Tag: Food

Meeting expectations

If my life were a series of Sesame Street episodes, the word of the day would be: Meetings.

Pretty much as soon as I woke up, I joined Mom at a local Starbucks to have breakfast with Tatjana — the wife of Magic Moreno, who I spoke to for Gladeo not long ago.

Worth reading if you haven’t.

Breakfast was a nice, quiet opportunity to relax and sip down a little coffee. Both of which are very important the week before Finals and graduation.

Speaking of relaxing. I mentioned Tarantino movies the other day, but I’ve also been chilling out by watching some speedruns from various Games Done Quick events.

For those of you who don’t know, GDQ is a series of video game marathons where games are played for record times, under conditions ranging from basic 100 percent completion to multi-player races and even bizarre hacks like randomizers.

All to raise money for charity while showing off cool tricks. Definitely worth supporting.

My tastes are currently aligned with Super Metroid, A Link to the Past and Mario Sunshine.

However, I’m watching a neat Super Mario RPG run while writing this post, so that’s worth a shout out.

GDQ aside, after breakfast I made my way to Fullerton for the semester’s last CSUF Society of Professional Journalists meeting.

We ate pizza, discussed what did or did not work about our events and elected part of the board for next year. Most of the current group is graduating, so it’s a big old passing of the torch.

My girl Kristina, who is not graduating, will be taking over as President. And I know she’s going to kill it.

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From left to right: Jared Eprem, me, Harrison Faigen, Rick Piñon, Kristina Garcia and faculty advisor Frank Russell. Photo taken by Anita Ally.

Guess I’ll have to update all my social media descriptions pretty soon to reflect all this graduating/moving on from things.

That’s certainly what I started doing last night.

Job applications. Gotta love them.

I’ll get back to that eventually. In the meantime, from SPJ I went to my next meeting in the Honors Center to try and complete a few more graduation requirements. Namely getting my Honors Project title page signed off on.

Which I did:

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Now all I have to do is compile the stuff I’ve done so I can officially turn the damn thing in and move on.

While in the Center I had a lovely chat with Dr. Simoes as well. We spoke briefly at my presentation, but today he was more than happy to congratulate me for getting the project through this next step.

He even told me he’ll be buying a copy of my book once it’s published — so long as I sign a first edition for him.

It was very sweet.

After all of that I came back to Redondo and set up a meeting with Michelle to give back that lovely computer I’ve been holding onto. Too bad I never got it to full working condition on account of internet issue, but it’ll be much happier with a video editor where it belongs.

Once that was done, I went to probably my most important meeting of the day:

A meeting with the treadmill.

Because with all of this graduation stress on my shoulders it honestly feels great to go burn some calories and let off some steam.

Highly recommended stress relief, folks. Especially if you can watch some dope GDQ runs while you’re running!

You know I’ve got those great set-up/pay-offs.

Industrial aesthetic in Culver City

Industrial aesthetic in Culver City

If you’ve been around my blog long enough, you know I have a thing for interesting architecture and industrial design when I see it.

The prior was on full display when I went to Pasadena City College for one of my sister’s auditions, while the latter was best seen with this weird and pointless piece about hedges around lumber yards.

You know that one was early in my ‘write every day’ commitment because of how picture-less it is despite the visual topic.

It was also my first mention of Wizard of Legend, which is neat considering I’ve gotten into playing it recently!

Not the point.

The point is, those related interests converged today as I joined a few other members of the Gladeo team for a video shoot at the Dentsu Aegis Network office in Culver City.

Dentsu is a digital marketing group that helps advertising firms secure locations for their product.

Or at least, that’s how I understand it. To be honest I was somewhat disconnected from the filming process because our conference room was so small that I couldn’t watch my on-air reporter Katelyn do her stuff without being in the shot.

I did carry camera equipment, and help craft the video’s message while laying out fair use policies using my Comm Law knowledge during our break — over a delicious pork belly grilled cheese.

Speaking of, the Rice Balls of Fire food truck was a strange combination of Korean, Japanese and high school cafeteria. But it was delicious. So there’s a plug.

But I’m not here to plug food trucks. If my Featured Image didn’t make it clear, I’m here to talk about the bizarre and interesting office!

