The L.A. Report – Part 7



Hey Everybody,

It's time for another past-due L.A. Report.  It's been almost seven months
since I sent the last one!  Sorry.  For that reason, this one's pretty long,
too, but you're getting used to that by now.

In general, things are going great and I still love it out here.  I meet
lots of people and have some very close friends.

I'm starting to do a lot more outdoor stuff.  I've gone rollerblading along
the ocean many times, usually starting in Santa Monica, up to almost Malibu
and down to Marina Del Ray.  The path is great and there's tons of stuff to
see, besides the beautiful ocean and beach.  Venice is full of really
bizarre people and funky shops.  I went swimming in the ocean on Halloween;
it was a nice warm day, although the water was starting to get a bit chilly
by then.

I finally started golfing, too.  I went out four or five times with some
guys from work and I'm actually playing pretty well, too.  I'd never played
a golf course with palm trees on it before (in fact, my ball even managed to
"find one" once).  All of the courses I played were public and three of
those were L.A. city courses.  They were fairly simple courses but very well
managed and surprisingly, very affordable.  They only cost $23.00 for 18
holes, which is comparable to, if not cheaper than, most city courses.  And
the other public course was $33.00, which isn't that bad, either.

I'm still hooked on the Getty museum and try to get there once a month or
so.  A couple months ago a friend of mine introduced me to the Huntington
Botanical Gardens in Pasadena.  It's a beautiful place with Japanese ponds
and gardens and every kind of plant and flower you can imagine, even cacti
from Africa, etc.

I'm still doing a lot of contra dancing - pretty much every Saturday, every
other Friday and occasional Sundays.  The Halloween dance the day before
Halloween was really fun - a huge crowd and lots of costumes.  I wore my
traditional Batman costume.

Halloween is a big deal in L.A.  Lots of people go hog-wild decorating their
 houses.  A friend of mine lives on the edge of a very upscale community
called Toluca Lake (Bob Hope and Roy Disney live there, for example) and we
walked around her neighborhood that night.  Many of the houses had lights,
fog machines, tombstones, skeletons, ghosts, scary music, etc. and tons of
trick-or-treaters.  They kinda traveled in packs and there'd be HUNDREDS of
kids on certain blocks.  A lot of the residents would be right outside
handing out candy, chatting with everybody (the people are very friendly out
here), and the kids were very well-behaved (I only saw one smashed pumpkin).

That same friend used to live in the Oakwood Apartments (that's where I met
her) and one night, several months after I moved out, Jay Leno stopped by
like he does periodically and actually stopped at her apartment.  He was
doing some sketch with Denny Tario (sp?) from Dance Fever and she goofed
around with him a little but she said she didn't exactly look her best and
didn't feel like she was being that funny so she asked him not to use her
takes.  So he did some goofy stuff with some other people just down the
hall.  I missed my chance for fame and fortune by a few months and one
building (she was in the building next to mine).  Sigh.

Speaking of which, my agent is doing nothing for me.  He works fairly hard
but he just doesn't seem to have much clout in the industry.  He's also
kindof a bullshitter.  He said he had arranged for a bunch of people in his
agency to do a TV pilot that was supposed to be produced by Ed DeCordova
(Johnny Carson's old producer) and he wanted me to do a bit part in it.  He
met with me once to talk about it.  He asked me to call him and each time I
did he'd ask me to call him "tomorrow".  Then he didn't return my last two
calls.  I'm guessing he hired one of his fabulous babes (and he didn't have
many) to do my part.  Who knows?  So I need to look for a new agent.

I also have to find a new job.  My contract at SunAmerica finally ended on
November 15th.  Yea!!!  I disliked that contract immensely but I managed to
stick it out 'til the end.  The bad news is the market is extremely dead
right now with companies holding their breath to get through year-end,
especially this Y2K year-end.  They don't want to make any changes that'll
screw up their year-end and Y2K stuff.  I expect my phone to be ringing off
the hook in January, though, when they find lots of minor Y2K bugs they
overlooked or find that they're finally ready to fly with all of the new
projects that they've put on hold and are now way behind schedule.

If I did Internet and e-commerce programming I could probably be working in
50 different places right now but I still only do mainframe stuff, aside
from tinkering around a little with my home p.c.

Since I've been out-of-work for five weeks, I'm enjoying the time off and
trying to catch up on stuff, like moving stuff, organizing, etc.  I have no
excuse for not having my Christmas cards out yet!

I also decided to do a little more "extra" work.  I worked on ER in November
and it's supposed to air next month, probably January 6th.  The episode was
called "The Domino Heart" and all I know about it is the water is off in the
hospital so they're constantly wheeling water in.  I was playing an injured
skier (although I was wearing a Ski-Doo jacket and snowmobile boots) holding
a bloody rag to my head.  I was in three or four shots but I'm not sure how
plainly you'll be able to see me.

