April 22, 2007

Coast to Coast Coasters
Los Angeles, United States

Spending a half a week in Los Angeles with my old friend, Tristan, in the pursuit of childhood pleasures.

Miami, Florida

I was awoken by Tatiana at five-something in the morning, after having just slept two or three hours. She said she had a surprise for me, but I had to get showered and dressed quickly, as we were already running a bit late and a taxi was on its way.

Curious and confused, I did as instructed, and was dropped off with her at a nearby hotel. It wasn't much later that an anonymous long-distance bus pulled up and we boarded. I know the last thing you wanted to see or do for a while is be on a bus again, but trust me, this will be worth it, she said.

We were headed north—that's about as much as I knew. I dozed occasionally as the unimpressive bus zoomed along Florida's Turnpike—looks like the traveler rumors might be true about the long-haul buses in this country being so lackluster.

Several hours later we arrived—her surprise: A day of theme parks at Universal Studios Orlando, complete with the queue-skipping express pass. Awesome.

The weather was a little chilly for us (we're tropical-blooded folk), but still had a blast. I was born in a city near Orlando, and had the opportunity to visit Florida's theme parks growing up—although it had probably been a good 15 years since I was in one in the state. It had also been years since I was on a roller coaster, and I was ecstatic with the Incredible Hulk Coaster.

Tristan is an avid roller coaster guy, so I had to call him from the park to share with him the surprise—he was pissed. Apparently he'd already arranged a day for us to visit Universal Studios Hollywood during my time out west with him—oops!

Coasters on both coasts it would be.

Cali Coasters

Yesterday, Saturday morning in Los Angeles. Tristan had the timetable laid out in his head; we'd get to the park just as the doors opened. T expected park attendance to be high, as it had rained the previous day. Universal Hollywood was scratched—Six Flags, Magic Mountain was the new adrenaline enabler.

His timing was perfect. We were riding the tallest, fastest wooden roller coaster in the world (circa 1978) before most people had their first cup of coffee for the day.

Running around the park before the masses hit was fantastic—but then came the multi-hour queues (although passing time in line with a close friend you've know for nearly a decade is easy labor). We waited in a slow moving line for food. We waited in slow moving lines for rides. We even waited in a slow moving line to buy a "Flash Pass" to let us wait in short queues, only to entertainingly discover that the coaster(s) we really wanted to ride weren't on a short list of qualifying attractions.

No matter though, Tristan got what he wanted to see, twice over: The look on my face of shock, awe, surprise, dismay, and overwhelming joy, all wrapped into one expression. I'm sure he can comment on looking over and seeing the incredibly rare expression better than I could ever describe it.

The rides that did it to me: Déjà Vu and X, with a nod going to Tatsu).

I suppose I should also mention the pair of girls that gave us their VIP Flash Passes towards the end of the day—although we (like them) didn't have any problem cutting to the front of the Flash Pass line, it was actually not a perk of the pass—naughty naughty.

Star Sightings

No trip to Los Angeles is truly complete without a celebrity encounter—I've got two. The first was hardly worth mentioning, until a Reuters news blurb was brought to my attention.

Tristan and I were driving back to his home after indulging in a Sprinkles cupcake near Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, when Paris Hilton drove by. T remarked that she shouldn't have been driving, as she had her license pulled for alcohol-related reckless driving—sadly, Tristan knows these things.

The Reuters article mentions how the (idiotic) 26-year-old child was sentenced to 45 days in jail for violating the terms of her probation. All that money, and she can't put someone else in the drivers seat.

My star sighting of choice was when we ran into Donald Faison (Turk, from the television series Scrubs—a favorite show of mine). Reservations are very much needed at Katsu-ya, the (wildly delicious) sushi restaurant we were at near T's home in Studio City, although Faison didn't seem to have one and was still waiting when we left. Incidentally, Tristan also showed me the abandoned hospital where they shoot Scrubs, also near his place.

Alright, that's about as much Los Angeles celebrity gossip as I care to write. Moving on…

Good Times With Tristan

I think that adults need to reconnect with their inner-child more often. I'll drift back and forth on playground swings next to kids 20 years my junior, smile, and feel happy (as I did in the middle of the Brazilian Amazon). Hanging out with Tristan gives me the same feeling, amplified a hundred times over.

Movies, video games, theme parks, and inside jokes/slang—I'm happy knowing that no matter how old I get, I'll always be able to reconnect with the big kid inside of me by hanging out with T. More people should be so lucky to have such a good friend (and host).



April 23rd, 2009

Regarding "celebrity sightings"…

A great place to see celebrities when you are out in Los Angeles is to look for little yellow signs with black arrows on them.

They are usually posted on telephone poles and have the name of the t.v. show or movie being filmed.

These placards are used to help movie cast and crew get to the shooting location.

Simply follow the signs and it will take you to a movie shoot !

(if you are lucky enough, you might be able to talk one of the security guards into telling you which actor/actress is shooting there)

If you are looking for a place to see some of the cast members of the Real Housewives of Orange County, check out this site as it lists all of the hottest spots in Orange County for
OC SinglesHint: "BeachFire Bar and Grill" is where some of the housewives hang out for happy hour and drinks. Pierce Street Annex is a great place to maybe see Dennis Rodman on a Saturday night.

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