Things I Learned Today: October 22, 2017


First, I want to state that the things mentioned here are a collection of observations over a period of time and not things I noticed just today. It will be that way going forward – now you know.

So here we go!

Things I Learned Today for October 22, 2017

Wait, October is almost over? Holy cripes.

1. After a long bike ride, beer ain’t so bad. I have been riding in the Long Beach Marathon Bike Tour since 2010 and not once did I ever go for the option of having an ice-cold beer at the completion of the ride. The usual finish line fare consists of a bag of snacks, a banana, water and – ugh! – coconut water. Now I don’t know if you ever tried that stuff but there’s nothing good about it. “Devil’s armpit sweat” is about the only way I can describe it. It’s putrid and people tend to drink it because they’ve convinced themselves it tastes good – just like kale. Don’t believe the hype. The stuff is garbage and so is kale.

So this last time (October 8), I opted for the Beer Garden. Keep in mind it’s about 7:30 am and I just finished riding 20 miles. With medals clanking around my neck, I got in line for a wristband, grabbed my can of beer, cracked it open and took a sip.

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And you know what? Coconut water has got nothing on this after a nice bike ride – this stuff very refreshing and light. I actually enjoyed it and I’m not the biggest beer drinker (which probably explains things). Now I know what I have to do next year.

2. People still use Mapquest. This one will lead into other things. For example, I had no idea Mapquest was still around. You see kids, back in the day we had no GPS or smartphones so outside of consulting the Thomas Brothers street maps for directions, this was our only real option. In fact it was probably the most popular online mapping service back in the ‘90s and it would be years before any competitors would show up. But with smartphones and GPS, Mapquest is all but obsolete but people still use it. How did I find this out? I saw somebody driving with printed directions with the Mapquest logo on it. I realize not all of us are fortunate enough to own a smartphone or GPS unit and some choose to live without either (a coworker comes to mind), but I still found it unbelievable.

3. Newspaper machines still exist. While I wrote about the cost of the daily newspaper in my last “Things I Learned…” post, I guess it never dawned on me that there’s still a demand for newspapers in general. Additionally, people still use slugs to try to fool the machine.

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With the cost of the daily paper now $1.50, I can almost understand why. That used to be the cost of the Sunday Edition of the Los Angeles Times which got you retail ads plus coupons, the Calendar section (a great resource for upcoming concert information), and a killer Classified section.

4. Payphones are still around. And yes, I’ve seen people using them.

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5. “Bette Davis Eyes” is a cover! We all know the classic ‘80s version by Kim Carnes which goes a little something like this:

But through a search on Spotify, I discovered the original version was recorded by legendary songwriter Jackie Deshannon back in 1974. GET OUT! Really!

(Guilty Pleasure alert: this song remains one I would somehow incorporate into a movie scene since I freaking dig it. Night, beach party. Camera pans down from a darkened sky. The scene is lit by unseen moonlight, song playing in the background. And that’s all I’ll say – there’s more.)

And while I’m blowing your mind, Hall and Oates’ “Family Man” is a cover of a Mike Oldfield song. That’s right, the guy that composed “Tubular Bells,” aka the song from The Exorcist, also wrote that one. What a world.

Well, time to throw away that Post-It note and start on another list. And since I spoke of newspapers this post, here’s one you should see.

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THE DODGERS ARE IN THE WORLD SERIES!

Ahem. Pardon my enthusiasm but it’s been 29 FREAKING years! I was still a punk teenager the last time the won it all and I can’t wait to see it all happen again starting Tuesday.

Dodgers. World Series. I can’t stop saying that.

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Depeche Mode Fan Takeover: The Jimmy Kimmel Live! Performance


As you read in my last post, I was chosen to take over Depeche Mode’s Facebook page last Friday. It was a blast but since there’s still a few months left in the year, I won’t get into details on how the whole thing works. I don’t want to give anything away.

What I will say is that I was contacted last Tuesday and I had honestly forgotten I entered the contest. Not only that, I was thinking that with all those entries and only 365 winners (some of them other musicians), what were my chances?

Pretty good, apparently. The folks in charge of the event emailed me and told me to give them a call if I was interested. Well duh, I was interested. So I sat on the patio at work and got the whole rundown of what was going on.

Their reasoning was simple: being I had gone to see them at Jimmy Kimmel Live! in 2009, they thought I’d be a good candidate to see them again on Wednesday since they were the musical guests that night. I jumped at the chance and even let the coach of the company softball team know that I wouldn’t be at the game that night. And I have plenty of vacation time saved up so the time off was not an issue, either. More on our…team at the end of this post.

