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Here you will find random bits of me

Saturday, October 27, 2007

pitstops and packing for sema

i’ve been trying to get this post out for a week. i’ve been busier this week than i have since we painted the castle. we’ve been getting ready for the sema show in las vegas and the american film market in santa monica. some people can only handle one convention in one week. we, on the other hand, prefer to tackle as many as possible.

ron flew down to newport beach thursday to a luxury condominium villa where susie and barbie have been staying since sunday. i’ve been going back and forth between the castle and the dollhouse taking care of landyn and logan and shitsus and running the show here at the castle.

lemme tell you: it’s a good thing landyn isn’t my child or i’d be in prison for her death!

enough about the 16-year-old monster!

i did just get back from logan’s game. mpc won 26-3.

susie and barbie drive back tomorrow, so i’m off the hook at the dollhouse.

helen is driving down from san jose to get me tomorrow afternoon. i think we’re going to go to the haunted house at the american tin cannery on cannery row (she says she doesn’t like scary things but the haunted house was her idea). then, we’ll drive back to her place to spend the night. on monday morning, she’ll drive me over to the airport. i fly down to orange county where ron will pick me up, after lunch with my lifelong friend alan, whom i have not seen for around 5-years. from there, we will drive into vegas for the sema show. after a couple of days there we’ll drive back to the peninsula and ron will fly down to l.a. for afm for 2-days, fly back for a make a wish foundation banquet with clint and dina eastwood and he and i will drive back down to l.a. the next day for the rest of the show.

i heard from my friend gary who lives, hopefully still, in rancho santa fe, where one of the california wildfires has been raging. he was evacuated and he, his wife and their great danes were staying in the del mar hilton. they live on the golf course (i think i saw video of a helo drawing water from one of that courses water hazards for a drop). gary said, the last i talked to him, that flames were within ½ mile from their home. those fires are a very sad and scary situation and my heart goes out to him, his wife and everyone else affected by the fires. besides a ferrari, lambourghini and maserati, they have many other lavish items, including the house itself, they have been worried about.

i spent most of last weekend at laguna seca for the american le mans series finale as guest of audi, north america. they really know how to party! i spent most of the time in their luxury vip box eating great food and being treated like i am the dude that i am.

i also got to put on a firesuit and stand in the audi pit (the eventual race winner and season champions). this was a very cool experience! i had on a lightweight suit with a headset so i could hear what was going on.

i was placed just behind the wall about 20 feet from the nose of the car when i came in. i was able to take video of the experience. it is, however, unedited as i’m having so much trouble with the editor that came with the god-awful video camera that we have (advice: do not buy a camera called supacam! your life will be much better if you do not have it. the image quality is horrible, as you will see if you watch the videos, and it is cumbersome and a technical nightmare. according to ron: even i would have bought one after the demonstration by the long-legged-large-breasted-doe-eyed-viking-chick who sold it to him. i doubt it since my tastes in women run more toward the non-synthetic type. but, we have it so we use it from time to time.). the pitstop did not go well as they had trouble with one of the rear tires. at least it was under a yellow flag. they lost ground to the penske porsche team (you can see the two penske cars get out before the audi), but gained it back for the win at the end of the 4-hour endurance race.

video
in the first video, we are leaving one of the team’s travelers after suiting up and walking over to the pit. you can see several of the other teams getting ready for their pit stops as we make our way over to the first pit stall. i tried to narrate as i walked and during the stop, but you can only
hear me occasionally because of the noise.
video
after the stop, in the second video, i get a look at the tires that came off of the car. but, because i could not see the screen to tell what i was shooting my aim was a little off. same when i tried to
get shots of myself.
video
in the third video i get a few seconds of interview-time with andy, the pit tour guide and give you a little bit of a tour of the pits as i walk back to the vip box to hook back up with ron and say thank you to stephanie, who was my personal contact with audi while i was there. you can actually hear me in most of this video.

the audi people were very nice! i got to meet the president of audi, north america and a few of the other mucky-mucks.

one of the things that really impressed me with the audi cars is: they are all diesels! they were the quietest cars out there and had the most horsepower; a winning combination if there ever was one!

