Saturday, September 15, 2012

Here we go.....

               So hit or miss trip so far. The hotel, as interesting and cool as it was, was in a REALLY bad neighborhood. The rent a car screwed us hard so we had to scramble to do some things we wanted to do. Also the rent a car fiasco cost me a chance to reconnect with friends I really wanted to see, but I do suppose if they really wanted to see me they could have come my way. Any way onto good stuff.
               The hotel was actually a (questionable) international hostel. Cool atmosphere and interesting people watching. The place had a pool, bar, and restaurant that they kept in a constant state of party. I swear at two am I went down to get a vending machine treat and people were engaged in sexual congress in the pool. Interesting.
               Due to lack of rental car we had to bus to Exposition Park, and our time there was more limited than I would have liked. Still we managed to see the Rose Garden, some of USC, The California Science Center, and The Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. The highlight by far being the extensive gem and mineral collection at the LACNHM. It was too extensive to describe and I saw many beautiful things.
               The next day we were rescued from the evil hostel area by my dear friend Kitsune. We were spirited away to beautiful Anaheim. We walked Downtown Disney and I cooked us a good grilled meal (veggies and pork chops!) We made that an early night as the next day we were bound for the happiest place on earth.
               We awoke to clouded and cooled weather. We arrived and were ushered in to the Disneyland Park. Kitsune had a friend that managed to get us into the park for free as well which was more amazing than I could have hoped. We got pins and commenced trading with the awesome cast members. The park was a good time. Not a lot of people thanks to the time of year, we didn’t wait more than 25 minutes for any ride. The weather stayed cool and it was a good day. Let’s see am I forgetting anything? Hmmm…Oh yeah…I surprised the hell out of Danger by proposing in the magic castle in the middle of Disneyland. She said yes. It was cool. Oh yeah, and Captain Eo is back. It was lame.
               We spent the next two days recuperating from Disneyland at my parents’ house I the 7th level of hell, I mean The Valley. A trip to The Getty was spoiled by a massive brush fire. No huge thing but I do enjoy The Getty and I am sorry Danger won’t see it.  As I write this we sit in a movie theater waiting to see the entire Indiana jones movie collection (awesome) as the end to our trip. We fly back tomorrow and I am looking forward to the day of nothing before a new work week. More food later and then at the end I will post a blog naming and locating all the places I ate at. 

Monday, September 10, 2012


               Second on my food before and after blog entry is a place called Michael’s.
Michael’s is a family diner. Very short order grill, they do burgers, fries, sandwiches, and gyros. Oh the gyros. My memory of this place as a kid was good. Fantastic food, always having it delivered and eating as a treat with family. I figured that was going to be the key to this place’s down fall in my memory. As a kid my family always ordered from this place as a treat. We didn’t have a whole lot of money growing up so when we ate out it was a real reward to us. And Michael’s was one of the go to celebratory meals.
It bears mentioning as well that when I say we ordered from this place when I was a kid, I mean it. This place has been in business for longer than I have been alive. The owner operator is still there too, the titular Michael himself. As a matter of fact he was the one who took our order and helped cook our meal, and he recognized me too. It gives me hope to see businesses like that, hope that I may have a successful business too someday, but I digress.
So when my mom suggested we go there I was all for it. The Gyros were still the best I have ever had. Flavorful met, veggies, and of course the tangy and creamy Tzatziki sauce. All still as good as my memory. I also remembered my favorite side dish of theirs, fried zucchini sticks. I remember them being flavorful and crisp. I don’t know if I just got a bad batch or what, but mine weren’t very good this time around. Mushy and bland, they really were terrible. A far cry from the tasty bits I used to look forward too.
So, Michael’s still has the best Gyros I have ever had. That says a lot because it is one of my favorite dishes ever. Some of their other dishes have gone downhill a bit. 

That's What a Memory Is All About....

