Friday, June 30, 2006

Bad Vibrations

After all the excitement from the previous day, my mom and I decided that we'd take Friday as just a day to relax and do whatever we wanted. So she decided she was going to walk around the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and I decided to hang out on Waikiki Beach and go surfing.

Now, I'm not a surfer. I've only done it twice now, and both times have been in Waikiki; the waves are fairly forgiving there, the water's warm, and the people are really cool about getting out of your way if you lose control. I live 20 minutes from the beach in L.A., but the waves in Santa Monica are rough, the water's cold and there are like, piers and rocks to avoid. No thank you. Anyway, this time did not disappoint. The waves were a tad bit rougher than a couple of years ago, and I'm not in as good a shape as I was back then, but there's nothing like the feeling of standing up on that board as you glide along the surface of the water. It's totally dreamlike the first couple of times you get a good wave and ride it into shore. Wow. Just thinking about it kinda throws me off balance a bit. Gotta get back there soon.

I had an amazing time, but there was a price to be exacted for my time palling around with Nature (this had become the theme of the trip, it would seem). As you can see from the images, I wasn't wearing a t-shirt while I was surfing (trying to get rid of that farmer tan, also noticeable in the pics). Bad move. Now, yeah, the sunburn I got was irritating, but manageable. No, I would take the pain of a mild sunburn over the pain inflicted on my poor nipples that day. Maybe I was doing something wrong, or maybe I just have delicate nipple-skin, but I think I know why most surfers I see wear wetsuits : nipple burn from the friction of pulling onto and off the foam of the surfboard. It wasn't until a few hours after I had left the beach and was taking a shower in the hotel, that the pain actually hit. I guess the mix of water, salt and soap dissolved whatever callouses had formed to shield my nipples when I was surfing, because once washed off, pain ignited within each nipple that was more intense than even the jellyfish incident. And it wouldn't stop. I was frantically trying to rinse the soap off as soon as the horrible sensation began, but now the white "meat" was totally exposed and was crying out in anguish. After I got out of the shower, the pain continued, and I could barely put on a shirt. If I had had band-aids, I totally would've put the circle ones over my raw nipples as pasties, because the rest of the night, my nipples were on fire. I slept restlessly on my sunburned back that night, and when I'd turn on my stomach in my sleep I'd wake up, eyes wide, a stifled scream in my throat.

Anyway, cut back to earlier in the day, before I would attempt sleep, but soon after the shower, my mom and I went to check out an exhibit downtown where the artwork of a relative of Courtney's was featured in, but there was a scheduling mix-up and we got there late and everyone had already left. My mom's aunt Betty called while we were walking around, and my mom accidentally hit the speakerphone button on her cell phone and couldn't find the button to turn this feature off. So we were walking through crowds of people, everyone turning around, confused as to why my mom would want everyone to hear her entire phone conversation. Meanwhile, embarrassed, my mom was trying to tell Auntie Betty that the speakerphone was on and that she'd call her back, but Betty just kept gabbing away for all to hear. I was literally out of breath from laughing, which was driving my mom even more crazy. Ah, good times. We ended up going back to the Ward Center (where the Welcome Dinner was) and eating at a (engrish-y) place called Brew Moon where we had some great ribs and steak. I had a local beer (can't remember its name) that was pretty good.

Later, Ric and Court let me know they were hanging out at Duke's Canoe Club, a restaurant/bar at the Outrigger Hotel in Waikiki, so once my mom and I got back to the hotel, I ran out to try and catch the last trolley into downtown Waikiki. Unfortunately, I just missed it, so had to sprint across bridges and through a hotel to get to the next stop before the trolley did. Although I was out of breath and on the verge of an asthma attack, I made it on the very last trolley, and got to the bar in time to have a drink with Fig, Court and Co. They had all been drinking Tropical Itches, amassing a collection of wooden backscratchers (which came sticking out of each drink), so I joined in on that. We all talked and drank. It was all very low key. I think people were either pooped from the events of the day before or dreading their inevitable return to the mainland. Fortunately, I wasn't leaving for another couple of days and Fig and Court still had a trip to the Big Island to look forward to for their honeymoon.