there have been a few interesting developments in the last week: i was invited to attend the grammy awards with one of ron’s friends, alison freebairn-smith. alison is in the music biz. her father, ian freebairn-smith, is a composer of note (no pun intended, but it was convenient) . alison’s boyfriend played all of george harrison’s licks in “concert for george.”

it looks like i may also have another chance at being in the movies. another of ron’s friends, whom we will see at afm, is filming two movies with chuck norris. maybe chuck will kill me in one of these. that would be too cool!

speaking of being in the movies: we’ll stop in at david heavener’s movie ranch on the way back from vegas to take a peek. he won’t be there or filming as he’ll be in l.a. for the afm.

i got notice the other day that, after all the years of living in northern nevada and trying to get adrian belew to play somewhere in reno, carson city or up at the lake, he’s doing a show on the south shore (lake tahoe will never be the same once he and the slick siblings rock 'em out! btw: julie's and eric's mother, robin, has a blog of her own listed on the sidebar in my "blog rollcall".) before coming down to slim’s in san francisco. not sure if i’ll be able to catch the tahoe gig or not. but, i’ll make it to slim’s for sure. this will be my third time seeing ade at slim’s and my first time to catch the adrian belew trio mark II.

well, i need to get packed and back up to the dollhouse for shitsu patrol.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

tales to tell: dog gone

several years ago (we’re talking almost 40 of them, dear friends), back when i first acquired my driver’s license, i used to drive my friends and myself around the hills above hacienda heights for shits-and-giggles after school got out. when i first started attending high school i was going to a school (bassett in la puente in the bassett unified school district) with a 3-year curriculum. we moved, however, 4-months into my sophomore year to another district (west covina unified), which put me into a school (edgewood) with a 4-year curriculum. because of this, my classes were all screwed up. for the next 2¾-years most of my classes were with underclassmen. except when they were with the class ahead of mine. so, i did not know very many students who graduated the same year (1971) as myself. i was the first of my edgewood friends to have a driver’s license.

one of the things we used to do while we were up in the hills was visit this old hermit. strange dude! his hands were always loosely tied together with an old ratty robe sash. according to him it was because he had arthritis and it kept him from moving too much. he was living in this old panel truck that was abandoned in the middle of an old dirt road. we used to bring him care packages of food and cigarettes. according to him, his son made him live there.

who knows?

one of the other places we hit was a place we called gravity hill. i think every place has one of these alleged anti-gravity slopes where it looks like you’re going uphill when you’re really going downhill. even my imagination didn’t fall for this place. but, everyone else in the car was diggin’ it so, who am i to be a wet blanket?

something else that was in this area that is in just about every place is a haunted house.

this house was on a peak along the ridge that ran between hacienda heights and whittier. you couldn’t actually see the house from the road, but we all knew it was there and we all knew that it was haunted. even the students all the way across the valley in west covina were hip to this old house and that it was haunted by the ghost of a woman who was killed, along with her faithful german shepherd, some years ago by someone-or-an-other for some-thing-or-an-other; the stories varied, but they were surely true. who would make up something like that?

the entire estate was fenced off with chain link, even the driveway, which had an old wrought iron gate that appeared to not have been opened since the last of the murder investigations way back in the 1930s, or 40s, depending on who told the story. behind the gate was a wall (i think it was brick that had been covered in cement or some kind of adobe to give it a smooth, contoured effect) adorned by inlayed tiles that surrounded the property. the only openings in the wall, besides the driveway, was a front walk that welcomed visitors from years passed and was the only place to access the house as the smooth-sided wall was far to high to climb; the gate was no longer barring the front walkway.

you still, of course, had to climb 8 feet of chain link to gain access. but, what was an 8-foot fence to high school kids looking for kicks? at least it didn’t have a course of barbed wire across the top.

so one day we did, indeed, climb the fence and walked through the archway where the front gate used to swing from its hinges, which were still bolted to the wall.

