Category Archives: Events

SDCC 2017

SDCC was last month, and despite not getting tickets in the first round, I did manage to get a ticket again this year! I debuted a new full cosplay and a new pseudo-cosplay, which was very fun.

Antonio, gem, and I drove down Wednesday after work and had Berkeley Pizza for dinner. It was a short night, because we didn’t get down there early.

Thursday was the first time I wore my Tamatoa (the crab from Moana) cosplay. It was way too hot for it, but I enjoyed wearing it.

We met up with Tram and her friend Christian, and we spent most of the day with them. Maybe they’re good luck, because we got into Hall H for the first time. For reference, usually people line up overnight to get into Hall H. We heard an announcement that Will Smith would be in Hall H, which I just found silly. So what? It’s too late now. Antonio pointed out that maybe they announced it because it wasn’t full. He was exactly right. We walked right into the Netflix panel about Bright and Death Note. Will Smith was on the first half of the panel for Bright, and the whole thing was moderated by Terry Crews. It was pretty cool to be in there with them!

After Hall H, it was time for the Lick King’s Ice Cream Citadel! We got some tasty ice cream and posed with the Lich King! By then I was tired of my Tamatoa costume, so I changed into normal clothes because it was so hot. We had Greek fusion for dinner at Meze, at which we ate the last two years as well.

On Friday I wore my Magikarp Jump cosplay. It wasn’t 100% authentic at all, but it was fun. gem had the idea to use Boomerang for the video. Nice suggestion! We met up with our friends Krista, Kaitlyn, and David. I always run into Krista and Kaitlyn at the coolest places!

This was a day mostly for panels. I saw Robin Hobb: Beyond the Page first followed by Dare to Be Dynamite: Creative Vision with Pierce Brown, an author that gem loves. In the evening we watched a Mega64 panel and the Super Geeked Up Improv show, which was fun, although I wish there was more improv.

My favorite panel was Superstars in Children’s Fiction with Greg Grunberg, Lucas Turnbloom, R. L. Stine, Jarrett J. Krosocka, Jenni Holm, Matt Holm, and Molly Ostertag. We went because we thought it would be fun to see R. L. Stine, but we had no idea that Greg Grunberg, Parkman from Heroes and Wexley from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, would be there and is now a children’s fiction author. He was super nice! We chatted with him after the panel, and when I asked to take a photo of him and gem, his son (I think) offered to take one of the three of us.

My favorite part of the panel was when Greg asked R. L. Stine about the future of Goosebumps TV shows or films. R. L. Stine said he couldn’t comment. Greg told him that he’d trade him information about the next Star Wars movies. Too awesome.

gem wore her Woody costume, which was modified since last year. Previously she tried to keep it authenticate. This year it was more interpretive with a dress. I think she rocked it!

On Saturday, Antonio and I snuck in as professionals to skip the line. Yay. gem took some cool photos of me by the water in my Tamatoa costume.

I had to fight Maui of course. Why wasn’t he transforming? “Well, well, well. Little Maui’s having trouble with his look…”

There were a lot of great Moana cosplayers! Thanks to gem for taking so many wonderful photographs 🙂 There are more on my cosplay page.

We went to another tokidoki signing as always where Simone signed my tokidoki x Overwatch notebook. We also chatted with Jaycee, who worked for tokidoki. She remembered us from previous years, and we followed each other on Instagram.

Let’s not talk about waiting in line over an hour for a Star Trek panel but not getting inside. At least I got to chat with some cool people in line!

Kaleigh joined us that night, although we split up for a bit. gem and I hung out while Antonio met with her at the train station. We all met up briefly, but then that evening gem, Antonio, and I went to see the best brothers around, the McElroys! We watched My Brother, My Brother, and Me live in San Diego! It was really fun to see them in person. Too bad we didn’t get to talk to them. I had a question ready to ask, but there weren’t microphones on the balcony where we were sitting unfortunately.

On Sunday I wore a tried-and-true cosplay, Fix-it Felix Jr.! During a panel, I ran into Erin, a Vanelope von Schweetz cosplayer! We took some photos together after the panel. Her car was super amazing!

After chatting with her, we went to a Disneybound panel with Leslie Kay, Kit Leitmeyer, Loni Clark, Neil A. Williams II, and Sara Katz-Scher. It was pretty interesting to hear about how they come up with their outfits.

I ended the convention at the Disney group shoot! It was organized by Robert T Photography, who also took the photo above. You can see more of his photos from the event here on Facebook.

One videographer took video of us for the end of his cosplay music video. I’m in it briefly at the end as I dance around 4:51, but I’m right in front so you can see me clearly, haha!

 

Look how amazing this little Dopey cosplayer was! He seemed to have a great time with the other Disney cosplayers.

Antonio took this photo of me and gem in her Steven Universe cosplay! I think she did a great job with this. A lot of Steven Universe cosplayers carry a ukulele just as a prop, but this cosplayer can actually play it! Yeah!

There are plenty more photos of my Fix-it Felix Jr. cosplay here.

On our way out of San Diego, we stopped at Kafe Sobaka Restoran Pomegranate for Russian dinner. This is the khachapuri, which was filled with delicious cheese. Oh my god, I definitely need to eat this again. I also had chanakhi (lamb stew) as my entree.

And for dessert, I had sweet vatrushka with sour cherry and farmer’s cheese. Yum!

Until next year, SDCC!

My 31st birthday

My 31st birthday was a week and a half ago, and it was pretty great! My birthday landed on a Monday, so I planned a birthday dinner at Gen Korean BBQ with some friends for the Saturday before my birthday. Here’s Antonio, Kaleigh, Anela, gem, Edward, and me after enjoying delicious KBBQ.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Before dinner, I saw Little Shop of Horrors performed live at Musical Theatre Village in Irvine with gem and Anela. I’m so glad gem found out about the show. I love the movie and had never seen it live. It was awesome! I loved the puppeteering of the Audrey II, and the actors performing both Seymour and Audrey were wonderful.

gem gave me these taco / dinosaur socks, which are perfect for Taco Tuesdays.

The Hursts had me over for dinner on Sunday. Look how big Meredith is getting! She’s adorable.

Henley picked out this delicious carrot cake for me. He informed me that the carrot on top was made out of frosting and that I had to share the cake if I wanted it. He also told me that I could lick the frosting off the candles, but I let him do that too. That kid’s one wonderful little person.

The following weekend, gem took me on a surprise trip. I knew she had something planned, but I didn’t know what. We went to Lions, Tigers & Bear, a sanctuary near San Diego. It was amazing!

I fed a bear! Yes! Seriously! This is Albert, a wonderful and gentle boy who loved his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yep, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! What an awesome experience. We got a tour of the sanctuary and each of us had a ticket to feed one animal. gem and I both chose this beautiful grizzly bear!

The animals here are never bred and are never touched by humans unless under sedation. Guests feed them by using long tools so that they don’t get too close. The cats would all jump at the food, but Albert just lazily took the food. I love him!

Here are two of the sanctuary’s lions. The lion in the foreground was pretty aggressive. He really wanted all of his dinner at once and didn’t like how long it was taking. You should have seen him tear into his turkey leg.

This is Maverick, the tiger formally owned by Tyga the rapper. He was pretty awesome and definitely jumped for his pieces of meat! There was another tiger that was pretty crazy. He was super aggressive and would surely have torn us to pieces given the chance.

This gorgeous white tiger was cleaning himself just like a house cat.

This spotted leopard was willing to climb for his lunch. We also saw bobcats, a chicken, some peacocks, and Tom, a house cat who likes to wander around the premises. It was such an awesome experience.

Now, I know I already mentioned this, but I have to say it again…

I fed a bear! I fed Albert the grizzly bear! Look how cute he is! Thank you, gem, for the wonderful trip. And thanks too all my friends who helped celebrate or wished me a happy birthday! 🙂

Looking back on 2016, and looking forward to 2017

I keep hearing about how awful 2016 was and how 2017 should hopefully be better. There were a lot of celebrity deaths in 2016, and I was devastated by the presidential election. More personally, I was laid off from Toshiba in a huge reduction-in-force, and my roommate had to put our two dogs to sleep. Yeah, there were negatives. And yet I’ll be lucky if 2017 lives up to 2016.

