Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Few Signs That I'm Getting Old

In no particular order:

Eating has become my favorite part of the day.
Being told that I look younger than my age makes me happy.
I wonder what my cholesterol is.
I think they should raise the legal driving age to 18 (or even 21).
Sometimes I am the oldest person at a party.
I consider dyeing my gray hair.
I've started asking my mom for cooking tips.
I've started thinking of my life in terms of decades.
I have a mortgage.
I really like family gatherings.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lost Season Finale

Thoughts on last night's episode?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Popular Baby Names

With all the unusual baby names celebrities are giving their kids these days, you'd think it was a general trend. Well, not quite. According to the folks at Social Security, these were the most popular names for babies born in 2005. From most popular, to second most, and so on:

Boys: Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Matthew, Ethan, Andrew, Daniel, Anthony, Christopher, Joseph
Girls: Emily, Emma, Madison, Abigail, Olivia, Isabella, Hannah, Samantha, Ava, Ashley

That's not to say that unusual names aren't climbing up the chain. I read in the NY Times that the name Neveah is taking off for girls. From the article:
In 1999, there were only eight newborn American girls named Nevaeh. Last year, it was the 70th-most-popular name for baby girls, ahead of Sara, Vanessa and Amanda.

The spectacular rise of Nevaeh (commonly pronounced nah-VAY-uh) has little precedent, name experts say. They watched it break into the top 1,000 of girls' names in 2001 at No. 266, the third-highest debut ever. Four years later it cracked the top 100 with 4,457 newborn Nevaehs, having made the fastest climb among all names in more than a century, the entire period for which the Social Security Administration has such records.

Nevaeh is not in the Bible or any religious text. It is not from a foreign language. It is not the name of a celebrity, real or fictional.

Nevaeh is Heaven spelled backward.

The name has hit a cultural nerve with its religious overtones, creative twist and fashionable final "ah" sound. It has risen most quickly among blacks but is also popular with evangelical Christians, who have helped propel other religious names like Grace (ranked 14th) up the charts, experts say. By contrast, the name Heaven is ranked 245th.
Go figure.

Monday, May 22, 2006

San Diego

Mr. Octopus and I spent the weekend in San Diego. We saw the elegant and well-heeled side of town that I hadn't seen in any of my previous visits. We stayed at the tony Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla (above), which has a famous golf course and sweeping views of the Pacific (below). The Lodge is built in the craftsman bungalow style and is decorated from top to bottom in arts and crafts stuff (stained glass lamps, wood furniture, green and yellow paint). There is even a Gamble Suite, which is no doubt named after the famous Gamble House in Pasadena. Despite its old fashioned look, the Lodge is only a few years old. The architect also designed something for Disney, which sort of explains why the Lodge has a manufactured, uniform look to it. All said, the place was lovely, the spa was fantastic and I was happy to be along for the ride.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lavay at The Derby

Mr. Octopus and I recently went to The Derby with some friends to see the swing band Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. I used to go see Lavay play a lot when I lived in the Bay Area. She's still going strong after all these years. Her fans were out in full force at the Derby and ready to swing. Guys came in their white suits and white patent leather shoes, ladies in their dresses with flowers in their hair. Seeing them made me want to sign up for swing lessons. Oh the fun Mr. Octopus and I would have dressing up and stepping on each other's toes.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


As a follow up to my post on LA's city limits the other day, there doesn't seem to be any consensus (in my circle) on what constitutes the "westside of LA" and the "eastside of LA." Why does this matter? Who cares? Well, as in other cities in the U.S., where you live supposedly says something about you. NYC is a good example of this. If you live in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, people will make certain assumptions about you that they wouldn't make if you lived in, say, the Upper West Side, Lower East Side, Fort Greene. Sad, but true.

