Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dodger Blue



Ever since I've become a hockey fan, baseball has fallen by the wayside for me in terms of time spent dedicated to it. From a pure speed comparison, watching a baseball game after following a little black puck around at 90 mph is the visual equivalent of watching grass grow. But I guess I should consider a summer watching baseball as rest for my eyes and preparation for another season of Drew-cam operating.

Back in the day I was an enormous Mike Piazza fan, and following his every exploit and achievement got the same amount of my attention as the Kings now receive. But even though I'm not obsessive about baseball anymore, I still enjoy a good game. Luckily my friend Micah has season tickets with some friends, and he invited me to tonight's game - my first Dodgers adventure of the season.


Traffic is always the most frustrating part of any sporting event in LA, but it gave me a chance to test the capabilities of my iPhone camera in different lighting conditions. Not bad...


We got there a little late, and the concession lines were enormous, so we decided to hold off on getting our requisite Dodger Dogs and nachos until a little later. Beer, on the other hand, could not wait, because really, how do you even start to enjoy a baseball game without a beer?


After winning a West Division Championship last year, the Dodgers are off to flying start this season. For the first time since 1946, when they were the Brooklyn Dodgers playing at Ebbetts Field, they're 7-0 at home, including the win tonight. The game started off pretty rough, with the starting pitcher (some wet-behind-the-ears rookie, I think) only lasting 2 innings. Luckily a Orlando Hudson-Manny Ramirez-Andre Ethier home run fest got things going in the 4th inning, and the Dodgers never looked back.

I know it's impossible to tell, but this is Manny Ramirez at the plate right before hitting his first homer of the night. Key iPhone camera limitation...no zoom.


By the end of the 7th we were starving, and figured the hot dog lines would have died down, so we left our seats to get some food. The lines were shorter, alright, but moving at the speed of frozen molasses.



It took us AT LEAST 40 minutes and 2 innings to get 2 Dodger Dogs and nachos. But a Dodger Dog is worth the wait, at least the way I make one....




Ketchup, relish, and BROWN stadium mustard, not the neon yellow crap. The only way to dress a dog.

The Padres pulled to a tie a couple of times later in the game, but the Big Blue Machine got the job done and finished with an 8-5 win.


At least the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup play-offs start today, so I'll have something faster to watch this weekend....GO CAPS!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dave Barnes @ Hotel Cafe

Ever since I met Dave Barnes (http://www.davebarnes.com/) on the first Mayercraft in last year, I've been a huge fan of Dave and his music. He's based in Nashville, and unfortunately doesn't get to the West Coast as often as I'd like, so anytime he comes to LA I jump at the chance to see him. Tonight I caught the first of two shows at The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood.



Dave is a very funny guy, and his little between song chats are great comedic stand-up on their own ("Lately when I'm singing, I've been spitting on the audience a little, just accidentally, so you people in the front row might want to take cover..."). The fact that he's a great songwriter and talented musician is the icing on the cake.



He's also a fan of audience participation, so there is always at least one sing-along moment at every show. The audience joined in singing the bridge lyric of my absolute favorite song, "When a Heart Breaks" ("Please don't leave me here...."). Then the chorus on "Everybody But You" ("Everybody knows but you..."), one of my favorite Barnes party rockers. And he closed out the night with a fully unplugged campfire-style singalong of "Until You" standing in the center of the audience. Everyone was standing together, singing together in the most beautiful harmonies, I got a little choked up.

But the thing I think makes Dave so popular is how accessible he is. After shows, most of the time artists hang out near the bar, hoping not to get noticed and bothered, but act polite when someone approaches them. Dave parked himself right near the exit so fans could take photos and talk. And then I mean talk, I mean you really have a conversation with Dave. He's one of those rare people who shakes your hand, looks you straight in the eye and doesn't just say "Thank you" and move on. He asks where you drove in from, other artists you like, etc.