just inside the archway, the walkway made an abrupt turn to the right in a maze-like fashion. the brick walkway was about 6 feet wide with a wall equal in height to the surrounding wall dictating the direction one would have to walk to enter the property.

after about 50 feet the walkway turned 90° to the left for about 2 feet then made another 90° left around the wall and opened up to a once landscaped hillside, now overgrown with shrubbery and weeds showing years of neglect; large trees shaded the area from the sun.

the walkway followed the other side of the inner-wall until it reached about the midpoint of the outer walkway before turning right and ascending brick stairs, which followed the contour of the hillside; a short brick planter, maybe 2 feet high bordered the stairway.

about 100 feet up the stairs there was a square cement basin about 10 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep that once held water for a fountain, which looked like had been vandalized years earlier; the only thing left in the basin was a shallow pool of stagnant water covered over with a skim of algae; a couple of rusty pipes jutting out from the center. the brick walkway went around both sides of the fountain before rejoining on the other side and continuing back up the hill with more stairs.

the stairs leveled out onto several terraces (maybe 3 or 4) every 100 feet or so as the bricks continued their ascent to the house above. we stopped at each terrace to reassure ourselves that there was really no ghost and if there was we were too wise (spelled: s-t-u-p-i-d) to be hurt by it. the higher we climbed up the stairs, the more of the house we could see as the contour of the hillside revealed more of the structure.

as we gained the top of the stairs the brick walkway split into two directions around the multi-story (3, maybe 4) structure, which stood about 100 feet in front of us.

for some reason, the walkway did not come up to the front, back or even the side of the old house. it came up to one of the corners. i guess the walkway was an afterthought or maybe it was some architect’s idea of a unique approach, or feng shui.

unique it was!

after a moment or two of discussion as to which way we would walk toward the house (left or right) we began to walk to the right; me in the point position.

after a dozen steps, or so, we heard something that chilled us more than the sight of any ghost: a barking dog; a big barking dog and, by the sound, it was quickly running in our direction.

being the one in the lead as we approached the house, i was the last in line as we turned and ran down the stairs!

before i reached the first terrace on our frantic way down i could hear the dog’s claws clicking on the bricks as it ran after us, continuing its frightening bark.

i was sure i was going to fall a couple of times on my way down the stairs as the dog quickly shortened the distance between us (me) and it but did not.

at least not so far.

as i approached the fountain, the dog sounded as if it was about a dozen or so feet just behind me. not wanting to slow down to negotiate the sharp turns around the fountain i ran straight to the edge of the slimed-over pool and leaped across it, not knowing if i would clear the edge, drop into the pool, impale myself on the rusty pipes, slip and break a leg from the algae or crack my head on the far rim.

god knows how, but i cleared the pool and did not lose my footing, which gave me a few extra feet on the dog as it ran around the right side of the basin. i heard the its claws slide on the bricks and body crash against the planter; its bark changed slightly as it crashed into the wall.

not that it mattered much: the dog would surely reach me before i could get halfway up the chain link fence, if i even made it that far before the angry hound would catch me.

all the way down the stairs i was afraid to look around at the dog. not because i was scared to see our attacker. i didn’t want to take the time to turn and maybe lose my balance. besides, i was nearing the bottom of the staircase now and would have to make a 90° left turn at the inner wall; i’d probably see more than i wanted once i got there. especially since the dog was now right on my heels, still barking as its nails continued to sound the distance between the two of us; maybe 8 feet.

maybe!

as i reached the wall i put my hands out to stop from crashing into it and pushed myself off to give me a little boost to help me negotiate the sharp turn. my friend, tony, was just going around the 180° turn around the inner wall; i could hear bob, or maybe it was dave, climbing up the chain link on the other side.

that left me alone with the dog!

as i made the left turn i looked over my shoulder expecting to see the huge dog ready to pounce as my alleged friends deserted me to be mauled by the mad giant.

there was nothing there!

the mad barking had ceased as well.

all i could hear was dave, or maybe it was bob, now on his way over the fence and tony’s running steps on the other side of the inner wall.

i didn’t stop running until i reached the end of the inner wall.

the dog was not in sight!

