June 30, 2010

An unexpected fabulous find

We met during my childhood. Performing her songs for my parents and their friends in our living room, red Sony tape player and microphone in hand, was a regular occurrence. Something about Patsy Cline struck me as a child and has stayed with me some 20 years later.
And last weekend, I was fortunate to combine two of my musical loves: vinyl and Ms. Cline. 

After failing to find Jericho season 2 at Best Buy, one of the sales associates directed us to Bookmans. The used media superstore, he said, was amazing. Except when we got there, it was pretty much what you'd except from a place that bills itself as an "entertainment exchange." Plenty of cheap, older items. No Jericho season 2. The disappointment started to set in. But I figured since we were already there, I'd check out what they had in the way of used records, CDs and books.
Appealing to readers, gamers, film fans, and music junkies looking for a deal, the sheer volume of items available for purchase is something to marvel at. I made my way over to the vinyl section with the hope I carry each time I step into a record store ... That someday I'll find an out-of-print Modest Mouse record fetching $200 on eBay for a steal. It still hasn't happened.

But thumbing through the vinyl, there she was. Patsy Cline's "Greatest Hits." For $4! That wasted trip to Best Buy turned into a reunion between a music fan and her favorite childhood singer.

The rest of my time at the store didn't prove as fruitful, but the sound of Patsy Cline's deep, emotional voice booming out of my record player sure made up for it.

June 25, 2010

Five for Friday ... And beyond

After some difficulty generating five things for just one weekend, I've decided to expand my Five for Friday series to include future goals, events, wants, hopes, etc. As much as living in the now is important, it's always good to want ish for down the road.

1. Explore Arizona. Since we had to postpone our Sedona trip because of illness, it's top priority. Other places of interest include the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff and Fossil Creek (pictured above) in the Fossil Springs Wilderness.

Hiking among lush greenery to a natural water wonderland is right up my alley. The name stems from the high levels of calcium carbonate in the water, which causes large, fossil-like rock growth. The area was well-known for cliff jumping, but I've read they are tearing down the dam used as a launching pad per the area's designation as a Wild and Scenic River in 2009.

2. Soak up the sun. It's going to be 107 on Saturday and 106 on Sunday. Even though I'm still not feeling 100 percent, I'm tired of being cooped up in the townhouse.

3. Hang out with everyone's favorite L.A. boys. Entourage Season 6 came out Tuesday, and it hopefully will make its way into our DVD collection this weekend.

4. Decorate. The never-ending process of making the townhouse pretty continues with the hanging up of more pictures in the master bedroom, office and upstairs hallway.

5. Blog love. I'm going to work on a new header and have a variety of topics to cover for future posts. On my mind right now is the college football expansion, what I most recently added to my music library and a review of one of my most favorite Washington stores, which I had a chance to visit during a layover on the Alaska/DC trip.

What are your Five for Friday?

June 24, 2010

Best Coast makes my summer dreams come true

Break out those beach blankets because the West Coast's summer soundtrack arrives July 27. The California duo of Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno, better known as Best Coast, are finally releasing their first full-length album. 

Boasting 12 unreleased songs, "Crazy For You" hopefully will build off the lush, fuzzed-out sound we've come to expect from the group's slew of EPs and singles released this past year.

Track listing:
1. Boyfriend
2. Crazy for you
3. The End
4. Goodbye
5. Summer Mood
6. Our Deal
7. I Want To
8. When The Sun Don’t Shine
9. Bratty B
10. Honey
11. Happy
12. Each and Everyday
Bonus track: 
When I’m With You

Sounding like a love letter to California, their version of lo-fi takes a page from the Beach Boys' brand of surf rock with catchy hooks and doo-wop influence. Best Coast stays true to West Coast form, singing about boys, weed, love and sunny days. Perfect for a drive down the PCH or soaking up the atmosphere at Pismo.

Stripped-down version of "Up All Night"

June 22, 2010

Design crush: David Jimenez

I love everything this man does. The fabulous designer behind these rooms is David Jimenez. The visual merchandising and store design guru for Hallmark proves you don't need an interior design degree to create fabulous spaces. 

His use of yellow and blue initially caught my attention. But his take on Mid-Century Modern design, ability to maximize neutrals with color and eye for layering patterns and textures have hooked me for the long haul. His rooms look collected and not forced, which is something I'd like to improve on in my own casa.

Check out his design philosophy, how he became a designer and what inspires him here.

Some of my favorite rooms inside his Kansas City and Palm Springs homes.

