Saturday, July 25, 2009

Harry Potter does the Merengue ... or...not

Linda and I saw "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" yesterday. We then ate at a Cuban restaurant in Old Town Monrovia, called Merengue Bakery and Cafe. Merengue was quite lively inside, and we could see why. The food was quite tasty and reasonably priced, the staff was friendly, and the desserts! Oh my goodness, I now have another place to tempt me on a regular basis. I had the Medianoche Preparada, and it was YUMMY. It came with Mariquitas (plantain chips--yay!), and I couldn't resist dessert, and I brought something home for another day's breakfast.

Thoughts on the movie:
  • I wish that we could have seen how Dumbledore acquired the second horcrux as in the book, because it sets up a lot about Tom Riddle's history, but then I guess the movie would have been too long. So make 2 movies out of this one!
  • Cute little romantic looks among the kids. I guess they needed the humor to balance all of the dark parts, although they left a lot of that out.
  • When Bellatrix LeStrange came on screen, all I could think of at first was "she makes pies made out of people."
  • Jim Broadbent was absolutely perfect casting as Professor Slughorn.
  • I'm not sure I understand that Conversation Hourglass thing, nor do I remember it from the book.
  • All of these "book" comments could have been avoided, had I not broken my rule of "watch movie first, then read the book so you won't be disappointed about what they left out." But I REALLY was hooked on those books, and my impatience got the best of me.
  • I really liked Hermione's dress during the Christmas party. She looked quite lovely.
  • Whoa. Malfoy is tall now.
  • Great special effects. The scene where Harry gets dragged into the water went way beyond my imagination when I read about it. Wow.
  • Joseph & Ralph Fiennes' nephew plays the youngest Tom Riddle. Yay!
  • Cried. A LOT. Knew it was going to happen, but there were still tears streaming down my face to the point where I almost couldn't see.
Another great evening, and more fun was added when Glenn and Cindy came over and we played with toys. Linda has now been exposed to "I Survived a Japanese Game Show," and I dare her to not watch it again. I'm darin' ya, Linda.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

DLR LotD 07/21/09

Disneyland Resort
Line of the Day
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"I'm easy but gender-challenged." -- Catherine, loudly, at Catal

Hay! Majide! and champagne toasts to you all for a great evening.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

DLR LotD 07/17/09

Disneyland Resort
Line of the Day
Friday, July 17, 2009

"I don't think rotting chickens can pee." -- Glenn, to Sherry, at Catal

Happy 54th Birthday, Disneyland!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I'm Taking My Undies & I'm Going Home

NKOTB -- Full Service Tour
Friday, July 10, 2009
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre -- Irvine, CA

Friday was a furlough day for me, so I was able to leave early and pick up Aura to go down to Irvine for the NKOTB concert. She and I had plenty of time before the show by the time we arrived in Irvine, so we went to the Irvine Spectrum. We went to the Barnes & Noble to purchase children's books for Joe McIntyre's "Let's Get This Foundation." I already knew that I wanted to donate "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein, since that is my favorite book in the whole world, and it happens to be a children's book. Aura had never read it before, so I had her read it, and she decided that she loved it and wanted to donate it as well. When we approached the cashier, she told us that she had just recently read it to her 5-year-old nephew, but apparently it was too sad for him. Uh-oh. It's such a beautiful book, though, that she's going to try to read it to him again when he's a little bit older.

We then went to Corner Bakery for some dinner. The food was OK, and it was quick. We just HAD to stop and get cupcakes for our after-show snack, too. I got a peanut butter & chocolate one, which had a mini-Reese's cup on top. Aura went for the Red Velvet. So, cupcakes and books in hand, we headed for the car...where we found out that the show would start at 7:30, not 8:00 as I thought. Oops. Luckily, the amphiteatre is only a couple of minutes away.

We arrived in time to hear that the opening act, the Jabbawockeez, had already started. We were disappointed that they were up first, since I'm not a fan of Jesse McCartney, who was the second act. We took the long walk from the parking lot to the plaza outside the amphiteater, and saw the people collecting the books. When they saw what we were donating, one of the guys said, "That's my favorite book in the whole world!" Me, TOO! He showed it to his companions, and a couple of them said that they loved the book, too. Happy to see that I wasn't the only sappy person around, I turned in the book and placed my name on the list to obtain Joe's new song via email (it was his Thank You for donating to the foundation).

