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The Hunt for Elsewhere: Progress Report

I have made it to chapter twenty of The Hunt for Elsewhere. This means I am getting close to the finish line. I have the end of ACT II and ACT III to go. Thank goodness. I made it through the morass that is the second act.

For the moment I would like to express some concerns. The story is the way I want it to be, but I have strong misgivings as to whether or not anyone would actually be interested in reading it. My reasons for these concerns are three-fold:

1.) My characters are animals. Aside from children, do any young adults or adults read stories about animals anymore? I’m a little scared I’ve chosen an outdated type of storytelling, and if not, that this method is stereotyped as not serious reading. The only young adult to adult readers I can imagine being remotely interested are those who are into anthro or furry, which, unfortunately, carries some negative connotations. Mind, I don’t care if someone identifies as a furry or not, but I am concerned about the consequential public perception of the book.

2.) The animals and the situations they find themselves in are an allegory for human nature and human society. I’m very self-conscious that my… ‘commentary’ on religion, politics and relationships might be too on-the-nose. I consulted my significant other about this, and he assured me that a classic like Animal Farm was very much on-the-nose as a commentary on communism. Nevertheless, I don’t want this story to be preachy so much as I want it to be honest.

3.) Tone. I try to shift between humor and drama, but I wonder if the shifts are too drastic. I don’t want the reader to be thinking: What am I reading? Is this supposed to be a Disney movie or something like Watership Down?

I am pleased, however, with my characterizations and the budding friendship my two main characters share. I know I will go back for revisions, but I think my characters are being sculpted as I had envisioned them before I began writing. I think this is the one aspect of my novel that is strong. Not perfect, but strong.

As for the quality of prose, it vascilitates from methodical to just right to melodramatic (or ‘flowery’).  Again, this is what revisions are for. I’m wondering if I should have someone read my first draft raw before I reread my work and make preliminary revisions. There are pros and cons to both methods, and I am undecided.

Just recently, I needed to go back to something relatively easy, so I finally wrote another chapter to the fanfic, Two Stools. As usual, I felt incredibly guilty afterwards (like an addict that needed one more hit), but it was very nice to write something without worrying about the details and quality. Too bad that the fandom is dying out. I don’t think I have many readers. Oh, well. At least, its a calming exercise.

Comments or thoughts from anyone are appreciated.

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Bronchitis and Future Updates

My apologies for the lack of updates. Recently, I’ve had fever and bronchitis. I’m no longer feeling very ill and I actually made a trip to the gym this week. Unfortunately, I think the gym might have aggravated my lungs because I’m coughing with frequency again.

For any readers of Two Stools and an Empty Bar, I haven’t forgotten the project, but it has taken the backburner. I’ve been struggling writing the 15th chapter of my young adult novel for two weeks, and I’ve finally completed it. At this rate, I have to play catch-up to ensure I finish my novel by the end of this year.

Work has been getting increasingly busy, and so my motivation to write political essays has somewhat declined. My interest, on the other hand, remains very high, and I hope to eventually write about the financial crisis and capitalism. However, like fanfiction, this is being set aside for my primary project.

As far as bar and restaurant reviews are concerned, I only review places I definitely want to share with others. Recently there’s been a drop in places that I’ve found interesting enough to write about, but that may also be due to the fact I haven’t been visiting new venues as much recently.

I believe that’s it. Hopefully I’ll stop hacking up mucus soon.

 

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Bar & Club Recommendation: The Edison

It was only a matter of time before I was going to write another bar review, and I have to say that I’m quite excited to share this one (for the record, I realize these numerous bar reviews make me look like an alcoholic. I would just like to assure you I have no such problems. My addictions lie in shopping and collecting fox paraphernalia).

Located on 108 W 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA 90012, tucked between an alley and hidden underground, is The Edison.

