california

Year in Review (2010)

Another year has come and gone and before 2010 becomes as easily-forgotten as 1996, let’s look back and re-visit the highlights in The Year of Ed before we jump into 2011…

JANUARY

  • January 19 – I was hired to record the voiceover for a commercial at MAX Films here in the area. This is only notable because of how hilariously long it took me to get paid for it.
  • January 23 – Improv night at the Landis household! Our friends John and Lisa invited a bunch of people over for some fun parlor games, including some Whose Line-style improv games.

    In one of the games (“Party Quirks”), Sarah was a turtle. This is her doing her turtle thing.

FEBRUARY

  • February 2 – Our regular Tuesday night Lost viewing parties continue as the final season premieres. We celebrate with a pinata. Naturally.
  • February 5 – Our friend Alyssa debuts her month-long art show at our favorite coffee shop, Square One.
  • February 10 – A massive snowstorm hits Lancaster. As Sarah and I are walking down to warm ourselves at Square One, we have this conversation:
  • February 13 – Sarah and I traveled to Pittsburgh to catch our friend JT in a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • February 19 – Sarah and I head to Philadelphia so Sarah can attend a Zumba conference and I can hear weird noises coming out of the rooms of strangers staying down the hall.

MARCH

  • March 20 – I judge a local singing competition, LS Idol. William Hung does not make an appearance.
  • March 27 – Sarah and I catch the hilarious production of Noises Off at the Fulton Theatre.

APRIL

  • April 3 – Sarah gets to meet the Beals, Jeff and Nik, dear friends from my days in Nashville. A barbecue on a great spring day in York. Hard to beat it.
  • April 12 – Sarah and I travel to Destin, Florida to visit some of her family for a week.

    Just because we’re visiting relatives doesn’t mean we don’t stop acting like this.

MAY

  • May 23 – The Lost season finale. We all freak out.
  • May 27 – Sarah and I go to a Lancaster Barnstormers game. It gets rained out.

JUNE

  • June 3 – Sarah is chosen to lead the crowd at a Barnstormers game in some Zumba during the 7th inning stretch. The game gets rained out in the 5th.
  • June 25 – Sarah and I go to the Lancaster Catholic Carnival and then walk over to our friends’ house to watch the fireworks.

    During the fireworks display, some fallout landed on the Ruoffs’ roof and firemen had to climb on top to make sure it wouldn’t burn down. Fortunately, it didn’t.

JULY

  • July 31 – Sarah and I traveled to Gettysburg to do a little amateur ghost hunting.

AUGUST

  • August 15 – Hey, remember that voice over job I mentioned back in January? I finally got paid for it!
  • August 21 – Sarah and I enjoyed ghost hunting so much the first time around, we decided to head back to Gettysburg for our first ghost hunting session with actual ghost hunters. It kinda blew.

SEPTEMBER

  • September 9 – Sarah and I, along with the Breneman siblings Ryan, Alyssa, and Ashlea, head west for a California vacation.
  • September 18 – Our church, Willow Street Mennonite Church, celebrates 300 years!
  • September 19 – Sarah and I return to the Fulton Theatre for their performance of Spamalot!

OCTOBER

  • October 15 – My old college pal Ed comes into town for a few days. We spend some time at Inner Harbor in Baltimore and have a blast.

    At this point in our visit to Inner Harbor, we are totally clueless as to how amazing the tapas are going to be that we have just ordered.

NOVEMBER

  • November 4 – I debut my brand new comedy-album-review site, Comedy Reviews. Feel free to “Like” it.
  • November 6 – Sarah and I move into our new apartment!
  • November 14 – Sarah turns a year older.
  • November 17 – I do, too.

