Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

You Too

Posted from Burbank, California at 1:10 pm, November 8th, 2005

I’m at the Burbank airport getting ready to fly home for a couple of days to see U2 with younger Holliday. Not wanting to go to the concert without sufficiently dorky t-shirts, I went to nearly every t-shirt shop on Hollywood Boulevard yesterday (for those not familiar with LA, there are about six million t-shirt shops on Hollywood) and had a conversation with the <insert foreign nationality here> owner of each place that went something like this:

Me: “Do you have any U2 t-shirts?”

Them: “Sorry, don’t understand. Me?”

Me: “No, it’s the name of a band. U2. Do you have any t-shirts for them?”

Them: “You? Who?”

Me: “U2”

blank stare

Me: “I think I’ll just look around on my own…”

We’re not gonna be wearing band shirts to this one.

Scared the Children

Posted from Studio City, California at 3:35 pm, November 7th, 2005

Crazy busy lately. Anyhow, Halloween’s Scare the Children party started slow but was off the charts fun by the time it ended. I’d guess that about one in twelve kids were too scared to come up the driveway, and most of those that did make it up the driveway were totally freaked out. Pete, who is 6′ 7″, was our star, standing behind the driveway gate wearing a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde mask. We put a strobe on him so that it made it really tough to tell what was coming out of the dark, and he carried chains that he slammed into the gate with such force that it scared everyone, including those of us who already knew he was there. Shelley was harnassed onto the roof dressed as a gargoyle and spent the night running around shrieking at people. Gina’s costume was creepy but not particularly scary, and she just stood by the door with a lantern scaring kids more because of what they imagined she might do rather than anything she actually was doing. For comedic relief Paul roamed the yard in a zombie outfit talking to kids in a cookie monster voice, while I simply crouched behind the coffin with an ax and jumped out at people from time to time.

There were a lot of highlights to the evening, but two stood out. The first was when a car drove up to our driveway, dropped a kid off, and then waited five minutes while he built up enough courage to walk up the driveway. Just as he got to the top of the driveway Pete ran at the gate with the chains, and the kid’s feet barely touched the ground as he took off down the driveway and did a flying leap back into the car. The second was when I took a turn at the door giving out candy. A kid dressed as Darth Vader ran the gauntlet and made it to the door, but he was a bit slow going back down the walk so I snuck up behind him and screeched. He literally shot about a foot and a half into the air, executed a mid-air 180 spin, and then brought his toy lightsaber down full force on my head before running away. Totally classic.

Scare the Children 2005

Scare the Children 2005.

Work mostly finished up for me on Friday, and Sunday we went to the house of one of Audrey’s recording studio customers to drop off a ton of equipment. It would probably be rude to mention names, but I was a fan prior to meeting the guy and was a much bigger one after meeting him. The house was way cooler than I expected, the guy was super-nice, but he also surprised me by being almost as much of a dork as I am. Nearly immediately after we arrived he told us “we’re demolishing the pool, but you need to see this first”. He then ran like a kid behind the current pool, flipped a few dials, and came out to laugh with us at the attrociously tacky pool statues that were gushing water. This was followed by him retrieving a two-foot tall garden gnome from his car which shortly thereafter became the first decoration in his multi-million dollar Spanish home. While moving equipment in he insisted on helping out, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous about someone hurting themselves as I was while carrying a giant keyboard up a flight of stairs – it’s not everyday where a slight slip could cause twenty-thousand angry ticketholders to hunt you down for being the cause of their idol having to miss a show. The whole visit probably only lasted a bit more than an hour, but it was a really good time.


Posted from Studio City, California at 5:15 pm, October 30th, 2005

There is a line in the movie Garden State where Natalie Portman, after being taken on a series of outings that get progressively stranger, says “Ah, I must say, I’m continually impressed with how each place you bring us… continues to be weirder and weirder.” I had that same moment today with Audrey when we went to the home of the proprietors of the Museum of Death to pick up a coffin for tomorrow’s Scare the Children party. Entering the house, the living room was filled with skulls, stuffed birds, and other odd bits. Cathee then pulled out the (mummified) guillotined head of a French serial killer before taking us to look at her collection of two-headed turtles (“the largest in the world”) and albino animals. Keeping things slightly more normal, she also pointed out the giraffe skeleton that they had recently acquired, as well as a rocking horse made from an actual miniature horse (“we were the only bidders on eBay!”).

