented the thing (though to be fair, there's probably a lot more volume I'm getting with the former). And I certainly don't get that feeling of having a "special find" or a "great deal" when I'm at the fancy place.

But for me, going to a nice restaurant or drinking a great-but-overpriced wine is like traveling: it's experiential. It's buying a form of satisfaction that is more than the fleeting taste of the food alone. It's about stories and memories. It's taking 3 hours to eat a meal with a good friend that you maybe don't get to spend time with so often. It's ignoring everything else that you have to do and not even looking at the prices on the menu. It's really appreciating the details of good service and nice atmosphere. It's a little way of telling yourself that you're probably doing something right with your life because you can have this meal in the first place. It's Wolfgang Puck asking you how you're enjoying your meal, and your being totally honest when you tell him that it's fantastic.

It's the fact that, a year from now, Pam and I are probably going to be sitting in some other really nice restaurant, and one of us will say, "Man, do you remember that amazing lamb appetizer we had at Spago?" And the other one WILL remember, and will agree that it was freaking awesome. And that itself will be awesome too.

Well I already knew I was a loudmouth, but...

Sometimes I really hate the opinion that people apparently have about me. I guess it's not specifically negative, but everybody seems to pretty quickly come to associate me with being totally loud. Totally talkative, totally loud, whatever. So if ever a day like today comes along and I'm not as conspicuously loud in every conversation, people immediately assume something is wrong. I had no less than 3 people ask me today if everything was alright, and at least 1 more corroborate that something seemed wrong when I incredulously asked, "Nothing. Does something really seem wrong?"

WHY IS IT NOT OKAY FOR ME TO BE QUIET?

This is certainly not the first time this has happened, and it's frustrating. As much crap as people give me for the volume of my voice and my active participation in conversation, they should just be glad when things go the other way.

There are days when I am consciously trying to be quieter and lower-key. There are days when I'm not specifically planning it but it just works out that way (like today). It doesn't mean something is wrong. It is actually insulting to me that people think otherwise. Guh.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Randomization

- If you haven't yet discovered the joy of Clark and Michael, then you should know that Episode 1 includes the line, "ATC Family rested their balls on our chins and brushed our teeth with their dicks."

- Do you have any idea how difficult it has been to find any news about Tony Blair resigning today and Gordon Brown stepping up? It takes digging through page after page on any news site. But let me tell you something, if I need to learn about Paris Hilton's religious renaissance or newly-demure fashion stylings, that is no problem. And here I thought I was the only one who noticed. For the record, though, this is the first time I've ever looked at Paris Hilton and thought she looked attractive. So that's a plus, I guess. Even though I don't exactly find it plausible that she "has never used drugs" and "is not a big drinker." Uhh huh. This whole thing manages to simultaneously bring up my particular grudges against Paris Hilton AND Internet news.

- XKCD's latest opus seems to carry particular salience for us lawyer types:

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

4 minutes and 45 seconds well-spent

Hi, what do you do for a living, sir? Oh, I recreate Renaissance masterpieces on MS Paint.

Official language of the University of Hong Kong

In dealing with the University of Hong Kong while setting up my study abroad program, I've sometimes been struck by just how deficient some of the administrators' English is. Considering that English remains one of Hong Kong's official languages and is still broadly used in official business, and that it is the sole official language of the university itself, I'd expect better than this:

"Dear Applicants,

With reference to your application for a postgradaute residence in Morrison Hall for the year 2007-2008, I on behalf of our Admission Advisory Committee would like to inform you that it is unsuccessful. Thank you for your interest in Morrison Hall."

At least the last sentence was pretty clear and straightforward. Of course, I shouldn't complain too much. If I tried writing an email in Cantonese, it would probably look something like this:

"."

My best call in a long time

Sitting in the back yard of partner's extravagant home in Topanga Canyon, at firm event over the weekend.

Associate 1: This house is really well-designed. Look at how big these eaves are. It protects the walls from having rainwater run over them and risk leaking or water damage.

Associate 2: Oh, yeah. I thought you were going to say that the long eaves allowed the rain to roll down and water the plants here in the yard.

Me: Presumably, the rain itself would be watering the plants, wouldn't it?

Associate 1: Now I see what that $100,000 Harvard degree is getting you.

Weekend observations

This weekend (I'm including Monday for convenience's sake) including a few summer highlights.

