Sunday, January 20, 2008

Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture edition

There is a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture edition happening in my living room and all I can do is type my blog entry. I am soooo tired!

What did I do to make myself so worn out today? Well it started off well enough. I took my sister and a few of our girlfriends to a new salon to get their hair cut. I thought it would be fun for everyone to get a new do on me. Then I got the bill - from starbucks. The start of the day. Damn. I knew I was in for a stationwagon of a credit card bill. I guess I should have thought of that before I offered - and I'm still talking about the coffee run. Just ranting. The girls got their hair cut and only 1 out of 4 hated her hair. Now that's not bad odds.

And for some god for saken reason, Los Angeles is the capital of traffic mayhem, the center of the evil universe for the devil's traffic heaven. Why does the horned one really see the need to create traffic jams that happen when people just slow down at a curve on every single freeway in Los Angeles county? Why can't we just have one road that lets you travel at 65 mph without traffic, this I ask you. If there is a masters student out there looking to write a thesis and then win the nobel peace prize before the age of 35, may i recommend you solve LA's simple traffic question? And by solve, I mean eliminate the driving competition. And by eliminate, I mean food poisoning all the way! That makes it almost impossible to sit for a standard amount of time in a car!

And then there was the 8 pm Chinese New Year Spectacular. Now I have to say I love me some Chinese New Year. I celebrate it every year with my parents. We cook huge meals, act on our best behavior, and love each other like normal families do only on holidays! :) Anyhow, when I heard there was going to be a performance celebrating the coolness of the holiday, I said, I need to get me some of those tickets. So i did. And twisting the arms of my family to go to a Chinese Art Performance is no small task. I get these 4 tickets thinking every person in my immediate family, all of Chinese descent, would jump at the opportunity to see the arts of their homeland. Not so sherlock! Mom complains she gets sleepy by 7 pm. Sister could care less, after she heard slight rumors that there are FaLungGang overtures. Brother intelligently went out of town, and then there were two, my dad and I. So we had two extra tickets which we gave away to family friends and that was easy enough. But the adventure is just beginning.....

I have to continue this later though. I sleepy.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Surviving Tom, and I ain't talkin' Cruise

Before I get started on my life-threatening ride to Rose Parade glory, I would like to give a shout out to Brenda in San Diego who asked where my coat was from. I got it from Zara, a lovely Spanish chain that specializes in affordable fashions. And I got it recently, so it might still be available in the store. Good luck!

Ok, so you all know that I am not the BEST driver in the world. I mean, come on. I grew up driving in LA, and then moved to Hollywood. All I do is defensive driving. That is all well and good though. But when I am a passenger in a 15-passanger van, being driven from about 8 float barns all around the Los Angeles area by a man named Tom, an official driver for the parade, I assume I am in good hands. Well my friends, although I expected to come back alive, nothing prepared me for a ride that made me thank god I my underwear was clean that day.

So get this. I get to the hotel in Pasadena at 7 am, where we are supposed to meet. And the first thing I hear is we are behind schedule because one of the van drivers has hit a car – in the valet roundabout. Wow. I tell the producer, I hope I’m not riding in that van! And he says, ‘Oh but you are.’ Something told me I should have known.

As soon as we all load into the van, we meet Tom. He’s an older man with kind eyes and a happy smile. He’s dressed well in his official Rose Parade blazer, and comes around to introduce himself to all of us – lovely gesture. And as soon as he saddles up in the driver’s seat, with his 5 happy-go-lucky passengers, he asks nonchalantly if it would be ok to make a quick stop at his house. He says, ‘I want to pick up my prescription glasses.’ This is AFTER the guy hit a car in a valet roundabout that is all of 50 meters long, and a semi-circle, where no one can reach more than 5 mph while taking the turn. All the passengers look at each other with a huge smile, like, are you serious? Next thing I hear is Jann Carl, lovely co-host of Rose Parade 2008 and just and extraordinary human being, say quickly ‘YES! Anything you need to see.’ We then all bust out laughing. Is this for real? I swear this was an episode of Candid Camera.

