Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One-Hit Wonders: December 2009

  • albufeira+happy ending massage

  • tiger woods doughnut waitress

  • case of the sads

  • drunk attention whore

  • accidentally swallowed shell crab or mussel or clam

  • how far is eureka from the oregon border?

  • iron pills feeling edgy

  • can i leave room now deo we big finish yeah men

  • "learning tree international" ridicule

  • mexico wastelands

  • horrendous pierced lactating tits

  • can you eat milla plant

  • pour out a little liquor

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Season's Greetings

Two-Headed Dog

i know i’ve been lousy about posting lately, but it’s the holidays and i’m milking the little downtime i have. more frequent posting will resume after the new year. for now, allow me to send this holiday e-greeting to your mantle, but please do NOT place it next to the card sent by your dentist. he’s a creep. put it next to your favorite friend’s card. a little to the right. that’s better. thanks.

from my home to yours, i wish you, your family, your friends, your pets and your plants the most joyous holiday season imaginable, one that blows your mind with its sheer magnificence. i hope 2010 is the magical year that brings you every last thing your heart desires. most of all, i hope it brings you good times, great health, gainful employment and all the love in the universe. count your blessings. pet your pets. practice happiness. make a toast. tell your people you love them. be guided by good and have faith that the world will be your reward.

as always, thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


so much for rest and relaxation during december. i had severely miscalculated this month, thinking foolishly that i would spend it living a leisurely existence. i was sure i’d finally get some downtime at work, with weekends free to gallivant with friends and finally accomplish the myriad low priority items that have been languishing on my to-do list for months (hello, cleaning out the garage), things i promised myself i’d get done before the end of the year.

but here i am a few weeks away from january and the garage is still a mess and i haven’t even finished chronicling the two-week roadtrip i began on labor day. so what the hell happened? of course work is the perpetual culprit, with the day jobby and freelance gigs keeping me busier than the trash man on trash day, which is surprising given the seasonal slowdown i usually encounter this time of year.

but hey, i’m not complaining, especially since the first half of the year was spent losing freelance clients and worrying that i would be laid off. others, of course, had it way worse. in truth, there is not much i will miss about 2009. easily, the highlight of the year was the roadtrip to Portland, where i saw my baby cousin get married. my springtime trip to new york wasn’t shabby either. low lights include the leaky fridge kitchen disaster in March and watching both my parents, countless friends and 15% of my coworkers get laid off.

when midnight arrives on new year’s eve, i plan to smile wide with the knowledge that this shithole of a year has been left behind. i will then kiss my Mo and smile wide with the knowledge that fabulous things await in 2010. there will be plenty of home improvement and personal development and leisure time and published writing and lottery winning. i will also finally clean out the garage. before that, i will write the final posts chronicling my roadtrip. but first, a nap.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Dish-Interested: Cheating 101 for Tiger Woods

Photo courtesy of Osmosis Online

Oh, Tiger Woods, we hardly knew you! On the list of public figures most likely to be a philanderer, who would have put you at the top? Even though you are a pro athlete — and we all know pro athletes are prone to cheating (*cough* *cough* Kobe) — the squeaky clean image you’ve spent your entire career cultivating rendered you so impossibly vanilla that when rumors first swirled about your infidelity with some trashy New York party girl, I dismissed them immediately because I didn’t believe you were interesting enough to cheat on your wife.

Then came the car accident that doubled as a domestic dispute, followed by another trashy girl coming forward claiming that she got a look at your 9-iron, this time an L.A. cocktail waitress who sold her story to a tabloid, complete with racy texts and a voicemail purportedly from a nervous you, saying that, “Hi, this is Tiger… My wife went through my phone and may be calling you.” And then came the cherry on top...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

One-Hit Wonders: November 2009

this month's search terms inexplicably pulling up my blog have a distinctively instructional feel to them, as though people are using The Milla Times in the same way they would use wikipedia, though in my case they are looking for erotic stories on nipple touchers.

