Tag Archives: California

Last Call Doritos for the King of Pop…

On the eve of what I expect will be a pretty rocking memorial to Michael Jackson, Christine, Greta, Ryan, Laura and I climbed into the Vue to do a little MJ memorial tour of our own. First Laura, Greta and I drove to the Staples Center to see the crowds and sign the massive placards they had set up for fans.

But that line was crazy-long, it was hotter than hell, and, well, we did have a baby with us, so, we opted for pictures and a quick drive-by instead.

MJ #1

MJ #2

Later in the day, Christine and Ryan  joined us for a jaunt past the ever-expanding crowds outside the main gates of Forest Lawn, where Jackson is to be buried. That was cool too and we got some nice action shots from the car, but the highlight of our MJ memorial tour was our trip to the Jackson family compound in nearby Encino. Located just a couple of blocks off of Ventura Blvd., this is the house where Michael and the rest of the kids were raised when the family moved to California from Indiana.

Michael mania being what it has been the past couple of days, we weren’t expecting to get very close to the house or the sea of flowers out front, but, just in case, we came bearing a card for the family and a baggie of “Last Call” Jalapeno Popper-flavored Doritos for the Man in the Mirror to enjoy in the afterlife.

Yes, I said Doritos. See, earlier in the day, Laura and I had seen a friend of Michael’s joking on TV about Jackson’s bizarre eating habits. She said something about him being a hard core vegetarian since he was younger, but joked that that didn’t stop him from loving junk food like Doritos, which he enjoyed regularly.

MJ #3

MJ #4

MJ #5

So, when we were mulling over what gift to bring the King of Pop, the half-eaten bag of “Last Call” Doritos seemed like the perfect fit. Christine, of course, was mortified by the idea, but Ryan and I stuck to our guns, labeled the plastic baggie with a message for the King of Pop and headed off to Encino.

But what came next took us all by surprise. I mean, sure, we thought it would be cool to see all the fans and the messages and artwork they created for Jackson, but I don’t think any of us realized how emotional it would be.

Seriously, amigos, it was like Graceland West. For the first time since all this insanity began, we actually realized the true depth of feeling that the world had for this dude. And I know it sounds corny, but there was a real sense of magic outside the family home.

MJ #6

MJ #7

MJ #8

MJ #9

I don’t know if it was the crowd — who were very quiet, friendly and respectful — or the fact that the setting sun cast a dreamy glow over the place, but the whole aura outside the Jackson family compound was really amazing.

I’m sure there will be many memorable moments from the official funeral and memorial service today, but for us, this was it…a truly moving send-off to the once and future King of Pop.

To see more of the scads of Michael Jackson-themed pics I took over the past couple of days, click here. And in the meantime, here’s hoping MJ digs the Doritos as much as we did…

MJ #10

MJ #12

MJ #11


Filed under Do, Hear

The Olive Pit, Corning

No drive from Santa Cruz to Oregon would be complete without at least one stop at the legendary Olive Pit in Corning. Located just off Highway 5 about an hour south of Redding, Corning is composed of a Taco Bell, a Starbucks, a couple of very clean gas stations and The Olive Pit.

Started over forty years ago by husband and wife Pete & Anne Craig, the Olive Pit began life as small shelf of hand-bottled local olives in their burger joint. Realizing there was a huge market for these delicious, locally-grown olives, the Craig’s shifted the focus of their business, and soon, a Northern California road trip landmark was born.

We stop at the Olive Pit every time we head up to visit Christine’s family and over the years have tried a number of very tasty olives. Our favorites have always been the stuffed variety: garlic stuffed, almond stuffed, sun dried tomato stuffed, you name it, we’ve tried it.

And though we never leave the Olive Pit without a jar or two of the garlic stuffed, I have to say our new favorite flavor is the blue cheese stuffed olives. Bottled in silky canola oil, those things melt in your melt…and though I personally think they taste better cold, that room temperature blue cheese is pretty amazing too!

And olives are only the beginning here for the Olive Pit also features a huge array of locally-grown almonds, nuts, tasty jams, a whole line of gourmet mustards and pretty much anything else you can think of. Seriously, you will not leave this place hungry. Our usual routine is to hit the tasting bar first, sample the newer flavors and then pick up a crate and stuff it full of jars of olives.

In keeping with its burger stand roots, there is also a restaurant located inside The Olive Pit that serves lattes, ice cream and all your basic diner fare at shockingly cheap prices. But strangely enough, Christine and I have never eaten there. I guess the gravitational pull — not to mention the speed of service — of that Taco Bell across the street is just too strong…

So, if you ever happen upon this little gourmet mecca in the middle of nowhere, make sure and stop by for some olives. Oh yeah, and bring your laptop too because not only does the Olive Pit now have cute little tins of Olive Pit mints, but they also have free Wi-Fi.

Take that, Taco Bell!


Filed under Eat

Fourth of July Crab Boil

Sorry for being such a bad blogger lately, but Christine and I have been on vacation for the past week and a half and sadly, blogging was just not in the equation. But the good news is that we did lots of fun stuff that I’m just itching to write about…so stay tuned.

In the meantime, wanted to post some pics of the tastiest Fourth of July feast we’ve had in years! Forgoing the traditional BBQ meat and chicken route, my Dad, Wendy, Courtney, Christine and I elected to have a crab boil instead! And what a treat it was…

The crab was pre-boiled and cracked — not all the way, but just enough to still make foraging for the meat fun! — at a crunchy hippie store in Santa Cruz called Staff of Life. I have not been to “Staff” in years, but man, if you wanna taste (and smell!) Santa Cruz in all it’s earthy glory, you gotta check this joint out…time warp city.

Seriously, if I wasn’t carrying a digital camera and a cell phone, I’d swear I was shopping in the patchouli-scented Santa Cruz of old. And the food, well, the food there is even better. Fresh, organic, green and always totally awesome. With the exception of some foul carob chips in my youth, I have never tasted anything bad from the Staff of Life. So, rock on you old hippie store!

And since no crab boil would be complete without corn on the cob, we had some heaping piles of that too. And when you throw in some fresh-baked bread, a nice big salad, and a view of seaside fireworks in the distance, well, what else do you need? Happy birthday, America!


Filed under Eat

Mr. Sulu takes a husband!

Both Christine and I have been stoked to see gay marriage mania sweeping the state the past couple of days, but nothing hit home more than the news that “Star Trek” and “Heroes” star George Takai — who, John Cho aside, will always be the one true Mr. Sulu to me! — and his longtime partner, Brad Altman registered for a marriage license yesterday in West Hollywood.

Go, Sulu! Wow…I mean, I’m happy for those old ladies in San Francisco and watching Robin Tyler and Diane Olson exchange vows “live” on yesterday’s news was very sweet, but the wedding I’m really dying to see is Mr. Sulu’s!

Takai has said he and Altman won’t marry until September, so that gives me plenty of time to nerd out over the Trekie wedding to be…hmmm…

I think things should start off with Mr. Sulu kindly encouraging everyone in the church to set their phasers to stun, I mean, hey, you don’t want any interstellar violence interrupting the big day, right?

And while Kirk flirts with all the blue-skinned hotties at the no-host bar, Uhura should be strumming that big old “Star Trek” harp (above) and of course the highlight of the ceremony will be when Mr. Spock — who should totally officiate if you ask me! — wishes the happy couple well and urges them to “live long and prosper”! Awesome!

But hey, even if Takai and Altman elect to have a more traditional ceremony, the fact that Mr. Sulu is marrying his main dude is still pretty cool in my book. So, rock on Trekie love birds!


Filed under See