All this talk of the swine flu coming out of Mexico made me realize that I never posted a photo album of any of my trips to Puerto Vallarta. I have compiled the best of my five visits which can be viewed by clicking on the album in the right-hand column, or by clickingHERE.I haven't been to PV since Feb '08 and I'm dying to get back - this swine flu thing needs to end first tho.
Over the weekend we lost television sitcom legend Bea Arthur to cancer - she was 86. In my pre-teen years Bea became an early favorite of mine through her sharp-tongued portrayal of the title character in the landmark comedy Maude. A decade later she would seal my love for her as my favorite Golden Girl, Dorothy Zbornak.
About twelve years ago I had the good fortune to meet Bea. She was starring in a play in Beverly Hills called After Play. The producers bought ad time at the radio station I worked for and they scheduled Bea to come to the station and I was to record the spot.
Bea came in accompanied by two producers and her personal assistant. I shook her hand and naturally made a little fuss, "It's a pleasure to meet you Ms. Arthur. I am a big fan. In fact, I rank Dorothy Zbornak as one of the great TV characters of all-time."
Turns out her hearing was shot; I don't think she heard a word I said as she batted away some other compliment she must've been used to hearing, "I know darling, thank you."
The producer handed her the script and I placed her in the sound booth. I couldn't believe I was about to direct Maude, Dorothy, Bea. She said, "Let me just read through this once and then we can lay it down."
I reminded her, "This is a 60 second spot so I'll let you know how you where you come in at."
She looked over the rim of her glasses, gave me a wink and then read the script... with that low and unmistakably barbed voice. Pure heaven.
Once she finished I informed her, "That was about 9 seconds too long, you'll need to tighten it up just a little. Whenever you're ready."
She counted down, "In three, two..."
Like a pro she finished just under time. I cooed, "That was wonderful Ms. Arthur. And with one second to spare. Would you like to do another for good measure?"
Bea replied, "No. I think you got what you need."
One take baby!
As she thanked me for my time she handed me two tickets to the play and gave me these parting words, "I hope you enjoy the show dear."
I live just below the rock 'n' roll section at the west end of the Sunset Strip - in fact, the famed Whiskey a Go-Go is just up the street on the corner. Yesterday I walked up (a fairly steep hill) to Sunset to get a bottle of wine from the liquor store just there and at the intersection of Sunset and San Vicente I encountered a accident - a UPS truck had overturned.
It seems the UPS driver double-parked on the other side of the intersection and ran in to an office to quickly make his drop. While he was tending to business the parking brake gave way and the un-manned truck rolled down the hill and through the light. Out-of-control, the truck hit a couple pedestrians and cars before it flipped over and made it resting place at the entrance of new London Hotel.
I got to the scene after the ambulance had departed but I could see a little pool of blood beginning to harden on the asphalt. It looked a bit creepy but an eye-witness to the event assured me that the injured man would be fine. Not so the two parked cars the truck totaled.
This particular intersection is where the Star Line Tour bus makes its turn off of Sunset Blvd to travel a couple blocks down the hill to get to Santa Monica Blvd. Basically this little stretch of San Vicente Blvd is the corridor with which the tour company connects Hollywood to Beverly Hills.
As I was walked on one of the tour buses pulled up to the light and while the driver was being instructed by a police officer to detour I heard the tour guide say over the PA to her passengers in a dramatic 'actress-y' tone, "All right folks, this is not a scene from a movie. This is an actual real-life Los Angeles accident."
This morning I made my weekly visit to the 99 Cents Only Store. And what's an outing to the 99 Cents Only Store without a freakish story? Not possible.
I was on line behind an elderly man buying a bunch of red hats and two pink bottles of something. I was trying to figure it out and the best I could come up with was that they were bottles of Disney Princesses Bubble Bath. At least that's what I'm going with...
As I was staring at the bottles the guy turned around and saw me contemplating his items on the conveyor belt and said in a grumpy voice, "I hope you didn't come here to buy any red hats."
I shook my head, "No, no, I'm all good."
He explained, "Well, in any case you won't find one cuz I got 'em all."
I re-assured him with a laugh, "No really, it's all good."
As he was fishing out his money to pay the checker he continued, "Any time I see red hats here I clean 'em out." Then as he grabbed his bag to walk out he said, "I buy 'em all cuz ya never know. Ya just never know."
Ooooh, but I do know...
Also... Even though I am not a religion sort - I found it strangely disturbing that you could buy a Bible, Testaments Old and New, for 99 cents. The current World Almanac sure, but the Bible?
I had to take Girlfriend to see her doc yesterday.
But before we could see her we were visited by the assistant who took all of her vitals and as he was prepping a thermometer he said, "I'm gonna need you to hold her with her rear facing me."
I complied and as he lifted her tail he asked, "Hey Girlfriend, what kind of dog can tell time?"
She didn't answer.
Just as he rammed the thermometer up her pooper he followed with his punchline, "A watch dog!"
I smirked thinking he was weird as Girlfriend whimpered.
As we were at the reception desk preparing to leave the gal working there gave me instructions on how to administer her medications, "Give both of these to her twice a day and it'll be helpful if she eats just before takings her meds. It's 2:48."
I looked at the clock just beyond her head and noticed that she was about ten minutes off and as I reached for my wallet I asked, "So, how much do we owe you?"
She repeated, "It's $248."
I grimaced and choked, "Oh, I thought you had given me the time."
I ran across this old photo taken of me sitting in the cubicle of my first real job. I was the fill-in person in an accounting department for a high-end office furniture dealership. I looked at the pic for a few minutes trying to figure out which was more shocking - my youthful face, the amount of gel I managed to host on my head or that dinosaur behind me we called a computer.
I decided it was the computer and just the sight of that old relic took me back 20 years to a very funny memory...