I traveled to Europe and saw eight countries with three of my closest friends, gem, Antonio, and Anela, and visited two great friends, Jessica and Andrew, who had recently moved to Paris. I saw Denmark, the UK (including England and Northern Ireland), the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, and Sweden. It was amazing, and I swear I’ll get to sorting photos and blogging eventually.

I saw Disneyland Paris and our hometown Disneyland’s Season of the Force. I attended Devin and Lorena’s 30th wedding anniversary party that included a face-painted bar crawl and a 1920s speakeasy party. I saw Kristine’s first exhibit that she curated in LA – Firsts, Seconds and Thirds: African American Leaders in Los Angeles During the 1960s & 70s.

I watched Anela dance a few times, including Shimmy Shakedown featuring her and Melissa. I saw the Wet Silk art exhibit, met Jon Klassen at the LA Times Festival of Books, and watched an LA KISS Arena football game.

The Holi Festival was a colorful blast of fun. Here I am with gem, Tory, Sean, and Nicole. I also went to the Huntington Beach Cherry Blossom Festival!

I went to a number of photoshoots with Anela, including this Fourth of July shoot that I really enjoyed, a fairy photoshoot, cherry blossoms, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall and train tracks in LA where I also got to shoot gem!

I took a bunch of friends to the Alpaca Hacienda for Anela’s birthday, and we got to see feed and pet alpacas and a llama!

I watched Sherlock Holmes and the Time Portal as well as Sweeney Todd, and gem surprised me with tickets to see Patton Oswalt. I’d been wanting to see his stand-up for a long time, and he didn’t disappoint. I had the three most amazing meals of my life – two at Frame in Paris and one for Edward’s birthday at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Pasadena.

I participated in a high-altitude sleep and cognitive ability sleep study at Barcroft Station, White Mountain Research Center where I witnessed some of the most beautiful views of nature I’ve ever seen. I saw the B-52s and Flight of the Conchords live as well as a number of local ska bands that I see regularly. I went to Allison’s awesome gaybut party and finally made it to one of Bryan’s parties where I participated in some of the most stimulating conversation I’ve had in a while.

I cosplayed Luke while gem cosplayed Professor Layton at San Diego Comic-Con. I also cosplayed Fix-It Felix Jr., and a Pokemon Go trainer. I got to dress as a zombie later in the year as well! I attended the Sonic the Hedgehog 25th anniversary party and saw some improv such as Spectacles, ImprovCity, and more.

Two great friends, Gracie and Jon, got married, and I got to watch.

I worked for three months doing server and other hardware installation for California DMVs. While I was traveling across the state, I got to visit my friends Matt, Katie, and Marc. I also had the chance to have lunch with Chuck Sommerville, a game designer whom I’ve admired for a very long time. He’s incredibly fascinating and has done many interesting things, and he was every bit as nice as I could have hoped.

And I even got to meet Alex and Darnell’s beautiful new daughter, Meredith.

Now I’m sure I’m missing many awesome things about 2016, but that just proves my point. If 2017 is half as good to me as 2016 was, I’ll be very grateful. Happy New Year.

White Mountain Peak

white mountain peak

When Erica asked me to be a subject in a sleep study at White Mountain Peak, it sounded like a fun adventure! I spent four days at 12,500 feet, met some awesome people, and saw breathtaking views of nature.

white mountain peak

I stayed for three nights, and each night I was using a different routine. The first night I slept with AVS. From what I can tell with some Googling, it uses the ambient air, pressurizes it, and basically forces you to breathe it. I’m simplifying. I slept with a mask over my nose, and I actually liked it quite a bit. The second night I slept normally, and the third night I slept with oxygen.

The treatments are nice because the air is a lot thinner up there, and there’s a lot less oxygen. Simple tasks could really wear me out. Soaping my body with my bar of soap caused my heart to race. Talking while hiking would leave me needing to catch my breath. I also felt the effects of altitude sickness pretty badly at times.

white mountain peak

Despite the difficulties from high altitude, I did some great hiking. We even saw deer! They’re in this photograph, but I know they’re too small to see clearly. We also a hawk of some sort with a red tail. I’d like to say it was a red-tailed hawk, but for all I know, there could be a lot of hawks that happen to have red tails.

white mountain peak

Everybody on the trip was awesome as well. Steve, the caretaker at Barcroft station, was a puppeteer and is a delicious cook! I had the opportunity to get closer to Erica and Alex, and I’m thankful for that. Dillon rescued me from altitude sickness one day by joining Alex and me in a great conversation on morality and ethics. Matea, despite saying she doesn’t open up easily, left me breathless as we chatted during our hike. Corey gave me some photography tips – especially regarding shooting the stars. They must not have stuck with me, because you’ll notice I’m not sharing any starscapes.

Now I know 12,500 feet is pretty darn high, but I’d definitely go again. It was gorgeous! Check out more of my photos from the trip in this Flickr album!

Gracie and Jon are married!

Gracie and Jon's wedding

Gracie and Jon’s beautiful wedding was yesterday! Congratulations you two. I’m so glad I got to be there. These three cuties got front row seats (when they eventually sat down).

Gracie and Jon's wedding

Dinner was amazing, the music and dancing was fun, and of course, there were terrific friends.

Gracie and Jon's wedding

This dapper little gentleman was the ring bearer, although he ended up meandering down the aisle and then wanting his mom to hold him. I think he did well!

Gracie and Jon's wedding

He was shy at first, but he warmed up pretty quickly. Henley was all smiles most of the night!

Gracie and Jon's wedding

Look at these three lovely ladies! I think this is a great photograph of Gracie too; she’s looking stunning in her beautiful wedding dress… and she’s holding a red cup. Perfect!

I couldn’t write about their wedding without including Jon’s proposal. He just pulled the ring out and stood there until Gracie noticed, freaked out, and eventually answered =D

I love you two!

Hipster Ariel

gem's Ariel

Here’s a few photos of gem’s Ariel from SDCC 2016 that I didn’t post. We thought it’d be fun to take a few photos by the pool. When we got there, we found these two mermaids already swimming there. It was a nice coincidence; I’m glad I got to snap a photo of the three mermaids together!

gem's Ariel

Hipster Ariel judges all these convention fans! Ugh!

San Diego Comic-Con 2016

Luke Triton

SDCC 2016 was a blast! I cosplayed as Luke Triton from Professor Layton for the first time while gem cosplayed Professor Layton herself. I also did a quick cosplay of a Team Valor Pokemon trainer as well as my Fix-It Felix, Jr. cosplay from last year. I saw a number of panels, met a lot of cool cosplayers, got some free books, partied, and did a whole lot more. I was also very exhausted 🙂

Luke Triton

I was really happy with my Luke cosplay. gem and I stopped by the Capcom booth and took a photo with this picture of Phoenix Wright. There was a crossover Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright game, so we thought it was appropriate. I was hoping to run into a Phoenix Wright cosplayer, but it never happened.

Layton and Luke

Here’s a promotional picture of Layton and Luke if you’re unfamiliar with them.

We stopped by the Behemoth booth like we do every year. One guy running the booth, Larry, recognized us from last year when gem asked if Hatty was going to be in attendance! He remembered that gem wrote a note and gave it to him to give to Hatty in 2015. He was awesome!

We went to a number of interesting panels starting with “Retellings and Remixes” with Marissa Meyer, Renee Ahdieh, Colleen Houck, Anna Todd, Jodi Meadows, and Colleen Oakes. gem’s a big fan of Marissa Meyer. Although I hadn’t read her works, they sounded interesting, and she was a great speaker. I’m looking forward to reading more of her work in the future. The panel focused on retelling fairy tales and classic novels in a reimagined way.

“Nedist TV: The Boundary-Pushers” featured Bryan Fuller, Michael Green, Steven Moffat, and Alicia Lutes discussing the new acceptance of genre TV with a focus on American Gods and Sherlock. They also went into tangents about accepting all kinds of peoples it definitely went anti-Trump at times.

“A World After Harry: The Changing Genre of YA Fantasy” featured Sarah J. Maas, Jessica Cluess, Gena Showalter, Thomas E. Sniegoski, Soman Chainani, and Tobie Easton discussing how young adult fiction has changed after Harry Potter. It was interesting to hear how authors set themselves apart from J.K. Rowling.

In “Creating Immersive Game Story,” Chris Avellone, Leah Hoyer, and Elbert Perez discussed game narrative, going into how to really engage players well.

