Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas is Over yada yada yada.....

Well we are officially back (in California) from Christmas having completed our Texas swing with stops in San Antonio and Houston. While we are both generally glad to have the holiday travel behind us (which included drives between SA and H-town and rental cars and airplanes and taxicabs and weight-limit-challenged bags) it is a bit sad that it is over - not sure why. We had alot of large family interplay and covered alot of ground and met some old friends and new ones (more of that drama later) - so I'm not sure what the deal is - maybe because it has been rainy and overcast here in LA and one of neat things of coming back home to SoCal is reveling in the fact that it is still sunny and green and wonderful. But it looks like Houston right about now.

So enough of that - what did everybody get? Let's talk common Xmas gifts - as one blogger and I were discussing today. I received the boxed set of Seinfeld CDs for Season 5 and 6 this year as I did for years 1 through 3 last year. And of course this one this year came with a minature version of the puffy shirt which frankly is almost suitable for display near your Kosta Boda candles in the wall unit. Even my Mom thought it was cute.

Now some of you have recently heard about my pop culture passion for Kelly Clarkson (more on her later) and we haven't even mined the Springsteen vein yet here - but the Seinfeld TV show ranks up there as one of my very favorite things ever. Ever, ever, ever. I am a nut for the show.

So much so that my girlfriend "hates it" although she laughs her butt off every time she watches it. I sort of made her sick of it because when I moved to LA Seinfeld was just ending and to watch re-eruns just made me feel at home, a little bit less homesick (of course now she's a serious "Curb Your Enthusiam" fan). When she came out here I still watched it anyway - because, well it was still a touchstone for me. As I once told my father, who was asking about its popularity, I said "its like everyday life - this is how people talk about things - do I have to break up with her in person? Well, how many times did you go out? How many times did you sleep with her?" And in fact the parent-to-Jerry-to-George interplay is just priceless - and of course I could go on and on.

Jerry was just on the Larry King show a month or so ago hawking the new CDs and you can just see the different level of communication.

LK: "Jerry, why was the show so popular - it was about "nothing" as you say.

JS: Nothing? It was about nothing? Who would watch a show about nothing. Oh, it was about something alright.
(conflicting almost everything he's ever said about the show).

LK: Well then what attributed to its success?

JS: It was funny.

Man - he was just toying with Larry. But you see - no cosmic reason. It was funny that's all. But it was funny also because it did not go the classic sitcom route. It almost removed plot as a critical function and wove pertinent current and sometimes less than contemparary events into a weave that somehow resolved itself at the end. "Mr. Kramer - you wouldn't be trying to pull the wool over the eyes of a Texan, now would you?" I mean who bets on flight schedules?

Ah, who's kidding who. It was funny. (In fact I was sitting with a friend over Christmas and he was telling me how he now watches it with his son but he never really caught the show before - but he made a comment I always though somewhat true - that the show was really about George Constanza - please discuss amongst yourselves). I'm getting verclempt!

"George you bastard - when are you coming down to Houston - you bastard?" - imaginary Houston Astro executives talking to George on an airplane while making way full use of the onboard service.

Anybody who's a Seinfeld afficianado knows the many different story lines that occurred in the show's run but I always find it interesting as how they were combined with other story lines in a single episode. I mean everyone knows about the Soup Nazi, but that was also the one that had Jerry and his new girlfriend talking the baby talk - you know the "Moopie schloopie" stuff. Man I pull out the "Schloopie mooopie" talk out at least once a month. And of course that girlfriend is now Mrs. George Stefanopoulous.

Now we all have our favorites - and there are the famous ones like the Contest and the Soup Nazi as above. But there are many others not a famous that are great. One of my early favorites was the one where George is parking cars downstairs, Kramer is in the Woody Allen movie and Elaine's 60-ish old boyfriend collpases of a heart attack in Jerry's apartment. "Now there's a show." I also like the one (Season 8 I think) where George is the "bad boy" and attracts the attention of one of Elaine's employees. George plays the bad boy and winds up being picked up at the police station by his screaming father. "You want a piece of Me?!" Jerry Stiller was and is fantastic.

Seperate from other Seinfeld enthustiasts is that I liked him way before. I grew up wanting to be Johnny Carson or one of the standups that came before him and I loved his schtick. Very smart. I love the deal about how we don't really root for sports teams but we really root for their uniforms. "You see we are just cheering for laundry, people." Very true.