               The first in my before and after food blog series is here. Celebrate….I said CELEBRATE!!! Thank you.
               The first is In & Out. For those who live under a rock at the bottom of the ocean, In & Out does burgers. They do burgers, fries, and shakes. That’s it. My memories of this place are good ones. I remember Friday nights with friends in The Valley (The San Fernando Valley, as if there was any other). Most of all I remember the food. Fresh meat for burger patties (never frozen if the commercials are to be believed), fries that were potatoes a few seconds prior to touching oil, and delicious chocolate shakes.
               My training in culinary has given me certain bias towards fast food. Terrible food at cheap prices, manufactured with no artistry by high school drop outs, etcetera, etcetera. So I was actually hesitant to go back least my good memories of food and friends be destroyed. I need not worry. The food is good and fresh. Grilled onions and, fresh vegetable stand atop a good burger. The fries, good as they were are not my favorite. In order to make fries extra crispy most places give them a soak in water to expunge extra starches. Because their fries are potatoes seconds before In & Out doesn’t do this (at least I don’t think they do, forgive me if I am wrong). The result is a slightly soggy fry that has a crunchy coating.
               With the fries though I will chalk it up to personal taste. The flavor was good and I ate everyone, but the texture wasn’t what I like anymore. I have clear memories of inhaling these fries by the ton and loving them, for those very qualities I am denouncing now. So, yeah, personal taste shift.
               Over all I love this place and can’t wait to eat their again. I think as far as fast food goes In & Out stands as a king among their kind.   

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Down in The Valley.....

Welcome to Los Angeles. Our trip started with a trial of follies. We arrived at the airport well ahead of our flight. By three hours actually, only to find out that the planes takeoff time was moved from 1150am to 450pm. We waited about 7 hours at the airport and lost an evening in LA.
I am angry about the situation, yet Danger is not. I want to make phone calls (to Allegiant Air, the airline in question) and ream the company, because we also were not notified that our return flight was moved as well. Oh well. On to LA. The flight was fine if late. No more bumpy than other more well-known Airlines, and I felt I was actually more comfortable than the last time I flew (which was on Southwest or Alaska, I can’t remember).
Finally we arrive in Los Angeles. The air is cleaner than I remember. I seem to have a memory of chewing air the last time I got off the plane. My parents were waiting for us and ushered us straight to the San Fernando Valley. I grew up here I have some very fine memories. It is the 7th level of hell. It is at least fifteen degrees hotter than any  other place in LA. It is more over crowded than any other place in LA. It’s just not good. We had a good time with my parents; we had some good food, and a few good drinks (mostly vodka).  We went on a driving tour of the old neighborhood. Saw my old high school, saw my old hang outs and haunts. It was interesting. I have decided though that although I feel I can live in LA again, I would avoid the valley like the plague.
From there to my sister’s house. I was never close to my sister after we went our separate ways. However my sister has been the highlight of the trip. They have a beautiful house in a beautiful (non valley) little town. I cooked a great meal for my entire family and we hung out. I played rock band with Danger my sister and her fiancée.
The next day (the day I post this) we did a walk down Venice Blvd, and Santa Monica Pier. It was fun, sun, and lots of bikini clad ladies. Ice cream on the pier, breakfast at the Venice Sidewalk Café, It was good. Maybe we over did it in the sun.
As I type this we sit in our hotel room. The Adventurer. It’s an interesting place. The rooms are really nice, on site pool and bar. We are waiting for Chinese food delivery and resting. It’s been a good trip so far. Tomorrow, the Getty Center, Picnic, and Sushi….In that order.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hello? can I come back now???

Hello faithful readers. I am back and re-lauching my blog [(as if anyone cares!!) Shut up evil voice in the back of my head]. In the coming days I will post a couple of blogs.

The first will be a travel log of my trip to Los Angeles. I am spending ten days and nine nights in The City of Angels, and plan on writing about it.  Our adventures, our fun, our destinations will be chronicled all in excruciatingly accurate detail. All except the sex…..for that we will have pictures.

The second will be an experiment of sorts. The last time I spent any major amount of time in Los Angeles was prior to becoming the world renowned chef I am today [(delusional much?) Bite me voice!]. I want to blog about a couple of the restaurants I used to visit. I want to detail my memories of the places, the food the atmosphere and the service and such. Then I want to eat again at these places. I want to compare my memories of a place with my new culinary prowess and knowledge and see how my favorite old haunts stack up.

The third, well the third is a surprise of such. A work of fiction, short as it will be that I hope you will enjoy.

