Saturday, September 27, 2008

Shot Down in a Shootout

Frozen Fury 2008 was another awesome contest between the Kings and the Colorado Avalanche. This year the end result didn't go our way, and the Kings lost 4-3 in a shoot out. But it was still a great night, with a sell out crowd watching a great young team continue to come together. I saw a ton more reasons tonight to be excited about the coming season.

My first sighting when I walked into the venue was Kings mascot Bailey. I missed his furry mug this summer!! It's great to see him back in fine form.

Although the Avs scored first, the Kings added some impressive goals, including an unassisted contribution from Anze Kopitar to put the Kings in front 3-2 at the end of the 3rd period. Unfortunately it didn't last, and the Avs tied with a goal with 4:36 left to play. No one scored in overtime, and Oscar Moller, Jarrett Stoll, and Derek Armstrong couldn't get it done for the Kings in the shootout.

On the plus side, our defensive play is much improved, and it was great to see Drew Doughty and Thomas Hickey doing some great passing and clearing the puck with really smart plays. Doughty in particular really impressed me...he's got a ton of hockey sense for an 18 year old kid.

Both Jason LaBarbera and Erik Ersberg got time in goal tonight, and though neither one was stellar I didn't see any stupid mistakes either.

And of course, it's always a great game when the refs go down on the ice during a fight...

This one happened in the 3rd period and was only one of 6 fights throughout the game. Three happened in the first period, with the Kings showing a ton more toughness than last year. Kevin Westgarth led the fighters, but Wayne Simonds, Drew Bagnall, Derek Armstrong and Brian Boyle pitched in as well.

Westgarth is a dynamic player to watch. A fast skater and hard hitter. The coaches in Manchester have done a terrific job getting him ready. He just might be a King this year.

And Drew Doughty is absolutely my new favorite. I just love watching this kid play. He makes it look so easy... I have some great video of his play during the second period that will be posted on my YouTube channel, so be sure to check it out.

Thanks for a great weekend guys!! See you Tuesday when we take on the Ducks!!! GO KINGS!!!!!!

Is He a Lover or a Fighter?

Meet #33 - Kevin Westgarth.

He's a member of the Kings AHL team, the Manchester Monarchs. We're hoping he makes the big team this year. Looks like a big old lovable teddy bear, huh? He gave Nadine this great smile when we went to see training camp scrimmages last week. Total cutie pie!!! But don't be fooled. When he gets on the ice, he's an enforcer. And at 6' 5" and 247 pounds, he brings big hits and can make other things happen to bring the game some excitement. Like this moment in the first period tonight....

This was only the first in a total of 3 fights he got involved in. Nice to have someone besides Bam-Bam (that's Raitas Ivanas for all you readers unfamiliar with the Kings) to get the crowd going.

So if you see #33 on the street, smile and give him a hug. If you skate against him, all bets are off.

Dorothy, We're Not in Vegas Anymore

I arrived in Las Vegas a few hours ago for the Kings Frozen Fury game. It's an annual hockey meets partying lovefest at the MGM Grand and not to be missed. Last year, we got to see Alex Frolov riding shotgun on the back of the Zamboni. Nothing is cooler as an LA hockey fan.

Now I'm not a huge Vegas lover. I can think of tons of things I'd rather buy with my money instead of gambling on it, and lord knows LA has plenty of good restaurants and clubs. But if you're coming to Vegas, a big part of the attraction is the over-the-top tackiness of it all. This includes hotel room decor. So I have to admit, I was a little disappointed in the newly renovated West Wing of the MGM Grand.

First off, the decor is totally Manhattan loft and totally un-Vegas-like. Which is cool if you want to feel like you're home in Manhattan. But if you want all the glamorous excess of old-style Vegas, this just doesn't get it done.

So the bathroom is kinda cool, and that black square you see in the mirror is actually a TV. That's kinda hot!

I also just love the organized Zen cool of free hotel bath products....

Although the hotel did maintain the one bastion of Vegas-ness that you don't find anywhere else...the toilet phone. Because it's more fun to drunk dial people when you're sitting down. Or in case of accidental alcohol poisoning or the random drug overdose.

OOOOHHHH.... the bed is comfy! I think I'll take a nap until game time....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This is What My Brain Looks Like

I was reorganizing my CD collection the other day, pulling out things I hadn't looked at in a while and reading the liner notes. Although I've begrudgingly joined the iPod generation, I still love buying CD's and reading all the details, song lyrics and thank you notes in the liner that tell you the creative story behind the music.

