Saturday, April 30, 2016

Test Kitchen: What a difference a pan makes

Remember this bubble gum pink debacle?

Well, I tried it again. This time around I used lemons instead of blood oranges and I have the right pan now. And it was glorious.

You so pretty, cake.

The recipe is here. If you're like me and don't like recipes that go on for pages, don't worry about it. This is an easy cake to make.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The wind came back in a big way yesterday

Yesterday was a replay of Friday. During the afternoon the winds kicked up big time. It even knocked my lavender plant over (it survived).

Turns out it was even windier than the other day! The water in the channel was choppier than I've ever seen it.


I couldn't even walk to the end of the channel; as soon as I got to the beach the sand was blowing so much I had to turn back. It was even crazier than Friday, a real sandstorm. No one else braved it either. It was weird seeing it so deserted.

I still wanted to get my walk in, so I decided to walk to the market down the street. Big mistake. The wind was still crazy, and there's a huge construction site down the street that had dirt blowing all over the place. Again, just like a sandstorm, only dirtier.

One great thing about the walk is that one of the apartment complexes down the street has this great big American flag, and it was just dancing in the wind. I loved it with the palm trees in the background.


So far, today is just a regular soft breeze day. Wondering if it will crank up again later. I just hope all this wind will result in a bonanza of seashells. We don't get too many on our beach, for some reason.

Like I need to add to my seashell collection.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Another beautiful evening by the sea

The winds really kicked up around here yesterday afternoon. It kept a lot of people from taking a walk along the channel and beach to the point where it almost felt like I had the place to myself. Check out this wind:





Seriously, this sky doesn't even look real.

The winds had the flag at the end of the channel really flying:

I was wearing a heavy sweatshirt and the sleeves were rippling, it was so windy. It was great, though. The wind seems to be picking up right now, so we may get a repeat of yesterday.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Return of the Van de Kamp's windmill!


Iconic Arcadia Windmill Will...Turn, Turn, Turn.

My family is from Arcadia and I remember the windmill from my childhood. Every single time I drive by the former Van de Kamp's (now a Denny's) I look at the roof and think of the windmill turning. It will be great to see it again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hypocrisy, industry style (updated)

I'm not as political on the blog as I used to be, but I just couldn't pass up this one.

So, a lot of entertainment industry panties have been in a wad lately over North Carolina's passage of HB2, a bill that kept in practice separate men's and women's bathrooms based on biological gender. Supporters point out that changing this practice could endanger women and children, while opponents claim it's all about persecuting the transgender community. The law kept the status quo in place.

Apparently women and children are no longer the special interest groups du jour, as a lot of people ignore the peril it could put them in by having their bathrooms invaded by cross-dressing men claiming to identify as women. In fact, it's already happened. The big stink is that a lot of people are ignoring that aspect of the bill and focusing only on how it affects transgenders. Transgenders (or those who claim to identify as such) want to use any bathroom they choose, and they don't seem to notice or much care if it negatively affects anyone else. Phrases like "anti-LGBT", "prejudice, "bigotry", "hatred", "intolerance", "anti-gay" and "discriminatory" have been bandied about to describe the law, as if they're the only ones affected, as if they're actually having rights taken away. The bullied have become the bullies.

A lot of high-profile entertainers apparently don't care about the rights of women and children to feel safe while in a vulnerable state and they're taking it out on their fans, while patting themselves on the back for their open-mindedness and inclusivity. Among those who recently expressed their righteous outrage by refusing to grace the Tar Heel State with their exalted presence are Bruce Springsteen, Ringo StarrPearl Jam and Cirque du Soleil. Which is odd, because:
according to its Web sites, the world-famous circus act is still scheduled to hold shows in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where same-sex marriage, sex- or gender-reassignment surgery, adoption by same-sex couples and openly gay and lesbian military service is outlawed.
(Note: I couldn't find it on their website (scrubbed?) but they have performed in Dubai in the past and they are going back later this year.)

Which is odd when you consider that nothing has changed. The law kept current rules in place. None of these artists or events had a problem booking their shows in North Carolina before the bill was signed into law, but suddenly they can no longer honor the commitments they made to fans.

There's also been talk of North Carolina losing the TV show business. Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz is not only refusing to license his shows to North Carolina companies, but compared the law to apartheid. Looks like the NBA All-Star game will be staying, at least until someone applies enough heat.

It all reminds me of one of my favorite of many favorite quotes from the South Park guys:
People in the entertainment industry are by and large whore-chasing drug-addict f*ck-ups, right? But they still believe they’re better than the guy in Wyoming who really loves his wife and takes care of his kids and is a good, outstanding, wholesome person. Hollywood views regular people as children, and they think they’re the smart ones who need to tell the idiots out there how to be.
I've been to North Carolina on several occasions and was struck by how genuinely down-to-earth and normal the people there are. Sad that the entertainment industry is painting every last one of them with a hateful brush and telling them how to live and run their state.