  • erotic stories of nipple toucher

  • how do you pronounce raidis

  • an introduction of an argumentative eassy on sweets,crips and fizzy drinks

  • how to kill a chinese elm stump

  • is as happy as a retard in a crayon factory. what does this mean

  • mo's bouillabaisse recipe

  • does redwood smell like pine

  • what means "year older none the wiser"

  • joan didion calm the fuck down

  • the +countdown to the meteor hits earth

  • when did duran duran john taylor lose his virginity

  • peace corps wild orgies

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thankful for Taco Sauce

in case you haven’t heard, thanksgiving is fast approaching and bringing with it a chance to reflect on all the blessings i normally take for granted in addition to an opportunity to eat until i burst. the latter i already accomplished during an early thanksgiving meal held at my parents’ place, who decided to ditch the family and spend the upcoming four-day weekend relaxing poolside in palm springs.

this frees up the thursday holiday for Mo and i to spend watching bad television and eating tacos, which will basically turn it into any other thursday for us, but perhaps we’ll mark the occasion with a turkey taco. the friday after thanksgiving i have to go to work because the stock market is open for business, which means my company is too. aside from mall employees, this makes me the only person who has to work the friday after thanksgiving.

but i’m actually looking forward to working that day as it will give me some time to reflect on all the wonderful blessings i am thankful for this holiday. hahahaha! actually, i’m looking forward to it because it’s sure to be a mellow day and i can wear jeans to work, which is a blessing unto itself.

as for the other blessings, they don’t really change from year to year. i’m still thankful for the wonderful people in my life, chiefly among them my Mo, my family and my friends who are like family. beyond that, i really love my dogs and my house and the smoky hot sauce that my favorite taco truck puts on its tacos. and in a year during which i saw both my parents and countless friends get laid off, in addition to 15% of my coworkers, i am especially thankful to be employed.

i’m also thankful for you, dear reader, wherever and whoever you are, for you are the wind beneath my wings helping me soar to new heights! i know most of you are my California friends and family checking in to see whether i’m talking smack about you here, but if my blog analytics are to be believed, i also have readers in such exotic places as Lincoln, Nebraska, and Bloomington, Indiana, readers who are surely dashing and effortlessly beautiful and not only because they have superior taste in blogs.

have i buttered you up enough? ok, here comes the pitch: if you, like me, plan to avoid malls and do all of your holiday shopping online this year, please shop Amazon.com via THIS SPECIAL LINK, which will direct a few dimes my way at no additional cost to you. please make your purchase within 24 hours of clicking the link. all proceeds will be used to keep The Milla Times up and running by keeping the collection agencies at bay. donations will be repaid with endless gratitude on my part and maybe a pic of me topless.

this concludes the shameless whoring out of the amazon ads on my website (which all of you seem to be ignoring anyway). thanks for reading, with double thanks for shopping. have i mentioned that your hair looks great today?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dish-Interested: Why I Love Sarah Palin

Courtesy of Osmosis Online

There are plenty of reasons to hate Sarah Palin: She’s hokey, inarticulate, whiny, incurious and provincial — a quitter who’s prone to blaming others for her own missteps. Hating Sarah has become a national pastime akin to any other sport that keeps score and revels in recounting the bad plays of the game.

We’ve seen these plays televised in perfectly packaged soundbytes we’ve all learned by heart — from “I can see Russia from my house” to “I read all of them” to “you betchya!” — Sarah was a bumbling trainwreck loathed by many, revered by some and loved especially by me.

And if there’s one thing I love more than train wrecks...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Roadtrip: Oregon Border to Portland (Part 1 of 2)

Two Places at Once
we made it: it took 1,500 miles, but the long and winding road finally led Mo and i to the state line, which we plowed through absented-mindedly until Mo noticed the change in pavement that indicated our entry into Oregon. we turned back to get this shot and if you look closely, you can see that i’m saying, “hurry up and take the picture already. i’m lying in the fucking road.” thankfully, it was a scenic road that few cars were driving on, which explains the low-tech signage.

Wayne Morse Courthouse in Eugene, OR
light and space: prior to arriving in Portland, we made a quick stop in Eugene, Oregon, to visit the Wayne Morse Courthouse, designed by LA-based firm Morphosis, architects of the federal building we visited in San Francisco. like the rest of Morphosis’ work, this building was stunning from every angle. let’s just say that if i ever had to stand trial for bank robbery, i would prefer to do it here.

