Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Planes, Trains and Humidity -- Philly Part One and Updates

Warning: If you find yourself here via a Google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

Blog Blahs
I had been very excited to write this blog when we started for home early Tuesday morning. It was so early that the airport wasn't actually open, but more on that part of the trip later. By the time I got home, I wasn't able to write a word. In fact, even sending e-mails this week has been a chore. I was tired down to the core on Wednesday and still had three days of work. Yesterday, putting up less than ten photos on facebook was all I managed to finish. Fortunately, Gordon Ramsay (somehow, in addition to all the Food Network stuff I watch, Jon and I got hooked on BBC America's Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares) instilled a tremendous yen for succotash in me this week. And for some reason, I really wanted a stuffed bell pepper. The big Family Buffet also left me wanting to experiment with pole beans and a black eyed pea salad. Thus, I was cooking yesterday and that partially staved off the malaise threatening to completely engulf me. Going home is complicated in ways that I can't begin to talk about. What is really weird about how I'm feeling now is that we had a really, really good time. Ah well. I won't get anything else done until I start to get a handle on the trip.

Homeward Bound

The trip began at the Police Station. Not that we had done anything yet. There is an ATM in the lobby. The station is also right next to the bus stop.. All very convenient. The trip to LAX is almost as close as it was when we lived in Playa. And it's really easy getting to the airport by bus – easier than driving at that time of day because the shuttle bus has its own lane to the terminals while the car lanes are jammed. Our first destination of the day had been on the news as part of a crime report. Actually, it was Joxer's Daily Pub next door that was in the report. But when I looked up at the screen, all I noticed was the Bakery cafe we were bound for. It seems that a Culver City councilman was assaulted behind the building. See video HERE . That was weird, but we really needed to have the lovely (and cheap) breakfast the lovely family serves up. And it was lovely. We also ordered a pair of Jambon et Fromage sandwiches to take on the plane. The bus ride was long enough that I could finish the bottle of champagne I had transferred to water bottles. I believe I have mentioned that I fly with a strong buzz. Really strong buzz. This is particularly true when I haven't been on a plane in years.

The flight out was fine. Jon and I were booked separately, so we were didn't have seats together, but everyone at every leg was willing to switch. Everyone prefers an aisle seat to a middle seat. We were in Detroit refueling my buzz when we found out about the Eagles signing Michael Vick. I knew that would be on the top of the news the whole while we were in Philly, and it was. Personally, my views are mixed. What he did was heinous and disgusting, but he served his time. In this country, that means he gets another chance. And I know Eagles fans. If he helps the team start winning, they will wear fur hats and jerseys to cheese off PETA (if PETA is foolish enough to protest in Philly). All will be forgotten if they win the Super Bowl. It was just a weird thing to happen there. We found out when Dad hit the wall of traffic outside of south Philly that we'd arrived as the Eagles pre-season game ended. It was a long trip to his house. By the time we arrived, it was only 8pm our time, but we had had a really long day. Friday was jammed with stuff to do to prep for the Big Family Barbecue or BFB. And there were some people we really needed to see while we were in Center City. An early start was in order. So it was just as well that we were exhausted.

I must take a moment to say that our accommodations while back East were first rate. Dad had us in a very nice loft suite with cable TV and Philomena had us in a very comfy room in a mansion that I'll rave about later.

What the #$%@ is THAT???

Three years is not an eternity to be away from a City. And Philadelphia is not known for rapid change. I'm not sure how long that hole at 8th and Market existed before someone had it filled in a paved over for a parking lot. It was supposed the be several other things over who knows how long before someone finally noticed that a big hole in the middle of the downtown shopping district just looks bad (it was around long enough that there was a t-shirt and a name for it). Thus, I was expected to get some nostalgia pics and relive old times as I drag me nephew, Brian around, we found ourselves saying, what the hell is that? And When did that get there? Quite a lot. Brian took us on a tour of the most amazing new development, The Comcast Center. The building is stunning and enormous, but it's the lobby that takes the breath away. What looks like a wood paneled wall where the elevators are is the largest view screen I've ever seen. We were really lucky to get the transition as it happened. Brian watched the end of the World Series there. The rumor was that because the Comcast center put a 26 inch statue of William Penn on the roof, returning him to the highest point in the city, the curse against the Philly winning a championship was broken. Who knows? The building is great. I was pleasantly surprised at how Center City had changed overall. There were tons and tons of little restaurants and boutiques and coffee houses. Where once, everyone left the downtown shopping district when the offices closed, there were people strolling and shopping and eating like there was no hurry to ever leave. I was far less wary strolling about than I ever had been before. It was impressive though the humidity was still crushing and draining. And there was enough of all that I had loved still in place that we still recognized the place.

The Gid

We managed to hang out with Brian for lunch at Reading Terminal Market. Biran had Chinese food. Jon and I had the first of foods that we really missed: Amish Pretzels and fresh lemonade at Millers. I shopped for the pie and short rib ingredients and found most of them. We even did the tourist thing. That left finding Gideon Umile, a former co-worker and the man who introduced Jon to me. He is matched in zaniness and wit only by Craig. But he's tough to pin down. I had last heard from him during the raucous celebrations after the Phillies won the World Series. He had to go suddenly, then I couldn't find him. I only knew he was alive when a Google search revealed that he'd gotten married at the Mutter Museum. Getting married there and not letting us know he was getting married warranted investigation. And we missed him. No visit would be complete without a few of tales of Gideon's crazy life over a many drinks. We were lucky again. Hew was at work near where we were sightseeing and he was getting off early. He suggested a little joint he knew at a nearby hotel. It turned out to be the very swanky lobby bar in the Sofitel. Mind, Jon and I were dusty, sweaty and rumpled. I was pretty sure we were going to get thrown out as soon as we sat down. Luckily, Gid showed up and it turned out as the former head Concierge there, he had trained everyone we came across. The wine and stories flowed. Gid is now married and expecting a child (he keeps the ultrasound photo on his I-Phone). The wedding cost a fortune because it involved his flying in numerous in-laws from South Korea and flying back again for a ceremony there. None of that seemed to matter. He's slap happy and adorable in that joy. And he is as appallingly irreverent as always. He will make a very interesting father.

Our time was still pressed though. We couldn't follow Gid home and surprise his pregnant wife (that's not a bad thing, actually). We had to take the train out to my brother's place, so he could take us to Dad's. I still had pie dough to make. Gid did take me to get the final bits I needed for my dishes. There was a new gourmet market near where he lives that carried demi-glace – stacks of the stuff. DiBruno's Market is amazing. I could drop a fortune in there easily. I'm lucky that similar places in LA aren't easy for me to reach routinely. I'd never have any money. We said goodbye to Gid at the train station (very dramatic). We have each other's numbers and facebooks. There won't be any loosing touch. Still, my heart felt heavy. I felt that a lot last week. I feel it still.

I have to stop here. There is too much to cover with the BFB on Saturday , hanging out with our families and the big reunion of the Writing Group on Sunday. I don't think I should rush through all of that. It was a really wonderful trip and should be covered properly.


All the players involved in the films will be back from vacations and free of distractions by this time next week. We should be announcing a pre-production schedule shortly after that. Jon is ready to render the final backgrounds for Blood Oath's climactic fight scene. The Manga artist will get his list of panels to complete. I should be able to set a date for the screening next week or the week after.

Stay tuned!

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