There were confidentiality agreements to sign, promises to keep, things to do. It’s pretty much like your on assignment for the band. Once all that was approved, I started writing my posts which came to about five total although not all of them were used.

Then came Wednesday, the day of the taping. I had to meet Depeche Mode’s management away from the throng of devoted fans hanging out in the alley, waiting to catch a glimpse of the band. I called when I arrived and they greeted me at the back door, meaning the parking lot.

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By the way, I didn’t drive. This is a shameless plug for Los Angeles Metro, my alternative source of transportation that I use whenever I have to go someplace in L.A. that is near a station. Never drive or pay for parking – go Metro!

Anyway, this would be the only picture I took because photography was strictly prohibited and this was mentioned on the confidentiality agreement. I’ve got a story on that later as well.

Once inside, I was given a purple wristband which meant I was more VIP than the other VIPs in the crowd, who all gathered in the Green Room during the taping of the show (we watched the taping on monitors). I just waved that band at folks and I was in. Ta-daaaa!

During the taping, I mingled with other fans and was greeted by Freddie Morales, aka Devotional Dave from the cover band Strangelove. We follow each other on Instagram and he came up to me and started the conversation – pretty cool! He was telling me about their upcoming shows and their potential setlist which includes some classic songs that I’d love to hear the real Depeche Mode play one more time. Great guy and you should go see them if they are in your town. Here we are after the taping.

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As we waited, a few of the band members – Peter Gordeno and the legendary Fletch – came out of the dressing room and chatted with a few fans. Didn’t expect that but there they were. Once they left, I was asked by management if I wanted to take my picture in the Jimmy Kimmel photo booth which was in a place that only those with purple wristband could go. Who was I to say no?

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The magic of the the Purple Wristband!

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It took a sequence of three and for the middle one I decided to make a stupid face for some reason. But as you can tell by the first and last ones, I was genuinely excited to be a part of this. Also, DM management took this shot of me that they used for Facebook.

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I ate hors d’oeuvres. I drank a few White Russians from the open bar. I mingled. I was as fucking Hollywood as anyone could get that night.

As the taping continued, I was notified by management that if I wanted a good view, they would lead me upstairs to the stage – and so I went. I was in the first group of people, all with their purple wristbands, and we got as close as we possibly could to the stage for the performance. Shortly after that, the others made their way up as Kimmel’s hype man got the crowd worked up.

After about 10 minutes, the band took the stage and the crowd lost it. If you don’t know, Depeche Mode has one of the biggest followings in Los Angeles and they are playing an unprecedented four sold-out shows at the Hollywood Bowl starting this weekend — not even The Beatles did that. We love them, the the crowd let them know. You could tell they appreciated it.

Unlike their 2009 performance, where they played a set of about eight songs, tonight there would only be one: their new single “Cover Me.” They did an off-camera rehearsal then after about five minutes, Kimmel appeared to the left of the crowd, the cameras went live, and he introduced them. This one would count and here it is.

In case you’re wondering, here I am in the yellow circle:

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A few notes:

  • I’ve been to my share of shows and I have to say that Dave has never sounded better live. Maybe it was the combination of a small venue with him not needing to strain his voice and the subdued tone of the song but either way, wow. He absolutely killed it.
  • If you watch the video closely, there’s a lady to my left and in front of me looking like she is covering her mouth. I let her squeeze by for a better view because she couldn’t see from where she was. The reason she was covering her mouth was because she was absolutely enthralled by the performance and almost in tears. Remember what I said about L.A. fans? Here’s your proof, and she was extremely grateful that I let her in. I’m taller and could see just fine from my angle.
  • After the performance, a few people tried to take pictures of the stage and when security saw them, they immediately approached them, told them to delete the photo, then delete it from their Trash folder – all while they watched them do it. They weren’t playing.

After the performance, I took my picture with Devotional Dave then lingered around Hollywood Boulevard for a bit. It was then when I was reminded of what a strange and surreal place Hollywood really is. I’m not here too often so I took it all in, looking around and just thinking “Wow, this really is a freaking weird place.”

Then I got on the train and went home, wrote about the performance for the takeover, and my day of working for Depeche Mode was complete. It was definitely fun.

Oh, and our softball team? We played tonight and lost again but I went 1-3 with 2 RBI against a whiny bunch poor winners who complained at the most minor things. Fuckin’ nut up and play. This is for fun and nobody will be taking home any trophies, so STFU and get on the field already. I yelled at them quite a bit as they complained, telling them to hurry up. Bunch of babies.

