Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ticketmaster--I Hate You!

Have you ever noticed that Ticketmaster charges EXORBITANT fees? For the last ten years or so, they have been adding fees to the ticket prices, so that now the fees are close to the price of the ticket!
Yesterday, I purchased tickets online (for Stereo-Total) and the fees came out to $13.27 PER TICKET!!! For a $19 ticket. That's usurious!

Here's the breakdown:
Building/Facility Fee = $1 x 2
Convenience Charge = $8.35 x 2 Can you even go buy tickets in a store anymore?!
Order Processing = $5.35 per order Shouldn't this just be rolled into the cost?
Ticket Fast = $.250 per order So I can use MY OWN printer and paper to print the tickets?!?!

Will I stop buying tickets? Probably not, but it really makes me mad.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Beer By Any Other Name.....

Did you ever get that feeling that something is askew in the cosmic unconsciousness? A little hiccup in the time-space continuum? A tear in the fabric of the universe? The feeling that something just ain't right???
I got that feeling yesterday when I found out that Schlitz will now be brewed by MillerCoors in Milwaukee under contract from Pabst! Talk about an incestuous relationship! (I'm still having a hard time getting my head around the whole MillerCoors thing.) And not just any old Schlitz either--this will be Schlitz classic, the old recipe from the '60s. Apparently in the '70s somebody tinkered with the recipe which in turn made the beer taste like crap so then no one bought it and the company folded. Pabst now owns the brand and decided to go back to the old formula and re-introduce Schlitz to the low-brow hipster generation. (I always have to laugh when I see PBR for sale at "hip" bars.)
I realize the many beers--and foods--are produced under contract, but this particular arrangement is just plain weird. Three princes of the Milwaukee brewing dynasty--plus one cowboy interloper--combining together to produce one just ain't right! Might as well put it in a can that just says BEER, like the old Ralph's plain-wrap brand.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rabbit Is Dead!

John Updike, one of my favorite writers, died today. Lung cancer. That is definitely not a good way to go. I think he'd just had a speaking engagement at UCLA recently too.
I began reading his work when I was a young adult. The suburban world he wrote about intrigued me to no end. The people and situations he wrote of were so far removed from what I knew--Cocktail parties, adultery, money, lies--it was all so exotic!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Mac!

It's your birthday.....It's your birthday!  A big twenty-five years old. 
Unfortunately, tomorrow I get to go to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store to see about a lil problemo I'm having with my iMac. Maybe they will have some left over birthday cake.

Double Bubble(r)

My Dad sent me this image of an awesome DOUBLE bubbler he saw in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Way to go Dad!
I've never seen one with the extension arm for the auxiliary bubbler before. The interesting thing is that the height differential between the two bowls is not all that great. It doesn't seem like one of those adult/kid setups. Maybe this one is set for some ADA requirement? If you look closely, there seems to be a little "sandy feet washing" spout at the bottom.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce

The original plan was to have seared ahi for dinner tonight, but the only ahi at Mitsuwa was the really super-expensive sashimi grade, so I picked up some lowly shrimp instead. I really like black bean anything and haven't had any for a while, so I'm kinda happy I made this.
Sorry no recipe link--I used one of my cookbooks for this one. I'm sure there are plenty of recipes online. I used fermented black beans here, just be careful if you use the sauce that comes in a jar--it is pretty salty.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our New President

Words can't express how happy I am.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Adios Dubya!

Good riddance to bad rubbish--thanks for nuttin'.    Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. Go find yourself a nice spider hole somewhere.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Best. 20 Years. Ever!

Fox is celebrating 20 years of our favorite family with a poster contest called "Unleash Your Yellow". The grand prize is a trip to L.A.! Wow!
Even if you aren't planning on entering the contest, check out the site anyway. They have provided a ton of .jpg images to download. You never know when you will be needing an image of a pink donut or a Duff beer can.
FYI--January 25 is a new episode.
Dale was poking around and found this interesting 2007 interview with Matt.

Friday, January 16, 2009

We're Number Four, We're Number Four!

Fourth-safest city in LosAngeles County, that is. Torrance also ranked as 23rd safest city in the
country for cities with populations over 100,000.
Part of the Torrance Police Department's success is due to its use of Focus Based Policing, which
empowers the whole chain of command to act on policing issues, rather than relying on a top-down way of doing things. The thinking is that the cop on the street is more in touch with what's really happening in the community and is aware of what is needed to make Torrance a better place for everyone. One program they use is the Community Lead Officer Detail. These four units (one for each section of the city) are responsible for quality of life issues in the city and because they are community-based, they are able to develop strategies for that particular area.
Related to the CLO program are the Department's numerous outreach programs for the citizens. Getting people to be knowlegeable and involved about crime and safety is a big part of making the city safer for everyone. I've gone through the Partners In Policing program and it was fascinating.
Sometimes TPD gets a bad rap for maybe being a little over-vigilant. The message they want to tell is don't come to Torrance to do crimes. Sounds good to me. My own experiences with the TPD have been nothing but excellent--every officer I've met with is professional, courteous and obviously takes pride in the job they do.
Way to go TPD! Thanks!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Whaaa? Indie Goes Digital