Thanks for reading as I attempt to fight my way back into the Blogosphere!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Time Gone By

I just finished moving. I hate moving, but it was a good move. I really like my new place. When you move you pack and unpack a lot of things. You throw things out, and buy new things. You find things.
I am not one for talking over things past. I don’t get nostalgic for the good ol’ days. I found some things in the move. I found my class ring that my parents gave me from when I graduated high school. It was a good gift and meant a lot to me when it was given. Its still one of the most meaningful things I have ever been given. I also found my Senior Year book.
I haven’t looked at this thing in years. This sacrosanct tome of memories of things past has since infected my consciousness. The second I opened it the memories came flooding back. What hit me the hardest was the signatures and phrases people wrote to me. People that I knew well, and people that I hardly knew. People I loved and respected and people I quite frankly, people I didn’t.
My senior year was a tumultuous one. I had a lot of problems. I had a lot of anger. Towards the end I had a good time of it though. I have very good memory of times gaming with friends, nights spent with my lovely girlfriend, and contributions I made to my school.
It’s the memories that keep circling my mind. Fights I had, friends I made. The women I was with, and the women I regret never trying for. I struck me as odd that I have not kept in touch with anyone from those days. I am feeling a loss at the fact that these people. Yes I fell out of touch with them and never really tried to reestablish it. Yes I made that as a conscious choice in some of these cases as these people weren’t desirable friends. Those that I would have wanted to stay in touch with also didn’t try very hard to keep in touch with me.
Facebook has helped a little. I am ‘friends’ with some people that were in high school with me.
So to all those that may read this, and were my friends in that time I say this; Thank you. I have warm memories of you all and miss the good times we have had together. I remember holding my trumpet and cheering as we placed first at a key competition. I remember kissing a pretty girl behind the bleachers. I remember having my first drink in the auditorium during a concert. And yes, no need to ask, I remember you. Thank you for that. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A bit different

     I promised to write more so here. Something a bit different. The first few pages of a short story I am trying to write. I post it here in hope of useful (and constructive criticisms). Please leave any comments on my face book page under the link post. If I get good response ill start writing chapter 2.Its a little weird I think and more than a bit sci fi. I have a loose outline, but am not really sure where this is going beyond that.
     If you guys hate it, please tell me. I wont do it again.

     Chapter One Rude Awakenings

Oh my god my head hurts. What god? I feel like I should know. The light is harsh as I open my eyes. It turns my head ache into a blinding rage for a second while I adjust to it.
            “Son, can you hear me? Boy?” A gruff and authoritative voice barks at me. As my vision clears I see a man with a crisp square haircut and large unflattering glasses. He has decorations all over his blue uniform.
            “Yeah, I can hear you.” It’s like the sound of my voice is strange to me. Like I’ve never heard it before. My throat is raw and I croak the words out “Water.”
            The man in the glasses smiles, “Boy speaks English too, excellent. Now get him some water soldier.” I hear movement around me; smell the antiseptic in the air. I’m in an infirmary. I can’t lift my head. I feel the bite of leather in my forehead when I try. I’m strapped in.
            “Where am I?” I croak out.
            “I’m afraid son I can’t answer that. You’re going to have to answer my questions son. Now where…”
            “Why I am strapped down?” I cut the man in the glasses off mid sentence.
            “Son listen when I say, Your going to have to answer my question before I answer any o’ yours,” He pauses for dramatic effect, he’s good at this, “You get me son?”
            I sigh and nod as best I can, “Good. Now what’s your name?
            “I don’t know.”
            “Where do you come from?”
            “I don’t know.”
            “What do you remember?”
            “A splitting head ache and looking at your ugly face.” The angry and terse look fades slightly to a smile.
            “Well damn that’s disappointing. I am going to let you up now son. You need to promise that you ain’t going to cause any trouble. You get me?” I nod again and he leans over me and undoes straps holding my head wrists and ankles. I sit up. It was a mistake as my head swims and I almost puke.
            “It’s ok boy. You rest. We will talk later.”