I also like the one about the Marine Bioligist - and in fact Jerry mentioned it as one of his favorites (again one not constantly hyped by a lazy media). "Is anyone here a marine biologist?" Priceless. "The sea was angry that day my friend. Like old man returning soup in a deli."

And living in LA, while everybody said the show was about New York, I thought it was as much about LA - many of the story lines were ripped from here. And the facade of Jerry's apartment is really a building in Santa Monica.

So what's your favorite Seinfeld episode - and does the show still do something for you?

Christmas Parable #1

Note: This was written a few weeks ago as a comment/response to another blogger who commented about a son's untimely fender bender around Christmas. As I have been so woefully unprolific lately I offer it as a holiday rememberance - albeit an embarrasing one.

My senior year in high school - I was known to be a fairly literate person - in fact, in the day before e-mail and blogs, I had a mass distribution letter to several friends et al which chronicled everything I did and my loves and wants. People at school would always ask for my "letter" and they would always try to figure out if I was talking about them (again sort of talking in blogger code). It got wildly popular. For Christmas gifts, I would commonly leave interesting paperback books gifts to my "distribution" (which generally consisted of girls I was interested in - and, as with the letter, leave it on their suburban doorsteps in the middle of the night. On one such patrol, but this time at dusk, I left the book, which I think at this time was "I'm Ok, if you're Ok" on one gal's doorstep and I later drove by to see if she picked it up. Only to find myself slammed into a parked car on the street directly across from her house.

And this was Christmas Eve.

I had to go in and apologize prophetically to these people sitting down to a nice Xmas Eve dinner and somehow explain that I just ran into their car because I was looking at a doorstep across the street instead of the road. And then I had to call my Dad to get the car towed and.... well you know. The horror of it all.

The O'Henry twist to the story is that what I wanted for Christmas was a cassette tape deck for the CAR. And that is what I received the next day - for a vehicle that would be in the shop for the next few weeks. If only I asked for hair.

The moral to the story is - "it will get better - it was an accident". There was nothing worse than staring in my father's eyes and trying to enjoy Christmas Eve in this light at 17. The lowest. But I will happily be at his house this year some 30 years later.

Friday, December 16, 2005

San Pedro Boat Parade Music Update

A few weeks ago I told y'all about the boat parade we had in the LA Harbor and how we decorate boats with Xmas lights and go on to various judging spots in the harbor while entertaining the shoreline viewers. I also explained how we usually have music onboard but no one knows how to do it well - so I always get sucked into that role.

We got involved in this because Deborah's company greatly valued volunteership - well she is no longer with that company (having moved on to more moolah downtown) but we still get asked back to particpate on the boat because they love her so much. But I have never been sure the other anal retentive engineers who work on this project value her very-much music-opinionated boyfriend (me).

So this year I decided to sit back. Some guy named Rick was ramrodding the project and I was not going to get in his way. As with last year he picked out some typical Walmart Xmas CD's and was content with playing anything from Perry Como to Pat Boone as the boat glided along the shore to at least five judging stands. This is in vast contrast to the dynamic spot-on stuff I planned in the past but so be it - it was not my gig and I was happy to go along for the ride. Deborah still made me bring about 10 other CDs packed neatly in our bag of wine and pre-made margaritas.

In fact Deborah and I went top deck this time and got a real good eagle's eye view of the parade and just had a good time with another couple from the company. It soon became apparent though that Rick's favorite tune off this CD was Earth Kitt's "Santa Baby". Now until then I only knew her as Catwoman but I have learned differently since then - but this version, in this venue, and, yes, even to me, seemed a bit ribald - we soon started viewing ourselves up top as the pornographic Santa boat - sincle mostly kids lined the shore.

And then Rick had to turn tourguide. The "theme" of the parade was "the Magic of Christmas" and now Rick discovered the mike to the sound system and had to let everyone on shore know about this every 30 seconds - in a fairly nasal basketball coach bullhorn style. "Merry Christmas, everybody - the magic....of christmas".

Now there is really nothing more obnoxious than a guy on a boat talking to you through a loudspeaker - we have nice lights - we have cheering crowds - we even have 50-year old porn Xmas music - but we don't need " the magic....of Christmas" every 30 seconds.

The clamor went up for me to go down there and rip the mike from him but I was not having it. Instead we just screamed at him to shuddap but he couldn't hear us amid his constant proclamations that this season was "magical". So we just laughed and took it.