Jesse McCartney was about to get on stage, so we realized that we had plenty of time and checked out the merchandise booth. I was originally going to get a track jacket, but it was dark green, and I really liked the black one from last year, so I decided not to get it. I saw that they had "Full Service" underwear, which they labeled as "shorts," but I don't think that people should be wearing those in public without anything over them. The woman selling the merchandise was pretty much yelling at all of the people trying to buy stuff, saying that we should form 2 lines. Um, ma'am? We've been standing here for a good 5-10 minutes, and NOW you tell us to form lines? Perhaps you should have made a sign or two denoting that, since everyone was crowding around anyway. She was nice to me when I bought my underwear (you know I couldn't resist, right?), but maybe she just appreciated that I was ready to complete my transaction. Aura and I then went to get drinks for ourselves. We saw that the Jabbawockeez were signing stuff at a table, but didn't feel like getting in line to meet them. The staff didn't even let her take a picture of them from outside the line. I thought that was kind of weird. I overheard some stupid person asking her friend why the 'Wockeez weren't wearing their masks. Maybe because it's damn hot? Maybe because then you could take pictures of their real faces? Maybe because you're stupid? OK, that's harsh, Sher.

We went to our seats. Unfortunately, we weren't sitting together because when I had purchased the tickets, I couldn't find 2 together and ended up getting solo seats. That sucked because they charge $20.00 parking for each ticket transaction. Rip off. Our seats were on opposite sides of the amphitheatre from each other, about the same row. She was on the aisle, and I was 3 away from the aisle. The very nice women next to me helped me wave to Aura so that she would see where I was sitting. They also tried to point out to me some woman that was wearing a dress that barely covered her butt, in very high heels. I didn't see her until later that night, when they all pointed her out to me as she walked up the stairs for the 5th time that night.

NKOTB started the show with Full Service. They had a really cool light display that showed little silhouettes of them as they entered the stage.


Medley: My Favorite Girl, Didn't I Blow Your Mind, Valentine Girl, and Please Don't Go, Girl
Aura texted me that Joe was going sharp. I had thought that Jordan was a little flat up to that point. They eventually got on track later, but it was funny that the musicians in us were being so technical. We can't help it, people.


If You Go Away/Stare at You: I like that second song a lot. OK, stare at me, Jordan. So romantic. Unless the person staring isn't who you want it to be. Whatever.

Dirty Dancing

I thought that there was a musical interlude after this song, since the guys had left the stage. Oh, no. They were actually going into the back, and appearing in the STANDS, one in each of the upper sections. I was soooo jealous! They were singing Single and hugging people between their turns to sing. I went crazy, and kept screaming.

Cover Girl

The screen showed the Twitter icon, then flashed "TINK!" The Twitter contingent went crazy, because we knew that Jordan was about to take the stage. There he is!

Give It To You I had a good vantage point, and tried to take a minute of video. I guess I was too obvious because the staff guy motioned to me and watched as I deleted everything from my camera (it would just take too long to weed out the stills from the videos). I was annoyed, but I understood. I was mostly annoyed because I saw people taking video for almost the entire show and didn't see them get caught. So I was annoyed that I was caught. The gals next to me were annoyed for me. I told you they were nice. :) What really pissed me off, though, was that I could have taken some nice stills from my view, right after I had put my camera away as directed. Sucks. Also sucks that I missed the rest of the song, and also most of the next one.

Popsicle: Bright colored outfits with stripes, like ice cream parlor workers!

Five Brothers and a Million Sisters: This is Joe's new song, dedicated to the guys and his fans, which he had debuted the last time that I saw them. This is also the song that he gave out to those who donated books.

They then introduced the band members. One of the guys was from Orange County, CA. Donnie tried to get us to scream louder, and said that we didn't sound like people whose basketball team had won the national championship. Wow, he FINALLY acknowledged it! It's about frickin' time, Ddub. I screamed quite a bit at that one. He then predicted that the Celtics would win next year, and he was booed.

Tonight This was audience participation time. Donnie decided to embarrass Jon and have us scream: JON! KNIGHT! HE'S A FREAKIN' PIMP, Y'ALL! It was hilarious. I love how they tease Jon for his shyness on stage.