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Get this. You have a marketing group on the fifth floor of a building that intentionally looks half-finished. It’s a totally open floor plan with few offices and conference rooms (much like Fandango). From the ground you can only access the area with a key card, but if you park in the adjacent structure you can simply walk across a bridge and enter.

A bridge that wobbles in the wind. Very disconcerting when six people simultaneously figured that out while carrying rented camera equipment.

Oh and there are games scattered all over the room, from giant Jenga to foosball.

Though my favorite was this giant chessboard in the courtyard outside:

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The outside area also had furniture scattered everywhere, with different areas labeled after interior rooms. The living room, family room, etc. Pretty weird.

But wait, there’s more.

Overlooking the space was a second story balcony, on which I found this cheeky little blue bomber surveying the scene:

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Reminds me of my SSBCU post from yesterday.

Apparently Dentsu worked with Capcom on getting a Mega Man cartoon series put out in the West.

Which is great, because context makes everything better.

… Though I would have been okay just assuming someone in the office is a huge dork.

This place probably has the most Silicon Valley mentality I’ve ever seen. Considering it’s a business focused on digital marketing I suppose this makes sense, though it was still kind of weird seeing it in Culver City of all places.

That said, I’m not sure I would be too opposed to working there. It’s a nice space, even if open floor plans are still a weird concept to me.

And that’s about that. I wanted to end on a photo of the Gladeo folks together, but they have not been posted.

So instead you’re getting this awkward, stilted cut-off.

A mid-April snack

A mid-April snack

Intelligent Systems definitely lined up weird banners for 2019, didn’t they?

First we got hot springs units. Now we get picnic units.

The whole idea feels a lot like a springtime gimmick, which is unusual considering we’ve gotten our spring banner this year. But I do like this aesthetic over Playboy bunnies.

So these units can’t be that bad, can they?


FloraSignature Dish

  • Sæhrímnir (Might = 14, Range = 2)
    • Effective against beast foes. Grants Attack +3. At start of combat, if unit’s Resistance > foe’s Resistance, reduces foe’s Attack and Defense by 50 percent of difference between stats during combat (calculated before combat, maximum penalty of -8). After combat, if unit attacked, inflicts Defense and Resistance -7 on target and foes within two spaces of target through their next actions.
  • Iceberg (Cooldown = 3)
    • Boosts damage by 50 percent of unit’s Resistance.
  • AR-D Attack/Resistance (A Skill)
    • If defending in Aether Raids, grants Attack and Resistance +Number of defensive structures during combat.
      • ≥5 grants +10, 4 grants +7, 3 grants +4, ≤2 grants +1
  • Bold Fighter (B Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Special Attack cooldown charge +1 per unit’s attack, and unit makes a guaranteed follow-up attack.
  • Armor March (C Skill)
    • At start of turn, if unit is adjacent to an armored ally, unit and allies can move one extra space.

LukasBuffet for One

  • Luncheon Lance (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • If foe initiates combat, grants Attack and Defense +4 during combat.
  • Pivot (Range = 1)
    • Unit moves to opposite side of target ally.
  • AR-O Attack/Defense (A Skill)
    • If attacking in Aether Raids, grants Attack and Defense +Number of foe’s defensive structures during combat.
      • ≤2 grants +10, 3 grants +7, 4 grants +4, ≥5 grants +1
  • Wary Fighter (B Skill)
    • If unit’s Health ≥ 50 percent, unit and foe cannot make a follow-up attack.

GennyDressed with Care

  • Toasty Skewer (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • If a foe initiates combat against an ally within two spaces of unit, grants Defense and Resistance +3 to that ally during combat.
  • Psychic (Range = 2)
    • Restores Health = 50 percent of Attack (minimum of 8 Health).
  • Fireflood Balm (Cooldown = 1)
    • When healing an ally with a staff, grants Attack and Resistance +6 to all allies for one turn.
  • Wrathful Staff (B Skill)
    • Calculates damage from staff like other weapons.
  • Defense Opening (C Skill)
    • At start of turn, grants Defense +6 to ally with the highest Defense for one turn.

