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2013-52 Week 25

I’m just about done with my book for May (and it’s not even the end of June, progress!), but I can give you the review already since it’s pretty straightforward and I want to talk about it in reference to this blog. The book is I Remember Me by Carl Reiner and is essentially a memoir in bits and pieces. See, he had already written his memoir – a book called My Anecdotal Life (which I have not yet read) and this book is apparently all the information that suddenly fell out of his head when he turned ninety. So instead of a flowing narrative the book is instead just jumping from memory to memory, which in no way diminishes it in either interest or amusement. I know the bit about being ninety not only because he mentions it in the book, but also because Jess and I went to see him in Los Angeles when he came out to promote his book in late April.


I’ll admit I was a late addition to the Carl Reiner fan club, most of my previous experience with him came like most of the people my age, in the Ocean’s 11 movies. Jess, however, had grown up loving the Dick Van Dyke Show among other things, so it was she who suggested we go down and pick up a Mother’s Day gift for her mom (in the form of a signed book) while we were at it. The night turned out much like the book, interesting and funny to no end. His memory, cleverness, and wit are impeccable for a man in his ninth decade of life, and we also discovered that Mel Brooks had dinner at his house every night . . . whether Carl was there or not!

What does this have to do with the blog? Well it struck me about a third of the way in that something about the book was familiar. I realized that the writing style and format was actually much like my blog posts! You know, if I was only a million times funnier, more interesting, and knew a bunch of famous comedy legends. However you look at it though, I’m essentially reading a ninety year-old man’s blog in book form, and it’s really good. Not sure what the next book will be, but hopefully it will be of similar quality.

Actually, this post is going to have a bit of a theme, which is “Things I did with Jess and never got to write about.” Actually, that’s slightly misleading going into the next topic, as I did mention it briefly last week, and Brian, Dennis and Tim also accompanied us. Some of you might remember this picture from way back in Week 18, when I was heading home from Ragnar:


Well, it inspired Jess to look into the area and hot air balloons, and she discovered that the Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival would be happening at the very beginning of June. A small party was organized and we decided to make it a day trip, so rather than seeing the balloons take off early in the morning we would go for the afternoon and then partake of the evening “glow”, where the balloons would light their flames with music at dusk. It seemed unique and would probably make for better pictures, an important consideration when you’re friends with a bunch of shutterbugs.

Tim drove us down and the drive was largely uneventful, Temecula is a bit under two hours a way and we didn’t encounter any serious traffic. We took a detour through what was promised as “beautiful wine country Temecula”; a promise we were prone to disbelieve. While we expected vast swaths of dirt, we were instead presented with some nice fields, beautiful wineries, and, well actually there were some vast swaths of dirt, as well as a suspected meth lab and a pot farm. Actually, before I impugn the reputation of Temecula more unfairly I will point out that as we stopped at a stop sign I looked to our left and declared “Pot farm!” When everyone else turned to look they saw what I did, row after row of pots for planting, and even a stack not unlike stacked hay bales off to one side. After navigating the entryway and finding some parking, it was time to head into the festival.

I’ll tell you this about the first part of the festival, it was hot! And, unfortunately, when you are not a drinker like I am, there is precious little to distract you from that fact. We did have a great time wandering the grounds, however, listening to various bands, sampling various fair foods (including the popcorn from last week), getting alternately hit on and insulted by a drunk guy (oh wait, that was just Jess), wandering around obscenely expensive motor homes (“Wait, it gets 5 miles to the gallon and the gas tank is 150 gallons? So it costs six hundred dollars to fill up? And it costs more than my condo? Sold! . . . Wait, no.”), and just generally goofing off and awaiting the balloon glow at night. Once the sun started going down the balloons were brought back from their morning voyages and set up in a circle at one end of the park. I once again got to have some fun with panorama standing in the middle of them all.



And as the sun went down, we were treated to a great show that really put a bow on the whole day (we are going to ignore the fact that traffic out made old-school Dodger Stadium look like an empty freeway). Here’s the best I could capture a part of the experience.



We are making plans to go back in the future, although we now know to avoid the middle part of the day and focus on the evening, perhaps by staying down there next year.

Oh, oh, I almost forgot, I can share my requisite crappy cell phone video (actually it’s not that bad) with you!

The final event we attended Jess discovered and through hard work and determination managed to secure us tickets. The tickets were for a showing of Joss Whedon’s adaption of Much Ado about Nothing, which, though it was in limited release at the time, is only some what exciting. What made it really exciting was that Joss and some cast members would be doing a question and answer session at the end of the show. The showing started at five on a Friday in Westwood, so we took a half day, headed down the 405, and got there in plenty of time. This would have been prudent on a normal Friday in Los Angeles, but wound up being extra necessary as the President was in the area and there was a shooter at Santa Monica College that day too. We actually watched the FBI’s mobile command center drive by as we got off the freeway (yes, it was actually written on the side of the large truck that drove by). Safely ensconced at the mall, we wandered a bit and then found our seats as showtime was about to begin. At this point we didn’t know what to expect, as we had found out that there would be a couple additional showings with Q&As at another theater after ours (we were at the Landmark, the others were at the Arclight).


It wasn’t nearly as dark as my camera makes it look. Anyway, the movie was fantastic, especially comedically and I would recommend it to even the most Shakespeare-averse. The actors nailed it, the setting was wonderful, and the style was just right. I could go on and on but I’ll just tell you to see it and let the movie speak for itself. As the credits rolled a moderator from a website I should really be remembering came out and then introduced Tom Lenk, Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson, woo!), Amy Acker, Joss, and Alexis Denisof (who easily steals this movie, absolutely awesome). This is what they looked like from where we were sitting:


Jess managed to get a little bit of enhancement using the special settings on her phone camera:


They wound up answering mostly scripted questions from the moderator, only taking two from the other side of the audience, but the questions were well structured and the answers insightful, so it was a great time. (Woo!) I wish my memory was good enough to relate everything that happened (yet another difference between me and Mr. Reiner above), and we were slightly disappointed there wasn’t an appearance by Nathan Fillion, but Joss and the cast made the night amazingly special. It was over far too quickly, but we certainly had a blast.

We had spotted a small restaurant across the street that looked interesting, so we decided to head there after the festivities were concluded. It was a small house (I kid you not) called the Apple Pan (okay, I just found the Wikipedia page, which is kind of nuts) consisting of a single counter that rings an exposed kitchen. Known for their hickory burger (and Lord knows I can’t resist a hickory burger), we walked in and had to stand against the wall waiting for a counter seat to open up. Thankfully one did within fifteen minutes and were able to order some dinner. The burger was very good and, of course, we had to try the pie, which featured an excellent home-style crust. In all it was certainly an experience to have, but not a place I’m going to make a trek out to on a regular basis (especially due to the limited seating).


To give you some perspective on this picture, we are looking diagonally across the restaurant and the corner is about five feet behind our backs.

One thing we talked about briefly was, if we ever moved out of California (or even away from Los Angeles), how we would miss unique experiences like these on a regular basis. The great thing about LA is that things like movie premiers and book signers have to come to you, and you just have to keep your eyes (or twitter) open to find them. Other places may not rate so highly as a stop over for authors and directors. Not a make-or-break item, but certainly a consideration should we ever think about relocating.

And with that I think I’m caught up. Looks like I’ll have to find some more interesting things to do. What’s that you say? I have a Monty Python themed birthday party to attend this Saturday? Seems like it has already begun.

Weight Low: 226 Loss: 4 lbs – Running Yearly Mileage: 213.5 miles (+0 miles) Last year-to-date: 187.5 miles – Words-to-date: 45555 (+1781)

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