Click Click Click They sat on stools at the end, prompting me to wonder if they were about to sing "California Sad-Eyed Girl." :)

I'll Be Loving You Forever: Jordan reached the high note beautifully, and I was blown away. YAY!

Hangin' Tough: I had been standing for the entire show, but sat down for this, the Boston sports team love-fest. This time, it was for the Red Sox.

Step By Step

One Song

That was a fun show! I waited for Aura to get to my seat (I was on the way out), and we hung out in the plaza for awhile, under the thatched roof, tweeting Donnie to tell him that we were waiting for him there. We were surprised that they were all being so silent with the tweets. In the meantime, Aura took this picture of me.

We saw that they were starting to turn off the lights in the plaza, so we left and looked for a Starbuck's so that we could eat our cupcakes together and try to wind down. We still hoped that there would be a tweet from Donnie, but nothing. We went to The Block in Orange -- HEY! I didn't realize just now that we went to The Block after *seeing* the Block! Whoa. Anyway, after Wrong Way Sherry (I had called myself that all evening) drove around the parking lot a couple of times, we parked the car, and asked a security guy on a Segway to direct us to Starbuck's. At the Starbuck's when I ordered my Shaken Iced Green Tea, I told them my name and the employees started singing Frankie & the Four Seasons' "Sherry" and I was a happy girl.

We enjoyed our cupcakes, although they were not as moist as I hoped they'd be. We tried to reconstruct the above set list as best we could. You know, if I hadn't deleted everything, it'd be accurate, but whatever. Sad that we didn't actually get Full Service, and only Half, we decided to drive back to Cerritos. I've since complained in a tweet to Donnie, but I'm sure he just now hates me because I was being negative. Whatev.

Thanks, Aura, for the fun time and the laughs! I look forward to whatever their next tour holds for us.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ding Dong, Fate is Calling

I saw "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" a couple of weeks ago with Cindy, Glenn and Mox. It's been awhile, so let's see if I can remember the thoughts I had about the movie.

  • OK, so I get why Shia had to have his hand bandaged for part of the movie, due to his real-life car accident. But I didn't see how, in the middle of the desert, he found gauze to dress his wound.
  • I've been a Transformers fan since they were awesome toys, thanks to the Bro. I really like how Hasbro gets a credit at the beginning of the movie. I wonder if the creators of Transformers and the Hasbro company had any idea how big their toys would become.
  • I liked Optimus Prime's line about fate: "Fate rarely calls upon us at the time of our own choosing."
  • The human-looking Decepticon was pretty cool, except for that stupid tongue. Eeewww.
  • Yay! Rainn Wilson as the professor! He makes me giggle even before he talks.
  • The special effects are awesome, as they should be for this movie. As with the first one, I like the sounds of the machines transforming. The visuals are dizzying at times, but the scenery was beautiful.
  • The twins annoyed me, but I really liked Jetfire. "Planet Dirt." Heh.
  • I couldn't stop thinking that perhaps Amy Adams was running around the Smithsonian, dressed as Amelia Earhart, wanting to help.
  • Bumblee's way of "talking" cracks me up. I like hearing all of the different clips of songs and quotes. That must just be a nightmare for them to get permissions on everything.
  • So, when the government builds the Witwicky family a new house, will it be Decepticon-proof? And who is paying for that?!
That was a fun movie. I'm glad that I saw it in the theater. I had only seen the first one at home on my own TV, so I didn't get the full effect, although I did like the story better in the first one.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

SCV Takes My Breath Away

Southwest Corps Connection
June 24, 2009
Glendale Community College Stadium -- Glendale, AZ

It was about 100 degrees or so during the day in the Tempe area, and had cooled down to a balmy 98 degrees by the time we arrived at GCC. We laughed as we tried to figure out which corps were practicing as we passed them. By saying "we laughed," I actually mean that Bro laughed at me because I was being idiotic about the confusion of all of the different corps wearing blue. Bro and I checked out the souvie trailers and I bought a bag from SCV. Bro said that I didn't need another bag, but I just looked at him like he was crazy. What the heck does "need" have to do when I'm supporting my corps? What the heck does "need" have to do when I'm buying a bag, for that matter? Anyway, it looks like the SCV uniform: green, with a red sash situated diagonally from one corner to the other, and it's closed by a drawstring. Once I used it, Bro was, like, "it looks like you're wearing the uniform!" and all talk of "need" went away. I also bought an SCV CD of their new show because I'm already familiar with the music, and, um, HELLO. It's VANGUARD.