The night over, the newlyweds were kind enough to drop me off back at my hotel, and thus, the night of tag-team sunburn and nipple pain could commence.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Later, That Night

After the wedding, my mom and I drove back to Waikiki and just vegged for a while. I think I might have even taken a nap, something I rarely do 'cuz it just messes up my sleep schedule. Fig called us later that evening to let us know he and Court were having dinner with some friends and family down at the Cheesecake Factory in Waikiki. My mom wasn't really up to it, preferring to hang out at the hotel and get some of her stuff in order and listen to music. In fact, we just walked down to the corner of our block to got her a Big & Tasty meal from McDonald's before I left for the CF.

Once I got there, more food and drinks were had. Food was pretty good but I hate the mojitos at CF, yet always seem to forget and order one every time I go there. They blend the mint leaves, instead of leaving them whole, which messes up the flavor and creates a gritty texture. Do they not have fresh mint so have to grind dry leaves into the mojito? Or is the blending just a bad choice on their part? I dunno. Anyway, Belen, Martin, Jacob and Robert (who ordered lots of food, as always) were there with us, and after eating, we all walked around the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and poked our heads into a few shops. We then walked along the beach, under the night sky, outside the Sheraton Hotel where Belen and her family were staying. We then called it a night and I drove back to the hotel.

Here's me and Court, lookin' all tan and stuff, that night:

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ho`ao or The Big Day

Moving past the agent debacle, and remembering happier times from a couple of weeks back, on the island of Oahu.

On Thursday, June 1, 2006, friends Fig and Courtney got hitched.

Friends and family gathered on beautiful Lanikai beach (I shuddered a bit upon first arriving, remembering the "
jellyfish incident" of a couple days prior) at around 10 in the morning, waiting for the happy couple. The weather was perfect, with white, fluffy clouds floating within a sunny, blue sky. The photographer and I staged some photos of me running along the beach, a la Hasselhoff, while we waited, and passers by wondered what was going on. Fig and the reverend showed up about a half hour later and we all got ready for Courteney's appearance once we were told she was on her way. At that point, we were all turned southwest, facing a small outlet to the beach between two houses, waiting for Courtney to emerge. Waiting... waiting... waiting... Until someone exclaimed, "Look! She's over there!!!" and we all turned around to see the beautiful bride walking up from the east side of the beach, radiant in her simple, white gown.

The ceremony was done in English and Hawaiian, with the traditional tying of the hands of the bride and groom with maile leis, symbolizing the commitment of the couple in marriage. It was funny, strangers on the beach came to check out what was going on, some even taking pictures and hanging out with us during the ceremony. After more words by the reverend, and a couple of "I dos" (well, Ric kinda zoned out at this part, but eventually said the words) They exchanged rings, and with a bit of effort, both Fig and Courtney were able to get them on each other. They kissed, and then *poof* they were married!

The photographer organized a bunch of photos of the newly married couple with us all, then Wally Amos tooted a "charge" from his kazoo, and we were off to his house in Kailua for the reception.

Wally's two story house was beautiful, and filled with all sort of little knick knacks and artwork. Food was outside, at the back of the house, where tables and umbrellas were set up for us to eat. My mom and I sat with Wally, Belen (Fig's cousin), and her husband Martin. Their son, Jacob, and I linked our Nintendo DSs and traded some Nintendogs items and played some head-to-head Brain Age against each other while eating. The food and fun were awesome.

Later in the day, the cake was brought out, and Mr. and Mrs. Figueroa cut it and (thankfully) didn't make a mess of things by shoving it in each other's faces (I've heard this is disrepectful in Hawaiian weddings, anyway). Cake was good. I think I had two pieces. After that, Courtney gave my mom a tour of the house, and I got one from Fig, and then we departed, the magical event at a close.