Then this gem popped up this morning: Transparent Crew Up in Arms Over Trans-Friendly Toilets.
"Transparent" is a forward-thinking show about transgender acceptance, but the kumbaya spirit stops at the bathroom door.
Sources connected with the production tell us, members of the crew are up in arms over the unisex bathroom on the set.
The beef is that men, women and transgenders can all enter as they please, making it uncomfortable for some of the crew. Women are particularly worried about walking in and seeing a dude peeing at the urinal. 
Now this is interesting ... we're told several crew members are too scared to complain, for fear they'll be labeled "transphobic," which would be the kiss of death on that set.
Oh, Hollywood. Can't even practice what they're preaching to the rest of us on a show dedicated to transgenderism. Get the popcorn. Can't wait to see the fallout on this one.

Update: Just remembered something else I wanted to include in this post. Recently, at the L.A. Times Festival of Books at the University of Southern California, I had the option of using what was described as an "all-gender" bathroom in one of the buildings where I had just attended a panel. The thought of being in a small, enclosed space with my pants down and the possibility of men I didn't know anything about just inches away did not appeal to me. I passed and opted for one of the numerous porta-potties brought in for the event. Gross, but I had four solid walls around me and didn't feel the least bit unsafe or vulnerable.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The return of the Twilight Zone...sort of

I'm not sure how to feel about this. Anything involving more Twilight Zone can only be a good thing, right?

CBS and interactive-video company Interlude are resurrecting “Twilight Zone” as a mix of TV and video game

I guess we'll find out. Read the whole thing here.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

BuzzFeed nails it: 23 Pictures That Perfectly Sum Up Attempting To Be Healthy

We've all been there. Sometimes more than a few times.

My personal favorite:

This is why I had to stop getting the weekly produce boxes.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

L.A. Times Festival of Books - Sunday

Day 2 and the rain stayed away! It was typical, beautiful Southern California weather.

Crime Fiction: Cities in Suspense
Miles Corwin (moderator), Kwei Quartey, Naomi Hirahara, Cara Black

Quartey sets his stories in his native Ghana. He left to study medicine in the United States. Hirahara is of Japanese descent who sets her stories in Los Angeles. Black became fascinated with Paris in the 1990's and finally channeled her obsession into novels. In an odd twist, they all live within miles of each other, in Pasadena and Altadena.

Quartey was inspired to write Ghana-based crime fiction after seeing a documentary about crime in that country, which included a detective who used the threat of witchcraft and curses while interrogating a suspect. When he returned to Ghana after years away, he was stunned by how much it had been built up. The combination of this modernity and the traditional beliefs shown in the documentary inspired him to set his stories there.

Hirahara mentioned that she accumulated a lot of rejections before being published, but said she was never disillusioned. Sh also had a couple funny comments about the danger of writing real life places. In one of her stories she mentioned a local restaurant, Empress Pavilion, by name, only to later discover that it had closed down. Just to add insult to injury, it later reopened. And then there was the time one of her characters mentioned that football team that used to be in Los Angeles...

Black discussed the differences in technology between today and the 1990's in which her novels take place. Once, at a talk, a very young woman made the comment that she writes "historical novels". That one got a big laugh. Hirahara pointed out that the main character of one of her series is not up on tech and in fact still uses a Thomas guide to get around town.

Black frequently travels to Paris and told a crazy story about going to a shooting range there. That wasn't the crazy part. Apparently she was wearing rubber flip-flops and hadn't noticed that some of the shell casings got stuck in the soles. She didn't notice it until she was back in the U.S. unpacking from her trip. The shell casings had made it through TSA with no problem.

After the panel had ended, while everyone was gathering up their things and heading out, I overheard a couple of people in the audience mention what a great moderator Corwin was, that he asked his questions, then got out of the way so the authors could talk. I couldn't agree more, he did a great job.

Michael Connelly in Conversation with Titus Welliver
There must have been tumbleweeds blowing through the FOB after a huge chunk of attendees packed the Bovard Auditorium to get their Connelly/Welliver/Bosch fix.

Waiting patiently. I'm up in the balcony.

Michael Connelly, the author of the Harry Bosch series, chatted up his leading man much to the delight of the FOB crowd. It only lasted an hour, but I'm pretty sure they could have gone on all day long and no one would have complained.

