Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Angels Baseball

I still don't get why Arte Moreno had to use Los Angeles in the Angels name. Growing up Behind The Orange Curtain, they were always the California Angels to me. The 2004 World Champions were the Anaheim Angels. That seemed a bit odd, but not nearly as odd as the historically recent adddition of Los Angeles into their name. They are in California. They are in Anaheim. They are not in Los Angeles, unless you are a geographically retarded midwesterner.

The 17th saw my daughter and me visiting The Big A via bicycle to see the Angels battle the Dodgers. We arrived to lock-up to our usual spot on the perimeter fence and the gate attendant for that area made it a point to amble over to reassure us of the security of our bikes. An early arrival also allowed for a hot dog before the game and plenty of time to settle into our shaded seats on the Terrace level.

Ervin Santana

Chan Ho Park Delivers

Kotchman Looking One Over

Reggie Willits in Right Field

As usual, there were plenty of sights and sounds going on in the ball park besides the ball game. Some of the people watching in the stands was fantastic, especially with the mix of Dodger Blue in the sea of Angels Red.

Unfortunately for the Angels, Ervin Santana's two mistakes in early innings were a bit too much for their offense to overcome. Ervin is usually pretty tough in the Big A, but the law of averages must have had his number. That and Park's curve ball seemed to really be stumping the Angels' bats.

Ervin Santana Delivers

Leaving the Big A by bicycle seems almost criminal because it's so easy. We decided to hit a local eatery and getting to it with a few local knowledge tricks was a snap. Sitting outside to eat and watching the people in their cars leave was interesting. It took almost forty minutes for the parking lot clear out. The highlight of this was watching the bicycle rickshaws leave the parkign lot when they were done, some with style.

Papa Wheelie

From the eatery, we were home in fifteen minutes. If we had left for home immediately following the game, a good 60% of the people in cars would still have been stuck in that parking lot.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lawrence Of Arabia

A message board I frequent garnered a real gem last weekend. Someone posted up that Lawrence Of Arabia was being screened in 70mm at the Aero in Santa Monica Friday night. I have seen the film before, but never on the big screen and the chance to see it both on the big screen and in 70mm was too much to pass up.

Friday afternoon saw a 1PM wake-up after working all night the night before. The idea of battling through Friday afternoon traffic on four wheels had a very sour taste to it. The notion was spat out almost as soon as the bile began to rise and the gathering of enough gear to get across the LA Basin by bicycle began immediately at that point. By 2PM, the wheels were turning.

A couple of quick stops were to be had at the onset. The closest bike shop was empty and acquiring a new spare tube was accomplished in a couple of minutes. There was no line at the closest ATM to the West and the acquisition of a few greenbacks went with nary a hitch. After those were both accomplished, it was off into the perpetual afternoon headwind.

The initial stretch was largely Westbound. Main arteries were used for this because of the wind. Lollygagging delivery trucks, buses and any other sluggish large vehicles were utilized to their fullest potential. On Lincoln in Anaheim, a FedEx delivery van gave a really good draft for a couple of miles. On DelAmo in Lakewood, a bus did the same, providing welcome relief from the incessant headwind.

Feeling like a break from sucking exhaust fumes, the Los Angeles River bike path was used from DelAmo to its terminus at Atlantic. The wind was favorable at times and even when not so favorable, the going was really good. It was nice to relax a bit and enjoy the scenery, especially the colourful tags on the bike path's surface. Is one considered a hater if they ride a bicycle over a tag?

Weaving through the heavy industrial area after the terminus of the bike path was not as hectic as anticipated. Wide shoulders, light traffic and decent road surfaces prevailed. A few tight squeezes were encountered on a few zigs that should have been zags, but were handled with aplomb. Washington Blvd was a welcome sight, being the intended route to get West of LA proper.

Washington Blvd is a little beat up and crowded, but makes a nice Westbound beeline towards Venice and Santa Monica. The conditions kind of see-sawed all of the way to Culver City, where a cut over to Venice Blvd and stop at a small market for a refuel and break took place. Venice Blvd has a Class II bike lane and is pretty fast, even in the seemingly perpetual afternoon headwind. The characters seemed to become more frequent and vociferous towards the coast. While stopped at Venice/Lincoln a rather large 50-ish gentleman asked, "Do you get many flat tires?" "Not today." "How far have you ridden today?" "From Disneyland." "oh"

A swerve onto Abbot Kinney allowed entry into Venice and a quick burn to the coastline. The coast was slightly crowded, but burning into Santa Monica was much easier to get through than some of the traffic encountered earlier. A quick right turn on Montana followed by a twelve block plus change rip and the Aero was looming large.

The dude at the box office said they expected to sell out and pre-sales for the show were high. They opened the doors at 6:30PM and the showtime was 7:30PM. That provided an hour to wander a little and grab a bite. The local hippy-dippy grocery store had a full service deli, so a sandwich fuel-up was in order. An accompaniment of Honest Tea's Moroccan Mint seemed like a fitting drink before watching a film that was partially shot in Morocco.

Once the film started, it was obvious that the effort was not wasted. Such amazing cinematography, acting, and quality of the 70mm picture in Lawrence Of Arabia seems insurmountable. The crowd present in the packed theater was obviously made up of cinephiles, with barely a waver in the sea of heads, all eyes glued intently to the massive screen. The whole experience is one that will not soon be forgotten.

Empty streets at night make for cool runnings, literally in shorts and a t-shirt at 11:30PM on a Spring night. The warm-up didn't take too long though and the yellow brick road that unfolded in front of the bike led towards West LA. Getting away from the dampness of the coast was a priority and the roads made familiar by many outings with the infamous Midnight Ridazz seemed like the right choice.

The elevation gained by heading up Santa Monica Blvd was lost by dropping down Western Ave to land once again on Washington Blvd. The industrial area weave was even easier in the wee hours and Bandini Blvd, though quite putrid near the meat packing area, was a veritable racetrack. A few zigs and zags near the 710/5 split gave way to the largely Southeast running Telegraph Road.

Beelining for the Orange Curtain went very fast until landing on Imperial Highway in La Mirada. Feeling a little punchy from not refueling since the sandwich and tea appeared to cause a bit of a short-circuit in the 'ol internal GPS. Recognizing a landmark at Imperial and Carmenita seemed to recalibrate the brain, where a turn South got the bike pointed in the right direction. The next open store known to stock fresh bananas encountered was the 7-11 at Moody and Crescent in La Palma.

Without the stop in La Palma, the home stretch would have been difficult. With the stop, it went by like a blur in the night. There's something about being close to home on the tail end of a long ride that can make one feel like they are on autopilot. This in turn seems to make higher speeds attainable when they probably should not be. Maybe it's a creature of the night kind of thing, only experienced in the wee hours.

There's something about arriving home after such an adventure that seems somewhat anticlimactic, yet satisfying at the same time. With one hundred and ten miles of fixed gear riding under the belt and fresh memories stored of a truly epic masterpiece about one of history's true heroes, there were only a couple of things left to complete the odyssey. A shower and two fingers of Bushmills 10 preceded the well deserved trip into slumberland.