After the last judging stand we decide to make our move to play something good on the leg home. Deborah hopped down and lobbied that we play Gwen Sefani's new solo album on the way back. It turns our Rick' s girlfriend was fairly mortified by the krap he was playing and was a huge Gwen fan anyway - so much so that there was an impromptu 20-minute coversation about how she was an Orange County product from just down the road and that she saw No Doubt way before they were popular (and this was Rick's girlfriend?) . So anyway we got to do "Hollaback Girl" all the way home.

B-AN-ANAS! Now there's your friggin' magical Christmas.

P.S. - the couple we partied with on top now want us heavily involved in the planning process next year - and we STILL don't work there anymore. Must be our musical taste. (Deborah - you can stop waving now).

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Kelly Clarkson's Been Screwed

Kelly Clarkson's omission from Record of the Year is just another great gaffe in what is probably the worst awards show of all time. Sure we all have a grand time discussing Oscar this and that. But the Grammy's prove year after year that they do no understand anything.

Now, granted, we all have distinct music tastes, and the Grammys have made sure to include many genres over the years and frankly almost anybody gets to take home an award after the pre-Grammy event under a tent - but it is obvious that the show has been taken over by money-handed studios pushing their product. And the fact that whoever these voters are get total mind-block and vote for what ever is the cause-celebre - case in fact - why did Norah Jones have to win five Grammy's - wasn't her nice song worth two or three - why did she get Album of the Year when Bruce devoted a entire disk to 9/11? You know why - because all of these people are stoned silly. And they are followers - not critics of talent - or evaluators of what is really going on in music today. Followers. Friggin' flocks of sheep - or seagulls.

So WHO did get nominated fo the coveted Record of the Year award? Let's take them in order:

Mariah Carey - for some song I never heard on radio ever. I mean I'm glad she made a comeback and I think her performance at that big World Hug event this year was really great. but record of the year? Does anybody even remember her songs from this album?

Gwen Stefani - Hollaback Girl - I love Gwen, she's my girl, and I like this song alot - but this didn't even come close to lasting on the charts next to Kelly - record of the year????

Kanye West- great, he gets to call the Pres out and he gets a nod with a late season entry that is not that great? We all welcome rap as a decent entry here - but this not really good at all.

Gorillas Inc. - great video but another late entry - how is THIS a record of the year? Sheer bullshit.

These are TERRIBLE nominees. Kelly has had three songs from her album make the top video on VH1, (with four from her album to make the top 20) her songs are among the most downloadable on the Net and "Since You've Been Gone" has been has been a kismet to many. Many up and coming bands are using it as covers and girls from everywhere have used it has a touchstone.

And no one screams from the top of their lungs from their car Mariah' song - they sing Kelly's - the true winner and best of all of these studio pushed losers.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Das Boot

Ok so this is what we came up with - there's a little more here than what you can immediately see - everything is animated - the Rudolphs gallup and Santa waves. It really lights up great at night which was really just a few minutes later but I'm having thos pics e-mailed to me today from a fellow crew member.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

San Pedro Christmas Boat Parade

When I lived in Houston I was resident of the Heights - an old part of town near downtown that was resplendent (word?) with bungalow type houses. We had an event in our neighborhood called "Lights in the Heights" where the streets were all lighted with luminaria and people went from house to house to extend good cheer. It was a real neat deal.

And something that I knew I would miss dearly when I moved to LA eight years ago. But we have discovered something else that sort of compares - in a unique sort of way.

We live near the LA harbor (and I can't tell you how much we love it) and Deborah worked for one of the refineries there. They really got into volunteering - so much that I was spending alot of time planting trees, giving breakfast to kids and all sorts of other stuff - and I didn't even work for the place - I was the 'dragged along significant other'. I wish I could get these guys over to my house to cut my ivy down but....

One of their deals is to sponsor a boat for one of the Christmas lighted boat parades that occur all up and down the coast. So for the past four years we have helped in decorating a 50-foot boat with lights and all to go on the parade which occurs at night usually in a frosty misty San Pedro fog that winds up being alot of fun. We coast by several different places in the harbor where we are judged (with peopole waving and all of that) - and one thing that is peculiar to our boat is that we always have music blaring from the huge speakers we have mounted on the front of the boat.

So alot of work is done to the outside lighting effects to the boat beforehand - lighted jumping reindeer for example with Santa in his sleigh - really good stuff. And even though alot of work is done to mount the speakers everybody forgets what the music should be.

I didn't get the nickname "Rock" by accident (another post to explain that) but it always winds up that I have to dredge up holiday music for this event. And what I mean by that is people show up with the generic holiday crap sampler CD and what you need as you are approaching a judging stand is something more dramatic.