FeliciaOff the Menu

  • Eldhrímnir (Might = 16, Range = 1)
    • Effective against beast foes. Grants Speed +3. At start of combat, if unit’s Resistance > foe’s Resistance, reduces foe’s Attack and Speed by 50 percent of difference between stats during combat (calculated before combat, maximum penalty of -8).
  • Glacies (Cooldown = 4)
    • Boosts damage by 80 percent of unit’s Resistance.
  • Speed/Defense Bond (A Skill)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Speed and Defense +5 during combat.
  • Special Fighter (B Skill)
    • At start of combat, if unit’s Health ≥ 50 percent, grants Special Attack cooldown charge +1 to unit and inflicts cooldown charge -1 on foe per attack (highest value applied, does not stack).
  • Close Guard (C Skill)
    • Allies within two spaces gain: “If foe uses sword, lance, axe, dragonstone, or beast damage, grants Defense and Resistance +4 during combat.”

I can’t say they’re bad, but I do have problems here.

Why did we decide to only do half an Echoes banner here? Genny and Lukas are great, especially considering Celica is the only unit we’ve gotten alternates for. But a banner cannot exist without Fates or Awakening units on it apparently.

I do like Flora and Felicia, and their norse mythology-themed weapons (a hog in Valhalla and the utensil to cook it) are cool.

But why couldn’t Flora have been a blue-haired girl from Echoes?

My other problem is the fact that Genny seemingly got shafted. The others are strong, mostly unique armored units (even if the Aether Raids skills make me further consider removing self-written text), but the perfect sheep girl is just another healing cavalier.

They didn’t even have her ride the doe in her artwork, which would have been incredible!

Oh well. I suppose that’s a nitpick.

Genny and Lukas are my top choices, with Flora as a close second. Felicia is good, but faces stiff competition in the “powerful axe armored” category.

Don’t feel bad, Felicia. You get to be the best part of this banner’s Paralogue at least!


Paralogue 33 — A Season for Picnics

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Out of all 33 Paralogues, this picnic banner has to have the most bland premise.

Princess Sharena drags the Order of Heroes out for a picnic. Then constantly yells at them to act like normal, relaxed people until they become subservient to her will.

It’s a trope you’ve seen before, I’m sure.

Where this banner’s story stands out is with the alternate characters.

The first map has Flora feeding Genny delicious sandwiches before warning her to stay away from her sister Felicia’s food. It’s cute — as most things with Genny are.

The second map cuts to Felicia giving a sandwich to Lukas, who loves the taste (as he is so used to war rations like wheat flour).

Future Tempest Trials reward Leo is there, and the most brilliant writing in the series rears its head as he makes fun of Felicia’s cooking.

Hsays he’ll never eat it… Until she brings out tomatoes.

Reluctantly, he proclaims “I guess I have no choice.”

The sandwich he eats as a result is described as having a texture mixing slime and dust. It’s a great moment.

The third map loses that to an extent, but poking fun at Felicia continues. The battle is also shown to be one of those rare times where all five new units are on stage at once.

Luckily, that extended cast does not make the duel any more difficult. When the picnicking units are dispatched, Sharena once again shuts down the teams’ neuroses so they’ll relax and enjoy the sunny day.

The end.


And that’s another new special banner in the books.

Overall I’m really not sure how to feel about this one. Having Echoes units like Genny is wonderful, but when she’s the least impressive on the banner that excitement is quickly deflated.

Luckily that nice dialogue in the Paralogue made up for it, in my opinion.

But hey, that’s just my opinion. Let me know what you think about these alternate characters in the comments!

A video series to die for

A video series to die for

I can’t remember the last time I was so productive.

After a long night’s sleep, I got up early today and went to the gym. Then I came home, showered and made myself breakfast:

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Eggs AND bacon? Wild.

I don’t even know who I am anymore.

After all that, I also went ahead and kicked off my work for the day. Mostly sending out emails to various sources.

It’s the least I could do after wasting most of yesterday thinking too hard about Wacky Races. I love the post, but boy did I spend way too much time writing it.

Naturally that means it’s time to waste more time blog writing. Gotta finish what I started.

I’m always on the lookout for new videos and podcasts to play in the background of my life.

Those usually involve video game content (though I might have to reshuffle some mainstays after reading this stellar Kotaku article), but I also really enjoy movie-focused videos.

“Kill Count,” a new series I recently discovered by the channel Dead Meat — hosted by James A. Janisse — fits the latter.

Yet it fills a different niche than I usually focus on: Horror movies.

