Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Never too late in the day for a little TUESDAY TOP FIVE

Howdy, folks. I know for those of you east of the Mississippi, it's a little late in the evening, and I apologize. Our Man in LA tries to keep on a schedule about these blog posts, but at this point, I'm just glad to be getting to them once a day. So I appreciate your grading on a curve regarding my tardiness.

Especially because I'm bringing the one . . . the only . . . TUESDAY TOP FIVE. So let's get down to brass tacks.

5) AIDS PROJECT LA and the Griffith Park training run. As many of you may know, Our Woman in LA and I are training right now for another half marathon. That's right. Having pulled off a 13-mile run in Virginia Beach last fall, the little lady and I are now planning to take part in the Disneyland Half Marathon this September in deepest, darkest Anaheim. You get to run through the theme park, take in the sites, and spend a little quality time, Disney-style.

Best of all, it's for a good cause.

You see, Steph and I chose to train with the folks from AIDS Project LA, who use these runs as fund raising ventures to support services and programs for people with AIDS in Southern California. You don't have to follow the news very closely to know that there are a million or so people in the US with the deadly disease and tens of millions around the world. With no cure on the market, there's always a need for more funds to help the people who deal with this illness on a day to day basis.

So the wife and I are raising money - to the tune of about $1,900 each - as we train for the run. If you're on the Wieland family mailing list, expect to get bombarded as the weeks go on with e-mail pitches and other fund raising tactics. We appreciate any and all support, and we're looking forward to the run.

As a side note, I can't say enough good about two other parts of this training - the folks from AIDS Project LA, who are funny and inspirational and who make you want to run (but run safely - not overdoing it); and the beautiful environs of nearby Griffith Park, where we work out once a week. APLA has chosen a beautiful spot for a run - a nice, relatively flat stretch near the LA Zoo, running between the park's foothills. It might just be one of the most perfect pieces of parkland I've ever seen.

And, of course, it's just minutes away from Casa del Wieland.

4) ENTOURAGE on HBO. Say what you will about summer television programming being the pits, but I've been glad to see this little gem return to weekend viewing. I know everyone and their brother has written about the show, but there's just so much to like that I couldn't leave it off the list.

What have we seen so far this summer (in just two episodes)? Super-funny super-agent Ari Gold bitching at his marriage counselor and taking a reluctant dip in a suburban swimming pool; the opening of the Aquaman movie; fairly precise discussion about the relative fan bases of Spider-man and Aquaman (sorry, the web head wins that one); and a lot of on target comments about how frickin' frackin' hot it gets in the Valley during the summer.

Sure, it's no HOUSE or 24. Or THE OFFICE. But then again, neither is it LOST or one of those reality shows.

3) THE SIMPLE ART OF MURDER by Raymond Chandler. I'm making my way through this collection of Chandler's short stories, a lot of which first appeared in the classic pulp mag BLACK MASK, and most of which came before the invention of his well-known knight errant sleuth Philip Marlowe. The book also includes Chandler's essay from the ATLANTIC MONTHLY, where he discusses the birth of American hard-boiled detective fiction, where guys like Dashiell Hammett took murder out of English Country Mansions and put it back in the hands of the very bad guys who were made for it.

Our Man in LA considers himself a mystery freak and a Chandler fan. I find myself thinking of Chandler and Marlowe at least weekly tooling around the streets of LA. Marlowe's office was on Hollywood Boulevard, just 10 minutes from my place - and basically across the street from the Improv Olympic. The apartments and houses on Franklin Avenue, where more than a few femme fatales met their end are just blocks away from where we live.

Not all the stories in SIMPLE ART are great. Some are beyond brilliant. Check out "The King in Yellow," for example. But the most important thing about Chandler isn't the text of the stories themselves. His tales weren't as personal or as visceral as Hammett's; they're not as intricate or cool as Ellroy's they're not as psychological as MacDonald's; and they're not as fun as Parker's.

But the man exudes mood. Nobody else quite captures the same kind of down and out, mean and dirty ethos of hard boiled LA like Chandler. You almost don't care what the characters say. It's more just to hear them say it, read them turn a phrase. His world is far more real, more tangible than almost any other pop writer's. And that's worth the journey.

2) The FOX Channel's Tuesday broadcasts of HOUSE. Right now, and for the rest of the summer, FOX is doing HOUSE two-fers. If you caught on to this, one of my favorite shows, late in the game this year, now is the time to catch up.

For the love of God, man, do yourself a favor. Check it out.

If you're uninitiated, HOUSE is Sherlock Holmes meets the television medical drama. A cranky but brilliant doctor (played by the awesome Hugh Laurie) takes a crack at diagnostic mysteries week after week at a New Jersey teaching hospital. At his side as he does battle with the human germ, is a Watson figure played by Robert Sean Leonard (of DEAD POETS SOCIETY and a mess of other things) and a Baker Street Irregular group of young doctors making up his staff.

Tremendous. Laurie's funny, the writing's tight and interesting, and the mysteries are involving. If you start watching the two-fers, I'm pretty sure you'll stay hooked in the fall.

Which brings us to the Number One of the week . . . .

1) The Stanley Cup winning Carolina Hurricanes.

All right, so here's how the morning started. Got an e-mail and a voice mail from Our Father-in-Law in Raleigh. The two messages were a little different, but here's the gist:

"Just thought you'd want to know something," it began. "Just thought you'd want to know, since you're such a big shot out there in California, since you got no time for us poor losers hanging out back in middle America. Since you probably don't watch NBC, either."

Sigh. Here it comes.

"But I just thought you'd want to know that a certain team won the Stanley Cup last night. That's the Stanley Cup. Do you know what that is? Do you? It is the oldest and most prestigious trophy in all of professional sports. That's what it is. It came before all the others, you know?"

Hey, I'm thinking. Carolina must have won. Go Hurricanes, I'm thinking. I won't even make a joke about losing in the ratings to Lucy and Ricky. But there's more.

"Now I know what you're thinking. If some team won the oldest and most prestigious trophy in all of professional sports, it must be one of those teams from one of those big, important cities. It couldn't be from a small town in middle America. It'd have to be from somewhere big."

Here we go, I'm thinking.

"So let's see," Our Father in Law in Raleigh continues. "Was it a team from New York? Nope. From LA? Nope. From Chicago? No, it wasn't."

I would usually take this opportunity to rag on the Chicago Blackhawks, or possibly even one of the LA-area teams. But he's rolling.

"Was it a team from Detroit? I don't think so," he continues. "How about Philly? Nope. DC? No, it wasn't. Must have been one of those Canadian clubs. Toronto? Nope. Montreal? C'est impossible! No.

"It was a little team from Raleigh, North Carolina, and now it's coming here," Our Father in Law in Raleigh concluded.

So there you go. Congrats to the Hurricanes, the little engine that could from the smaller market south of the Mason-Dixon Line. It's a great story, and great for the folks of Raleigh-Durham. For my part, I kept a lid on the my Lucy Ricardo jokes, and congratulated my father-in-law. He had been to one of the games in the Finals, and that's pretty cool.

At the end of the day, none of the other stuff matters. Each major professional sports league crowns one champ at the end of every year. This year, Carolina takes home hockey's biggest prize. They're a relatively new team, and they beat back a storied rival for the honor. Very cool. Congrats to the Hurricanes and their fans.

Hell, I told my father-in-law, the win even made the front page of the Sports section out here in LA, land of fruits and nuts.

Of course, the top story in the Sports section today was about surfing. But the front page is the front page . . .

See you tomorrow.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?