Our seats were situated on the 20 yard mark, to the audience's right of the 50. We were about 8-10 rows up, and the stadium is pretty shallow anyway, so our seats were pretty good. Although there were no backs to the seats, there was plenty of leg room so that people could get by easily. The seats were just concrete, nothing fancy, but at least they stayed cooler than they could have been had they been aluminum or something ridiculously hot.

The Star-Spangled Banner was played on the trumpet by David R. Coolidge, who played for the Madison Scouts from 1994-1997.

The Academy Summer Youth Guard of the Arizona Academy of Performing Arts did a routine to "Love Shack." Call me a prude, but I don't think that this is an appropriate song for a group of 14-year olds and under to perform with. Did they even KNOW the song before they were taught to dance to it? And um, hello, it's *Love Shack*. It's in the title. You don't need to hear the lyrics to know that they should be using a different song than this one. Like "Erotic City." ;)

Repertoire: "Life" (Original music by Incognitus)
They're not wearing masks, so I got confused about who they were. No wonder all of the blue was confusing me out there! Aren't they afraid we'll figure out who they are if they don't wear their masks? Or is it just too dang hot to wear those things at the moment? The color guard was wearing masks, though. Bro noticed that the corps is wearing hats this year, which may impede the whole mask thing, but then I remembered that SCV had their aussies on as well as their masks for "Phantom of the Opera," so that's not an excuse. They have a big silver flag with the Incognito icon, while the sound of a heart beat is played by the synthesizer. This heart beat leads to the bass drums playing the same beat. The synthesizer sound made me think of King Kong, and I didn't really like it. The rifles have a little heart on each one. The show ends with a flatline sound, which presumably means that it's the end of Life as we know it. I said, "So...they died." Bro's response: "It's not a happy show." It also needs work intonation-wise, so that at least the Life part can be happier.

Repertoire: "Western Side Story" -- Cave by R. Peck; Adelina De Maya, Movement 2 by J. Curiale; One Hand, One Heart/ John Dunbar Theme by L. Bernstein / J. Barry; Spaghetti Western, Movement 3 (Noon of Fire); Gun Battle from Billy the Kid by M. Daugherty / A. Copland; Pentium by P. Graham

The color guard was dressed like Native American Indians, so with the Troop's regular uniform, it's like a Cowboys & Indians theme. I really like this show. The music was awesome! I love all of the western touches to the West Side Story music. I especially like that they kept the 3/2 timing of "America" for the "Adelina de Maya." They had flags with a picture of sabre going through a heart during "One Hand, One Heart." I like the black drum heads. See? You can just use a suspended bass drum like the Troopers did instead of making heart beat sounds with a stupid synthesizer. Nice rifle ripple! The show is very well done, and I hope to see it all 3 days during Finals week!

Repertoire: "Shiver" -- Winter by A. Vivaldi; Glide by R. Newbury & J. Ausdemore; Landslide by S. Nicks; Tarantella (from The Blue Room and Other Stories) by P. Kline; Coronation (from Stardust) by I. Eshkeri

Are they cold? The guard is wearing ski vests. They must be way hot in those things out here in the desert. Do these people not remember that this is a *summer* activity and will therefore be out in the sunshine? Anyway, the all-white flags are really pretty. Bro "appreciates the overall excellence as exemplified by the guard proper traversing the field as the rifle duet made a toss." APPARENTLY, the Bro has been listening to color guard critique a lot lately. The soprano solost played really high, making his own face turn really red. I don't understand how the snowball turned black. Did it get dirty rolling down the mountain? They made a snowflake! I wonder if it's different for every show. ;) There was a whooosh of wind, during which the corps made their hats move up and down as a reaction to the wind. Cool. The guard has ski poles. I actually didn't hate "Landslide" like I usually do. Perhaps I just hate it when it's sung. All of the women have fake ponytails...or they've all grown their hair to look like fake ponytails. Their practice flags are least I think they're practice flags, since they're not the usual hand-painted ones. Excellent guard work all around.