Specifically appreciating the often creative, over-the-top kills in horror movies. Or, as the pendulum tends to swing, also lampooning the uncreative and lazy sides of horror.

When the channel first appeared in my recommendations, I was a bit misled. I expected the videos to just be montages. A Buzzfeed-esque “top ten kills” kind of premise. Specifically my first experience was for John Carpenter’s 1982 classic The Thinga video of his I watched because I’ve been interested in the film’s practical effects recently.

But that video, and the “Kill Count” series as a whole, is much smarter.

It’s essentially a series of spoiler-laden reviews, talking about movie plots, development cycles and places in history as much as they focus on the kills.

Every video also includes a break-down of the victims in each film (showing the interesting bent toward male deaths in cinema), a specified “best” and “worst” kill distinction as well as a live bit playing on events from the movie.

However, I think one of my favorite things about “Kill Count” is how funny the series is. The videos are nearly satirical movie reviews that provide great commentary and mile-a-minute jokes.

Janisse breaks the fourth wall a lot to remind the audience that they’re watching a review for yucks more than a serious catalog of deaths.

My favorite instance was in his 2010 Predators Kill Count:

“I just do these videos to make jokes, y’all. I’m not an official dead body census taker.”

I’m in the midst of binging through his reviews of classics like the Alien movies, and they’ve been wonderful background noise while working on Gladeo pieces.

Pieces which should be published by the end of the month, as far as I’m aware. Just so you all can keep it on your calendars.

Janisse also has a podcast that I may have to be on the lookout for now that I’ve blown through The Dropout.

So that’s my recommendation for the day.

If you like horror movies, comedic takes and creative deaths, “Kill Count” is worth a watch. Just as long as you don’t mind spoilers.


Featured Image courtesy of Gaurav Shakya via Wikimedia Commons

My Interdisciplinary Networking Panel debrief

My Interdisciplinary Networking Panel debrief

After months of build up, today was the day.

Networking panel was a go.

Not even hail could keep me out of Fullerton this afternoon, where I finally got to follow-through on officially adding event planner onto my résumé (though I already technically did weeks ago).

I’m serious. It hailed in Southern California. An event so crazy that I scoured my car to find evidence of it once I got to campus.

Don’t think I’ve seen ice fall out of the sky since Elementary School.

But that’s not the point of why you’re all here. You’re here to read my writing on how the event panned out — assuming you didn’t follow my live tweeting (or you’re reading this years in the future).

I’ve discussed my road getting here numerous times in the past, but for the sake of catching everyone up quickly: I became a University Honors Program Ambassador after not nabbing a space on the Advisory Counsel, as the Co-Curricular Coordinator wanted to put the creative power of all us interested parties to good use.

Since then, I’ve been meeting with the Coordinator, Tyler, and a fellow Honors Program student Melina, once a week to plan a panel about interdisciplinary networking tips to find jobs and make connections within jobs.

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Here’s us, post-panel.

Today we finally got to take over the Honors Center on campus:

Unfortunately, the visual arts representative we invited got sick this morning and could not make it out. But she was gracious enough to send us documents with the kinds of tips she was going to share so we could lay it out for attendees.

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How gracious!

Without her we had three speakers and a moderator, Cassandra Thompson — College Career Specialist from the Career Center.

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Finally got to put that arts & crafts to good use.
  • Dr. Sandra Perez — University Honors Program Director and Pre-Doctorate Program Faculty Coordinator for the Graduate Studies Office
  • Dr. Shaun Pichler — Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology Associate Editor
  • Spencer Custodio — Reporter, Voice of OC

Spencer, true to form, was late to the event because he was covering a story. Even hung out a bit afterwards to turn in his copy before we went out to dinner.

Gotta love that man.

I’ll admit that I didn’t personally absorb a lot of what got discussed at the panel. I was too busy live tweeting.

But that said, I did get a lot of great tweets out of the event:

It figures I could only really enjoy my own event through the lens of journalistic objectivity.

After the panel, Justin Gerboc from the CSUF Alumni Association gave a presentation on the Titan Pro Network — which is essentially LinkedIn but concentrated to CSUF alum:

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He was pretty great, too. Real nice guy.

