Sunday, May 31, 2009

Disneyland trip report - May 31, 2009

Even though we go to Disneyland on a regular basis, we haven't really done much on our last several visits because it's been so crowded, and we do the AP thing and don't wait in long lines. We didn't really have a compelling reason to go this weekend, but I was sort of wanting to go on a ride or two, and I was hoping that maybe the crowds had gone down some, since last weekend was a holiday, so I was thinking maybe a lot of people did their visit last week. So, we decided to chance it and make a visit today.

My hopes for a lighter crowd were crushed when we got off the 5 freeway at the Disneyland exit, and the flyover to the parking structure was backed up almost to the street. We went ahead into the structure anyway and ended with actually decent parking because the idiots in front of us decided that parking faster was better and pulled into spots early, whereas if they'd actually gone all the way down the row, they'd have gotten spaces near the front, making for a shorter walk to the escalator and a shorter walk to the car when it was time to leave.

The wait for the tram wasn't too bad, so we made it to the front entrance of Disneyland fairly quickly. As we walked under the railroad tracks, we noticed a lot of people in Town Square, and then we quickly realized that it was because there were so many characters out for meet-and-greets. There are sometimes a few characters out there, but I've never seen this many - there were ten characters out in total, including some that we rarely see, and definitely not in Town Square. The characters out for pictures and autographs were Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Stitch, Pinocchio, Captain Hook, Rafiki, Pooh, Jessie and Woody.

We stopped into Disneyana and browsed around a bit, and then as we were passing by Central Plaza (aka the hub), we noticed several more characters out - one of the mice from "Cinderella", Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Brer Bear and Pluto (again). And Mary Poppins was out with The Birdies in front of the castle doing their show. Characters everywhere!

We went to the Buzz Lightyear ride to get Fastpasses to use later. When I put my AP into the machine, it spit out a "not valid for use" ticket and then a regular Fastpass ticket and then three more blank tickets, which I thought were pretty cool, so I kept them as souvenirs. Yeah, I know, I'm a dork.

Click on the picture for a larger version.

We then headed to Rancho del Zocalo for lunch. It was a little later in the normal lunch time, around 1:30pm, so it wasn't very crowded at all. One interesting thing - I went back in to get a refill of my soda at one point, and as I walked past the cashier on my way back out, she greeted me with a friendly smile and then asked if I could show her my receipt. I told her that it was in my purse and did she want me to bring it to show to her, and she said yes, that she was required to do that. Luckily, we had a table very close by, so I left my soda with her and went to grab my receipt to bring back to show her, and she thanked me nicely. She was very pleasant throughout the entire thing, so I was just surprised at her request since I've never been asked to show a receipt before when I've gone to get a refill. I guess it's something I'll have to keep in mind whenever I go back for a refill at any dining location.

After lunch, the husband had some tortilla chips left over, so we decided to go feed them to the ducks. We stood at the Rivers of America for a while after finding a mother duck and her one duckling. I was surprised that there was only one, since I usually see a mother duck with several ducklings. I wonder if she ended up losing the other ones. Duckling wasn't so much interested in the chips, but mother duck was. When she'd had her fill, we decided to head over to the Hungry Bear Restaurant, where a larger contingent of hungry ducks congregate.

On our way there, we passed by the Harbour Galley, and we noticed that the new menu had been put up. We used to love the Harbour Galley when they served Mickey-shaped fried mozzarella and other goodies, but we were not fans when they were serving McDonald's french fries, so we had been pleased when we'd heard that McDonald's was going away. It's nice to know that the chowder bowl can now be purchased from another location, and that there's also the added choices of chili and another soup. The salad choices look good too, and I'll be interested in trying them. I don't know when the location is supposed to open though.

Click on the picture for a larger version.

We went to the lower level of Hungry Bear, and as the husband stopped to feed the ducks, I headed towards the back. Sometimes, it's blocked off, so you can't go back there, but it was open today, all the way to the back so that you could also come down the stairs from the top level of Hungry Bear. That back section underneath the upper seating was a favorite hangout for some of the cats who live in Disneyland, so I went to see if they were still there, since it had been some time since I'd been back there. I didn't see any cats or the houses that used to be there as well, but as I got closer to the back, I noticed something in the water and so went for a closer look. I was surprised to see a boat parked back there, with "Disneyland Fire Dept." on the side and "rescue jet" on the back. I'd never seen that before, so I thought it was interesting that they had one at all, and that they'd parked it there. On all of my previous visits back there, there was a canoe parked there, which the ducks liked to sleep in.

Boat with a tarp thrown over part of it. Click on the picture for a larger version.

I called the husband over from where he was feeding the ducks so he could see the boat, and he noticed that nearby were the kitty houses, which had apparently been moved back there, away from where guests could get at them. There was a sign on one of the houses that said "feeding station" and that had a picture of a cat silhouette and some wording that I couldn't read.

And then the husband said, "What's that in the tree?" There's a tree (nearby where the boat was parked) that kind of looked like a bush because it didn't have one big tree trunk but rather had many branches coming out from the ground. We saw a fuzzy lump far out on one of the branches, overhanging the water from the River. We couldn't really tell what it was, and we were wondering if it was a cat or a possum or some other critter. We made some noise, and it stirred, and its head popped up, and there were the tell-tale ears. It was indeed a cat who had ventured out there to have a nap. It didn't pay any attention to us, had its head up for a little while, and then put its head down and went back to sleep. The Columbia came by a bit later and fired off its cannon as usual, and a train rumbled by on the tracks, and neither of those events even made the cat flinch. I expect it's probably used to those sounds. We thought it was pretty funny that the cat had found such a nice napping spot and bid it goodbye.

The husband had gone to feed the couple of ducks who had come over in that area, and I showed the husband the little fish that I'd seen in the River. I've never seen them before, and I only noticed them because I was noticing unusual single pops in the water and looked to see what was causing them. It was the little fish biting at a piece of bread in the water. They kind of looked like guppies, though the husband said he thought they could have been tadpoles, but they seemed too big for that, and I've never seen a frog in the River area before. I was just surprised that there were things living in the River.

It had been so long since we'd been back there, and I'd forgotten how nice and peaceful it was. You get the boats (Mark Twain and Columbia, both of which happened to be running this day) coming by periodically, as well as the canoes of people, and you get some noise from the people eating upstairs, but otherwise, it's a nice place to relax and enjoy a "natural" setting at Disneyland.

It was then time to head back to Buzz since our Fastpass time had arrived. We had fun, and it ended up being the only ride we went on, but that was ok.

Afterward, we ended up going past Tomorrowland Terrace just before the start of Jedi Training Academy, so we decided to stop and watch it. It wasn't very crowded, so as I looked around for a good place to watch the show, I noticed that the floor section was actually less than half full, so we made our way down there to the back and sat on the floor.

When the show started, the Jedi Knights came out, and then they began the selection process of kids to go up and participate in the training academy. There were two boys (each of whom was about 6 or 7) to our left, one who was wearing a Clone Wars t-shirt and had a paper birthday hat on, and another who was dressed in a Star Wars costume, who tried to get picked, but unfortunately, neither did. While they were dressed to be noticed, their actions (or rather, non-actions) didn't get them any attention at all, since they were mostly just standing there, whereas others were jumping up and down, trying to get the attention of the man picking volunteers. I did notice that they picked far fewer participants than usual, which surprised me, but when each of the two boys realized they hadn't been picked, they were very upset and were actually in tears. I felt really bad for them but unfortunately, while they were dressed for the part, they didn't show enough enthusiasm to get noticed, even in the smaller crowd.

As the show progressed, I realized that Darth Maul wasn't in the show like he normally was, which was why they picked fewer participants. Usually, half of the participants fight Darth Maul and the other half fight Darth Vader, but since only Vader was there, they had only picked half as many participants as usual. I was surprised that one of the people picked was older than I'd normally seen - he was probably 13 or so, but he had half his face painted like Maul, so maybe that's why he was picked. I did laugh that initially, they had given him a very small Jedi robe to wear, but later, one of the Jedi Knights brought him a larger size.

They went through their training exercises, and then Vader made his appearance, and it was time for each of them to have their battle with Vader. The first person that the lead Jedi Knight chose was a little boy who was maybe 4 years old. He looked tentative anyway, but when he actually saw Vader and was being led closer to him, he had this terrified look on his face and started to cry, looking out into the crowd for his family to save him from this monster. There was definitely a mix of laughter and "awwwwww" coming from the audience. When they stopped in front of Vader, and the Jedi Knight realized the boy was crying, he tried to coax him into using the moves he'd learned earlier, and asking him to turn on his lightsaber seemed to work, because though the little boy still cried for a little while, he did activate the lightsaber and went through the moves as directed by the Jedi Knight. When he was done and had defeated Vader, the audience burst into applause for the little boy. He was just so darn cute.

I hadn't caught it, but later, the husband mentioned that at one point when the Jedi Knight was encouraging the little boy, he told him to use his anger to fight Vader, and we all know that a Jedi Knight does not give in to his anger when using the Force. I thought that was pretty funny. I guess the Jedi Knight was preoccupied with trying to help the little boy through it and forgot the lessons he was supposed to be teaching!