- On Friday, a trip to the bar started with buying pants at a laundromat. Trevor has the full story (in large part because we decided that his role in the affair entitled him to blogging rights).

- On Saturday, went to see the Police at Dodger Stadium. The concert was...it's clear these guys don't like each other. Andy seemed to be counting the seconds until he was free to leave. Stewart seemed intermittently disinterested in what was going on, though when he actually cared, he seemed to do great. Sting seemed totally oblivious to the fact that he was sharing the stage with 2 other guys, except when he introduced them. Twice. When Sting tried to make a joke, Andy -- totally deadpan, totally humorless -- called him out for reusing the joke that he had used in a show earlier that week.

Sometimes the show was tight, as with the opening number, "Message in a Bottle." Other times, it sounded like the band hadn't rehearsed since the Synchronicity tour, as with "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," in which I'm pretty sure that Sting was playing in the wrong key. Andy Summers was totally replaceable. Someone called him "a poor man's Edge," but it's more like a homeless and penniless man's Edge. I was actually hoping that Dave Grohl would come out and replace him (Foo Fighters opened, and did a much better job). The live show really brought out the reggae influences in the band's music, which I enjoyed. But the band was trying to do these jam band-style interludes without realizing that they are not a jam band. So instead, the interludes all sounded exactly the same from song to song.

Unsurprisingly, the crowd was pretty anemic. The band didn't do much to incite the stadium audience's passions, and the setting didn't really lend itself maximally to audience participation. Sting tried to do the whole sing-back thing, but did so much reggae/yodeling stuff that the crowd was a bit lost in trying to follow along. He'd try to clap to get the crowd to clap along, but that doesn't work well in a stadium...the setting is large enough that there is a perceptible differential between sight from the video screen and sound from the speakers, thanks to the difference in speed of light vs. speed of sound. So people are trying to cue their clapping to what they see, but it doesn't totally jive with what they hear. Kind of a mess.

Of course, none of this was as irritating as the 1.25 hours it took to get out of the Dodger Stadium parking lot. With all the feats of civil engineering in the world, somebody's got to devise a better way.

- Comic interlude: getting home after the concert, going to ESPN.com, and having ESPN Motion turn on so loud that it sets off a car alarm on the street. Oops.

- Firm hike on Sunday at a partner's house in Topanga Canyon. I love this whole concept. They take you to an uber-rich partner's house for a social event, where the obvious subtext is, "Join our firm, and maybe some day you'll be so rich that you'll have a house this big with this many absurd luxuries." 10,000 square feet...no joke, that was the size. And a bunch of land. And horses. And baby horses. It's hard not to be swayed by it all...I'll let it slide a bit because I legitimately had a good time.

The best part, though, had to be just driving there. Up the coast, via Pacific Coast Highway, to Malibu, and then through the Santa Monica Mountains into Topanga Canyon. Perfect convertible weather. I love my car.

- Monday night, went to dinner at Providence with Pam. Everyone in a while, I feel like I did something really right with law school. Like joining the Drama Society. I was about 5 minutes away from skipping out on my Parody audition altogether, until Pam browbeat me over Google Chat into actually showing up. If I didn't, I can't imagine what my law school experience would look like from here on out. And dinner was lovely in all respects. With Trevor and Pam both visiting over this (loosely-defined) weekend, it's a nice reminder that, even at a place filled with unrepentant tools like HLS, I have managed to find some quality individuals to keep me sane for these 3 years of frozen wintry hellscape.

The price of safety

Chateau Marmont to my apartment, 8.4 miles, $46 by cab. This is the price I pay not to drive drunk. I've got to get some law firm, any law firm, to pay for this. I would have gotten myself drunker to make it worth my while, but the drinks were $14 a pop, so I exercised some restraint.

Oh, L.A.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Grave offense to my geek sensibilities

Tonight, Tina asked me the following question:

"What is an iphone?"

My god, woman. Have you been living under a rock?

Consider yourself called out, Tina. Your nerd credentials are in serious jeopardy.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Men are from Mars, women are from goddamn Alpha Centauri

Me: http://www.thisisby.us/index.php/content/womens_secrets
Ben: My god do women think this way? IS THIS ACCURATE? ARE THEY REALLY THIS INSANE? THIS BATSHIT BIZONKERS?
Me: I think that's why we've never been able to understand them at all. Because they're just that incomprehensible.
Ben: It's literally like they live in a world composed of madness and deceit.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Why do people I know keep getting engaged?