Roman’s Birthday
the mispucha: we arrived in Portland on the night of my cousin-in-law’s (Roman) birthday. he is considerably older than the five candles on his cake suggest, and he is the husband of my first cousin Gitella. together, they are parents to the adorable 2-year-old Edie (pictured) and 9-year-old Jack (not pictured). they were incredible hosts to Mo and me, allowing us to eat their food, sleep in their house and play with their kids for the four days we were in town, a favor i hope to repay by thanking them on my blog. so THANK YOU, guys!

Voodoo Donuts
the magic is in the hole: that is the tagline of Voodoo Doughnut, one of the first Portland landmarks we visited. the doughnuts here are legendary, housed in cute pink buildings and driven around town in cute pink trucks (one of which is reflected in the glass).

Pick Your Poison
hello, cavities: i can confirm that the doughnuts here are, in fact, delicious. they are smothered in all sorts of sugary goodness, most of which emerged from cereal boxes, in addition to some salty delights like bacon (bottom left). my selection was the Oreo doughnut, which is a cookie i generally never eat on its own, but add it to ice cream or explode it over a doughnut and it’s the first thing i reach for. it came with a food face of ecstasy that had my eyes rolling to the back of my head — and a sugar crash.

Nom Nom Nom
rice crispies for Mo: sugar crash also included. on a different day Mo sampled the bacon doughnut. he does not recommend it.

Woodstock Library
reading is fundamental: not that we did much of that on this trip, but we did stop off at Woodstock Library to look at books or, more accurately, the building that housed them, which was designed by THA Architecture. not only did the building look mighty cool, but the fact that hula-hooping pedestrians regularly walk by it made it badass to the bone.

Going Rogue
cocktail hour: after visiting the library — and the Portland Art Museum to see the M.C. Escher exhibit — we had become saturated with enough culture to justify a pub crawl. first stop was the Pearl District for a visit to Rogue Brewery, whose logo, bottles and beers i can appreciate. i had a yummy amber ale.

nazdarovya: not sure what Gitella and Roman had, but it appeared to be working for them. two beers on an empty stomach is usually enough to work for me, but we still had daylight and more pubs to hit so we trudged onward on wobbly feet.

Deschutes Brewery
i love this word: Deschutes! say it with me now: DESCHUTES! it’s a word to blow your house down — a word that fits the brewery’s big, bold beers perfectly. we had a great time here and consumed some much needed food, most of it beer battered and washed down with ales of every stripe.

Happy Mo
kid in a candy store: if that Black Butte XXI grew some legs and boobs, i think Mo would marry it. to be honest, i was getting a little jealous of the way he was fondling the bottle and praising its perfection. personally, i wasn’t a fan — not only because that bitch tasted bitter, but at 11% ABV she came on a little too strong for me. slut.

because we hadn’t had enough beer: we stumbled through the door of Hopworks Urban Brewery, our final destination on the Drink Until You’re Falling Down Pub Crawl Through Portland. i know that we only hit three breweries, but when you’re a thirtysomething who can barely stay up past 11pm on most nights, it feels like 60 breweries. and when you’re me, it feels like even more.

Gitella and Roman Smooching
punch drunk love: as the alcohol flowed, so did the love. Roman and Gitella, who recently celebrated 10 years of marriage, got particularly kissy-face to a chorus of “awww” from a peanut gallery that included their friends Dave and Lauren in addition to Mo and me. in between sips and hiccups, the rest of us also managed to engage in a little verbal orgy that had us professing our undying love for each other and declaring that hanging out together was the most fun EVER. and by everyone, i mean me.

Marathon Drinkers
lean on me: at that point, Mo’s shoulder was the only thing keeping me upright (as it does most other days as well). we had a few of our own “awww” moments and i managed to forgive the earlier Black Butte XXI fondling incident before collapsing in his arms and slurring, “i ready for beddy time.”

and so concluded our first full day in Portland. more photos follow in the slideshow:

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Dish-Interested Double Feature

since returning from the big roadtrip i’ve been a sorry sack of shit about serving as your humble Celebrity Gossip Analyst, but that is about to change with the publication of the last TWO Dish-Interested columns i wrote for Osmosis Online, a very good website that you should be reading daily. my editor asked that i publish only the first few paragraphs of my columns here, with links to the Osmosis site to help drive traffic so please click over to get the full dish.

first up we have a critical analysis of how watching “America’s Next Top Model” can improve your self-esteem. it’s written for the ladies and highlights my own personal neuroses in addition to bashing my favorite egomaniac, Tyra Banks. please read the column while wearing sweats and eating a box of Bon Bons.