After the show ended, we headed to Main Street, and we caught a little of the "Celebrate" parade. I hadn't been very interested in the parade after reading some descriptions of it, so even though it's been out for a while, I still hadn't seen it. We stopped and watched a few segments of it, and I just couldn't get into it. Maybe I'm just too indoctrinated into old-school Disney, but it just didn't sit right with me to watch Wendy doing "the swim" and to watch Mary Poppins singing along to songs she had no business singing. The balloon floats were cute, and it was nice seeing the plethora of characters out (including Clarabelle and Clarice), but I don't really have any desire to see any more of the parade again.

We went into the shops on Main Street until the parade was completely done, and then we went to take our seats on some benches to wait for flag retreat. That was very nice, though with a smaller contingent of guests who came out when the various branches of the armed forces were announced. It was also nice to see some of the very young children in attendance with their parents, and the kids were really paying attention to what was going on, and with the Disneyland Band, and they stood very quietly and still for quite some time as they were watching.

After that, we left Disneyland and headed into DCA. We stopped to look at the little gift shop right outside the Muppets 3D attraction, and I noticed a cute new Stitch plush. He's popping out of a cupcake, so there's a candle on his head. Really adorable, and I'm not even a Stitch person.

The picture is a little washed out, so the plush is actually much cuter in person. Click on the picture for a larger version.

We looked at the Monsters, Inc. ride, but the wait was longer than we wanted to do. We noticed that the Wall-E photo opportunity was gone from the back by the restrooms. The Disney Animation building closed at 5pm today for some reason unknown to us. We had thought about heading over to the Toy Story Midway Mania ride, but we figured the wait would be much longer than we were willing to do, so we just decided to head out of the resort.

I only got one ride in, but I also got to see the Jedi Training Academy show again, and the other experiences we had today, some that we had the luxury and good fortune to have because we were at a very leisurely pace, made the trip completely worthwhile.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

cat ... bag ... head - what more do you need to know?

A friend of mine sent me the link to this video a little while ago, and it's funny to watch. I'm familiar with the tendency that the cat in the video has because Orkid likes to stick her head into bags and boxes and such as well. The funniest thing has been when there was an empty tissue box, the small square ones, lying around, and she stuck her head in that - and it was just the right size that the box stayed on her head when she picked her head up. Yes, it was really funny. With her feet perched on the front of the box, she was able to yank it off. But boxed Orkid head was hysterical.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lakers head to the NBA finals

The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets in game 6 of the Western Conference finals, winning the series 4-2 and moving on to the NBA finals which start Thursday, June 4. They don't know who their opponent is yet. Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals is tomorrow, with the Orlando Magic leading the Cleveland Cavaliers 3 games to 2. If the Magic win on their home court, they move on to the finals and the Cavs are done. If the Cavs win, then it's back to Cleveland for game 7.

I was at the movies tonight so didn't hear most of the game. When I stopped listening, it was barely into the first quarter, and the Lakers were up by a few and seemed to be playing well. When I got out of the movie, I checked the score and was surprised that the Lakers had won by a score of 119 to 92. Many analysts expected the Nuggets to win and then for the Lakers to win game 7, but I was really surprised at the huge margin of victory for the Lakers. The Lakers outscored the Nuggets in every single quarter and even scored 36 points in the fourth quarter. From the box scores, it looks like a lot of players contributed, which is always the best way to win.

Today was Carmelo Anthony's birthday. Sorry dude.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Catal Restaurant - Wine Thursdays - review

In conjunction with Disney's California Food and Wine Festival, Catal Restaurant in Downtown Disney in Anaheim has been holding Wine Thursdays over the course of four consecutive weeks. Here's the information from their website.

Click on the picture for a larger version that's easier to read.

My one complaint about the website listing is that there is no mention of what wineries are being featured each week. For some people, that might not matter, but for others, I think it could help people decide which week they might want to go because they could find out more information about a winery ahead of time.

Catal Restaurant had been regularly holding wine dinners - a particular winery would bring a couple of their wines and the evening's menu would be paired with the wines - but the last one scheduled was in March of last year. We had been fans of the wine dinners because it gave the husband an opportunity to discover new wines, and though I'm not that much of a wine person, I just really enjoyed the special and amazing dishes that always were a part of the wine dinners.

The husband and I and a friend decided to attend tonight's Wine Thursday, which featured Benovia Winery. The wine selections themselves weren't particularly to my liking, but I had a good time nonetheless.

We arrived at about 6pm (the event ran from 5:30pm to 7:30pm and cost $30 per person), and the event was being held in the last balcony at the far end of the restaurant. There was a table set up with the various wines, and we were offered a taste of the first one on the list. There were four wines available, two varieties of chardonnay, a pinot noir (though I have no idea which of the listed pinot noirs they were serving) and a zinfandel. We each had a glass of the first chardonnay, and then there were runners who would come by with trays of little hors d'oeuvres. There were four different varieties:

1. deep fried risotto balls - Those were pretty tasty and had peas inside as well.

2. sliced seared scallop with chopped shallots on top - I love scallops, so I really liked this one. I think it was my favorite of the bunch. The earlier versions we got had a little bit of liquid at the bottom of the Chinese soup spoon that these were served in. I loved the taste of the liquid.

3. sliced pork shoulder on a sliced and toasted piece of baquette - Some of the baquette pieces were quite thick and ended up being a bit too much bread to go with the meat, but all in all, it was still pretty tasty.

4. slice of New York steak with a cut heirloom cherry tomato and arugula flower - These were served on forks, which was cool, because they usually only serve stuff in spoons. The meat had a nice flavor to it, and the tomato was a nice complement.

There was also a table set to one side which had Catal's regular dinner bread, crackers, three kinds of cheese (including the manchego cheese that is a part of their signature compressed salad), candied walnuts, and dried apricots and prunes.

There were some tables set up at the back of the balcony which were already occupied, so we stood for a little while before we ended up finding room at a table. When we were done with one wine (whether we finished our glass or didn't want any more of it), we could go back up to the table and get a pour of a different wine.

I'm not generally a red wine person, so I didn't even bother trying the zin or the pinot noir. The information sheet had listed a rose pinot noir, which I thought might actually be something I would try, but it turned out they hadn't brought that and had brought the zin instead. I'm not usually a fan of chardonnay, but the first one (Russian River Chardonnay) wasn't bad. I had a taste of the second one (La Pommeraie Vineyard Chardonnay), though I'm still unclear as to the difference between the two, but I didn't like it, so I just stuck with the first chardonnay.

The husband seemed to like the first chardonnay (though he's not a chardonnay person either), and he liked the pinot noir ok, but he really liked the zin.

The friend was also not a chardonnay fan but liked the first one, and she liked the zin ok, but she really liked the pinot noir.

As we sat and chatted, the runners would come by with the various hors d'oeuvres, so we were able to have a couple of each over the course of our time there, until we finally started to turn them down. People would also come over to check on whether we needed refills of the wines and to make sure that we had an opportunity to try all of them if we wanted to. We also had tastes of the cheeses and other items from the table to the side.

There was a representative from the winery there, and he was walking around mingling with people, so we had a chance to talk to him for a bit. Catal's Executive Chef, Nick Weber, also came out for a bit, so we had a chance to talk to him for a little while as well.

Overall, we had a good time at the event, and it was nice to be able to snack on the hors d'oeuvres and try the various wines.

The last Wine Thursday is being held next week, June 4.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

a tale of two franchises - "24" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"


Information is already coming out about the next season, Jack's eighth bad day, of "24". They used to be in Los Angeles, and they were in Washington D.C. this past year, and next year, they'll be in New York.

Kiefer Sutherland is of course returning, but I'm not sure who else is. I mean, who else is still alive? Chloe, Miles, Tony, Aaron, Kim. Am I missing anyone else important? OK, yeah, I know, but I liked Kim in this season's episodes. She's not the whiny teenager she used to be.

Information was released recently about two new people who will be joining the cast next season.

I remember really liking "Kissing Jessica Stein", though I'd admit I don't remember much about Jennifer Westfeldt, even though she wrote, produced and starred in the movie.

Jennifer Westfeldt, in a picture from December 2008.

I know nothing about John Boyd.

John Boyd, but there's no indication of how old the picture is.

I hadn't previously heard that Anil Kapoor had been cast, but I like him, so that's good news to me. His character has been referred to in other articles as Jack Bauer's counterpart in India.

Chris Diamantopoulos has also been cast as the new Chief of Staff to President Allison Taylor, so that also presumes that Cherry Jones will be returning to reprise her role as Madame President. But doesn't he look a bit young to be a Chief of Staff?

Chris Diamantopoulos in a picture from November 2008.

There doesn't yet seem to be any information about how much time will have passed between day 7 and day 8.

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer"

So Joss Whedon will be busy at work on the second season of "Dollhouse", so what interest would he have regarding "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", right?

Interest or not, that might not matter. There's an article about the rights holders of the property wanting to do another feature film of the franchise, but this would be a re-launch, involving nothing and no one from the television show.

Buffy without Joss and Sarah and the rest of the Scoobys? (Or is that "Scoobies"?)

What would be the point? Maybe someone should just send Echo in to set them straight.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

mark your calendars - July 8 brings the return of more Japanese wackiness

One of my favorite shows made its debut last summer, and it was called "I Survived a Japanese Game Show". It was crazy and wacky and a lot of fun to watch. It's a sort of mix of "Survivor" and those crazy Japanese videos that are so prevalent that show the craziest things being done by Japanese game show contestants. There are challenges and such, but social relationships also figure into it, and some of the rewards are really cool. I was hoping that the show would be coming back for a second season, and sure enough, it is. The second season of the show debuts on Wednesday, July 8, so I'm really looking forward to that.