I was waiting patiently to talk to him, and lots of people were taking photos. As a fellow photo hog, I was more than happy to be the camera operator for several people. That meant other people kept handing me cameras, so I kept talking pictures, and at one point Dave leaned over and grabbed my hand, looked me straight in the eye, and said, "Don't go anywhere...you're next."

After the photo hounds had cleared out, we had a great little talk. His regular bass player, Matt Magano was missing, so I asked about him and found out he's on tour with Marc Broussard (http://www.marcbroussard.com/), one of my favorite soul singers. Dave also told me he's done some songwriting with Marc, and shares my love of his voice. And of course I asked about a new album, and Dave confirmed he has one coming out this summer, with a tour hopefully this fall. I can't wait! And at the end of our little chat, I got a big hug! What a sweetheart!

And I would be remiss in talking about Dave if I didn't mention the Mocha Club, his non-profit organization dedicated to improving living conditions in Africa. His latest project is building wells in two communities in Sudan. He just gives and gives...how can you not love this guy! Here's a link to the Mocha Club if you want to learn more.

https://www.mochaclub.org/mochaclub/sponsor/davebarnes/7

And speaking of giving back, I sat with the nicest people from Toms Shoes at the show last night! They were bringing Dave some samples since he's one of their supporters. Toms sells canvas and vegan footwear, and their mission is to give away a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes they sell. As a shoe addict, that's a cause I can easily support! Here's a link to the Tom website. And thanks for a great night, girls!

http://cdn2.tomsshoes.com/default18.htm

And I wouldn't be a good live music supporter if I didn't mention Dave's opening act, the wonderful Andrew Ripp (http://www.myspace.com/andrewripp) . HUGE soulful voice, great melodies, great guitar. Be sure to check him out!



Other cool musician sightings are always a possibility at the Hotel Cafe, and last night I saw David La Bruyere (http://www.myspace.com/davidlabruyere), John Mayer's old bass player, who was subbing in for Matt Magano. And Michael Chavez, John's old guitar player, also stopped by to hi to Dela! Does it get any better than this?

Thanks for an amazing night Dave! Let's do it again tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Thank goodness for social media. Otherwise, I would totally have forgotten that today is Earth Day. But since I log into my computer the first thing in the morning (sometimes before I even hit the shower), I got many friendly reminders from my like-minded buddies on Facebook. It got me thinking about things I could do to help the environment. I will admit that I have great intentions in this arena, but my follow-through isn't always the best. But at least I'm thinking about it, which is the first step to taking action. Here are some of the ideas that went through my mind this morning...

Things I contemplated doing to save the environment
  • Skip my shower to save water, keep chemicals in my shampoo out of the water supply, etc.
  • Begin turning my hair into dread locks since it's so tangled anyway...less need to shampoo
  • Following the "If it's yellow, let it mellow..."rule Michelle taught me from camping in Maine to decide whether or not to flush the toilet.
  • Call in sick from work to avoid the commute and subsequent CO2 emissions from my EOS.

After a bit of thought, I figured these weren't totally reasonable, and some were completely silly. Although taking a sick day tempting the way I was feeling this morning. So I didn't do any of them. I did make my best effort in other, more attainable ways.

Things I did do to save the environment
  • Took a shorter shower since I didn't need to wash my hair today anyway
  • Did not let the water run while I was brushing my teeth
  • Reused my Starbucks cup sleeve
  • Unplugged my computer and cell phone chargers
  • Drank water from my Big Dogs mug all day at work instead of buying more bottled stuff.
  • Signed up for paperless billing with AT&T for my new iPhone.
So I'm not the most impressive environmentalist on planet Earth, but it's a start...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sunshine and Smiles



My good friend Tanya is pregnant with her second baby and due the end of June. She's at that stage of her pregnancy where she's in major nesting mode, cleaning out closets, getting the new nursery ready, and generally getting organized for the big day. Not the easiest task when you're also chasing after a very independent one-year old who is toddling everywhere, demanding your attention.