One of my choices was John Mayer's "Continuum," which includes a photo of the mixing board in his recording studio with the caption "This is what my heart looks like...". I thought it was a genius way to visually sum up the role that atmosphere and environment has on our creative process. When you work in a grey standard issue cubicle, inspiration for creativity doesn't exactly come out of your environment without some help. Which is why we all tend to personalize our environment in some way to keep us motivated.

Hence, I share photos of my fully decorated work cubicle, where inspired training ideas to come to life (at least some of the time).

I have an entire corner dedicated to the LA Kings. My O'Sullivan tribute wall is the left side, and all the other team stuff is on the right.

This is my photo collage, which hangs on the wall I face when I have my computer set up. I get a lot of inspiration from visual stuff, plus I love seeing my friends smiling back at me when I'm having a bad day.

This corner is kind of a hodgepodge. Photo of my nephews, iPod docking station, and some fun awards and figurines people have given me over the years that still make me smile.

And last but not least, the ever-present Starbucks drink of choice (currently Venti iced Green-Tea Lemonade unsweetened), and my water mug.

With all this inspiration around, I should probably get to work.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Goodbye, Old Friend

As much as I was ready for a new car, I feel like my old Sebring deserves a proper tribute to say good bye. It was the first convertible I ever owned, the first car I ever bought in California, and only the second car I bought totally by myself. I had it for 9 years, and while no car is perfect, this one was very good to me.

Some of the memorable moments we shared....
  • Numerous trips running airport shuttle service to pick up Tanya, Leah, Michelle and anyone else that came to visit me
  • Two Jimmy Buffett concerts (and tailgates) in San Diego, CA with Tanya
  • Countless UCLA tailgate parties at the Rose Bowl
  • Trips to Dodger Stadium with Micah
  • Too many John Mayer concerts in Southern CA to count
  • One memorable trip home late at night from Pasadena to Burbank after too many margaritas, resulting in a collision with my parking lot pole at home and $1200 of body work paid out of pocket to avoid the insurance premium hike
  • Transportation to the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel for a memorable Thanksgiving dinner with Gerry in 1999
  • Tanya leaving a henna tattoo mark on the passenger seat after a visit to the Santa Monica pier
  • Trip to Las Vegas with Kris and Cathy Rutkowski that turned into the "how many men can Meg make out with?" weekend
  • Serving as a demonstration vehicle for my total loss classes to practice identifying options and applying condition ratings correctly (do I get a tax write-off for that?)
And that doesn't include getting me back and forth to work, the airport, Starbucks, Taco Bell, the mall, and any place else I've ever wanted to go, every day of the past 9 years of my life.

Farewell, old friend. You've earned a vacation...enjoy!

New Kid on the Block

I've been talking about buying a new car for so long, it's become a running joke with almost everyone who knows me. I'm a car person, so I'm pretty picky. I'm also a horsepower junkie, although current gas prices make it difficult to feed that habit. And enjoying the last 5 years without a car payment...well, you know how that goes.

The first car I ever fell in love with was a 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang 289 V8 convertible. Baby blue with white leather interior, it had been completely restored. It was for sale in a small used car lot in Smyrna, Delaware. I remember making my Dad stop so we could look at it. He smiled, shook his head and reminded me it wasn't a very practical car for a soon-to-be 16 year old first time driver. It would be a "classic" in a few years. He was right (as always), but I never forgot that car. Looking back, I wish I could have persuaded him to buy it and lock it in the garage for me until now. It would be a blast to have.

Although I never got that car, I have always loved convertibles and vowed I would own one some day. When I moved to CA in 1999, I finally had the money and the perfect climate for one, so I bought a 2 year old 1997 Chrysler Sebring JXI, fully loaded and red with a tan ragtop. That car has been with me for the past 9 years. This weekend, the top (which has been unraveling and needing replacement for the past year or so) finally gave out, and I knew it was finally time for another car.

Since my first brush with the 1964, I have also always wanted a Mustang. When Ford redesigned it a few years ago, bringing back the more "muscle car" style, I vowed to get the Shelby GT 500 model. Five hundred horsepower....ah, how much fun that would be to drive! I told everyone I knew that was "the car." I was going to order it! Then I kept putting it off. Gas prices went up. I was having too much fun spending what should be car payment money on Jimmy Choos and John Mayer concerts. And the dream faded into everyone asking me, "So, did you get the Mustang yet?"