Host Rome, house mother Mamasan, and Judge Bob are all returning for a second season.

What, you've never heard of the show? Well, here's some more information about it. You can also click on the "I Survived a Japanese Game Show" label on this blog to read my recaps from each of last season's episodes.

Just for fun, here was the casting call for this season.

And it looks like they have new mascots this year. Last year, they had green monkeys and yellow penguins.

This year, it looks like they have green tigers and ... and ... WHAT THE HECK IS THAT OTHER THING? A red monkey spaceman dude? I have no idea. Guess I'll have to see what they end up calling it on the show.

I can't wait! Hai, majide!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Jello shots - now with lychee!

So, some time ago, I came up with the brilliant idea that I should try making Jello shots with lychee alcohol. I've only had Jello shots once, years ago, at a party that I attended with a friend. I remember thinking they were pretty good, though I don't recall what kind of alcohol was in it or what other kind of flavoring was in it.

I've previously mentioned my discovery of Soho's lychee liquer.

Well, I figured that would be great to make Jello shots with. I thought about what kind of Jello flavor to mix it with. The husband suggested that I just use the lychee liquer with unflavored gelatin so it would just have the flavor of the lychee, but I decided I did want some kind of other flavor. But I wanted something that would go well with the flavor of the lychee. Citrus (orange, lemon, lime) would seem to clash with the sweetness and smoothness of the lychee, and I also didn't want a bold flavor like cherry that would overpower the flavor of the lychee. So I decided to use the peach flavor.

A couple months ago, I also found another lychee-flavored alcohol, a lychee vodka by Kai. It tastes more like alcohol and has less lychee flavor than the Soho drink, so it goes down a little harsher, but it's still pretty good.

OK, so rather than try to figure out how to modify the regular Jello recipe to take into account the alcohol, I figured there must be something on the net about Jello shots, right? Well, of course! I actually found this page which gave me the basic recipe. The comments are actually pretty interesting as well, and there are links to lots of other interesting recipes. I took the standard recipe, and then because I was going to try two different things, I cut the recipe in half, but then I also modified each one, taking into account the suggestions about adjusting the cold water/alcohol content depending on the strength of the alcohol.

Here are the two different recipes I ended up using.

using lychee liquer

3 oz. Jello
8 oz. hot water
2 oz. cold water
6 oz. alcohol

using lychee vodka

3 oz. Jello
8 oz. hot water
3 oz. cold water
5 oz. alcohol

The lychee vodka had a stronger alcohol content than the lychee liquer, so I adjusted the cold water/alcohol ratio by just a bit.

I mixed the peach Jello and hot water until the Jello dissolved, and then I added the cold water and alcohol. Once everything was all mixed together, it was time to make the individual shots.

I had been thinking for some time about what to make the Jello shots with. I had recalled that when I had them, they were individual servings that you could eat easily. I had thought about the paper condiment cups that you see in some food places, but I wasn't sure where to get those, and I wasn't sure the paper would entirely work. I happened to be in a Sur La Table one day, and I saw that they had these foil baking cups in a mini size. With the extra foil, I thought that would help to hold the liquid in while the Jello set.

I had originally set out the cups just on a baking sheet, and I spooned in the liquid to fill the cups. I noticed, though, that the cups were expanding from the weight of the liquid, and they weren't going to hold together well enough by themselves, so then I ended up putting the cups in a muffin pan to keep the shape better, which worked out really well.

Each half of the recipe was enough to make 24 cups as well as some liquid left over that I then just put in a little glass bowl, and I just put everything in the refrigerator.

Both batches of lychee Jello shots, liquer on the left and vodka on the right. I put pieces of paper underneath so I could remember which was which. You can see the bowl to the left that has the leftover liquid from the lychee liquer recipe.

Close-up of the lychee vodka batch. The color variation is just from the lighting inside the refrigerator.

I had figured on just letting them set overnight, but I happened to be up late, and about 4 hours later, I discovered that the Jello had already set.

Lychee liquer Jello shot set in the baking cup.

Now, it was time for the taste test!

The baking cup did make the shot quite easy to eat, since it was little and you could squeeze it to get to all the Jello. It was a little tricky to get it out of the muffin pan since it wasn't hard set, made even more difficult in the cases where I overfilled and liquid went out of the baking cup and into the pan itself. That made for sticky wrappers on those shots. I did fill the cups pretty much all the way, so I'd probably not fill them quite as much next time. I also used a big spoon, which isn't the easiest way to control liquid. I have to figure out how to do the pouring better next time. I still think the foil ones are a better idea. With the paper ones having even less support, I'm not sure if they would work. Maybe next time, I'll make a couple using paper ones just to see how they turn out.

First up was the lychee liquer. Mmmm, boy was that tasty. The peach Jello was a good choice since it was a light flavor that didn't overpower the lychee flavor. You could distinctly taste the peach, but you could also taste the lychee, and both flavors blended together quite well.

Next up was the lychee vodka. It was still good, though it had a stronger alcohol taste and less of a lychee taste because the vodka is like that compared to the liquer. There was a bit more of a bite and bitterness to this one, but I still very much enjoyed it.

I had also purchased some strawberry Jello, and I might try that in the future, though I'm not sure I can imagine it being better than the peach.

I think the concentration of alcohol in each shot was pretty good - enough for a bit of a buzz after having a couple, but it doesn't knock you out. I was figuring that I could adjust the recipe if need be next time after tasting it this time, but there's no need for that. If you do want to make it stronger, you could probably do so by swapping out hot water for the extra alcohol.

Some of the comments on the recipe page mention making Jello shot jigglers, which I think might be kinda cool, but I think I'm more partial to just the classic Jello shot itself.

I love Jello!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Didn't you used to play Clopin?

The husband and I were in DCA last Sunday, and we were headed towards Off the Page, the collectibles store in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area. We noticed there was a group performing outside the entrance to the nearby Animation Building, and the husband recognized a voice, so we went over to look. There's a smallish show called "Drawn to the Magic" that used to be performed in the backlot stage, but they're out in front of the Animation Building now. And sure enough, we saw a familiar face.

I'll admit that I didn't recognize his voice, and because he looks a bit different now, I didn't immediately recognize him at first, but upon closer watching of the show, it was indeed Jim, the actor we used to know (not "know" in the sense that we were friends with him or anything but "know" in the sense that we saw him in a show a lot) who played Clopin in the former show at Disneyland called "Festival of Fools", which was themed to the animated feature "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". We've seen Jim around the resort in various entertainment positions, and he was even Mayor of Main Street at one point. I don't think I've seen him in a while, so it was interesting to see him again.

Here's the video I took of the last part of the show. Apologies in advance for the quality of the video - I would be the videographer.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Brent Spiner's Twitter story

So, it started with me following Wil Wheaton. And then I found out that LeVar Burton was on, so I started following him. And then, he APPARENTLY got Brent Spiner to join, so I started following him. I've been a fan of Brent's from his Data days, and he's also got a wicked sense of humour, which I enjoy, so his tweets were fun to read. He was going into rehearsals for "Man of La Mancha", so he would tweet about rehearsals and shows. And he'd tweet random things about his life, about his son, about what he was going to have for breakfast. Yeah, I know, some of that sounds mundane, but like I said, he has a wicked sense of humour and injected a weird twist to the mundane. And then he started with some weird tweets. And they continued. And continued. And continued. I will admit that they annoyed me for the longest time because I missed hearing about his life. And it took me a really long time to figure out that he was just telling a story. But trying to follow a story, one tweet at a time, that spans a period of just over a month, is pretty hard. Now that I've had a chance to read the entire story at once, it's actually pretty fun. I'd love to know if he'd had any of it made up ahead of time or how much he was just winging it day to day.

Brent talks about being in re-hab, which ends up turning out to be a mental institution, and then he breaks out and tries to get back into acting, but while he's staying at a hotel, he meets the mysterious Amber, and in true film noir fashion, Amber is not what she appears to be, as Brent is drawn into her web. I particularly liked Brent's reference to "Double Indemnity" as well as Hitchcock. Foreshadowing!

Brent hasn't returned to regularly tweeting yet, so I miss that, but for your enjoyment, I am duplicating his Twitter story below. I've not made any changes, so any typos or weird spacing or whatever are completely his. It's a bit of a long story, but I think it's worth sticking with it.

Brent's story begins on March 28, 2009.