The coffin was in the back yard, next to their pet pig, another two-headed turtle, and an albino turtle. The coffin was of course filled with black-widow spiders which had to be chased out, but the highlight of the trip occurred when I made the comment that she would never have to worry about anyone breaking into her house (imagine breaking into a house and finding it full of body parts…) and she replied “Actually, I’m not sure about our neighbor in the rear, that guy is pretty weird”. Yeah. Anyhow, we drove home with a coffin hanging out of the tailgate of Audrey’s truck, and I can only imagine what further madness awaits for Halloween tomorrow.


Posted from Studio City, California at 11:00 pm, October 26th, 2005

My brain decided to swell up to twice its normal size during the past two days, and sadly my skull stayed the same size, so the headache has been tremendous. My money says it’s brain cancer, and if it doesn’t go away tomorrow I’m gonna operate. On the plus side, the roommate went to Jerry’s Deli and brought me soup; life is better when you get sick and people bring you soup.

Unrelated (as most pictures I post are), but this image from the South Georgia trip didn’t seem particularly noteworthy until tonight. Now, for whatever reason, I’m really liking it a lot.

Grey-headed albatross

Grey-headed albatross on Willis Island, October 2004.

Icebergs and Planes

Posted from Studio City, California at 11:15 am, October 22nd, 2005

Here’s a big wrap-up from the last couple of weeks:

Last weekend I flew home, having negotiated with the boss for a day off on Monday (the incident with the painters and a Friday night shift that lasted until 3:15 in the morning were solid negotiating points for me). Nadia’s birthday wish was that I attend her party and “not be able to drive home”, and I happily obliged. The Bay Bridge closed for repairs at 1:00 AM, so sadly the night ended a bit earlier than I would have liked, but it was a fun evening and Aaron managed to get me, Chi, and my rented Ford Escape home without incident. Saturday and Sunday weren’t particularly noteworthy with the exception of the best dinner ever at Chow, some Balderdash stupidity (“…about a French squid and his companion, a whale…”), and the lamentations of the third member of the buddy triad, re-dubbed “the Dot” for his missing-in-action hijinks.

I flew out under perfect skies on Monday afternoon, only to hear a warning from the captain halfway to LA that everyone should “hold on” as we steered through storms and watched lightning blaze just outside of the plane’s windows. After landing a rainstorm of biblical proportions greeted me, apparently brought here by an unknowing rain god who was visiting from New York. The evening out was highlighted by Audrey’s apt description of someone who doesn’t own a car in LA (“*censored*”) and Josh’s confirmation that my original guess at the definition of “agro” wasn’t a sign of brain damage.

After navigating through downtown amidst streets closed due a Mission Impossible 3 shooting I again managed to meet up with Josh on Wednesday, and along with Audrey and a rotating cast of music industry folks we spent far too long at the Rainbow. I stumbled home around 2:00, making for an interesting day at work six hours later. Last night’s excitement was a dinner-and-a-movie showing of Lemony Snicket’s, during which I planned to refrain from drinking and failed miserably.

And because it is completely unrelated to anything mentioned above, here’s a nice iceberg picture:


Iceberg near Paulet Island in January 2004.


Posted from Studio City, California at 10:40 pm, October 11th, 2005

Audrey took me to my first opera performance last night, a recital by Cecilia Bartoli, who is apparently the top dog of the opera world. For a guy who likes his bars with sawdust on the floor opera is a bit highbrow, but I’ll give anything a chance. That said, whether this lady was that good, or whether the music just worked for me, it was pretty much off the hook. I’m not a particularly sentimental guy — on a manliness scale ranging from Richard Simmons to Samuel L. Jackson I’d be in the Liam Neeson range — but during one particularly amazing song there was an actual danger of moist eyes. I’m not saying tears, but there was at least the beginnings of emotion. The lady had talent.


