Sunday, December 20, 2009

holiday cards - why oh why

seeing as it's december 20 already, i thought, what can i do to make things ridiculously hard on myself before i head up north for the holidays? yup, that's right, why don't i try making my own holiday cards again?

for the uninitiated, i've made my own cards the last three years to varying degrees of success (some clunkers, some pretty darn good). basically it came down to me waiting in line to buy a box of cards 4 years ago - the line to purchase was unending, and the design wasn't even that great to begin with.

i thought, i could make a better card and save money (?!?), so i put the box down and walked out of the store. several days later and nearly three times the amount i would have spent on the stupid box of cards, i was done with mine.

back then they didn't come out exactly the way i had hoped, but creating something with a personal touch left an indelible impression that day, so here we are. armed with more paper, envelopes, stickers, stamps, ink pads, glue, scissors, etc. than i know what to do with, i'm thoroughly embarrassed. so you better like your card damn it... XD

Friday, December 11, 2009

nailed a front flip!

tonight was open gym session at the LA school of gymnastics, so PKcali took over the joint and set up all kinds of fun stuff. got to work on a lot of moves that i would ordinarily have some hesitation with in the real world, but here it's a bunch of padded obstacles and springy cushion!

decided to try a front flip into a cushioned landing area, but my first few times i landed on my back. it's definitely disorienting, as i didn't know where the heck i was while in mid-air (with backflips, at least you have a line of sight, but front flips are blind leaps of faith where you hope you land on your feet). the 4th time i landed on my feet but fell backwards and the same went for the 5th try. but lo and behold, on the 6th try i stuck the landing!

immediately after, i nailed it three more times to prove to myself i could do it (after all, anybody can get lucky once, so one of the tenets of parkour is you have to do it successfully three times in a row), so progress was made today...

sadly, my night was cut short when i split my pants about 3/4 the way down. let's just say it got breezy downstairs in a hurry. i would have stayed regardless, but since there were a few girls in the house, i didn't want to make it seem like i was showing off. you know... XD

Monday, December 7, 2009

las vegas - day 2

saturday morning we swooped up our boys at THEhotel and headed downtown for brunch at aloha specialties at the california hotel. back in the day a lot of my NSU (nikkei student union) friends stayed at the cal for their annual basketball tournament, so the restaurant is heavily populated w/asians.

the marathoners were there for their carb overload, but i opted for the local plate consisting of teriyaki beef, BBQ chicken & spam musubi. but my favorite combo is the one jerico rolled the dice on here. i mean, who said korean chicken, mahi mahi and a hot dog don't go together, right?

we stayed a bit to gamble ($3 blackjack tables on a saturday!), but got spanked by the dragonslayer and trudged back to the car to return to mandalay bay. after putting down a bet for a parlay at the sports book, decided to take the plunge and play no limit texas hold em at a table for the first time in my life (i've played w/friends, but never in a casino). and what happens? hit quad jacks for a bonus payout (who knew?) on top of my winning hand, so my first experience was a smashing success. i would have raked in a higher payout, but a girl earlier that day hit a four of a kind as well. but i guess complaining about free money is akin to complaining that i'm always healthy, so i will stay mute on this one...

dinner was a carousel, as some people went to b&b (batali's restaurant at the venetian, which i've already been to and was disappointed in comparison w/osteria mozza in los angeles) and some went to alex at the wynn, which required a certain attire i wasn't equipped with. that resto is so gangsta ($125 per entree minimum) they actually give you a gift after your meal. since neither of us are taking evian showers, we drove around and hit up a hole in the wall sushi joint off the strip. i've had fresher fish in a filet-o-fish at the mickey d's, but the place was good for high comedy.

check out the roll between 'ichiban' and 'johnny roll' on the menu, which i'm guessing is sponsored by shaquille o'neal (kobe, how's my @$$ taste?)...

we ended up returning to the homestead, as jerico & keith had to wake up at 5am for the 6am marathon. one last look at an important piece of equipment for the race...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

las vegas - rock & roll marathon

stole away to vegas this weekend, as a few of my UCLA brethren were in town to run the marathon (well i should say only keith, as the rest opted for the 1/2 marathon). was planning to drive out there early friday morning, but because my buddy jerico (frosh roommate!) forgot to bring the keys to his parents' condo, i opted to take off on thursday night, in order to grab the keys from his parents in west covina. after a shady transaction in a closed el pollo loco parking lot, i ventured out, keys in hand.

pulled up to the palms casino at 2:30am, where we proceeded to get spanked in pai gow for the next few hours. we left at 5:30am to head back to the condo, only to realize we didn't have a gate clicker to get in. of course, i could have easily cleared the height given my parkour background, but fortunately for them, somebody was returning home, so we snuck in behind them.

hit the hay at 6:30am, woke up at 10am and hit up this breakfast joint called the egg & i, which was surprisingly good. should anybody find themselves feenin for a banana nut muffin, their homemade ones are the bee's knees. and their sicilian skillet ain't half bad either...

we then headed to mandalay bay to pick up registration stuff for the race. i was able to nab a swag bag by posing as a runner, so now i have multiple samples of energy gels called gu than i know what to do with. the race expo was ginormous, and a reported 30,000 peeps would run either the half marathon or full marathon come sunday morning. i even ran into victor jih, 1/2 of the brother-sister duo that won 'the amazing race 15.'

charlie palmer's aureole restaurant is also located at mandalay bay, so i was able to sneak in some pics of their famed 4-story wine tower, which wine angel stewards ascend to retrieve your bottles. damn impressive if you ask me, but needless to say we didn't dine here...

instead, we went for a carb overload at capo's, an old-school, speakeasy italian restaurant. when you enter the front door, you descend upon a four-walled enclosed space, where they ask you to 'ring da bell.' then out of nowhere, the maitre d' slides open this small panel to instigate conversation.

we didn't have reservations, but got seated within 20 minutes, which was just enough time to appreciate the huge portrait of al capone hanging on the wall with 'goodfellas' playing in the background. ordered up the chicago style supreme pizza and some pesto pasta, both of which were the bomb shiz.

after dinner, we met up with some buddies who were staying at THEhotel at mandalay bay, which is a stunning boutique hotel right on the strip. everything from the registration desk to the hallway leading up to it was gorgeously appointed, as shown below. all i can say is, the next time i fall into some cash, i'm staying here next...

after a touch of gambling, we decided to head back to our condo for our own poker game. we ended up playing three tournaments - one of which i won - so it was a good night...