Deconstructing ‘America’s Next Top Model’s’ Skinny Bitches, Zit by Zit

Now in its 13th “cycle” (“seasons,” evidently, are so last season), ANTM follows a dozen girls aspiring for the Top Model crown, which comes complete with a Cover Girl contract and a spread in Seventeen magazine.

Winners have included a plus-sized girl and one who overcame a nearly crippling struggle with the skin disorder psoriasis. As a 5' 7" plus-sized girl who’s no stranger to weird skin conditions (turns out they were food allergies), I would like to thank Tyra for giving me a reason to feel beautiful, something I never had before I began to watch the show. Just kidding!

That’s not why I watch it. Sure, it makes me feel good, but not because of its pandering to the “excluded girl,” which is too transparent to be truly effective — especially when one’s jaded and in her thirties. No, I like “America’s Next Top Model” for more deliciously sinister reasons...

next we’re going to talk about an emerging trend in hollywood identified by my acute powers of perception. no, not skinny jeans and ankle boots, but if you guessed star fuckers and meal-ticket babies, award yourself five points. yes, dear readers, it’s true that celebrity DNA is the most sought-after accessory this season. don’t see your lawyer without it.

Meal-Ticket Baby Mania!

Much ink has already been spilled over such women as Kate Gosselin and Octomom Nadya Suleman, the multiple-birth wonders who have dominated the celebrity gossip pages in 2009 with their fertile wombs and questionable appearances. Theirs has been a Jerry Springer-esque story of national proportions, at the root of which is a gaggle of cute kids whose primary function is to serve as paychecks for their mommies.

But less attention has been given to the Star F*cker, the unsung hero of baby mamas who quietly toils at her craft, looking to screw the right star at the right time of the month to produce the ultimate in sex souvenirs: a baby! And not just any baby — a meal-ticket baby who will translate into monthly child support payments and, with the right lawyer, something extra for the mama.

They are the post-modern groupies who understand that the real value in sleeping with celebrities lies not in bragging rights but in DNA...

if you have suggestions for my next column, please suggest. and, as always, thanks for reading. tell your book publisher friends.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Roadtrip: SF to Oregon Border

Moylans Brewery
let’s go drinking! after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, our next stop was in Novato, California, about 30 miles north of SF, for a little beer tasting at Moylan’s Brewery (because beer makes me a better driver). honestly, Moylans is not my favorite brewery and i’m not sure if that’s because i hate its logo so much — which looks like it was drawn by a Dungeons & Dragons fanatic — or if the beer truly sucks.

Mo and the Moylans Menu
what’s on tap? it’s not that it sucks, it’s just that i’ve tasted better beer, which is no fault of Moylan’s. it’s more the result of living with a microbrew aficionado who knows where the best stuff is. still, Mo is partial to their Dragoons Dry Irish Stout, so we stopped to enjoy a beer sampler and a few finger foods before heading toward Tomales Bay.

JD and the Menu
braving the oyster: you may recall in the last installment of the roadtrip chronicles that Mo and i had an unpleasant encounter with a few unsavory raw oysters that decided to decimate our intestines and leave us bed-ridden for 24 hours. as sucky as that experience was — very, truly, unbelievable sucky — we decided to conquer our fear and continue with the original plan of having oysters for dinner, oysters that would be drenched in flour and DEEP FRIED, so we stopped at Tomales Bay Oyster Company on PCH to pick up a bag of 50 oysters for $48.

Coolest Guy in Tomales Bay
coolest guy in Tomales Bay: the oysters were heavy as hell, thrown together in a netted bag, and handed over to us by Mr. Cool with a few packages of ice, which were promptly triple bagged and thrown into the trunk of the car. then Mo, JD, Cesar and i proceeded to play the always fun “who wants to shuck first” game while driving to our next destination in Russian River.

