Saturday, October 25, 2008

Jimmy Buffett Sails Into Google

Being on the Authors @ Google team is my favorite part of my job. It's a great team of literary and music-lovin' folks who, in addition to their regular jobs, work on bringing in writers, musicians, scientists, politicians, and all sorts of notable folk to give talks.

The team at our headquarters in Mountain View hosted an event so big that I was compelled to fly up from LA on my own dime to be there: Jimmy Buffett! Buffett was in town for a show at Shoreline Ampitheater and accepted an invitation to come to Google, and as a long-time Parrothead I had to be there.

Charlie's Cafeteria was packed for the 10am event, and 10am is pretty early on Google time. Jimmy took the stage and I was surprised at his diminutiveness. I'd guess he was about 5'6" but he still seems larger than life. He looked very fit and tan. He was wearing an Izod polo and tan! He told us he dressed up for us by wearing long pants.

Buffett began by talking about his love of Google. He has Google stock, loves Google Maps, the Google homepage, likes Googling to help find song rhymes and references. He also said he was a fan of the Google culture, specifically bringing dogs to work and dressing casual.

He took off his shoes and brought two members of his Coral Reefer band - Mac MacAnally and Nadira Shakur - on stage to perform a few songs acoustically. They sounded great on "Come Monday," which Jimmy said he had written at a motel in nearby Milipitas as an ode to San Francisco. Next up was "Son of a Son of a Sailor", which has always been one of my favorites, and was enhanced with Shakur's vocal. Finally, he played the national anthem "Margaritaville" including the lost verse. It was a more subdued crowd than he was used to, I'm sure, but an appreciative one nonetheless. Click the pic below to see Jimmy singing the lost verse.

From Jimmy Buffett at Google

After the performance, he took questions from the crowd. When one googler asked how he balanced his work and family, Buffett called on his daughter Savannah Jane to answer. She said he had always made sure to make pancakes for the kids when he wasn't on tour, and that she appreciated the time he spent with her and her siblings. In talking about things that surprise him, Buffett mentioned a Margaritaville had opened up in Dubai. When he went over there for the opening he also played for some Navy troops who came to Dubai on R&R.

The event lasted about an hour, and then Buffett hung around and signed autographs and posed for photos. One googler had him sign his laptop, which was already adorned with parrot stickers. After being a parrothead for almost 20 years and seeing about 10 concerts (including a Today Show concert and a small benefit show at Sag Harbor), I was psyched to get my pic with him. He couldn't have been more gracious and friendly.

He got a campus tour and watched some demos and then enjoyed the special Margaritaville-themed lunch in Charlie's Cafe. I'm told he had a cheeseburger, of course. We sent him home with a new Google phone. Hey googlers, if the phone doesn't ring, it's Jimmy!

Check out all my photos and videos from the event.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Recapping The Hills - Who to Choose?

Uh-oh, someone let Audrina in the main house again. She goes into LC's room and tells her she spent the weekend with Cory the Aussie. Audrina says Justin Bobby is paying more attention to her now that she's got another man. "I dont know. He's a weird one. I don't get him, " Audrina says, mastering the obvious. Justin Bobby is, essentially, unknowable.

Spencer summons Steph to his coffeehouse. He complains about Heidi's mom bitching him out and about Holly living with them. "I can't even imagine disliking a sister more. That should make you feel good, " Spencer says. "That's like a demented compliment, but thanks," says Steph, queen of low expectations. Steph cautions that he can't go to war with her family but Spencer has already launched some nukes.

Over at People's Revolution, Whitney and LC are hanging up clothes again. LC invites Whitney to a BBQ in Malibu because the show is like Groundhog Day. LC says she doesnt know if Audrina will bring Justin Bobby or Cory to the BBQ. LC admits she would prefer it to be Cory.

Audrina appears to be in nice restaurant with Cory, except he's wearing a Red Bull baseball cap backwards. She invites him to the Malibu BBQ.

LC is delighted to find Audrina and Cory in her kitchen after a night of wild passion. They talk about their excitement for the BBQ. They go to BBQs every week. How is this one going to be more exciting than the last?

Over at Spencer's and Heidi's, Spencer demands that Heidi not invite her sister to brunch. He then gives Heidi the ultimatum - either Holly moves out or he moves out. When Spencer says that Holly is imposing on them, Heidi reminds him that he lived with his sister for two months. Oh snap!