I'm thinking of going into rehab. I'm not addicted to anything, but I think it's good way to jumpstart an acting career.
5:40 PM Mar 28th

I'm now writing from the Betty White Clinic. Group session. We have to say what we think is wrong with us. I'm saying, "bad agent".
11:34 AM Mar 29th

Watched "Family Guy" in the rec room with the other, patients. They seem to think I'd get more work if I was a cartoon.
9:15 PM Mar 29th

Looks like I'm not the only one here with this idea. I saw James Woods playing ping-pong last night.
9:18 AM Mar 30th

Had my first solo therapy session in the Allen Ludden, "Password" room. Cute therapist. Couldn't decide whether to give or receive.
10:45 AM Mar 30th

Thankfully, that session ended before the "lightening round". I'm going to take a nap now.
12:24 PM Mar 30th

Refused to take my pills. They put me in a straight jacket. Am typing this with my nose. Feel so goooooooood.
9:09 PM Mar 30th

Woke up in a fog and realized...Hey, they don't give pills in rehab! And they don't put you in straight jackets! Where am I? Helllllppppp!!!
9:04 AM Mar 31st

Not in rehab. Must've been dreaming. Told I've had a breakdown. In institution. Okay, should be good enough to get me on Oprah or The View.
9:30 AM Mar 31st

Thanks for all your good wishes. Apparently, my entire life since "Nemesis" has been a dream. Family, friends, everything. Got to get out.
3:56 PM Mar 31st

It's clear to me now. Nothing here is as I thought it was. Well, James Woods is still here playing ping-pong.
4:04 PM Mar 31st

Woods asked if I wanted to play. I was going to, then he said he didn't like "Nemesis". Not speaking to him. Or anyone else for that matter.
5:09 PM Mar 31st

Movie night here. "Girl Interrupted". Woods says he used to be married to Angelina. I don't believe him.
8:26 PM Mar 31st

Spent the morning in Crafts. Made something out of paper mache. It's either a pig or a fish. Hey maybe I could do this when I get out.
7:42 AM Apr 1st

Doc says I may get out in the next day or so. Suggest another shock treatment. Kind of enjoyed the last one. If I remember correctly.
8:51 AM Apr 1st

While I was catatonic, Patrick, bless him, came to visit. He read a selection of sonnets for the inmates. When he left, they were catatonic
4:44 PM Apr 1st

Unless it was an April Fool's joke, the doc says I get out tomorrow. I'm watching TNG with my friends here. "Schizoid Man". Apropos.
9:35 PM Apr 1st

Woods now making everyone watch, "Once Upon a Time in America". The long version. Everyone asleep but me. Hid my pills under my tongue.
9:52 PM Apr 1st

Doc now says next week. No way. Bribing a guard to get me out. He's a ST fan. Autographed photo and original Galoob action figure should do.
10:22 AM Apr 2nd

I keep few Galoobs handy for emergencies. This may require one with a spotted face. Guard says there will be a key in my pudding tonight.
11:27 AM Apr 2nd

Never looked forward to dinner as much as I am right now. For one thing, I'm soon going to be outta here. For anthoer, I'm oddly hungry.
3:42 PM Apr 2nd

For those who keep asking, here's how it works. Click on my picture and read a few back posts. Geez, don't I have enough to deal with?
3:50 PM Apr 2nd

Great. The chef is on twitter. He's a company man. He's onto me. No pudding tonight. I hope the key's not in the mashed potatoes.
5:01 PM Apr 2nd

No more tweets till I'm free. I'm breaking out of this joint. I'll update you from the other side. Hopefully on Entertainment Tonight.
5:09 PM Apr 2nd

Dissolved my pill stash in the guard's late night Bosco. Switched clothes with him. Literally strolled out of the joint. Free at last...
9:22 PM Apr 3rd

Hitchhiked to a gas station in Flagstaff. Enjoying a Dr. Pepper and a Slim Jim. Best meal in seven years. Hollywood, here I come.
9:35 PM Apr 3rd

Feeling a little sad. Lonely for the Betty White. Miss some of my friends. Toothless Ted, Cowgirl Clara, Brittany, well, everyone but Woods.
10:00 AM Apr 4th

Almost home. A beautiful day! Can't wait to sleep in my own bed. Ahhhh. Today is the first Monday of the rest of my life!
11:20 AM Apr 4th

Foreclosure sign on my house? Thought I was well invested. Calling my financial investor, Bernie. If I can borrow a quarter.
11:52 AM Apr 4th

No pay phones? Had to use a neighbor's. Chad from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Long distance. Had to give him action figure. Running out.
2:35 PM Apr 4th

The bad news: The market crashed, Bernie's in jail, and I'm broke. The good news: My agent has dropped me. Breakdowns aren't marketable.
3:18 PM Apr 4th

Don't worry folks. I'm not down. If there's one thing I learned in rehab...well, I didn't learn anything there. But I'm an eternal optimist.
3:32 PM Apr 4th

Called my friend Dave. He lent me enough for a month's rent at a transient hotil in Hollywood. Same place I stayed when I first came here.
8:08 PM Apr 4th

They say the room next door was where Joplin OD'd. Sorry to drop the name,@ Greggreenburg, whoever the hell you are.
8:09 PM Apr 4th

Obviously meant hotel. Not a bad place. At least I have company. A charming spider who hovers just above my pillow.
8:18 PM Apr 4th

Well, as Scarlett said, "Tomorrow is another day". And what better day than Tuesday to go looking for a new agent!
9:25 PM Apr 4th

Hey, today is Sunday! Why didn't anyone tell me??? I'll look for an agent tomorrow. I'll start with the ones who are in walking distance.
9:52 AM Apr 5th

Again, please don't think I'm despondent. I know something great is going to happen this week. May has always been a lucky month for me.
10:33 AM Apr 5th

A friend tells me my breakdown happened at a ST con. Got confused and thought I was my character. Stopped using contractions. Now I am fine.
1:31 PM Apr 5th

Interesting crowd at this hotel. Some at the beginning of their careers and some at the end. I am sort of both.
4:44 PM Apr 5th

Had a nice chat with a young actress at the pool. She says they're making a new Star Trek movie! See, things are looking up already!
7:37 PM Apr 5th

Colored my hair dark brown. Have to stay competitive when I go see agents. I have to say, took at least three years off.
7:57 AM Apr 6th

Recharged with a bag of donut holes and a cup of Ovaltine. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Watch out world, here I come!
9:28 AM Apr 6th

Was held up at gun point as I walked to agents. No money. Took my shirt. Went to agent without a shirt. Don't think he was impressed.
8:12 PM Apr 6th

He did tell me the new ST movie is already in the can. Guess I'm not in it. Directed by a Mr. Abraham or something. Try again tomorrow.
8:17 PM Apr 6th

Agent called. Wanted to know if I'd do Sci-fi porn. A film called "Live from Uranis". I guess the shirtless thing worked. Considering it.
1:58 PM Apr 7th

Could use the cash, but despite your encouragement, I passed. Like Data, too old for this job. Do they do Senior's porn, anyway?
3:21 PM Apr 7th

Going to see my first agent Monty Gold in the morning. Better have more nourishing breakfast. Chocolate donut holes. Lots of anti-oxidents.
7:03 PM Apr 7th

T.V. doesn't work here. Said they'd fix it yesterday. A few books others have left. Think I'll read, "Day of the Locust". Love nature books
7:15 PM Apr 7th

Monty is semi- retired but keeps an office and one toe in the business. Says he might have something interesting for me. Very exited.
10:44 AM Apr 8th

Pardon my speling. I meant excited.
10:48 AM Apr 8th

The walls here are paper thin. People next door are listening to "The Knife Show". Wow, you can get a thousand knives for a hundred bucks.
10:56 AM Apr 8th

Monty called. Wants to pay me to march in his grandson's Bar Mitzvah made up as Data. I don't know, I'm thinking about it.
6:45 PM Apr 8th

Yelling and crying from next door. Two women. Interesting character studies, but I prefer sleep. Might have to talk to them.
6:50 AM Apr 9th

Told Monty I'd wear the make-up but no uniform. Agreed to tallis and yarmulke. Asked Mike Westmore to make me up. Hopefully, he remembers.
11:06 AM Apr 9th

Told Monty I'd wear the make-up but no uniform. Agreed to tallis and yarmulke. Asked Mike Westmore to make me up. Hopefully, he remembers.
11:06 AM Apr 9th

Can't sleep. Someone left a Hagadah, so I'm reading that. Four questions. Fifth, no noise next door last night? Till now. Lots of yelling.
5:16 AM Apr 10th

This will be a good Friday. Monty sent advance to buy a suit. Suggested place called Zindler's. A $100 for a coat and ten pairs of pants.
6:51 AM Apr 10th

UPS came with a package for the woman next door. Asked if I could give it to her when she returned. It's from the Knife show. Gulp.
11:30 AM Apr 10th

Opened package. Couldn't resist. Not a thousand knives, just one big one. Gulp again. Gotta find some tape. Her name is Amber. Nice.
12:00 PM Apr 10th

Delivered retaped box. She opened the door a crack, snatched it, muttered"thanks", then slammed it. Noticed a face like an ice cream sundae.
7:36 AM Apr 11th

Don't think Amber recognized me. That's good. Seemed like a Southern twang in her terse two words. Redhead. Make that sundae, strawberry.
10:37 AM Apr 11th

Bought suit at Zindler's. Charcoal. Ten pairs of pants. All colors. Only one fits. Fortunately, the gray. Should go well with Data make-up.
11:49 AM Apr 11th

Rode the bus home. Sat next to a woman with a parrot. It kept saying, "Meshugenah! Meshugenah!". Didn't know whether it meant me or her.
1:18 PM Apr 11th

Easter. Staying in bed all day. Don't feel like rising.
6:17 AM Apr 12th

Got up to go get a paper. Box of Peeps and a note at the door. "Sorry for being so rude." Amber.
7:52 AM Apr 12th

Was about to go properly introduce myself when I heard more screaming next door. The good kind. Sort of exciting. I love Easter.
7:56 AM Apr 12th

Quiet now knocked on door. Nothing. Left note. " Come by later. I'm serving Ding Dongs.
1:32 PM Apr 12th