Fig getting cold feet. Luckily, this was taken after the wedding

Click on the images to enlarge:

Friday, June 16, 2006

Just Let Go

So, my theatrical agency, GVA, "let me go" today. One of the agents called to say, "I have bad news" about an hour ago. I'm bummed about it to be sure, but I'm not curled up in the corner of my office with the lights out, tears streaming, sucking my thumb, or anything. Yet. I guess I'd be more bummed if I was actually getting auditions, but seeing as how that is not the case, what can I really be sad about? Getting less auditions than the total of one that they've gotten for me since December?

Although the thought of finding a new agent is daunting, I'm a bit relieved to be free of the limbo I've been in for the past several months, wondering when the time will come when I'll be seen by a casting director for an actual project. Losing my agency, and a fairly prestigious one at that, while a setback, could very well be an opportunity.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks, Gwenn.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Welcome Dinner

Continuing to recount my adventures in Hawai'i'land:

So the next day, after my brush with death-by-jellyfish, Fig's parents held a welcome dinner at the
E&O Trading Company in Honolulu. The food, of the Southeast Asian variety, was very good, especially a little corn fritter thing, which wasn't on the menu but which Fig was able to magically procure. Good stuff.

Drinks were plentiful, although even after two vodkas-on-rocks, two double mojitos and a tropical drink, I was barely even buzzed. Mom had a champagne cocktail, which would become her drink-of-choice while we were on the islands.

My posts have been pretty lengthy lately, so I'll keep this one short and just show you the pictures:

Fig and Mama-san, with her new friend, the champagne cocktail

Christine and Amanda and mojito

The famous Sarah and Wally Amos (sporting watermelon hat and kazoo necklace)

Courtney with her soon-to-be in-laws

Best Man Robert, very happy with his mojito

Monday, June 12, 2006

Naked in NoHo

A quick detour from my Hawaiian adventures to mention some good theater.

Regular readers of my blog may remember I mentioned Naked in Idaho, the play my roommate Michael Cornacchia is in, when it opened a few weeks back. Well, I not only saw it opening weekend, I saw it again last Saturday, and I heartily recommend you see it too, before it closes this weekend.

The production is comprised of two one-acts, both cleverly written by Sean Michael Welch. Although the two plays differ in character and situation, thematically they are very much alike in that both explore the boundaries of what constitutes "Art" and how people react, to hilarious effect, once those boundaries are broken.

In the first piece, Boise, Idaho, a couple (Hara Finnegan and Mark Shrier) enjoying a meal at a cafe unwittingly find themselves as part of a narrative being said aloud by an imaginative stranger (Scott Rognlien, bringing a delightful subversiveness to the character) at a nearby table. The couple's mundane words and interactions become trashy, high-drama to the stranger, who envision both involved in tawdry affairs and secrets which threaten to tear their relationship apart. Once the two start to play along, and get swept up in the narration of the stranger, fact and fiction begin to merge and what's real and what's not becomes harder to define in their minds. It's all hilarious and clever, and the rapid pace and timing of all the actors involved is quite impressive.

In the second piece, Try Not to Step on the Naked Man, a married man named Barker (Jake Johnson) comes home and is shocked to find a naked man, Frank (a charming, hilarious and surprisingly subdued Michael Cornacchia) lounging on the floor of his living room. He yells for his wife, Donna (luminous and funny Maia Peters) who not only knows about Frank, she approves. It turns out Barker inherited Frank from his dead Aunt Gertrude, who bought him as a piece of art. When Barker's boss, Carny (Dana Powell) shows up for dinner to discuss a possible raise, hilarity ensues as Barker is the only one uncomfortable with the naked man, much to the delight of Donna and Carny.

Yes, Cornacchia is indeed naked throughout, but he's behind a couch for most of the play, so the only ones who aren't spared the indignity of Michael's nakedness are the players onstage, although the audience does get a flash of ass now and then, always resulting in laughs.