J. Jonah Jameson

My favorite panel was “Cosplay as Storytelling” in which Adam Savage, Jay Justice, and Deborah Nadolman Landis discussed cosplay and how it’s a form of storytelling. Adam went into how cosplaying isn’t just wearing a costume, but it’s a type of performance. I definitely know what he means. Look at this awesome J. Jonah Jameson I met. He’s not just in a costume. He’s performing; he’s telling a story. And he’s great!

The last panel I attended was the “Spotlight on Marissa Meyer,” which was interesting. Unfortunately we were a bit late due to an autograph session, but it was still fun.

tokidoki autographed photo

Did you hear about the new tokidoki x Peter Anargirou collaboration? I printed one of my photos and took it to Simone Legno’s autograph session. It’s fascinating how great artists and creative people of all types and collaborate, and I love collaborating with people in small ways. Having him draw on one of my photos was a cool way to collaborate with him, and since gem’s in the photo, she got to be in on it as well! Now it looks like gem is photographing the cute Kaiju!

I also got a copy of Heartless autographed by Marissa Meyer as well as Red Rising autographed by Pierce Brown. I came out of the con with a few other few other free books as well – An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks, and Bombs Away: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove. I wasn’t a fan of the last book by Turtledove, but I’ll give this one a try.

Sonic the Hedgehog 25th Anniversary Party

The three of us attended the Sonic the Hedgehog 25th Anniversary Party at the House of Blues, meeting two new friends and running into an old friend, Pat, as well. It was a ton of fun – a lot more than I expected. It was sponsored by Totino’s, so we got to eat some greasy snacks, but we also took shots and I had a few White Russians. I took a photo with a cool Sonic the Hedgehog cosplayer, we got some swag, and I talked a lot. There were games to be played there too, but I didn’t touch them honestly. At the end of the night, the staff recorded the audience yelling “Sega” to be used as the intro for the next Sonic game. After the party we went back to the hotel for more drinks. There was live music at the bar, and I did a little Balboa swing dancing. It turns out that I’m a decent dancer (to a drunk crowd of SDCC attendees).

Pushkin

gem and I met our friend Mike for dinner at Pushkin Russian Restaurant. It was so delicious! I hadn’t seen Mike since New Year’s Eve, so it was good to see him. Afterward we checked out the Nerd HQ party, but it wasn’t that good honestly.

Pokemon Go

There was a Pokemon Go panel in Hall H, the largest hall at the convention. Previously, you’d need to line up over night to get into Hall H. This year, you could line up for wristbands, given out at 9:00 PM. We checked out the line around 8:30 PM, and it was huge. Absolutely huge. And then we found out from the guy working there and watching the line that the night before the line was that long, but he didn’t know if they got wristbands. He got off work at 1:00 AM, and the wristbands hadn’t reached that far back. Yeah, we decided to skip Hall H. However, there were rumors that Niantic would release something for Pokemon Go in the panel, so a ton of Pokemon Go fans congregated around Hall H or above it. Convention staff started yelling at people to leave. I’d like to add that they never once tried talking like normal, civil people, and they also made up lies to get us to leave. Not cool. What was cool was when people realized that if they line up for the Mrs. Field’s Cookies stand, they were no longer just loitering. Yep, that line pictures above was for cookies – totally not Pokemon Go. And by the way, nothing was released in the panel.

Pokestop

Pokemon Go was extremely popular. Here Professor Layton checks for Pokemon since there’re lures on the Pokestops near her.

Nintendo Lounge

This guy working in the Nintendo Lounge loved gem’s Ariel and asked for a photo with her. Look happy they look! This guy was awesome.

Nintendo Lounge pokeball

Here I’m in my quick Team Valor Pokemon trainer cosplay with a giant pokeball.

Nintendo Lounge pikachu

When meeting pikachu, you need to give him a big hug so that he knows you’re his friend.

Nintendo Lounge pikachu

Once he’s been lulled into a false sense of security, you bust out a pokeball and catch him!

Star Trek

Star Trek was also very popular this year as it’s the 50th anniversary. MAC had a building designed to look like the saucer portion of the Enterprise while they showed off their Star Trek makeup. I didn’t care about the makeup, but we took the opportunity to stand on transporters as Layton and Luke! Plus, Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on Star Trek, was there.

Joker and Harley Quinn

I asked these two cosplayers if I could take their photo because I thought they had great costumes. The Harley Quinn cosplayer noted that most people don’t even ask and said they’d be happy to pose.

Joker, Harley, Layton, and Luke

Professor Layton and the Curious Clowns

Actually, the Joker cosplayer recognized gem’s cosplay and asked us for a photo! How cool 🙂

Fix it Felix Jr. and Boo

Here’s a shot of me in my Fix-It Felix, Jr. cosplay along with a Boo cosplay from Monster’s, Inc. How cute is that cosplay?

Akuma

This Akuma cosplay is great too. The cosplayer was nice enough to find a good spot to take the photos. gem noted that you could sense his personality and mannerisms change as he got into character just like Adam Savage said cosplay often does.

Xena and Gabrielle

Last but certainly not least, this is Bernadette Bentley and Cathy Kutz as Xena and Gabrielle respectively. It was awesome to run into them and take their photo because I was already a fan. They were really nice!

Happy Fourth of July!

Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July! I went up to Vasquez Rocks recently for this photoshoot with Anela of her quite American dress.

CRW_9854

I thought I’d share some of my favorites here.

Fourth of July

The park seemed a nice place for hiking in the future, but we didn’t do much during the shoot. They apparently film a lot of TV and film here too – Star Trek, Bill & Ted’s, and the Flintstones to name a few.

For more of my photos from the shoot, you can check my Flickr.

Fourth of July

Here’s a shot Raymond (Instagram: @raymond_g583) took of us with the little fireworks!

Fourth of July

I like this one that Mike (Instagram: @dirty_caliboy_mike) took of me shooting.

Fourth of July

There was also some sweet food eating as is an obvious Fourth of July tradition. We were quite lucky that gem had so many hats! Thanks for the selfie, Antonio.

Fourth of July

Michelle was bringing a friend we didn’t know, and that friend ended up being Josh. It was a pretty funny surprise. Small world!

Fourth of July

gem wore this cute Fourth of July outfit complete with blue wig! Coincidentally, her brother wore pretty much the same outfit (besides the wig). Her family has awesome fashion sense!

Fourth of July

We also ate oh-so-much food – barbecue, meats, veggies, fruit, pizza, cheesecake, cake, ice cream, and more! This red, white, and blue ice cream was gem’s masterpiece. It was blueberry ice cream with swirls of strawberry jelly and marshmallow. It was all delicious!

What a fantastic celebration of America!

Anela’s birthday at the Alpaca Hacienda

The Alpaca Hacienda

For Anela’s birthday, I arranged a tour of the Alpaca Hacienda in Temecula. She loves alpacas, so I thought it’d be great. When I was first feeling her out about it, the conversation went something like this.

“Have you ever been to an alpaca farm?”

“Nope, ugh, that’d be terrible!” At this point, I felt confused. She wouldn’t enjoy it? Would I need to find a different gift? But then she continued. “I’d never want to leave!” Perfect.

The Alpaca Hacienda

If you didn’t get invited, don’t blame Anela. I organized it, so you can get mad at me. I promise I’ll ignore you and not care.

Anela, gem, Claudia, Tram, and I met early so we could be sure to get to Temecula in time for our tour. Claudia brought some delicious cupcakes. I’ve had banana muffins, but have you ever had a banana chocolate cupcake? I have now, and it was delicious. I also brought some orange juice, water, and homemade egg muffins for everyone.

The Alpaca Hacienda

We gave her gifts and cards too. I like making handmade cards, but this was my first attempt at one with a slide and moving parts. The little alpaca jumps the fence. It took a while to figure out the best way to do it, but I’m pretty pleased with the result.

The Alpaca Hacienda

We reached The Alpaca Hacienda about 10 minutes before our scheduled time, which was pretty perfect. Oh man, look how cute these girls were! Tina, the Ranch Event Coordinator, met us and started our tour with a little presentation about alpacas. She was wonderful. I’d been e-mailing with her since December, so it was nice to meet her. These are all female alpacas in this pen that was right next to where we were having our presentation.

