Monday, March 20, 2006

Late Night Eats

Another reason to love Los Angeles is Jan's. On a rainy night, if you need to mull over life's idiosyncracies with a hungry friend, the place to head is Jan's, here on Beverly Blvd, just east of La Cienega.

Want pie at 1am? Got a taste for bacon and eggs for dinner? Jan's is happy to oblige.

I've spent more evenings than I can count here with friends. The coffee keeps coming, no matter how long you sit. Across the aisle you might see a bent old man with a walker. He's a regular, wearing that green sweater and hopeful combover, doing a crossword puzzle. And the cops? They love this place. Venture here after midnight, and you'll often see three or four police cars, one of them a K-9 unit, parked outisde, while the officers sit inside, chowing down on fried zucchini or a spinach salad.

There's one particular waiter I recommend -- and whose name, of course, I've never gotten. He's latino, tall, slightly burly, and he's right there with your coffee. We always tip him well, and he always obliges me with an ice cream sundae simply swarming with whipped cream, cherries and nuts. The booths near the windows are nice, but it's worth it to sit in the back if that's where he's serving that night. Darn. Wish I had a photo of him. Maybe on my next visit.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Top Ten Reasons Not to Watch

Yet another shameless plug for my column, Notes from the Wasteland, at This week I list ten shows and channels that make you want to turn off the TV and get a life. It's pretty funny, if I do say so myself. Go to the website, click TV on the upper right, then scroll down to see my column featured in the text or check out the left hand column where my magnum opus (*cough*) is listed.

And even more importantly -- HAPPY SAINT PATRICK'S DAY!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Top Ten Reasons to Watch

My latest column, which lists my top ten reasons to love TV, is up at Click on "TV" on the top right and then click on "Notes from the Wasteland" on the left hand side. Once I figure out how to put links in without just typing in the whole damned thing, I'll be able to say -- click HERE. Until then, you'll need three clicks or so to find my column.

People poo-poo TV, but that does a disservice to the many terrific and often brilliant people that work in it. Not to say there isn't a ton of crap out there, but consider any medium and you'll find that 90 percent of everything is crap. Most painters -- are not gonna get their stuff hung in museums. Most writers -- churn out forgettable prose. Most movies -- aren't worth putting on your Netflix list. So it is with television. But a few wonderful programs and channels do exist, and they keep me paying my exhorbitant cable bill every month. I list my reasons to watch -- from Animal Planet to The Wire. Check it out.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

My Friends = Rock Stars??

After Brian regaled us with a LIVE version of the Pope's Pics last Saturday, we stayed on to "entertain" the other denizens of Broadway 11 with our song styles.

That's Kurt at the mic, doing a delightfully robotic "Jesse's Girl."

John Mark didn't get up, even though he probably has the best voice of all of us. He's the one with the Gene Simmons tongue, as if you didn't know.

Rachel and Valerie also neglected to get up. I can't blame them. After seeing how some of the other patrons embarrassed themselves (a very loud, off key version of Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" especially comes to mind) it'd be only natural to want to avoid making a similar spectacle of oneself.

I've never done karaoke before, so I elected to back Cheri up (She's got the microphone; that's me on the right, next to Naomi. Alas, you can't see nearly enough of Cathleen in this photo) on a rousing version of "Proud Mary." Cheri rocked the house. As for me, apparently there's nothing like karaoke to show you how little you know about a song, even one so famous as this. Good thing I didn't have a microphone.

One highlight (or was it a low point?) of the evening for me was when a guy we referred to as "That Shuffle Dancer Dude" gave me what amounted to a lap dance while onstage a man named Kelly warbled his fifth disco tune of the evening. Wish I could remember what the song was, but the experience has given me Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and perhaps the inevitable flashbacks will remind me of it later.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Doc Berry - Environmental Pundit

My father, Paul "Doc" Berry, was interviewed by Hawaii Public Radio last week about the limits of Hawaii's environment and the impact of tourism. You can listen here:
It's the first in the list.

The photo is of Kailua Beach, Oahu, just to remind you of the beauty we must learn to sustain in my home state.

Temples Everywhere

French archaeologists found a huge temple to the sun god Re under a Cairo suburb yesterday. (You can see one of the statues they found above. It's a rare one of a pharoah, in this case Ramses the Great, dressed as a high priest.) In the meantime, British archaeologists found a private chapel used by Henry VIII and other royalty under a parking lot in Greenwich, England.

Apparently all sorts of treasures lurk under our existing cities, waiting to be found. Beneath your feet could lie the evidence of long dead civilizations -- their places of worship, their burial sites, their sewers, their bedrooms. How fricking cool is that?

I spotted the news of the Egyptian sun temple on Per their article:

The discovery of the sun temple may shed light on the status of Heliopolis in ancient Egypt. "We do not know enough about Heliopolis, which was one of the main cities in Egypt and moreover a religious and, let us say, intellectual center," said French archaeologist Alain Zivie, leader of a team that has been excavating Saqqara, the cemetery of the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis, for more than two decades.
Zivie says the discovery also shows that much of ancient Egypt's treasures are still buried under modern cities, particularly Cairo and its suburbs.

"Cairo is the child of three cities: Memphis, [the Roman fortress of] Babylon of Egypt, and Heliopolis," Zivie said. "Expanding more and more, it swallows now its three mothers, especially Babylon and Heliopolis. But these [ancient cities] are not completely lost. They continue to exist in the underground Cairo."

Leo Depuydt, an Egyptologist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, agrees. "The recent find of a giant temple built by Ramses II, ancient Egypt's greatest builder pharaoh, in Cairo again reminds us of how archaeological discovery would increase exponentially—almost beyond imagination—if digging under urban centers and dismantling buildings of later date ever becomes, technically and politically, even more feasible," he said.

But how to dig in places where people live without completely uprooting their lives? How to balance the needs of the living with the desire for historical and anthropological knowledge? Imagine the riches to be found if some genius engineered a marvel that would allow scientists to dig underground without disturbing the lives of those above. Scientists -- get cracking!

"Wasteland" & "Bleak House"

My review of the BBC's Bleak House TV series/DVD is out today on Monsters & Critics ( Just scroll down the front page and look under reviews. For the record, I damn well cried twice while watching this fabulous Dickens adaptation. Granted, I can be a big ball of mush, but this is a mini-series done right. I highly recommend renting or buying the DVD to enjoy it.

My second column of "Notes from the Wasteland" is also up at M&C. From the front page, click on TV (on the upper right) and then scroll down. I babble on here (hopefuly in an entertaining fashion) about just how TV works as a writer's medium. I've long been amazed at how little folks know about how television really works. But then I work in the medium, so it seems like second nature to me. I think next week I'll get a bit jazzier, go the Entertainment Weekly "list" route and do a "Top Ten Reasons to Watch TV in 2006" column.

It's interesting how hard it is to write this sort of thing. It's like writing a term paper -- you've got to have a thesis and then back it up. And then you have to make it fun. College was never like this! So far the fun part is my big challenge. I think I have a fun writer's voice, but the challenge is to let it through and not edit it all away and be all serious and pretentious and boring. Guess I'm still finding that voice. I'm hoping all this dang writing will help me dig it free and set it loose on the unsuspecting inhabitants of this planet.