Russian River Hideaway
shameless plug: we stayed at my friend Sharon’s incredible Russian River Hideaway, which sleeps six comfortably, has a full kitchen and features other great amenities, including wifi. you should stay there too! see site to make reservations.

JD Shucking Away
JD loses bet, shucks first: shucking oysters can actually be fun, especially once you get into a rhythm, but shucking 50? not so much. plus, there’s that pesky perpetual risk of slicing your hand open, which i’ve done before. also not fun, especially when your palm starts shooting blood all over your dinner and leaves you with a four-inch gash that renders your hand useless until it heals. but that’s a story for another time.

The Peacemaker Sandwich
two hours later: behold the delicious Peacemaker Sandwich! this is actually an Emeril recipe taken from one of Mo’s mom’s cookbooks and it’s fucking delicious, especially with tartar sauce. a thousand thank yous to Mo who made dinner for us that night and put all 50 oysters to good use in four satisfied bellies, none of which imploded the next day.

Redwood by Day
this land was made for you and me: i’m convinced that Russian River has more redwood trees than people — epic redwoods that block out the sky and remind you how powerless humans are in the natural order of Things in the Universe. throughout our one-night stay at the hideaway, i caught myself staring at them more times than i can count, with mouth ajar and head upturned, awestruck in the same way i was when i saw the San Andreas fault, compelled to give them hugs like a bonafide tree hugger. instead, i gave my hugs to Cesar and JD, who headed back to the city while Mo and i continued north.

Me and the Nature
fast forward four hours: i find myself reunited with The Nature again, this time at Van Damme State Park in Mendocino County, which had the most stunning fern canyon. there were plenty of “oohs” and “aahs” here, too, enough to make me question my self-proclaimed status as an urban snob — or at least make me consider buying a vacation home in Lake Arrowhead.

Me as Mountain Lion
i will eat your children: the park was filled with signs warning hikers of mountain lions, signs that looked like THIS and read, “keep children close, as mountain lions seem to be especially drawn to them.”

Anderson Valley Brewing
ESB for me: as Mo and i are especially drawn to beer, we made it a point to stop at Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, a podunk town with a population of 1,370 people. the brewery is truly in the middle of nowhere and near nothing of interest, a predicament that gives its brewers ample time to craft near perfect brews, because what else is there to do in such a small town besides drink? i prefer the ESB, Mo the oatmeal stout.

Lost Coast Brewery
fast forward again: the third brewery in two days, Lost Coast is in lovely Eureka, California, about 100 miles south of the Oregon border. it’s where we spent our final night in California, with dinner at the brewery, where i had a decent red ale. like Moylans, Lost Coast has a crappy logo and substandard beer — and their chicken salad was mediocre, too.

Mo at Lost Coast
doesn’t he look like Che Guevara here? i did, however, really like Eureka, which was much bigger and more diverse than i expected it to be. plus, it’s situated in my beloved Nature, amid an expansive redwood forest, which makes the entire city smell like pine, or maybe it was weed as Humboldt State is nearby.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


ever since i returned from my glorious two-week vacation, which i still need to finish chronicling, my days have consisted of work, work and more work, both at the day jobbie and during moonlighting hours. this has left little time for blogging, socializing and spa days, three of my most cherished pastimes. part of me thinks i should begin saying “no” to jobs to regain some of the downtime i so very much miss, but the bigger part of me is a greedy bitch who thinks i have no real reason NOT to hustle.

good news is that i’m making money, none of which i have time to enjoy and all of which is sent out the door as quickly as it comes in to pay down the debt i’ve been complaining about all year. i have set myself a goal that i must meet by the end of December, and as the internet as my witness, i will meet it, maybe exceed it, even if it means work-filled weekends and tired eyes. and then i will get a massage and sleep for three days straight.

when i haven’t been working, i’ve been enjoying oktoberfest-inspired activities like drinking beer and eating finger foods. Mo is very much a microbrew aficionado and for his birthday this year (October 19, mark your calendars), i took him to the kickoff celebration of LA Beer Week, held at our very own local watering hole, the Verdugo, where we entered a raffle to win two tickets to the closing celebration of Beer Week, held at Descanso Gardens. guess what? just guess. ok, i’ll tell you: we won the raffle! and so came a glorious week bookended by beer celebrations that had us sampling some of the best craft brews in the nation. it was pure liquid love. hiccup.