As for our team, well, I could be the father to some of the players and to hear they were tired after a 7-inning softball game really made me laugh. Here I am wanting to play two and there they were thinking about taking tomorrow off because they were sore. Look, I’m not He-Man but really?

Anyway…yeah! Working for Depeche Mode was something I’ll never forget.

Depeche Mode Fan Takeover on Friday!


Chances are every person in my social circle is tired of hearing about it but for those of you that only know me from the blog, here’s your official notice.

On Friday, October 6, I will be taking over Depeche Mode’s Facebook page as part of their Fan Takeover. Every day in 2017, a different fan will be selected to share their experiences with the band, their music, etc. and I was selected as one of them for Day 203.

Even got the profile picture for it and a short bio on their website:

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My posts will be shared throughout the day and there may be a few surprises and announcements so if you like Depeche Mode, you might want to check things out!

Now go go go!

Well, not until Friday but you get the idea.

Friday Five: Stuff I Don’t Get Either


Well, look at that!

In an effort to get my lazy self blogging again, I’ve resorted to the old standby of the Friday Five, a series of questions posted by a random Internet person that I, most likely another random Internet person to you, will answer. So let’s hop right into it.

1. Twitch is an enormously popular livestreaming platform mostly for watching people play video games. It has more than 1.5 million broadcasters and more than one million visitors per month, and Amazon acquired it for nearly a billion dollars in 2014. Which of your computer activities would you livestream if there were a way to make some money doing it?

I lead such an exciting life, online and offline, that I wouldn’t know where to begin (obvious sarcasm). But if I were any good at the Xbox games I have, I guess I’d stream those provided anybody wanted to watch me drive a car since I don’t play much of anything but racing games. FPS games confuse me — too many controls. Then again I’m an old fart and the current generation of kids wouldn’t bother tuning in other than to “roast” me. (Yeah. I have a teenager and that’s a completely acceptable term as of this post.) That’s just console video games. Computers? I don’t use my computer for gaming so I can’t imagine anybody wanting to tune in and watch me open up iTunes and manage my music collection.

2. EDM (electronic dance music) is usually performed by DJs on stage in front of audiences, playing tracks they’ve mixed, right off their laptops. If you were a push-button DJ playing your tunes in a club, what would be your opening and closing songs, assuming everyone’s there because they’re into whatever sounds you’re into?

I know nothing of this genre except that it’s not my thing. But I suppose if given the chance, I’d open with Perfume’s “Edge” (Triangle Mix) and end it with with Electronic’s “Idiot Country.” I guess. Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe this Friday Five thing wasn’t such a good idea after all.

3. What’s a good Adele song, and why is Adele so popular?

There’s a few things I know about Adele. First, I’m not familiar with any of her songs other than her big hits and I don’t care for any of those. In fact I’ll change the station in the car the second I hear her (provided I’m listening to a station that plays her — a rarity, and the reason I’ve always got my phone connected to the radio). Second, she seems a bit long-winded and whiny about lots of things which isn’t scoring any points with me. Maybe there’s a reason why she likes to carry on for so long but I’m not aware of it. I’m just not a fan of hers. As far as her popularity goes, the only thing I can attribute to that is she entered the scene right about the time Amy Winehouse left this earth and she’s filling the void she left behind. Why or how is beyond me; I wasn’t a fan of hers either.

4. The Walking Dead?

I’ve never seen an episode in any of its incarnations and don’t plan to. In case you aren’t aware I’m not a big TV or movie fan, especially any that are popular, and this one is no exception. Name a show — chances are I haven’t seen it. But this one? Oooh, zombies and blood and shit. Big deal. And while we’re on the topic of “Stuff I Don’t Get,” I can’t forget those people who dress up as zombies at those [whatever]-cons and schlep themselves down the street en masse while grunting and groaning. You do you. I’ll do me, thanks.

5. Every generation seems to arrive at a “They don’t write ’em like that anymore” attitude. Why does it seem like most middle-aged people lose interest in new music?

This one is easy: today’s music sucks. There’s little to no substance in today’s music, nothing like the epic storytelling “American Pie” or concept double albums anymore; it’s mostly commercialized garbage. Well, I can’t say all of it because — get ready — there are some current artists that I listen to and enjoy. Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Panic! At the Disco (Death of a Bachelor is unbelievably spectacular), even Lady Gaga to a certain extent. But out of all the artists on the scene today, Bruno Mars tops them all in my book. His songwriting is amazing, musicianship top-notch, and he can dance like nobody’s business. Look up his Super Bowl performances and Prince tribute — pure talent. That cat can do it all.

