Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Bit More Like Home

Home is still an 1895 row house in Lafayette, Jersey City, but I'm trying to make my Burbank condo a little more personalized.

Here is today's addition. Three plates I bought in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, in 2001, on the original MariesWorldTour.  I probably sent the plates home from Zambia, then I would've had Kraiger help me hang them at 350 Eighth Street before packing them into storage while I was off in Cairo, then unpacking into my rental on Hamilton Park, and packing up again in May 2015, leaving them in my First Street garage until a few weeks ago.

They didn't fit into my mini-kitchen in my Lafayette studio, but they fit just right here in Burbank. And they remind me that once upon a time, I did more with my life than work all the time.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

On Location

I've been meaning to go to the Batcave since I first realized it was here, just a few minutes away in the Hollywood Hills, but I didn't get around to it until today.

Adam West was 88 years old--he lived a long life. Today we acknowledge his passing not because we're surprised at the death of an 88-year-old, and not solely because another part of our childhoods has moved on. (Most of us watched Batman in repeats, anyway.)

We mention it because of his iconic status in the industry many of us live and work in, our brushes with celebrity, standing next to him at functions, in elevators, at bars. My own Adam West story is pretty brief--he gave out a Harvey Award at a Dallas convention in 1993, and I presented for Marvel either right before him or right after him. I've forgotten, but we did shake hands.


Today signals an end to us accumulating silly stories about Adam West interactions and near-misses, so I headed up to Bronson Caves because today was not just as good a day as any, but a better day than most.

I caught the #222 bus over the hill to Hollywood, disembarking at Yucca and Vine. I walked up to Argyle and Franklin, where the DASH Hollywood was driving by, so I jumped on that to Franklin and Bronson, where I stopped by the Oaks for a quick lunch. I tried getting a Lyft up to the trailhead, but my phone reported a five-minute wait, so I just walked the 1.4 miles to the fire road to Bronson Caves.

Once you get to the trailhead, it's pretty much the world's easiest hike up to the caves. I could've done without walking back to Franklin, but I couldn't get a signal in Griffith Park. Oh well, walking is good for me, plus there's a decent Gelson's at Franklin and Bronson, so I picked up a few things on my way back to the #222 stop to go back over the hill to Burbank.

Look at this list of productions shot at the Batcave. It's tremendous, including even on of my favorite films, The Searchers. Even Little House on the Prairie ended up here.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Time Travel

The Other Marie was in town last week--I was back East for most of it (at BookExpo, formerly BEA), but I returned to spend some time with her before she flew home.

She'd rented an apartment in DTLA. It had two beds, so I stayed with her instead of dragging her back and forth to Burbank.

We went to LA Confidential at the Orpheum, wandered the streets where I had sublet when I first arrived in Los Angeles, ate at the Nickel Diner, and enjoyed briefly feeling like we had other lives.

"Downtown is so much like our old neighborhood," Marie marveled, referring to our Avenue B places back in the nineties. (There's even a Two Boots, which was a thing before it was a thing.)

On Sunday morning, we walked to the metro. We were heading to Culver City to meet our friend Steve—formerly of East 10th Street in Manhattan, among other places.

Two men approached us, walking the other way.

They glanced over.

"The ladies of 7th Street are pretty," said one.

The comment hung in the air, as we thought about the old days in the East Village, when men said strange things and young women (which we were then) smiled nervously or looked the other way.

"Yeah, but a lot of them are hookers," said the other, as he looked us up and down.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Small Victories

BBF sometimes gets pretty tired of me saying "Let's fix this today." Most people relax by watching television, I guess.

Here's what I made him do with me today. We fetched Burmese puppets from my garage, went to the DIY store and found some anchors, and put these up in my little JC studio.

I love my Burmese puppets. 


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bike to Work Day

Burbank hosted its annual Bike and Walk to Work Day today. For me, that's just "going to work," but one of the three pit stops was in front of my office building, so I stopped in and browsed the public information tables set up by the police department, fire department, cycle advocacy groups, local hospital, and public transit info center.

I politely took flyers about buses I already know well, entered the drawing for a folding bike, and got some good swag--a little light clip for bike handlebars and a flashing reflector.

Then, at the far end of the gallery of tents, I saw a row of used bicycles.

A local nonprofit called Burbank Bike Angels had set these bikes up, and was accepting donations in exchange for them.

I studied the bikes carefully--a men's Specialized, several Schwinn bikes, lots of one-speeds.

There's a bike parking area in my new building's parking garage, but I'd barely ever ridden the last bike I'd had and was unlikely to ride one here. There aren't many bike lanes and this is car country.

"How much are the bikes?" I asked.

"Whatever you donate," was the response.

I took a flyer and went upstairs, where I spoke to one of the other group editors who had bought a bike six months ago and then never used it.

"That's exactly what would happen to me," I said.

But about five minutes later, I changed my mind, went downstairs, and gave the sixty dollars I had in my pocket over in exchange for a purple Schwinn.