Imagine my surprise driving home this afternoon when I switched the car radio from KNX1070 (I listen for the traffic reports) to Indie103.1 and heard this announcement:
This is an important message for the Indie 103.1 Radio Audience -

Indie 103.1 will cease broadcasting over this frequency effective immediately. Because of changes in the radio industry and the way radio audiences are measured, stations in this market are being forced to play too much Britney, Puffy and alternative music that is neither new nor cutting edge. Due to these challenges, Indie 103.1 was recently faced with only one option --- to play the corporate radio game.

We have decided not to play that game any longer. Rather than changing the sound, spirit, and soul of what has made Indie 103.1 great Indie 103.1 will bid farewell to the terrestrial airwaves and take an alternative course.

This could only be done on the Internet, a place where rules do not apply and where new music thrives; be it grunge, punk, or alternative - simply put, only the best music.

For those of you with a computer at home or at work, log on to and listen to the new Indie 103.1 - which is really the old Indie 103.1, not the version of Indie 103.1 we are removing from the broadcast airwaves.

We thank our listeners and advertisers for their support of the greatest radio station ever conceived, and look forward to continuing to deliver the famed Indie 103.1 music and spirit over the Internet to passionate music listeners around the world.

WTF?!?! The best damn station in the country just went digital! How can that be? They just celebrated five years on the air just a few weeks ago! Remember how we were all pinching ourselves back then? Hearing cool music on the radio for the first time in 20 years was sure great. They strayed a little in the last few years, but overall I had no complaints.

This totally screws me since I pretty much only listen to it when I'm driving--at home I tend to listen to CDs, but I guess that can change. Actually, I'm doubly screwed since I don't have a CD player or MP3 player in the car, I'll have no choice BUT the radio for tunes. KROQ pretty much blows now so make that no choices for tunes in the car.  Because I only have a iPod shuffle I can't hook it to an iTrip. So it is just the car radio for me--if KNX changes to a talk format like it is rumored it will, just shoot me, OK?

Enough about my sad story and back to the REAL ISSUE of corporate effing bean counters screwing up yet another good thing. The corporate doosh in this case is Arbitron and its new Portable People Meter (wasn't that a Sheb Wooley song?) method of measuring listeners. Instead of keeping handwritten diaries, the statistically selected listeners are now monitored electronically in their homes, cars and workplaces. Wow, talk about Big Brother! This means that the data is now more detailed and the stations are using that data to retain and gain audience share.

For instance at KROQ, The Kevin and Bean Show used to be on from 5:30am until 10am.  By using the PPM data they found that many people tuned out at 9am, so now the morning show ends at 9 and that last hour is moved to the 5pm slot. We listen to the Kevin and Bean Show at work and when it ends at 10 we turn off the radio and everyone listens to their own choices--iPod, streaming or sometimes nothing. So this change at KROQ just lost four listeners for one hour.

So, I guess Indie had a similar data reckoning and realized they were no longer able to remain viable in a broadcast format and still maintain the musical integrity that they started with. What is next for them--I don't know. Apparently this is day one of the new format. I've been streaming it for the last few hours and haven't heard anything but music--no commercials, DJ's or anything. They better not get rid of Steve Jones that's all I can say.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Tax Dollars (Finally) At Work

Yay!...Finally--after more than 13 years--two rough sections of the 405 have been repaired!
When I started driving this route in 1996, this stretch--between Alameda and SantaFe--was a big threat to my teeny-tiny GeoMetro tires. Not exactly a pothole, it was more like a missing section of pavement. It wasn't very big either, it was pretty much in one lane and only 10 feet or so long. Over the years I developed a technique of sliding to the left of my lane to avoid getting my tire caught.
Thanks CalTrans!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

MMMM...Octopus Wang

and on sale too!  Life is good.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Torrance is Hip...Sort Of

Four years after the original insane hype surrounding its LosAngeles stores, Pinkberry  has landed in Torrance. The store is located in the Albertson's shopping center at the intersection of Torrance and Hawthorne Boulevards. Remember the little bagel place next to the video store where Mary, the homeless lady hung out? That is now the Pinkberry location.
Pinkberry burst onto the scene in 2005 as a little frozen yogurt shop and developed this white-hot insane buzz that started parking wars, copy-cat competitors, and allegations that it wasn't yogurt at all! Turns out that it doesn't have the live cultures so technically it isn't yogurt. It is "swirly goodness"! Devotees called it crackberry. They have three flavors: plain, green tea and pomegranate and the optional toppings include fresh fruit, Cap'n Crunch and Cocoa Pebbles.
The shops are beautifully designed--all modern and looking like a "Design Out of Reach" showroom. The "swirly goodness", while good, it's not THAT good. It is pretty expensive too: two medium cups with one topping each is over nine bucks.

