Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Westside Rentals is a gigantic apartment/landlord/tenant connector for the greater Los Angeles area. Basically, it's the craigslist housing section with an added cost. It's been over a year since I lost all hope in their service and can only wonder if things have improved.
In 2008 I needed to move, so I decided to pay for a membership - after all, Westside Rentals's network is huge. You can't go anywhere in LA without seeing a "FOR RENT" sign by WSR. What I soon found after joining was that, much like Craigslist, WSR has listings that lack information, photos, and reliable landlords to assist you. I swiftly asked for my money back:
My girlfriend and I recently purchased a dual membership to find a new apartment. Over the past two weeks, we have become frustrated and extremely disappointed in your service and are asking for a full refund.
Our complaints with your service vary from website detail to landlord communication. The fact there are listings without both meaningful written descriptions and a single photo is a waste of time to consider. Most of the photos on your website are of poor quality in resolution, composition, and quantity. We have contacted many listings on your website and were extremely disappointed in their poor return rate; many phone calls, voicemails, and emails were never returned. One landlord emailed me back a week after my inquiry of a phone message and email, telling me that their unit was "JUST leased." Another landlord I contacted and scheduled a viewing of their unit cancelled on me twice: both 1 hour before our scheduled meeting. Needless to say, I couldn't afford to schedule a third meeting.
One of the listings we visited to see was distorted greatly in their listing. Not only did it clearly state that it was the second floor (when it was the first floor) – the pictures online were not of the unit available for rent. We are asking for a refund for the full amount that we paid for our membership. Not only did we fail in finding an apartment through Westside rentals, we also endured stress and loss of time and money trying to manage our search using your service.
Soon after, we were refunded HALF of our payment. No letter or explanation. Half? I had to waste more time to find out that they refunded only half because I used the service and therefore, should have to pay for it. I was pissed so I posted a review on YELP, not that this was the solution, but just a side note before making calls and more faxes:
If I could give WEST SIDE RENTALS a negative rating, I would. They are terrible and a waste of time. I could write a short novel here, but I'll try and keep it short and simple: poor pictures (if any), poor descriptions, faulty descriptions (I went on scout and the places I saw were grossly incorrect from their listing), poor communication from the landlords who posted listings (would never call back, or call back a week later), over priced listings, lacking search criteria. DO NOT waste your time with this place.
I bought a dual account for $70 and got nowhere after 2 weeks, wasting much of my time and energy trying to find a place with them. After everything went wrong, I demanded a refund and it was nearly impossible to get a hold of anyone to do so. After 4 weeks of struggle, they gave me $35 back from my $70 stating that since I didn't complain earlier, I will not be getting the full refund. Craigslist is much better. Of course, craigs is the best and worst of both worlds, but it is free and for the most part, has more information and any landlord who knows what he/she is doing will create a good listing.
DO NO DEAL WITH WEST SIDE RENTALS!
This was interesting because it sparked the interest of the refund manager at WSR. He called both me and my girlfriend asking about this "David G" review on yelp. After several calls and pointless conversations, he agreed to refund us the rest of our payment back. What a mess.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Mystery Sphere Pastry
When I was very young I ate a donut hole type pastry that contained nuts. I was a picky eater and thankfully those times have passed (I virtually eat anything now that I don't object morally to), but back in the day in my youth, I hated many things from tastes, to consistencies, to just downright textures. What I remember from this night was my parents having a get together at our house. My brother and I were banished to the second floor to take care of ourselves and keep quite during these events, and for some reason I came strolling down the stairs to see what my parents were up to. A crowd gathered in the dining room and a long table held bowls and bowls of desserts. And boy, did they look good. I grabbed a sugary sphere and ate it. And that is what my memory kept from the night. To what my parents tell me is that they stupidly told me to try the pastry, knowing it has nuts and "wierd" things in it. I took a bite and threw up. I was probably 4. Not my fault.