“he’s gone!” i yelled out of breath as tony began to climb the fence. “he’s gone!”

“what do you mean he’s gone?” bob asked from his sanctuary on the other side of the fence.

“there’s nothing here!” i replied panting for air, and stuck my head around the inner wall to see tony stopping his climb at the top of the fence. “come here and take a look!”

“you’re fucking crazy!” tony said and continued to climb over the fence.

“no, really!” i said, and leaned back into the other side of the inner wall – the dangerous side of the inner wall. “there’s nothing here!”

tony dropped down the other side of the fence. “get over here idiot!” he pleaded as he hit the other side; the others joined him in convincing me that i should do the same.

i took one last look up the stairs and walked toward the fence. i think i might have walked backwards as i kept an eye out for the phantom dog, but we never saw or heard it again.

i clumsily climbed over the fence as my muscles were now feeling the affects of the run down the stairs and dropped to the other side to join my breathless friends.

without a word, we jumped into my car and locked the doors behind us. we sat there for several minutes talking about what we had just experienced. we all agreed that we were being chased by a large dog, maybe a doberman; maybe a shepherd; maybe something bigger! we all agreed that whatever kind of dog it was it chased us all the way down the stairs before the barking stopped. only i was able to verify the visual aspect of the encounter, or lack thereof.

after a few minutes we left and took the shortest route back to west covina without stopping at gravity hill.

we returned to the house on several occasions. but we never went beyond the fence again.

i’ll leave that for somebody else!

happy halloween!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

snoring to make friends and influence the neighbors

i spent the weekend with helen keeping her awake with my snoring. sorry, helen: i hope you can get some sleep now that i’m not there.

she and i did a little caching around san jose and grabbed a couple of pies (one, a pizza, with sausage, onion, mushroom and pineapple; the other: peach, from marie callender’s, to bring home to ron).

after i got home i hid my first cache in over a year, the first since moving back to california. it is also the closest cache i have ever hidden to home, at about 250 feet from the front door. actually, i hid this cache a little over a year ago in carson city. it was designed by my friend kathy (kacky) in maine. it is a highly camouflaged little piece that looks like a wad of chewed gum. the cache container, itself, is only about the size of two watch batteries. yeah: it’s pretty small. in its original hiding spot, it was awarded micro cache of 2006 at january’s gbes 4th birthday party.

i’ve been back on ebay doing a little purchasing over the past few weeks.

i received “swimming to cambodia” a couple of weeks ago, which i have already written about.

on friday, i received “my favorite year” starring one of my favorite actors: peter o’toole. helen and i watched it saturday before heading out to go caching. i was living in portland, maine the first time i watched this movie. my landlord came up from the basement to see what i was watching because i was laughing so hard.

when i got home, king crimson’s “eyes wide open” concerts dvd was awaiting me. i say “concerts” because it has performances from the “construKction of light” tour from 2000 and from the “power to believe” tour from 2003. i have watched the set several times when willy owned it. but, after he moved away to colorado (he’s now back in fallon living with mark and my dad) he took it with him.

the other dvd is still en route. it is “the big empty.” this movie is so original and unique i wish i had written it. it cannot be described without misdescribing it or telling the entire story. it is bizarre (but not too bizarre for your average-run-of-the-mill-movie-watcher), funny, sexy, suspenseful and takes place in the desert. what more could you ask for? rapidly becoming one of my favorite movies, it joins another of my faves which features bowling (“the big lewboski”); something i have not done for over 40-years and have very little interest in.

i got to see scott gahagen (of the former “scott and monty show”) last week. waj, the group of which ron is president, had an alternative fuel and propulsion exposition in south san francisco. scott, just in the last couple of weeks, moved back to san mateo from carson city. we needed a sound system for the featured speakers and scott does the portable dj thing for a living. so, we hired him to provide dinner music and mics for the speakers. it was the first time since the baboon killer bought kptl that ron, scott and i have worked together. it was nice seeing scott again and it’s way cool that he lives just up the road. he and terri and helen and i are supposed to do a double date sometime soon. maybe we can go to the winchester mystery house... if we can find the door.