I still haven't finished unpacking because I thought I would be buying a
house within a few months of moving here.  That's a whole 'nother story.
The 6 - 10 days it was supposed to take the movers to get here took three
weeks!  Then little did I know they needed the $3,000 balance in CASH.  On
Memorial Day weekend.  May I suggest that you read everything you sign very

I spent several months house hunting.  I made an offer on one, then got cold
feet, made an offer on another one, but too late.  Then I happened to drive
by one that was obviously under major renovation and I bought it, so I could
have it finished the way I wanted it.  The house had been gutted (see
attached photo of the kitchen) and I worked with the contractor/owner for
several months and specified the patios I wanted built, a trellis, the
floor tiles, marble in the bathrooms, carpet, fixtures, kitchen cabinets,
appliances, front door.  He was constantly behind schedule and some of his
work didn't seem to be super high-quality but I kept giving him more
chances.  Then I had it inspected.  Luckily.  The inspector said he had
never seen such poor workmanship and recommended I walk away from it,
something he had only done three times before!  So I wrote a letter to the
escrow company canceling the sale.  When the owner was told, he offered to
work with me to make everything right so I worked with him a few more weeks.
Then I read the inspection report more closely and listened to more of his
lies and decided to cancel the sale for sure, whereupon I got a letter from
his attorney threatening to sue me for breach of contract.  I'm not worried,
though.  The owner did so much wrong and failed to comply with all of the
terms of the sale that there's no way he can win.  But in the meantime,
$20,000 of my money is tied up so I can't buy another house.  That's
probably just as well, though, since I'm not working.

On October 15th, I went to bed at 2:15 a.m. and woke up about 2:40 because
something strange was happening.  I couldn't even figure it out at first.  I
thought the cats were goofing around or making noise or something.  You know
how much of a daze you can be in when you're very tired and get woken up
after such a short time.  Finally I realized, "hey, this is an earthquake"
but it was SO WEIRD because instead of hearing lots of rumbling and shaking
it was deathly quiet, except for my blinds tapping together.  That's
because, even though it was a very strong quake (7.1 or so), we were so far
away (100+ miles) from the epicenter.  But my apartment was swaying as if it
were a tree house.  Then I started getting a little scared and I wondered if
I should run out into the courtyard.  But it didn't seem to be getting any
worse so I just gritted my teeth and waited.  The electricity went off three
times for about two seconds and I felt just a tad nauseous.  So I'm no
longer an earthquake virgin.

You never realize how influential weather can be on your mood.  The weather
here is perfect almost every day.  In summer, it can get hot up in the San
Fernando Valley
, where I live - as much as 20 degrees hotter than downtown
or the west side.  So the temperature was over 100 probably 8 or 10 times
this summer.  I hate to use the cliché "but it's a dry heat" but it's really
true!  A dry 105 just feels like you're standing near a camp fire but you're
not sweating and your shirt's not glued to your back.  And by the time you
get home from work it's very comfortable.  It's almost never humid here.  I
can only remember about five days that were humid.   In winter, it gets
pretty chilly at night (40's) but during the day it gets right back up to 70
or so.

What do I miss?  I really missed the absolutely gorgeous fall colors in
Minnesota in early October.  But I've found out that fall is rather pretty
out here, too, it just doesn't happen until December.  The trees just
reached their peak color a few weeks ago.  There aren't nearly as many
deciduous trees as there are in Minnesota/Wisconsin but there are quite a
few, including maples that get that rich red color and lots of other big
trees that lose enough leaves to cover a lawn.  This is prime leaf raking
time, although most of it's done by Mexicans with leaf blowers (nobody does
their own yard work in L.A.).

I also miss rain!  In the eleven months I've been out here, it has only
rained five or six times.  On the up side, though, it's nice to do things
when you want to do them, not as the weather dictates.  It's nice to know it
won't rain (or snow) when you have to move, etc. There is lots of greenery
anyway, because everything is constantly watered.

It's a little hard to get into the Christmas spirit with such beautiful
weather.  They do just as much decorating out here, it just lacks the real
feeling without cold and snow.  I'm going back to Wisconsin for a little
taste of that tomorrow (today).  Then I'll be back in L.A. Christmas night.
If that's not enough I'll drive an hour up to the snow in the mountains.

For those of you who can get e-mail attachments, I've attached pictures from
my move out here (taken with my point-and-shoot camera from the moving
moving truck), hiking in the Santa Monica mountains (the portion in Malibu),
the apartment where I'm living, and the house I almost bought.

Thank you for your attention.  You may now unfasten your seat belts and move
about the cabin.

Merry Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, Solstice, New Year, Etc.!



P.S.  Tonight the moon will be bigger and brighter than it has been in over
100 years.  Unfortunately, I'll be on an airplane in a middle seat.


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