I parked it on the bike rack in the office garage, and it was still there at the end of the day. Only now it had a note admonishing me to buy a lock. Ha. Okay. Thanks, anonymous person.

I rode the bike home at twilight down back streets, balancing on my inappropriately tall clogs while trying to stop my handbag from sliding down onto the handlebars.

Here is Red the purple bike, currently residing in my living room while awaiting a lock. I don't know how long I'll manage to keep this until it is stolen even WITH a lock, but at least I know where to get a new one for cheap.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Don't Ask Unless You Really Want an Answer

I sometimes get carried away with instructions.

In my defense, the electrician did ask where I wanted the lights to go.


Sunday, May 07, 2017

Draw, Write, Color, and Edit Like a Girl

I wondered if maybe I was too heartbroken to ever post again after giving up my 1990 Ford Taurus.

But then I picked up Yancey at Burbank Bob Hope Airport yesterday morning, drove him around to signings for Free Comic Book Day, and now I feel a little better.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Farewell Old Friend

My car, Henry the Ford Taurus (1990), was running perfectly on the 15th anniversary of my acquisition of him.

I picked him up from my Jersey City garage late last night, directly from Newark Airport. I cleaned out my stuff this morning. Rocks Turbo dragged up from the bottom of canyons as we drove across the US in 2002. An old Haynes manual. The peace sign air freshener my sister left in the car in...2004? 2005? My E-Z Pass. Half a wooden kookaburra keychain. Fuzzy dice.

My car was waiting on Mr. Recycler to come and take him away to be smashed into steel. People said "Why don't you give him to someone," but it's worrying to hand off a 27-year-old car. Who would trust it? Others said "Why don't you donate it?" But you can only get Blue Book value on the donation, not even enough to worry about. The rear bumper alone could be sold for twice what the car is worth. Whatever...I didn't have time to fuss around, so I sold it outright to a recycling company.

I've had this car since April 23, 2002, and I bought it because it's a Taurus and I'm a Taurus, and buying a used car is such a crapshoot, you may as well use the zodiac.

The Aussie ex and I drove this car from Torrance to the East Village, and I've had it ever since. Henry the Ford stayed in my garage while I was in Kuwait, Egypt, Australia, Uganda, and spending ten months on the bus around the world. He went tent camping all over the US and visited every campground in NJ and VA for two separate books. I'd slept in the backseat a few times when I'd gotten too tired to keep driving.

I almost called the recycling company to cancel about 20 times. My car represents eras of my life. But then I'd remind myself that NJ insurance is $150 a month, and that's money I am spending to garage my car in Jersey City even though I live in California at the moment. I'd thought I'd drive it to LA, but after 23 months of living car-free, I knew I didn't need to spend a week driving 8-10 hours a day to get the car out West.

I felt guilty as hell for recycling him, and I kept reminding myself this is a hunk of steel, not a living being. But I didn't entirely believe it.


Thursday, April 06, 2017

New Bamboo

Here are my new floors!

Getting them was crazy expensive, way beyond anything I had to pay back home just for refinishing hundred-year-old heart pine floors. If I had to do it again, I'd just go to Lumber Liquidators, get what's on sale and unlikely to last that long, and buy a table saw. How hard can it be? They can snap together if you buy the right kind.

I hired a professional off Yelp. It took me a few weeks to get there. I got an estimate from him initially and it was far too expensive, so I asked a guy working on a floor in a different unit in my complex. He was way more reasonable as he wasn't a company but rather the guy who did the actual work, but as I dug in and learned I needed to provide documentation including insurance to my HOA, and realized I couldn't take delivery of the floor personally without hiring some guys who stand near Home Depot looking for day labor, I came around to seeing the value of paying someone to run the whole thing. This isn't like when I worked at home. I can't hang around the house all day when managing a group in a deadline industry.

And the professional didn't do the work. His guys did the work. And he kept texting me "We" are doing this or that, and what he meant was "They" but I went along with it, because it seemed important to him that I believe he was somehow doing the actual work. He also asked me for a Yelp review at the end, as does everyone for everything now. I guess money isn't enough anymore.

He was incredibly keen to get paid--I can only imagine he's been stiffed in the past. Anyway, it made me nervous, like "What is he trying to hide about this floor?"

I liked the other guy a lot, but we had a communication issue. He texted me to call S&S Flooring for prices, because he couldn't speak English and I couldn't speak Spanish. That led me to a break-of-day trip to S&S Flooring on the LA side of the mountain, but that wasn't particularly promising, so I called the Valley one. The Valley one had a close-out of solid, real 5/8" bamboo (not the kind where it's on top of plywood or particle board) for $3.19 a square foot, so I jumped on that. Even the floor guy was surprised when the flooring showed up. I did real good.

Of course, I didn't really want bamboo. I'm worried about the fumes and I'd rather have proper hardwood, but a sale's a sale, and I have no plans to stay on this coast any longer than I have to, so bamboo it is.

The slate tile in the kitchen and dining area

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ask Me How I Know

Here's what 22 boxes of solid bamboo flooring looks like.