In downtown Los Angeles, you really can’t judge a venue by it’s exterior. Downtown is old and historic. Because it is so, the streets are chaotic and pockets of downtown are outright dangerous. As soon as my S.O. and I rolled onto W. 2nd street from the 10 freeway, we locked the doors and raised the windows Griswald style. You really have to be careful in downtown at night.

But for all its grittiness, downtown has a magical charm to it if you know where to look. The Edison is an example of that charm. Behold the humble, if a little sketchy, exterior:

It doesn’t look like the kind of place you’d want to hang around at odd hours, but trust me when I say the lines get crazy long around 10:00 PM. Someone on Yelp! mentioned it’s like Disneyland, and I’d have to agree with that assessment. So with that amount of people around, the area is pretty safe.

Upon getting past the bouncer and entering the double doors, a hostess – clad in flapper attire- will greet you and ask if you have any reservations. I should mention that there’s no cover charge to get into the Edison. However, if you want good seats without having to fight for stools at the bar, you can make reservations. Here’s the rub: for a reservation, you have to be willing to shell out at least $25.00 per person at your area, and spend a minimum $50.00. You can’t get reservations otherwise.

Anyhow, once you get past the hostess, you descend two flights of stairs that look like this (please note this is a daytime shot, so the lights are off and the environment is brighter than it should be):

As you walk down the steps, you are welcomed with the sight of the main bar.

Here is the same bar at ground level:

Since The Edison’s venue space is quite large, there are actually two common areas, two bars, five “private” rooms, and a stage. The first common area is by the main bar and is called “The Well.” I believe it is named so since it’s close to the stairwell (correct me if I’m wrong). Like the private rooms, you have to have a reservation to make use of these seats.

The second bar is a standing bar flushed against the wall on the other side of The Edison and it is located in the second common area called “The Lab.” Here it is below:

As you can see, the theme is very turn of the century and steampunk. I personally am in love with the architectural design and lighting. Nerd Alert: For those of you who have played BioShock, you might feel like you are walking right into one of the game levels in Rapture. It’s pretty sweet.

I believe this photo is from “The Lab.” I could be wrong, but the furniture doesn’t look like the kind that’s present in the other rooms. 

The stage is in the same area. Unfortunately, I went on a night when there weren’t any special events or a big show happening. There was a vintage peek-show kind of thing, but I didn’t hang around long enough to find out if there was anything else. Apparently, on particular nights, The Edison has entertainment like this:

From these pictures alone, I know I want to go back to watch at least one of these shows. I’m not sure if they happen often or not, but that’s what visiting the website for looking up special events is for.

As I mentioned before, there are five private rooms. They include, in no particular order: The Tesla Lounge, The Ember Parlour, The Game Room, The Music Room, and the Generator Lounge. I couldn’t find pictures for every room, so here is a collection of what I could find online including the washroom:

Lots of pictures, I know, but the ambience and atmosphere are truly The Edison’s strongest points. In addition to burlesque acts, The Edison also plays silent films on two projectors near the bars, and offers absinthe, which may be purchased either at the bars or by the magical Green Fairy.

Many guests love the flapper theme that the employees wear, and they follow that theme accordingly. 

Aw, aren’t they cute and pretty?

As for the guys, they come in suits, top hats, steampunk goggles, and, oddly enough, Han Solo attire. The Edison attracts a very particular crowd, which seems to consist of, well, nerds and artists. Being a nerd (and hopefully an artist of some kind), I like the crowd, but it’s not for everyone. Generally speaking, the place draws in people ages 25 and up.

Drinks, food, and pricing. From what I’ve tasted the drinks are quite good. I didn’t order any special cocktails as I already had a well drink and I’m a terrible lightweight. I therefore can’t say how unique their house mixtures are. I did, however, try some absinthe. Absinthe tastes like black licorice, so if that flavor isn’t your cup of tea, you might want to pass. I personally liked it as it had the taste of black licorice without the gummy texture of the actual candy. As for the food, the food certainly smells and looks good, but I only ordered  from the appetizer menu. I had a Bavarian Pretzel that came with gourmet mustard and cheese. It was very expensive for a pretzel, as you might surmise, but it was also the most delicious pretzel I’ve had. Next time, I’ll try their famous deviled eggs.

