Monday, September 21, 2009

S- -A- -T-U-R-D-A-Y FIGHT!: September 19th, 2009

This Saturday began simply enough. After less than 4 hours of sleep, I had coffee with Justine and Lina, Justine made Batter Blaster™ pancakes, we got ready, and set out for a near 2 hour drive to Sacramento to see human beings hurt each other.

Well, I suppose that last part is technically not that simple. Pankration is an ancient form of martial arts introduced in the 648 BC Olympic Games. It's traditionally a mix of boxing and wrestling, but in this age of Mixed Martial Arts, kicking is also incorporated, not to mention skill and brutality. Our Sacramento destination was a Pankration tournament featuring our young friend and P.R. travel companion, Matt Fields.  At 19 years old and 135 lbs., Matt was certainly going to be matched up against some serious competitors.

We unfortunately arrived a little too late for Matt's first bout, a bout that he won by decision (one 5 minute round), and apparently went through untouched, Matt just whupped his poor unsuspecting opponent. You see, Matt is a very sweet kid, a kind soul if you will. Exceedingly responsible for his age, he turns that responsibility into fierce dedication when it comes to his training. You'd never know it to look at him, but there's a caged animal in there. I mean hell, the kid didn't even have a single drink at the last Casa de Lina party (dedication), yet remained calm, cordial, and a blast to be around (kind soul). Who knew?!

After arriving, we exchanged greetings with friends and watched several other kids (I don't think anyone was over 30, and since I'm 30, they were all kids), systematically and calculatingly beat the crap out of each other. Legs and arms being bent in ways they shouldn't, illegal moves, behemoths pummeling each other and unexpectedly loud smacking and slapping noises. It was all quite impressive. However, we came to see Matt, and before we knew it, our chance was at hand. Matt's second opponent was small, but looked fiery and ended up being just that. Matt controlled the entire bout, quickly reversing several holds and grapples, punishing this kid for not being fast enough, or missing a proper grip. The majority of the bout was on their feet, and some punishing kicks were dealt on both ends. By the time 5 minutes had passed, a quick decision was announced, and Matt was once again victorious! We were ecstatic, but a bit confused, it was admittedly hard to tell who was ahead when two bodies are tangled in a ball. Matt's second opponent was devastated and spent the next 30 minutes banging his head against walls and cursing under his breath. Poor chump.

The time between Matt's third bout saw the arrival of Richard, Roxanne, and Sunni, who came from Fremont to see people beat each other up and to see a friend's newborn baby. Perfect day right!? Matt's third bout started strong but was cut short by a skillful shoot and a perfectly executed hold. Matt tried to reverse and recover but this was a fierce lock, and he tapped. Matt stood up, gave respect to his opponent (all the fighters did by the way, if they lost they blamed themselves and gave the utmost respect to their competitors) and walked toward us, with a shoulder shrug, but his head held high. He deserved to be proud of himself, and we sure as hell were proud of him. He trained hard, fought harder and left with a much deserved 2nd place medal.

Shaking hands, hugs, and goodbye pleasantries all around as Justine, Lina, Richard, Roxanne, Sunni and I left to go to a restaurant in downtown Sacramento. Zocalo was a suggestion of Sunni's, apparently her favorite "sex spot." We were confused as to why she felt the need to tell us that but it all made more sense when she clarified that it was her favorite "Sac spot." Something of a Mexican fusion restaurant, but leaning more towards traditional, Zocalo had a gorgeous and inviting interior, really swell food presentation, excellent sangria, and equally excellent food. The food was so excellent that Roxanne realized we were too busy stuffing our faces to be as boisterous as we typically are. I'm sure this pleased other patrons.

After stuffing ourselves to the brink, Justine and I parted ways from the rest of the group (they had to see the baby, remember?), and decided to go to Rubicon Brewery as it was only 4 blocks away. The decision to go here was mainly based on proximity and my dread of the 2 hour drive home. This made our visit very short, one "alright" beer each and away we went, sober of course (no, really).

The night was supposed to continue with a birthday celebration, but we were exhausted, and regrettably had to back out. Just as we began to wind down, there was a knock on the door and we knew it was Michelle, as she was coming by to pick up her car and drop off mine. I answered the door and she was all dolled up! "What's going on, where are you going?" I said, to which Michelle replied "Nowhere, it's nothing, I just thought I'd get ready just in case you guys wanted to go get food or something." She looked like she was ready for a date, so Justine and I could not deny her a proper close to the evening. After some thought and tossing ideas back and forth, we decided on the perfect place to take a young lady ready for a night out...Chili's!

Friday, September 18, 2009

L.A. Saturday: September 12, 2009

This past weekend we were in the LA area for a visit with George's aunt and uncle, the D23 Convention in Anaheim, and a general good time. The convention on Friday was a bust (from what I hear) but the rest of the weekend was incredible, which leads up to our first entry for our Saturday Adventure Series!