Well, that’s it. I started this post this morning and finished it up on my phone right now. I’m still fighting off some kind of cold or something so it’s time to go relax and probably fall asleep early.

Have a great weekend, provided the world doesn’t end on Saturday.

Things I Learned Today: March 24, 2017


In an effort to keep this here blog of mine going I’ve decided to try something a little different.

They say that we learn something new every day, and today I found that to be exceptionally true. In fact, I started compiling a list in my head while on my drive to work and only found myself adding more things to it, so that didn’t really go as planned.

I’m not very good at mental note-taking so I tried my best to remember what it was I had thought of and haphazardly typed it into Word while on my break at the office. And now I present today’s list.

Things I Learned Today for March 24, 2017

1. People still use CDs in their cars. Shocking, I know. But I was reminded of this when I drove past a guy who had a Case Logic visor CD organizer that was filled with purchased CDs and burned-at-home CD-Rs. It all seemed rather ‘90s since my last two cars have had USB ports and my music has either been on a thumb drive or smartphone ever since. I’m not a big terrestrial radio fan and am a proud Spotify Premium subscriber so my music collection had been downloaded from there and is all on my iPhone. Also, Ann’s car doesn’t even have a CD slot – all music is played via Bluetooth or USB port.

2. The local daily newspaper now costs $1. There was a time when I had to scrape together four quarters to buy the Sunday paper in order to get all of the retail ads and coupons. The daily cost a fourth of that. But as with everything, technology has just about killed this format. Coupons and ads can now be seen online and with Amazon, you don’t really need ads anymore because chances are they have what you need for less and will ship it to you for free. Then why did I even bother buy a newspaper today? The Long Beach Grand Prix is approaching and there was a voucher for a free Friday ticket in today’s edition. That’s the day that the office sort of takes a rather long lunch since the event is literally across the street from us. So spending the $1 was well worth it. Any other day? Not so much.

3. Water refill stations still exist. Whether they are against the wall of the local Walgreens or fancy stand-alone jobs that look like a windmill, they are still around and people still use them. I found this out while researching them since we are in the market to have water delivered to us. I am still not drinking [diet] soda regularly, although there have been a few occasions while dining out when I did get one as a treat. Water is still my mainstay and I have an app to remind me to reach my daily goal of 100 oz., so I figured that having it delivered might be cheaper than buying a case of bottled water at the store. At $1.50 for five gallons from said refill stations, it probably will be. And while I don’t buy soda anymore, I have found a tasty substitute should I crave something bubbly. Highly recommended if you can find it in your area.

4. Domino’s pasta bowls are carb overload. This one may seem a bit obvious but I learned the hard way. Ann ordered three of them last night for dinner and being as hungry as I was when I got home from work, I devoured mine in no time. The bad part: I wasn’t running a marathon today. If I had been, the combination of pasta and pizza crust would have been an excellent source of fuel to burn off. Instead, they sat in my stomach all day and magically turned into sugar as they tend to do if you don’t use them. It was total carb overload, and I felt it all day long. Pretty stupid move.

5. Vans never go out of style. Last week we took Anthony birthday shopping at the local outlets. He loves Vans and has a pretty decent collection of them. In fact, his love ignited mine and I started to build my own collection which includes a pair inspired by The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine (that I will never wear). I wore Off The Walls all the time as a kid – when we could afford them – so wearing them again on a regular basis is fun, and it doesn’t hurt that I can wear them to the office. I have an assortment of colors to choose from but I made a purchase at the outlets last weekend that I won’t soon regret.

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Depending on your monitor calibration, the brightness of your smartphone screen or any other number of factors, these Old Skool style Vans are bright pink with the signature Vans stipe running the sides in cyan. For $20 and 50% off a second pair, I couldn’t pass them up. They are a hit, inside the office and out. I actually had a guy stop me while I was on my bike ride to tell me how much he liked them and today while returning from a Starbucks run with a coworker, someone else walked past and complimented me on my choice of footwear – only I was wearing these instead.

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These are all purple with gold eyes. I also have pairs in dark green and blue, and I dig them all. All this admiration just goes to show that Vans are timeless and at least in their birthplace of southern California, they are more of a lifestyle than anything.

What will I learn tomorrow? Who knows. But I hope you enjoyed the list of things I learned today.