When I was in high school I joined a BBYO Jewish Youth Group Chapter. (Bereshis - the same chapter that Gene Wilder belonged to in his youth in Milwaukee). Anyways - we had a dinner at a Rabbi's house. There were 8 of us, I'd say, along with our advisers. It was going well and we were brought our first dish. It looked delicious! A piece of toasted bread with yummy salsa/tomato sauce atop. MMMMmmmmm. It looked good. It sat on our plates, staring at us. Knowing very little about Jewish customs or anything Jewish in general, I waited for the others at the table to act first, seeing how they were brought up as actual Jews, not a secular Jew like I did. It was time to eat the bread! I cut a large piece with my fork and took a big bite. INSTANTLY I knew something was wrong. Something... awful. Something... terrible. I was gagging and hid it as far as I could. It was the most repulsive thing I could ever imagine - and to think i shoved a large fork-full into my mouth and swallowed a little bit. I was already thinking how lucky I was that I didn't throw up everywhere. I looked over at my friend Andy, whose plate was untouched. He looked at me and smiled. What the FUCK did I just eat? "Hmmmm if anyone doesn't want their fish I'll have it," I heard one of my chapter members say. My GOD! Fish!? BREAD!? The the hell was I thinking? If i have to cut a piece of bread with a FORK - why would I continue to think it was bread. I tried another small swallow. No dice. I gagged again. This was a no go. I had to spit this out. And spit it out I did. Into my cloth dinner napkin. The taste was still in my mouth for quite some time. So disgusting. When the meal was over, I had to unwrap my napkin carefully to make it seem like I wasn't wrapping disgusting food in it for the Rabbi's wig-wearing wife, who did all the cooking and cleaning. (Why?). Wow. What a lesson I learned that night. First, don't be so stupid to eat something you obviously are too stupid to know what it is and two - be careful when you stuff your mouth with unknown objects.
Laffy Taffy (the whole thing)
Laffy taffy was first introduced in the 70s, but they sort of re-branded in the late 80s and I seized the day! My family was on vacation in the Colorado rockies and thankfully, since we were doing a lot of site seeing, my parents tended to give in to my requests to shut me up while we did "boring" things. (Yes, I appreciate them now. Very much). One of these requests was a super-large bar of laffy taffy. My God is was delicious. I remember to this day. I sucked on that thing for hours, or so it seemed. Eventually, I started to feel a little sick. Crazy, right? Maybe I shouldn't have been eating sugar for so many hours on end. (Maybe another fault of the parental units?) We reached our destination in our rented jeep and took a hike to explore the lay of the land. I really wasn't feeling well. And that's when it happened. I threw up. Threw up within 50 feet of the continental divide. Very poetic, I must say.
My mother is allergic to everything under the sun. Thankfully, I received my Dad's genes where the only flaw is migraine headaches. When I was younger though, the Docs thought I was allergic to things too. Therefore, I was allergic to milk. I can't believe it this to this day. If I had a milk-less childhood, I might me in a crazy-ward right now. I grew up eating mac and cheese. It made me who I am. I don't remember if it was a post-Halloween or what reason I had some candy, but I wanted to eat a Tootsie roll - something I was not familiar with. It looked really good. I was probably 5 or 6 at the time and my Dad read me the ingredients and let me know it had dairy in it. "No, I'm sorry you can't eat this." I was pissed. CANDY!? I CANT EAT THIS!? He left, I picked it up and quickly ate it. It was good.