The BBQ is at a mansion I've been to! OK, it wasn't for a party but I was looking at it as a possible location for the Google summer picnic (but we decided the cliffside location wasn't so good for small kids). Audrina and Cory cuddle in the pool. Frankie, Doug, and Brody show up, and Frankie and LC bicker over whether Frankie should invite "his boy" Justin Bobby to this BBQ. It looks like Frankie has vitiligo, but maybe he's just peeling. Hmm, I guess a lot has changed since Justin Bobby didn't speak to any of the gang at social gatherings. Frankie wants to know if Cory or Justin Bobby are going to Cabo - or both! Whitney looks bored, like she'd rather be conversing with Andre Leon Tally. Frankie tells Audrina that Brody invited Justin Bobby to Cabo. Awkward stares all around.

Audrina and LC take their dog accessory for a hike at Runyon Canyon. "My gosh you're like juggling men," LC says, regarding the Justin Bobby and Cory triangle. LC puts in a vote for Cory.

Heidi tells Holly that she's picking Spencer over her. Holly worries she'll be out on the street with a shopping cart. "I can't figure out your life for you," Heidi says. Holly doesn't understand why it has to be an ultimatum, and neither do I.

Justin Bobby and Audrina drink wine poolside, and Justin Bobby encourages Audrina to swim. He then says he'll only get in if she takes off her top and swims to the other side so he can chase her. Audrina does as she's told. Audrina brings up Cabo and Justin Bobby says he's going to get in trouble in Cabo. "It's on," he says. Audrina admits she cares if Justin Bobby bangs other girls. She looks like she wants to cry but then cuddles with him anyway. What can you say - chicks dig bad boys.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Acrostic Movie Review - The Secret Life of Bees

Here's a rare film with a mostly-female and black cast, based
On Sue Monk Kidd's hugely popular
Novel and faithful to it. Dakota Fanning,
Evolving into a teen, does a convincing job as Lily, a runaway
Yearning for closure with her late mother. Lily becomes

Indebted to four black women, surrogate motherhood by committee. Do
The real Fanning girls even have so many nannies? The movie is
Somewhat melodramatic and slides into Lifetime movie mode, but it

Succeeded in
Tugging at my heartstrings. There's
Inspired acting from Jennifer Hudson and Queen Latifah. As the
Childlike May, Sophie Okonedo really shines. Alicia
Keys is like a Black Panther in training, but
You know her bravado will be melted by the winsome Lily.

Set in the south during the civil rights era, the threat of
Wicked racial violence hangs over the film and
Endangers the characters. As chick flicks go, it's not as
Entertaining as Sex and the City or as powerful as
he Color Purple, but it gives you more to chew on.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Recapping the Hills - If She Never Met Spencer

Lo is helping LC with her homework by cutting pictures out of magazines. That was my homework once too - in 3rd grade. LC invites Lo to have a drink with Holly, Heidi's sister. LC says she's worried that Holly is trying to get her and Heidi back together. "Well, drinks are harmless," says Lo. Spoken like a true Hills girl!

Audrina and Chiara have lunch at Epic, and Audrina says she's excited about a date with a new guy - Colin. "Justin...whatever...I don't have a ring on my finger," Audrina says. I'm kinda liking the new aggressive Audrina, even if her sentence structure resembles Sarah Palin's.

Holly and Heidi have lunch. Heidi starts to fake cry, lamenting her lost best friend LC. Holly suggests that Heidi write LC a letter. Sounds like a good job for Heidi's assistant.

Colin and Audrina have dinner. Colin says his first job in LA was Bull Operator at the Saddleranch. Insert your own joke here. Audrina says her drink is too strong, because she probably hasn't eaten anything all day. Audrina complains that Justin gets angry when he's drunk, but Colin says he's a happy drunk. He also thinks Audrina has beautiful eyes and asks her for a second date in the middle of the first.

Holly meets Lo and LC at S Bar. Holly says she and Heidi had grown apart during The Spencer Years. LC says, "It's water under the bridge but things have changed and it's done." I guess it's not really water under the bridge then, is it?

LC and Whitney are at work, and LC lets Whitney read the apology letter she got from Heidi so that it can be on TV. The letter seems to have no polysyllabic words. LC wonders, "why now?" and "even after all this time, she still can't blame Spencer?"