The morning started off (early and without breakfast) with a visit to Dan Krall's home. Well, technically it started with the drive there and George getting a speeding ticket. The CHP Officer was efficient, speaking to us and writing the ticket very quickly. He was even kind enough to ask where we were headed and offer directions. Thanks for the ticket and the directions officer!

Dan Krall is a modern heavyweight in the animation industry, doing everything from layout to character design for Cartoon Network shows such as Dexters Lab, Samurai Jack, and Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends. Recently he made a massive contribution of his talents to the feature film Coraline! Check out a whole slew of Dan's work here: Be sure to visit his blog too! Through the kindness of another animator (you rock Andy Suriano!) George managed to score us an invitation to Dan's house for an opportunity to meet him and discuss the finer points of animation. Pretty old school, huh? He was a very humble and down to earth guy, with an equally lovely wife, and we adored the way their home was decorated! It had a retro feel but was subtle. It was basically exactly how we'd like to decorate, some day.

After the visit we had lunch at Cha Cha Cha. They wanted $5 for the Valet to park in one of their three available parking spaces that were literally two feet away. We declined the offer, parked a mere block away and headed in to a spacious and quite empty restaurant. The menu was different and the food a bit disappointing. It made us long for our much beloved San Francisco locations. However, this Cha Cha Cha had a more robust menu of libations, including a Mango-rita, made fresh on the premises. Yeah, a pitcher of what was essentially spiked Jamba Juice was the perfect alternative to our daily fruit/vegetable intake. Fortunately, the food was dense.

Next, we headed back to Titi Sonia and Tio Ricky's house in Redondo Beach to get ready for a night at the Hollywood Bowl! It was time to eat again so we went to dinner at a tasty Cuban restaurant called Versailles and stuffed ourselves on croquettes, yuca, rice and beans. It was true traditional Cuban fair- fatty and salty. A word of advice: don't get the sangria, unless of course, you enjoy obviously watered down wine. We then made our way over to the Hollywood and Highland Center so that we could catch a shuttle to the show. While wandering around the center I saw Kevin Bacon's wife, Kyra Sedgwick standing by an elevator with what was presumably one of her handlers. Nobody else noticed and I didn't say anything because I didn't want to cause a stampede. I could hear it now, "OMIGOSH, it's Kyra Sedgwick, star of The Closer, you know, that show you hear about but don't watch." George did say we were going to see movie stars this time!

We made it into the Hollywood Bowl and smuggled in our vodka without a hitch, leaving security none the wiser. The show was called "Blame it on Rio" and featured Brazilian music with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Bebel Gilberto and Seu Jorge. We'd never heard of them before but the music was great, especially Bebel Gilberto, who is apparently Bossa Nova royalty. She sang Carmen Miranda's "Chica Chica Boom Chic" and it was truly delightful. There were even dancing ladies in colorful, sparkly attire and giant feather hats, dancing and shaking all about. Seu Jorge did a cover of "David-de-Bowie's Life on Mars." That's how he said his name (David-de-Bowie) and how we will say it from now on. For the most part we didn't really understand the words so we enjoyed substituting the lyrics with words and phrases we did know like "mofongo," "chingadera" and "a mira que wow, and a mira que wow." The end of the show included fireworks backed by the orchestra playing fantastic Latin rhythms.


Upon exiting the venue we noticed that one of the upcoming events was a Sound of Music sing-a-long. Being that we were tipsy, we began singing "Doe a Deer," but forgot the lyrics after "Fa, a long long way to run." Never fear though, Tio Ricky came to the rescue with the proper rhythm and only slightly skewed lyrics... "Chingadera-la-la-laaaaaa, Chingadera-la-la-laaaaaaaaaaaaa." Strangers were laughing, it was momentous.

On the bus ride back a second attempt was triggered by a pair of friendly sisters (they weren't Nuns, or African American women, they were actually sisters), but it unfortunately fell flat. We laughed anyway.

Overall it was a perfect Saturday with good company, good food and good music!

Adventure Series In A Nutshell

For at least the last six months we have been having one adventure after another. These usually take place on Saturdays and we have come to refer to these mini events as "The George and Justine Saturday Adventure Series" or "The Justine and George Saturday Adventure Series," depending on who's speaking. We figured we should document them for our benefit and anyone else who may care enough to take an interest. From our trip to Puerto Rico to stumbling upon new places and meeting new people, concerts, parties and garage sales, we figured we're having so much fun that we ought to record it. Our goal is to eventually turn our Adventure Series into an Adventure Life!

Both of us will be contributing to the blog, be it posts, images and the overall look. Occasionally only one of us will write a post and at other times we will both contribute to a post. Don't let that confuse you, just enjoy the ride.

This Blog is just a small insight into our life together. We hope you enjoy what we have to share as much as we enjoy experiencing it. Let this be an inspiration to go out and begin adventuring yourselves. We should all enjoy each other, as well as the people and world around us!