Posted from Studio City, California at 2:30 pm, October 9th, 2005

The new roommate has been demonstrating amazing tolerance by putting up with me on various excursions around LA. Unlike past times where I’ve lived in this city, this time it’s actually been fun. A couple of weeks ago we hit the Rainbow, a metal bar on Sunset. I’m not particularly knowledgeable about metal, but Audrey was pointing out the various folks who were roaming about. Last night’s entertainment was the Foxfire Room, followed up with a trip to the Wine Bistro on Ventura, somewhere where she claims to have not only danced on the bar, but been reduced to a state where the owner had to drive her home on multiple occasions. JB, the owner, did not deny these stories.

Upcoming events include a visit to one of her more famous client’s house to install a recording studio, and a concert on Monday by Cecilia Bartoli — I know nothing about opera, but in addition to being a metal-head Audrey’s got three years of training in classical opera. I still am and will always be a northern California boy, but at least for the moment the city of angels isn’t looking quite so bad.

A Day in the Life

Posted from Studio City, California at 12:25 am, October 3rd, 2005

The reason I’m back at Warner Brothers is to upgrade software on several of their servers. Over the past six weeks I’ve done numerous trial runs on development servers, created a step-by-step plan for the upgrade of the production servers, and in general tried to set things up so that the upgrade would happen without incident. All of the supporting software was loaded onto my PC and ready to go, my notes were detailed, and I felt good about the whole operation.

Yesterday, after coordinating with teams around the world, the upgrade was set to start at 11:00 AM. I arrived at the building about ten minutes early, and as I was walking to my office noticed a chair that looked really familiar sitting in the hallway, followed by a monitor that looked really familiar, followed by a lot of papers that looked a lot like the notes I had organized on my desk. Upon entering my office I was greeted by two Hispanic guys in painter outfits, and an office in utter disarray; apparently this weekend I was not the only one working. Mildly flustered, I scrambled to get my notes back in order and to set up to work in my boss’ office down the hall. Shifting back and forth between the two offices I finally managed to get the bare minimum necessary copied from my office PC to my laptop, and after about fifteen minutes I was feeling more-or-less ready to go.

Printing up one last item, I returned to the boss’ office only to discover that a third, unseen painter had gone around and shut and locked all office doors. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hi, can you open that office back up? You guys are painting in my office, so I’m trying to work in the boss’ office and I don’t have the key.”

Him: “Yes, I see you working there.”

Me: “Uh, yeah, that’s where I’m working. Can you unlock the door?”

Him: “Yeah, you can work there, no problem. We’re painting. They want us to shut all the doors.”

Me: “Right. But can you open this door?”

Him: “Yeah, I don’t have that key. I’m just the painter.”

Much fun and one building security guard later I was madly scrambling to get the upgrade back on track. The scheduled checkpoints where I was supposed to give status reports to everyone were particularly entertaining, and made even more fun when the painters showed up with several buckets of turpentine and sent me on a high that I’ve still not come down from. But in the end everything seemed to be working, and the roommate humored me when I returned home and demanded we get margaritas. Several drinks and one DVD rental later I was sleeping on the living room couch, with evil dreams of painters and software dancing through my head.

Living the Dream

Posted from Studio City, California at 12:00 am, October 3rd, 2005

The top photo is one I discovered back in 2003, taken from the World Beard and Moustache Championships. The bottom photo is from this year’s incarnation. I’m not sure if it’s more disturbing that Sgt. Pepper and the Monopoly Guy are still parading around looking exactly the same or that I recognized them immediately two years later.

2003 World Beard and Moustache Championships

Sgt. Pepper in 2003 (photo from cnn.com).

2005 World Beard and Moustache Championships

Sgt. Pepper in 2005 (photo from spiegel.de).


Posted from Studio City, California at 11:25 am, September 24th, 2005

Last weekend’s excitement was the North Beach Pub Crawl. Very fun, but… ouch. What I do remember of the evening includes Marina Ho serving us drinks, a heated debate with LSU chick about Boston accents, and the walk to Wo’s. A voice mail from Chi’s co-worker the next day (“Hey, thanks for stopping by last night. Just checking to see if you and your friends are OK.”) confirms the fact that even at our best behaviour we weren’t in an ideal state of mind.

Too much working during the past week, although the problems I’ve been chasing have been interesting. Also, as a random aside, has anyone else noticed that when a hurricane or any other weather phenomenom shows up that requires some meteorogical knowledge to discuss, the good-looking female weather reporters that normally give the TV weather reports are suddenly replaced by crusty old men?