Repertoire: "Ballet for Martha" -- Ballet for Martha by A. Copland

The old uniforms are back! I like the contrast of their uniforms with the drum major ones. Pretty color guard uniforms: yellow/white/black with long, flowing skirts like Martha Graham. The tiny bass drum player plays on a tiny drum. (I found out later in practice videos that this is the only girl on the bass drum line, and she is, indeed, much smaller than the guys). This corps makes me smile. The show is BEAUTIFUL. I really liked all of the solos/duets/trio, especially that trio. They all paused for their breath in unison, leaving the crowd hanging, and we all finally exhaled when they played again. Sigh. The company front is amazing, especially the last note held out, to about 20 counts. Hey! The DM is using a baton! Bro is irritated by the use of the synthesizer for the bird tweeting sounds. I agree with his irritation, but am slightly amused by his emotions as well. Somebody tried to yell "Vanguard," but it just doesn't work with this show at all. (Later that week, SCV sent out a message to their fans, asking that we refrain from the Vanguard yell this year because it is inappropriate for this show). Great rifle work. I like the dark green drums. I also like the contras' arms in V formation during the drum feature. This show really, really floored me. WONDERFUL. I'm really glad that I saw them before Finals, or I'd be upset that I was missing it all that time.

Repertoire: "Imagine" -- Imagine by J. Lennon; Children's Hour of Dream by C. Mingus; Hunting Wabbits 2 by G. Goodwin; Sky Blue by M. Schneider; Haitian Fight Song by C. Mingus

Cool umbrella with the clouds on the underside. It reminded Bro that he can't wait to get his Phregiment umbrella out of storage. The CG wore blue & white cloud tops. They had light bulb flags at one point. I thought that the drum corps dancing was weird. Rockin' horns, especially the contras, and cool drum feature. This corps likes to strip. I can't actually remember the last show where there wasn't any stripping involved. Today, the corps took off their jackets toward the end, revealing a black t-shirt. I saw in a live webcast since then that they now strip to the same blue & white cloud shirts as the CG. I don't really like it. Bro thinks that they'll have a surprise later with the stripping thing, although I don't think that the shirts were exactly what he had in mind. "...2, 3, Bloo!"

Repertoire: "The Ascent" -- The First Ascent, Call of the Mountain by J. Curiale; The Storm, An Alpine Symphony by R. Strauss; Lifeline, An Alpine Symphony by R. Strauss; The Final Ascent, Kingfishers Catch Fire by J. Mackey

They have a ladder on the field. And a rope. Pretty purple & gold flag, as well as the long blue flag. They yellow sash is pretty, but I'm not sure if I like it as a belt. Intonation was great, as always.

Encore: Santa Clara Vanguard :)
They played a little bit of "Ballet for Martha," then their signature "Send In the Clowns." I love the long hold and the breath: WOW. (I'm loving how people breathe today, I guess). I closed my eyes for part of the song because the visual was getting in the way. Amazingly, wonderfully, gorgeous. Thank you, SCV.


Open Class
54.0 Incognito

World Class
66.90 Troopers
67.70 The Academy
71.90 Blue Knights
74.60 Bluecoats
76.30 SCV -- YAY!!!

2nd Encore: The Academy
The guy that did the National Anthem also played with The Academy for the encore, and his solo was ... wow! They played one of the latin songs from "Danzon," a show that I really enjoyed when they won the title for Division II. Their small bass drummer is also 12. Must be the rule or something.

When we got back to the car, the temperature was 96 degrees. We actually fared quite well in the heat, since there was no sunshine beating down on us, and a very slight breeze wafted through the stadium several times. What a nice drum corps show, filled with plenty of World Class corps! SCV winning just takes the cake. :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pro Scan, anyone?

For those of you that doubt the fact that Rockapella did jingles for the evil corporate world (and for those that do believe but need more), here they are in their pre-Carmen days. I'm totally loving this.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Brady's 1st Audition for Sports Broadcasting

Tempe, AZ Trip
June 24-26, 2009

I had some extra time for my vacation days since the Girls Trip was shortened from 2 weeks to 4 days, and I realized that I would be missing a couple of drum corps shows due to the Girls Trip. I saw that there would be a drum corps show in Glendale, AZ where I would be able to see Vanguard, so I asked the Bro to hook me up with a ticket, and I'd be there.

I know what you're thinking. It's HOT there in June, right? Well, yeah. Bro said that it would be in the 100s. But I had the time, and drum corps shows aren't until the evening, so it should be OK. Well, you know what? It's still hot in the evening over there, but at least the sun isn't blazing on your body during that time. It was actually fine. (Drum Corps show report to be posted at a later date).