The only other hitch was that I was a dolt and forgot the Fandango gift cards that were planned to be prizes for our networking practice activity at home.

I’ll be bringing the winners their prizes within the next week or so. It was simply yet another reminder that you always have to be ready to improvise, because something perfect on paper might have some last-minute problems in execution.

However, as far as I could tell the audience we had was sizable and decently engaged, in spite of whatever problems we had with late/missing speakers and delayed prizes:

By the end of the afternoon we went well over the hour-and-a-half time slot planned out, and people were sticking around afterward to chat.

So… Yeah. I’d wager that my first ever adventure in event planning was some kind of success!

While I had a great time working with Tyler and Melina to set this whole thing up, I’ll admit that I’m glad it’s finally over. The Ambassador event was a decent time suck while I’ve been low-key stressing out about my Honors Project, Internship hours and midterms.

But hey, all that stress had to be worth it based on comments we got about attendees learning a lot.

That’s the whole reason we put this together in the first place.

So I’ll consider it mission accomplished.

Live from Studio City

Live from Studio City

In case some of you weren’t around this morning to see what I’ve been up to today, here’s the real brief teaser I put out on social media:

However, assuming you might be reading this in some far-flung future date where Twitter is dead in the aftermath of terrible social media toxicity, I’ll lay it out in good, old-fashioned text:

The Cal State Fullerton branch of the Society of Professional Journalists got an opportunity to tour the CBS2/KCAL9 broadcast center in Studio City, California this afternoon.

However, assuming you might be reading this in some far-flung future date where the Internet is dead after a nuclear apocalypse…

Well you wouldn’t be reading this anyway. My entire joke would fall apart well before I started it.

So I’ll stop wasting your time.

My dad worked at the station for about three years as an Information Technology Manager, in-part helping to build out some of the infrastructure that we were able to see today.

In fact, I personally helped build bits and pieces when he took me to work with him. Crawling under tables to plug-in computers and stuff.

Because he still has some friends at CBS, he was able to get our club president Harrison in touch with Dan Haight, the Director of Broadcast Operations and Engineering.

As the Secretary for our chapter, I figured the least I could do was help us get a tour at a professional newsroom. Luckily it was a successful venture!

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The broadcast building from behind, on the sixth floor roof of the parking structure.

I got to Studio City pretty early and had the chance to look around at the entertainment side of the house first.

That included a whole host of fancy-looking lots as well as named buildings, street signs and more.

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But more importantly, it included a lot of brief looks at areas where different TV shows are currently being recorded.

The one that stood out most to me was Last Man Standing. Not because I watch the Tim Allen sitcom, but because of where the show was:

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The home of Seinfeld? Now that’s a sound stage that could tell some stories.

Even if most of those stories are technically supposed to be centered in New York.

~*~Hollywood magic~*~

Here are a number of other discoveries I made, all lazily compiled in a slide show because I’m pretty tired after a number of hours on the freeway.

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However, arguably the most important discovery I made was off the lot:

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Don’t know if this is a business officially affiliated with CBS, or if it’s just some business owner with a lot of ingenuity to capitalize on the major job provider in the area, but either way I’m a fan.

After my little self-driven tour, it was time to head back to the broadcast center for our official tour!

… Except traffic was apparently not great today, so I was the first one there and had to hang out for quite some time before the rest of the group arrived.

Gave me a lot of time to look around at the big stuff in the lobby.

It was actually a lot of fun watching folks wander in-and-out, usually stopping by the security desk to see what was on the news with the guard.

After Dan arrived to take us around on the tour, I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures. Got caught up in just checking everything out.

So the best I’ve got for visuals in this stage are the couple of pictures we took as a group that got posted on the SPJ account:

Obviously, that’s where I got my featured image from. I love the image Harrison got of us all looking into a news camera.

We found out that the area where we took that picture is going to be reworked soon for a new project CBS is working on to get live news broadcasts to mobile phones easier. All with the hopes of attracting that young audience that doesn’t watch traditional TV anymore.

Then we got a look around the newsroom, everything from the assignment desk to the online story stations and editing bays.

Afterward we checked out a couple of the shows currently recording, or preparing to record, during our tour.

First was the weekly Veteran’s Voices show, where a few actors were sitting in as the anchors so they could make sure all the shots were right.