I think now I put it off because there was something else waiting for me. So when the Sebring top gave out and I finally had to face the reality of a new vehicle purchase, I found this....

Meet the Volkswagen EOS, my new baby. 2009 model, 200 HP 4-cylinder engine (same engine in the Audi A4), power everything, leather, interior, dual climate control, iPod plug in...everything a girl needs. And it even gets 29 MPG on the highway...not bad! The folks at the VW dealer were awesome, and I was in love after a quick test drive. Not to mention this car gets major style points!

But I have to admit, the unique convertible top is what sold me on this car. It has a built-in sunroof, so you can either use just the sunroof or drop the top completely!!! Sheer genius!!

I'm still in the honeymoon period since my first payment isn't due for another month. That makes up a little for the fact that my insurance doubled when I added the new car. But every time I get in and turn the key, I love it a little more, so the money is worth it.

Now she just needs a name. Ideas? Post a comment, and I'll pick a winner and blog about it later. In the meantime, I'll see you on the road!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm Free!!

Jury duty is over!!! One of the defense attorneys got really sick (as in hospitalized) over the weekend, so we were all dismissed today. The DA was pissed because they're going to have to start all over again with jury selection since the entire trial is being postponed. I feel for him, but I'm glad to be done just the same.

Lots of other exciting things happened today, but I'm too tired now to write as much as I want, so more will be coming tomorrow. Let's just say that today I:

* Said goodbye to an old friend
* Bought myself an awesome present
* Spent the evening enjoying one of my favorite activities

You'll just have to wait for the rest of the details....

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hockey+ Shopping = Happiness

Yesterday Nadine and I headed to the Toyota Sports Center to watch some of the LA Kings pre-season hockey camp. She brought her husbands camera, which has sports photo mode, and it was awesome to hear her clicking away like a pro. My shots are not as good as hers, but I got a few keepers. The middle row photo is the latest shot of my favorite new rookie, Drew Doughty. He played very well yesterday and is already getting positive press from the coaches, so I'm really hoping he makes the big team this year.

And here's one piece of video I shot yesterday of Kings forward Anze Kopitar attempting to rip off one of Alex Ovechkin's favorite scoring moves, which I'm sure has a name but I call the "Spin and Shoot." It's a genius way to hide the puck from the goalie so they don't know which angle you're going to shoot from. It happens about 1 minute into the video, so be a little patient with the stuff until then. Unfortunately, Anze didn't score, so I guess his move still needs a little work. AO, of course, would have put it in the net the first time....

I've got more videos that I'll throw up on YouTube later today, so all you hockey fans out there can get more Kings Camp action. Here's a link to my channel:

Of course, the only dark spot on my perfect day was the absence of Patrick O'Sullivan at camp. Sully and his agent are still in a protracted negotiation over his contract with the Kings. I caught up with Daryl Evans, who does radio commentary for the Kings and asked him about the situation. I was extremely bummed that it sounds like Sully and his agent are the ones holding out at this point...but I'm still hoping he'll come around. I miss my #12!

On a positive note, our first pre-season game is Monday at Staples Center, so I'll have lots more hockey to blog about!

Almost forgot! In all my hockey excitement, I didn't mention we also went shopping and had an incredibly successful day! Very excited to find the perfect "little black dress" for Nadine in the Calvin Klein department at Macy's. I was so excited to see her rockin' that dress, I forgot to get a photo....

More Freeway Fun

I'm sure I violate any number of laws taking photos while I drive, but I sit in hours of traffic every day and a gi
rl has to do something to keep herself amused. Right?

Only in LA....

Friday, September 19, 2008

Unexpected Beauty

Today was my second day of jury duty. As awful as yesterday was, I woke up determined to have a better outlook on the day. I figured life is too short to be tortured by the boredom of civic duty. Put on the big girl panties and get on with it! So after my morning breakfast stop at Starbucks and 15 minutes of extra traffic due to the later court start time, I started walking the 5 blocks to the courthouse.

This morning was beautiful and clear, and the light was amazing. One of my favorite scenes from The Bridges of Madison County is Robert Kincaid going to scout out the Roseman Bridge in the afternoon and commenting that the light was "no good." He goes back in the morning to get the picturesque shots his employer, National Geographic wants. Now I don't have a trained photographers eye, but the more I looked today the more I noticed the difference in the quality, the clarity, and the color of the light in the morning. It just makes everything more beautiful.