Pawn of the Gods

Posted from Burbank, California at 2:35 pm, September 12th, 2005

While I was coming back from lunch today, the power went out, an event which is usually not worth writing about. Like most other people, I sat around outside, ate my tostada, and waited to see if I’d be lucky enough to be able to head home and make up for the sleep lost to insomnia last night. Then it hit me – my car keys were still in my cubicle, twelve floors up. As usual, God was playing games with me. After an hour of waiting for the power to return I figured the boss could no longer complain if I left, so after borrowing a flashlight (all of the emergency lights failed and the stairwells were pitch black), I trekked up twelve hot and stuffy flights of stairs, providing entertainment to those folks still coming down, each of whom felt it necessary to laugh like a jolly fat man when told that I had left my keys in the office during lunch. Little did I realize that the gods wouldn’t think humiliation was enough, and that only by turning the power on literally seconds after I opened the door from the twelfth floor staircase would they be satisfied.

It’s not easy being amusement for the gods, but I suppose someone has to do it.

Sushi: 1, Buddyapalooza: 0

Posted from Studio City, California at 10:45 pm, September 4th, 2005

A sequel to Buddypalooza fell through but was replaced with a night of a few pieces of sushi and an unhealthy number of bottles of sake. Tonight’s excitement has sadly been limited to updating the journal a bit, per Adeline’s suggestion that it’s not completely obvious where to find the comments link.

The job continues on, and remains pretty decent. No new excitement on the lot, although I did discover the “morgue” room next to the Poseiden Adventure set the other day — the bodies are disturbingly life-like, and my first thought was that it was just a bunch of extras in make-up taking a rest between shots. It was only when the same extras were in the exact same positions the next day that my tiny brain grasped the concept.


Posted from Burbank, California at 12:15 am, August 31st, 2005

Here’s a belated recap of Buddypalooza:


After sleeping far too little on Thursday night, getting to work early on Friday, and eating far too much at an all-you-can-eat sushi bar in Glendale (Todai, not bad for $13), I escaped the clutches of the corporate world at 3:30 and started the 375 mile slog to the Bay Area. Fine Irish music and an ongoing news story about a beached whale carcass in Half Moon Bay were entertainment enough to keep me from losing my mind. Upon arrival the triad headed off to Pyramid’s for pizza, oddly-shaped calamari, and a few pitchers of apricot ale (aka the happy beer). That was followed by a trip to dirty Dan’s, highlighted by Paul Will’s philosophising about the advantages of small women, and the Goob’s conversation with a girl in line outside:

Her: “So is there a band inside?” (music is blaring)

Aaron: “No. Actually, it’s usually dead silent in there. But, you know, that’s cool, ’cause they have books you can borrow and stuff. And sometimes on Tuesdays they do Shakespeare readings.”


The day of unending fun. Both Chi and Aaron took it upon themselves to call me relatively early in the day, thus ensuring I wouldn’t catch up on sleep. Chi and I headed to Chow’s for lunch, feasting on the delightful cuisine and enjoying the aesthetically pleasing restaurant staff. A quick trip to the happiness store to visit the dog, fish, and action figures was followed by a commandment from God to purchase and consume McDonald’s sundays. That finished with, we grabbed tri-tip sandwiches and lotto scratchers and headed home to meet Aaron. Following a Scrabble debacle (“ja”, I won) we caught a matinee showing of the 40 Year Old Virgin, then met the tall guy at Mudville for mini-basketball and more food. The options thereafter were a party full of girls getting ready to head back to college or else Scrabble and Karate Kid 2. Miyagi and Sato were not to be denied.


The plan for Sunday was to meet everyone at Sam Wo’s for lunch and then enjoy a leisurely drive back to LA. I should have known better. Wo’s was followed by a trip to the Nish Bar in Berkeley, where conversation ranged from a missing belt loop to a dog named Chicken to the member of the gourd family most suited to be crammed into an orifice. Surprisingly we weren’t kicked out. The stroll through Berkeley that followed led us to Jaime Hill, where Jaime demonstrated the proper technique for executing a drunken forward roll downhill, across a sidewalk, and into traffic. When finally I got on the road the sun was sinking, but news of the impending hurricane kept me awake for the drive home.