She was hoping to get a weekend away and come get a little California sunshine while she could still travel, but so far that hasn't worked out. So her amazing husband Jerry helped me plot a little surprise visit, and I flew up to Portland Saturday morning. Tanya's mom picked me up at the airport, and Jerry managed to get her out of the house for a surprise lunch downtown. She was SO surprised, it actually took her a minute to get out of the car. Then I got the biggest hug and smile...my favorite moment of the whole trip!

The weather in Portland was absolutely AMAZING all weekend. Sunny, clear, and close to 80 degrees. Perfect occasion to take Addie and the dogs for stroll through the neighborhood.



And since it was nice and hot outside, we had some popsicles to cool off!



Jerry is such a great Dad, and Addie is so attached to him. Plus he can make her do the funniest things...like make silly faces! I just love this photo of the two of them.



Watching Addie, it's hard to believe how much she's changed in just the last few months. From a just starting to toddle, hair still filling in, sucking on a bottle baby to fully mobile, mind of her own, full head of strawberry blond hair force of nature. Se just gets cuter every day.



My next visit will hopefully be this summer after Tanya has BGO (Baby Girl Offerdahl) #2. I'm sure Addie can't wait to meet her new sister!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Signs of Spring

The Progressive office where I work in Pasadena, CA is loaded with bright, creative, colorful people. They think of more ways to have fun than anyone I know. A lot of credit for that goes to their branch manager, Kim Davis, who is always so peppy, smiling and full of energy. They also have a lot of really great cooks in the office, so to kick off the start of spring, they organized a Pasadena office Iron Chef Strawberry Recipe Cook-off.

I don't always get notice on this stuff, and it's a shame I didn't because I've got some awesome strawberry recipes, including my mom's signature Pretzel Salad. Although looking at some of these entries, I don't think I would have had a snowballs chance in hell of winning.

In no particular order, here are some of the entries in the contest.


Team Leader Chong Taing (or should I say his fiancee) made these tasty strawberry-lime popsicles. A perfect recipe in time to beat the heat this summer.


Helen Pan made this yummy strawberry tarte, with just enough chocolate for both pretty presentation and sweet taste.


Branch Manager Kim Davis contributed this strawberry cake, complete with shooters of strawberry sauce. I love a presentation involving shot glasses!


Marie Lattouf-Lockwood made this beautiful strawberry cheesecake, with the berries arranged in the shape of a lotus flower. So creative! And the berries were really lightly sugared so they were just the right blend of sweet and tart. Can you tell this was one of my personal favorites?



Team Leader Dan Warnick should really quit his day job and become a professional pastry chef. The first time I looked at this elegant cheesecake, I assumed it was store bought, probably at Cheesecake Factory. Amazing presentation, and taste to match.




But the big winner of the day was this unusually creative Strawberry Surf & Turf by Chris Bordey. It's a sandwich of pulled pork with a BBQ sauce made from strawberries and Newcastle beer, accompanied by onion confit, arugula, Brie cheese and maple bacon. Yowzah! It got gobbled up so fast it was the only entry I didn't get to taste. Congrats on the big win Chris!


And here are the rest of the contestants. Great job by everyone! Now I'll be in sugar shock for the rest of the afternoon....



Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Sweetest Goodbye



It seems like only yesterday I was in Las Vegas at Frozen Fury, getting my first picture of the season with Bailey and preparing for the start of a new Kings season. And now it's over. This team started the year with no expectations of any success, but they played their hearts out, didn't listen to the critics, and made some impressive strides. I remember Nadine and I saying during the first game of the season that it would be interesting to see what happened. It was a roller coaster at times, but there was never a dull moment, and I'm glad I was there to see it all.

In their last game of the season, the Kings went out in the best way possible--with a 4-3 win over our in-state rival San Jose Sharks. Sure, the Sharks will win the President's Trophy as the team with the best record in the NHL. Sure, they're going to the playoffs. But we Kings fans got something even better - a team with the heart of a lion, a ton of young talent and determination not to quit. Because of that, I'm already looking forward to next season.