Guess she's not into chocolate enveloped devil's food with a cream filling. Ate them all myself. Went into coma. Woke up with Ding Dong face
6:25 AM Apr 13th

Message light blinking. "Meet me at Yamashiro. Sevenish." Hmm, I thought there was a look in her eye as she slammed the door in my face.
7:57 AM Apr 13th from web

I'm definitely going. I'll wear my Bar Mitzvah jacket. Having trouble deciding which pair of pants. Maybe the chartreuse.
11:52 AM Apr 13th

I'm reminded of a Hitchcock quote. "If you see a gun in the first act, it's bound to go off by act three." I wonder if that goes for knives?
2:04 PM Apr 13th

Okay, okay, Chekov. But Hitchcok must've read it. Got another call from the porno agent. Now they're offering a three picture deal.
2:11 PM Apr 13th

"Amber Jordan, nice name". "My real name's Amber Hamburger but I changed it when I decided to be an actress." "Good choice."
6:07 AM Apr 14th

Another woman joined us, Bobbette. Amber's girlfriend. They're going through a rough patch. Bobbette"s been seeing her husband again.
6:19 AM Apr 14th

BTW, I passed on the porno. You have to supply your own wardrobe, and mine is woefully lacking.
6:20 AM Apr 14th

Drank too much last night. Bobette paid. Married to a rich dinosaur. Invited to his swankienda for lunch tomorrow. Interesting girls.
10:58 AM Apr 14th

FYI They loved my chartreuse pants. I'll wear the orange one's to lunch. They didn't recognize me. Told them my name is Norman Maine.
11:29 AM Apr 14th

Bob (that's what Amber calls her) sent a limo for us. Feels like the good ol days. Met the dino. About eighty. A zillionaire. Now I get it.
2:06 PM Apr 15th

Harry Boik (I think it's Berk,really) wore a plaid 50's bathing suit at lunch by the pool. Said my pants were absoid. Look who's talking.
3:36 PM Apr 15th

The girls ran off and left Harry and me alone. Smoked some huge Cuban's. Said he bought a couple million pre-embargo. Think I like this guy.
3:40 PM Apr 15th

"What kinda woik do you do, Norm?" "I'm between engagements". "I need a driver. Interested?" "I'll let you know, Mr. Boik." "Call me Harry".
4:42 PM Apr 15th

Harry Berg. Came here in '49 with $35. Won sixty thou in a poker game. Opened talent agency. Sold it for 60 million. Self made man. Me like.
8:57 AM Apr 16th

Tested to see if he knew who I really am. "Harry, what do you think of this Star Trek thing?" "Feh!" Could be the start of something big.
9:01 AM Apr 16th

Jason Gold becomes a man tomorrow. Confirmed with Mike to meet me at Temple. Probably wear a yellowish shirt in case the make-up gets on it.
10:33 AM Apr 16th

Started exercising again. Gotta look good for the next phase. Swam width of the pool. Well, halfway. Twenty feet is longer than it looks.
12:23 PM Apr 16th

Amber swam by. Very happy. Got her first gig. Deodorant commercial. Just underarms but a start. She looks great in a bikini. Bob's lucky.
12:34 PM Apr 16th

Going out to celebrate with Amber and Bob. Feel I'm betraying Harry, but their schtick is really none of my business. Besides, I eat better.
5:01 PM Apr 16th

Guy came to our table for my autograph. A&B asked why. Told them I look just like an actor on ST. They've never seen it. It's all ironic.
10:38 PM Apr 16th

Great night for all. The antics next door literally shook the entire building. And I got to listen. Sometimes it's the little things.
8:56 AM Apr 17th

Mike made me up in the bathroom. Very embarrassing. I looked in mirror. Oy. In my suit I look like Jimmy Stewart in Greatest Show On Earth.
7:33 PM Apr 17th

An old cocker came out of a stall. He looked at me with a very quizzical look."What's that on your face, egg?" "Exactly".
7:35 PM Apr 17th

Marched with Jason and seven of his buddies. Heard a man say, "Big deal, we had Solo from the original series at my kid's Bar Mitzvah."
8:21 PM Apr 17th

The rabbi is a big ST fan. Sermon was about how you can go wrong in life. Like the way we did when we killed Data in Nemesis. Sheesh.
8:23 PM Apr 17th

I am feeling strange again. I do not know what is happening. Hailing frequencies...out.
8:24 PM Apr 17th

Last night: Posed for pictures with the family. Uncle Shelly refused to stand next to me. Rabbi asked could I get him tix to the new movie.
9:31 AM Apr 18th

Split a piece of herring w/Monty. Introduced me to his mentor, Harry Berg. Gulp. Harry: "You remind me of someone...are you PeeWee Herman?"
9:33 AM Apr 18th

Spent the day in fetal position. Amber came by. Wanted to know what was wrong. Told her I was just having a Viet Nam flashback. Hugged me.
2:33 PM Apr 18th

Woke up next to Amber. Sweet. Don't know what happened but she was wearing my tallis. Hope she doesn't tell Bob. No more Bar Mitzvah's.
10:29 AM Apr 19th

Went to Denny's with A&B. Don't think Amber said anything to Bob re:last night. Maybe nothing happened. But Amber keeps looking at me funny.
8:43 PM Apr 19th

I can't believe everything is so foggy. I must've drunk too much Mogan David at the Bar Mitzvah. I've got to confront Amber...tomorrow.
8:53 PM Apr 19th

"Amber, I just don't remember what happened last night. I hope I didn't do anything I should be sorry..." "No." She smiled enigmatically.
9:24 AM Apr 20th

"Off to my first job, Norman. I'm not really looking forward to it". "Hey, it's a foot in the door, Amber". "Well, an armpit, really."
10:10 AM Apr 20th

Inspired by Amber. Sometimes we just have to work, like it or not. Called Harry. Agreed to be his driver. Start tomorrow. I'll wear a hat.
10:49 AM Apr 20th

Concerned about Amber. Excited about her first job, then depressed. Seemed to be into Bob, now me. I don't know, maybe it's all in my mind.
11:16 AM Apr 20th

Decided to get away from it all and go to a movie. Going to see a classic, "Double Indemnity". Boy, they don't make 'em like that anymore.
5:20 PM Apr 20th

Close call. Milk dud stuck in my throat. Fortunately, usher knew the Heimlich. A big fan. Autographed a box of Junior Mints for him.
9:42 PM Apr 20th

"Mr. Spiner, wake up, it's time to take your pills" "No, nurse, I..." AHHH! I woke up in a cold sweat. Dreamed I was in the clinic. Whew!
8:35 AM Apr 21st

After the Milk Dud episode, restricting myself to liquids. Go next door to use Amber's blender. Make a donut shake. Gotta keep strength up.
9:34 AM Apr 21st

No answer. Door ajar. Peeked in. "Amber...?" She wont mind me using her blender. Besides, now I can add breaking and entering to my resume.
10:19 AM Apr 21st

Guess it's not really B&E. More like unlawful entry or trespassing. Whatever, it's sure to impress casting agents. I'll leave a note.
10:35 AM Apr 21st

Found paper. Writing on it. 1.Dispose of knife. 2. Dispose of body. 3. Clean area thoroughly. 4.Get fuschia highlights. My head is spinning.
10:51 AM Apr 21st

Amber's note has me freaked. Maybe she's writing a novel or something. Maybe. Called Harry. Postponed job till tomorrow. Too dizzy to drive.
11:01 AM Apr 21st

In the fetal position again. In the dark. I thought she was attracted to me. Should I be scared? Let me answer that question. I already am.
12:17 PM Apr 21st

Monty called. Has audition for a new show. No lines. Possibly recurring. Great. The walls are shaking again. Safe for tonight...I think.
10:31 PM Apr 21st

"Monty, what's the no line character's name?" "Let's see...uh, DEAD BODY." "And it recurs?" "That's what it says. You're perfect for it."
8:41 AM Apr 22nd

Audition tomorrow. Today, real job. Went to Army Surplus. Bought military hat w/visor. Looks good. Bus to Harry's. Should be there by noon.
9:41 AM Apr 22nd

Made it to Harry's a little early. He told me to get familiar with the car. 1958 Mercedes. Beauty. I'll should look great behind the wheel.
11:42 AM Apr 22nd

Drove Harry to his club. " Norm, you think I'm too old for Bobbette? I'm 81, she's 28." "Nah, Harry. Anything under sixty years is fine."
12:13 PM Apr 22nd

Harry burst into tears. "She used to love the sex. Ever since that damn Amber came into our lives, nothing! I think they want to kill me!"
12:40 PM Apr 22nd

Harry whimpered through a round of golf. Took him home. "Say something to make me feel better, Norm". "Could I have the day off tomorrow?"
1:40 PM Apr 22nd

Quiet next door. Thank God. Lying in bed. Working on my audition.
8:38 PM Apr 22nd

Knock at door. Amber. "Norman, I'm scared. Someone's been in my apt. I found this. (paper with the list). Can I stay with you tonight?"
8:58 PM Apr 22nd

"Norman,who could've left this strange note in my room?" "I don't know...'clean thoroughly'...maybe it was housekeeping." "Hold me." "Okay."
9:27 PM Apr 22nd

Amber looks like an angel when she sleeps. Maybe she didn't write the note. Maybe it was the maid. Folks, I'm just as confused as you are.
9:03 AM Apr 23rd

