Welcome back once again for the overwhelmingly exciting conclusion of my journey to the Forgotten Realm of California, a story that was never actually meant to go beyond one article in length. If you missed the first two pulse-pounding, heart-wrenching, mule-stomping installments and feel an undeniable urge to bring yourself up to speed, you can find them here and here. Or you can just read this one and take my word for it that they were both hilarious and full of amazing adventures that make everything you've ever done in your entire life look about as exciting as a couple of old men playing Tiddlywinks. Also, I saved the world... uh... twice. When we left off last time, my brother Greg and I had just defeated a rampaging horde of rabid ninjas and decided to relax by joining in on a game of the irrationally designed game of broomball. Then we stopped a plot to assassinate the President of Tunisia. Finally, we returned to my brother's apartment, where I was attacked by an elevator again.
Many a boy became a man over this face in the Eighties.
The next day, sore as a baboon's ass after the rarely witnessed baboon ritual of the Month of Much Spanking, my brother and I made it out toward the Santa Monica area to meet up with my aunt and uncle. We all met at the Farmer's Market, which is a weekly event where the best and the brightest of the California produce world come to hock their juicy wares. A notoriously good spot for finding celebrities out and about, it attracts a huge crowd. Let me tell you, we don't get fruits and vegetables like these back in New England. Everything there is freshly picked and freakishly huge. There were apples the size of coconuts, coconuts the size of bowling balls, and bowling balls that were sadly out of place in this particular market. I came across one vendor selling freaky gourds that were longer than my arm. The four of us grabbed lunch at a nearby deli. While standing in line, my aunt pointed out that a woman just a few feet ahead of us in line was not just another hungry pastrami fan - it was Meredith Baxter, formerly Meredith Baxter Birney, also known as Elyse Keaton, the mother on Family Ties! My first celebrity sighting! I thought about asking her for an autograph, but I felt bad about pestering her while she was just enjoying herself out and about with some friends. Also, who would you show Meredith Baxter Birney's autograph to? She just doesn't have the draw she used to. On the plus side, she looks like she's in great shape, despite her bad haircut.
The four of us went down to the beach and rented bikes. It was the nicest day the area had seen in a while, and everyone and their personal trainer was down by the water. While riding, I passed by a huge amount of gorgeous women rollerblading and soaking up the sun, as well as an irritating amount of women who seem to be gripped by a peculiar and disturbing trend. It seems to have become a fashion statement to carry a chihuahua around in one's purse like a tube of lipstick. I never saw a single woman actually walking her chihuahua, they were all just carrying them in their Prada handbags. These are the most miserable-looking dogs I have ever seen. With only their head poking out so that they can watch the real dogs whose owners are taking them for a walk on the nicest day of the season, they can only meekly paw at the interior of their hot pink or baby blue prisons with legs weakened by lack of use and pray for a seagull to land on their bags and peck their brains out. I blame the "Legally Blonde" series for this trend. True, that series took (hopefully not "takes") its cues from existing fashion trends, but hell, I'd blame the "Legally Blonde" series for cancer if I could.
And they'd just sit there all day, strumming away for spare change. It's sort of romantic in that bohemian, poor, smelly sort of way.
