another day in paradise

This morning, a colleague started off a phone interview with a presumably faraway source with a very chipper, "I'm in Palm Springs!"

I quickly quipped to another reporter nearby, "That's not usually how I say it. It's usually, 'Hey. Are you in town this weekend?' 'No, I'm in Paaallllmmm Sprinnnggggs.'"

But as much as I enjoy and have taken advantage of my newly achieved ability to drive out to LA or Arizona on the (actual) weekend, I do still love it here, and I'm glad that I'll be staying home this weekend to play host to #BoysWeekend. (Cookies, beware.)

What's more, tonight as a combination of street lights and moonlight illuminated the palm trees along Ramon Road as I drove home, I realized that even a long and/or rough day at The Work (and there have been a couple lately) is still a day in a beautiful place.

#psiloveyou

‘M’ statues draw crowds here, there

Tuesday, two statues of beloved figures whose names start with M drew crowds as they were installed in places I call home.

Moroni and Marilyn

In Palm Springs, a 26-foot-tall Marilyn Monroe settled into her new home in a temporary downtown park.

Over in Gilbert, it was the angel Moroni who was lifted atop a new temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

After a day or so of seeing Marilyn all over my Facebook News Feed, I noticed a photo of Moroni in the afternoon and wasn't all that surprised to learn that the installation in Arizona attracted a similar level of interest as did the one here in California.

small town, big show

Since I was back in Arizona last Fourth of July, my only experience with Palm Springs' Independence Day fireworks show was watching it from the balcony at The Desert Sun during a Saturday night shift.

But this year, the Fourth fell on one of my normal days off, so I was determined to see my hometown fireworks show all up close and personal at the ballpark — and I was blown away.

I'm sure there were plenty of shows across the country tonight that were cooler in a technical sense, with bigger, brighter or louder bursts, but sitting in the outfield at Palm Springs Stadium and seeing the fireworks explode pretty much right overhead was so cool.

On my walk home, I realized that being able to be so close to the fireworks was emblematic of many other things that made tonight one of my all-time favorite Fourth of July fireworks experiences — all those small-town touches that I love about Palm Springs.

Tonight, Stacy and I walked to the old spring training stadium where the hometown baseball team had just won their game, sat down on the outfield grass and looked up to see the fireworks explode in sync to the music that wasn't just played over the loudspeakers at the ballpark but also broadcast over KDES, the local oldies station. And after the stadium lights came back on, we ran into a couple people we knew as we headed back home.

There's a lot to be said for big-city fireworks, even if you're watching them from a faraway rooftop or parking garage, but I totally love the little big town atmosphere of Palm Springs, and tonight was just another reason why.

#freechella 2011

It's not that I don't have the disposable income needed to snag a ticket to (real) Coachella; it's just that I'm going to be busy earning said income during two-thirds of the we-don't-do-one-day-passes-anymore fest in Indio.

So instead, I've had my eyes peeled for cheap, nonmilitarized alternative entertainment options.

Turns out, there's a bunch of free fun to be had on and even before Coachella weekend.

Below is my current #freechella lineup:

Last updated: 4/11/2011 23:01

A well-timed walk or How I met Will Forte

that one time I went out for a walk and ran into Will Forte

Though I hadn't officially written it down, unintentionally running into someone famous somewhere around town was definitely on my Buried Life-inspired list of things to accomplish whilst living in beautiful Palm Springs.

Now, things like hanging with Arnold Schwarzenegger or interviewing gubernatorial candidate Meg Ryan — er, Whitman didn't count because those were preplanned TDS assignments. Nor did going to see Ginger Jeffries at an public and publicized event. And the meeting had to take place in the Coachella Valley, so no No Strings Attached for these purposes.

One could argue that running into Britten at the BNP Paribas Open last week qualified as a random celebrity encounter, but tonight I somehow managed to top even that.

See, for the past week or so, Tim and Eric have been filming their billion-dollar movie, Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, at the Desert Fashion Plaza. They're using the mostly vacant mall that sits a block away from my apartment as a set for the mostly vacant mall that Tim and Eric buy after blowing a billion dollars meant for moviemaking, or so I hear.

Anyway, I hung around the set, asked about being an extra (Sorry, SAG members only.) and just generally gawked for the first few days of shooting, which happened to be when they were doing outdoor scenes.

But then I got surprisingly used to the fact that my neighborhood had gone all Hollywood on me. I think it's going to be more jarring when the S'Wallow Valley Shopping Mall & Pizza Court sign isn't there some morning as I drive by the mall on my way to work.

I knew that all sorts of funny people would be roaming around town, turning up in restaurants and such, but I figured I'd be hard-pressed to run into any of them since it seems to be pretty easy to film TV shows and movies right under our noses here without us noticing.

Still, as I set out for an ordinary walk this afternoon, I made plans to walk along a couple of sides of the fashion plaza just to see what could be seen since I had paid such scant attention to the billion-dollar moviemaking lately. But instead of quickly looping around the neighborhood and then making a beeline for the mall, I wound up taking all sorts of initially unplanned turns and detours.

MALL IS CLOSED... kind of.

By the time I walked past an entrance to the mall along Palm Canyon Drive, I noticed some people standing around talking to what looked to be a couple of PAs. (At least I think that's what you'd call them. I'm not Hollywood enough to know all the lingo.)

I stopped and took out my earbuds, mainly to buy some time for me to peek into the mall at what was being filmed inside. Soon, I recognized the voice of one of the guys I had just assumed was a PA based on his ballcap-and-hoodie attire. Once I shifted my gaze from the mall to the person in front of me, I realized who he was but still asked the obvious question: "Hey. You're Will Forte, aren't you?"

Soon, we were talking about the movie, his back-and-forth schedule that's been taking him to L.A. and New York in between his desert days and how much we both like Palm Springs. He had been here before, so he asked me about where Melvyn's and Spencer's, a couple of restaurants in the neighborhood, were relative to the mall and then asked how far away the Rite-Aid was.

He needed to pick up a prescription, and my apartment was that direction anyway, so we kept talking as we walked down Palm Canyon Drive — and not just about him. Forte was interested in where I lived before moving here, what I did professionally, how TDS is faring and so on. He was an all-around nice guy, even apologizing for taking me off the most direct route to my apartment as I tagged along on — or as he said later, chaperoned — his trip to the pharmacy.

Although I did tentatively plan for my ever-evolving route to pass by my neighborhood movie set, I wasn't expecting much more than a brief glance through an open doorway or two, so after my chat and stroll with Forte, I wrote in and then crossed off "Unintentionally run into a celebrity" in the spreadsheet I've entitled My Buried Life.