Kissed her gently so I wouldn't wake her. Crept out of the room to go to my audition. Hope she's here when I get back. Wonder where Bob is?
9:56 AM Apr 23rd

On the floor in the audition. Pretended to be dead. Tried to clear my mind of all thought. Images of Amber. Became aroused. Not good.
11:13 AM Apr 23rd

Called Monty for audition feedback. "You didn't get the part. They said you were not believable. That you were wooden." I have to agree.
12:12 PM Apr 23rd

Trying not to get discouraged about acting career. But, gee, I got turned down for the part of a dead body. What's next, inanimate objects?
2:14 PM Apr 23rd

Took a nap. Knock on the door. My heart leapt. " Hey bab..." It was Bob. "Norman, can I talk to you? I think Amber's seeing someone else"!"
9:25 PM Apr 23rd

"Why do you say that, Bob?" "She didn't answer her phone last night. She's been distant. There's someone else." "Nooo, I don't think...". Oy
9:40 PM Apr 23rd

I was finally able to reassure her. Sometimes I'm a pretty good actor. And liar. From the sounds next door, all is well. For them.
9:55 PM Apr 23rd

Monty: " An offer. A producer who was at the Bar Mitzvah wants you to come to his grandson's Bris. No make-up. You're not a Mohel, are you"?
8:55 AM Apr 24th

Amber and Bob came with Harry's car. "Let's go to breakfast! You drive. And wear your hat." They giggled in the back the whole way there.
10:19 AM Apr 24th

Felt kind of sorry for myself, but sorrier for Harry. If A&B are thinking about him at all, it can't be good. At least I get free pancakes.
10:32 AM Apr 24th

" Norm, I need a scene partner for acting class. Wanna exercise your chops?" "What"s it from? "Carnal Knowledge". Our eyes met. She smiled.
11:25 AM Apr 24th

Dropped the girls and went to work. Harry wasn't feeling well. Stomach cramps. " I must've eaten a bad tongue sandwich. Come back tomorrow".
12:13 PM Apr 24th

" Anything I can do before I go, Harry?". "If you see Bobette, ask her where she got that sandwich. Farcacta thing is burning my kishka's".
3:11 PM Apr 24th

Knock knock . "Hi, Bob went home. Ready to rehearse our scene, Norm?" "Sure, did you bring the script?" "I thought we could just improvise."
11:03 PM Apr 24th

What a night. Amber and I spent better part of it doing "sense memory" exercises. She really is very talented. I want to know her better.
9:47 AM Apr 25th

She's really an All-American girl. From Chicago. Her father is in the meat packing business. Kinda funny. Mr. Hamburger makes hot dogs.
10:08 AM Apr 25th

Made a date for later. Off to Harry's to see if I can borrow the car for the evening. Starting to feel happy for the first time in years.
11:58 AM Apr 25th

Harry's. Surrounded by police cars, ambulance. Lights flashing. A stretcher was being carried from the house. Body covered with a blanket.
1:16 PM Apr 25th

I started to pull back the blanket. Cop:"Who are you?" "A friend". "Pretty gruesome. Knife wounds. You sure?" I nodded. Lifted blanket. Bob.
1:20 PM Apr 25th

In house. Harry in bed, tube in nose. " My baby goil is gone, Norman! Why? Why?!" "I'm so sorry, Harry". Poor Bob. Poor Harry... Poor me.
3:13 PM Apr 25th

"I'm Det. Martinez. No murder weapon. We'll find it. And the killer. Don't leave town, Mr. Maine. know who you look like like?"
3:54 PM Apr 25th

"You rest, Harry. I'll come back tomorrow. If there's anything I can do...Uh, say...I don't suppose you'll be using your c...oh never mind".
4:03 PM Apr 25th

Does Amber know what's happened? She'll be devastated. Unless she...No. I don't want to believe it. But then...the note.
9:27 PM Apr 25th

No one home next door. Several hours pass. Amber said she was going to yoga. That was this morning. She must be really limber by now.
9:36 PM Apr 25th

I'm going to try to sleep. Feel uneasy. Put a chair against the door. And a refrigerator. I'll deal with this when I wake up...if I wake up.
9:58 PM Apr 25th

Morning. Whew! Slept in a fitful fetal. Dreamt about Bob. She was pointing at her head. Wonder what that means? Alev a shalom, Bob.
10:06 AM Apr 26th

Amber still not home. Such a sweet kid. Scared for her, worried for Harry,too. Better get over there pronto. As pronto as a city bus can go.
10:23 AM Apr 26th

Expected the nurse to answer the door, but Harry did. He looks different. Oh, his hair is kind of pink or red...fushcia. "Come in, Brent".
11:18 AM Apr 26th

"Nice dye job, Harry". "You're one to talk, kid." "What've you done with Amber?" A familiar voice. "Don't worry, Normie, I'm copacetic."
12:30 PM Apr 26th

"Amber...? "Haven't you hoid, kid, love is funny." His arm slid around her. She kissed his cheek. There was a spot of fuschia on her lips.
1:37 PM Apr 26th

"Why did you kill Bob?" "We had to. She'd have never let him go. She'd have taken all our...his money. Fortunately for us, you came along".
2:17 PM Apr 26th

"I knew who you were from the start, Brent. I saw all TNG movies twice. Except "Nemesis". That one sucked. And I knew you opened the box."
2:43 PM Apr 26th

"Your prints are all over that knife." "My prints aren't on file." "Don't matter, kid, they match the ones on my steering wheel. Run along".
3:19 PM Apr 26th

"You'll never get away with this." " Martinez finds that knife tomorrow." "There's just one thing I have to say... 'Nemesis' did not suck!"
3:26 PM Apr 26th

I ran. Fast as my legs would carry me. Which is slow. Back to the apt/hotel, gathered my few things and checked out. It was awful, but home.
8:25 PM Apr 26th

Into the night. Where to go? Wish I was back at the Betty White. 'Nemesis', good or bad? Who gives a shit!! Sorry...I'm a little strung out.
8:35 PM Apr 26th

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo...Nam Myoho Renge Kyo...Nam Myoho Renge Kyo...Nam Myoho Renge Kyo...Nam Myoho Renge Kyo...Nam Myoho Renge Kyo...Nam M...
9:02 PM Apr 26th

Got a cheap room. The Taranchula Arms. Sink/toilet combo. Watching t.v. 'COPS'. Hey, maybe this show will be my return to series television.
9:11 AM Apr 27th

Watching 'Jerry Springer' now. Woman married to proctologist, cheating with circus clown. Makes me feel slightly better about my life.
9:30 AM Apr 27th

Bought wheels from a guy in a coffee shop. I think it used to be some kind of Toyota. Can sleep in it if I have to. If I can remove my legs.
4:22 PM Apr 27th

Call me crazy, but I miss Amber. Going to drive to the beach tonight. Nothing like a little salt air to clear the mind. What's left of it.
4:45 PM Apr 27th

The Pacific at night. A dark and inviting mistress. Perhaps I am Norman Maine. I removed my clothes and disappeared into the black abyss.
8:54 PM Apr 27th

OH MY GOD!! IT'S FREEEEZING!! Only got in as far as my knees. There's no way they shot that scene in L.A. Toweling off with my orange pants.
9:00 PM Apr 27th

In the Blanch DuBois suite. Wonder what Harry and Amber are doing? Wonder where the knife is? Wonder if I survive ? It's a Wonderful Life.
9:32 PM Apr 27th

"Monty, I need help." "Where are you? The hotel said you moved..." "I'm being framed for the murder of Harry's wife!" "You did it?" "No!!!"
9:12 AM Apr 28th

"They haven't found a murder weapon and the only suspect is his driver." "That's me." "Wh...?" "I'll explain when I see you." "Where?"
9:18 AM Apr 28th

" Pink's at noon." "Ok." "And if you get there before me, order me two chili dogs, all the way." "So, this mean you're not doing the Bris?"
9:23 AM Apr 28th

Watching Oprah. Always makes me cry. I'm a wuss. Hey, maybe if I survive this thing she'll have me on. Look what it did for Tom..oh, yeah.
10:20 AM Apr 28th

Drive past Pink's. Crawling with cops. Damn that Monty. He ratted me out. If you can't trust your agent who can you...What am I saying?
12:01 PM Apr 28th

Now what? Can't think, Can't think! Thank God I didn't tell Monty where I was living. Damnit, I'm furious. I really wanted those hot dogs!!!
12:34 PM Apr 28th

"Why Monty?" "For your own good. Meshugeh, turn yourself in." "What did Harry tell you?" "He's too upset to talk. It was his nurse, Amber".
3:16 PM Apr 28th

"She said you were a son to him. You fell for his cute little wife, she didn't respond, you stabbed her.""You think there a pilot in this?"
4:22 PM Apr 28th

"I'm ashamed of you. As a client and a Jew." "Oh for Crissakes, I didn't kill her! Harry and Amber did it! " "You're sick." "You're fired."
5:33 PM Apr 28th

She fooled Monty. Like she fooled me. Clever dame. If I don't stop them I'll be playcationing for life in the Big House. Whatever that is.
9:29 PM Apr 28th

New York Post. Headline: DATA DOOD IT! "... knife was found in the trunk of the car Spiner was driving...police suspect...subject at large.
9:25 AM Apr 29th