Natural Spring Water
Back in the Colorado Rockies, this time in Steamboat, Colorado, I was on a spring break skiing trip in high school. It was with a ski group called SnowStar and my friend and I took this trip with the group, straying in a condo-hotel with a few other kids and an instructor. This instructor came back one day with bottles of self-filled water. He was so fascinated with the water, as he told us. Natural Spring water with all sorts of nutrients. I don't remember really, I probably never paid attention in the first place. He told us to try it. We each grabbed a bottle and opened it up. ASS. It smelled bad. Sulfer, ass, you name it - it didn't matter, it was bad. He assured us it wassn't as bad as it smelled and it was a must try - the locals drink it and it was good for your bones and health. I took a sip. Just about as horrible as the smell. He had a good laugh.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I recently watched David Cronnenberg's SCANNERS for the first time via Netflix. I didn't know that much about it but was excited to see it regardless. To my surprise, the movie description on the dvd pocket gave away a major spoiler that takes place in the last 10 minutes! Seriously? I won't go into detail to what this spoiler is, but it's one of those THINGS that shouldn't be readily available since it is a reveal/surprise to the main character (more or less the audience). It wasn't as bad as revealing the catch of The Sixth Sense per say, but somewhere along the line of saying Darth Vader being Luke Skywalkers father before watching episode 6. It didn't ruin the movie, but I certainly put it all together well before it was intended.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I watched the Nic Cage movie KNOWING last night. I was really, really excited to see it too, knowing (he, he) that it was supposed to be bad. But sometimes, bad movies are great. Bad comedies can be hilarious. Bad Horror films can be... hilarious. Bad sci-fi? It really depends. A bad sci-fi can either be horrific and embarrassing to watch or downright entertaining. When it comes to crazy scenarios, the basic 2 sentence catch of a sci-fi film can be enough to make it entertaning, wrapping an alternate environment blanket around our brains for a couple hours.
On top of all that, I've been sadly following this movie for many years. Back in the day when I first saw Donnie Darko, I was hooked on it. Got the DVD and watched it many times until I soon realized it was just an art student's wet dream and it had all the ingredients to cater to such a person (I was in art school at the time, still developing my artistic and film sense). Don't get me wrong, it's a good movie, but too many people along with myself took the interest too far. After years of having not seen the movie, I rented the director's cut. It was terrible. Absolutely, a horrific, terrible movie. I know my taste and intelligence in film evolved in the last seven years, but this was ridiculous. Turns out, it wasn't my taste - it WAS the cut of the movie. Everyone who has expressed their interest in the film hates the director's cut. For me, it made the movie boring and lost it's sense of believability, making it an embarrassment to watch.
Back to Knowing. So in my Donnie Darko hayday, I read that the director (Richard Kelly - the filmmaker, not the kiddie porno guy), was making a film: "a time capsule is discovered with numbers and dates. The numbers and dates list worldwide catastrophies and the specific fatalities. Some of the dates haven't happened yet." Wow - that sets the line for a very entertaining movie - regardless how good or bad it may be. And if Mr. Kelly is making it, it's GOT to be worthwhile.
Turns out Mr. Kelly did not make the movie and it was eventually put together by other people. When it hit the theaters, I was excited to see it, but with the extreme panning by critics, I decided to wait for video.
So with everything invested in the movie, along with my low expectations for it being good, my excitment level was high. How did it do? Quite poor. Worth watching? Sadly, no. Why? Well, my main complaint, which is 100% valid, is that the movie HAS NO PURPOSE. What does this mean? The last 10 minutes of the movie had no relevance. The first 90% of the movie tells the tale of Nic and his number sheet, trying to figure it out, then in the last 10 minutes, something else happens that has no bearing at all toward Nic Cage or anything. We could have watched EMPIRE for 8 hours and spliced the last 10 minutes of Knowing to the end - and it would be as logical of a movie. It's like if you watched a Law and Order episode and after 55 minutes of interrogations and adventure, some random dude who we haven't seen yet and has no connections to anything in the episode, walks into the police station and admits to the murder. His DNA matches and he is definately the guy. Seriously? What the hell is this movie supposed to be about!?
I could spout the many inconsistencies and poor filmmaking decisions about KNOWING but I'll hold off - this was supposed to be entertaining and not an epic, so all silly moments and numerous cliches can be described elsewhere.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
After living in downtown Chicago for four years (2000-2004) I became spoiled with cheap, accessible, reliable public transportation. In fact, I upheld the Chicago mentality of lamenting the idea of taking a bus vs. a subway seeing it went everywhere and any place that requires a bus was 'too far.'