                        *                                              *                                              *

            “I have been stuck in this damn medical room for three days,” I yelled at the sterile metal door. The whole room was made of the god damn stuff, “Let me the fuck out.” I pound against the door for a few minuets until I hear some one approach. The door flies open and there is the man with the glasses.
            “No need to curse boy,” whom ever is running this show send him, “Them boys Tregar and Mead are teaching you some bad habits now.” They think correctly that his fatherly and stern tone will make me behave. They are right, at least for now, “Now if you cause a minimum of trouble I can promise you a walk out side and even a few answers. You get me?” I nod again. He steps aside and holds his arm up. We walk down a hall way together in silence. We walk by a window. I catch my reflection and stop. Its like nothing I can explain, seeing yourself for the first time ever.
            “You alright boy?”
            “My memory only goes back three days sir,” I say, so stunned not realizing I called him what everyone else around him calls him, “I have never seen myself. Now I know why you call me boy, and son.”
            I was younger than I thought. Probably sixteen. Wavy brown hair and green eyes. Thin and lanky. The man in the glasses puts his hand on my shoulder and smiles sadly. I am not sure why, “Let’s go for some fresh air.” We walk down a hall and through a pair of double doors flanked by men with guns in blue uniforms. When the doors open the light blinds me.
            I have to shut my eyes tight and wait for my eyes to stop watering. I look out into the light and see the sun. You remember your first memory of the sun? I do, and no words I can speak or write can describe the feeling. I observe my surroundings. It’s a large fenced in compound. Four buildings and an airplane hanger. Men with dogs and the occasional armored car patrol the perimeter. There is a sharp salt tang in the air as I breathe. As we walk the man in the glasses clasps his hands behind his back.
            “Who are you?” I ask.
            “Miles Eddards, Chief Master Sergeant of the United States Air force.”
            “Why am I here,” I stop walking and look him in the eye as I await a response. He thinks for a second then starts walking again.
            “I can’t tell you that part son. I can tell you we here at this base perform scientific research for the US Military. One such piece of research led to you being here.”
            “But you won’t tell me how or why?” He shakes his head.

                        *                                              *                                              *

            It’s been three weeks. I am getting to know the base well. All except one building and the hanger. The Chief says I am not allowed to go in there. Today I am outside and five of the men, the only two names I know are Airman Basic Alex Tregar, and Airman First Class Billy Mead are going to teach me a game. Mead has become my friend. He eats dinner with me and brings me things to read. Through the magazines he gives me I learn a lot about the world on the other side of the fence. For instance, apparently Paris Hilton is very important out there, but for the life of me I can’t find out why.
            Now I’m sweating. The Airmen are showing me a game called three on three. Tregar and Mead are on my team. The game seems simple, throw a giant orange into a big basket, but it’s hard. Fun though. 
            “Come on boy,” Mead yells at me in a drawling accent, “you ain't made a jump shot all day. Now get it together.” The giant orange flies at my head and I catch it. Up I go and it rolls off my fingers.
            It spins in the air and of course goes way off target, “come on damn it!” I scream. The ball spins through the air and curves towards the hoop.
            “Nice shot boy,” Tregar says as the giant orange curves into the net, “Weird spin you put on it, but if it works.”
            “That’s game too gentlemen,” Mead says, “You three owe us a some beers and some pizza. And a soda for the boy.”

                        *                                              *                                              *

            Four weeks on base. Everyone is disappointed I still have no memory past waking up here. Today Mead is going to show me how to shot a gun. The Chief is going to come watch too. He seems very interested in this.
            “Alright,” Mead is talking to me as I try to focus on this stupid riffle, “Try again. Line up the sight like I showed ya. Deep breaths, hold it, and squeeze the trigger.” The riffle issues forth and the bullet ricochets with a high pitched whine and the squad, twelve men, all go diving as a joke, laughing. The beer can I am shooting at stays unfortunately unmoved.
            “Well a shooter your not boy,” Tregar laughs.
            “I’m a little sick of this boy stuff,” I said as I reloaded the riffle, “how bout you flyboys just give me a name?” Their was quite reflection for a long time as I messed with the riffle.
            “Kevin.” The Chief broke the silence with that name. The other men began to shift and look elsewhere uncomfortably.
            “I like it,” I said as the men dispersed. I snapped the riffle up and squeezed off a shot, missing. I lower the riffle, “Damn it.” As I snapped my head and turned, I hear the telltale ping of the can and turn back just in time to see it land and bounce.
            “Damn strange,” The Chief exclaimed.
            “Come on Kevin,” Mead said, “I’ll take ya back to your room.” We walked in silence until we came to my room.
            “How come when the Chief named me every one got quiet? I do something wrong Mead?”
            “Nah it ain’t you boy,” I cut him off with a rather mean look, “Kevin, I mean. Look……Our unit has been together for a while. We did some hairy shit in Afghanistan and Iraq. We were going into an expected missile site in Iraq. Our helicopter took fire and we crashed. Kevin was killed. It hurt the Chief in particular because Kevin was also Airman First Class Eddards. He was the Chief’s own boy. Saddest thing I ever heard have a boy die under his daddy’s own command.”
            “Oh,” was all I could say to that, “Mead why am I here?”
            “I can’t answer that Kevin.”
            “Can’t or wont?” I asked my tone full of accusation.
            “Both actually,” he responded a little hurt, “If I knew anything I am pretty sure I couldn’t tell you.”
“Goodnight Mead” He nodded and walked away, leaving me to think.