They must've matched the prints on the knife with those on the steering wheel. There's a lesson in this. Don't open other people's mail.
9:41 AM Apr 29th

Found a surgical supply. Pulled the brim low on my baseball cap and bought a mask. Put it on. With this swine flu thing, no one will ask.
10:18 AM Apr 29th

Looked in the mirror. Even with the mask, still looks like me. Can't go out again. Think of something else. No time to grow beard. I know..
3:59 PM Apr 29th

Shaved my head. Pretty smooth. A few nicks. I look like Mr. Clean on heroin. Scary. Some of the patients at the clinic would be so jealous.
4:29 PM Apr 29th

Tested new look. Went to Zankou Chicken for dinner. Had a shwarma plate. No one recognized me. Though, difficult to eat in a surgical mask.
9:07 PM Apr 29th

Still can't believe Amber didn't feel something for me. Her affection seemed so real. Particularly when she...well, you had to be there.
9:34 PM Apr 29th

Maybe I should see Martinez. Tell him everything. The truth will set you free. Maybe he'll believe me. It's always better to tell the...Nah.
8:29 AM Apr 30th

I'm jonesing for Amber. I have to see her. Talk to her. Running out of money. And time. I'm going back to the house. For what?... Who knows?
9:12 AM Apr 30th

Preparing myself. Did yoga. Chanted. Pressed my suit as best I could. Reshaved head. Must leave instructions should anything happen to me.
10:46 AM Apr 30th

I, Brent Spiner, of sound mnid and body, leave all my earthly possessions (one suit,6pr pants) to The Actor's Fund. Will get big$$ on ebay.
10:51 AM Apr 30th

Driving around LA. Reliving all of my past Adventures in LaLaLand. It all comes to a head tonight. I can feel it in my...well, in my head.
11:58 AM Apr 30th

Just had what I hope won't be my last last anything. Got special sauce all over my mask. Good thing I bought a spare.
3:36 PM Apr 30th

Driving toward the hills, and Amber. Don't think she'll recognize me. Wearing my suit. With shaved head and mask I look hip and paranoid.
3:43 PM Apr 30th

Parked outside Harry's house. Don't know what I'll say or do. Can't go in till I stop shaking. Wish I'd saved some of my pills from clinic.
4:14 PM Apr 30th

The gate opened. A limo pulled out. Harry and Amber in the backseat. I have to follow. Going East on Sunset. Turning South to Melrose.
5:06 PM Apr 30th

I know this neighborhood well. The limo turning into Paramount Pictures. Oh my God...They're going to premiere of the new STAR TREK movie!
5:11 PM Apr 30th

Limo drove past guard gate into parking lot. What to do? What to do? Namyoho renge kyo, Namyoho renge kyo, Namyoho renge...Oh what the hell.
5:22 PM Apr 30th

Kip, the guard, I know him. Pulled my mask up. (ala Patrick Stewart) Hello, Kip!" " Evening Mr. Stewart. Enjoy the film" "Make it so!"
5:26 PM Apr 30th

Hiding in a bathroom stall till lights go down. I'll sneak in. This is the perfect place to be. There's a very good chance I might vomit.
5:41 PM Apr 30th

Lesson #2 : Remove mask before throwing up. I'll be going into the theater sans mask.
6:37 PM Apr 30th

Found seat in the back. Missed first five minutes. Spotted Harry and Amber. I've got to do something. But I think I'll watch movie first.
7:08 PM Apr 30th

Wow,great movie. Crowd goes wild. Director and cast come out on stage. Nimoy steps to the mike. Tumultuous applause. He begins to speak.
9:05 PM Apr 30th

But, at that moment I find myself standing up. "Ladies and gentlemen..." A gasp goes through the audience. I hear my name being whispered...
9:06 PM Apr 30th

" I know you've been heard some crazy things about me. If I may, I'd like to set the record straight. I didn't kill anyone I..." "STOP!"
9:13 PM Apr 30th

Martinez and crew with Kip."I knew it wasn't Mr. Stewart! His head has a much nicer shape." Martinez steps forward," Come with us, now."
9:17 PM Apr 30th

A voice. Leonard's. " Let him speak! Give the man his say." The crowd concurs. Martinez steps back. "Thanks, Leonard. Loved the movie."
9:25 PM Apr 30th

"Mr. Abraham, forgive me. This is your night. I'll continue with your kind permission." Abraham looked at me, nodded and smiled, "Engage".
9:27 PM Apr 30th

I pointed at Harry and Amber. "That elderly man and that...absolutely adorable creature sitting next to him killed his wife and framed me".
9:33 PM Apr 30th

Harry sputtered,"That's absoid! The man's crazy! Arrest him before he hurts someone else." He took Amber by the hand and stood to leave.
9:36 PM Apr 30th

"Harry, I understand. Love is a powerful thing. Makes you do things you never thought you were capable of. Amber, it's you. You caused this"
9:41 PM Apr 30th

" Bob loved you, and you killed her. I loved you, you framed me. And Harry, believe me, you're next. How could so much love lead to this?"
9:45 PM Apr 30th

"Amber, you'll regret this. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life." Amber and Harry stood frozen.
9:47 PM Apr 30th

The room was silent.Then, a man stood and raised his hand. "Mr. Spiner, do you think it was a mistake killing Data at the end of Nemesis?"
9:53 PM Apr 30th

Harry pulled a pistol from inside his coat."Someone's got to stop him before he kills again!" Several people screamed. Mostly women. And me.
9:59 PM Apr 30th

Martinez grabbed Harry's arm. Shots rang out. The crowd became hysterical. Absolute chaos. A cop grabbed me but some fans pushed him away.
10:04 PM Apr 30th

The room has gone mad. Like one of Tod Hackett's paintings in Day of the Locust. Bullets flying. Felt something burning hot graze my temple
10:08 PM Apr 30th

The room was spinning out of control. A black hole opened. I was sucked in...
10:09 PM Apr 30th

After drifting in space for several hours, regained consciousness in a jail cell in downtown LA. My head still aches. Bullets will do that.
8:32 AM May 1st

Wonder what's become of Harry and Amber. What a crazy night. The thing I keep remembering most about it? That new Uhura is sizzling hot!
8:38 AM May 1st

Martinez. "You're a lucky man. We traced the weapon to 'the knife show'. Ordered by one Amber Jordan." "Hamburger." "No, meatloaf today."
8:54 AM May 1st

"Harrry told us everything. You're free to go, sir." "Could I see her?" " He took me to Amber's cell. She looked looked cute in prison garb.
9:00 AM May 1st

"Baby, I love you. It was Harry. He.." "You killed Bob. Wouldn't call her a friend, but she was nice to me. You're taking the fall, sister."
9:05 AM May 1st

"But, I love you." " I love you,too. And when you get outta here in fifty years or so, I'll be waiting." "But, you'll be dead." " Oh yeah."
9:08 AM May 1st

Martinez walked me to my car. We shook hands. " Piece of advice, Mr. Spiner. If I were you, I leave town." "What, and quit show business?"
9:16 AM May 1st

I drove into the beautiful morning light. A perfect day in Lotus Land. Three blocks from the prison, my left front tire fell off. The end.
9:19 AM May 1st

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Sherlock Holmes" - theatrical trailer

So when we were at the movies the other night, one of the trailers shown before the film was for "Sherlock Holmes", which is being released on December 25 this year. I had been excited when I had read that Robert Downey, Jr. was going to play Sherlock Holmes. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a big fan of his. Robert Downey, Jr., that is, I'm a big fan of his. I'm just ok about Sherlock Holmes. Well, the trailer looks spectacular, and I can't wait to see the film, though I have a feeling I won't actually be watching it on Christmas Day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Terminator Salvation" - spoiler movie review

I've been a fan of the "Terminator" franchise for quite some time now (though I disavow the existence of T3 because I thought it was that bad [but I think I'm going to actually have to watch it again so that I can even remember what happened in it other than that there was a female terminator, I think, and a woman veterinarian], and I'm really sorry that "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" won't be back for a third season), so I was intrigued when they announced that a fourth Terminator film was in the works, and then I was excited when it was revealed that John Connor would be played by Christian Bale.

A friend, the husband and I went to a midnight screening of "Terminator Salvation" on opening night in the Cinerama Dome at the Arclight in Hollywood. It's really the kind of film you want to see on the big screen.

Generally, I liked the film, but it was nothing like I expected, so I want to see it again, partly because I think I will then be better able to have an opinion on it. From the trailers, the film was about John Connor's ascension to be the hero and leader that we know him to become. *This* is the saga of the adult John Connor, who led the resistance of humans against the machines, who helped humanity fight back from the brink of annihilation, who sent a man back to protect his mother, knowing that man would actually become his father, who basically grew up without a normal childhood but was instead hunted and had his life threatened numerous times and who was never able to enjoy the joys and pitfalls of childhood but who knew that the fate of all humans lay in his hands. Yeah, no pressure there.

I knew that Kyle Reese, John Connor's father, would be in the film since it was announced that Anton Yelchin would be playing him. (I joked that seeing the midnight screening of "Terminator Salvation" at the Cinerama Dome was seeing the second half of the late-night Anton Yelchin film festival since two weeks prior, the three of us had also gone to see a midnight screening on opening night at the same theatre of "Star Trek", in which Anton Yelchin plays Pavel Chekov.)