This, of course, leads us to pricing. The Edison is expensive, but not painfully so. In fact, the price range itself is just a little higher than the norm. What’s truly expensive is the seating. If you’re lucky enough to get a seat at the main bar (which won’t happen if you arrive after 9:30PM), you will feel somewhat obligated to buy more drinks or food as everyone else who doesn’t have reservations stands around. If you find yourself without a stool, be prepared to stand most of the night if you intend on hanging around late. If you want a private seat, you have to speak with the hostesses, and they will open an available “reserved” seat for you provided that you have at least one guest and you spend at least $25.00 each. If each of you buy two drinks, say a cocktail and absinthe, then you’ve already met the requirement. The wait and bar service is okay, but because there are so many people that come here, it will take a while to get the bartender’s attention.

There is nearby public parking less than a block away. If memory serves, the public parking grounds charge $5.00 flat at night. If the lot is full, you can take your car to The Edison’s valet. I don’t quite remember the price. I think it was $10.00.

Overall, The Edison is a fun and creative place to visit, but as I’ve mentioned, the crowd isn’t for everyone. I can imagine people who are more into the traditional club scene feeling bored here as the music is mostly jazz instead of techno, pop or hiphop. Also, I’m not sure if this is the kind of scene where you can pick up digits. It feels more like a place to be with friends who have mutual interests.

Site: http://www.edisondowntown.com/

Scale: OMG I CAN DIE NOW -> Pretty Awesome -> Good -> Okay -> Yikes! -> RUNAWAY!

FOOD: Good
DRINKS: Good
SERVICE: Okay
PRICE: Okay
AMBIANCE: OMG I CAN DIE NOW
WAIT TIME: Yikes!

Disclaimer: None of the pictures above are mine. As usual, I took them from Google images and Yelp!

 
 

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Restaurant Recommendation: Crustacean

First, I’d like to start of by saying that I do LOVE Los Angeles. As some of you might know, Los Angeles and I have had a love-hate relationship for a while. There is love because of the great weather and the seemingly endless variety of people, food, drink, shopping, arts, and entertainment. There is also hate because of the high cost of living, shitty traffic, and of course, that gorgeous haze of downtown smog. Overall, though, I’d have to say I love this place far more than the trivial annoyances make me want to hate it. Of course, it also helps that I’m deeply in love with someone who enjoys experiencing Los Angeles with me, whether to fly a kite, sun bathe at the beach, or share some bourbon on the rocks at a bar while munching on appetizers.

And the creme de la creme of Los Angeles is, predictably, located in Beverly Hills (although some of you might argue for Santa Monica, Brentwood, South Pasadena or Malibu – your mileage might vary).

Located at 9646 South Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, I present to you, Crustacean.

As you enter the front doors after leaving your car with valet, you see an approximately 10 to 11 foot high aquarium with a waterfall running down the glass surface. Then, you walk through this:

If you look closely at the floor, there is indeed an aquarium embedded between the tiles.As you “walk on water” you can watch koi swim beneath you. Here is a closer look:

After going through the bar, your host or hostess will lead you through the main dining area. There you may have to cross an Asian wooden bridge to make it to the staircase leading to the second floor. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any good pictures of the main dining area online.

The whole area feels very much like being on the set of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. There are all sorts of Asian motifs, including a giant drum and bamboo fans mounted against the walls. These fans, in addition, are connected to a gear system that moves the fans backward and foward, increasing the luxurious feel of the restaurant.

Crustacean’s signature dish, one guaranteed to ALWAYS be fantastic, is their Roasted Garlic Crab. Not their Drunken Crab, not their Cracked Roasted Garlic Crab, their ROASTED GARLIC CRAB. Order anything else, and the experience just isn’t the same. You want the crab whole (not cracked) to preserve the juices inside the shell before eating. As for Drunken Crab, unless you like the taste of sake on your seafood, I would advise against it.