A huge part of the discussion focused on Harry Bosch himself. Welliver commented on Harry's "perfect moral compass" and described him as not a guy with an inherent need to be liked. He likened him to an old soldier, someone who will be "soldiering on until the dirt nap". Welliver described getting the role as "the greatest gift of my career". He has been getting caught up on the Bosch novels and said that the more he reads, the closer he feels to Harry. In what I thought was a nifty comparison, he described the complex Bosch as an advent calendar. In additional good news, Welliver is also now the voice of the Bosch audiobooks.

Welliver said that some of his favorite scenes have been Bosch with his daughter, because Harry doesn't know what to do. Connelly responded to that with, "It gets worse next season." Speaking of Season 3, Connelly offered that the writing started a month earlier than previous seasons.

Another comment I thought was neat was Connelly explaining where the character of Harry Bosch had come from. He said Bosch came from a lot of different places, but specified that after reading Raymond Chandler, he wanted his own Marlowe. Damn if he didn't do just that.

During the Q&A, Connelly was asked about the creative control he has on the show. His response was that he doesn't, but that people working on the show don't want to disappoint him, and through him the fanbase as well. Amazon - to their great credit - insisted that he be involved if they were to finally bring Harry Bosch to the screen. As a condition to his involvement, Connelly insisted that the show be shot entirely in Los Angeles (except of course for the scenes that take place outside of L.A.).

There was a great moment when an audience member asked Connelly about his next Bosch novel, which comes out in November. In the novels, Vietnam veteran Harry has aged in real time since his debut in The Black Echo in 1992 (in the show, Bosch is a Gulf War veteran to adjust his age). As a result of this - and the LAPD's mandatory retirement age - he's aging out of the force, and the question was specifically how Connelly was going to handle that. He responded that Bosch would be carrying a badge, it just wouldn't be an LAPD badge. This prompted Welliver to crack, "He's doing security at Ralph's."

The funniest thing in the whole entertaining hour - which I alluded to in a previous post - was when they were discussing Harry, and Connelly turned to Welliver and his Boston Red Sox t-shirt and calmly asked, "You know he's a Dodgers fan, right?"

It was awesome.

Publishing Industry: The New and the Now
Oscar Villalon (moderator), Isaac Fitzgerald, Maris Kreizman, Josh Raab, Johnny Temple

The panel discussed the importance of being a part of the writing community, online and off, in order to publish and promote your work. Kreizman: You're having a conversation, not just shouting into a void. The popularity of her website, Slaughterhouse 90210, led to a book deal. Fitzgerald pointed out that the internet means writers no longer have to be in L.A. or New York to be part of a community.

Kreizman discussed the self-publishing boom, which she touted as great, but also pointed out that self-published writers have to really hustle and do a lot of work (editing, PR, etc.) that require a lot of different skill sets, services that a traditional publisher would provide for them.

On the topic of ever changing technology, Fitzgerald had a neat analogy. He talked about back in the day when monks hand-wrote and illustrated books, only to have the printing press invented. Monks: "Those aren't real books." It was funny, but also drove home the point that you can't fight progress. Whatever you think of publishing in this day and age, the changes are here to stay and will probably continue to evolve. Deal with it.

In the Q&A, the panel was asked about submitting and negotiating without an agent. They cited several resources including The Author's GuildPoets & Writers and Submittable among the many online sources available. They were also asked what they think is coming in the future. Raab cited Storyhive, while Fitzgerald mentioned geotagged stories and apps. Everyone involved agreed that no matter how clever a concept is, it still requires good writing.

The panel was also asked if big publishing houses have any interest in finding new writers, or if this is just not an option. Temple, publisher and editor-in-chief of Akashic Books: "Everyone is interested in finding new writers."

Fun fact: This panel was broadcast live on CSPAN's BookTV. I got to see it later when it was re-aired and had to laugh at the offensive language warning they put onscreen when Fitzgerald dropped several F-bombs. Also, you can see me in the broadcast, so I've officially been on TV. And I looked like crap.

Except for a couple more purchases, that was the end of my awesome Festival of Books weekend. Can't wait for next year!

Here are a few more pics snapped over the weekend:

Tommy Trojan from the steps of the
Bovard Auditorium just after the
Connelly/Welliver event.

A more dramatic shot of Mr. Trojan.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wine and humor combined? Yes, please.

Found this awesomeness in the current issue of Food Network Magazine:

I may have written on the page.

They are indeed SomeWines and according to their website Sprouts carries them. Guess what just got added to my list of errands for tomorrow!

I cannot tell you how happy it made me to be greeted with this news this morning

Television Without Pity is coming back.

Some of the funniest things I've ever read on the internets were their recaps and message boards. I was beyond disappointed when it was closed down a couple years ago.

I really hope they can restore all the original archives. Supposedly they were left online, but I've had trouble accessing them (or beyond the first page of the recaps, at least). That would be awesome. Either way, I'm happy happy happy to have the little devil back.