                        *                                              *                                              *

            Six weeks on base. Some ones making pop corn. I can hear it. Screaming. I snap out of a dead sleep. Not popcorn, gun shots. I jump out of bed. Barefoot and bare chest
I run out into the hallway. Tregar and Mead are running towards me. In full battle gear. Automatic riffles, scopes, flack jackets, a few grenades. Smoke issuing from the barrels. They fired them recently.
            “What’s going on guys?” Tregar reaches me first and kicks out, catches me square in the gut and floors me.
            “Sorry Kevin.”
            “What the hell are you doing Tregar?” Mead yells.
            “Orders Mead,” Tregar said taking out his sidearm and cocking it, “In the event the experiment goes south, we put the boy down.”  I can hear the trigger mechanism strain as Tregar pulls on it.
            “No!” Mead yells and lunges forward too late. Time slows as the trigger clicks and the bullet explodes from the barrel, Mead still yelling. My mind snaps back. I wait for the bite of the bullet and it never comes. A few seconds pass and it feels like an eternity. Silence except for the sounds of battle in the distance. I look up. The bullet hangs in air about a foot from me, spinning down its momentum.
            Another shot rings out, startling me and the hanging bullet falls to the floor. A second later Tregar follows it. Mead has a surprised look on his face. Which he shakes off.
            “Let’s go Kevin.” We run out into the open air, cool as it hits my bare skin. An explosion at the hanger draws my eye. A man comes out of the smoke behind a few soldiers whose faces I know, but whose names I can’t recall. The man in the smoke. Tall and muscular. Very thin too. Unusually so. Wearing a grey suit and a wide brimmed green hat, sporting two very large pistols. He levels them at the three fleeing men and fires three shots from each gun.
            The three men fall. A brief silence as the green hat turns my direction. I feel real, ball tightening fear for the first time ever. The wide brim hides the mans face, but I feel his eye searching me out. A gun shot barks out and The Chief runs out of the smoke behind the man in the green hat, know on the ground. The Chief looks around, sees me, and a look of relief fills his face. He starts to run my direction.
            Another gun shot and time slows again. My head fills with pain as I watch The Chief fall forward, his chest exploding outward. The man in the green hat is standing up and running at me full speed. I scream and lash out, that pain filling my head leaves me and the air almost blurs between me and that damn man in the green hat. As the blur hits him he flies backward about twenty feet, limp as a rag doll. The green hat falling nearby the motionless body.
            For a split second nothing happens except for the smoke from the hangar billowing into air. The man stirs and reaches for the hat.
            “Just run Kevin,” Mead says checking his riffles magazine, “run, down that road is Port Hueneme. Head south and you’ll get to Los Angeles. Remember Los Angeles from the magazines.”
            “Hollywood and Santa Monica yeah,” I said confused, “Why.”
            “You can be lost there, get it?” So I ran. I turned and ran. When I was a few hundred yards away I hid against a building. In the distance I heard the sound of an automatic riffle issue four times. Then two very slow, large, and deliberate gun shots. My resolve broke, and I ran. South, I have to get south. South was all I could think of, south. So I ran.                 

     Coming soon (we shall see) Chapter 2 Move West Down Ventura Boulevard