Granted, there are people out there who don’t like having their food stare at them. I have to say this:

Respect the crab. Look at him in the eye and thank him for giving up his life for your joy. I’m serious. Don’t be a pussy. Man up, and eat that motherfucking ecstacy on a plate. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

On the side, you also must order their specialty Garlic Noodles. A colleague of mine described the noodles as essentially perfect garlic bread in noodle form. They are highly addictive, and I am not exaggerating when I say that I can easilly eat the garlic noodles alone for dinner.

I know. It’s deceptively simple looking. You won’t believe how much flavor they pack into these seemingly innocent noodles.

The service at this restaurant is nothing short of exquisite. The waiters pull your chairs and “prepare” your crab. By “prepare,” I mean that they turn over the crab shell and place a little bit of the garlic noodles inside (like a bowl). The juices from the crab then soak into the noodles, adding to the rich flavor.

Next, if you’re wearing something nice, the waiters will politely offer a bib which they will tie around your neck for you. They come to your table frequently, to remove empty crab shells, refill your drinks, and so forth. The waiters are positively lovely. Very professional, kind, and polite.

Now here’s the doozy: the price. One person can easily spend over $80.00 at this restaurant, and that would include the crab, the garlic noodles, an alcoholic drink, and dessert. This is a pricey restaurant, not bad relative to other Beverly Hills venues, but still expensive. Nevertheless, I can say without hestitation that dining here is worth every penny.

In short, if you like seafood, this place is sure to induce foodgasm. It might take you a couple of hours to recover. It certainly took me a while to stop smiling like a crazy person and professing the urgent need to cry. Yes, it’s nirvana. There’s nothing else that can succinctly describe it.

Scale: OMG I CAN DIE NOW -> Pretty Awesome -> Good -> Okay -> Yikes! -> RUNAWAY!

FOOD: OMG I CAN DIE NOW
DRINKS: Good
SERVICE: OMG I CAN DIE NOW
PRICE: Yikes!
AMBIANCE: OMG I CAN DIE NOW
WAIT TIME: Pretty Awesome

Disclaimer: None of the pictures above are mine. As usual, I took them from Google images. Yeah, I know. I really should start bringing my digital camera wherever I go.

SITE: http://www.anfamily.com/Restaurants/crustacean_beverlyhills/displaypages/homepage.html

 

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Original Novel: Brief Synopsis

For those of you who have asked me about what my novel is about, thank you so much for your support. As I’ve mentioned to another poster, I don’t want to give out too much away as talking about my stories lowers my motivation to write them. In addition, I’m also concerned about plagiarism or idea theft as I have not completed my novel, and therefore, have not sent the story to be copyrighted. Without copyright protection, I can lose my story. I realize I don’t have many followers on this blog, but I’d rather play it safe than sorry

However, I will be using this blog to discuss my writing process and the novel’s progress without giving too much away. Once the novel is completed (and it better be by the end of this year, or I’ll eat my hat), I will also use this blog to promote the book as well as provide a brief summary. At that point, the novel will have been sent to the Library of Congress as well as the Writers’ Guild of America.

I will give this much away:

1.) It is a young adult novel that will also hopefully appeal to adult readers.
2.) The characters are forest, farm, and urban animals, and yes, they talk.
3.) The main characters are a fox, a wolf, and a crow.
4.) The story focuses on friendship, family, loss, and what it means to become an adult.
5.) The story takes place in numerous locations through the United States.

I hope I’ve captured your interest. I am now working on Part II, and as predicted, it’s proven difficult after the completion of Part I.

Thank you for following me! I hope to see you again soon.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Bar Recommendation: The Wellesbourne

The Wellesbourne is a new, up and coming bar on 10929 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064. When the bar first made its appearance, I had to admit I did not know what to expect inside. The outside of the bar, which I unfortunately could not locate any pictures for, looks very much like a Spanish missionary with torch lights on either side of the wooden double doors. The facade of the building, in addition, is made out of bricks.