In LA, the cultural divide isn't so much neighborhood by neighborhood, but rather westside by eastside. Generally speaking, the westside is wealthier, cleaner, more congested, more homogenous. The eastside is more diverse (ethnically and economically), affordable, bohemian, run-down. My experience is that the westside is more like what people imagine as LA-- tanned, fit people, movie industry folks (both established and struggling), lots of boob jobs and ultra luxury cars, etc. So where does the eastside end and the westside begin? I've gotten the following answers from the roughly 10 people I've asked: The westside is anything west of (1) the 405, (2) La Cienega, (3) La Brea, (4) Western and (5) Normandie. I don't know of any correct answer to this, but I would go with #3.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Embrace the Gwen in You

Is it cool to like Gwen Stefani or is she too big to be cool now? Well, either way, I think she rocks. She's so over-the-top girlie that you gotta to respect her. She writes about getting dumped and sings it for everyone to hear. And, of course, she's from Anaheim (former secret stronghold of the KKK, now the happiest place on earth), which is pretty rad. I almost wanna say that she's the new Madonna.

I never saw the Hollaback Girl video (above), but I totally dig the song. Apparently, it was the first non-hip hop, non-American Idol #1 single since 2001. Also news to me was that the song was inspired by none other than Courtney Love:
The inspiration for "Hollaback Girl" is generally ascribed to an insult from Courtney Love. Love had publicly accused Stefani of being a "cheerleader" for the music industry, essentially, an artistic sell-out. When asked about the composition's origins, Stefani responded (without mention of Love), "The song came about after somebody once called me a cheerleader in a negative light. So I said, 'well fuck you, I am a cheerleader, watch me on stage. I’m gonna make a big cheerleader song and you can fuck off.'"
From Wiki.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Pecking Order

A friend of the chanchow recently sent a link about how birth order may influence how successful a person becomes. I was curious to see what they said about only children (like myself). The generalization wasn't too far off.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

LA City Limits

Ever wonder what neighborhoods make up the City of LA? Check out this helpful map. LA includes Sylmar and Granada hills on the northern boundary, Eagle Rock and Highland Park on the eastern, San Pedro on the southern, and Venice and Pacific Palisades on the western boundary. Not part of the City of LA are cities like Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Pasadena (although they are part of LA county).

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

New Wheels

LA is the land of the fancy, brand-spankin' new car. Even scrappy 25 year olds hanging out on a weekday (read: probably jobless) drive new Infinitis, Minis or 3-Series (they don't call them Beamers out here). How can this be? The answer: leasing. I was let in on the secret that just about every other person in LA leases a car. That explains why there are so many cars on the road that don't have license plates yet. But it's not just the climbers and plebes that lease nice cars, Kanye West (or more accurately, his company) leases too (a Mercedes G500, no less). His company has failed to make its lease payments and now Kanye, as guarantor, is getting sued. Whoops!

Monday, May 8, 2006

Dog or Cat

Every once in a while, Mr. Octopus and I think about getting a pet, a cat or dog. While we aren't serious about it (too much commitment for us), the conversation usually dead ends because we can't decide whether we're dog people or cat people. Most folks seem to know whether they are one or the other. Here is a description of the dog/cat divide. I think the author goes overboard in psychoanalyzing, but she touches on some of the main stereotypes and differences.
Dog people profess to be baffled by the cat person's affection for an animal that provides so little active amusement: Cats will not frolic with you in the surf or fetch sticks or point with their noses at a bird for you to shoot. Because cats can't be trained to do the same sorts of tricks that dogs do, they are considered to be less intelligent, and because they are not by nature as social as dogs, they are seen as comparatively aloof or indifferent to humans. Dog people think cat people are suckers for doting on sneaky, selfish creatures that only pretend to like people in order to get food and other goodies and that will never, say, jump into a raging, flood-swollen river to rescue a small child at the risk of their own lives, as the faithful hound supposedly will.