After that we saw the end of the News at Noon with Sandra Mitchell, sitting alongside the weather lady Alex Biston.

Fun fact, this weather update was actually what we watched her record. Live. It was pretty cool, and she took some time to chat with us afterward!

The most interesting thing about watching the news broadcast was the fact that those two were the only people on the entire set. Everything else was fully automated.

I can’t help but feel it would be disconcerting to record an entire broadcast like that with nobody else around on a big sound stage… But I suppose it’s the kind of thing that Internet personalities do all the time in the 21st Century.

It was kind of cool to see how much technology has advanced I suppose, even if it wasn’t a great sign for getting jobs in the industry.

Finally, we were in one of the big control rooms just in time for Donald Trump’s speech on the New Zealand attacks — which I’ll use the CNN story for just for the sake of variety.

It was pretty amazing watching almost every screen in the room change to show the President’s face, both for the CBS channels and their competition.

While we were checking out the fully automated sound deck beside that control room, another one of my Dad’s old friends showed up. Bob and Dan got to talking, which led them to telling our tour group about how much they enjoyed working with Dad and missed him.

Which was a very sweet thing to see.

But that was pretty much all there is to say about my CBS tour. It was really cool, especially on the verge of graduation when I need to start thinking about things like work more avidly.

… Plus, I got to write it off as networking with reporters for my internship.

So I really can’t complain about that.

Ice cream passover

Ice cream passover

After Aly won big at the Dos Pueblos Jazz Festival last night, I decided it would only be appropriate to celebrate by taking her out for ice cream.

Thus, this beautiful image of us together was born.

The girl and I actually spent most of the day together. Waking up relatively early to make breakfast (Bacon and eggs? Can’t go wrong), listening to internet videos while sitting on the couch doing homework/novel-writing and, of course, getting ourselves some of that classic soft-serve frozen milk.

In the process we also made some classic lols, including the most brilliant movie script doctoring ever imagined by anyone in the history of time.

What a good gif!!

I’ll be waiting on my check, DreamWorks. Because as soon as more than ~35 people see this Bee Movie joke pulled straight out of 2017, I’ll be raking in the followers and likes for sure.

Alright all joking aside, that’s just the kind of dumb humor that flows out when my sister and I spend some quality time together.

But because I’m a terrible human being that somehow still finds Bee Movie jokes humorous, I figured I would share that quality post with the world.

Consider me inspired by Nando v. Movies recently finishing his Man of Steel rewrite.

Obviously this whole post is a little lackluster, and that’s more or less because I actually did spend most of the day either cooking or working on my Senior Honors Project. Doesn’t give me too many interesting things to share, but I also didn’t want to just leave another blank day after losing March 1 to my all-out lazy afternoon.

So consider this a passover post of sorts. Just a real quick 300 words about my day to tide you all over in the hopes that I have something more substantial tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’m going to get back to eating fancy pasta and writing. Because very rarely does my Comm Law class give out no homework, offering me the opportunity to catch up on my novel.

Looking to get past 100 pages before Tuesday.

Wish me luck.

Rainy day jazz in Santa Barbara

Rainy day jazz in Santa Barbara

At this point it feels like I’m collecting California high school visits for a checklist.

Once again my day has been spent journeying to watch my sister perform with the Redondo Union High School jazz band.

The destination? Dos Pueblos High School in Santa Barbara.

The event? The 50th annual “Jazz in Paradise” Jazz Festival.

Luckily hosted indoors, as it rained hard all morning on our way up north. None of those outdoor venues like the marching band competitions get.

While I appreciate any and all opportunities to break out my Master Sword umbrella (and boy has it gotten work this rainy season), I was more appreciative that we could hide instead.

Especially with such a nice auditorium to hide in:

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The beige whites, wooden trim and striped-blue decor gave the Elings Performing Arts Center a nautical harbor vibe that felt like home, even though home was a good few hours away.

I was also a fan of the music, even if I can’t speak to why quite as well as I can for a visual aesthetic.

That’s frankly my biggest problem with these events. While I can’t say I’m the biggest jazz listener in the world, I typically enjoy what I get to hear at the competitions. I just don’t have near enough musical knowledge to be able to tell people why — and usually those who can will tell me how awful a band was despite my thinking they sounded as good as the rest.