We biked down to Venice Beach. If the Farmer's Market is the epicenter of the produce trade, certainly Venice Beach is the epicenter of the industry of people with only marginally marketable talents. Caricaturists, sculptors, painters, musicians, hemp-braiders, henna tattoo artists, clothing weavers, political protestors, and all manners of street performers are crammed in side by side along the sand, desperately making use of every inch of space they can grab without actually having to beat the dirty hippie next to them to death with their own acoustic guitar. I noticed a large crowd of people gathered around one particular street performer, which is why we stopped in the first place. Considering all of the various performers along the beach, I was incredibly curious to see what sort of show was going on that could attract so many people. When I finally got close enough to hear, I was a bit confused. After watching for ten minutes, the best I could figure is that this guy's entire act consisted of asking the crowd to cheer so more people would come and watch. I guess it worked, but I wasn't exactly lunging for my wallet. We went back to my aunt and uncle's house, where my brother and I went around back to pick some lemons off of their lemon tree. I would have walked right by if my brother hadn't stopped me. These weren't lemons. These were misshapen grapefruits. I wouldn't have ever imagined that lemons this massive occurred naturally. They were each easily twice the size of the largest lemon I had ever seen back east, and a lot of them weren't even ready to be picked yet. It was an awe-inspiring sight, which just goes to show how easy I am to impress. That night my uncle made a dinner of - you guessed it - home-cooked burgers. I have to say, they were pretty damn good. Ancient Platt recipe. Don't even try to duplicate it. You can't.
The next day's main attraction was a trip to the king of LA hamburger stands - Fatburger. The great thing about a place like Fatburger is that their name sucks so much, that you can be sure that their food is outstanding. And indeed, my fatburger with cheese and more toppings than I can remember was fantastic. My hat would be off to Fatburger, except now that I'm back in Connecticut, if I take off my hat, my ears will crystallize and break off and I'll have to scotch tape my sunglasses to my head if I ever want to look cool again. But Fatburger, believe me when I say that the love is there.
My brother and I didn't have much of a plan for my last day in LA. We decided that it might be fun to head out to Bel Air and try to see some of the filthy rich people's houses, or at least find a cab with a license plate that says "Fresh" and dice in the mirror. As it turns out, you can't actually see the houses in Bel Air. Bel Air is so exclusive that if a poor person so much as looked at one of their houses, the property value would plummet and the entire area would just become another crummy Newport. All you can see are gigantic hedges and the occasional peak of a rooftop. For all I know, there's nothing but rooftops and a few support beams behind those hedges, but the illusion of wealth is so complete that America's wealthiest citizens would still pay tens of millions of dollars to live there in some shabby lean-to, just as long as poor people never knew. The only poor people who are allowed to get anywhere near a real Bel Air home are the hundreds of Mexican groundskeeping crews. It seemed like there was a pickup truck with a different logo and a crew of Mexicans trimming the hedges along every single driveway we passed. That's got to be depressing, tending to acres upon acres of property belonging to some of the richest people in the world and knowing that you can slave away every day for the rest of you life and you'll never be able to afford a fraction of that excess. Well, that's what they get for Del Taco.
After a surefire winner like "Miss Match," she'll be back to the middle in no time!
Fed up with the secrecy of the mega-wealthy elite, we drove to Beverly Hills, home of the merely ultra-wealthy. After gawking at the ludicrous mansions along the wide streets, we headed toward Rodeo Drive. At least, that was the idea. We never quite found Rodeo Drive. My brother mentioned that he actually had no idea where we were, then thirty seconds later announced that he knew exactly where we were, and soon, so did I - we were back smack dab in the middle of Hollywood. As long as we were there, we parked and paid a visit to Ripley's Believe It Or Not. As it turns out, the answer is Believe It. There, I saved you some time. As we walked along the streets of Hollywood afterwards, we encountered a film crew shooting a scene for an upcoming movie called "Miss Match" with a lot of extras just walking down the Walk of Fame. By looking for the people in a comical amount of makeup, we were able to tell which were the actual actors and which were just the wannabe actors who surely all rushed home that night to put "small, yet crucial role in 'Miss Match'" on their resumes. We watched them shoot the same four seconds of film a few times over and soon picked out the star - Alicia Silverstone. That's right, Batgirl herself came within six feet of yours truly. It was a big moment for me. When my brother and I turned to walk away, we immediately encountered a guy handing out tickets to a TV show being shot that night. As it turned out, it was for Jimmy Kimmel Live, and it was going to be shot in just a few hours. Happy to get convenient tickets to a show we had actually heard of, we gladly accepted. To pass the time, we had dinner at The Grille on Hollywood, a restaurant right above the Kodak Theater. It was probably the most expensive meal I've ever eaten. While looking over the overpriced menu, I contemplated ending my LA journey with a sixteen dollar cheeseburger, but instead went for the twenty-four dollar steak. It came with a side of broccoli. When I say "a side of broccoli," understand that I mean that when the waiter brought out our dinners, I couldn't even see my steak behind the freaking gargantuan heads of broccoli there. There were two of them, and each of them dwarfed my fist by a good amount. I finished one of them off just to say that I had, but there is absolutely no way that any human being has ever eaten an entire side of broccoli at The Grille on Hollywood. I refuse to believe otherwise.
