Ma & Pa Holliday were in town for a few days, so Audrey and I met them for lunch and an evening out. My lack of enthusiasm for many things LA is well-documented, but this city has more than its share of memorable activities, and a visit from Ma & Pa was a good excuse to indulge in a couple of them. Lunch was at the bizarre and unique Encounter Restaurant located in the quadripod in the middle of LAX. Being in a science-fiction themed quadripod with airplanes all around is totally OK by me.
Following lunch, and after a long and losing battle with LA rush-hour traffic, we limped into Laguna Beach for the evening’s entertainment. Every summer Laguna Beach holds the Pageant of the Masters Festival, which is one of those you-really-need-to-see-it-to-understand type of events. The high-level description is that it’s a presentation of several dozen famous works of art, reproduced on stage with live actors as models, which sounds like complete yawnsville. However, being there in person with 2700 spectators while an orchestra plays, a narrator explains the artwork, and the curtain goes up on what appear to be huge, 2-D reproductions of famous works of art, all the while knowing that through some magic of lighting, make-up, and perspective it’s actually 3-D canvases with real people on them, is a pretty surreal experience. Even Pa, who can be notoriously stingy with his praise, admitted that it was “pretty cool”. Ma was more effusive, stating “I love it I love it I love it” on more than one occasion. From a slightly different perspective, the two old ladies in heavy costume jewelry that were sitting behind us frequently chimed in to let their neighbors know “that’s not people, it’s just a painting”; one might suggest they bring binoculars to next year’s performance so that they can see the “paintings” blink from time-to-time.
Lest it get lost from memory, in the last journal entry I forgot to mention the outing Audrey set up to go see a performance of Carmina Burana at the Hollywood Bowl. I know nothing about the music, but apparently it’s a famous piece and everyone has heard parts of it in movies at some point (trust me, you have). Anyhow, given the joy that is Los Angeles traffic we decided to meet Greg and Bronwyn in downtown Culver City to catch a shuttle bus to the Bowl. As we left to meet them I realized that I was having discussions with my stomach about a vanilla latte I’d consumed twenty minutes earlier. Unhappy with the state of discussions, my stomach sent a few gallons of cold sweat up to my head about fifteen minutes into the bus ride, and my head returned the favor by draining of all blood. By this point Audrey was searching through our picnic dinner for a bag to give me, but we arrived at the Bowl without incident. Once there I calmly followed the group to our seats, dropped off my jacket, and then headed to the men’s room to lose my latte. After that the concert was fairly awesome, and ended with fireworks and massive flame towers that I swear raised the outside air temperature several degrees throughout the Bowl.
And that was all of the excitement in my life until Friday. Aaron called to find out if I wanted to drive with him to Vegas – he was going for a bachelor party, and his driving buddy had bailed. The catch was that I had to find my own lodging, and that we wouldn’t be able to hang out together until Sunday; not a problem – I’m admittedly cheap, so rather than shelling out $100 for a crappy room I figured I’d just crash for the night in the Suby.
So I picked up Aaron, we had a fun drive here, and then I dropped him off at the Luxor and headed over to the less-pricey end of the Strip to see if I could find a $5 Let-It-Ride table. Six hours later with $20 of winnings in my pocket and having seen a three-foot-tall man dressed as a leprechaun running up and down a bar pouring shots I headed out of town to a spot I’d parked at for the night on a previous trip. Unbeknownst to me, however, Nascar was in town, so my nice quiet exit twenty miles outside of town was filled with hundreds of cars leaving the Las Vegas speedway. Luckily five miles later the next exit had only a few semis that were parked for the evening, and I slept like a baby until the sun woke me up at 7:00.