DECEMBER

  • December 5 – Sarah and I attend a performance of The Nutcracker. It’s the first time seeing it for both of us and we both agree once is enough.
  • December 16 – Sarah and I go to the Fulton to see The Sound of Music with our good friends Dustin and Janelle. We all enjoy the show and then wonder what they do with all of the huge Nazi flags. Ebay?
  • December 17 – Sarah and I head to New York to take in the city during Christmas, improv at National Comedy Theatre, stand up comedy from Jim Gaffigan and our pal Adi, and film our annual Christmas video.
  • December 23 – Farewell party for our friends Alyssa and Ashlea Breneman as they gear up for their trips to Arizona and Hawaii (respectively).
  • December 24 – We attend church for the Christmas Eve service and then spend the rest of the night at Dustin and Janelle’s playing games.
  • December 26 – Sarah’s sister and her family comes into town to stay with us for their annual Christmas holiday celebration of playing games all day long. For the first time, my brother and his family come out and join in on the celebrating. We play games, film the final (?) installment of Terocus, and drink lots of coffee.

Things I learned in 2010? I don’t know if I learned anything new, but I did re-affirm what I already knew. I love Sarah a lot, she’s my best friend in the world. We love to travel. And all of our other friends…we love them a lot too. And want them to travel with us.

So pack your bags everyone and make sure your travel documents are in order. 2011 is here and we want you to see it with us.

Happy New Year, everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

Left Coast Re-Cap (Day 7)

Wednesday. Our last day of vacation. OK, technically Thursday is also a vacation day, but we’ll spend the whole day on airplanes and in airports, so this is the last day of vacation.

We begin with a food report from Sarah.

We made no plans at all for our final day in Cali. Just, you know….whatever. And if that means sitting on the beach and doing nothing except filming birds…then that’s what it means.

You can’t really tell in the video, but when I decided to walk down and get my feet wet in the ocean, I stepped in something. I thought it was bird poop but when I tried to scrape it off in the sand, it didn’t budge. The glob of whatever it was was really stuck to my foot and no matter how much I tried, sand and water weren’t going to be enough to get it un-stuck.

I made my way back down to the blanket and noticed my foot smelled like tires. What did I step in? I didn’t see anything on the beach except seaweed but apparently there was a hidden treasure for me. Sarah had an old pair of tweezers she let me borrow, but they didn’t do much good. Whatever was there, was really really there. Sarah told me I looked like Venom from Spiderman. I was looking forward to my special powers.

After we left the beach, I decided to make a phone call to ask what it was on the beach that was attacking me. I got in touch with the parks department and in turn was transferred to four different people before someone could help me out.

Turns out it was a tar ball. Yep. Who knew? But apparently even though there hasn’t been an oil spill on the west coast for a long, long time, every once in a while tar balls still wash up on shore. The guy on the phone told me the best thing to do to wash it off was to buy rubbing alcohol and baby oil. So…that’s what we did.

If nothing else, it really made me feel for the birds in the Gulf Coast that got oil all over them from the recent spill. As you can see, it’s not just black water that will rinse off easily. Those birds down there are screwed.

Our little party decided to have dinner on the pier and watch the sunset on the ocean. We chose to eat at a Mexican restaurant called El Torito. The service was horribly slow and we missed the sunset. Oh well. At least the food was sort of OK.

We left and took in what was left of our last day in Redondo Beach.

You were good to us, California. You always are. You always, always are.

Left Coast Re-Cap (Day 4)

You can only walk past a diner with a sign that reads “Voted #1 Breakfast!” so many times before you give in to curiosity. But after breakfast at CJ’s Pantry in Redondo Beach, I have to 100% agree with the sign in the window.

The portions were huge, the food tasted amazing, and I blame their very existence for the fact we all gained like 7 pounds while we were in California. It was just the right amount of fuel we needed to go exploring in Hollywood.

We wandered up and down the Walk of Stars like good tourists, taking pictures of the Hollywood sign and handprints in cement and laughing at ladies who weren’t looking where they were walking and fell in a hole (she was OK, so stop judging me).