For the record, she's even hotter in person. She almost made eye contact with me once. That means she wants to have sex with me.
When the time came, Greg and I headed across the street to the El Capitan theater where the show was being taped. We stood outside in line for close to an hour and eventually got to talking to two incredibly hot girls standing next to us. It turned out they were visiting the United States from Australia and were going home the next day. They had been all over the US and Canada in the past month. We asked them what they had done in LA. They told us how they had wandered around Beverly Hills and then explored Rodeo Drive. We slyly failed to mention how we were unable to find Rodeo Drive. We also failed to mention how are names were not really Eduardo and Jake (I was Eduardo). We're a couple of smooth operators, my brother and I. Once we got into the actual studio and took our seats, a young man sat next to us. He looked familiar to me, and I apparently did to him as well. After a moment, we figured it out. It was my childhood friend Lance, who I had not seen in a couple years, since well before he moved out to LA and I shaved my head. He mentioned that he had been to one other taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live when Dane Cook was cohosting, and that he had snagged three free tickets to see Dane Cook at a comedy club for that very night. So, after the show, which featured guest cohost Enrique Iglesias, E! Network hottie Brook Burns, Monk star Tony Shaloub, and the Man Show Boy, who is now known by his real name, something or other, the three of us went down the street to see Dane Cook. Sadly, he was a no-show. Although the comedians who were there were all terrific, Cook was nowhere to be found. Lance asked around afterwards and found out that when Dane Cook was on Jimmy Kimmel Live, he slapped Jimmy Kimmel. As revenge, on his last night as cohost, Jimmy Kimmel brought out a stripper who slapped Dane Cook right back... and ruptured his eardrum. So don't expect to be seeing Dane Cook performing too much for a little while.
The next morning I flew back into the bone-chilling, teeth-chattering, flesh-solidifying cold of Boston. I had a great time on my trip to LA. So am I going to follow in my brother's footsteps and move out west after college? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, though. If I do return, I am never setting foot in another fucking elevator.
(P.S., Go Pats.)
A Behind the Scenes Look: Weekend Web
Hello friends, Zachary "Spokker Jones" Gutierrez here, much to the dismay on those who bet that I wouldn't last this long. Last week I told you all about what it takes to put up a front page update. I got a lot of emails telling me not to do that again. Well too bad because this week I'm going to reveal just what goes into a Weekend Web update.
It all starts with an FYAD thread. For those that don't know FYAD is a subforum of the Something Awful Forums where we go to discuss science and philosophy. After a few replies consisting of, "fuck u faggot", "asl!!!", and "ne girls press 69" some poorly dithered gifs start to trickle in. I then go capture some of my own images. To do this I utilize the "print screen" key. What this does is print out an exact replica of the screen on the printer. I then cut out the actual forum post and throw away the rest of the paper. The next step is to scan all the forum posts back into the computer using a scanner I found at a garage sale that's missing the lid part. After that I resize all of the images so that they are blurry as fuck and hard to read. This is what gives Weekend Web it's distinct style. Once the images are in place I pull a bunch of half baked comments out of my ass and post the feature for all of the world to see.
I hope you've learned a little bit about all the hard work that goes into each Weekend Web update. OBLIGATORY SUPER BOWL SUNDAY REFERENCE. Enjoy!
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.