Cat people heap contempt on dog people for actually thinking a dog's devotion counts for much. A dog's love for its owner is, cat people say, entirely instinctual, indiscriminate and often unearned by its object; you are not loved for yourself but for the position you assume in the dog's life -- anyone else would do as well. Therefore, dog owners must be so desperate for love as to be nearly undeserving of it. The willingness of dogs to learn tricks is a result not of their intelligence but of their dopey eagerness to please. That cats can't be bothered to sit or heel on command is, their partisans insist, a sign that they are more clever by half. Cats are also self-cleaning, slobber-free, handy when you've got a mouse problem and don't have to be walked.
From Salon.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

A Little Late for Cinco de Mayo, but ...

A guy named J.B. Wagoner of Temecula, CA (northeast of San Diego) has started his own tequila outfit. It all began as a landscaping project in which he planted blue agave (left). One thing led to another and he eventually decided to become a "master distiller." Unfortunately, he can't officially call his drink tequila because he's not making it in Mexico (kind of like how champagne can only be from France), so for now he's calling it JB Wagoner's Ultra Premium 100% Blue Agave Spirits. Unwieldly to be sure, he's trying to change the name to "Temequila."

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Ord Street

One of the most peculiar street names that we've run across in LA is Ord Street. It runs through Chinatown. The street is named after Lieutenant Edward Ord, who was selected by the U.S. govenment back in 1849 to survey the public lands in LA. The survey, called Plan de la ciudad de Los Angeles, was used to sell the land and touched off LA's first real estate boom.

Thoughts on Last Night's Lost Episode?

Possible explanations for what Michael did? Think they're both dead?

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Nguon v. Wolf

A storm has been brewing at Santiago High School in Garden Grove, CA. Charlene Nguon (right), an openly gay student, has sued her school for discrimination. She is of Thai, Cambodian and Vietnamese descent. According to her complaint, she was suspended for being affectionate with her girlfriend, a fellow student, and the principal outed her to her parents, among other things. Charlene is being represented by the ACLU and her case has been covered on MTV and CNN.

LA Weather

People think that the weather in LA is always picture perfect. Beautiful, day in, day out. They're wrong. LA has seasons, or (more accurately) weather patterns. For example, in the winter we sometimes get the "Pineapple Express," which basically is a whole lot of rain, followed by mudslides.
The Pineapple Express is a Pacific Ocean subtropical jet stream that brings warm moist air from Hawaii (where pineapples are grown) to the U.S. West Coast states of California, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the Canadian province of British Columbia.


The combination of moisture-laden air, atmospheric dynamics, and orographic enhancement resulting from the passage of this air over the mountain ranges of the West Coast causes some of the most torrential rains to occur in the region.
Less dramatic, but nonetheless depressing for Angelenos is "June Gloom" or, as it's called in May, "May Gray." We are currently experiencing May Gray, which is characterized by the following:
The early mornings are typically foggy. The fog turns to low clouds by late morning and early afternoon. Finally, by late afternoon, the clouds burn away and the sun shines. Often the overcast will burn off quickly inland, but it will stay cold and cloudy most of the day for the coastal areas of Southern California. Southern California residents are used to this yearly weather pattern, but it usually comes as a great disappointment to tourists to the area who expect the weather to be sunny year-round.
From Wiki.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Your Behaviour is Very Naughty

I'm generally not one for reality shows, but I'm beginning to like Supernanny. Airing on Monday nights, the show follows English nanny Jo Frost as she goes into American homes to help parents straighten out their misbehaving children. Some of the kids are crazy violent and foul-mouthed; I cringe watching them. But Supernanny, with her stern, but warm, can-do attitude, comes to the rescue and by the end of the episode things are looking up.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Who's a Scientologist?

Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre in Hollywood

Our local NBC station has a slideshow of Scientologists on its website. Assuming it's all true, there are definitely some surprises. Who would've thought Placido Domingo?

Go Honda

Anyone ridden in the new Civic hybrid yet? What looks better-- the Civic or the Prius?