The one thing I can point to is Santa Ynez, who really impressed me in particular by utilizing a violin in their set.

After a while, the performances across different events do start to sound similar, so shaking that up was nice.

Plus I’ve found that I’m actually a huge fan of taking more “classical” instruments like the violin and using them in unique, more modern settings. Been noticing that a lot more in different soundtracks I’ve listened to for games and such.

But beyond that, hopefully you aren’t here for deep diving musical analyses.

All I can really provide are these screenshots and videos to help you feel like you were there.

For instance, here’s Aly and RUHS’s Jazz Band A performing “Barnburner” by Les Hooper:

I know I say it a lot, but I am quite proud of how good she is at this stuff. So much so that she recently got accepted into a rather prestigious-sounding summer program in New York.

Then again, I also make fun of her falling off video games whenever I can, since I know she loves that a whole lot.

But recently I found a good game to get her into solo play with Kirby’s Adventure on the Nintendo Switch online NES game compilation. Thus I can’t really make fun of her.

… Though I will pester her about finishing Let’s Go Eevee with me again. Especially now that Sword and Shield are coming soon.

Oh- By the way, RUHS won first place in the advanced bands with their set.

As well as smaller awards for having the best saxophone and rhythm sections.

Then they won best overall band score, on top of one of their musicians winning best solo performance of the night.

AND Aly got an outstanding soloist certificate for the advanced division.

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In other words, they swept the floor.

This event in particular also stood out because after the awards there was a concert featuring Wayne Bergeron — who has apparently worked on things like the soundtrack to Pixar’s The Incredibles.

That’s pretty cool!

Unfortunately my parents and I did not stick around for that part. We went hard from 9:00 a.m. until the end of the awards at about 6:30 p.m., plus the drive home after. So we were beat down.

Especially me after an unexpected nosebleed in the middle of the performances.

Wound up scrubbing my hands of spots like Lady Macbeth as people came in and out of the bathroom.

Never had that particular flavor of “unintentionally embarrassing myself in a public venue” before. It was fun.

Just like it was fun when my family and I went to Chili’s in the rain while waiting for the festival to start.

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Hi, welcome to Chili’s

A fact that I only bring up so I can finally reference an ancient Vine in some attempt to appear relevant and hip with the kids.

Because that feels like the most appropriate way to end off a blog post all about Jazz.

Celebrating life

Celebrating life

Earlier today, my Cousin Erica said it was fitting that we held my Grandma’s celebration of life on the same day as the Oscars, because she loved that award show quite a bit.

To be fair the Oscars are only coincidentally happening on the same day. We held our gathering today because her birthday would be tomorrow if she was still with us.

I just couldn’t think of a better way to briefly express my appreciation for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse winning Best Animated at the awards. Since that’s really all I cared about from the Academy tonight.

Plus we saw the movie with my Grandpa not too long ago. That works as a transition, right?

Family, including my great-cousins out from New Jersey, as well as friends on both my Dad and Aunt Mindy’s Rolodex came out of the woodwork to help us celebrate.

My Aunt’s house was absolutely packed with people:

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Especially messy considering there were four dogs running around the house as well.

But all things being equal, it was a lot less of a mess than many of us had been expecting. Spending upwards of five hours this afternoon with such a packed house could have been an issue, but it wound up being a really chill, sweet time.

It probably helped that we had a ton of food lying around.

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If we Jews know how to do anything, it’s how to lay out a hell of a spread for a celebration. Plus a lot of our extended guests were happy to bring extra food in consolation.

While the food, the schmoozing among friends and my cousin’s heartfelt tribute were all wonderful parts of the event, probably my favorite part was getting to go through a lot of really old family photos and documents with my family around.

I threw a couple of them up on my social media in tribute:

But our collection went all over the place. From mid-1900s pictures with my close family to much more ancient stuff from the 1800s, before parts of that side moved to America during the turmoil of WWII in Eastern Europe.

Another one of my favorites was this piece, my Grandparent’s marriage certificate.

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Yet, it would be remiss of me not to spend at least a little bit of time talking about the doggos. I’m fairly convinced she liked those cuties a bit more than the rest of us by the end, anyway.

Which frankly is only half a joke. She loved these pups.