Audrina meets Colin for their 2nd date. Audrina says she was up late talking to Justin. Colin calls her out for bringing up Justin on both dates, which she should know from reading Cosmo is Dating Faux Pas #1 - don't talk about your ex. Audrina admits she still has feelings for the enigmatic, rogueish Justin Bobby.

Holly comes over to visit LC. Holly asks if LC got the letter and LC says it basically just said sorry (again). LC says she already accepted the apology a long time ago. LC says maybe they could be friends again but she can't ever be civil to Spencer. Looks like Heidi may have to make a Sophie's Choice.

Audrina and LC sit by the pool. Audrina says Colin was a momentary distraction but not dysfunctional enough to replace Justin. LC says, "Where do you think we'd all be if Heidi had never met Spencer." Audrina says, "I think it would be totally different." LC says, "Isn't that weird to think about? How one person coming into someone's life can change everything?" This is practically a Socratic dialogue by Hills standards. I reflect on how many hours of my life I'd have back if I'd never stumbled upon Laguna Beach.

Audrina goes out with Justin and tells him that she went out with Colin and that Colin is a nice guy. "Nice is good...nice gets you far...he went so far, but he's not here," Justin says, smugly.

Holly and Heidi talk and Heidi says it's up to LC to rekindle the friendship. Spencer interrupts them, and Heidi admits writing the letter. He wants to know why Heidi is keeping secrets from him. Holly tries to interject but Spencer shushes her and Heidi yells at him. In typical controlling fashion, Spencer says he doesnt want Heidi to have LC as a friend (or any friends at all!). The preview for next week shows him locking her up in a tower where she will have to escape by making a rope out of her hair extensions.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Meeting Jonathan Hart

I can cross another childhood crush off the list, as I got to meet Robert Wagner tonight. I grew up watching Hart to Hart. I told RJ the show made me want to move to LA. I wanted to cruise around in a convertible Mercedes with the license plate "2 Harts" just like Jonathan and Jennifer...and now I do, except it's a convertible Audi sans vanity plate. RJ was so dashing and handsome on that show, and, heck, he still looks great at age 78.

To promote his new memoir Pieces of My Heart, RJ appeared for a talk and signing at the Santa Monica Public Library. The talk was really fun because it was a conversation with his daughter Katie. His daughter Natasha was also in the crowd. Katie teased her dad about all the girls he's loved before, including the big revelation that he had a 3-year love affair with Barbara Stanwyck long before it was cool to date a cougar. They also talked about his great love - Natalie Wood - how they met when she was 18, married young, divorced, remarried, and the tragic accident. Natasha asked a question about how her dad managed to keep in touch with people over the years and be such a good friend who called his friends often. He replied that it was just due to putting in the effort. Katie reminded Natasha that their dad was one of the first people in LA to have a car phone.

RJ talked a lot about the importance of mentors in his life, including David Niven, Laurence Olivier, and Paul Newman. He was generous with his time, putting up with some crackpot questions from the audience. One guy asked why after all his years of looking impeccable and clean-shaven, RJ would allow a stubbly pic of himself to be on his book cover. The guy wouldn't let it go and said he disliked how everyone was stubbly in movies today. RJ simply said it was a picture taken on the set of The Longest Day that his daughter Courtney had suggested he use, and that it represented a time when he was in a lot of emotional turmoil due to the first break up with Natalie. I think it's a very striking photo, probably because it does seem slightly out of character (but still dashing!).

Another person in the audience brought up something that had always bothered me: how did the Harts manage to attract more friends since one of their friends died in every episode of
Hart to Hart. RJ laughed and said it was quite lonely after a while since everyone was wary of befriending them. He also pointed out that it was odd that Max didn't have a room - or at least, it was never shown on the show.

There was also a sweet question from the audience, where a gal got up and said it was refreshing to see a loving couple like Jonathan and Jennifer on TV in an era of a lot of soap opera style feuding. RJ said the network always wanted more conflict on the show but they refused to cave in and kept calling each other "darling."

RJ signed books and posed for photos, chatting with everyone and being very gracious. I have to agree with Max. He's quite a guy!

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Edgar Meets McCanine

Watch what happens when Edgar gets a new chew toy. Video seems to only play in Internet Explorer or Safari.

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