04

Next it was time to feed Crown Royal! We learned that alpacas don’t really like to be touched, so the best way to get to pet him is to approach slowly and pet him gently while someone else distracts him with food! Luckily we were each given a bag of delicious (at least according to Crown Royal) food!

The Alpaca Hacienda

Thanks for the photos, gem. Feeding Crown Royal was so much fun! I’ll admit, my hand was pretty slobbery, but it was worth it. And hey, if you’re interested in having your alpaca breed with him, he’s available! I’m not sure why I decided to Google him, but I did.

The Alpaca Hacienda

After feeding Crown Royal, we learned a little about felt. One way felt is made is by applying water, pressure, and rubbing. I got the craft add-on to the tour (because of course we want to craft), so we got to make felt – or hairy soap I suppose. We were given some alpaca hair that we opened, cleaned, and then wrapped around a bar of soap with some water. We massaged it and spread it around the soap before finally using string to finish with some flair. We could use it as soap, and as the soap gets used up, the hair will continue to shrink and tighten around it, becoming felt, or we could use it as decoration. I’m going to keep mine as decoration.

The Alpaca Hacienda

Next it was time to see the males, but we took a detour to pet Dakota. Dakota is a sweet doggy that was all tuckered out. Dakota’s been protecting the alpacas from a coyote! Apparently the coyote has been coming to the ranch regularly.

The Alpaca Hacienda

The Alpaca Hacienda homes a single llama that we got to meet as well. Llamas, unlike alpacas, are quite friendly around people. This one really wanted kisses. He’d press up against our faces. I love him.

The Alpaca Hacienda

Tina was nice enough to take a photo of our whole group with an alpaca and the llama! What a good-looking bunch, eh? I had a ton of fun at the Alpaca Hacienda and definitely recommend it. We ended our afternoon in the gift shop. They had some fun finger puppets, so I bought a couple for gem. There was also a little alpaca wearing a hat. An alpaca with clothes?! I had to send Anela home with it.

I found a tea place that seemed nice on Yelp, so we headed to Snow & Crab after our tour. It was quite the eclectic restaurant – Cajun food, tea, coffee, and shaved ice. We got a round of drinks and enjoyed some conversation. gem ordered hot horchata coffee with boba. It was actually pretty good!

The Alpaca Hacienda

After our little break, we checked out the Ricardo Breceda Gallery & Sculpture Garden! It was twenty minutes out of the way but well worth it. These sculptures were amazing. Check out that octopus in the above photo!

The Alpaca Hacienda

Look, gem joined a mariachi band!

The Alpaca Hacienda

I asked another person at the sculpture garden to take our photo. There were so many different kinds of sculptures from small insects, to life-sized people, to large dinosaurs. They were all very cool. Ricardo Breceda, the artist, said they could take anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months to create depending on the size.

Ricardo Breceda

Next we headed back to Orange County to meet Daniel for dinner at Gen. It was time for delicious Korean BBQ! I ate so much, which is obviously customary at KBBQ. We were seated between 5:30 and 6:00 – once again perfect timing. Everything went so amazingly smoothly!

The Alpaca Hacienda

After discussing the video Tiny hamster eating a tiny pizza earlier, gem felt inspired to make a tiny taco. It was cute, but I don’t think it’s quite as a cute without a tiny animal eating it!

Next we rounded out the night at the nearby 7 Leaves Cafe for our second tea lounge of the day. You know what I just noticed as I wrote this post thanks to last years post, Happy birthday, Anela? We went to Gen as well as 7 Leaves Cafe last year for her birthday!

Everything we did that day was fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and getting to know my three new friends! Most importantly, Anela got to have a fun birthday. Happy birthday! I hope you had fun! 🙂

LA Times Festival of Books and Jon Klassen

LA Times Festival of Books

When Collin told me that he noticed Jon Klassen, an author and illustrator I really like, was going to be at the LA Times Festival of Books, I immediately told gem and made plans to attend. Among other works, Klassen authored and illustrated I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat.

LA Times Festival of Books, Jon Klassen

This weekend we headed up to USC to meet him. Klassen was really friendly, and we both enjoyed chatting with him. We showed him some Snapchat art gem made involving his characters and told him about the “I Want My Yoga Shirt Back” flyer gem put up at her yoga studio when she lost her shirt. He complimented her Snapchat art!

LA Times Festival of Books, I Want My Hat Back

Check out my sweet first edition copy now! Awesome. 🙂

LA Times Festival of Books, This Is Not My Hat

We even discussed how he hears his characters’ voices. Klassen said hears them all deadpan and imagines that if there were actors portraying his characters, they’d be the worst actors he could find. I love it! While they do all have different voices when I read the book, they’re all pretty deadpan too actually. I told him how I do voices and even made a puppet show. He asked me to send him a link to the performance!

It was a lot of fun. Besides meeting Jon Klassen, we also got to eat some Filipino food from a food truck and some Thai sweet sticky rice with mango. We played on some outdoor workout equipment and took plenty of photos and various little photo ops. There was even an archaeologist there answering kids’ questions. He had a dinosaur puppet with him that was half controlled by someone in a suit and half controlled by someone outside. The kids wanted to pet it – adorable! On our way out, we even ran into our friend, Katy!

Here’s my performance of I Want My Hat Back. It’s so embarrassing! I love this book so much, and it was a great pleasure getting to meet Jon Klassen!

Devin and Lorena’s 30th wedding anniversary

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

To celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, Devin and Lorena threw the most amazing weekend party a couple months ago. It started with a face-painted bar crawl in San Clemente. I headed down after work and met Gracie and Jon at the hotel because I was sharing a room with them. I decided pretty early on that I was going to do clown face paint, and it was just coincidence that I had that colorful tie.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

With the right lighting, it looked pretty creepy I think!

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

This is Darnell and me at one of the bars. It was hard not to smile for photos!

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

Here’s Devin and Alex. This was actually at the end of the night when we got back to the house Lorena and Devin were renting for the weekend. At the end of the bar crawl, we all met at the house for ice cream. They hired their favorite ice cream shop from Orange County to bring machines and come make ice cream at the house. I wish I could remember the flavors. I’m pretty sure one involved beets, which was tasty. They were all good, but I can’t remember them now. This is what I get for waiting too long to blog.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

What I didn’t know was that throughout the night, Lorena and Devin were asking all the bartenders to vote for their favorite man’s face paint and favorite woman’s. It was actually the next night that they told us about it, but I’ll talk about it here. I won unanimously! That was a pretty pleasant surprise. I won a poker set with a plaque on the top the says “Devin & Lorena’s 30th anniversary 2016,” which was really cool. In the photo above, my friend Melissa is in the middle. She won the best woman’s face paint. Those eyes were crazy awesome.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

I thought I’d share what it looked like when I took off the face paint. It was pretty cool.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

Saturday was a 1920’s speakeasy party in the evening. I spent the earlier part of the day eating and walking around San Clemente a bit. Come time for the party, I got to wear the bow tie that gem bought for me on vacation in New York!

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

Here I am with Jon. This was when we first got to the house. The party was at the same house at which the bar crawl ended.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

Darnell and Gracie look great! The party was really well done. We even had to use a password to get into the party. I think it’s safe to spill the beans now. “Devin’s a lucky bastard!”

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

Gracie could fit in very well in that era. Maybe she’s a time-traveler.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

The food was absolutely amazing. Devin and Lorena hired one of their favorite chefs to come cook us so many delicious things. Every fifteen minutes or so a new course was prepared and carried around to us as we drank and talked. They were all really good, and they went out of their way to prepare vegetarian and vegan variations for the guests.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

Devin and Lorena performed vow renewals in their spiffy duds. The vows were so perfectly them – amazingly loving and just a tad sexual and crude!

The guests were all fascinating, fun people who, luckily, were great conversationalists. I could sit next to anyone and find myself in an interesting discussion almost instantly. I suppose fun people know other fun people!

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

By the end of the night, it was time for Devin to take a little nap. Alex and I were the last to leave. We Uber’d back to our hotel where he was staying directly above me. Unfortunately, no one in his hotel room could hear him knocking at the door or calling, so he shared the pull-out couch with me in my room.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

Here’s a little bonus. On Sunday, we had brunch at the house before heading home, which gave me a chance to see Henley. The little guy looks tuckered out.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

And this face is just hilarious.

