Astropus

Way way out there

Two Years On My Own (But Not Alone)

My 2-year anniversary of quittin’ the ol’ day job passed with no comment late last month. It’s been an adventure to say the least and more challenging that I imagined (and I am damn good at imagining all kinds of insurmountable challenges).

Overall, there’s nothing to complain about – or at least nothing that isn’t greatly outweigh by a corresponding awesome aspect of this grand experiment. The lack of a real, weekly paycheck was, of course, the biggest adjustment. Without going into financial details, the shift from a annual salary to a ad-hoc scramble for duckets would not have been possible without the support of Jules and some considerable sacrifices on top of that. Like retirement. I’m going to be working the word-mines until the singularity at this rate. (But that’s okay with me.)

Eventual that big red “outgoing” number will get smaller than that erratic “incoming” number. Or I’ll smack into the fiscal event horizon. Whatever. When you have the luxury of not working for a paycheck, money carries a lot less weight.

The real challenges have been more subtle than that. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Lesson in Music and Pain

I remember an afternoon in 1992 when my mother once took me to The Wherehouse (remember that place?) to buy a CD . Grunge had swept across my adolescent consciousness, and I was quickly gravitating towards the darker, heavier bands.  I ended up with Alice In Chains’ Dirt.

Dirt

We listened to the album in the car that afternoon. Read the rest of this entry »

Quietly relaunching this

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I’m pulling astropus from the mothballs. More updates soon.

Stop by and Have a Beer!

I’m excited to launch my new venture: www.beeroftomorrow.com, a site dedicated to spreading the word about craft beer!

I spent a long time thinking about how to best make an impact in the Los Angeles beer community, and it is my goal with the site to get people interested in the craft beer scene, especially the local and regional breweries around Southern California.

I hope that you will stop by, take a look, and even join the conversation in the comments or via social media.

And now that the site is live after a few weeks of development and writing, I’m going to treat myself to a beer!

Cheers!

Beer Garden, LA Style

CoLAboration, a brainchild of some of the luminaries of the Los Angeles craft beer scene, is a “pop-up beer garden” that aims to provide a space for Angelenos to gather and enjoy taps of some of the best beers available. After the WinterFest event was canceled due to the heavy winds back in December, the event was rescheduled at an indoor venue, downtown LA’s Belasco Theater, for this past weekend. Itching to get out of Hollywood to avoid the Oscar madness for the afternoon we hit the Metro station for the quick ride downtown and met up with Hamish (read his recap here) to sample some brews. Read the rest of this entry »

The Serial Hobbyist and the Pursuit of Knowledge

I’ve always had an obsessive personality. Thankfully there isn’t a lot of compulsions in my particular flavor of OCD, just the racing circular thoughts rattling around in my head. One of my earliest attempts to deal with my brain’s particularly messed-up wiring was to adopt different hobbies. And by “adopt” I mean race forcefully down the rabbit-hole of whatever pastime I was picking up. For many years this was a subconscious move. A desperate attempt to distract myself from my own thought-spirals. With age I’ve become more aware of what I’m doing but no less able to predict or control the various Hobbies. My interest in them comes on quick and burns bright, and then there is an inevitable cooling off that suddenly becomes disinterest. This shift has frustrated me for years as I’ve looked inward to try and decode how one day I can spend hours involved with an activity only to seemingly lose all desire to continue the next day. I often wonder how common this serial-hobbyist mentality is in my peers, though I have found very little discussion of similar tendencies on the internet. Read the rest of this entry »

Better than Bathtub Gin

After too many years of telling myself that I can’t pull-off home brewed beer in the tiny apartment kitchens that I’ve had foisted on me in Hollywood I was finally convinced by Beau to take the plunge and get back into brewing.

Making things has always been important to me, and sharing my creations even more so. Brewing beer brings the same joy that I get from cooking a meal for friends and family but with the added air of mystery. Brewing often seems like alchemy; grain and flowers are transformed into a golden elixir that makes the world a more beautiful place. But behind the magic of fermentation is simple science and math and a process that I really enjoy.

My brew-partner and I have done a lot of brainstorming about what we want to get out of this endeavor, and we have the pilot-batch of a Belgian Pale Ale ready to be dry-hopped and an English Mild getting boiled-up today. I’m excited.

Los Angeles has Two Seasons.

The Off Season & Baseball Season, and today is the Solstice.  On that harrowed field nestled in Sulfir Canyon, adjacent to the freeways, warehouses, and skyscrapers of LA’s urban core, America’s pastime will commence again as the Boys in Blue, the Bums, The Briedgrooms, the Los Angeles Dodgers will take the field at Chavez Ravine to face their storied rivals the San Francisco Giants.

When the  ceremonial first pitch is thrown, this year by Dodger legend Fernando Venezuela,  an event with all the astronomical and astrological power of the Solstice, innumerable fans across our country, and the globe, will experience the zenith of their hopes for the season.  All 30 teams on equal footing.  All records 0-0. All batting averages .000 and ERAs 0.0, and our lives will again be filled with the promise of peanuts and Cracker Jack, walk-off bombs and crushing called third strikes.  Favorite players will fall to injury while names unknown rise to stardom, and maybe fall back to earth.  Win or lose there are 162 games on the schedule and 162 games worth of lengthening days and warm nights to enjoy before the seasons change again.

