Top 10 Entertainment Experiences of 2006:
Last year I blogged about the Top 5 Entertainment Experiences of 2005. Well, I'm expanding it to ten this year.
The rules here are simple: It's not just about what movie I liked or what song caught my attention on the radio. It's about the whole experience. So although I may have seen a great musician perform live (Peter Frampton at the Wiltern) I may not include it here if the experience was lacking (A herd of rowdy fiftysomethings toking up en masse during "Do You Feel Like We Do." Yikes.)
So, in no particular order:
1) The Five Minute Show
I didn't want to put this on the list because I was planning on doing a proper write-up of how cool Pete, Sierra and their video podcasts are. (Seriously, I have notes to transcribe, including a list of hyperlinks to include.) If you haven't seen the show, go on over to www.thepete.com and see what I'm talking about.
Pamela and I have contributed to a couple of the episodes, and it's been a real blast! What's more, it's been inspirational for me to keep at my own web show (something involving disembodied animal something-or-others ....)
2) Bootlegging John Mayer in Irvine
Going to Irvine for a rock show is an all day affair. It's not exactly right down the street. Plus, Pamela went to the sound check, so we had to be there early.
Watching Mayer perform is always joy, but this time I brought along a little recorder to make a bootleg! It's cool, because dude allows it.
We got in the car after the concert, plugged the little digital recorder into the iPod FM transmitter thingy, and fired it up ... not a bad bootleg at all! We were pumped! Excited and cheering our coolness! One unfortunate bump later, and the whole thing was erased.
To say we were despondant would be an understatement. Eventually, the concert showed up online and we burned a copy. But for one brief, shining moment in Irvine, I was a dedicated rock fan making his first bootleg of a live concert.
What is the "true power" of YouTube, MySpace and all that? The fact that the people you meet, the musicians whose music you hear, the entertainers you see are real people. The internet as a facilitator of idea transmission is an empty thing without resulting action. Imagine if you couldn't actually buy anything off of eBay, just log on and look at other people's stuff.
I learned the "true power" of YouTube this past year when I encountered a busker named Eli who I'd only known from the internet. Standing in line for the motion picture classic Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny we saw him, manipulating a downtrodden figure to the tune of "St. James Infirmary."
The experience was like returning home after a long trip, and seeing the lights of your city on the horizon. An hour later, you're surrounded by those lights ... hell, you're contributing to those lights.
4) Garrick Pass starts blogging
I'm not joking when I say Garrick Pass is the Garrison Keillor of the IT generation. No one spins a yarn quite like Garrick, and similar to Mr. Keillor, it's never quite clear how much (if any) of what he says is made up or exagerrated for effect. Garrick just rings true. He should set himself up with some filk musicians and put together a weekly podcast/radio show where instead of "The News from Lake Wobegon" we get "This Week at 'Company Name Withheld ...'" Record it live at a coffee shop or something ...
Anyway, it's been a joy to check in on Garrick's blog (www.prettygeekything.com) everyday to see how life's treating him.
5) Octoberfest at the Getty
I heart the Getty. One weekend in October, Pamela and I were sitting around with nothing much to do. We decided to check out the Getty online to see if anything interesting was happening. Boy howdy! It was Octoberfest, with live music, folk dancing, a marionette show, and arts and crafts galore. Oh yeah, and a few new art exhibitions.
For the price of parking ($10) we had a full day's entertainment, and went home with a sack full of handmade stuff.
The marionette show, "Hansel and Gretel" turned out to be an operetta by Engelbert Humperdinck(!) In spite of that, it was a great show (ba-da-ching!)
6) John K at the Aero
Back in high school, a group of us conspired to celebrate Kilted Yaks Eve. I say a group ... I believe it was Victor Guidry that got the ball rolling and created the artwork for our invites. We all met at Stephen Suit's house, and watched Pamela's bootleg tape (Rubber Nipples! The Tiniest Giant! Space Madness!) I dressed up as the Yak (I put a paperbag over my head that said "Yak") and passed out shaving scum. What can I say? It was high school.
John K (who blogs at www.johnkstuff.blogspot.com) presented a number of finished cartoons and animatics of cartoons yet to be completed. By far the best cartoon of the night (and all time?) was "Boo Boo Runs Wild" wherein Boo Boo heeds the call of the wild, and Yogi and Ranger Smith get into a knock-down, drag-out fight.
Sitting in a full house of fans, cheering and applauding during the opening credits for Ren & Stimpy ... without a doubt a highlight of 2006!
7) Torrid Affaire
This is a bit greedy, but sitting in the booth at Two Roads Theatre, and watching six actors breathe life into my smutty little play was a fantastic experience. I felt like I had gone home for Christmas.
8) Pamela at Dar Mahgrab
I love watching my wife dance. I've grown to really enjoy bellydancing, thanks to Pamela. And as hard as it is for me to state publicly, I loooooove lamb. (They're just so cute, it feels wrong to eat them! But damn them all, they taste so good!) Dar Mahgrab is the kind of place Pamela and I would've gone to for dinner anyway. being entertained by my lovely wife was a bonus!
9) Bingo at the gay bar
I've only been to two bars in my entire life. The first was a hotel bar in Norman, Oklahoma where Andrew Rhodes and I had Heinekens. We've since developed good taste.
The second bar was Akbar Lounge in Silver Lake ... a gay bar. The reason for the "outing" was a fundraiser for Pamela's theatre company Write/Act.
BINGO! Lame prizes, abrasive hosts, and R-rated variations on the old classic. There was Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque call-and-response (caller: "N 50" us: "I'm 50! 50 Years old! I like to stretch and kick and stretch! Camel toe!") bad jokes, and lots of laughter. Great night, and I can't wait to go the Hamburger Mary's in West Hollywood for Drag Queen Bingo later this week. Yay!
10) Sherlock Holmes and the Saline Solution
I didn't include the Renaisance Pleasure Faire on this list, but it was definitely in the top twenty-five. The great thing about RPF was discovering the very talented Shelby and Shannon, which then led to Pamela and I booking it down to Cafe Fais Do-Do to see Shelby in Sound and Fury's "Sherlock Holmes."
It was a cold and rainy night, and a part of town we were not familiar. The theatre ... Okay, here's the thing: please keep in mind that this description is not an insult. The theatre was a run-down hole. The roof leaked, it was drafty and poorly lit. It felt like a great place to live, if you're a rat or perhaps a whino. That said, it was a magical space for theatre.
It was very fast-paced, cleverl written and well-performed. The "prologue" was without a doubt the best bit of theatre I've seen in a very long time.
Okay! That's it for 2006. I know I've left out many wonderful experiences, but I had to limit it or else spend the next couple of weeks writing. Feel free to fill me in on your favorite entertainment experiences of 2006 in the comments below, keeping in mind that it's about more than what movie you liked, it's about the whole enchilada, the experience!