So the first year I had the Boss' "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" (live version - is there any other?) - and intitially of course everybody n the boat is "what?" - but when you see a boat coming and its blaring out Clarence's "ho-ho's" out - it is golden.

Another year I just had Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" beating the shores - the common man loved it. Oh-uh, Oh-uh, uh-uh-uh.

The next year I went with the Transiberian Orchestra - I can't remember what tune it is but man it is something and fairly regal. I felt like we were Magellen (and yes we were gellin').

I have to come up with something different this year - and I only have 12 hours to figure out what. I'll let you know.

But when you are on that water and its cold and foggy and its Christmas and you are in the busiest port outside Hong Kong - well that's something special.

Get a load of this sh.....

So Deborah (long-time girlfriend that lives we me and we love each other and no one is going anywhere type of set up) comes home and says she' asked a secretary at work to house-sit for us while we are away for Christmas. Whhaaa? That's about as stupid as giving an old boyfriend your blog address.

"What are you thinking?" I exclaim with utter astonishment

"Well we have the kitties and they can take care of them"

"But why do they have to stay here?"

"Because otherwise I would have to pay them"

"I don't think its a good idea"

"They're not going to steal anything Rock"

"How long have you known them?"

"Six months"

"This is not going to happen"

Deobrah is not an overly naive person but sometimes it shocks me. Having complete strangers stay in your home just to care for three little kitties (that we love so much - Jack, Gypsey and Rockey) is NOT a good idea.

Does anybody really do this? I can get the neighbor next door to do this and he doesn't need to sleep in my bed.

Friday, December 02, 2005

I hate to say this...

...but its almost where I hate Christmas. Its not that I really do hate Christmas, I dont' - even after the kid phase I reveled in it - but it has become somwhat of a full-out chore the last several years.

You see I live in LA but the parents and family are in Houston. While I'm in my late forties and live with my long-time girlfriend (whose kids are grown and in Indiana) I don't have the local need to do something in our own house. So we have always gone to the parents house in Houston - and while that is great and wonderful there has always been the little tug to just stay and do our own thing. But I think my parents would die if I just said one year we're not coming. We already do our own thing out here for Thanksgiving (usually travelling to co-workers house et al) but it would be a sacrilige to say "hey I got my own life, we're staying put" for Christmas. And this doesn't mean we don't like going to Houston and the parents house - it is going home and the house is so warm and done up and we see friends and all - and in the end it is fun.

It just means arranging air travel far in advance so that it doesn't cost an arm and a leg, arguing about when to go and when to come back and which flights and taxis to take, renting a car and somehow asking for gifts that are easily packable. I was very envious one year when my brother was able to pull up in his pickup and just cart everything away. On the other hand I need to make sure our stuff can be stowed in an overhead compartment. After you run out of the small electronic gifts there's only so much you can do when you really want furniture.

But everything is set and we are ready to go. We do Christmas big so we always have to strategize on what we want so that it obtainable - so making out the list (for my girlfriend and I) becomes a monstrous task. I have already been admonished for not getting it in time this year.

This all may sound a bit over gratuitous to those who do Xmas in a more modest manner - but what I'm trying to convey is this is how it always has been since I have been alive and it will never stop. And frankly it is great, I really can't imagine it any other way - but sometime I would just like to put up my feet, take the phone off the hook and wave to Santa as he glides by.

Deck the halls everybody.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

George Bush is so Over Villified - its ridiculous

And anybody who doesn't think so should have his head examined. Okay - he loses big on style points, b ut the beating he has been taking in the press lately is staggering. A few weeks ago every news program seem to lead off every day with how his popularity has hit a new low - well yeah because the media and everyone else balme him for EVERYTHING. When one pundit disected a recent poll, Bush's worst marks came from how he is dealing with the economy. Hey people the economy is doing just great - it is in fabuous shape.

Once I get some numbers to back that up I will get them to you.

Mack Brown is an Opportunist

Mack Brown is obviously a good football coach but he is constantly trying to manipulate reality and preen to the press. Last year he got California knocked out of a BCS bowl (to Texas' advantage) and this year he's inexplicably arguing for, not one, not two, but three annual Heisan trophy awards to be handed out - since Vince Yong will not win it this year after his halpless game against Texas A&M.

Last year his incessant whining got his Longhorns in the Rose Bowl instead of the more deserving Golden Bears from Cal. And because Texas beat Michagan (in the lat minute) that is why they have been No. 2 all year long. What a windbag!