I’ve Been To The Hello Kitty Cafe

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How do you explain Hello Kitty? Why such a frenzy?

In case you’re not hip…

Hello Kitty, is a fictional character produced by the Japanese company Sanrio, created by Yuko Shimizu and currently designed by Yuko Yamaguchi. She is depicted as an anthropomorphic white Japanese Bobtail cat with a red bow – Wikipedia

My city, Irvine, is the home of the first “Hello Kitty Cafe.” It’s located at the Irvine Spectrum, the outdoor mall with the Ferris Wheel.

Built into a shipping crate, HKC will stay at the Spectrum for a year before moving on. The cafe serves drinks and baked goods… all in pink.

It opened this past weekend to a five hour long line! This Tuesday evening Stef and I waited twenty minutes.

Irvine being Irvine the line was a self-contained United Nations. I watched three women in beautiful hijabs take a photo in front of the kitty. Actually, everyone took a photo with the kitty, even a woman with a dog wearing a skirt..

Adorable. A selfie magnet. Very pink. Well merchandised. Adorable. Overpriced.

I asked Stef if people will make pilgrimages here from far away? She didn’t pause before giving me the look daughters give fathers. I’m going to take that as a yes.

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My (Long) Trip To Outlaw Radio

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I needed out of the house. I needed travel therapy. I hopped in the car Saturday afternoon and drove to the San Fernando Valley, home of Outlaw Radio.

Thursday (in the middle of-the-night) Google assured me the trip was one hour two minutes. It took an hour and a half going and one twenty coming home.

There is no time of the day-or-night when there isn’t traffic in Los Angeles. It’s a given. You plan for it.

I set up a little camera on the windscreen between my car’s two seats and let the top fold itself into the trunk. The timelapse that resulted won’t be posted. It was a reminder, parts of SoCal are beautiful, but nothing on this route!

It was worth it because of the destination.

Every Saturday at 3 PM PST, esteemed radio host Magic Matt Alan gathers in the legendary Lighten Up Lounge, accompanied by his famed Demons of Decadence. There, in the 1876 Virginia City, Nevada-style bar, in the hills of Encino, California, a rapacious evening of smoking, drinking, and interrupting commences! From celebrities to cigars, anything can happen on the program… and usually does!

Outlaw Radio’s slogan is “We smoke, we drink, we interrupt.” Stogies were lit, the hardest drink was beer and I did a s**tload of interrupting.

Outlaw Radio is streamed on-the-Internet. And we just talked. Over the course of the afternoon we had six or seven participants. Everyone had an opinion or two or more.

At one point Matt’s brother, Marty, told me how much he “hated” Irvine, where I live. Even I admit it’s a little… err… repetitive. But it’s an amazing place designed for living. We traded words.

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Holy crap! Working at home I’d forgotten all about arguing and how much fun it is. Matt Allen (our esteemed host) and I are diametrically opposed politically. And it was great fighting it out because he too is passionate and fact based.

In fact I brought home a new appreciation how similar the right and left feel about each other’s candidate! An election driven by passionate hatred. How does this end well?

If Matt’s name is familiar, it’s because he’s the morning man on SiriusXM’s 70s on 7. He was on Saturday as I drove north to his home.

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I know Matt because of Howard Lapides, our best man and my friend since college. Howard is a manager who brought more front line big name stars to TV than anyone I can think of.

Am I allowed to name drop? Probably not.

This trip was therapeutic. Just a chance to get away and blow off a little steam. It’s good to have good friends. If they only lived closer.

The Revelation (featuring Harold Fox)

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When my Mom and Dad moved to Milwaukee (and while they lived in Florida) they had beautiful widescreen TVs but subscribed to standard definition service on the cable. It drove me nuts. I tried to convince them. They were unshakable.

“It makes no difference,” my mom would say. She said the same about decaf versus regular. Not a credible witness, your honor.

They used to stretch out standard def channels to make them fill the entire screen. As a stretchee I was not a shrinking violet expressing my displeasure.

They never budged.

I finally gave up on my dad. He only has one eye and it’s not that great.

And then today…

“There’s been a notice on the TV saying I was about to lose channels,” he said earlier this afternoon. He asked LaTanya to call. Long story short Time-Warner is converting to all-digital. No more SD.

Last week she hooked up the boxes. She is beyond wonderful.

“I don’t think I could have done it,” he said, then reminded me how long it took his shaky hands to plug in headphones for this call. Headphones are the best thing that ever happened to our conversations.

And then he said, “Geoff, you won’t believe the difference in the picture.”

Really?

FML!

The Fruit (Singular) Of My Labor

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Our tiny patio is loaded with life. I like tending to plants. The fact that pots now surround plants growing from the ground attests to our overabundance.

Growing in the very corner of the patio is a plum tree. I like to keep it around seven feet tall, but it’s been a while.

This year the tree produced a plum.

plum in hand

Here’s the amazing thing — It’s perfect. Well, perfect from the outside. My ‘orchard’ has had minimal contact with pesticides. The inside might be different.

split plum

Perfect. Holy crap!

And it tastes amazing. Sweet, yet simultaneously tart, it was juicy with firm fruit.

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Now I have to wait another year!

Why I Didn’t Take Junior or Senior English

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I was just talking with a friend and realized this is a story I haven’t told (much).

I didn’t take English junior and senior year in high school. Well, not in the conventional sense.

Instead of taking English, I was an actor, a radio actor. I was a member of the NYC All-City Radio Workshop. It all took place on my high school’s ninth floor (seriously) at WNYE-FM.

WNYE was an anachronism. It was proof of a bureaucracy’s resistance to change. What we were doing was appropriate in 1952. The was 66-67-68.

It didn’t make a difference. I loved it. Voices and dialects. I mostly played kids.

Sometimes they were famous kids, like young Franklin Roosevelt or young Orville Wright. I played young Jackie Robinson. It was a long time ago. We didn’t know.

I was an endless stream of Billys and Bobbies in two act plays. We were the late 60s multimedia teacher’s helper. My grade school teacher’s played shows like “Lets Look at the News” and “Sing, Everyone Sing” in the classroom.

I played alongside professional voice actors. This was a union gig for them. The writers were pro too. I started at 16.

We operated in a large studio with a variety of old school RCA mics. It was an RCA board as well.

Pushed up against a wall in the back of the studio was a “sound effects truck.” They went out with the advent of tape! Remember tape?

Like Morse Code another totally worthless skill. Worth it.

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