Seriously, folks, this is getting out of hand.

I noticed today that for the first time, someone I've had some romantic involvement with in the past is engaged (not sure when this actually occurred). To that I can only respond, WTF?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Concert calendar

I'm not saying I'm going to all of these shows, and I don't know what kind of seats are available for all of them. But I'm interested in all of them, and would be more interested if anybody expressed an interest in going.

Saturday, June 19: Architecture in Helsinki
Thursday, June 28: The Album Leaf
Thursday, June 28: Biz Markie
Saturday, July 7: The Decembrists w/ the L.A. Philharmonic
Thursday, July 12: No Use for a Name
Monday, July 16: Rooney
Wednesday, July 18: Polyphonic Spree
Wednesday, July 18: The Fray
Thursday, July 19: The Fray
Thursday, July 19: Shout Out Louds
Saturday, July 28: The Ditty Bops
Saturday, July 28: Guns 'n Roses Tribute Night
Thursday, July 31: Peter Bjorn & John
Thursday, August 2: Reel Big Fish
Friday, August 3: Unwritten Law and Zebrahead
Friday, August 17: The Aquabats
Friday, August 24: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Saturday, August 25: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Tuesday, August 28: Gogol Bordello
Tuesday, August 28: Crowded House and Pete Yorn

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My disappointing exchange with a celebrity

Me (exiting an elevator): Have a good day.

Oscar de la Hoya: Yeah, you too, thanks.

Aaaaaaaand scene.

Well what was I supposed to say? I don't follow boxing. "Too bad about that Mayweather fight. Good luck finding something as profitable as the Foreman Grill to sell!"

This brings the celebrity sightings list for the summer to four. Also on that list: Jennifer Garner (outside Orso in Beverly Hills at lunch), John Cusack (in front of the premiere of 1408 in Westwood), and Bono (in the bathroom of the New York New York Hotel in Las Vegas).

Edit: Apparently there's a Bono look-alike who works at the New York New York? I suspect I may have been duped. He was good, though. I was trying to avoid looking too hard, since it was a bathroom and all, but he was good.

How Ocean's 13 affects me...

It makes me want to wear suits and blazers, all of the time. I went to see the movie after work and was still in my work clothes, and that made me feel marginally good about myself while watching the film. Once that disposable income starts rolling in, I am going to own way too many goddamn suits.

Best album, end to end, I've heard in a long time


Yes, I know I'm about a year late on this one. Shut up.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mmmm...cheese...

There are a number of things I really enjoy about this article about the hot new drug sensation that's sweeping the nation (kinda like the Beatles, except it gets you high and kills you).

- I deeply enjoy this blurb from the summary: "Authorities say there have been 21 'cheese' deaths in the Dallas area since 2005."

- A choice passage from the article. I think if you're going to reach America's youth in this day and age, you need to come up with wittier retorts. Saying the detective "shot back" with that quote is a bit generous:

"These are street dealers, dope dealers," Moncibais recently warned students at Sam Tasby Middle School. "They give you a lethal dose. What do they care?"

Moncibais then asked how many students knew a "cheese" user. Just about everyone in the auditorium raised a hand. At one point, when he mentioned that the United States has the highest rate of drug users in the world, the middle schoolers cheered. (Watch middle schoolers raise hands, admit they know drug users)

"You know, I know being No. 1 is important, but being the No. 1 dopeheads in the world, I don't know whether [that] bears applause," Moncibais shot back.

- You know, I wonder about the effectiveness of this officer as an anti-drug advocate. People wonder why kids who are exposed to DARE are more likely to drugs than kids who aren't? Maybe it's because the best DARE has to offer is apparently gems like this. It's very...descriptive...
"A double whammy -- you're getting two downers at once," says Dallas police detective Monty Moncibais. "If you take the body and you start slowing everything down, everything inside your body, eventually you're going to slow down the heart until it stops and, when it stops, you're dead."
I have fairly strong feelings about American drug policy and the myriad things that are wrong with it. Another day, another post, I think.

Class is in session

So apparently Metal Skool tonight featured Pink, Juliette Lewis, and Jimmy Eat World. I wannnnnnna go. Who's in? Key Club next Monday! Let's GO, people.

