On the Road!

Last weekend, Carolyn and I drove down to Chula Vista (about 10 miles south of San Diego) for her internship at the Olympic Training Center (OTC). She is going to be working with the sports medicine team for the US athletes prepping for the Olympics in BMX Biking, Field Hockey, Track & Field, and … I always forget one… Anyway, it is very exciting, and I’m proud of her.

I played the big sister role – heading down to be a second driver, to help carry heavy things, and deal with any minor crisis that arrive when moving. And, let me say, after having my major moves be across the country and via plane, moving via car is much more civilized.

Here is a little photographic story about our trip:

7:30am: Carolyn and all her stuff, and the lovely little red car that carried us down the coast.

9AM – We hit the road after filling the car with gas, and us with caffeine.

I drove first, and as we listened to the Sklar Brothers great comedy record Hendersons and Daughters, we went past a TON of CHP and one Weiner-mobile – much to Carolyn’s delight:

Erin, you don’t understand. It’s a Weiner and mo-BILE. – Carolyn, (possible inaccurately quoted, =P )

Eventually she fell asleep, and I switched over to the audiobook for Mary Roach’s Stiff. After about three hours of driving (and still being a relatively inexperienced driver, especially at long-distances), I had to get out and walk around. We stopped and the rest stop had the above interesting machinery.

Carolyn took over driving, and I slept until the must-have stop at In-N-Out. Then we drove on through the Grapevine, seeing some lovely vistas like the above. Anthony Bourdain’s excellent memoir Kitchen Confidentiall kept us entertained and slightly disgusted until we hit Anaheim and started listening to the very exciting 49er v. Saints playoff game.

The closer we got to Chula Vista the more intense the game got, and each time Carolyn got frustrated with the proceedings she would turn the radio off, which I found hysterical.

5:15pm – We were just pulling into Chula Vista as the crazy last few minutes of the game went down. So exciting!! Go Niners!

All in all, it was a very pleasant drive and we the whole drive took about 8 hours, which was great.

After we rested and got cleaned up some, we met our cousin Darcy for dinner in San Diego. (As long as there is no traffic, it seems like everything is 14 minutes away between San Diego/Chula Vista/Coronado). We went to the R Gang Eatery, and had a ton of delicious food including Brussels sprouts and the bone marrow & beef cheeks dish above. While eating, Darcy entertained us with hilarious stories of her life as an office temp and nanny as she studies for the MCAT.

Sunday, 11AM – After dinner we went back to the motel and collapsed. In the morning, we checked out and headed to San Diego for brunch. And I, apparently, dressed in every pattern I owned….

Brunch was at the Mission, as recommended by my old friend Deirdre. It was very good, and way, way too much food. I think Carolyn’s french toast could’ve fed three people.

12:30pm – We did our major site-seeing at Coronado, on the beach and at the Hotel del Coronado. A beautiful and awesome place that I would love to spend more time at.

Coronado - Carolyn let me take a million photos of her. This was one of my favorites.

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Packages in brown paper…

… or at least brown packages from Amazon have a habit of appearing at my door, now and again.

And I love it, every time! Getting packages in the mail, even merely books I ordered for myself, still brings a ton of joy. And today was no exception.

I got home late-ish, because I had been in the East Bay seeing Moshe Kasher perform a kick-ass set for his one-hour Comedy Central special. It had been awesome and hilarious and vulgar and awesome, so I was already a little jumpy. And that I hadn’t eaten much since the afternoon, and perhaps it was crossing into loopy. Still, I don’t think Carolyn was expecting the bouncy energy that erupted when I saw the Amazon package. I let out a little yip of joy and ripped into it! (And, for once, the package was actually easy to open – perhaps the gods, or truly the Endless, were smiling at my enthusiasm).

Inside was (the surprisingly large) Annotated Sandman, vol.1!

Now, I’ve fangirled before about my love for Neil Gaiman on this blog, and this certainly won’t be the last time. But I, like most, first came to love him through his early 90s masterwork – Sandman. This graphic novel series tells the story of Dream and his siblings the Endless, as they deal with the present, the past and the future and more than us mere mortals can understand.

And sometimes it is frightening, and sometimes it is beautiful and always it is fascinating. I recommend reading it as soon as possible. Truly a great piece of literature.

But – when I read it – I knew I was never quite getting the whole story. Gaiman has millions of references, and while I got a few, I knew there was always more.

As Gaiman notes in the volume’s preface:

Sandman was filled with oddments. That was just the kind of thing that it was – stories that you could always, I hoped, enjoy, but that you might enjoy more if you know something about, say, the traditions of Shakespearian theatre, or the French Revolution, or horror comics. And things that were common currency at the time – an offhand reference to a comic that came out a month or so before – were becoming the obscurer sort of arcana as time passed. It was a snapshot of the inside of my head, and all sorts of peculiar things live in my head.

I can’t wait to reread this book that I adore, now with all sorts of new information. The book was annotated by Les Klinger and laid out lovingly, with the panels in the center of the book and annotations on the side. (In the original volumes, the panels were in color, but they have been reproduced in black and white so that the book does not have a staggering cost).