In addition to the the traditional "Jersey Off Their Backs" giveaway, team awards get announced at the last game. It was a big night for Drew - voted Best Defenseman and Best Newcomer. Personally, I think he should have been voted team MVP, but I'll admit I'm biased. Although anyone who saw more than 10 games this season knows the difference he made in this team. He's gonna be a true superstar one day, and it was an honor to be there for this first NHL season. In honor of Drew, here's some video of the team awards.

video

A big part of the reason I love coming to games, besides the hockey itself, is companionship from my hockey buddies. It wouldn't be nearly as fun riding the roller coaster without them, and they always manage to make even my worst days better just by saying hello.

First up, Brianna and Jen Wells, goddesses of crazy hockey game outfits and funny face pictures. This is a normal one, although I do have the funny version too. And they didn't have their tiaras on yet since this was taken during warm-ups. So Jen and Bri, if you're reading, you owe me a full costume picture next time.



Danny befriended Nadine the first season she started going to games, and he's been nice enough to chat with us ever since. He's been a Kings fan for a lot of years, and is always my favorite sounding board when I'm frustrated over a trade (like the Sully deal), how we're playing, or anything else. Very knowledgeable about hockey and a total sweetheart. Plus he has the best smile going.



And last but not least, Nadine and John. Nadine is responsible for my addiction to this game, and our weekday games without John are my favorite days of the year. Nothing better than being with a good friend, ogling cute opposing team players, cheering on our boys, being each others moral support to avoid the Popcornopolis Zebra Chocolate temptation, and catching up on everything going on in our lives. I'd be lost without her.

And John, of course, can always be counted on to rabbit-ear someone and stick his tongue out in every photo, so we keep him around for entertainment value. Although I also love him for recognizing true talent and putting Doughty on the back of his jersey.



And last but not least, I gotta say some individual player "Thank You's." True Kings fans reading will totally get these, and the rest of you will probably not. That just means you need to BECOME a Kings fan and get in on all the inside jokes. So here goes....

Terry Murray - you took on a daunting task coaching this team, and I'm impressed with everything you accomplished. You are more than welcome to come back next year. And any guy with a daughter named Meg is OK by me.

DL - OK, OK....looks like you know what you're doing. Although I still haven't forgiven you for the Sully trade...yet. And I'm already getting my questions ready for the GM breakfast, so look out.

OD - thanks for taking good care of my rookie. Even though you're a former Duck, you've earned my respect this season. Glad to have you back in a Kings uniform.

Kyle - you are a defensive STUD! Detroit's loss is our gain and then some. If you play this well with a bad back, I bet you're an animal healthy. Heal up! We need you.

Justin - I'm trying really hard to like you, I'm just not there yet. Maybe we can go have some Mexican food and you can convince me. Just know that I'm watching you, and there will be no mercy if you don't live up to your hype. Then the "Bring Back Sully" signs will come out...

Ziggy - hang in there dude! Gonna have a conversation with Terry in the off-season about getting you some more playing time. I still get excited every time I see you on the ice. No one skates as out-of-control crazy as you, and I think it scares the other teams, which is cool!

Quicker - my offer to bedazzle your jersey still stands. Have the equipment manager call my new iPhone and we'll hook it up. And I need the name of your yoga coach, or whoever got you to do a split like that. I'm trying to get back into my old cheerleading form.

Greener - there are so many things I want to say to you, but I think I need a beer or two first. And I know you love beer. The main thing I want to say is that no one sacrifices more body parts to stop pucks than you - your butt, your face...I could keep going. Good thing chicks dig scars, 'cause you're a roadmap of 'em. Your fiancee must be the coolest girl on earth. Hopefully your face heals up in time for your wedding pictures. And in between the wedding madness, try to find some more words to teach Drew...hopefully he has "verbose" down by now.