October also held a little travel, both professional and personal. it began with a company-sponsored trip to Washington, DC, for a two-day FINRA conference on advertising regulations — riveting! (no joke) — where i met my fellow compliance brethren and discovered that we really are the most despised department in all financial organizations.

then i went off to a suburb of Baltimore, MD, for a few days to visit my dad’s side of the family. for reasons unknown to me, this trip seemed to turn my father into my mother for a few days, which resulted in him calling me five times a day, every day, to ask if everything was OK. thankfully, it was OK — better than OK in fact. i had a marvelous time drinking, eating and exchanging stories with my cousins, and even got to meet my uncle for the first time in 30 years, an experience that was nothing short of life-affirming.

Maryland is beautiful in the fall, very New England-esque in the way the leaves change color to form clusters of trees that look like rainbows shooting out of the ground. it was a mesmerizing sight, one that had me uttering, “look how beautiful it is” every time i stepped outside, enough times for my cousins to say, “yes, we know how beautiful you think it is. we get it!” i, for one, do not get it enough. the plan is to return to Maryland more often and mostly in the fall. i simply must see more of that foliage.

Monday, October 26, 2009

One-Hit Wonders: October 2009

  • milla likes pilla

  • morphine lactating pigeon

  • consequence of fucking a dog

  • i have a barking cough and my ears keep popping

  • big tits refrigerator kitchen

  • is as happy as a retard in a crayon factory. what does this mean

  • janis joplin garden gnomes

  • what do milla bugs eat

  • my dog broke out with hives after i bought a bamboo plant home

  • san andreas to cause california to detach

  • celebrities that have child toucher eyes

Monday, October 12, 2009

Roadtrip: San Francisco

The City
let me count the ways: San Francisco still manages to charm me each time i visit, filling me with fantasies about moving back and flooding me with memories of the life i led there more than 10 years ago. i’m sure i romanticize that time as some beautiful coming-of-age era when, in fact, a lot of it sucked (i was very broke), but the magical energy of the city is something i feel only when i’m there, each time i visit. it’s a feeling of optimism and youthful idealism. it’s a feeling of possibility.

JD, Me (and Mo)
another reason to visit: my best friend of 20 years, Jon-David, and his boyfriend Cesar just relocated to SF from NYC, which means my frequent trips east will now be redirected north. as usual, we had a fantastic time eating, drinking, talking, laughing and blazing through a city together, with the promise to do it again very soon.

Nick and Child
and another: Mo and i had the opportunity to meet the newest member of our friends’ child army, 8-week-old Rhys, seen here with dad Nick, who smuggled him into a bar for his first taste of bourbon.

Mother and Child
mom and her Rhys-ling: mom is Alison, another SF resident and close friend i’ve known for 20 years, who refused to let me eat her child despite all my begging. instead, i smelled, squeezed and held him without once making him cry. then i threw his toy across the room for a game of fetch in a momentary brain misfire that made me realize how much i missed Juice and Pinko. (they stayed in LA with a neighbor.)

SF Federal Building
san francisco federal building: vacations with Mo the architect mean i can expect to see amazing architecture, this building among them, designed by LA-based firm Morphosis, which also designed the Caltrans building in LA (and another in Eugene, OR, which i’ll get to in a future post).

Federal Building Shutters

Rest Area

Federal Building Sky Deck
DMV hiring? this building makes a compelling case for getting a government job, particularly the sky decks that offer breathtaking views of the bay and a quiet place to get away. i have no doubt that these decks were included in the building’s design to prevent employees from “going postal.”

Dr. Merritt and His Pinky
Dr. Merritt and his pinky: this is Mo’s stepfather, Dr. Merritt, who is a retired doctor and an enthusiastic cook who loves hosting dinner parties. we visited him in Oakland with a gaggle of our friends — who served as dish washers, kitchen runners and table setters — while Dr. Merritt manned the grill.