No one throws a party like Lorena and Devin. It was an awesome weekend. I can only imagine what their 40th will be like!

Color Festival

Color Festival

We’re so colorful! I went to a color festival recently with gem and Nicole that was beautiful and a lot of fun. This was after Sean and DJ Tory’s yoga session.

Color Festival

You’d almost believe they were going to blow color at the same time as equals.

Color Festival

Nope. One of them got a cloud of color in her face! This photo makes me laugh.

Color Festival

She looks so colorful!

Color Festival

Here’s the three of us at the end of the day. I didn’t even think about the color on my face when I had lunch at a restaurant later that day. It was fun!

Cherry blossom festival

cherry blossom festival

The Huntington Beach Cherry Blossom Festival was this month, so gem and I went to check it out. Ironically, most of the cherry blossoms had come and gone by the time of the festival.

cherry blossom festival

Luckily there were some, so we still got to enjoy the cherry blossoms.

cherry blossom festival

The other flowers were still blooming, which was nice. We stopped to take a few photos with them.

cherry blossom festival

One more in the flower garden for good measure. It was pretty in there!

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We finished off the day by making some origami cherry blossoms! They perfectly complemented the sparse cherry blossoms on the trees!

Shimmy Shakedown

Shimmy Shakedown

Shimmy Shakedown 2016 was on Sunday, and I was really looking forward to it. I hadn’t yet seen Anela with her new troupe, and Melissa’s part of the same troupe, giving me another reason to be excited.

Shimmy Shakedown

gem and I drove up early so we could have lunch. We ate at King’s Hawaiian Bakery & Restaurant. So much food. Oops. Too bad watching people shimmy doesn’t actually burn as many calories as actually dancing.

Shimmy Shakedown

Here’s Anela and me after the show. The show itself was fantastic. Dancers included Richy, Emily Iman, Jasmina, Delyla, Aubre Hill, Akasha Starr, Jizzelle, Fahtiem, Jillina, Amirat Al Sharq, Tonya’s Treasures, Meera, Tina Enheduanna, Rania, Stefanya, Ana Edith, and Atlantis. Fadi El Saadi, Ozzy, and Diana Rash also provided live music and singing.

Shimmy Shakedown

Here’s gem and Anela!

I wish the lighting was better in the lobby for photos though!

Everybody was really talented. I especially enjoyed Jillina second set, Meera, and Jizzelle’s last set. Some of the costumes were truly amazing too.

Shimmy Shakedown

My favorites, however, were these two. I suppose it’s no surprise; I’d always prefer to watch people I know and care about do something they love.

I recorded their performance too. It actually starts out shaky before the dancers come on stage, but luckily my hands get steadier. I especially enjoyed the transition between pieces. It’s making me laugh as I rewatch it now!

All the performers came out for the finale, so I had to record that too!

It was a fantastic evening, and I can’t wait for the next time I can watch my friends dance.

The last day of gem’s twenties

gem's birthday

Last month we celebrated the gem’s birthday by celebrating the last day of her twenties! She wanted to do something that reminded her of her twenties (although we modified for out appropriate ages).

gem's birthday

We started with Jell-O shots! But as it was a work night, we started early… and used champagne. gem gave me the calorie count too, because that’s what’s important now, haha.

03

Dave & Buster’s was the perfect location for the celebration. We started with dinner (after snacking at her place). When gem couldn’t decide on a dessert, Edward and I insisted on ordering two.

gem's birthday

Squeezing into a photo booth, we did our best to all get in the frame. The birthday girl’s best wasn’t good enough. You’ll notice she’s the only one not visible in any of the photos.

gem's birthday

Round two was better. Now we can see gem! We’re a really gorgeous bunch.

gem's birthday

gem played some Kung Fu Pando Dojo Mojo by following along with Po and punching the sensors. She was a lot better than I was! We also played a few rounds of air hockey, some trivia, and my favorite – Pac-Man Battle Royale.

I think Anela’s ready to play professional football after this. She seemed to get into it! I played a game with Anela that involved hitting lit up sensors faster than your opponent that was pretty fun. gem and I also played a DDR knock-off. I didn’t catch the names of any of those games. Edit: Thanks, YouTube! It’s called Gridiron Blitz!

gem's birthday

After D&B’s, we headed back to gem’s to eat some macarons. We split them five ways, hence them looking all cup up and ugly here.

gem's birthday

It’s not a birthday without “Happy Birthday” hats! Most of us even sat up for the photo…

gem's birthday

Even some of gem’s stuffed friends joined in the celebration by wearing hats.

gem's birthday

Speaking of hats, my gift to gem involved hats in a way. These are characters from Jon Klassen’s “I Want My Hat Back.”

Okay, this is embarrassing. “I Want My Hat Back” is a children’s book that gem and I both like. I already had voices for every character, so performing it as a stick puppet was the next logical step. You should support Klassen by purchasing it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

It seems to me that gem ended her twenties with a pretty terrific night.

Turning 30

birthday

Today’s my 30th birthday, and I’m posting this just before my birthday ends.

I’ll post about my birthday weekend more in the future, but for now, I just want to say that I’m extremely fortunate to be surrounded by so many loving, wonderful people. I’m a lucky man.

Suburban Legends, Skapeche Mode, and more on 1/14

Reel Big Fish, Suburban Legends, The Maxies, Skapeche Mode, and Stupid Flanders on 1/14/16

I went Reel Big Fish concert a couple weeks ago featuring Starpool, The Maxies, Skapeche Mode, and Stupid Flanders at the Observatory. I didn’t get chance to share any photos. Better late than never.

Reel Big Fish, Suburban Legends, The Maxies, Skapeche Mode, and Stupid Flanders on 1/14/16

After watching The Maxies on the main stage with gem, I switched rooms to watch Stupid Flanders. That’s also where I ran into my friend, Amit.

gem left Stupid Flanders to be sure to catch all of Suburban Legends. I missed the first half of the first song or so by the time I got over there. It was packed, and we were separated.

Reel Big Fish, Suburban Legends, The Maxies, Skapeche Mode, and Stupid Flanders on 1/14/16

After Suburban Legends’ set, I switched back to the Constellation Room for Skapeche Mode. Can you guess that they do Depeche Mode covers?

Reel Big Fish, Suburban Legends, The Maxies, Skapeche Mode, and Stupid Flanders on 1/14/16

I got nice and close! Skapeche Mode has great energy, and I love fun 80s tunes. Plus, they’re pretty friendly! I actually ran into Bryan, the trumpet player, at SDCC.

gem managed to find me at this point even though we couldn’t text. Signal was so bad that our text messages were actually lagging by 20 minutes or so.

skapeche mode

After their set, gem and I chatted with Bryan briefly, and I got this photo with Skapeche Mode’s singer. Note the David Bowie homage.

Reel Big Fish, Suburban Legends, The Maxies, Skapeche Mode, and Stupid Flanders on 1/14/16

Last was Reel Big Fish. By that time, I just wasn’t feeling it too much anymore. Plus, there was a lot of weed around us, so we left after a couple songs. We did, however, run into Brian Klemm, guitarist for Suburban Legends. I think this is the happiest I’ve ever seen gem. Plus, when I asked Klemm about the band since this is their last tour, he confirmed that they’re not breaking up and should still be playing locally. Awesome!

Firsts, Seconds and Thirds: African American Leaders in Los Angeles During the 1960s & 1970s

IMG_5563Last week was the opening reception of Firsts, Seconds and Thirds: African American Leaders in Los Angeles During the 1960s & 1970s. kristine
My friend Kristine has been working at the Los Angeles Public Library Central Branch Photo Collection Department as an archivist for the Rolland J. Curtis Photo Archive. Curtis was the Field Deputy to Billy G. Mills and Tom Bradley, who were two of the first three African-American councilman on the LA city council in the ’60s. Kristine sorted through thousands of photographs and was the curator. How cool is that? You can read more about her project on her blog, Film Is Memory. IMG_5555

Look, her name’s on the poster!