So L.A. (warning: also so long)

The last few days have felt incredibly typically Los Angelino to me. I guess this is a good thing? Better than being typically Bostonian, to be sure. Let's review, shall we? And apologies in advance if the names don't mean anything to you...just read unknown names as "Generic Friend" if it helps.

Friday, June 8
A fairly uneventful day at work, and unproductive at that. I had a positive mid-summer review on Wednesday, so it's been somewhat difficult to motivate myself since then. I took a good 2.25-hour lunch to go with a sizable group of associates and summers to Hamasaku, a sushi place on Santa Monica Blvd. in West L.A. that pretentiously names several of its special rolls after the celebrities who go in there and like to order them. The fish was average in terms of freshness and taste, but they had some absolutely glorious roll concoctions. Certainly worth the amount that I paid, which was nothing, thank you very much, firm partners.

I also bailed out of the office by about 4:45 pm, to head eastbound to Los Feliz to meet with Ben and co., start drinking whiskey immediately, and drink our way through the L.A. Dodgers vs. Toronto Blue Jays at Dodger Stadium (Dodgers win 4-3 on a walk-off home run in the 10th inning). I remember baseball games being fun before I discovered alcohol, but they couldn't have been as fun as they are now that I know the joys of the drink. Hung around Los Feliz long enough to sober up and made my way home.

Saturday, June 9
Drove to Huntington Beach and made it home by around 11 am. Met up with Willie, Matt, Robin, their dads, and my dad for an early Fathers Day lunch at Joe Jost's in Long Beach. Basically, cheap fat-ass sandwiches, pickled eggs (omgwtf disgusting), and enormous goblets full of beer. It's funny, my dad was never the kind of person who "had friends" or "talked to strangers." But now that he's approaching retirement, he, like, interacts with people. It's very unusual for me. He was all buddy-buddy with Robin's dad, talking about technology together. It was a neat sort of environment...Joe Jost's is apparently the oldest bar in Long Beach, and is run out of an old converted shoe factory. And having a group of guys and dads and beers...I dunno, it was a little chunk of the sort of Americana that you don't always necessarily get in an immigrant household (not that I don't prefer my wacky immigrant upbringing). We returned to Huntington Beach, and I took the 2 pints of beer in my belly to the beach for a run, about 5 miles from the Huntington Beach Pier to the corner of PCH and Brookhurst St. and back. From there it was to Garden Grove for Kimanh's going-away party (*emo tear*), which was a nice way to see people who I hadn't come across in anything from 1 to 3 years, catch up, mock the world, assert our superiority of it, etc.

As that started winding down, I made my way back to L.A. and to En Sushi on Santa Monica, where it was sake bombs to kick-start the night with coworkers and their classmates. Except they didn't serve sake bombs, and their beer glasses were too narrow to drop sake cups into. So it was mostly me pouring sake into beer and then drinking it really fast. Fine, whatever. From West L.A. it was into Santa Monica for vodka shots and inexplicable pictures in front of a Christmas tree in one of our group member's apartments (yes, it's June...they know...I know...). And then to the Huntley Hotel on 2nd Ave., which was exactly the kind of bar I hate. Long line just for the sake of having a long line, people getting hassled for wearing the wrong shoes (not me, of course...I always wear the right shoes), sluttily-dressed blondes bypassing the line. Ugh. Once we got up to the penthouse bar, they should have just called it the Wild Animal Park, because that place was cougar central. Average apparent age of a woman there: 25. Average actual age of a woman there: 35. Average age of a woman's breast there: 4 years. I sipped my embarrassingly expensive gin and tonic slowly while waiting to leave. We caught the last 20 minutes or so at Renee's, a glorious dive bar on Wilshire Ave. and 6th St., which was wayyyy more my scene, even if it was sort of disgustingly smoky. I'll make a point of returning.

Sunday, June 10
I was totally going to do things today. I was going to start researching the stuff I'm supposed to be writing over the summer, I was going to make something of myself. And although that seemed like a good idea at the time, well, it just wasn't meant to be. So instead, I declared it a beach day. Went to that nebulous area between Santa Monica and Venice Beaches and lounged for a while, before finally picking myself up off the sand and doing another 5-miles or so, this time from around the Santa Monica Pier to the Venice Pier and back. At that point, if I was smart, I would have just gone home, but I had brought my bodyboard, wetsuit, and fins in the car, and even though the surf was absolute garbage, I couldn't help myself. Really, I should be thankful that the waves were so tiny and weak, because I would have been at serious risk of a bad hamstring cramp if I actually had to battle the ocean. As it was, it was more of a swim and a reintroduction to the ocean...I caught all of 2 waves on the day, for a total of about 6 seconds, but fortunately, my prayers to the god of freak sets were answered and I got a wave I could take into shore rather than having to deal with the ignominy of paddling in.