I can visit favorite scenes:

Ones that delighted me:

And ones that were terrifying:

Learning all sorts of new information.
(all photos above were taken with my phone, so I apologize for poor quality)

Sandman 6 – Page 21

The lyrics are from “Spread a Little Happiness,” written by Vivian Ellis …. It was recorded again by Sting in 1982 for the soundtrack of Brimstone & Treacle, a strange allegorical film about the effects of a heavenly (or devilish) visitor on a seemingly normal family. similarly, Dee’s visit to the All-Nite Diner has severe consequences for the seemingly normal patrons of the diner.

I can’t wait to get cracking, and journey again with Morpheus and Gaiman through the worlds of Dreaming. If you haven’t read the story yet, you should check it out, and if you have, I recommend checking out this new volume!

12 Weeks in Photos – Part 3

Peering in close at the Academy of Sciences

Continuing my look back at my first twelve weeks home in California. Previous Parts here: Part 1 and Part 2.

Although this blog will continue to have photos, I have launched a new daily photoblog as part of my 2012 New Year’s Resolutions. Please check it out and let me know what you think: RinFocus.

Week 9 (November 9-15):

Fort Funston and Ocean Beach

Fort Funston – a constant in my photo adventures. The dog just loves it there, and the landscape remains interesting.

Fallen Fence in Ft. Funston - it is amazing how the sand dunes move

Week 10 (November 16-22):

Claude, the Albino Alligator - Academy of Sciences

Kate, Alex, Mike and I ventured to the Academy of Sciences for Nightlife. I went, primarily, to see the Kepler Project show, which was a bit of let down. But the Academy itself is always wonderful.

A surfer at Rodeo Beach in Marin

Rodeo beach is one of my new favorite places. I want to go often.

Week 11 (November 23-39):

Carolyn makes a hat!

The lovely table at my Aunt Mary's for Thanksgiving dinner

Week 12(November 30-December 6):

Mr. O'Golly (aka my dear father) guards the Steam Man at the Dickens Fair

Thanks for helping me to reminisce about these great first twelve weeks back home in the Bay Area.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

July 2009, I get on BART after a day of development data entry at the Red Cross. I sit down, pull out my Sudoku and key up an AJ Jacobs audiobook. As I’m settling in, I notice a guy in his late-20s with a black “the Sound of Young America” (TSOYA) t-shirt. I had listened to this radio show/podcast a few times, so thought, neat. At this point, I only listened to a handful of podcasts and was always interested in finding new ones and meeting other fans. But, this is public transit, and I’m not going to strike up a conversation over a t-shirt.

At least not on a normal day, but this train ride was unusual. About 15 minutes into the normally 25 minute train ride, the BART train stops. We wait. And wait. And wait. At about 10 minutes into the waiting process, I give up on the puzzle and have made eye contact with the t-shirt guy. I comment on the shirt, and we end up having a five minute conversation about TSOYA and “Jordan, Jesse, Go!” It turns out he went to college with Jesse Thorn and recommended I dive deep into both shows. Then, finally, the train resumed and our conversation ended.

I am forever thankful to that random train ride. As my data entry job continued, I devoured the many excellent interviews and well curated comedy of TSOYA. And I fell in love with JJGO, a bantering comedy podcast also park of the Maximum Fun media empire. I began to support MaxFun with monthly donations in the spring of 2010, and continue to do to this day. I tell everyone I can, I go to live shows, and last year, to the wonderful MaxFunCon. So, yes, I’m a bit of a fan girl.

But I’m also someone who would not listen if the quality was not there. Thorn, who has many admirers in public radio and elsewhere, picks excellent and interesting guests across many genres of culture – he doesn’t differentiate between high and low and most importantly always has interesting questions that show he really dove into the work of his interview subject.

Today, TSOYA is rebranded as Bullseye with Jesse Thorn and you should listen immediately. The blurb says:

Bullseye is a public radio show about what’s good in popular culture. With a keen editorial eye, Bullseye sifts the wheat from the chaff, and brings you hot culture picks, in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary creative people and irreverent original comedy.

In the first 50 minute episode, Thorn talks to the AV Club, cast members from the amazing Downton Abbey, Chris Lilley (Australian comedian and creator of Summer Heights High), Dan Deacon (Baltimore musician) and Thorn’s love for E-40’s anthem “Fuck Them.” So if you like costume dramas, comedy, or rap music there is something for you. And the best part is, if you listen to Bullseye for the Downton Abbey chat, you can be easily pulled into the humor of Lilley or the compelling lyrics of a rap song that I, at least, would never have otherwise heard.

Of course, the bit with the cast of Downton was my favorite, so I’ve embedded that here for you. Bullseye Downton Abbey Interview

After you check out the new Bullseye, I recommend diving into the past episodes of TSOYA.Thorn and TSOYA introduced me to the great authors Colson Whitehead (Sag Harbor, Zone One) and Sarah Vowell (Wordy Shipmates, Assaination Vacation). He has great interviews with creaters I already loved from the Mountain Goats to Doctor Who cast members. And his year end comedy special (2011 here) are wonderful looks at brilliant pieces of standup and sketch and other comedy gems.

This is a quality radio production – an analysis of what doesn’t suck in the culture landscape. I love it, and think you would too.

If you are already a fan, what is your favorite episode of TSOYA? What are you hoping Bullseye will cover?