Brownie - you had a tough job this year, and handled it with grace and class. My hat is off to you. I'm glad you're our captain. And nice to see you and Nicole continuing your quest to build the genetically perfect hockey team...keep it up! I figure Jake should be on skates in a another year or so.

Jack - we missed you while you were out. No one forgot about you, so put it out of your mind. Glad you're back, and looking forward to you having a healthy season next year. Study hard this summer, and get your website updated, will ya? I'm still waiting on your favorite workout tips.

Simmer - I know Nadine and I nicknaming you "Shirley" must have been a blow to your ego. Just know it's out of love. Now get in the gym this summer and pack on some muscle...you're too skinny to be so good.

Drew - You were more than we ever could have hoped for. You're the future of this team, and we love you. My bet is that Doughty jerseys will soon appear in the stands in numbers rivaling Brown and Kopitar. And that you're gonna keep collecting phone numbers by the dozens. Just don't let it go to your head! Oh, and I've got a six pack of Diet Coke in the fridge if you're running low...stop in and say hi anytime. Aunt Denise has my number.


And finally to Adam, my ticket rep... renew my seats ASAP! Just don't send me the bill yet....


Only 5 months until Frozen Fury XII. See you in Vegas!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Having a Moment

It's hard to believe I just watched the Kings second to last home game of the 2008-09 season. I can't even bring myself to acknowledge it's almost over, but at least I can put that thought off for another week.

But this game was also VERY special because the Kings held a recognition ceremony for head of security Lou McClary, who was retiring after 42 years of service! To honor him, all 5 players who have had their jerseys retired by the Kings came out on the ice to congratulate Lou in person. These 5 guys have never been on the ice together before....I admit I was more than a little choked up.



From left to right:

Luc Robitaille
Wayne Gretzky
Dave Taylor
Marcel Dionne
Rogie Vachon

And here's some video of the ceremony so can learn a little more about Lou and the amazing players he looked after...kinda makes me a fuzzy inside. Especially since Bob Miller is such an amazing master of ceremonies.

video

Afterwards, the Kings proceeded to thrash the Coyotes 6-1, which I enjoyed more than I can quite express. And Drew got assists on goals 5 & 6, which made it that much better!

Now the boys are off on the road for another week before they finish out the season at home Saturday, April 11. Talk about getting choked up....

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lily Allen @ The Wiltern

I can't stay deprived of live music for very long, so my spring concert series (just made that up) continued tonight with Lily Allen at the Wiltern LG. My regular musical partner-in-crime Tammy joined me again, and it's become a tradition for us to take a picture with the marquee for the venue, so tonight was no exception.



The opening act was a band called Natalie Portman's Shaved Head.



Unfortunately that's pretty much how they sounded. Not much else I can say about that....

Then after a delayed start due to wireless microphone issues, Miss Lily arrived. Yes, those are silver sequined shorts. And you can't see them very well in this photo, but her shoes were these enormously tall platform stilettos, with what had to be at least 8 inch heels. All I could think is, "How long is she gonna survive in those?" She must have been reading my mind, because after about 3 songs the Air Jordan's came out.



I'm not very familiar with Lily's music overall, and most of the set was from her new album. It's got a very cool retro sound that suits her voice very well, and while she's not as energetic a live performer as Katy Perry, she was very good. She definitely got more animated the more she drank, and the bass monitor kept knocking her drink over, so she kept getting refills! When the "F" bombs start dropping, you know Lily's in her zone.

I was more than a little annoyed at her lighting tech though. Apparently they thought aiming the strobe lights directly at the audience was a good idea, which practically blinded everyone and made it hard to watch the first part of the show. Fortunately that stopped about halfway through the set.



Every concert deserves some video, so here's a little clip of Lily doing her hit "Smile" during the encore. She even throws in a little costume change....

video

Thank goodness this is a short work week. Another late, but great, night in La-La Land.....