On the other end of the swirly goodness spectrum is Leon's Frozen Custard. The real deal. It doesn't get better than that.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

R.I.P. Gaston Lenôtre

The world is now a little less sweet--Gaston Lenôtre, god of patisserie, died today. He was 88.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Helvetica--The Movie!

If you can see this, typography is a part of your life. Typography is probably something most people don't think about, but some people think about all the time. Like me. So when I heard that someone had made a movie about a typeface, I was excited and intrigued.
Helvetica, a movie by Gary Hustwit, explores the history and impact of what is undoubtedly the most ubiquitous typeface ever.
My background was in the graphic arts--that's what I studied in school. Even though I never pursued it as a career, design--especially typography--is something that really interests me. (You'd never guess that based on this train wreck of a blog though!) I like Helvetica. Dale, on the other hand, IS a card-carrying member of the graphics industry. And he hates Helvetica. Which is why I got him this DVD for Christmas last year. The film is awesome.
Helvetica will have its television debut tomorrow night on PBS. They even have a mini-site with lots of background info on the movie, filmmaker and the history of type. The site even has a game "What Font Are You?" I took the challenge and guess what?!?  I'm Helvetica!
I wish everyone could see this movie and get interested in typography. Especially those guys that think it is cool to write stuff in ALL CAPS "Olde English". Lame.
Gary has a new film coming out--Objectified. It is all about design and the people who make it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Photo Safari--Wilmington

Dale and I were out driving aimlessly this afternoon (love those low, low gas prices!) and we ended up in Wilmington. Now, I'm sure there are some fine folks that live in Wilmington, but it's not really the kind of place for aimless driving-around, if you know what I mean. However, it is the location of not only a National Historical Monument, but a California State Landmark as well.
Banning Park is the site of the Banning Residence--home of Phineas Banning, a state senator and early transportation mogul. Unfortunately, closed today. The stately home is surrounded with this cool corn-inspired wrought-iron fence.
Next we drove down the street to The Drum Barracks--a real part of The Civil War. It is now a National Historical Monument. It is kind of weird to see such an historical thing set in the shadow of the port and alongside vacant lots and run-down apartment buildings. It was closed too.
As we turned the corner, we saw this building and couldn't figure out what it was.

My guess was that it was an ice house, judging from the thick walls. I Googled its location when I got home and discovered that it was The Powder Magazine for the Drum Barracks. So here was another thing from the Civil War era just sitting across from a factory of some kind, right next to a regular house. I think the graffiti is new though.

We'll have to come back when these sites are open.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Torrance Float Entry--1914

Here's the Torrance entry for the 1914 Tournament of Roses. The city was two years old in 1914, and probably served as a promotion for the city.  Hmmm...two servicemen, two elegant ladies and a flower-covered oil derrick. 

Thursday, January 1, 2009


The new year started on an unexpected, awesome note--Stephanie Edwards was back co-hosting the KTLA presentation of the Tournament of Roses! After being unceremoniously dumped from the broadcasting booth in 2006 she was back with co-host "That would be in the butt" Bob Eubanks. What made their previous broadcasts so special was the sort of testy banter they had--it was always good for a laugh and raised eyebrow--"did she/he really say THAT?!?!" They were pretty civil to each other today and only once did I hear a reference to 2006, when she had to sit out in the pouring rain.
I woke up about a minute before the show started, quickly made some hot chocolate and settled in to watch the parade. Another bright blue California day to get all the Midwest viewers in a lather. (We were fogged in here closer to the beach until 10am or so.)
My highlights:
the RFD-TV's float was a salute to "Hee-Haw".  Yes!
Greg Louganis!
the Torrance float was awesome and won a prize
B2 bomber fly-over (no matter what you think about war stuff, you have to admit this is
    a pretty spectacular sight to see)
The Prairie View, TX marching band, which appeared to be mostly Black kids, had a
         dance troupe named "The Black Foxes". Wow.
Missing this year were the stealth anti-Bush signs that I saw last year in the shrubbery near the Norton Simon. I guess why bother anymore, huh?
Hopefully Saturday we can take a ride out to Pasadena and check out the floats. I've never done that before, but I think it would be awesome to see them up close.

Last night was pretty quiet. We had a roaring fire and sat around watching Twilight Zone and listening to the scanner. Got stuffed on all our snacky things. The neighborhood was really quiet this year. I heard one little crackle of firecrackers at midnight and that was it.