Birthday Adventures

Lots of stuff has happened and I really just haven’t had the time or energy to write it all down.
For my birthday, we did a whole week of celebrating. I turned 33 on 1-11-11 which was a pretty cool numeric/binary birthday.

Saturday, January 8, we had lunch at Sweet Tomatoes. Then we saw The Sweet Revenge play their last show with their now-former bass player and drummer, also celebrating their second guitarist’s birthday.
There were plenty of mistakes but also plenty of good punk rock moments sprinkled into their almost hour long set at McGovern’s in San Mateo. It was a fun second concert of 2011 and a good kickoff to my week of birthday festivities. I wish Erick and James luck in their future projects and hope the other three find adequate replacements soon.

We got ice cream at 7-11 and when we got home, I was inspired to add the Playstation 2 to our HDTV and played some Burnout Revenge. It was a good way to cap off a fun day.

On Sunday, while we could have seen Shake Well at Amnesia, it felt like being lazy at home was a better option. We went to Arby’s for lunch and then got a haircut at Salon de Hong Kong on Irving. They seem to be the only people that can cut what’s left of my hair into a presentable form.

Monday was an exhausting day at work, which lead into another busy day…

So my actual birthday followed on Tuesday, 1/11/11. I had an all day mandatory training session which I followed with three hours of catchup work. Verizon announced their version of the iPhone 4 would be available in early February. It was a cool news factoid for my 33rd birthday.

I asked some friends if they could join me for a dinner in North Berkeley in the late evening Tuesday night. A couple of them who also had birthdays around the same time joined my wife and I for a great Italian supper at Fellini. I had my favorite meal there, the margherita pizza and a fresh spinich salad and a slice of vegan chocolate cake for dessert, complete with birthday candle. I couldn’t wish for better moments than a quiet gathering of friends. It felt like just the right way to celebrate the occassion.

I worked on Wednesday and Thursday. I got an invitation to buy the ViPhone 4 a week early and it made me really start considering upgrading. I had the day off on Friday. I spent the day researching smartphones and settled on potentially upgrading to a Droid 2 instead of an iPhone. My wife left work early. She brought home The Social Network on bluray, an awesome birthday gift! After a quick lunch from Togo’s that she also brought home, she drove us south to Buena Park, where we stayed the weekend and visited Disneyland on Saturday. I had wanted a Disneyfied birthday and my wife fulfilled the request!

On the trip south, we listened to Ben Folds/Nick Hornby, Daft Punk, Parry Gripp, Ari Hest and more cool music. We got there just before midnight, got checked in and went to sleep.

Saturday morning, we got parked in the Daisy floor of the Mickey and Friends garage and walked over to the parks. They had removed the CALIFORNIA from in front of California Adventure, which made me pretty sad, but when we walked into the park and were greeted by the ElecTRONica portal countdown, I was really excited. We got World of Color fastpasses, got a Photo Pass photo with Minnie Mouse and got in line for Toy Story Midway Mania. We had fun but had worked up an appetite. My wife kicked my butt in the shooting games of course. We went to Lucky Fortune Cookery for lunch and a Mariachi band showed up out of thin air, as most Disney characters and acts do. Our lunch rice bowls were really good. I don’t like peas and the peas in these rice bowls were very tasty. I was impressed with the portion size and quality of the food. That’s not the norm at a theme park based on my past experience.

After lunch, we headed to the Tron Grid-ified Hollywood Backlot and got into the first theatrical presentation of Aladdin the Musical for the day. As always, Genie ruled the show with his current day ad libbed jokes. Highlights my wife posted somewhere else: “He’s just mad. He was a Capricorn and now he’s a Cancer.” “Song ended. Carpet is tired. – I’m on Twitter.”

When the show let out, we went to the End of Line Club and Flynn’s exteriors and snapped some daytime photos. It was really a cool geek moment to be part of these recreated Tron locations.

It was really hot outside, so instead of wandering across to Disneyland, we went indoors and drew sketches of Minnie Mouse at the Animation Academy. We headed to Disneyland afterward and caught up with Mickey Mouse on Main Street USA. The handler took a good picture of us with Mickey using my cell phone.