It turns out that my trip happened to be during the last week that Bro and family would be living in their apartment, as they were scheduled to close escrow by the end of the month. I missed having my own room by *that* much. Oh, well.

On the first day, Bro was working, so V and I hung out. She picked me up at the airport, and asked if I wanted to go to Cracker Barrel. Um, YEAH!!! She said that Bro had been raving about the pancakes ever since I took him there, so she needed to try them for herself. You know me, always willing to oblige and eat the wonderful pancakes of CB. V ordered those for herself and I ordered a breakfast skillet so that we could share whatever. The skillet was tasty, although I prefer the pancakes. V was impressed by the pancakes, too. I tell you, they're the BEST!

We then hung out at the house for a little while, and caught up on stuff. She was absolutely hilarious when we first got home because of the way she usually sits around when she's pregnant. APPARENTLY, this method is not supposed to be done when there are guests in the house, no matter how close of family we are. She caught herself before this happened, but of course she told me so that I could have a good belly laugh. She's really cute with her little baby bump! I don't know why I didn't get a picture, sorry.

After a few hours, we finally decided that we were hungry again, so we tried out a new place for her, Pho Ao Sen. Yes, we had Pho. It was over 100 degrees outside, and I still agreed to have soup. Craziness. But it was tasty, and so was V's lemonade drink thing. I think it was the Da Chanh, because she said that she didn't want carbonation. Anyway, I was happy because there was a Pella store in the same set of buildings. It just fit the tone of my whole June vacation time!

That night, Bro and I went to the drum corps show. Brady was not happy that we left him at home, but Bro explained to him that he didn't think Brady could handle a 3-hour event. Brady didn't care about that, so V had to deal with him all night. Sorry, V. The weather at the show was actually quite pleasant. It was 96 degrees when we left at 10:30 p.m. But no sun!

The next day was for Bro to hang out with me. They lived in luxury apartments, so I went for some free Starbuck's coffee in their lounge, and marveled at all the cool stuff that was available, like a pool table and games. We went to Arizona Mills to price some washer/dryers. While we were there, we went into some Discount Warehouse kind of place, wherein I saw a hippo. These were my words as I walked quickly over to it and looked at it: "It's a hippo! It's a stapler! It's a dollar!" So I bought it. Duh. We then had a delicious lunch at Joe's Crab Shack, where Bro had one of these, called a "Shark Bite."

The vial is supposed to be "blood", but the gal poured the liquid into the drink before I could get a picture of it. You can still see the red swirling in there, though. Pretty cool, huh? And tasty! PLUS, you get to KEEP the shark! So Bro decided to make it a little surprise in Brady's tub for his bath that night. I had yummy crab cake sliders to eat, and Bro had the Surf N Turf burger. He wisely asked for no lettuce or tomatoes so that he could actually get his mouth around the thing, it was so big.

We then met up with the realtor to go through the final walk-through of the new house. The dogs are going to be happy with their grassy area, the family will be happy with their new pool, and Tita Sherry will be happy to have a whole guest room! :) V and I picked up Brady from school. She asked what music he wanted to listen to. He said, "Rockapella." I LOVE this child! V decided to get a treat for us and we went for some T.C.B. We got home, and Brady decided that he wanted to take us to a dance club. We all wondered what this meant, but obliged. He had origami paper and used this to pay for our admission at the door to his room. Then he turned on some music (of COURSE it was Rockapella, DUH!), and we danced together. Little did we know that this was only the beginning of a MAJOR sugar high. Less than an hour later, the kid was bouncing up and down on my mattress, saying "Watch this!" all over the place. We were concerned that he'd hit his head, yes. We were more concerned, though, of our sanity, and wondered how long this would all last. Somehow, we got him to take a bath, probably only because we said there might be a surprise for him in the tub. He had lots of fun with that shark. I read a few books to him before he went to sleep, although actual sleep was way later than we wanted it to be. I like how his parents chose some books that had to do with having a new baby in the house. I really enjoyed that time with the nephew, and yes, he actually seemed to pay attention, despite the sugar.