As we left the area and headed back south, we stopped in Beverly Hills and just…drove around. We had no idea where we were or whose house we were looking at (or, more accurately, whose tall shrubs and iron gates we were looking at that kept us from seeing their actual homes) but we kept passing sight-seeing vans so I figured we were in the right area. The narrow roads we were on wound up the mountainside and gave us some really cool scenic views of the city.

When we arrived back in the South Bay I decided we had goofed around long enough: it was time for In N Out. It was just as good as I remembered, although Sarah wished it was a little more like Five Guys so she could add A-1 sauce to her burger. Whatever. Blasphemer.

On the way back to the hotel, we were driving through a neighborhood in Torrance and suddenly Ryan, who was riding shotgun, pointed out the window and yelled, “NUNCHUKS!!”

Sure enough, there was a dude standing in the middle of a small park, practicing for battle. Sarah grabbed the Flip camera and we did a drive-by for further inspection. And further taunting.

Ashlea wanted to watch the MTV VMA Awards that night, so we stopped by the liquor store next door to our hotel to party down VMA-style. Which means picking up hard stuff like Smirnoff Ice and Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers.

I have arrived.

Left Coast Re-Cap (Day 3)

Sarah woke up early Saturday morning to go for a jog. I hopped online to check Google Maps and see if there was anything interesting in our area. I saw there was a coffee shop a couple of blocks from our hotel and, after checking out their website, I decided it was a place we needed to investigate.

When Sarah returned from her jog, I told her what I’d found, and we headed down to the Catalina Coffee Company.

We met with the Brenemans for breakfast in the hotel and told them about our amazing coffee house discovery. That afternoon we took Alyssa and Ashlea down to CCC while Ryan stayed in his room to catch up on ESPN.

That night, we headed over to the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach. They had a special “10 Comics For $10” special and we had no idea who was going to be part of the show.

We showed up early to get good seats and eat dinner there before the show. Ashlea and Alyssa were concerned that we might be too close to the stage, but after looking at who was sitting around us, I thought there might be easier targets for the comics to mess with. A guy dressed like Colonel Sanders (whom I referred to as The Southern Lawyer) was sitting behind us and a Gothic beauty queen wasn’t too far away either, so I didn’t think we stood out too much. It turns out Ashlea was the only one of us who got “called out” but compared to the rest of the people who got needled, she got off pretty easy.

My only disappointment from the night was the fact that the club didn’t publish who was there that night, so afterward, we could only remember a couple of names. They were all amazing (I wasn’t too impressed with the one magician who performed, but I think I was in the minority) and I wanted to find out more about them and support them. The comics included Lachlan Patterson, Kirk Fox, Brian Scolaro…and that’s where we forgot the other names. There was an Australian guy with a fake foot and another Aussie who lives in San Francisco. There was a writer from Jimmy Kimmel who sang hilarious impromptu songs and a guy who did a bit about getting old and having to stretch before doing things like going to sleep. I sent an email to the club afterwards asking for a list of the comics who performed so I could look them up on iTunes. Hopefully I’ll hear something back from them, but seeing as how it’s almost been two weeks I’m not holding my breath.

So…whoever was there that night…just know you did a good job. Lachlan and Brian both have projects available on iTunes. I’m sure the other comics do, too, I just have to figure out who they were first.

Left Coast Re-Cap (Day 2)

Sarah woke up early Friday morning, and I did too. It was 6am California time, but we were still on East Coast time, so it felt like 9. She planned to go jogging along the beach and I decided to walk with her to show her the way and make sure she didn’t get turned around.

Our hotel was only about 2-1/2 blocks from the beach and on the way we had to walk through a small park/playground. There was a really cool-looking building that at first reminded me of The Alamo.

Upon closer inspection, I discovered this amazing structure is the Redondo Beach Public Library.

The sky was a perfect blue, the grass was green, and the early-morning temperature was perfect. Sarah exclaimed, “We’re in Heaven!” I didn’t argue.

Sarah took off jogging and I went down to the beach to film and capture the calm serenity of the area. I made my way onto the Redondo Beach Pier and sat on a bench overlooking the ocean (making sure to clear off the morning dew before I settled in).

