The problem with blogs is that I always have little or no time to write. During this trip I’ve been trying to squeeze in the time, but until now it’s been at the very end of the day when I’d rather be sleeping. This time I’m trying to do it after breakfast. Now I have a new problem: doing bloggable stuff while I’m trying to blog!
So, backtrack. Monday kicked off in traditional Secret Lab style (coffeetime); this time, we tried Peet’s. I approve!
Peet’s had good coffee, nice service, a good atmosphere, and best of all, they were playing music from the late Baroque—win!! (As opposed to the stock-standard Ministry of Sound Chillout Sessions approach.) After Peet-ing it up for a few hours, we cruised over to the stylish office of Unity Technologies for a meetup. Yes, the guys who make the Unity game engine and editor that we (Secret Lab) are using for various nefarious purposes. We weren’t the only people invited, but only a couple came. Very enlightening to meet them. Of course Jon, Andrew and Paris got more out of it than me, but I thought it was fun. After the meetup in the office, we continued at a nearby establishment, with more Unity developers from all over.
Tuesday: mission to Mountain View! But first, some comments about the breakfast arrangements at this hostel.
Breakfast is a DIY arrangement: they provide the pancake mix, stoves, pans and spatulas and you are expected to make them yourself. In pictures:
After pancake-ing ourselves, we set off to catch the BART (the municipal train system). The BART system links to the CalTrain system, which we needed for the journey to Mountain View. Aside from some minor “need more small change” and “quick, it’s leaving!” issues, we got to the swank offices of Meebo, (yes, the same Meebo who run the popular web 2.0 service integrating practically all IM chat networks). These guys are cool! Nice folks, great office, running an awesome service.
Mountain View is a disturbingly nice place. A very well manicured suburbia, Google have public WiFi everywhere, and the restaurants are surprisingly authentic. The people smile, the weather was great, and the coffee shop we went to, Red Rock Café, served a terrific cuppa.
Now I said we went to both Unity’s and Meebo’s offices, and they were great people. But we didn’t just spontaneously turn up and expect a friendly meeting—it was planned ahead after emailing and running into people at WWDC. If you want to meet with whatever-company-you-happen-to-fanboy I suggest you try to schedule a meeting too.
With a funny sadness as I boarded the train, we went back to San Fran. That night we ate at a nearby Thai restaurant and the other three all had hot dishes. Hahaha! Good quality stuff.
Not much happened on Wednesday that’s really worth writing home about, other than that we did a tidy pile of work on Day of the Tiki stuff in a café and got an early night’s sleep.
And then Thursday happened.
Ohhhhhhh boy did Thursday and Friday ever happen!
At approximately 4.30 AM, we got up. We headed straight for the BART that would take us to S.F. airport. We caught the Southwest Airlines flight which was on time and had complimentary coffee and juice (a very nice change from budget Australian airlines). We got to L.A. just fine.
But then spent quite some time figuring out the best way to get places. L.A. is not a pedestrian friendly city for two reasons: it is huge, and the public transport system is broken.
This is where we went from LAX, since it was the location of the hotel. Venice Beach is just like the set of Romeo + Juliet (hey I think I get the joke!), but there are differences. Like, the haze. And it is overcrowded with hippies, pot-smokers, tattoo parlours, people who think their very average cars are sound systems, and palm trees. Oh, and the air is bad.
So next order of business was then to do what we had planned: visit the Tiki Bar.
Which Tiki Bar?
The uneasy, sick feeling induced by the crowded and polluted city seemed to be lifted by being inside this place. We met Jeff (Dr Tiki), Tosca (the card shark from episode 31 – “Casino”) and Mike (Mr Hollywood). Really really nice people, doing amazing work on their hilarious show! Fortunately we had time to discuss a bit of business over lunch, before they shot some scenes for an upcoming episode in the afternoon.
Because of timing we didn’t get to meet Johnny Johnny or Lala, or the guest star they were filming with, but no matter. My inner fanboy was just blown away! I am so utterly pleased to be assisting on the game, and visiting the set, for me, was like icing on the cake.
After lunch we parted for a few hours. Secret Lab decided to check in to the cotel.
The best thing about this place was the location: about 20 metres from the beach.
The worst thing about this place was the location: about 20 metres from the biggest crowd of beach-going noise-generating marijuana-imbibing tattoo-pushing panhandling hippies. In L.A.
To anybody who happens to be taking offence: Sorry, I have nothing against you, it’s just not the lifestyle for me. I’m into quiet peaceful calm places, breathing clean air, and having a clear mind. Venice Beach was like a giant party, and was certainly an experience I’m glad I’ve had. Just one I now know I don’t want to experience for more than 48 hours.
Later on we met up with the TBTV crew again for dinner and drinks, and more business.
For those who know me, you are probably aware that, for many months, I have been completely sober.
Why? Well, alcohol just makes me sad.
But when that Charooba mug with a “Painkiller” cocktail was plonked down in front of me, my head swam with only one thought. I was in the Tiki Bar TV set with the Dr Tiki, and had been presented with the golden opportunity for any Tiki Bar TV fanboy to have a drink.
But none of this sold me completely on breaking, so I took a sip to see if I liked it.
I decided I liked it a lot.
In other words, they really do know how to mix a drink. I reckon this is the only place on the planet I will ever drink again!
After a couple of drinks (we had “Painkillers” and “Plot Holes”) we eventually thrusted back to the cotel and fell asleep.
Friday began. Secret Lab was a bit irritated. I put this down to the awful noise outside, the lack of caffeine nearly all day, the prospect of a busy day in a huge dirty city, and dehydration. I felt the same utterly horrible feeling of hating having to breathe in the pollution, and put up with the detestable subwoofer booming through the window.
Long story short: With the exception of the Tiki Bar, I’m allergic to L.A.
We went back to the Tiki Bar set again, for some final business and to showcase some of what I had accomplished. Very happy to hear that they are happy. Everybody Happy!™ We obtained some TBTV t-shirts (I got “CCCP Tiki Bar TV”), a signed DVD, and a Charooba. And some unique and unusual snaps with Dr Tiki in costume and character!
Elated once more by our visit, we bade a farewell aloha to our tiki friends and set out for West Hollywood. Via the fail bus.
We arrived in the middle of Melrose Avenue where we had another promising meeting at the Village Idiot. We also had a walk around to find somewhere to print our boarding passes to get back to San Fran.
We found Japan L.A. This place not only very very very kindly let us print our boarding passes, but carried a cute range of merchandise for Hello Kitty, Gloomy Bear, and so on.
After we were done, we caught a cab back to LAX. Sorry, we couldn’t get a photo of the Hollywood sign. Too much haze.
Our plane was delayed, but I didn’t particularly care, because I was out of L.A. Even on the plane I started cheering up! Unfortunately we got into the airport just as the last BART back into town was leaving, so we had to get another cab back to the hostel.
Saturday we slept in and then we went to see Presidio Park (the one attached to the Golden Gate bridge) and Fort Point.
On Sunday we checked out Golden Gate Park—not attached to the bridge, but at least as nice! So many awesome things! The japanese tea garden is especially nice.
The art gallery in the Golden Gate park is AMAZING and was probably the highlight of the day. Some of the features include a model cathedral built out of disassembled guns and ammo, a large African exhibit, stunning paintings from every era of American art, and more. Well worth the money! Don’t forget your bus ticket.
Finally, today we took the ferry to Sausalito! I’ll post more about it later.