The next day, Bro and I had to wait around because of the possibility that they would close escrow that day. So we had to stay close to home, or at least to a bank. We went to the nearby Fuddrucker's for lunch, which was yummy, but small compared to the ones that I'm used to. I mean, they didn't even have a big separate bakery section! What is THAT about? Bro's funny. He said that he never sees any cars there or at Joe's Crab Shack, but both places had plenty of customers when we were there. I don't think he actually pays attention.

Alas, escrow would have to wait to close until next week, so I couldn't be there for that celebration. When V and Brady got home, we played a little bit. I enjoyed listening to Brady do a play-by-play of every golf move when he was putting with Bro. Sometimes he would re-enact it in slo mo. Later on, Brady and Bro were playing a game combining balls and balloons. I somehow got up the nerve to go in there and take video. Here's a short play-by-play by Brady. I crack up that he has a Filipino accent even though neither of his parents speak that language. My parents sure have a great effect on him, though.

And here's the trauma I go through just so y'all can see what it's like to be in the center of the action:

It soon came time for me to go home, so V took me to the airport while Bro gave Brady a bath. I'm always sad to leave them, but at least I didn't cry this time. My flight home was full of "WOW! THAT'S CRAZY!!!" talk from the gals next to me, who had just met on the flight. It's good that I wasn't planning on sleeping or anything. We landed in Burbank, and I drove home, where a raccoon had just crossed the street several houses down from mine. I don't think that's something you see in Tempe every day, if any. Maybe next time I'm there, I'll get to see a roadrunner.

Thanks for the great time, Bro, V and Brady! You always make my time with you memorable.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Already Missing Sonoma

Girls Trip to Napa
Days 4 & 5: June 22-23, 2009

Monday morning was kind of sad, because it was time to leave. We checked out of the Fairmont, and they printed our boarding passes for us at the front desk (Thanks, Kevin!). We drove to San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge/Hwy 101 then got lost a little bit before getting back on track. It was a nice little detour, as Mo explained to us how her father worked in San Francisco when he first immigrated to the USA, at Fisherman's Wharf.

View of Golden Gate from our car

We arrived in Burlingame at our friend Charlie’s house, and said hi to wife Jackie and his kids, Ryan and Jessica. Their house has a cool atrium in the middle, and a nice kitchen with flat grill. Jessica was playing with a doll that another Apache alumnus gave her, Masa, who had just visited them last week. Masa lives in Japan, and arrived in San Francisco without an Asian doll, which is what Charlie & Jackie had been asking him to bring. APPARENTLY, dolls in Japan are mostly white, and the closest he could come to was a French/Japanese mixture. The Barbie clothes fit her, though, so at least she can change clothes, unlike the Disney dolls, which are bigger than Barbie and therefore do not fit into her clothes. If anyone out there finds an Asian doll that is NOT Mulan, let me know, OK?

Lo, Sher, Charlie, Ryan, Jessica & Mo

Jackie stayed behind to watch the kids, and Charlie brought us to lunch at Bay Watch Café, where I had to have breakfast, of course: a nice scramble of spinach and sausage and cheese with eggs. Yummy! Chao waxed philosophical, just like old times. You know how people don't change that much once they find themselves? I have a feeling that Charlie found himself in a past life or something. He just doesn't change, and we love him all the more for it. Of course, if he had never changed from being a jerk, we probably wouldn't be so appreciative of the not-changing, but, thankfully, Charlie is as great and funny a guy as always, and I'm really glad that we got to spend time with him. Of course, it's kind of weird now. Instead of talking about high school crushes or whatever class we were talking about, Charlie and Mo talked about being anesthesiologists and they talked with Lo about being parents. It's not weird that they talk about it as much as it's weird that it's THEM that are talking about stuff, and not some strangers that I don't know. I can't believe how much we've grown up (well, at least THEY all have), and that we can still be such good friends that we can open up about our lives even after not seeing each other for a very long time. Are these the same wacky people that I went to Magic Mountain with back in high school, running around like wacky teenagers? Are these actually the same people in that group prom picture senior year? Wow. We had no idea back then what it would be like a couple of decades later. So different, yet still the same. Like the way Charlie still drives cars the same way he did back then. ;)

After going back to Charlie's house and saying our goodbyes, we drove to downtown Burlingame to meet up with Mo’s cousin Ashok and his wife Ani at their cigar shop. I met a nice old man who didn’t want me to smoke. But the Moonterrace cigar that Ashok recommended, with bourbon & vanilla flavors, was perfect. I just can’t have one for a really long time.