I heard a far-off sound that I initially mis-took for some weird birds, but as I listened I realized they were actually seals hanging out on a distant buoy, barking and barking. You know, like a bunch of seals.

After Sarah finished with her run we met on the pier and then walked back together. We met Ryan, Alyssa, and Ashlea in the hotel for their complimentary continental breakfast. We then piled in the car and headed south for a tour of Palos Verdes and Rancho Palos Verdes, one of the most expensive places to live in Southern California.

We left the cliffs and headed down the winding road a bit to Wayfarer’s Chapel, a small church that is pretty much made entirely of glass. Every other time I’ve been there a wedding was in progress so I wasn’t allowed to get very close to the church and see inside.

This day was my lucky day, as the grounds were pretty much deserted and we had the place to ourselves. I was excited to get my first glimpse inside and I wondered what it was like to go to church and get a tan at the same time.

We returned back to the hotel and Sarah and I were excited to show the rest of the gang the park, the library, the beach, and the pier. While we were there we stopped in at El Cinco De Mayo, a small Mexican restaurant on the pier. A friendly woman took our order and then turned around and began to cook everything. It smelled delicious and it tasted just as good.

From there we went down to the end of the pier, found a bench, and let the food digest. We also saw a pirate pigeon. That’s right. He had a peg leg. It was turning out to indeed be a great day.

We went back to the hotel to rest up from all of the eating and basking in the sun and decided to re-convene in a couple of hours. We had a date at Medieval Times and, what was even more exciting, we were meeting my pal JT and his girlfriend there. I met JT when I was living in New York City and performing improv at the National Comedy Theatre. He moved out to California a few months ago and I hadn’t seen him in about a year. I hadn’t met his girlfriend Kim before and it was good to get to finally get to meet her and be assured she wasn’t a figment of JT’s wild imagination.

Because we headed out to Buena Park on a Friday afternoon, traffic was pretty intense. Ryan and Alyssa were both pretty taken back by the amount of cars:

“This is ridiculous!”
“Who are these people?”
“Where did these people come from?”

We finally arrived at the castle, met JT and Kim, and  settled in to enjoy a night of medieval…times.

Afterward we hung out in the parking lot and talked and said goodbye to JT and Kim six or seven times. We made the drive back to the hotel (which, at 10:30 at night, was considerably shorter), and went to bed.

It was a great day indeed. That 1-legged pigeon brought us good luck for sure.

Left Coast Re-Cap (Day 1)

Last Thursday Sarah and I once again teamed up with the Breneman siblings Ryan, Alyssa, and Ashlea for a vacation adventure. This time we headed to California and I had a blast showing them around my old stomping grounds.

We met at the Breneman farm Thursday morning and their mom was kind enough to drive us all to the Philadelphia airport so we wouldn’t have to pay for parking.

Check-in went really smoothly and we prepped ourself for a long flight. We had a quick layover somewhere (I think it was St. Louis) but we weren’t allowed to get off the plane between flights.

We landed in San Diego right around 3:00 PST and we were greeted with the amazing weather we had been expecting. We picked up our rental car (a Suzuki something or other. When we would go up steep hills the engine whizzed like a moped and I entertained myself by making a “wheeeeeeeeeeeeee” sound). We got together with our friend Linda at Island Prime/C-Level, a steakhouse overlooking the harbor. The food was incredible and our week of gluttony had begun.

After dinner we hopped in the car and took off for our hotel in Redondo Beach just a couple of hours north. Traffic wasn’t too bad, and by the time we reached the Ramada hotel, we were ready for bed. The hotel offers free breakfast until 10am, so we agreed to re-convene at 9:30 to take advantage.

Day 1 of vacation: A little tired, but being in California was totally worth being cramped in a Southwest plane for 6 hours.