The inside, however, is reminiscent of an English mansion, or perhaps a 1920s speakeasy hidden inside a posh library. It feels very much like stepping into another time, especially since there are an antique phonograph, bartenders who wear bowties, skinny suspenders, and rolled-up sleeves, and guests who come in sporting fedoras and pinstipe suits. I have to say, it’s pretty darn cool.

I realize this first picture isn’t the most flattering, but please bear with me. This is the first thing a guest will see upon entering the double-doors and pulling back a thick, blue velvet curtain.

This is the main area with the bar flushed against the back wall. As you can see, there are numerous books lining the shelves. These books are real, and range from anywhere between Jane Austen and Darwin’s Origin of Species. Feel free to grab a book and read as you enjoy your drink. The only requirement is that you kindly return to book to where you took it came from.

Ah, now that’s better. What’s interesting about the Wellesbourne is that it has three different rooms where you may imbibe in a classic drink, perhaps a Sidecar, or eat a hot meal straight from the kitchen.

There is a game room, complete with foosball table and billiards.

And a luxurious sitting area, also complete with a working fireplace. You heard me right, the bar lights the fireplace at night, adding to the flavor of the setting.

Look at that tray! Look at those glasses! Is that an English teacup? If nothing else, I appreciate the effort they put into presentation. Those drinks are very tasty, though!

I greatly enjoy visiting this place because it’s walking distance from where I live (hoorah!) and because the prices are fair. Compared to 31Ten, however, the food isn’t anywhere near as good (at least in my opinion, your mileage might vary). Still, this is a great place to celebrate Happy Hour after a long day at work or to share a drink with some friends on the weekend. The bar gets pretty full, but there’s plenty of walking space. In the times I’ve visited, I never felt stuffy despite all the people milling around.

Parking: there’s plenty of street parking, and the residential area just a hop and a skip away. No need to valet. Another plus!

Scale: OMG I CAN DIE NOW -> Pretty Awesome -> Good -> Okay -> Yikes! -> RUNAWAY!

FOOD: Good
DRINKS: Pretty Awesome
SERVICE: Pretty Awesome
PRICE: Good
AMBIANCE: Pretty Awesome
WAIT TIME: Pretty Awesome

DISCLAIMERS: None of the photos above are mine. I nabbed them from Google images.

SITE: http://www.thewellesbourne.com/

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2011 in Bars, Los Angeles, recommendation, restaurants

 

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Original Novel: End of Part I on the Horizon

I don’t know if this counts as a milestone or not, but it certainly feels like one for me. I am now working on the last chapter of Part I of my childrens/young adult novel. No, it’s not Part I as in Part I of a trilogy, it’s simply Part I of the novel itself. Yeah, I know. Big whoop, but let me explain.

I spent the greater part of the end of March wrangling with writer’s block and hiding in fear that this project would once again hit the garbage bin barely forty pages in. Fortunately, I confided in my significant other, who advised that I keep the parts I felt boring, but necessary short and sweet, and keep moving faster toward the parts I looked forward to in my outline. You’d think this solution would be common sense, but it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything in prose. In screenplays, you can cut in the middle of a scene and jump somewhere else to move the action along. Novels? Honestly, I’d rather not push the “experimental” envelope since I’m just a rookie/wannabe writer. I don’t have the credentials to play hardball without looking like a pretentious ass.

Oh, wait. Too late.

So here I am, on the last chapter, and feeling very worried this chapter won’t be excuted the way I’ve imagined it. And I’ve imagined it enough times to recite the dialogue out loud. OCD, but true. I’ve already begun creating the most critical scene. It’s the part of the novel I’ve been aching to write for the longest time. It needs to be written. It has to be written, and yet I feel reluctant to step off the edge of the very precipice I’ve created and let the real ride begin.

UPDATE: It’s finished. Time to bring out the big guns.

 
 

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