The small theater was packed last Saturday (June 10), so if you want tickets you should definitely call and pre-order them. Both shows are short and funny, so if you're looking for a good time at the theater, and a perfect show to bring friends to, definitely check it out.

Almost forgot to mention the funny "Changing the Set" song by Tim Koch, between plays. It's very funny and takes away the tedium of the necessary set change, especially when the actors sing and play along to the music. That ushers come out to refill your complimentary beverage (wine and beer included) adds to the fun.

Naked in Idaho
5233 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hollywood
Friday -Saturday, 9 p.m., thru June 17
(818) 771-7202

Friday, June 09, 2006

A Tale of Jellyfish Jeff or Adventures of Pee Boy

I’m updating my blog back here in L.A., in my office at work, totally depressed that I’m not still on Oahu enjoying the Spirit of Aloha. Sorry for the hiatus in posting – after that last one about Diamond Head, the wireless connection at my hotel sputtered out. Over the next few days though, I’ll be posting pictures and writing about the rest of my week in paradise (actually, not. Seems that Blogger had some technical issues this week, so this post has been delayed a few days. I'll be back to posting regularly, and finishing up my Hawaii posts next week. Ahh, technology.). Here’s what happened later that day:

After trekking down from the edge of the Diamond Head crater back to my rental car (a Chevy Cobalt, if I haven’t mentioned), I drove back to my hotel and waited for Fig’s best man, Robert, to pick me up on his way to a BBQ Fig and Courtney had planned. I found a note in the hotel room from my mom, saying she had gone on adventures in shopping and food with her Aunt and not to worry about her as she’d be occupied all night. After a quick shower and a call from Robert, I left the hotel and went to the ABC Store (think a tropical 7-11 on almost every corner in Waikiki, even more ubiquitous than Starbucks) and bought some cheap goggles and a white chocolate Twix candy bar, since I’d never seen one before (was good). I walked the half block back to the hotel just in time to see Robert and Amanda (friend of Courtney) pull up in Robert’s rental - a convertible Mustang with the top down - which put my Cobalt to shame. I quickly hopped in and we were off to the BBQ on the northeast side of Oahu in Kailua, taking the H1 to the Pali Highway to get there.

The drive along the Pali Highway is beautiful; vibrant greens of lush plants and tall trees cover dark, volcanic mountains. We drove through this for about 20 minutes before getting into Kailua where we got lost on back roads a couple of times and stopped at a Longs Drugs to get vodka, soda, chips and salsa. Eventually, however, we found the road to the Bed and Breakfast Fig and Courtney were renting, a cute place with a lanai from which you could see Lanikai beach, which was within walking distance.

After suiting up and meeting more of their friends at the house, we all walked down to the beach for a swim. It was all good fun until the attack. Now, I’ve got to preface this by saying I didn’t really feel like swimming this day. I was completely content to just lie on the warm sand and get some sun, perhaps knowing on some level that dangers lurked within the false security of the tranquil waters of Lanikai, but Fig insisted that I get in the water, and isn’t it bad luck to piss off the groom a couple days before his wedding?

I eventually relented; grabbing Fig's swim fins, my goggles and tossing away my shirt, I headed toward the water. It took a couple of minutes, as the water felt cool to the touch, but I eventually submerged myself beyond my ankles and began looking for shells and diving for sand crabs and such in the salty water. This went on for 30 minutes or so when I suddenly felt a small sting on my left arm. I thought at first it was a small cut or abrasion getting irritated by the saltwater but then, a couple seconds later, the sting became more of a burning sensation. I suddenly started wiping my arm off with my other hand trying to figure out what was causing the pain. I stood up in the water (it was quite shallow) and tore off my goggles to see if I could find anything on my arm. Nothing was there, only a slight redness, but the pain intensified. Fig saw me pawing at the wound and fearfully asked what was going on. Trying to keep the pain at bay, I told him through gritted teeth, "I am stung," and quickly made my way out of the water onto the beach where I then collapsed, consumed by a new wave of intense pain. Upon seeing my prone form, which began to slightly convulvse, everyone made a run from the water in a near panic. I managed to get to my feet as we all grabbed our stuff and ran from Satan's Beach, now boiling with angry jellyfish. The redness around my arm began to swell further, blistering before my very eyes and forming a band of swollen pain around my forearm. By the time we got back to the house all seemed lost and I began to come to terms with losing the arm. In desperation, Fig grabbed my arm and poured vodka over the accursed blood ring but to no avail: the pain only intensified.