25 THINGS I LEARNED IN CALIFORNIA – 2008 EDITION

  1. If you order a large soda from Del Taco, you will find yourself partaking of a drink 3/4 the size of your own head.
  2. A group of Asian kids, dressed in black leather complete with chains and spiky Mohawks hanging out at Del Taco at midnight have a somewhat forboding sense about them. Surely they have been out and about all night causing trouble and being just as bad as their menacing exterior projects.
  3. Seeing those same Asian kids dressed in black leather and chains in the Del Taco parking lot at 9:30 in the morning completely negates their rebellious punk look and makes them seem desperate, sad, harmless, and even a bit pathetic.
  4. I am a man of my word. Having once vowed to never drive one, I learned at the car rental company that our car would be a PT Cruiser. We were offered a smaller car that the agent claimed was actually much nicer. I agreed to take the smaller car. I do a good enough job as it is looking like a tool in my every day life. I don’t need help from the PT Cruiser.
  5. If you want to get your money’s worth in the stand-up comedy world, wait until you’re in New York City to go to a comedy club. The prices of a weekday show are about 3 times more expensive in LA and you only get to see about 1/3 of the number of comics.
  6. Every day it’s sunny and 77 degrees. The rest of the world are schmucks.
  7. The speed limit on the highway is 65 M.P.H. The flow of traffic averages 77 M.P.H. The highway drivers are actually much better than I recall. I still hate motorcyclists (if you’re stopped at a red light, why is it OK for them to cut in line and jump in front of everyone else just because they can squeeze between cars? That’s not fair. I hate, hate, HATE them).
  8. On a coast-to-coast flight if you’re taking Southwest you don’t get an in-flight movie and the only food they offer you is peanuts and Wheat Thins. Where’s my barely-recognizable Salisbury steak?
  9. People who don’t have any idea what they’re talking about are very entertaining. At the wax museum a man wrongly identified Jack Black from the recent King Kong remake as Vince Vaughn from Wedding Crashers. He did, however, get Tom Hanks from Castaway correct. Even though he told his kids the volleyball was named “Spalding” (instead of the actual name “Wilson”).
  10. If you go to the Rocky Cola Cafe in Hermosa Beach at 12:30 on a Sunday afternoon you actually have a good chance of getting a parking space.
  11. The Tonight Show host Jay Leno sells out shows at the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach at $30.00 a seat. Ironically, tickets to see The Tonight Show are free.
  12. In-N-Out burgers are just as good as I remember.
  13. The attendants at the Dollar rental car place near the San Diego airport are energetically honest. When asked how he was doing, the young worker replied with a huge smile, “Great! I get to stand out here and look at hot girls all day.” I wished him luck.
  14. Elderly women who order a Bloody Mary on a plane that leaves at 9:30 am are making a statement about themselves that may be unintentional.
  15. If you wear a dress shirt, tie, black pants, and dress shoes to a California wedding, you will feel vastly overdressed. Especially if the groomsmen wear flip flops.
  16. The carpool lane is the coolest thing ever (I actually learned this in 1992 but had forgotten I knew it).
  17. Sarah is a natural boogie boarder.
  18. If you buy a new pair of swim trunks, don’t assume that the string tie feature is part of the apparel. Otherwise when a big ocean wave hits you from behind, you will find yourself struggling to keep them on.
  19. Sometimes the friendliest person you’ll meet is the maintenance guy at a time-share property.
  20. Wireless internet is not free at the airport.
  21. If you forgot to pack beach towels, check under the bathroom sink of your time share. Sometimes they provide them for you so you don’t have to go out and spend $40 to buy your own and then get angry when you find this out after-the-fact.
  22. It costs more for a tank of gas than it does to get your tires rotated, oil changed, and get an emissions test.
  23. Even on-duty policemen like to sneak away to the cliffs of Rancho Palos Verdes and take in the view every once in a while.
  24. Sharks still scare me. Even large paintings of them.
  25. As amazing as it is to be back in California, I wouldn’t want to be there without Sarah.