My Off Season began with the whimper of the 2010 team being unable to finish the season with a winning, or even a .500, record and it spiraled down through loss, death, and a dark and cold winter that shook me to my core.  The most difficult element of coping with the death of my mother and my mother-in-law has been the slow realization that life goes on.  It moves forward for everyone around you first, while you are still mired in the new reality foisted upon you.  Then life sweeps you along and your only option is the white-water or to kick hard for the shore.  I’ve spent a lot of time swimming over the past months.  Towards what, I never seem to know, but I’m fighting the rapids and keeping my head above water.  And today the struggle gets a little easier as even a losing season or a full-blown implosion of the team cannot eclipse the joy and hope of the top of the first inning when all the boxes on the scorecard are empty.

That is perhaps Baseball’s most beautiful trait: there are so many fresh starts in the sport.  The start of the season of course, but also always another no balls no strikes at bat; always the chance of a 9th inning comeback; or the chance to “get them tomorrow.”   It is this hope and opportunity that makes me love the game so much, and life’s ups-and-downs seem so much more manageable against the backdrop of April’s young season or the dog-days of July and August, or a tight pennant race in September.  The successful teams are the ones that can look past the hindrance of injuries, the despair of a slump, or the despondency of a protracted losing streak and see that hope and opportunity and find ways to succeed. They say that baseball is a game of adjustments; hitters have to make minute course corrections at the plate over the 162 games to be productive.  Pitchers need to make careful tweaks to their mechanics to keep their pitches sharp. Managers influence the game with small changes to the line-up or the rotation.  Any one of these could be enough to turn an at-bat or a game or a season around.

Baseball’s galaxy of statistics are the basis for many of these adjustments.  Untold numbers of  statisticians churn though ever iota of data to quantify every aspect of the game.  the beauty of the numbers is just below the surface of the game and it’s something I am fascinated by. I often wish that everyday life had such a multitude of metrics to measure our progress.  Something to base personal course-corrections on and measure week-to-week accomplishments and progress by.  Instead I struggle against the external judgments and even harsher self-opinions that face every decision.  After a lingering off season and the brief run-op of Sprint Training I am ready for the fresh start. Ready to move past the winter’s doldrums and eager to hear the crack of the bat and watch a ball sail, a tiny while orb against LA’s azure sky, deep into rabble seated in the pavilions.

Today, when Vin Scully speaks the words “It’s time for Dodger baseball,” I will probably shed a tear.  A tear for the losses and pain since the last time he spoke those words to the innumerable fans.  A tear for the part of myself that was lost and forever changed. A tear of realization that now it will always ring differently to me.  But also a tear of joy and of excitement for what the imminent future will bring.  Win or lose it is time to take the field, wait for the pitch, and put a good swing on the ball.

The seasons are changing in Los Angeles, and Baseball brings me and hope and a new outlook.  Play Ball!

This is Astropus

1981 – 2011

I’m sure there are figures out there for the total cost in dollars and man-hours that the Shuttle Program has cost America, but I don’t think it is possible to quantify the impact of program on the world and on the kids who grew up with these incredible machines flying overhead.   The shuttle program made a huge impression on my life, especially growing up in Southern California where everyone seems to have some connections to the aerospace industry, and I have never ceased to be amazed by what was accomplished in the last 30 years.  Thank you Space Shuttles for being the practice example of the limitless possibilities of the human mind!

 

My Five Favorite Songs about Los Angeles (off the top of my head.)

The internet loves a list, so I figured I’d throw the curtain off this new site and kick off the weekend with a hastily thrown together and not really researched list-post at the top of the page.  Here are 5 songs that I thought of first when I sat down:

“Los Angles” by Frank Black

To me this song is inexorably linked to it’s awesome video that features Black Francis himself driving around the desert in a hover craft (driving?) directed by They Might Be Giant’s John Flansburg. The first single off Frank Black’s 1993 solo debut which remains to this day one of my favorite albums of all time.  I’m still trying to suss-out the meaning of the tune…  I feel like it is about the love-hate relationship with Los Angeles and a desire to escape the “pouring sun” for some OTHER LA, perhaps the one in South Patagonia.

“In California” by Neko Case

A haunting ditty on a bunch of different twangy guitars about lovers separated by geography  and by mentality.  She name-drops K-town, the 405, the Black Dahlia. The song captures the longing and blind hope/ambition/ then resignation of so many of the California Dreamers.  It’s a cover, but I can’t recall who wrote the song.  Neko makes it her own and it I dig the harmonies so much.

“Paradise City” by GN’R

I don’t think they ever mention LA by name, but come-on. Not my favorite of the album, actually I don’t really like the song all that much at all.  I really dislike the outro.  But it was on the top of my head so…

“Ventura Highway” by America

I love the acoustic guitar riff and the bass line on this Arrow 93.1 classic.  Some more tasty harmonies on this one, though I couldn’t begin to tell you what it is about.  “Alligator lizards in the air?” Indeed. Technically I guess it is about Ventura and not LA, but maybe they are driving OUT of Los Angeles…

“Under the Bridge” Red Hot Chili Peppers

Trite and over played maybe, but did you realize that this song is TWENTY YEARS OLD.  Yeah.  And it still holds up w/o sounding dated.  Easily the best John F’s guitar sounded on that album.  Another anthem about the lost and lonely Angelino finding solstice in the arms of the city herself (or is that heroin?)

I’m sure that I’m going to recall an even MORE favorite song even MORE off the top of my head as soon as I hit “publish,” but there are the 5 that I’m going with for now.  Do you have a favorite Los Angeles song?  Or even a song that makes reminds you of LA?