IMG_5584

gem and Kristine!

kristine

I had to show her fiancé, Justin, some love too. IMG_5588Here’s gem and Justin as well. IMG_5559gem wanted to get a photo at the podium. She’s a thinker, that one.

kristine

I didn’t realize the mic was hot, and when I chuckled, it amplified it. I don’t think anyone noticed luckily.

kristine

gem also took this of me through some furniture. IMG_5604

After the opening reception, during which I managed to stuff my face full of cookies and miniature cinnamon buns, we had some dinner at Chego, a Korean-Mexican fusion restaurant in LA. I got a tasty kimchi spam bowl. Rather than show you that, I’m going to show a low-quality photo of the “Ooey Gooey Fries” – very unhealthy, I’m sure.

kristine

After dinner, we took some photos with Pooh and got some ice cream. Funny how my lips were inches away from Justin’s face in the photo I posted above, but when taking a photo with this disgusting public Pooh Bear, I accidentally touched my lips to him. Ugh. Pooh looks a bit bashful, don’t you think?

Ending 2015 with the Ska Luau VI and a NYE party

Following tradition, I ended 2015 by attending the Ska Luau on the 30th and going to a New Year’s Eve party at the Carters’ on the 31st. It was a lot of fun!

Ska  Luau VI

gem and I were looking good at the Ska Luau. I need to work on evening my tan.

Ska  Luau VI

The two of us were rocking our Suburban Legends shirts! The Luau featured the Magnolia Polynesian Dance Troupe, Karate in the Garage, Hooray for Our Side, Suburban Legends, and Starpool. What a sweet line up!

Ska  Luau VI

We ran into our friend Bryan who’s the trumpet player for Skapeche Mode and Failed to Victory. All the bands performed amazing sets. I’d never heard Karate in the Garage, so that was a treat. I’d only seen Hooray for Our Side once, and they gave a great performance. Suburban Legends and Starpool are two of my favorite bands, and they somehow always exceed expectations. I didn’t take many photos of Suburban Legends. There choreography is so awesome that still photos wouldn’t do them justice. However, I have some videos of them playing and dancing in the playlist at the top of this post.

Ska  Luau VI

Starpool came out in a bang of confetti!

Ska  Luau VI

Throw my hands up and shout! I love when they perform this. You can see T-bone Willy Wonka and an Oompa Loompa on stage too. My ears were ringing all day the next day.

New Year's Eve Party

I brought a lot of food to the New Year’s Eve party – brownies, lemon bars, and biscuit pizzas.

New Year's Eve PartyI told Henley that I had a gift for him in the car, and he was pretty excited. He was so adorable asking if it was time to open it yet. He needed some help getting it unwrapped! New Year's Eve Party

He seemed pretty happy with his new Buzz Lightyear! As it turns out, he had really wanted one too. While I was undoing the ties to get Buzz out of the package, Henley repeatedly gave me hugs. He’s so cute.

We suggested he open gem’s gift while I got Buzz out of the box. gem gave him a jacket that looks like a polar bear, complete with bear ears of course. He’s wearing it in that photo, although he didn’t want the hood.

New Year's Eve Party

Dev’s dog, Happy, is totally a lap dog.

New Year's Eve Party

Here’s me and Dev! He’s one of my oldet friends. We met in 8th grade.

New Year's Eve Party

I guess Mike likes my brownies! Actually, he was wondering why Dev scooped them out of the pan with a spoon.

New Year's Eve Party

gem made cheesecake ice cream as gifts and left them in a freezer. I realized that Gracie and Jon forgot to take one, so we began discussing the ice cream. Somehow we realized we could heat up my homemade brownies and serve them with gem’s homemade cheesecake ice cream.

New Year's Eve Party

Super success! A picture doesn’t really do it justice, but trust me that it was delicious.

And that was my New Year’s Eve! Thanks to Alex, Darnell, Henley, gem, Devin, Lorena, Gracie, Jon, Mike, Dev, and a couple people who I didn’t really know (sorry, I forgot names after a day already) for a fantastic end to 2015!

Thanks to 2015 and everyone who made it great

Crow on the lake

This was quite the year filled with many fun activities. It seems like a nice time for some reflection. I went to Michigan, which was beautiful, with Duncan. I’d never been that far north or east.

Niagara Falls

On that same trip, I left the country for the first time to visit Niagara Falls.

Lee's Palace

I also visited Toronto! It was an awesome city.

Holland Tayloe Gedney as Elsa

I went to San Diego Comic-Con again. Here I’m dressed as an Aquabat with Holland Tayloe Gedney’s Elsa.

The Aquabats!

It was also my first year cosplaying – not counting the Aquabats costume I’ve worn to SDCC previously for concerts. This is Professor Monty Corndog from the Aquabats (with the Aquabats)!

Snapchat magic by gem

And let’s not forget Fix-It Felix, Jr.

Bay Area friends

I visited friends in the Bay Area when I went to San Francisco for a conference.

SoCal Paddle Yoga

I did a lot of yoga, including paddle yoga. I started practicing yoga in the summer of 2014 and continued in 2014. Starting in June, I did yoga daily, never missing a day. I took over 130 yoga classes in 2015. My wrist is still healing but is feeling much better. I think the glucosamine sulfate (thanks to the pianist from Intergalactic Nemesis for the suggestion) and vertical mouse is helping quite a bit. I also hurt my knee, so for the past few months I’ve only been doing restorative or yin yoga. Honestly, I can see the good in this. I’ve learned to appreciate yin and restorative so much more, which helps give me a deeper understanding to my practice and myself.

dancing

Speaking of hurting my knee, I’ve also been dancing a lot more. I took 40-something dance classes this year. While I tried a lot of different areas, I like Balboa, Argentine tango, and Lindy Hop the most. I’m glad I have fun friends who like to go dancing.

Ooey Gooey Berry PieI baked an ooey gooey berry pie for Anela to celebrate the fact that she passed the bar. I also got to attend her bar admission ceremony and law school graduation. Folly at Dapper Day

gem and I went to the Dapper Day expo at Downtown Disney and to Folly, the afterparty.

gem on stage with Suburban Legends!gem and I were extras during the filming of The Big Day, and gem got this great photo of her with Suburban Legends. Free Comic Book Day and ImprovCity's Comic Book Day show!

I saw so much talent in my friends. This is Free Comic Book Day show at ImprovCity with my friend Alex Bower front and center. Besides some regular shows, I saw him in Scary Pants (which he wrote), Millennial Falcon at Second City, and HIStory/HERstory.

UntitledSpeaking of talented friends named Alex, I saw Alex Foster clowning around and got pulled on stage for more participation (just like the last clown show I saw before this one). Little Jimmy the Robot of the Aquabats

I painted a little Jimmy the Robot.

Adventure Time mug painted at Color Me Mine! Idea by reddit user /u/Just-Another-Teenage in a post by /u/Corrupt_CoreI also painted this Adventure Time mug. Adventure Time mug painted at Color Me Mine! Idea by reddit user /u/Just-Another-Teenage in a post by /u/Corrupt_Core

You have to see both sides.

That’s not to mention the cool Christmas gifts and cards I made this year. I haven’t given them all to their recipients yet, so I don’t want to show anything.

IMG_3833gem took me to a sushi class where we prepared sushi rolls! She’s the best 🙂Coup de Comedy 2015

We also saw Kindred Throats, an amazing musical comedy duo. She liked them so much, she baked them cookies. Twice.

Anela's graduation

I attended Anela’s law school graduation from Chapman.

bar admission ceremony

…and her CA Bar admission ceremony.

Kurios

gem and I saw Cirque du Soleil’s KURIOS! Amazing!

Me and Anela at the Bellydance IDOL presents Om Kalthoum Tribute Show

I saw Anela dance a number of times, including the really fun Bellydance IDOL presents Om Kalthoum Tribute Show.

watson adventures

I helped solve a mystery at the Watson Adventures.

Blacklight Run

I ran (jogged/walked) a Blacklight Run with these two fun people.

Snow photo shoot with gem and Anela

I even got to see snow for the first time.

Heck, the year even started with my friends getting engaged.

I did so many other cool things too such as…

  • Reading all surviving plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides that I hadn’t read previously.
  • Having agents draft social media responses for me at work
  • Participating in a behavioral study
  • Becoming friends with Bryan Lackey, awesome ska trumpet player
  • Wakeboarding
  • Watching my brother perform in the Spectacles Improv Engine’s Student Showcase
  • Seeing a meteor shower
  • Attending a sand sculpture festival
  • Jogging/walking a Blacklight Run
  • Running the Walking Dead Experience
  • Seeing bands such as the Aquabats, the Interrupters, Starpool, Suburban Legends, LA Swing Barons, Imagine Dragons, Metric, Halsey, the LA Philharmonic, and Scott Bradlee and the Postmodern Jukebox
  • Vacationing with my roommates and friends in Vegas
  • Swing dancing in Downtown Disney
  • Visiting the OC Fair and OC Night Market
  • Watching Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Lots of blogging (see my earlier post)

And I’m sure I’m forgetting to mention a thousand things. Thanks to everybody who helped make 2015 such an amazing year.