At the time I was very close with a gal who called herself, L - short for Lynn. For a long spell we were inseparable; she slept on my couch for awhile and we worked together. Well, 'work' wouldn't quite be the word to use for us as we spent so much of our day goofing off and trying to keep one step ahead of trouble.
One night L and I rented a video - some French film that I can't remember the title of - it starred two actors who were hot for each other and about 30 minutes into the film it, like all French films of the time, dissolved into soft-porn.
L and I decided to make the film more interesting as we took on the characters roles, reciting the sub-titles and really making an entertaining evening of it. When we were faced with the first sex scene we panted, grunted and moaned along with them and finally in the throes of passion the French woman did some dirty-talk and L was quick to recite her line. Which she did without realizing that it was so completely raunchy until after she had spoken it. (I would repeat the line here as it is forever burned into my memory but it is too uncomfortably naughty and my mother is reading this...)
After we realized what L had said we both looked at each other in shock. Then we melted into pools of tears from the intense laughter that followed. We rewound the scene a million times and laughed just as hard with each viewing. By the end of the evening we both had tummy-aches from the laughter. And that line stayed with us for weeks. I would call her extension at work and burp it over the phone-line or she'd whip it out while at lunch and we'd once again, die laughing.
Around the same time our company was getting a program added to our computers. It was something new they called - email! Not quite the email system as we know it today. It resembled more of a text message on the bottom of our computer monitors and it didn't have a history of anything received or sent.
Our head computer guy was a frumpy old man well into his 60's and worked mostly out of his home in Arizona. I don't remember how that worked really but we only saw him a few days out of the month. His name was Sam and you couldn't accuse him of having any social graces; he was tremendously odd.
He spent months on the email system and finally one day it was a go... Each person was assigned a number and to send a co-worker an inter-office (no outside world yet) message you had to employ one of those F buttons at the top of your keyboard (yes, they once had a functioning purpose!) and type your message and then wait for a reply. It was kind of funky, this new technology - it'll never catch on.
About the third day into having this new system I heard L laughing on the other side of our shared cubicle partition. Of course I ran over to see what was so funny. She howled, "Like you don't know!" I looked at her blankly and she continued more seriously, "You didn't get my email? Don't mess with me asshole!"
She ran over to my computer hoping that it was delayed and once she realized that she had probably sent it to the wrong person she told me that she had sent me that filthy phrase from the French film, "Oh Chuck, I don't know who I could have sent that to." She grew panicked, "What if it was the owner? I'm so fired right now."
A few minutes passed and L got a reply from frumpy old Sam in Arizona that simply asked, "Huh?"
She left it alone and called in sick on the day of his next visit.
Back in the summer of '91 I, along with a few friends (including Diane on the left next to me and Gymmy second from the right), went on a river rafting adventure down California's Kern River. It was a summer after a winter with heavy snow so the rapids promised to be extra fun.
The six of us drove to central California and met up with the tour which consisted of five boats in all and we were lucky that we had just enough of us to fill our own boat. It became clear fairly quickly that the other boats were filled with a partying crowd. They were all loud and obnoxious and pretty much just looking to get laid. We hated them. They ignored us.
Which made for a really boring weekend for the poor guy who captained our boat.
Some of the guys on the other boats went in for some rough house. They would jump into the other boats and create water-dretching disturbances - all in the good name of flirtation. One guy tried that with our boat early on and Diane, who spent the 2-day journey next to me at the front of the boat, lowered her voice and toggled her finger, "We are not here to have fun with you." With that, we were happily ostracized for the rest of the weekend.
We made camp for the night at the halfway point and I was a bit disappointed in the activity of the rapids, they seemed too simple. The guy running the show assured me while he was making dinner, "Yea, the good stuff gonna come tomorrow." He was missing a few teeth.
Dinner came with its own frustration - in the form of yellow jackets. These pesky little bees swarmed the food on your plate the second it was stationary so the trick was to keep moving (quickly) while you tried to eat. Just how does one out-fox a winged creature with a stinger? Diane didn't have the answer and after two bites she slammed her plate in the trash screaming, "These damn bees won't stop trying to ride my chicken."
We slept under the stars that night and I shared the air mattress that Diane borrowed from her sister. Which turned out to be broken. Somewhere it sprung a leak so we had to keep inflating it - we would over-compensate so that we could deflate at a lower clip. We'd start with a big bubble and try to relax until we felt the rocks digging into our backs and then we'd get up to inflate it again. It was a 45-minute cycle but like Diane aptly pointed out, "Better than dealing with the ants." Which were terrorizing the ground sleepers.
Then there were the bats. At first we just figured they were birds until Diane deduced, "I think they're bats." Then as she thought about it a little longer she moaned, "Oh my god, they are gonna suck our blood the second we fall asleep. I've heard about these things." And there went the idea of any sleep for the night. Diane shrieked and waved her arms frantically any time one swooped within eye sight.
Finally morning came and as promised the rapids were much more intense. And fun. One after the other - pure fun. We, the fuddy-duddy's, even took to raising our oars after navigating a difficult rapid for a collective paddle high-five.
We were warned at the start of the day that there was one rapid that we would not be able to attempt - it was called 'The Washing Machine' and it was a Cat 4 which means even hardcore enthusiasts walked around it for fear of certain death. Sometimes nature sure can be mean.
As our five boats approached 'The Washing Machine' a blond bimbo from another boat fell into the river and was headed right for the killer rapid. We were the closest to her so we were instructed to rescue her, which terrified Diane who pleaded, "NO! It's too dangerous." As we began to paddle toward the gal Diane screamed, "NO!! It's not safe." Then she tapped into her panic place deep within, "We have to save ourselves! LET. HER. DIE."