Since I've started blogging, I've also been carrying my camera around with me, looking for inspiring images to go with the words. The jury parking lot is adjacent to the inspiring Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, so I pulled out the camera there and started catching some shots. As I cut through the park adjacent to the judicial complex, I saw the morning light do its amazing dance with flowers, water, even pavement. Here's a selection of some of my favorite shots.

Jury selection still isn't finished, so I'm due back in court again Monday morning. This time, I'm actually looking forward to it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Luck Has Run Out....

It's official! I am now mired in the jury selection process...ARRGHHH!! After an unsatisfying lunch, I reported back to court and was brought into the courtroom with 65-70 other people that compose the potential pool for our trial. All my Facebook karma gave me absolutely no love today! I got stuck on a CRIMINAL trial of the worst kind - gang involved shooting. The judge seems to think it will take about a week including deliberations, but I have my doubts given how much time she spent today questioning just the first 12 candidates.

Of course, some of these folks are not only dumb as rocks but have never served on a jury before, so I guess I have a little sympathy for the judge. But for those of us not living under rocks that have been watching Law and Order for years, it was a boring doctoral dissertation on the American justice system and our responsibility to set our opinions aside and consider only the evidence in reaching a verdict. Although occasionally the questions bordered on bullying, in my opinion. Here's a sample exchange from today:

Judge: "Have you ever been a victim of a crime involving gang activity?"

Juror: "Well, I grew up in East LA and gangs were pretty much a way of life. Two of my cousins were killed in drive-by shootings, my brother is paralyzed from being shot, and I've been shot myself."

Judge: "But do you think you can objectively evaluate the evidence in this case and be impartial when reaching a verdict?"

Really??? Personally I think this guy deserves a free pass on being "impartial." If you're really honest with yourself, how can your judgment not be impacted by that much personal trauma? If this was Runaway Jury, Gene Hackman would have already gotten this dude dismissed and started moving on to the rest of the pool. We've still got 60 people left!! But our judge seems determined to get everyone to promise to be impartial regardless of their personal history. Let's get real already!

So after 2 1/2 hours of stupid Q&A and idiot answers, we all get to come back tomorrow and do it again. Since tomorrow is Friday and it's been a crappy day, I think a Top Ten list is in order to cheer me up....

Top Ten Reasons to Hate Jury Duty

10) 2 hours of traffic getting home
9) Lousy cafeteria food
8) Courthouse equipped with slowest elevators on the planet
7) Flip flops violate court dress code
6) Free parking 5 blocks from the courthouse...uphill!
5) Stare-down from bailiff prevents nap time during boring patches
4) Unattractive "Juror" badge clashes with otherwise perfect outfit
3) No time for mid-afternoon Starbucks refresher
2) Uncomfortable chairs
1) No Internet access for hourly Sully contract watch

I'm hoping some better karma kicks in tomorrow and I get kicked out!

The Jury Is Out.....

So today I'm suffering through my practically annual joy of jury duty, one of the suckier things about being a resident of Los Angeles County. Everyone sues everyone here, and that doesn't even count all the criminals running around, so apparently they need all hands on deck. Can you tell I'm happy?

It didn't help that I've been up since 5 AM to beat traffic into downtown LA to arrive at the jury room by 7:45 AM. Of course, you then go through an orientation that is useless to anyone who knows how to read, since the instructions are all covered both on the jury summons and the stupid little brochure they send you explaining your civic duty, complete with smiling civic servants that are currently working for a state without a budget thanks to "The Governator."

But I arrived on time, hoping for the equivalent of the last experience I had on jury duty, which was sitting all day and then being dismissed for giving a day of my valuable time being exquisitely bored. No such luck this time. My name just got called, and I have to find some lunch before I report to the 9th floor at 1:30 PM.

My task now is to get excused by doing something to irritate one of the attorneys and make them understand I am not an acceptable juror. Thank God I'm opinionated! And since actor Don Cheadle got excused from a case yesterday, maybe I'll get lucky.....

Monday, September 15, 2008

Things That Are Making Me Happy Today!

Girls hockey trip with Nadine already planned! Capitals vs. Penguins tickets - lower level, March 7, 2009. If these teams are anywhere near as competitive this year as last year (both teams when to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and Pittsburgh went to the Stanley Cup Final), this is the game to see in March! Plus, how can you not love watching the talents of reigning Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin against favorite NHL phenom Sidney Crosby!!