Dinner was the burger revelation I mentioned a few days ago...the artistic masterpiece that is the Office Burger at Father's Office in Santa Monica.

That night was supposed to involve me doing the work I'd abandoned during the day, but no, not so much. A bored glance at MySpace bulletins revealed that there were tickets available for CSS, a.k.a. Cansei de Ser Sexy, a glorious Brazilian dance-rock sextet, at the Henry Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. At that point, I'd heard exactly 1 CSS song, and maybe a total of 2 times at that. But I'd heard good things, and it's the summer, and what the hell.

Now, back in April, I had a ticket to the Kaiser Chiefs that I needed to unload on about 2 hours' notice. Ultimately Trevor stepped up, but I was amazed at how hard it was to get someone to take a concert ticket to a good band for free. "This would never happen in L.A.!" I declared defiantly at the time. "I'd have 5 people to go the show with me!" Maybe my luck was bad, but it did NOT work out that way. I ended up struggling just as much to find a concert buddy on short notice here in L.A. as I did in Boston...VERY disappointing. But I managed to recruit Jennifer from HLS, who I had met a grand total of two times before, to sign on, even though she actually had no idea who CSS were. THAT is the attitude I like to see (incidentally, Trevor was the same way with Kaiser Chiefs).

And the show was awesome. Dancey and zany and fun. It was birthday party-themed! One of the openers wore a party hat, there were helium-filled balloons all over the stage, and when the band was closing out the show, the lead singer -- who was wearing this insane multicolored bedazzled leotard -- sucked in some helium before rapping her way through the closing number. The CD has already made its way into solid rotation in my car and on my iPod at work.

Monday, June 11
The work portion of the day was equally unremarkable, but lunch was lovely again. I met up with an attorney from another firm, who I'd met during OCI and kept in touch with. Just a classic sort of successful old Jewish man who works only as much as he feels like and spends the rest of his time driving his Porsche and traveling for 4 months a year. Basically, my goal for myself in 40 years. We went to Il Pastaio in Beverly Hills, one of those total power lunch locales...so much the type, in fact, that my dining partner was coincidentally seated next to a former business partner of his, and I think set up another deal in about 2 minutes on the spot. In about 2 hours in Beverly Hills, I think the guy ran into 5 people he knew...it was quite impressive.

I got back from work at about 6:30 pm, and I wasn't doing anything anyhow, so what the hell, another beach trip! John grabbed his surfboard, I reloaded my bodyboarding gear (including the new fins I got in the mail today), and we returned to the beach to find...the worst day of surf I've ever seen. They called it "1 to 2 feet" only because they always give a range, but there wasn't a 2-footer in sight. There was barely a 1-footer in sight. I have never seen the Pacific Ocean so placid in my life. So...pacific, if you will. I did catch 1 wave, but I was forced to paddle in. Le sigh. But I was vindicated because as John was standing on shore, laughing at me for padding through a wave that crashed right on top of me, that same wave hit him in the knees and knocked him clean on his ass.

To celebrate the restoration of karmic balance to the universe, we went to In 'n Out for dinner, still in our wetsuits. An extraordinarily long, extraordinarily Californian weekend finally reached its natural and perfect conclusion.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The wisdom of Johnny Drama

"All girls are like other girls, E, just like all guys are like other guys. The world is split into two groups: penises and pussies. Penises want to run free, pussies want to land the penis."

Sage, man. Sage.

Also, best picture ever.

My interests collide!

As I'm sure you know, I've been monitoring this Paris Hilton situation very closely. For example, today, Paris declared that, now that she's had this jail stint, she will no longer "act dumb." At last she lives up to her reputation as a role model!

But given this area of interest for me, you can imagine my joy at the CSS (Cansei de Ser Sexy, Portugese for "Tired of Being Sexy") concert last night, when I discovered that they had a song called "Meeting Paris Hilton" whose chorus is, "The bitch said yeah, the bitch said yeah, the bitch said yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah." More on that concert in another post, but it warms the cockles of the heart. Maybe below the cockles. Maybe in the sub-cockle area.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

From ESPN.com...*grumble grumble*

At this point, I believe my position on such matters is well-established.