But in the lore of the terminator universe, you don't actually learn that much about John in this film. Yeah, you see a bit of his leadership quality, and you see how people are drawn to him, and you see how even the command comes to realize that John is more powerful and holds more sway than them.

But part of the story is also Kyle, the kid who ends up fighting his way into the resistance. I had thought Anton Yelchin was a bit young to play Kyle, but I had completely forgotten that he was supposed to be a kid when John met him, a reminder that came thanks to Sarah's tapes to John. You see the determination in Kyle that turns him into the soldier that John trusts with his mother's life.

But in the grand scheme of the movie, the major focus is on a third character - Marcus Wright. Who, you say? What role did he play in the terminator universe? Well, none, until now. The film is really about his journey, his discovery, his redemption, his heroics, and his sacrifice. But he's barely in the trailer, and if he is, there's no mention of him. So I'm sitting and watching the film and confused that so much time is being spent on this guy that I don't know and have never heard of in that universe, and where the heck is John Connor?

I liked Marcus' story, but I wished that the trailer had given even a hint of him, had told us that it wasn't just about John, but about the people around him. The end of the film sets up John as the actual leader since the rest of the command died when their submarine was blowed up by Skynet, so the next installment will probably be more like the movie I was expecting to see. And I'm ok with that. But I wish they hadn't set up my expectations wrong.

Marcus is a very engaging character, and you feel for him when he still can't believe that he's a machine, and you see his body slump when he tries to infiltrate Skynet's headquarters, and the robot guard registers him as an ally and allows him to pass. It seems like Marcus would have almost preferred to have been shot at and/or killed because that would have proven that he was human. And then you really feel for him when he finds out that he's been a pawn all that time, that he's been used to lure both Kyle and John to the facility to be killed. And you root for his redemption in being able to save both of them and in ultimately giving his life, his heart, so that John can live. And you know that in this story, without him, without his actions, neither Kyle nor John would have lived.

Marcus is a great character - but he's a stranger in the terminator universe who presumably only made a one-movie appearance since he's dead by the end. That's what I don't understand. There's some focus on history, but the main character is not actually John Connor, but rather, someone we've never known before.

But as far as history is concerned, I did love the use of Sarah's tapes, and especially that it was Linda Hamilton and at least the first passage is what we saw Sarah taping in the first film. There's a later segment that I don't specifically remember from the first film, but I'm assuming it's from that as well since it's still her voice. I don't believe any of the other films have mentioned the tapes at all, so that reliance on history was terrific, and even the use of the well-known picture of Sarah that Kyle eventually carries around with him.

I liked that John had a wife, but I'll admit that when I saw that he had a wife, and a very pregnant one at that, I thought for sure she'd be a goner by mid-way through the film. I'm glad to see she'll be around for the next one. I wonder if they'll ever talk about how they met and got together, because I think that would be interesting. Given how his years of growing up went and how he was never really able to trust anyone, who's the woman who broke through that enough for him to love her and marry her?

Those spine-like machines were NASTY. They had a model in the lobby of the Arclight theatres, and with the way it was designed, it really looked like some kind of Klingon weaponry to me.

That was pretty cool when John and Kyle fell into the terminator-making factory. Cool and creepy.

I liked the little mute girl.

I didn't really like when Blair turned so quickly and easily and betrayed the Resistance to set Marcus free. It just seemed to come out of nowhere.

I had heard rumblings that Arnold Schwarzenegger would be in the film, but I'd never really heard if that was true or not, so it was cool to see him as that particular model of terminator. I don't know how they did those sequences, but he definitely doesn't look like that now!

One major thing that I didn't understand came towards the end of the film. John comes across the Arnold model, who tosses him around and presumably tries to kill him. Meanwhile, a metal model is attacking Kyle, and then John runs into the metal model, who I think is about to kill him, but then the Arnold model comes around the corner and destroys the metal model. Now, they're both terminators, even though they're different models, and they're not like Marcus who is differently programmed. So why would one model destroy another model when both should have programmed into their systems to target and destroy/kill John Connor?

I thought Christian Bale did a decent job as John, for what he had to do, but he is still using that speech affectation he adopted for "Batman Begins" where he seems to think that talking in an unnaturally low, raspy voice makes him sound more mature or authoritative or something, because he does that here too, and not just when John needs to be whispering. It's very distracting and slightly annoying because it makes no sense and it makes it hard to hear him. I'm really looking forward to seeing "Public Enemies", so I hope that Michael Mann, his director on that film, has weaned him of that bad habit.

Sam Worthington was excellent as Marcus. I've heard that his performance in this film is what led to him being cast in James Cameron's "Avatar", and if that's true, I can certainly see why.

Anton Yelchin was good as the very young Kyle Reese, and I actually liked him better in this film than in "Star Trek", partly because he didn't have a very distracting Russian accent. But, I have to say, Kyle Reese will always be Michael Biehn to me.

Anton Yelchin as a very young Kyle Reese.

Michael Biehn as THE Kyle Reese.

Bryce Dallas Howard (daughter to Ron Howard) was very good as John's wife. I know she's been in a bunch of other stuff, but I don't think I've seen any of those. She played a character that I thought was completely worthy of being John Connor's wife.

I was surprised when I saw Helena Bonham Carter's credit pop up. She was good in the film, though it's a small role. Jane Alexander was fine too, in an even smaller role.

I always like seeing Michael Ironside, even though he often plays the same character.

I hadn't known that Danny Elfman did the music for the film, but he did a good job.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Zankou Chicken - restaurant review

I'd heard of Zankou Chicken before and knew that it was a chain of restaurants of some sort but didn't know much about it. After hearing more about it from people I knew, I decided to check out the menu, which is Mediterranean based and looked terrific, so a couple of weeks ago, I had occasion to try the Pasadena location.

The Pasadena branch is fairly unassuming and is just a storefront on busy Colorado Blvd. There is a sign that advertises the existence of a parking lot in the back, but we just found parking on a nearby side street.

The restaurant itself was a pretty good size, and it was busy on this Saturday afternoon. I looked through the menu choices, and I decided on the kebab combo plate, with the chicken and beef. And because I happen to love tabouleh, I also ordered a side of that. I think the husband ordered the shawerma plate.

On the menu in the restaurant, there's a sign that says kebab orders take a bit longer, so we took a seat to wait for our food. I'm thinking they don't cook any of what you order until you order it because it took a lot longer than I expected for our food to arrive. It was also quite busy in the restaurant, so that might have had something to do with the wait as well.

When our food was finally ready, I was surprised to see that the servings of the sides that come with the plates were *very* generous. And the side of tabouleh that I got was probably enough to serve four people, at least. I thought everything tasted good, but I ended up with about half my food left over, so I took that home and finished it for dinner on another night. The husband enjoyed his food, though I think he thought there was more grease at the bottom of the plate than he had expected.

I would definitely visit another location of Zankou Chicken again (the Pasadena location isn't particularly convenient for my everyday life, but it happened to be near another business I needed to go to that day), but I'll have to remember to go before I'm really hungry because it'll be a wait for the food to arrive, and I'll have to remember to order a smaller plate and not to order the tabouleh because the side portion is just too much.

Zankou Chicken
1296 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91106
(626) 405-1502

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mets beat themselves, gift wrap win to Dodgers

So the Los Angeles Dodgers (of Los Angeles) beat the New York Mets (of New York) tonight by a score of 3-2. Other than that it took 11 innings for the game to be done, fairly uneventful score, it would seem, right? WRONG.

The Mets APPARENTLY decided that they didn't want to win this game. They had a total of 5 errors in the game, 2 of them coming in the bottom of the 11th inning while the Dodgers were up at bat. The score was tied at the top of the 11th, and a triple by the Mets brought another Mets player in to score. Or not. Turns out Mets player Ryan Church missed third base when he rounded it, so when the Dodgers tagged third base with the ball, Church was called out, making the third out of the inning and rendering the just-hit triple useless.

Then in the bottom of the 11th, the Dodgers had managed to load the bases, and the Dodgers player hit a fairly easy infield ground ball. Mets first baseman scooped it up and threw it to home plate for the easy out - which it would have been had he not thrown it away instead, allowing the Dodgers to score and win the game.

Here's a link to the really funny recap.

And courtesy of the Mets themselves, here's the video of Vin Scully's call of Church's missed bag. Once that video finishes, subsequent ones will pop up, or you can just pick which next video you want to see.

Monday, May 18, 2009

one fewer hot chick on Friday night

So this week is the "upfronts", where the networks announce their schedules for next year. Fox announced their schedule on Monday, and while rumours had swirled over the weekend, Monday morning brought confirmation that "Dollhouse" had indeed been picked up, albeit only for another 13 episodes to start with. Hopefully, the audience will build, and they'll order the rest of the season. I'm really excited about that because while some questions were answered with the season finale, there are still lots of questions that haven't been answered, and there's so much more to be learned about everyone. I wonder what they're going to do with Victor, and how Dr. Saunders is going to be now, and most important of all, will they bring November back? I sure hope so.

A friend posted this link to an interesting story about "Dollhouse".

But then there was the bad news. As had been rumoured now for quite some time, no renewal was forthcoming for "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles". I'm sad about that because I really enjoyed the show, and they really went out with a bang. I wonder if they knew they weren't coming back when they made the finale. Most of the major loose ends were tied up, and they would have embarked on a new set of stories, so at least it was a good enough place to end.

On a related note, the same friend posted this link which has a running count of the status of television shows on all the networks.