Lindy Christmas was a lot of fun

Last Friday was Lindy Christmas at Atomnic Ballroom, and it was a lot of fun. I met Carrie, Edward, and gem before dancing for dinner. After we finished, we all headed to Atomic where we met Jessica for a 6-count Lindy Hop class. Once the class ended, the Lindy Christmas dance started featuring the LA Swing Barons. Edward and Carrie didn’t stay too long, but Jessica stayed with us.

At 9:30 we headed to the other room for a free tango lesson and practica. I’m glad Jessica tried both! She seemed to have a good time; hopefully she did.

Santa even showed up for some dancing apparently! I didn’t see him at the dance, but I saw him in photos later. It was a good time!

Christmas musical and party

alpaca

This weekend I met an alpaca. I’ll get back to that.

the loaned manger

The Compass Kids of Compass Bible Church performed The Loaned Manger this weekend, and gem’s nephew, Micah, was one of those kids. We saw the first performance, and it was a lot of fun. Some of the kids were super talented! We even got to sing some Christmas songs before and after the show.

Here’s one of the songs.

camel

There was a petting zoo outside, so after the musical, we got to hang out with some animals. This camel was pretty cool, but he really wanted my coffee.

tortoise and the hare

gem met the tortoise and the hare! I guess the hare won the race, because the tortoise didn’t really move.

alpaca

I might be blurry, and he might be derpy, but I still like this photo.

alpaca

Here’s gem with the alpaca too!

twelve days of christmas

This weekend was also my friend Demian’s annual Christmas party! I had a blast, and I ate a ton. Rice Krispy Treats are good, but have you ever had Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries treats? Wow. Also – pickleback shots! They’re a shot of whiskey chased with a shot of pickle juice. Pretty delicious actually.

The party was also a good time to sing The Twelve Days of Christmas. Pete made these signs about twenty years ago, one for each day of the song. Singing was a family tradition. Everyone sings the song until it comes to a day and then the person with the sign sings his or her part. For example, we’d all sing “on the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,” and then I’d sing alone, “ten lords a-leaping.” Unfortunately, less people are coming to our family Christmases, so we don’t get to do it. It went over really well at the party though!

twelve days of christmas

gem even accompanied the singing on her ukulele. It was so cool! It was a great party, and it was also cool to catch up with friends whom I hadn’t seen in a while.

Chapman Law Bar Admission Ceremony

bar admission ceremony

Monday evening was the Chapman University Fowler School of Law State and Federal Bar Admission Ceremony (what a mouthful). I chatted with a nice couple who was there to support their nephew as well as a woman on the other side of me there for her daughter’s friiend who was like family.

bar admission ceremony

I texted Anela to turn around for a photo. She didn’t see the text, but she turned around right at that time anyways and looked my way!

bar admission ceremony

Technically this is a photo of Anela taking the oath even if it’s not the best angle.

bar admission ceremony

Todd Friedland, Esq., President-Designate, Orange County Bar Association gives some remarks. I actually found myself thinking “he’s a really good speaker” before realizing “of course he is.”

bar admission ceremony

There are technically two Anelas in this photo.

Yay!

Thanksgiving weekend

TommyThis might not have been a Thanksgiving spent in Hawaii, but it was still nice and fairly packed full of action. I spent most of Wednesday evening attempting to create pumpkin pie blondies. While I’ll still eat them, I’d say they didn’t work out. Oh well! Thanksgiving morning I woke up at 4 to get an early start and to drive Anela to LAX. On the way home, I stopped by my dad’s to say hello and then headed home for a nap. In the afternoon, I went to my aunt’s in Redondo Beach for Thanksgiving. That’s her dog, Tommy, at the top. Tommy

He was pretty freakin’ adorable. I spent the evening with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins. It’s been great getting to know my cousins as young adults. Usually my mom, stepdad, and sometimes brother come too, but this year they didn’t come. I found out that Mom and Pete were painting the house this weekend instead. Oh well. We had a delicious meal, watching Jurassic World and Shark Tank, and played Bananagrams, Rummikub, and Triominos. My cousin Haley left fairly late in the evening to do Black Friday shopping. I didn’t even realize that stores were open at midnight. It seemed crazy to me. More on this very soon…

Ferris WheelI left a little after 11 for Irvine. After getting home, I met with gem. For Black Friday from midnight to 8 AM, Spectrum was going to have free carousel and Ferris wheel rides. Now that I knew stores were open at midnight, it made much more sense. Carousel

We started with the carousel ride, which was right next to a live DJ. Fun!

Ferris WheelNext up was the Ferris wheel. It was freezing, but it was fun! There was free ice skating as well, but we decided it was too cold for that. We went to Macy’s to look for a bathroom, and next thing I knew, we were shopping. I had to send a Snapchat to Haley. Just a few hours earlier, I thought Black Friday shopping at night was silly, yet here I was, 3 in the morning, sucked into stores. I didn’t buy anything though. Selah Laughing

After a short night of sleep, I went with gem to her parents’ for a large Thanksgiving meal. Here’s gem’s niece, Selah, laughing. She’s beautiful! I’d seen photos of her, but this was my first time meeting her. How lucky I was!

Selah Eats Ice CreamSelah liked gem’s homemade ice cream. Was that the Earl Grey or the apple pie? No idea. Selah Eats Ice Cream

She got a little on her face! 🙂

Selah SelfieShe likes playing with phones and seemed to like the camera. We took this selfie! I was careful to ensure she didn’t call 911. She did that recently at their house. Selah

Here’s Selah playing with gem’s ukulele. She hit it like a drum, but when she held it up to smash it down, gem took it away. She’s so adorable!

Musical FamilyI played two games of chess with gem’s nephew, Caleb. He kicked my butt. gem and her brothers had a family jam session too! I thought that was really cool. South Coast Plaza

After that? Black Friday shopping again somehow. There’s nothing I really want in particular, and nothing jumped out at me, but it was still fun.

Vegan ChiliOn Saturday, I visited my mom, Pete, and James. I had offered to help paint the house, but they actually had finished. We played Scrabble and ate chili. Yum! Mrs. Cronk We also came across some old school photos. Can you find me? This is from kindergarten. Mrs. Thorness And this one is from first grade. Later Saturday night I read some of Aeneid, finished Iphigenia at Aulis, and watched Big Hero 6. Exciting evening! Original Pancake House

Sunday morning I awoke early to pick up Anela from LAX. I actually drove over 350 miles this weekend, which is impressive considering I didn’t actually go out of town. On the way home, we stopped at Original Pancake House for breakfast! We had blueberry pancakes and Swedish pancakes. Tasty tasty.

Pumpkin pie blondies (with dark chocolate)

In the evening, I finished the weekend by eating leftovers and watching Frozen with gem. We also had these treats! I baked pumpkin pie blondies recently. They tasted decent though they were too strong and too soft and mushy. I considered them failures. gem thought to cover them in dark chocolate. It was a nice improvement; they were much tastier!

Blacklight Run and Ooey Gooey Berry Pie

Blacklight Run

This weekend I went to a Blacklight Run with gem and Anela! It was totally fun; we got covered in paint, glow powder, glow sticks, and good vibes! This is what we looked like at the end of the night.

Blacklight Run

We jogged a bit, but mostly we walked and talked while enjoying the party. Periodically there were stations where staff members would throw more glow powder on participants. Blacklight Run Of course, you can also grab handfuls of the powder and throw it yourself!

Blacklight Run

I got fairly covered.

Blacklight Run

At the end of the run was a big, glowing party with a DJ and tons of glow powder and glow sticks!

Blacklight Run

It was fun!

Blacklight Run

This guy was pretty sweet.

Blacklight Run

Anela looks like a neon flower child. I love this.

Blacklight Run

I think you have a little something on your face.

Blacklight Run

Watch out, gem!