1 - METRO PASS
2 - BEVERLY HILLS
And to make matters worse, there is Trip Planner. This is terrible. Just an example of looking for a ride today: I type in centenella and pico to my apartment and it gives me 4 options, all of which are about the same: take 2 buses, transferring in century city. The FUNNY thing is, if i put in centenella and pico to pico and la brea (which is two blocks from my apartment) it says take 1 rapid (express) bus. WTF is this? It's an 8 mile ride and if I enter in specific addresses, it tells me to take 2 slow buses, transferring in the middle of the 8 miles, otherwise I can take one FAST bus if my end destination is 2 blocks different? So to know what my best option is, I need to put in several permutations! (Of which, I don't know which ones will generate further options).
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I recently watched the Spanish Film TIME CRIMES, which was excellent. Not only a mixture of many time traveling theories, but a brilliant suggestion for a future Halloween costume. Make sure you don't read into it before watching, it's best if you have as few spoilers as possible. It's about an insane adventure a man partakes after accidentally traveling through time. How does he do this? And I am not giving anything away by saying this, but by stepping into a large vat of water, nothing less than a high-tech hot tub.
This brings me to an interesting discovery this week of a film trailer for Hot Tub Time Machine - a slapstick comedy about a group of men who seem to have traveled back in time by taking a dip in their Hot Tub. Connection? Probably not, but these two films do share a unique method of time travel.
As we are used to speeding cars and spaceships, it is often more fun to use a non-conventional mechanism: a vat of water with little explanation. This creates a gap theory and allows us to just accept it rather then have a fake theory thrown down our throats to try and believe. After all, the method just gets us to where we want to be, right?
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
The Brother from Another Series, February, 1997
Sideshow Bob and his brother, Cecil, are arrested and thrown into a police car. It drives off and police chief Wiggum stands in the road and ponders, "There they go, two criminal geniuses locked away together. Who knows what diabolical schemes they might concoct."
Homer is nestled in bed, a set of headphones on his head. He reminisces on the things he and his stomach have done together before going to sleep. The tape begins. ``Hello, this is Dr. Marvin Monroe. Let's build your vocabulary. A -- Abattoir. Slaughterhouse. The cow was slaughtered in the abattoir.''
The next morning, Homer eats several handfuls of bacon.
Homer: Ah, lamentably no. My gastronomic rapacity knows no satieties.
Homer's mother is singing with Lisa and Homer in company:
Grandma: [singing] How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?
Lisa: No, Dad, it's a rhetorical question.
Homer: Rhetorical, eh? Eight!
Lisa: Dad, do you even know what "rhetorical" means?
Homer: [incredulous] Do I know what "rhetorical" means?!
2 - Having a false look of truth or genuineness
Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
My interest in gardening has been steadily growing since I moved to Los Angeles and realized I could grow virtually any kind of plant. The basics don't interest me; I do have tomato and pepper plants, but and I gravitate toward the exotic - mainly things that I can eat and can't buy at the store.
I recently purchased a 2 year old Australian Finger Lime tree online, which was shipped to me in a box, and a dwarf Rangpur Lime tree. The last of the lime species that interests me is the Kaffir lime, which I had trouble finding. I also didn't have interest in continuing to buy 2-3 year old trees that have been cut and 'butchered' to maintain a small size for easy shipping. I'd rather grow it myself. The hunt for Kaffir seeds proved exceedingly difficult and I decided to gamble and buy seeds off ebay from a seller in Malaysia. Would they arrive to me? 65% chance. Would they grow if they arrived? Well, considering I would be getting 15 seeds, I'd hope at least one would. Overall 25% chance. Worth $7? Yes.