We headed for Tomorrowland, watched Captain EO: Tribute and ate at PizzaPort. We were going to do the Buzz Lightyear ride but the heat kept us away. We did catch the last Jedi Training Academy show of the day though. This one very little kid in a red shirt stole the show and kicked Vader’s butt.

We got some cool souvenirs in Disneyland and California Adventure throughout the day. I ended up with an ElecTRONica tee shirt and a Pixar Animation Studios hat. I got a Jedi Training Academy lanyard and badge that proclaimed me an Ewok and a stuffed furry Ewok keychain. My wife got a glow light fingertips Michael Jackson inspired sparkly white glove and glowy multicolored light mouse ear headband. I got my mom a Captain EO keychain. But the best swag of the day thus far was my birthday button that I got when I made my first purchase of the day. Many cast members in both parks wished me a happy birthday and it felt great to get the acknowledgement.

Up next was the opening of the portal to start ElecTRONica. We got front row standing location for the stage show where 80’s music and Tron and Space Paranoids machine props turn into grid program props and lead to disc battles and sirens and Eckhart, the host of ElecTRONica welcoming us all to Tron City. The countdown finished up, the portal opened and we headed to the Hollywood Backlot and a fun time with DJ Michael Cole spinning great music, Tron Programs dancing and family friendly entertainment, glowing cocktails served at the End of Line Club and Flynn’s Arcade in its glory.

I got $6 worth of Flynn’s Arcade tokens. My wife got a lemonade with a glowing ice cube. We saw the Tron Legacy 4D trailer. We watched Laserman put on a great show. We watched kids hula hoop in glowing light up hula hoops. I tripped and fell and hurt my knee and hip. But I was okay. And I was happy.

We left around 8:00 and headed to the boardwalk to secure our spot in the Yellow section for World of Color. It started at 9 and was almost exactly the same as Fantasmic in the Disneyland park, but at California Adventure and with more Tron action.

After World of Color, we saw a lot of Disneyland’s fireworks as we exited California Adventure and headed for the tram to the parking lot. It was a very full day. One which we didn’t really need to leave California Adventure during, but was worth it for the bits of fun we had at Disneyland as well. I was very happy that my wife got us there and celebrated my birthday in such a fantastic way.

We grabbed some Carl’s Jr on the way back to our hotel and passed out.

Sunday morning, we packed up and headed north. We were determined to catch the Dina Maccabee performance at the Church House in Santa Cruz. We made it to Santa Cruz with plenty of time for dinner and tried Upper Crust Pizza on Soquel first. It was AWFUL. SO BAD that we ended up leaving and going to Saturn Cafe for a proper dinner. The food at Upper Crust did upset my stomach though, sadly.

We got a parking space across the street from the Church House and took a short rest in the car, walked around Whole Foods for a bit, found Zingerman’s chocolate bars tucked away in a clearance section (!) and headed to the show as Dina and bassist Tom arrived.

Dina and I traded belated birthday wishes and we settled in for a while. The crowd seemed to be mostly Church House regulars. I can’t really describe them. A guy named Danny opened on acoustic guitar and played two finger-picked and looped songs with no vocals. Dina and Tom played second and put on a fun show. It is cool that every Dina show is a different experience. This one wasn’t one of the best but certainly wasn’t bad either. Lex, one of the people that I think lives at the house joined Dina on iPhone percussion on Driving is Fun to close out the set.

We left after Dina, even though there were two acts to follow. We had another 90 minute journey home and work Monday morning.

When we got home, I excitedly went to Verizon’s website because I had found a great deal on Certified Pre-Owned Droid 2 phones, Buy One Get One Free for just a total of $50. It looked like our plan cost would increase a tiny bit, but we decided to accept the added charges… until I was finalizing the transaction and the charges were much more monthly than I had anticipated.

I lost hope on the smartphone upgrade, and spent some time Monday and Tuesday mulling over options, but that’s another story…

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday week. Thanks to my wife and our friends, I had one of the happiest weeks I’ve had in a long time. It was a ton of fun and so far 2011 is off to a great start!

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