June 21, 2010

DMV = Closest thing to Hell on Earth

I was reminded why I elected to forgo getting a California driver license while in Fresno. The DMV office I went to here in Phoenix on Friday would make any Department of Health cringe. 

I didn't have much of a choice in the matter since my car registration expired yesterday. And my Washington state license goes to heaven on my birthday this year.

Once I stepped through the doors of the DMV, my fears were realized. Not only were the facilities crowded and noisy, which was expected, but they were filthy ... dirty floors, stained chairs ... you get the picture. And you can thank me for not taking pictures, later.

To make matters worse, the rude "customer service" women informed me "the camera was down" when I told them I needed a license. It wouldn't be working until Monday ... they hoped. 

The sole reason I went to this dreaded place was to acquire a driver license. You see, Arizona contracts with third-party offices that are operated by the DMV, but owned by private companies. They charge "convenience fees," but the shorter wait time and clean, pleasant offices are worth it.

There is a third-party office that does registrations right behind our townhouse, but they don't offer driver license services. So, even though the third-party office was convenient for registrations, I decided to brave the DMV to knock out both the license and registration items. But now I was informed the only reason for my enduring this torture was non-operational. Thank you, highway gods.

Begrudgingly, I took my ticket and dirty seat at the place I consider to be the closest thing to Hell on Earth.

And this particular DMV lived up to expectations. After about a 20-minute wait, which was less than I anticipated, my number was called. I took a seat at the agent's booth and began the process of getting the Mazda 3S registered to legally roll through Arizona.

And then the smell hit me. Was that urine? Where was it coming from? I didn't have to look but only to the seat at my left and there it was ... a puddle of pee.

And the Parent-of-the-Year award goes to ...

I didn't know whether to throw up, laugh or curse. Instead, I politely informed the agent someone had urinated in the seat next to mine ... To which she replied, "Oh, I thought I smelled something." Yeah, lady, it's piss. She called someone to come clean it up, but after about 10 more minutes and no person to take care of this unsanitary mess in sight, I questioned whether she really contacted anyone.

To make matters worse, the woman two booths down was letting her child run through the building screaming his head off. Thank goodness that agent asked her "to control her child, now." Too bad my agent didn't command that type of authority when asking for a clean-up on booth 19.

With that disaster behind me, I decided to go to a third-party location to get my diver license and be done with this headache. Long story short, I didn't have an enhanced Washington state license, so my birth certificate was required to prove my identity, which I didn't have on me. Exhausted and still grossed out by the previous events, I decided to call it a day.

I went back to the pee-free, third-party location Saturday, birth certificate in hand, and 30 minutes later, was legally licensed to drive in Arizona.

My new license expires when I'm 65 and you only have to update the picture every 12 years, so, hopefully, I won't have to step inside that filthy DMV again. 

The folks who determine license lengths must have endured puddled urine at their local Arizona DMV, too.

June 18, 2010

Five for Friday

Sorry I didn't post much this week. Bruce and I are still getting over a bug we caught after our incredible trip to Alaska and DC [pics will be posted soon ... I promise]. And it didn't help the Internets connection has been finicky.

And what better way to get back into the swing of things than my goals/thoughts/hopes for this weekend?!

1. Acquire an Arizona driver license. I tried earlier today, but apparently fate doesn't think I should legally be able to drive in this state. I'll explain why the highway gods were against me in a separate post.

2. Spend time with the amazing fiance. Said quality time probably will include finishing "Friday Night Lights" Season 2.

3. Rest. Our good homie and Fresno sports anchor extraordinaire, Andrew, will be in town Monday through Wednesday. On the agenda: Lunch, pickle ball, the D'Backs/Yankees game and other general rad times.

4. Check out a farmer's market. Because who doesn't love fresh produce and beautiful blooms?

5. Clean. This is pretty self-explanatory.

Hope everyone's weekend is fun-filled. Good luck to those back home participating in the awesomeness that is the Fremont Solstice Parade. Google image search at your own risk.

If you're looking for a weekend soundtrack, may I suggest Stars' latest offering. Expect an album review sometime next week. I'd sure enjoy listening to it on this dock.

June 14, 2010

I'd rather be here today ...

[My photo taken 04.09.2010 during my last trip home]

Just feeling a little homesick. I always get kind of down on the heels of a fun vacation.

June 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Judy

I'm so incredibly blessed to be able to call you mother. I wouldn't be the person I am without your sacrifice, love, kindness and wisdom. Even though I can't be there to help you celebrate, you're always in my heart. I love you.