We get under way to Tom’s house and drive out of Pasadena to neighboring San Marino, where his home is located. Now it’s probably all of 3 miles to his home, not far at all, but before we reach our destination, the passengers are all chatting, excited for the day, when all of a sudden, screech! Holy crap. We all jolt forward coffees in hand, wondering WTF. This is TF. The van pulls up behind a car at a 4-stop intersection. The car in front drives off, and it’s the other cars’ turns. Well not in Tom’s driving book. He starts putting the pedal to the metal and as the two other cars are about to crash into either sides of the van, his quick actions step on the brakes and stop us. At this point, my eyes grow so big with worry and the ENTIRE van is silent. We just don’t know how to handle the situation.

Now that was a deal, but not a huge deal. So we mosey along our way to visit all the barns, find out all the secret decorating materials and the big shows planned for the big day. It was totally fun. Until….dun, dun, dun. We’re back in Pasadena and are lost looking for the last float barn of the day. We are driving back and forth on Grevalia Street, I believe, and cannot figure out where the address is. We stop at a train track crossing, and as we start to pull out slowly, the track lights start flashing. I think, of course, we’re already late as it is, so this is just fitting. It’s like Alanis Morissette’s grammatically incorrect song, ‘Isn’t it Ironic’, when it isn’t ironic at all, but just an inconvenience. But hey, I guess we can all take artistic license if we’re playing God in a Kevin Smith movie. But I digress. As the lights start flashing, for some insane reason, Tom leaves his foots firmly on the brake. All of a sudden I notice the arm of the crossings drop onto the car and yell ‘The arm is gonna hit us!’. Not a lovely instance in my life. And as the rest of the car reacts with ‘Oh My God!’, Tom, a pro driver, decides to pull forward. Now if you’re reading this story, you probably realize that we are half in and half out of the railroad crossings, so if the arm is coming down, why on earth would you pull into the danger zone? Well, I wanted to ask Tom, but I was too concerned with the fact that as he pulled forward, the tracks ran diagonally underneath our large 15-person van, and he just stopped once he thought he had pulled past one of the tracks. So I start saying, pull up! Pull up! You don’t know what direction the train is coming from and our rear is still over the second set of tracks! Pull up! So as a man who uses his mind on a bi-weekly basis at least, Tom pulls the van up so the front of the van is meeting oncoming traffic. The only thing keeping our car’s headlights from kissing the oncoming traffic’s headlights is, of course, the railroad crossing arm. This situation is honestly soooo crazy insane, we all in the car laugh throughout the entire thing. I start forming the claw with my hand and drive it deep into my Executive Producer’s leg to let him know I blame him for my death, as I laugh uproariously at the fact that my life is in the hands of a man who forgot his prescription glasses the morning he is meant to chauffeur a bunch of media people. This was pretty surreal. And the best part, as we’re sitting in our van waiting for the train to come by, the metro with 4 cars comes by, actually slows down and comes to a complete stop at the intersection to look at the idiots who are inside the crossing. The train STOPPED to mock us, as to say, what dumb-asses! And we were!

To top off the chauffeur trip, we make the most illegal u-turn in front of two police cars that look like Transformers. It was two of those new Charger models. I thought, oh no. Now not only have we just risked our lives living fast and furious on train tracks, we’re so getting tickets! But surprisingly, they didn’t stop us. And we finally ended up getting back to the hotel, where we all had a very stiff drink. Stiffer than a rocket – to celebrate ‘Surviving Tom.’ And after getting out of the car from hell, I get into my car with a drink in me. Safety first! ;) And realize, this was the funniest near-death experience I have ever had. Well played Tom. Well played.

Oh, and did you all see the rose parade coverage? Did you see the morphing truck float from Honda spew too big flames and then singe itself? And what about the parade running behind so they made the Akashikita High School from Japan run around the corner! The commentary from the booth was ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen marching bands run so fast!’ I swear to god, I love this parade! I am a complete float nerd! If there were a pin that read so, I’d sport it all day long. Float on, brothers and sisters, float on!