I have no idea who these two women are. Nope.

Blacklight Run

Despite not being super close the party, the cars still got covered in glow powder.

Blacklight Run

These were taken the next day in the light.

Ooey Gooey Berry Pie

When we were done with the Blacklight Run afterparty, we headed to my place to watch a movie and eat. I dropped gem off at her place to shower and then picked up tacos from Del Taco. The guy at the drive through said something like “what the…?” when we pulled up. We were still pretty glowy. We took the tacos back to my house, and once we all showered and gem was with us again, we popped a pizza in the oven too. gem brought two homemade ice creams, a cookie from New York, and a tasty new kind mashed potato creation. Anela’s bar results came out this weekend, so I had baked her a pie – either to eat in celebration or in which to drown her sorrows. Luckily it was the former, because she passed on her first try! Ooey Gooey Berry Pie

She said she preferred “ooey gooey berry” pies, so that’s what I tried to bake.

Ooey Gooey Berry Pie

Here’s Anela with her celebratory pie. It turned out delicious, and everyone enjoyed it. Hooray! Congratulations, Anela!

It was an awesome night with full bellies and happy memories. Thanks to gem and Anela for making it so epic!

Henley’s second birthday party

Henley's second birthday party

This weekend was Henley’s second birthday party! He’s getting so big!

Henley's second birthday party

It was at Tortilla Jo’s in Downtown Disney. I was very full by the end! It was great catching up with Alex, Darnell, Gracie, Jon, Daniel, and Mike. Mike even gave me lots of useful vacation information!

Henley's second birthday party

Henley seemed to like his cupcake from Hapa Cupcakes. He has a much better understanding of desserts than he did last year.

Henley's second birthday party

Grandpa got him a matching shirt.

IMG_359Henley's second birthday party0

Dad seemed to like opening gifts as much as Henley did.

Henley's second birthday party

I bought Henley this Disney train with mat, and he seemed to have a lot of fun with it. Watching him made my heart melt.

Here’s a short video of the day. If I have a child have as awesome as Henley, I’ll be a lucky man.

Hatha for Hunger

Hatha for Hunger 2015

Saturday night was Hatha for Hunger, a Halloween gala hosted through Purple Yoga to raise money for hungry children. It was held at the Long Beach Museum of Art and kicked off with two yoga classes – an outdoor sunset vinyasa flow and an indoor gentle flow.

Hatha for Hunger 2015

I chose the outdoor class and had my mat near the front so I could easily see the ocean. It was quite beautiful and hosted by two of my favorite instructors, Alex and Sean, as well as Scott, who I didn’t know.

Hatha for Hunger 2015

Here’s the view at the end. It was one of the most enjoyable classes I’ve even taken.

Hatha for Hunger 2015

I took the easy path and wore my Aquabats costume. I didn’t put together a new costume, and this seemed like the easiest costume in which to do yoga. gem went as a mermaid!

Hatha for Hunger 2015, me as an Aquabat and Alex

Here’s a photo of me and Alex after the class.

Hatha for Hunger 2015, Sean as caveman and me as Aquabat

Sean didn’t club too many people during class.

Hatha for Hunger 2015, Sean and gem

Here’s a great photo of Sean and gem. I’m glad I got one in which you can actually see gem’s costume.

Hatha for Hunger 2015, Sterling and Megan

Here I am with Sterling the wrestler and Megan as a… okay, I think I can remember it all… mermaid, butterfly, unicorn… and Flavor Flav if you consider her clock purse (not shown).

Oh, and I wore the socks my grandmother gave me a few months ago because she confused me for someone else and thought I loved crazy socks. One has burgers and the other has fries. I think it goes well with the Aquabats costume.

Hatha for Hunger 2015, Kel, Jai, gem, me, aquabat

I squeezed into the frame with gem, Jai, and Kel for this great photo.

Hatha for Hunger 2015, JT as Forrest Gump and me as Aquabat

Last but not least, I danced with Forrest Gump (JT). Such an awesome costume!

It was a super fun evening. Besides yoga and taking photos, there was also some wine and champagne, great music, and lots of socializing. DJ Dory was there, playing music for the outdoor flow and the party afterwards. I also made some new friends, talking about yoga, working out, music, dancing, and more. Yay for new friends! I’m thankful to everyone who helped make it what it was, including staff and attendees alike!

(But sorry to my other friends at Rita’s party that I didn’t see, heh. I was too sleepy.)

Happy Back to the Future Day!

It’s Back to the Future Day! Today’s the day in the “future” that the heroes of Back to the Future visit in the second movie. At 4:29 PM today the time machine should appear in California!

Check out the cool video posted by the Back to the Future Trilogy Facebook page!

I would have included photos from the Spectacles performance, Improv to the Future, but apparently I didn’t take any. What?! I wrote about it though.

Cirque du Soleil’s inspiring and breathtaking Kurios

KuriosCirque du Soleil was in town this weekend, and there was no way I’d miss it. I went with gem Friday night to watch Kurios under the Grand Chapiteau!

Kurios

Everything I read indicated that this was one of the best Cirque du Soleil presentations to date. It really was fantastic, but it’s hard to conclude any sort of “winner” when every Cirque show is amazing.

KuriosI really had to resist purchasing goggles and a hat. They would have integrated with an Aquabats costume in a fun way!

Kurios

The show had a steampunk aesthetic and was filled with lots of typical performances, great music, and some more novel performances.

I particularly enjoy the scenes that involve some extreme showcase of the human body with which I have some personal familiarity in a minor way. For example, the aerial bike scene that involved a woman riding a bike that was attached to a cable. She rode it around the stage before riding it through the air, and then performed a trapeze-like act on it. It reminded me of aerial hoops, and while I’ve never done that, I know people who have. The contortionists were another example. The back bends they did were so amazing. When I do back bends, they don’t look like theirs!

One act, the invisible circus, has one perform showcasing a variety of “acts” involving invisible performers and animals. It’s all about his reaction and some prop movements. I particularly enjoyed the invisible lion, mostly because it’s an interesting consideration of animals in the circus.

Of the more atypical acts, there was a chair balancing act that had an inverted version happening concurrently from the ceiling with a performer stacking chairs downward. At first, I thought it was a projection, but nope, it was happening! There was also a performer in another act using his hands like puppets to act out scenes. This was filmed and projected above on a floating balloon that was really cool.

Kurios was an excellent show that was truly inspiring. I just wish I had another Cirque du Soleil show approaching to anticipate! Whatever comes next, I know I’ll love it too.

 

 

September! 30 yoga classes, 24 dance classes, 12 dances, and lots of friends

 

atomic ballroom

Happy October! While I didn’t get as much reading done in September as I wanted, I did a lot of other things. I took 30 yoga classes in 30 days at Purple Yoga, which was fun! When I realized I was close, I decided I could totally do it. And it was easy!

dancing

I also got the New Student Special at Atomic Ballroom, giving access to unlimited classes for a week. I took 24 dance classes and went to 12 dances, including evenings at Atomic Ballroom, Folly at Dapper Day, and dancing in Downtown Disney. You can see a lot of wristbands in the photo at the top. Alicia took this great photo one of the nights we went to Atomic. Yoda tried to squeeze into the photo too.

Atomic

I don’t know who Cynthia is, but I’m stealing Luke’s Snap since I’m in it too.

I tried 6-Count Lindy Hop, 8-Count Lindy Hop, Salsa, Country Two Step, West Coast Swing, Country Line Dancing, Collegiate Shag, Bolero, Foxtrot, Milonga, Argentine Tango, Cha Cha, and Charleston classes. I already like Lindy Hop, and it’s still my favorite, but I found that I really enjoyed Argentine Tango and Country Line Dancing too – all for completely different reasons. Oh, and I might have tried to belly dance too. There’s totally no video. Thanks gem, Anela, Luke, and new friends for making the week fun! I ran into old friends and acquaintances and met a lot of new, cool people at Atomic too.

And I did squeeze in two tragedies by Euripides and some of The Aeneid as well as picking up Super Mario Maker. My body’s ready for tomorrow’s vacation! Time for Michigan with Duncan! I’m going with him on his yearly trip, leaving Friday and returning a little over a week later. Plans include a cottage, dinner with old friends, Canada, Niagara Falls, and Detroit – a nice combination of staying busy while also resting. Let’s go!