It's an obsession. I've come to terms with that now. But I'm going to allow myself this one, since I'm so very right.

Consider yourself on notice, Bonnie DeSimone.

And the world was never the same again

Today, I experienced a revelation.

Father's Office in Santa Monica makes the greatest burger in history.

The guy at the table next to us claimed that chef who works there has some kind of super special access to high-end steakhouse-grade beef, which they use for the burgers. I could believe that, but it doesn't matter and I don't care. I'm super full and I wish I wasn't so that I could go again.

Yes, it's heinously crowded, and it's too hard to get a table, and it's a $12 burger, and I don't mind because god intended burgers to be this way. Burger as triumph. Burger as art.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What's his motivation?

Why does Lou Dobbs hate immigrants so very much? It's amazing, even when he's not talking about immigration, he's talking about immigration.

Apparently, he used to have other interests. Space. Finance. Then they all went away. My guess? An illegal immigrant ran over his dog and he's never been able to let it go.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Various thoughts with no unifying theme

- While crossing the street back to work after my coffee break today, I passed one of the 70-something name partners of 2L Summer Employer 1, driving a silver convertible Porsche Boxster, wearing brown leather driving gloves. FANTASTIC. The only way it could have been better is if he had a scarf flowing in the wind, or perhaps some driving goggles to protect him from dust.

John's response as to whether such a life might be for him: "Yes, but someone will have to show me which one is the acceleratrix and decelerator, though."

- This decision here thrills me. But the part of the article that strikes me the most? The reaction of FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin: "He said that if the agency was unable to prohibit some vulgarities during prime time, 'Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want.'"

Oh. My. God. You mean people are going to be able to speak? Freely? Whenever they want? Get out.

I also like Naeun's observation that the ruling of the court is essentially, "If it's good enough for the president, it's good enough for the rest of us." Month-long vacations for everyone!

- Every once in a while, I am spontaneously reminded just how ingenious The Onion truly is. I love it so, and with good reason. If money was no object, becoming an Onion staff writer would be one of my top two priorities in life (writing for the New Yorker would be the other).

- Has anybody else noticed that the opening drum kick to Peter Bjorn and John's "Young Folks" sounds remarkably like the first few seconds of the Doobie Brothers' "Jesus is Just Alright?" Anyone? I would really appreciate a little confirmation on this one.

- There's a commercial on the TV right now for Ditech, whose motto is now apparently, "People are smart." That statement is demonstrably false and I will now never utilize Ditech's services.

- "'Girls Gone Wild' creator Joseph Francis, granted bail in a federal tax evasion case in Nevada, will remain in jail to avoid the possibility of being sent to Florida to be arrested on another charge, his lawyer said Tuesday." Too hilarious.

As John noted, this has to be the smartest man alive. He sat down one day and said, "You know what I really like? Naked breasts of drunk college girls. I'm gonna find a way to make money from naked breasts of drunk college girls." 10 years, $29 million a year, and 2 federal indictments later, here is. I salute you, Joseph Francis: a true American hero.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Democrats can be corrupt too!

I still certainly consider graft and scandal to be the hallmark of the Republican Party, but every once in a while, it's nice to be reminded that ALL of our leaders are corrupt, not just the ones on one side of the aisle.

My favorite part is that he apparently hid $90,000 in cash in the freezer at his house. The freezer? Come on! Whatever happened to secret safes hidden behind large paintings?

The wonder of package tracking with the USPS

I bought some stuff on Amazon last week and just logged on to track my package. I thought they used UPS, but apparently they've moved to the U.S. Postal Service. Which is great, you know, because now I apparently have access to the best package tracking system around. For example, I can now tell you the following information about my shipment (which was initiated on May 31):

Date Time Location Event Details
June 4, 2007 09:18:00 AM US Arrival Scan


Awesome. It's in the United States? Good, I was worried there for a minute.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I am not infallible

So I screwed up at work today pretty stupidly. It was basically the first time, between this summer and last, that I did something wrong, and that a partner wasn't pleased with my work. Essentially, I was supposed to adapt some forms for a client, and I was just super careless, left stuff out, didn't fix some language for consistency...nothing disastrous, but several little things that made it look like a mess. There was no real reason, I was just super out of it all day...one of those days when you look at writing on a page and you don't even see words, you just see black ink on white page.