Two weeks after planting the Kaffir seeds, I had my first success - a single sprout of a Kaffir Lime tree. Will others follow? I hope so. If not, all I have to do make sure I don't screw this up.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
It occurred to me that instead of buying seeds to grow, I could just buy the fruit/veggie itself and take out the seeds. Not only would this be cheaper and quicker, it would also allow me to enjoy the purchased edible. Tomatoes are quite easy to grow and after having grown a few plants, I decided to buy some heirlooms tomatoes and plant the seeds to see what happens. I didn't know the proper method to do so, but I suppose I did it just right (or there isn't a precise method - put the seeds in dirt). I cleaned the seeds off and planted them in small containers. Days later they sprouted and a few days after that I planted them in larger pots and a couple went in the "farm" out back. Yesterday I picked my first of many to come. Very exciting stuff.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
"That's a neat looking spider," I thought to myself one afternoon while putting my bike away in the garage behind my apartment. I then saw this spider again and again over the next couple days. I didn't think much of it until I saw a very unique red mark on it's belly. "I really should look this up."
My first guess was a Black Widow - mainly because it was freakishly unique and very threatening looking. Google image search "Black Widow." Yup, sure enough. The next day I did my research on how serious of an issue this was. It wasn't as terrible as I thought it would be. The bite may not be felt and the result of one would definitely be noticeable, which has an extremely low chance of killing you even if you never sought medical attention (but you'd be crazy not to). That and they lay 200 eggs at a time. Interesting. Yes, I should probably kill this.
Later that day as I put my bike away, my little friend dangled for me on the garage door. Didn't really move much - it just sat there. I grabbed a dust pan on the floor and raised it above my head. My heart started to pound inside my ears. My friend continued to dangle. BANG! Got him. BANG! Insurance.
Well that was over - until his friend seeks revenge (or the 200+ eggs hatch). A few weeks later I noticed a black spider hiding within a cinder block that one of my plants sits atop for a better sun vantage point. I moved the pot and sure enough, there were two Black Widows in the crevasses of the brick. What to do now. After a quick trip to OSH I came back with a can of spider spray and spider traps (and a Rangpur Lime tree, although totally unrelated) and took care of the situation. Two traps were placed inside the garage to await their fate and the two Black Widows were laced with chemicals. Inside their crevasses were a small collection of bugs and what appeared to be a third, dead Black Widow.
I may be in store for a Black Widow surprise someday, as I'm sure their little community of evil is surely out to get me. I suppose there are worse things to naturally have living around my apartment. There are a lot of animals I'm thankful I don't live near (and hopefully won't come in contact with).
Friday, July 3, 2009
1 - There are certain movies that I love. As much as I love to re-watch them, I would love to be able to watch them for the first time, so be able to watch it with no knowledge of it's artist merit or narrative. To somehow wash my mind blank of any concept of the film and to experience with a fresh train of thought.
2 - Films are often not made as they intended. This can make the film either better or worse. I wish I could watch an alternative version of the film - be it with different actors, locations, budgets depending on what was originally saught. Imagine watching Tim Burton's Spiderman or Kubrick's Holocaust epic. Or The Shawshank Redemption with Kevin Costner, or to watch The Fountain with both Brad Pitt and an $80 million budget. Every time I hear that an actor had to pull our or they were intending something else to happen, I can only wonder what the film would have ended up like.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Unfortunately, these games came out before popular gaming was widespread. I had my games on an Amiga 500, if any of you remember those. Commodore had the exclusive rights to the game until it was slowly developed for DOS and then to Windows. So when the iMac came out and Windows 95, the life of this game went the way of the Bulldog Rat (or Dodo, if you will).
When the new round of Lemmings games appeared I was ecstatic; until I played some of them. Lemmings 3D, Lemmings Revolution and Lemmings Paintball fell short of anything I wanted to play a second time. When the PSP came out, a new (normal) Lemmings game was released. But I was not tempted successfully to buy a game system for one game. Why exclusively for the PSP? By then computer games were hot and the current generation of game consoles were hotter than ever.