Courtney made some urgent calls to her family and confirmed my worst fear: that someone was going to have to urinate on my arm to save it. Everyone was pleading with me to do so, but curiously, no one was volunteering. I, of course, wouldn’t relent, for fear of being known as "Pee Boy" the rest of the evening - losing the arm would be worth being spared that indignity. By this time Sarah, a relative of Courtney's who knew of "Island things", had arrived and concurred with the urine diagnosis. I was under extreme pressure to actually follow through but I was hoping against hope that another solution would appear. It was not to be. In the end, I’m not saying what depths I sank to in order to keep my arm, but suffice to say, I took care of the problem and the pain and swelling abated. The crisis, for now, was over.

The rest of the evening consisted of us partying on the lanai, eating burgers Fig barbecued, drinking, and having a great time. The weather was perfect, and when night started falling, Courtney made a dessert by barbecuing pineapple glazed with brown sugar or something, and we all enjoyed it. When most everyone had left later in the evening, and it was down to Courtney, Fig, Amanda, Robert and I, I figured what better way to enjoy the warm, Hawaiian night under the stars, than by playing New Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS! Fig had his DS and I had mine, so we all took turns playing head-to-head Mario against each other, although Robert chose to stick to Bejeweled 2 on my Treo. Ahhhh…good times.

Robert, Amanda and I eventually left Fig and Courtney to make the trip back to Waikiki, and a light rain began to fall just as we were getting off the Pali Highway. Robert pulled over to put the top up, and of course, as soon as we had it fastened down, the rain stopped. I think it must’ve been some Hawaiian gods playing with us (where were they during the attack? God knows I prayed to them for sweet deliverance). My mom has a couple of ghost stories about the Pali Highway, but that's a story for another post as this one has gone on a bit long.

I’ll end, however, with this thought: if you don’t have meat tenderizer, use pee: it works. I’m just saying.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Diamond, Mine

Sorry for the lack of posts the last couple of days. I typed the one you see here Wednesday morning, but then lost my wireless internet connection and didn't get it back until today. So, read this post as if you were reading it in the past, on Wednesday and all will be right with the universe once again.

Continuing my Hawaiian vacation, I hiked up Diamond Head here on the southeast corner of Oahu yesterday. Diamond Head is a crater formed about 300,000 years ago by an eruption from one of the volcanoes that created the Hawaiian Islands. It has been through a lot, from ancient ceremonies by the island natives worshipping their Wind God to, more recently, a coastal defense system set up by the Federal government to defend Oahu beginning in 1908. It’s now a National Natural Landmark and tourist attraction.

It’s not a particularly difficult climb to the top of Diamond Head, but because of the humidity and altitude, I was breathing hard and pretty sweaty by the time I completed it. This is the second time I’ve done the hike and it’ll be a tradition every time I go to Oahu due to the physical, mental and spiritual rush I get doing it. I think the amount of silence and solitude (aside from the occasional fellow hiker) during the hike, mixed with the altitude, physical exertion, a touch of claustrophobia (a narrow, dimly lit tunnel carved into the crater must be passed through) and beauty make it much more than just another tourist spot. Because I always feel so focused by the time I get to the top, I always make a few wishes when I get there and this time was no different. I’ll let you know when they come true.