I felt bad about this, and the partner who assigned me the work was noticeably annoyed when I talked to him/her on the phone (maintaining gender anonymity, thank you very much, Mr. Interweb). When I apologized for the slip-ups, I didn't get a "that's okay" or anything of the sort, just a beat of silence, and then an "okay, thanks, bye."

I felt very whipped puppy about it all...work is becoming like school to me. What I lack in athletic, artistic, and all other forms of prowess, I try to make up for by being good at nerdy things like school and work. So I tried to redeem myself the only way I knew how. I wrote an email.
Hi [Assigning Partner],

I just want to apologize one more time for the careless oversights in the documents I sent you for the [Client] waiver and release. I can only say that it's very out of character for the level of detail and care I normally bring to my work, and there's no excuse. If at some point over the next week (while I'm in this rotation) you have another assignment that you think would be appropriate for a summer associate, I'd appreciate the opportunity to make it up to you and to provide you with work that's of the quality that I expect to produce.

Ken
I know the partner got it because the send/receive at our office is instantaneous and he/she CC'd me on an unrelated email about 40 seconds later. But after that, no response, nothing. At this point, I feel that I've regained some moral superiority. On the one hand, I still feel bad that I fucked up an assignment and had to have a partner clean up after me. But on the other hand, I think some response -- even a typically lawyerish semi-rude brusque single-line response -- was in order. Even if it was just an, "Okay, thanks" with no intention to follow-up. Bah.

Strike 1 on 2L Summer Employer #1.

Friday, June 01, 2007

News is stupid (again)

I don't know about you, but I'm already sick and tired of this story. How, pray tell, is the fact that this guy may or may not have gotten married relevant to the fact that he went on a plane with TB? The very basic facts of the story are pretty boring and irrelevant-feeling as is. I'm tired of a new headline about it every day. Why on earth do I need a whole timeline? There's really nothing else going on in the world?

What I need more of, however, is this. Maybe when Lindsay inevitably does something to get herself in jail, they can find her and Paris a nice cell together. Come to think of it, that would be a good reality show...

My mistakes are so clear to me now

As I've pondered my losses in Vegas this last weekend, it's become abundantly clear to me that I should have cut my losses while they were still at $0.

We made amazing time to Vegas...5 hours, leaving at 6 pm, on the Friday of Memorial Weekend. That's crazy. I expected us to get there at like 2 am, but we were on a casino floor by 11 pm (since we decided not to go to stop at our condo on the way). Things started so auspiciously!

But as we walked in the hallway from the parking garage at the New York New York to the casino floor, things all went awry. David took a piece of paper trash from his pocket, balled it up, and threw it in the trash.

Except it missed. Bounced off the rim and onto the ground.

We paused for a moment and looked at each other. A bad omen, no doubt, but we were going to ignore it. It was Memorial Day weekend, we had made such good time, all was well in the world. I picked up the fallen trash, tossed it in the trash can, and started toward the casino.

Except it missed. Again. Bounced off the rim and onto the ground. Again.

We pretty much panicked at that point and just continued on into the casino in silence. There was no point in attempting to toss the paper a third time...someone else would get it, and at that point, it was just taunting us.

Why would I be surprised that I couldn't get an ounce of luck for the weekend? If I was smart, at that point I would have either turned around and driven right back home, or resolved that the weekend would be spent on golf, food, shows, and massages. That would have been prudent. That would have respected the obvious omens. That also would have cost well under $850 and probably been a lot more fun.

Lesson learned.

Lawyers in a box

Our office is arranged so that the lawyers' offices are on the edges of the building and the assistants are arranged around the hallways. Several times every day, as I walk toward my office from the stairwell or elevator, I pass a bunch of lawyers' inboxes that are arranged by the hallway. But inexplicably, there is a space in "Inbox," so that it reads "In Box." Nearly every time I see this, my brain reads it as "In a Box."

"[Junior Associate] In a Box."

"[Name Partner] In a Box."

"[Of Counsel] In a Box."

I don't know, it amuses me more than it should.

As does this. I'm not really a celebrity observer, but the thought of Paris Hilton in jail brings me a certain joy that could only be dissipated if her insipid little handlers decide to convert this into another reality TV deal for her. With the Writers Guild strike on the horizon, I wouldn't be surprised to see it happen.