We shopped in Burlingame and I bought clothes on sale at Ann Taylor Loft, and a wooden Hippo bead from Potpourri. After walking out of Potpourri, we almost got caught jaywalking as we took a couple of steps right in front of a police car. Luckily, though, we saw him before actually going into the actual street. The police were present everywhere, giving parking tickets and such, so if you're ever in Burlingame, don't forget to feed the meters!

We drove back to Sunnyvale to meet Krina at her place, where she stated that she discovered that her 9 bottles of wine were equal to all of the rest of us combined. Well, if she hadn't already had 3 waiting for her when she got to Chateau St. Jean, then she and I might have been pretty even. Geez, I don't know when I'm drinking all of this wine, but it will be fun and tasty!

We went back to SJC and said our goodbyes and thanks to Krina. I continued my streak of pulling an Eremita all day with the spilling of corn nuts in the airport. (I had spilled coffee in the room in the morning and water at lunch). KLUTZ! While we were up in the air, we looked in the SkyMall catalog for the crazy garden sculptures that we discussed with Morgan, and I showed the gals my pics from trip.

Lo and I said our goodbyes to Mo, and picked up some Quizno’s for our drive down to Wildomar to extend her vacay away a little bit. My parents were happy to see Lori and catch up with her, since it had been quite a long time since they were able to talk. After a good night's rest, we went to the casinos in Temecula on Tuesday morning.

Our first stop was at Pala, where they are doing a lot of construction, and had just opened a new buffet restaurant, which had a great selection (King crab legs! Big ones!), and we played there a little while, too. Afterward, we tried our luck at Pechanga, where I did have better luck, but didn't win all of the $ back that I had lost at Pala. Oh well.

Since I had a flight the next morning, I needed to get back home, so I brought Lo back to the reality at her house with all of those boys (William included), and finally got back to change out my luggage and sleep in my own bed. For one night. At least I was home!

Next up: Tempe, AZ

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day, Everyone!

I usually spend the 4th of July watching fireworks at Disneyland. Well, that is, once I learned how to get around all of the evil mylar Minnie balloons, I would usually spend the 4th of July watching fireworks at Disneyland.

Last year, though, my favorite drum corps were playing at the Rose Bowl, so I was there with the Bro, V, Rudy and Jeff to witness Brady's 1st drum corps spectator event. That was cool because of the drum corps, but the fireworks were NOTHING compared to those at Disneyland. Perhaps if they had the corps playing patriotic music during the fireworks show, I would have liked it better.

This year, though, I've decided to stay home because I need the rest. I was able to see the patriotic fireworks at Disneyland a day early, and they were, indeed, AWESOME. Today I've watched a summer movie, "JAWS," and am currently watching "Crimson Tide." I absolutely LOVE the score to this movie, especially the arrangements of "Eternal Father."

It's been a good musical day, actually. I couldn't turn off "JAWS" until I heard the song "Show me the way to go home." Then in church tonight, Jerry was talking about how two of the songs we'd be singing, "Amazing Grace" and "As Grains of Wheat" could be woven together due to their similar styles. I mentioned that "Appalachian Spring," more commonly known as "Simple Gifts," could be in there, too. So what did Jerry do? After we sang "Amazing Grace," he had some time left to play, and threw in an arrangement of "Appalachian Spring." He's awesome. I'm always amazed by musical composition and improvisation, so I just smiled to myself. He also did a little bit of it before "As Grains of Wheat." I'm just blessed by having wonderful music around me.

Speaking of wonderful music, Independence Day always brings out all of the patriotic marches and the wonderful songs we Americans love to sing when wearing our national pride. My favorite march is "Stars and Stripes Forever," and thanks to Adrienne, I have this rendition to share with you.

My favorite of all to sing, though, is "The Star-Spangled Banner." This link is of my favorite band singing our national anthem. That final chord is just spectacular!

Happy Independence Day to all of my fellow Americans. Long may our banner wave.

DLR LotD 07/03/09

Disneyland Resort Line of the Day
Friday, July 3, 2009

"Will there be guinea pigs in the Fun House?" -- Sherry, to a seemingly deaf Glenn, repeatedly and with more volume, clarity, and slowness of speech each time until he understood her