Five for Friday

There's no rest for the weary in this household. Instead of taking it easy this weekend, we're dusting off the tent for a trip to Sedona with some of my cousins who are visiting the AZ from the homeland. We've wanted to check out Sedona since we moved to Phoenix, so I'm pretty stoked.

So it's no surprise my Five for Friday revolve around the outdoors.

1. Enjoy the "cooler weather" up north. You'd be surprised what a difference 77 degrees is when you've been roasting in 100-plus temps.

2. Hike, swim, tube or raft. Perhaps in Red Rock Country, Slide Rock State Park, or the Verde River?

3. Snap some quality scenery shots. Totally inspired by this:

4. Reconnect with family. It'll be nice to see some familiar faces here in Arizona.

5. Relish the opportunity to get out in nature. I've had a case of cabin fever this week, and long to go on a camping trip. Maybe it's because we were surrounded by such amazing beauty in Alaska two weeks ago?! Or the fact I'm missing the California wilderness?!

What are your Five for Friday?

June 10, 2010

Repeat button is stuck on ...

Perusing the Internets, I came across this piece of musical genius. A bearded white man covering one of my favorite Outkast songs. OK. This is worth a listen. 

Four minutes and 38 seconds later, I was blown away. The fact the singer, Mat Weddle, of the band Obadiah Parker managed to keep the integrity of the original song, yet make it his own, is incredible.

After a little more research, I found the band is actually from right down the road in Scottsdale. I hope they plan on doing some local shows this summer. Maybe they'll play their amazing cover of Radiohead's "Idioteque."
I think that beard deserves its own record deal.

And just because I love it so much ...

June 9, 2010

50 states: Window seat > Aisle seat

I'm back in Phoenix and almost caught up on sleep after a whirlwind trip to Alaska and Washington D.C. It was an amazing journey spending time with family, reconnecting with old friends, making new ones and seeing things I've only read about in history books.

We arrived in Anchorage early Friday morning totally exhausted after seven hours of air travel. After a few hours of sleep, we headed to Cooper Landing, the site of my future sister-in-law's wedding. We stopped at a scenic lookout.

We ate lunch at a restaurant that was fairly sketch, which can either be exactly what you're looking for or a culinary mistake ... this one was a little of both. A word of advice, don't try the buffalo burger or the blue drink "the bartender made for the first time today."

The next stop was Portage Glacier. It was stunning. And really cold.

After leaving the glacier, we figured it was time to finish traveling to Cooper Landing as we had to be there for the rehearsal dinner. We ended up getting lost and missing the sign for the lodge. It didn't help that our cell phones were telling us three different ways to get there, either. [Come to find out, we weren't the only ones who got lost, which was a bit of a consolation.]

After arriving almost an hour late, I went to our cabin to get ready. As I was unpacking my suitcase, I realized I had left my dresses for the wedding at the hotel in Anchorage, which was two hours away. I hung them up when we got there to ensure they wouldn't get any more wrinkled and forgot to take them out of the closet when we left. A feeling of panic was setting in, and I called my fiance who was down at the main lodge. He called the hotel and after about 20 minutes, they said nobody, including the cleaning people, had turned in two dresses to the lost and found, which was standard policy. They were gone.

Not one to give up, I called back a few minutes later and talked to the lady at the front desk. I asked if there was anything else we could do? I knew I had left the dresses in the closet, so per the hotel's protocol, they should be in the lost and found. She said she would call the morning housekeeping supervisor to see if she could get some answers. She called back and said the dresses had been "located." I was pretty steamed at the thought they may have been taken, but happy they were returning to me. My future sister-in-law arranged for extremely generous and kind friends driving in from Anchorage to pick them up at the hotel and bring them to Cooper Landing on Saturday. How amazing is my future sister-in-law that amid all the stress of her wedding, she still had time to save my day?! Thanks, Anne!

Needless to say, I was ready for a few drinks and fun after the dresses fiasco and getting lost in the car. The Bride Party was just what I needed, where we had delicious Bellini's, great conversation and a "fashion show" contest. Our friend, Kyra, and I were chosen as the models since we are the next to be married. I think we're still in shock at being covered in toilet paper.

The wedding was the next day. We had family pictures and the ceremony.

The rest of our Alaska adventure included kayaking Resurrection Bay in Seward,

a photo shoot at the Seward waterfront,

moose watching in our hotel parking lot,

a hotel parking-lot feast,

and a "65-cent" tour of Anchorage courtesy of my future father-in-law.

The sun finally setting at 12:16 in the a.m. in downtown Anchorage. So rad.

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