So here I am, becoming the king of the mutts:

That cute guy on the left is Rocky, who was my Grandma and Grandpa’s dog before they couldn’t really take care of him anymore. Though I do much prefer my photo with Rambo on the right.

Such a fluffy boi.

… Oh, and yes they are both named after Sylvester Stallone characters. Can’t tell you if that was intentional or not.

Though I can tell you that my doggo magnetism must run in the family, as I also got to see the original king of the dogs at work:

Look how happy he is. Gotta love it.

I’ve been a little silent about my Grandma lately, as we’re all just kind of chugging along trying to get used to that feeling in the back of our hearts. But realistically, that feeling might never go away.

It just so happens that days like today are really helpful to move forward with a smile and remember the good.

If you haven’t, hug your family everyone. You never know how many more chances you’ll have.

A symmetrical birthday

A symmetrical birthday

Another year, another trip around the sun.

Turning 22 doesn’t offer nearly as many significant things to talk about as the ‘milestone’ 21, where drinking and properly oriented drivers’ licenses were officially on the table.

I won’t be starting this post off with a deep, important-sounding remark on the different milestones one hits in life.

Rather, 22 mainly stands out because… It’s symmetrical? I guess?

To be fair, 22 does have some things going for it. Most notably the fact that I’ll be graduating from college during that year. Yikes.

All of that is pretty forward thinking, though. Today there aren’t a whole lot of exciting things going on, as I’ll be saving the friend gatherings for later in the year when more people are back in town.

What I have gotten is a lovely breakfast made by my younger sister:

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Homemade waffles with fruit compote and whipped cream? I’ve been spoiled.

And a couple of birthday gifts from the family that I definitely did not know about from being in the store with them.

That would be ridiculous! I was honestly, truly surprised.

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Look at this adorable surprise!

Aly must know me real well if she thought to get me a Mimikyu-related gift again, totally without my input.

As much as it messes with my head that Sun and Moon came out almost three years ago, my love for this Pikachu lookalike remains strong. Even if I had to pull a Scizor out to take advantage of her weakness.

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Get it?

While Mimikyu and that new Switch controller are the main physical gifts I’ve gotten thus far, I have been eagerly watching all of the digital presents from various organizations roll in.

Like this cute little email from Nintendo helping me celebrate with all those Marro brahs:

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C’mon Bowser don’t be like that. Have some cake with your son.

Unfortunately platinum coins mean basically nothing next to gold coins, which would allow me to buy new video games.

Just give me more gold coins, Nintendo. I promise I’ll keep shilling for you if I can buy more games.

Until you do, I’ll just go back to Planet Fitness for my free water bottle.

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Not a joke.

I think it’s hilarious that my gym wants me to go spend my birthday working out as I’m sitting around eating ice cream cake, but to be fair I am planning on going tomorrow.

So I might actually use a free water bottle, as silly as that is.

At the very least water seems reasonable as an immediate necessity to keep my body working, which gives it an edge over this offer from Facebook:

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I get the sentiment here, getting members to create fundraisers for nonprofit organizations. It’s a nice goal in-and-of itself.

But one dollar? Seriously, Mark?

Pretty sure you could stand to offer a bit more of a generous care package all things considered. I know you have a bajillion users and that money stacks up in the long-run, but even something like $5 would look less silly as a ‘present.’

Alright, I’ll stop fruitlessly complaining at social media companies. I just honestly don’t have all that much more to say. After breakfast we went out for a bit to visit my Grandpa and buy special pasta ingredients for dinner.

We were greeted by a little bit of rain while out shopping, keeping up the tradition of water falling on my birthday.

Though it wasn’t near as bad as my 20th when I brought attention to the issue on the blog.

So that’s not an exciting direction to head down. Nor is all the homework that I’ll unfortunately be stuck doing tonight due to deadlines that leave no room for extensive birthday fun.

I think I’ll just wrap things up here, then. Get back to relaxing, spending some time with family and… Yeah, homework.

Just one more semester and I’ll never have to deal with that again.

As usual, thank you all for the support here on the blog and in my real life endeavors. Particularly to my old colleague/friend Ashlyn Ramirez who gave me shout outs on all the social media platforms unexpectedly.

That girl works hard, she deserves a little extra support!

But for all the rest of you as well, hope you’ll stick around for however many birthdays are still to come.