Posts Tagged 'Driving'

Los Angeles in December

It’s a good and bad time to be in Los Angeles in December. It’s good because I have no fewer than 10 movies to see between now and the end of the year and most of them are already playing here. I been able to see “Up in the Air” and “The Road”, even though they won’t get to most places for a few weeks. I got to see “Antichrist” and review it as it was finishing its run here and it won’t ever play in much of the rest of the country. The major downside is that movies are expensive out here. Gone are the days of $5 shows during the middle of the week at AMC. $9 is about as cheap as it gets. $18 or so if I’m seeing IMAX movies in 3D (For “Avatar, I may just be willing to pay that, too).

So here’s my list to see from now til year’s end:

An Education

The Last Station


The Princess and the Frog

The Lovely Bones




Sherlock Holmes

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnasus

Crazy Horse

The White Ribbon

As well, there are loads of classic movies playing all over the place. Seeing “Lawrence of Arabia” on the big screen was a truly amazing experience. 2000 people watching one of the most gorgeously photographed movies of all time. The theater honored the intermission in the middle of the film. Even though the movie and its character keep us at arm’s length, I felt like I was seeing the movie for the first time. I know lots of people who would rather wait for movies on DVD, but even with as big a screen as that allows these days, there is no substitute for the big screen, for the atmosphere, for the communal, enriching experience of seeing something breathtaking with strangers who, for a few hours don’t seem like strangers anymore.

E-P-I-C ! ! !

There are shitty things about Los Angeles, too.

Most people who live here are like me, which means they aren’t from here, which means since it’s Christmas, they’re all leaving. This would be fine any other time. Driving, parking, and getting around will be a breeze. Yes, but all of my friends are going home for Christmas, so where am I trying to get in such a rush? I suppose I’ll be able to get all my Christmas shopping done easily. I still need to think of gifts for my sister and parents.

Literally, every one of my friends is leaving for Christmas. I’m not. As I’ve said, this will be my first Christmas away from home, though I’ll be with family. But that’s one day. For about two weeks, I’ll be left to my own devices. There won’t be much background work (if any) because all the shows are on break for Christmas and New Year’s. And so what oh what will I do with myself? I’ve got writing to do, sure. I’ll read. I’ll venture out to some movies by myself, and I plan to catch up on the rest of season 5 of “LOST.”

I should be used to the solitude, I should welcome it. In Kansas City, it was my norm. And in many ways, I am looking forward to it. As Woody Allen might say, I’ll be spending the holidays with someone I love.

The one other thing I might change is snow. For all its hassle and annoyance, I miss playing in the snow.


Timing is Everything

And now two stories from the last 24 hours:

1 – Westbound I-70

On the way home from STL, and my car is getting low on gas. I’ve decided to push on past Columbia, MO and forge ahead into the night. I’m just into an episode of the radio show “This American Life,” and it’s good. It’s 11:30 or so. The car tells me I have 50 miles til empty. No problem. 25 miles til empty. Keep going. With about 18 miles left, I ask GPS where the nearest gas station is. 8 miles. Perfect. I pull off the highway and there’s the BP station, except…closed. 

10 miles til empty.

Get back on the highway, ask GPS for another. 5 miles up… I can do that.

I loop around and under Hwy 70 and make a left turn into black. Should be a gas station 1/4 mile on the right. I drive 1/2 a mile…NOTHING.

Turn around. 5 miles til empty.

It is at this time that I turn off my iPod and realize that I’m in trouble. Now it’s midnight, and my phone is almost dead and of course I left my charger at home. 

I see the lights of a gas station just up the road, back on the other side of the highway. Salvation! 

No. What I saw was the sign of the Gas Station (closed for the evening) and the outside lights of an Adult Video Store – on the trip from KC to STL, these shops outnumber flies.

3 miles til empty. 

I turn around, furious at these bumpkin gas stations that close early, mad at myself for not stopping sooner. I get back on 70, headed West, and I think, What will I do if I run out of gas? How long will it take someone to stop? Should I call someone I know? No, it’ll take them probably an hour and a half to find me, another 45 minutes to get me gas. Plus, my phone’s battery is deep down to the red area. Not good.

2 miles til empty.

1 miles til empty (bit of an oversight, there, by the car manufacturer, eh? Maybe it was some sad technician’s lonely joke, since most people will never let their tank get that low. But I did).

0 miles til empty.

The car is still running and moving, and it seems almost as surprised about this little marvel as I am grateful for it. I see a sign. Shell! I’ve driven this road at least 10 times, never noticed that little Shell station. I limp off the highway, foot off the gas, trying to coast. 

I make it.

It reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Kramer refuses to fill up the car with gas because he doesn’t believe that cars ever run out of gas, that it’s just a scam from the auto companies. Kramer would not be so cocky if he drove through the midwest at night.


2 – Partly Cloudy, With a Chance of Doom

This story is much shorter. It is one fell swooping message from life to me about my own fragility.

I was on my way to inspect a roof today, a 1.5 story Laminate shingled-house. I had to cancel my first inspection, because I’d forgotten my camera like an idiot (first day back from vacation, these things will happen), so I’d gone back to my apartment, grabbed the camera and was going to get to this claim a bit early. The sky was a bit dark, but nothing was falling. It was preparing for rain, but wasn’t ready yet, and it only takes 30 minutes or so to inspect. 

Literally, the moment my right hand began steering the vehicle into a 20 mph left turn onto the woman’s street, an ocean of water fell out of the sky. Not a few drops. Not some light drizzle. It went from dry to soaked in an instant. And while it did mess up my schedule a bit, it was kindof amazing to see. It made me want to come home and watch “Magnolia” and have some soup. Plus, I imagined an even more frustrating scene… me, having just gotten onto the roof, pulling out my tape measure when the downpour arrives. I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a steep roof in the pouring rain. Unless you have spike-souled shoes, the idea is a bad one. I envision myself moving carefully to get back to my ladder, it shaking in the wind. I imagine the turning around to descend the ladder, placing a foot on the first slippery step. And then whoops and the ladder slips. And then yikes and I fall backwards, an ungraceful, headlong dive onto the concrete, where I lay lifeless. Since no one was to be home during the inspection, I would expire shortly thereafter, just a block or two down the street from my parents’ house, they only finding out much later.

So a collective sigh of relief from me at my avoided fate, although I do not hold it against those who read these words and feel like God, Himself, has just missed a most premium opportunity.

It Has Come to This

June 2019
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