Cook’s Kitchen
kitchen envy: maybe “enthusiastic” is too weak an adjective to describe his cooking prowess. Dr. Merritt really has every kitchen gadget ever created, in addition to endless appliances, utensils, spices and drool-inducing Le Creuset cookware. like every other guest at dinner that night, i must have spent an hour looking through his kitchen, garage and dining area, all of which were overflowing with good stuff.

Dr. Merritt Starting Paella
meanwhile: Dr. Merritt was outside with the biggest paella pan known to humankind, which he placed over his grill, to cook us the best meal of our lives.

Someone’s Excited
then he jumped in and was never seen again: the paella — there are no words. it was beyond the best i’ve ever had, better even than paellas i’ve had in Spain, and full of chicken, three types of sausage and shellfish that included lobster and crab. my only regret is that i’m not still sitting at his table eating it right now.

Book and Beer
more eating: the next day, we headed to the Hog Island Oyster Company at the Ferry Building for happy hour oyster and beer specials. the place was packed with both locals and tourists. it took ages to get a table, but the oysters, oh the oysters. again, words fail me as the taste buds take over and cloud my brain.

Oyster Closeup
divine slime: there’s no in-between with raw oysters — you either love or hate them. though i don’t understand how anyone can hate the heavenly flavor of a raw oyster sitting on ice and splashed with tabasco and lemon, chased with a sip of beer. it simply doesn’t make sense.

Four Dozen Oysters
now i understand: these (four dozen) oysters came from Waterbar, a restaurant i urge everyone NOT to visit. Hog Island’s oysters were fantastic, but Waterbar’s poisoned Mo and i, rendering us incapacitated for 30 hours. here, “incapacitated” is no exaggeration: we spent an entire day on the living room sofabed, sleeping nonstop in a fever-induced delirium, making frequent runs to the bathroom for vomiting, shivering and sweating, joints aching and body drained. sadly, this happened on the same day we were supposed to leave San Francisco for Russian River with JD and Cesar (who did not get sick), a day that happened to be JD’s birthday. not only was it the worst day of the roadtrip, it was also — and i say this with no exaggeration — one of the worst days of my life. i have never felt that way before. and i have not eaten a raw oyster since.

Golden Gate Bridge
the morning after: i can’t say the sick was completely gone the next morning, but Mo and i woke up mostly clear-headed and very ready to continue our trip north. with a slow start, we repacked our suitcases, said our goodbyes to San Francisco and hopped on the pacific coast highway, stomachs still unstable, toward Tomales Bay, Russian River, Eureka and the Oregon border.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Roadtrip: LA to SF

Road and San Andreas
the open road: after taking this roadtrip, i really understand why California is known as the Golden State. i used to think the name had more to do with the Gold Rush of 1849 than the scenery, but the central valley proved me wrong. these golden rolling hills in the Carrizo Plain seemed to go on for hundreds of miles, which Mo and i spent hours driving through, a time when we rarely saw other cars, people or animals. it was a wasteland of a desert, very Mad Max, 115 degrees with no trees or shade in sight, but it contained the first destination of our 3,150-mile roadtrip up the west coast: the San Andreas fault.

Me and Sandy
is that all there is? as we drove to the fault, Mo and i discussed what we thought we would find there, based on all the mythology we grew up with as native Californians. we settled on the fault looking like the place where the world would end. we figured it would swallow us immediately upon arrival and take us to the earth’s molten core, where the devil surely lives and presides over hell. imagine our surprise when we saw that it was full of tumbleweeds.

Me and the San Andreas
me and Sandy: i always thought of the San Andreas as being something LA-based, something out in the deserted desert, and was surprised to learn that the faultline is really 800 miles long, stretching the length of California and ending near San Francisco. parts of the fault are plainly visible, almost flat, while others are underwater. from the “flat” part above, we walked a little farther and found a gorge where we stood for a long while, awestruck. it looked incredible, beautiful even like every other product of nature. i thought back to the ’94 Northridge quake, which wrecked my childhood home and gave me nightmares, and here i was, standing in the presence of the mighty San Andreas, cause of so much anguish for so many Californians, and all i wanted to do was hug it. finally, closure had come. i had met my attacker and forgiven her. i named her Sandy.