Michael Kors "Lattington" oversized satchel. My new signature bag for this year. It's purple so it matches my Kings jersey!!! Nadine and I stopped by the Michael Kors store at The Grove in West Hollywood on our way back from the Kings rookie scrimmage, so we still had our colors on. The guys at the store thought it was hilarious.

And last but not least....chocolate-dipped fortune cookies!! As if they're not good enough plain.
Since I ate two cookies, I got two fortunes....

* Have patience - it will benefit you
* You will travel far and wide

Not sure about the patience part, but the Kings Frozen Fury game in Vegas is in 2 weeks, so travel is definitely in my future! Wish me luck! Go Kings!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Before you get too excited, I'm not talking about the kind of passion you're probably assuming, so get your mind out of the gutter! I want to share a story from a recent trip to Seattle that got me thinking about passion as a way of life.

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to arrange a trip to Seattle on business at the same time my dear friend, Michelle Turenne (on the left in the top photo), was in town for a board of directors meeting. Thanks to the gracious hospitality of Leah Jacobs, my best friend in Seattle, I stayed the weekend and we all got to spend some time at Seattle's most famous landmark, Pike Place Market.

Leah and Michelle are both tremendous cooks, and the market is the perfect afternoon shopping trip for real foodies. One of the places we stopped while window shopping was La Buona Travola truffle cafe ( They have a lovely tasting bar where you can sample all their truffle products, as well as some absolutely wonderful aged balsamic vinegar. The tasting bar is where we met the gentleman in the photo to the left. I wish I could remember his name, but he made our day and made me think.

As we started tasting everything from delicious white truffle oil to an orgasmic 20 year old aged cherry balsamic vinegar, our new friend delighted us with every detail on the products, from the origins, to the barrel aging process, to the subtleties of each flavor, even what types of foods to pair them with. He pulled us in, enthralled us, and made us appreciate every aspect of the experience were we having by the sheer excitement and PASSION he had for his job. We were all so moved, we were completely devastated when a 20 year old bottle crashed to the floor!

Watching someone so in their element is an exciting thing. They light up. They can't tell you enough about that thing they love. They savor every moment, having the time of their lives. And it's a great way to be.

I enjoy lots of things, but I don't think I'm as passionate about anything as this guy was about vinegar. I'd like to be. Now I just need to find something to get that excited about.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying some white truffle spread!

Patience, Hope, and Hockey

Being a hockey fan, much like being a fan of any sport, has it's ups and downs. I suppose the true purpose of sports is to teach us important life skills. Having patience when things go wrong. Winning with grace. Losing, but still maintaining your dignity. Supporting your teammates in spite of adversity. Working together towards a common goal.

Now, I haven't been a Los Angeles Kings hockey fan for very long, but my two-year tenure as a fan has been marked mostly by the need for patience. LOTS has gone wrong! The Kings finished last year with the second WORST record in the NHL. My favorite player (Patrick O'Sullivan #12) is still not under contract...and the seasons starts in 30 days (I could rant several blogs worth of material on that one, so don't get me started). Season ticket prices went up this year. We traded away almost every veteran on the team. We fired our coach (although that decision makes me happy). Our 2008 record and the "Sully Situation" alone would be enough to cause any lesser fan to abandon ship. Not me.

Because with defeat and despair comes hope for redemption. And yesterdays rookie scrimmage gives me hope the Kings will enjoy better fortune in 08-09.

These kids may be young, but they're got a lot going for them. They have already spent years in junior hockey, fighting for their shot at the big time. Many won't make the club this year and will go back to juniors to work more before their moment arrives. They're hungry. And they have heart, something noticeably absent from many of our players last year.

My hopes for salvation rest with Drew Doughty, LA's #1 draft pick (photo at right). This kid grew up in London, Ontario (Canada) rooting for the Kings during the Wayne Gretzky years. He wore a Kings jersey when all his friends showed loyalty to Canadian teams. He actually WANTED the Kings to draft him. He believes, and he's helping me believe too.

And the fans showed a lot of heart yesterday. Like me, not all have given up hope. The bleachers were filled with them, anxious faces searching the eyes of these young kids for a glimpse of a better future. I think we all found it. We now have a reason to hope.

Hockey season can't start soon enough....