Then the Wii proved that the demand for simplistic styled games is high. Why not resurrect Lemmings for the Wii (if not for the Mac)? Why is this amazing franchise sitting in the dark when they can re-release the classic games as Wii-Ware and develop new games? Release the old games for Windows and Mac and release it as download only! How much money would that cost? As much as I would love to see the originals back in action on current gaming systems, I would love to see new classic-style Lemmings games, but so far, there is no word on this happening.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I don't understand those in the power to influence others who speak out against things they have no experience or knowledge of. I'm talking about those with the mentality that feeds off fear and control of the masses (and always being right no matter what). The best example of a modern scrooge waterboarding story involves the dumbass DJ Mancow. I listened to him from time to time on my way to highschool in the late 90's and aside from him having an interesting personality, his morality and judgment on the world was wack. I quickly lost interest and stopped listening to this jerk.
And to my surprise, he finally MANNED up and took a challenege. After proclaiming that waterboarding is NOT torture, he agreed to be waterboarded. And what was the result? He lasted 6 seconds and claims that it is definitely torture. Surprise?
“It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that’s no joke,” Mancow said. “It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back… It was instantaneous… and I don’t want to say this: absolutely torture.” (Watch here)
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
My fifth Los Babies Episode. My determination is still here but my quick stride is slowing down, as I am no longer interested in spending 2 weeks straight to complete new episodes. #6 has begun and will be finished in a week or two. Get ready to re-visit the island!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
It's been a funny year. Subway started selling a selection of their foot-long subs for $5 each so Quiznos began selling a few of their grinders for $5. Now, Subway is selling all foot-longs for $5. Hard to top that. And then something interesting happened: Quiznos created a new sub - a seemingly foot-long for only $4.
Monday, March 16, 2009
I was a late bloomer on the LOST train. That is the ABC show, of course. In fact, when it first came out, I thought it was a reality show with some sort of science-fiction twist. After finding out that it was in fact a real TV program, I became interested and soon enough, hooked.
There are some great story telling concepts in LOST. The science fiction doesn't really become full-blown until season 5, so there is no reason to avoid it in fear of a nerd-fest. An aspect that I appreciate is the use of flashbacks to give character (knowledge of history) to the characters. This is much like The Nine (a cancelled ABC show) in reverse. Only LOST came out first and doesn't suck.
Taking place on a deserted island, I wondered how long a show could last considering you could only explore so much of each character's history... or could you. It seemed that every flashback revealed more twists and interwoven connections between characters. What if... just what if we explore all outlets of every character that the only solution left is to revert back to their infant past to reveal that they all attended the same day care as children. And that's what got me thinking.
With so many twists and overlapping tales between character's past and history, a door opened with an endless road of discovery. And by discovery I mean spin-offs. Every time Jack goes on one of his ignorant tirads I think back to his briefly explored childhood and how he was probably the know-it-all kid, spouting off his opinions as truth. And what better way to capture this? A cartoon spin-off of LOST featuring the characters as youngins in darecare: LOST Babies. Only instead of real actors it's a cartoon, and more specifically, a remix of Muppet Babies episodes edited as the LOST characters.
My favorite internet videos to date are the GI JOE remixes by Eric Fensler. Brilliantly funny and creative in their own way, I knew LOST Babies was a similar project, with one major problem: no creative control over dialog, being dependent on not just spoken dialog, but audio that is clean of jungle noises, music, and the ocean crashing. If I am to remix Muppet Babies cartoons and dub over LOST audio, I will not only be limited to the dialog I can record, but I will also have to sit and edit through a vast, never ending supply of LOST episodes to slowly extract usable dialog.
So after building a small and gowing database of LOST audio samples and finding a chunk of Muppet Babies episodes (which are a hard find since they won't be released on DVD anytime soon for similar reasons as the fate of The Wonder Years), I have come close to the completion of the first three episodes. Who knows where this will take me from here. Only time will tell.