A Day in the Life in Santa Cruz
go west: after saying goodbye to Sandy, we headed west toward Santa Cruz, where we spent the night. this was my first visit to Santa Cruz, which reminded me of every other coastal college town i’ve visited in California — full of surfers, stoners, students and beach bums living the good life.

At the Beach
the good life: when we left LA the day before, wildfires were burning and making the air quality horrendous, so the first thing we did in Santa Cruz was head to the beach to suck in the fresh ocean air and become hypnotized by the tide. that was the moment it hit me: i’m on vacation for two weeks. fuck yeah.

Mo @ Arboretum Sign
from faults to flowers: then came a trip to the arboretum on the UC Santa Cruz campus. as Mo and i are still (forever?) in the planning stages of the perfect garden that we will one day plant at home, the arboretum exposed us to all sorts of purty flowers and trees we can’t afford to import from South Africa.

Garden Gnome
the garden gnome: i became enamored with this gnome, only because i don’t recall ever seeing another gnome like it. is it a chicken or some other bird? i still can’t figure it out. i named it Cruzy.

dig my camera: allow me to plug my camera for a moment, the amazing Canon PowerShot G10, which enabled me to explore macrophotography for the first time in my camera-owning life. i spent the whole roadtrip with the camera hanging off my neck, fondling it at every opportunity. this thing cannot take a bad photo.

Gecko Giving the Evil Eye
lizzy: i didn’t name this guy, though judging by the stink eye he’s giving off, he probably gave me a not-so-pleasant name. i was tempted to step on his tail to see if it would detach itself like they say, only to grow back later, but Mo wouldn’t let me.

Greenhouse @ the Arboretum
why is the sky blue? seriously, that is the bluest sky i’ve ever seen. along with the gnome mystery, the arboretum had successfully stumped me and rendered me so hopelessly relaxed that i considered moving into the gift shop to live, as i couldn’t imagine rejoining society when there were so many flowers to look at. but Mo pulled me away with the promise of more gardens, so we bid farewell to Santa Cruz and headed north toward Saratoga.

Gorgeous Garden Wide
serenity now: we ended up at Hakone Gardens, which was the Japanese hotness. i’m going to make a sweeping generalization here, so consider yourselves warned, but everything creative i’ve ever seen come out of Japan has an elegance to it that is nothing short of perfect. this includes sushi, but excludes that harajuku fashion craze that was big a few years back, which looks very salvation army to me.

Garden Waterfall
i’ll take one on layaway: my mythical garden will definitely have a waterfall as well as several money trees. it will also have a few cabana boys with soccer thighs ready to peel me grapes at a moment’s notice.

Garden Buddha
now this is a garden gnome: add this to my layaway list, too — a buddha holding a samurai sword is what i want protecting my mythical garden. i named him Harakiri.

Leaning Bamboo
the bamboo garden: so this is where the flooring in my house came from. what a treat to see it in its natural form, minus dog scratches. i would plant some bamboo in my mythical garden if it wasn’t so weedlike in its unruliness.

Always a Bridesmaid
always a bridesmaid: we stumbled upon a wedding shoot in the bamboo garden so i started shooting away with the other photographers, emboldened by my magical G10. i don’t think the other photogs noticed me, nor did the bridesmaid, who seemed to be having a sad moment. thinking they might serve sushi, i told Mo we should crash the wedding, but he had one more garden on the day’s agenda so off we went to Stanford University.

Stanford Garden
go Trojans! after much walking around the campus, lost, we found the Kingscote Garden tucked into a corner of the university. it was a multitiered masterpiece, by far the smallest garden we visited that day, but that made it the most stunning. one look and i was transported to my happy place. admittedly, i had spent most of the day in a happy place but this took me straight to nirvana.

Moment of Zen
nap time: the garden seemed to have its own eco-system, with its tall trees producing a wonderful breeze i don’t remember feeling elsewhere on campus. it provided the perfect backdrop for a quick nap and protracted moment of zen before Mo and i hit the road again and headed north toward San Francisco.

Next installment — SF to Oregon border — to be posted soon. Slideshow of the full set of LA to SF photos below: