Category Archives: things i worry about

Go biscuits

We officially registered our company in 1995 because we had just gotten stiffed on a job and had to take the poor dude to small claims court. The judge ordered the guy to pay half of what he owed us and told us to get real. The guy paid, and we signed up our new business on April Fool’s Day and called ourselves Biscuit Technologies.

We ended up (and still do) working with small artists, non-profits, huge ad agencies, media companies and sports organizations. We got lucky, as we had great timing with the rise of the internet, and many of our current clients have been with us since the beginning.

Over the years, what we do — designing things to be used on a computer (presentations, databases, websites, animations) has gotten blurred into the general world of “computer crap.” It’s not just one’s mom who expects you to keep track of her wireless password but lots of people think if you understand anything on a computer beyond selecting which social media channel to blast something to, then you must also be responsible for internal wiring, file access, slow speeds and hardware failures.

Where once the debate was over modifying our Flash animation of a roll of toilet paper dropping from the sky, cracking a concrete surface and disappearing—we programmed it so the toilet paper paused for a fraction of a second on the concrete before disappearing, but the client insisted physics didn’t apply and wanted us to remove that pause, we are now blamed for not setting up a backup on a WordPress site with a weak password which we had nothing to do with except handle the hosting.

One client we had built a database for had constant periods of the “dreaded coffee cup” image signifying low to shitty connectivity to their server or the internet. Some of their tasks involved duplicating quite a lot of records, so the dropped connections were causing all sorts of trouble. We asked the IT department if at least they could see which IP address was causing the bottleneck and they came back with the evidence that the owner’s son was playing video games during those coffee cup times. Due to circumstances beyond our control the client decided to scrap the entire project rather than tell the boss about his son.

Every once in awhile we get emails from people asking about oven technologies, or if we’re hiring bakers or cooks. 

Last week we were contacted by an old client, a large and profitable institution that had hired us in 2002 to create a database in MS Access. For 19 years they had never brought us back to perform any updates, maintenance work or modifications so we figured they went on to bigger and better things (from MS Access there’s only “up.”*) They wrote to complain that their old database, while still working just fine, for some reason crashes an awful lot thereby decreasing their productivity and affecting their workflow so they would like us to come in and fix it. (Never mind there’s a pandemic going on).

Way back in 2002 when this large and profitable institution was contemplating hiring us our contact had been concerned his superiors would not feel comfortable doing so because of our silly name. We told him maybe his superiors could look at the names of our current clients instead, which at the time was Cisco, Adobe, and BBDO.

It might be assumed from their email that even though they are a large and profitable institution they don’t have a large, dedicated IT department to handle crashing and other network related issues. Not true. What’s going on is a little sad, because the IT department says it’s an unsupported platform and wants nothing to do with it, but they are required to respond on a regular basis to restore the file after a crash (which apparently is often). This is not fun for anyone, but really has nothing to do with the design of database.

*MS Access is pretty mediocre for many reasons, but back in 2002 I remember being able to control an object’s visibility on a form using conditional parameters. This means you can hide or unhide things depending on a user’s answers to questions. This feature was not available in Filemaker, what some people consider a leading desktop database application, until 2013. That’s kind of amazing.

Every once in awhile we receive checks payable to bisquit or bisqui, and our bank always cashes them, thankfully. Since we’ve added a dba for our tea company called 1001 Plateaus no one expects either of those to be spelled correctly.

Separated with my phone at the border of my mind

My friend Jeni Dodd, who used to be a lawyer, teamed up with Jason McDonald, another legalese–>tea leaves person, and headed down to New Mexico this week to help the NM Immigrant Law Center with reviewing, digesting, and writing briefs for the detained immigrants at the border. This is a complicted and nutballs situation, and as positive as one can be in theory I’m sure visiting the Cibola County Correctional Center in Grants and hearing the stories of the separated families and kids sucked.

They have a gofundme set up, but being from New Mexico I wanted to try and arrange for a catered lunch to be sent to the entire staff at the Center. I asked my dear old friend Michelle, from high school, who runs a catering business making her own pastas and amazing Italian food, if she could swing something at the last minute. I texted Jeni to give me the total head count.

Then, the screen on my old iPhone lifted off. The battery had swelled up like a giant zit, rays of lights could be seen shooting out the sides of the phone, but until then it was hobbling along just fine. I took the phone to my pals at UbreakIfix, who were in the middle of dealing with a crazy lady from Miami speaking in rapid fire Spanish. The UbreakIfix guy kept typing into the computer and shaking his head and pointing to the back of the lady’s phone. Her child kept complaining that the password to the free wifi wasn’t working. The woman kept insisting on something, and finally the guy turned the computer to face her/me and I saw that he was showing her a map of Miami, proving there were lots (tons!) of places for phone repair. She was incredulous but finally grabbed her son and left.

The guys replaced my battery, but as soon as I left the store my phone began restarting every few minutes. They wanted to run additional tests and put in yet another battery so I had to leave my phone for an hour. ONE HOUR!

Things I noticed without a phone:
– I had no idea what time it was so I didn’t know when the hour was up.
– Everyone is on their phones
– Going shopping for shirts and sucking down a root beer float takes half an hour, even though the lady who scooped the ice cream confessed she tends to put way too much ice cream in the cup.
– Worrying about missing messages is super intense when it’s 100 degrees out.

Sadly the tests pointed to a motherboard issue, and even putting the old battery back in, cantilevered screen aside, caused the phone to continually restart. Bleh.

At least I was able, back home on my computer, to finalize everything, and sure enough lasagna, garlic bread, ceasar salad, lemon ricotta cake, and ice cold drinks were delivered today.

Hooray for old friends, hooray for the internet!

My counter guy is a Stalinist and I benefitted


Getting work done on the house is nuts. Not only do you need to like the people you hire, philosophically, you also need to like them physically, as they are in your house everyday.
And shit is expensive. But not everything costs money. Sometimes you get roped into doing more. Sometimes deals just come your way.

Several years ago one of our neighbors was having some concrete work done and he figured if he got other people to hire them as well, he’d get a deal. We let the guys pour us a new set of front steps, and they offered us a steep discount if we did something else.


OK, we said, why don’t you take away our concrete deck, which was already in pieces, and tended to collect stagnant water. So the Samoan concrete guys broke the deck into more manageable-for-them sized pieces, drank two cases of Hawaiian Punch, and drove the deck away. We were left with a large dirt mound (and 24 empty cans), which was all fine until it started to rain, and the backyard turned into what the dogs called the “great epic most fun thing.”

We called up a contractor whom we met originally when we bought the house. Before the housing bubble burst he had run his own construction company. Now he taught Kundalini yoga. His prices had come down by a lot. He was also into tea. We served him and his worker (who only drank iced tea) all sorts of Chinese teas as they built our deck, using a discontinued Trex color that was 50% off at the builder’s supply. During one afternoon tea our contractor mentioned something about needing to see the dentist. His truck needed work too, as it was leaking oil all over our driveway, so we asked him to put up yoga ropes in the garage which we made sure he hung from first to test the engineering.


More recently, we decided we needed a new kitchen counter. The grout in the kitchen was chipping and gross, and I had gotten tired of photoshopping out the brown bits from my Instagram pictures. But a new kitchen counter leads to craziness. Do you also get new cabinets and sink and faucets and drawer pulls and shelf liners and lighting fixtures and flooring?

We decided to list out the real mod cons.
1. Let’s plumb the espresso machine so we don’t have to constantly dump the bucket we currently use in place of a real drain.


That’s it. End of list. Everything else is, as they say, Russian chicken feed.


We scored LED lights from a guy we know from the Velodrome who sells them wholesale. Then he turned out to be a Trumpian. He, the Trumpian, thinks he’s getting an invite to “see the lights,” but I stick to my “you gotta like them philosophically and physically” mantra.

That seemed easy enough, but then we had to go through the process of hiring a cabinet maker who flaked for 6 months and then took another 2 months to officially flake. Meanwhile we entered our fireplace design era, and it turned out that the guys who set our tiles do a lot of general construction work, especially kitchens and bathrooms. Yay!

Then came the hard part. Turning off the espresso machine felt like unplugging from life support. We embraced the nail gun. We washed dishes in the bathroom sink. We MOVED THE CAT FOOD BOWL. We ate one tray of cold baked ziti a week.


We returned the crappy Heath tile samples under cover of night via bicycle rather than face that saleswoman again.


We got to bring out some old friends and wire them up.


Incidentally, the contractors LOVED our deck. It became their giant work space.




This is what we’ve been living with all these years.


Our counter guy is a Russian Jew from Belarus who has great recommendations on where to get real Tel Aviv falafels, where the people can be “slightly rude.” He’s a Stalinist at heart and a big Viktor Tsoi fan. He thinks an espresso offers clarity. He only takes his espresso when the job is about to be glued in.


It’s all concentration when he’s working and in true stone mason fashion makes sure to measure twice. He told us his definition of “professional” meant that you could do what you do without really paying attention and it still comes out fabulous. He said he didn’t really become a professional until a few years ago. In the end he used some tight connections to score us a small piece of Calacatta marble that is so silky and luscious it feels like even I could carve Persephone’s soft butt out of it.


But maybe I’ll just make pastries on it, and get a soft butt that way.




The final plumbing.


Sometimes you’re the hammer, and sometimes you’re the nail.




Be careful what you wish for


After taking down the crumbling top of our chimney and fixing some hidden gas and plumbing issues, it was finally time to replace the cracked tiles on the fireplace. We originally thought we’d use Heath tiles, being big fans of Edith Heath (and a Batchelder tile fireplace being completely out of the budget).


One of the guys we talked to about setting tiles told us “Heath tiles suck,” and we knew the original company had been bought out by a pair of hipsters in 2003, who turned it into a “holistic business model, one that integrated designing, making and selling.” But we went to the showroom anyway. I think the tile guy was talking about the quality of the actual clay, since he agreed that the glazes were beautiful, but we also found out they have minimums for each size of tile in each color, and this minimum is 25 square feet, much larger than the average-sized fireplace + hearth. This means you have to use the same size tile with the same glaze, and then you’ll have shitloads of this same-sameness tile leftover when you’re done.

Not only that, but the really stiff and aggressive showroom lady said to us, repeatedly: “You really ought to try the Our Modern Basics collection. It’s an in-stock offering of two sizes in a carefully edited palette of six matte and glossy glazes. The depth and character of the glazes are classic Heath—refined and contemporary, yet timeless.”
OK. She didn’t actually say that. But that’s what I heard. Whenever someone says they think/know their “carefully edited” selections are perfect for your project (having never seen the house or the fireplace), it’s time to get the hell out of the store.

Lamenting on the way home, I said, “I wish we could just buy from someone who makes their own tiles.” And what do you know, we found her in Pasadena.


Now that we could have any color in any size in any pattern we pulled out the graph paper and colored pencils. We started with Batchelder designs, and then quickly lost our minds.


The cost was going to be less than if we had gone with Heath so we bought a few Batchelder and other colored tiles as accents. Even though the blue monster tile (Mosaic Tile Co., Zanesville, OH) didn’t fit the program I couldn’t leave it behind, because you never know when you’ll come across a blue monster tile again.


Here’s our final design. Not exactly final because we soon realized that the guys who built the firebox enlarged the box by a couple inches (they were being nice), and we had to move a row of 2×2’s from the top to the middle. Nothing too major. Phew.



After quite a bit of back and forth about color variations and the unpredictability of glazes, and testing the infinite patience of Cha-Rie, we laid out the entire thing in front of the fireplace, and were ready to have Miguel and his amazing group of guys glue the suckers in.





Yes those penciled X’s on the top right of each tile meant that the tile was to be set with the X on the top right. Anal retentive we may be, but the tile guys sure appreciated it. I’d rather have them think about how the tiles meet at the corners rather than which way to turn the tile.


Just in time for a lazy summer in L.A. lounging by the fire.


Rainbows vs. Trumpians


The Velodrome down in Carson is the only indoor world class cycling facility in the country. Some people say “too bad it’s all the way down there in Carson,” but after you ride the 45 degree banked Siberian pine boards in its perfectly temperature controlled environment, you might think “we’re so lucky that Carson is so close.”

Lately, the thing about the Velodrome being in Carson is its proximity to Orange County, which seems to be the bastion of Trumpians and they are out in force, shouting loudly as cyclists tend to do, and man-spreading without even having to be present. Yes, that’s their shorts, turned inside out, in the foreground.


And when one Trumpian (with a gut so large we call it “the baby”) decides to make one too many jokes about missing female parts and nuts as he asks for help in putting an old bike together, and concludes the conversation by claiming Clinton killed some of his army buddies, the solution is to make a rainbow tool roll based on Eddie Van Halen’s guitar for my old Trek, which we converted to a fixed gear awhile ago for riding to museums and ice cream runs. Why convert? It was impossible to ride. I rode that thing every day when I was in college, happy as a clam. But times do change.

Here’s how it was, original parts from 1984.


Not only was that saddle unbearable, the handlebars were too far away, the brakes too stiff and the gears auto-shifted themselves when going uphill. So we did a little makeover.


And here comes the tool roll, which has been named the “Eddie Van Halen.”


I know I’m going to be so happy the next time I get a flat, and see this when I unroll.




Mars rover, Mars rover, let C#41 on over


When the sign in the parking lot shows the speed limit in KM/HR, you know you’re in for some serious science. Last weekend was the Open House at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the freeway signs near Pasadena were bubbling over with excitement like it was beaujolais season. “Hurrah! It’s here! A Ticket to Explore JPL – this way!”

There were also cops in extra-large and extra-darkly-tinted vehicles at every major intersection, and IDs required for entry (tickets were free but had to be reserved in advance). It occurred to me as we drove in that there was going to be enough people at this event to warrant a terrorist threat. In space, if we detected an asteroid that might hit us, JPL would probably launch something to swing the asteroid off its path or actually collide with it (depending on who’s president). But here on the surface of Earth, if something’s going to hit us, we have to rely on good old-fashioned bag searches and vapor-waking dogs. But then again, some of my friends used to joke that as kids in Los Alamos during the cold war we were safe from getting bombed because wouldn’t the Russians want to keep all our scientist parents alive?


Having attended a few “Family Days” at the Lab in Los Alamos I’m always wishing for a little less hype and more day to day stuff at these types of events. For example, the real JPL mission control room pales in comparison to a “Control Center” fabricated for the movies, but there is nothing like seeing the ID-activated vending machines that track the use of special machining drill bits and tools, the safety glasses overflow storage, or old soap dispensers from the 60’s.

NASA’s mission control (the red LED lights don’t actually do anything):

NORAD Control Center from the movie WarGames (when that red light starts to wail, well…):

Plus, all the obtuse illustrations and charts of data that are scientifically significant but don’t look good on social media are hanging in the hallways you can’t get to, and you can only put your nose to the glass to look into the labs with nano-technology experiments sitting on top of Laminar Flow Isolating table supports (awesome for playing air hockey).



But there’s nothing more fun than watching the real Mars rover crawl over some Southern Californian rock, and then laying down and getting rolled over by its little cousin. Apparently each wheel has its own engine. Felt like some little kid next to me kept elbowing me to move over.



They sure have tire tread all figured out.


We skipped the long wait for the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, after hearing the guy say, “If you can hear my voice you’re looking at a 45 minute wait for about a 5 minute visit,” opting instead for the guy who lured everyone with a: “Welcome to the solar system where we’ve got AC.”



My story about an asteroid named C#41 who crashes into the moon was just published at Entropy so we paused in the middle of the solar system and had a wake for the little guy.


A visit to the Fabrication Facility AKA the machine shop put any resemblance to Disneyland out of my mind, but the ice cold water bottles that cost $1 (A BUCK!) probably did the trick as well. At the shop there were 3-D printers, vending machines for bits and gadgets, rolls and rolls of thermal fabric. We were told the next big thing was going to be 3D printing using metal, namely powdered aluminum, which is so explosive the technician must remain completely free of charge, as a single spark will send the whole building into space. No party tricks like rubbing a balloon back and forth across the top of your head to get it to stick to a wall…

We got to meet the guy who’s idea it was to add the star to the top of this postmark. His friend designed JPL’s postmarks for years, and he told us anyone can suggest a design to the post office and they decide whether to create a stamp for the occasion. Hm…


Very unlike “Family Day” at the Los Alamos Lab, there were plenty of stickers to go around, and JPL bags being given away by the dozen at the end of the day.


You can’t pick your neighbors like you can’t pick your family

This being Los Angeles, a home is not a home without a fireplace. I’ve been told that a working fireplace bumps up a home’s value more than a working garage. That’s great because we have neither. Our house is over 100 years old and has a firebox that’s out of code (made for little people who wore the clothes that can fit inside our little closets) and topped with old sandy mortar and bricks which any small wind, pale fire, or decent earthquake could bring down… on top of our neighbor’s driveway, and their cars, and their tenant’s cars, and their tenant’s whatever’s cars.

When we first bought the house the guys from Boston Brick and Stone (of all places) told us that to rebuild the entire chimney to code would require use of the neighbor’s driveway for 2-3 weeks. Ha! We don’t need a stinking fireplace, we said.

Since then, the owner-lady next door has called David a bitch for asking her to remove a dirty mattress she leaned against our house, her ex-gang-banger son has gotten out of jail and moved in, occasionally launching into vile and manic threats interspersed with Trump-fueled immigrant bashing, Spanish love song crooning (he’s not half bad), and the magic car alarm that goes off like a timer. My favorite incident was the night he screamed at another neighbor who just happened to be walking by to call the police because he saw some sketchy people go by. This reminded me of my favorite childhood book called The Monster at the End of this Book, starring Lovable, Furry Old Grover.


Basically, Grover is terrified to learn that there’s a monster at the end of the book and tries to keep the reader from turning the pages. Turns out… you can probably guess.

The idea of that slight wind, pale fire or decent earthquake bringing down the bricks was weighing on us, so recently we decided to take the easy way out: remove the top part of the chimney (being mindful of the house value, ahem), keep the old firebox, and install an Eco-Smart fire, since we are certainly both Eco and Smart. The chimney guys said they still needed permission for two full days of scaffolding in the neighbor’s driveway. We sighed. We fretted. We considered moving to Topanga.

Finally I asked a man next door who turns out to be the current husband of the owner-lady for permission and he said, “No problem, feel free to knock on the door and let us know which days you need the driveway. Any time.”

I almost shit my pants in surprise. I couldn’t believe it. In fact, I didn’t. The first day we needed access to cut some trees they forgot to move the cars. I don’t know how the gardener got around the situation but he managed.

Day 1.
I wake up early to see five cars in their driveway, including one that is usually always parked on the street, and I think about putting on my heart rate monitor to stay calm. I try not to take it personally, take a deep breath, and try to be grateful for the small things, like, I just got my new night guard from my dentist. Sometimes a certain behavior is not necessarily a declaration of war.

Just before the agreed upon time they come out in their cute P.J.’s, and slowly the cars move out, into the street.



The chimney is half taken down (and it’s an easy job, just a slight tap with what looks like a toy hammer and the brick comes loose) when who should come by but our neighbor’s neighbor, who we call the hoarder. Because he is one. He’s got his little wheelbarrow filled with our bricks and he’s carting them back to his safe little place next to his house. Last year he got rid of all his crap and told us “No more! What was I thinking?”


Day 2.


Things are going well so I decide to make some lemon bars for the neighbor. I know they like lemons. How do I know? Apparently they used to take them from the tree in the back yard when the previous owners lived here. That’s before the previous owners put up a fence in the back. Last summer our bamboo sent a shoot underneath this fence and up into their yard. The owner-lady hacked it down and sent it flying back at us like a spear.


They’re not as pretty as they could be, but hey, I’m building bridges, not walls.

I pack the lemon bars up and bang on the door. And get thoroughly rejected. REJECTED! She says, without even opening the screen, that she doesn’t want anything. Nothing.

This being Tuesday there’s no place a lemon bar feels more at home than dog agility class, and there’s something very funny about Lemon Bars in Cars.



Next project: the fireplace itself. Stay tuned. The tile guy says, “Heath tiles suck.”


Only floss the ones you want to keep

“They’ve got cars big as bars
They’ve got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It’s no place for the old”

(From “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues)

Corn nuts, grilled toast, ice cubes, lemon slices here we come!


Implants are amazing things. They’re made of titanium, which apparently is the material closest in electrical charge to human bone, so it has the best chance in fooling your body’s stem cells to fuse with it.

But bone growth is a slow process so after the posts go in there’s a lot of gap-toothed waiting around, and staring at the little screws that cover the post for so many months makes you wonder what options there are to implants other than plain old boring white.

Other than my having ingested way less alcohol and drugs, and my needing only one seventh of his total implants, Shane MacGowan and I are like implant BFFs. We got our implants on the same week, just in time for the holidays, only he got one in gold, but I got one with a photo of him with his gold tooth.




I’ve managed to keep most of my teeth, just in a jar rather than in my mouth.


Apparently the new set of teeth will help Shane enunciate better when he’s singing. This is very exciting.


Thank GOD for In n’ Out


Every weird family wedding is weird in its own way. We attended one last weekend up in San Simeon, and apparently we were not the only ones starving by the end of the night. So we took a few people, including the daughter of a baroness in stunning baroness jewelry who I later found out chose to ignore some “go with moderation” advice from Dennis Hopper, and two nephews of the bride, who deserved their animal style fries by being champions earlier at escorting the bride for her entrance. She had to descend a spiral staircase with her bum knee and tight dress, and with each incremental turn of the staircase the train of her dress twisted and crawled more and more underfoot.

This In n’ Out had a fantastic person manning the grilling station. I’ll admit it was the best double double I’ve ever had, and I was ready for a second one when I was done. But I restrained myself. It may be true that In n’ Outs don’t have freezers, but this one had an arctic themed dining area that could’ve easily stored the patties. And no napkins! So stingy with the napkins. The nephews removed their ties and untucked their white shirts, revealing the bar code stitched to their rented outfits. The shirts stayed white for the duration, proving that only when you care about the clothes will the sauce dribble.

We returned to our warm and dimly lit hotel room around 3 in the morning, which led us the following day to take the easiest route to dinner, the Mexican place not twenty feet from our hotel, with a nice garden and view of the ocean and bad reviews on Yelp.

Turns out our host with awesome pomaded hair was just the beginning. Here, in the middle of nowhere was a place offering New Mexican fare: flat enchiladas, sopapillas, menudo with posole, and a spicy salsa with tons of cilantro. Next to us were two ladies with a mishmash of kids, including a set of twins and a dwarf with no lower legs. One of these twins did not like something (he was maybe 8) and one lady asked the waitress to take it off their bill. When the waitress hesitated, the lady said she didn’t like her taco either. The bill arrived and the two ladies went over each item discussing whether the dish had been worth the amount they were being charged. After deciding they had been over-charged, they agreed not to leave a tip and very slowly started to count their cash, the children watching over their shoulder.

This made me nervous enough to really want dessert, as I watched them leave the table, and the waitress picked up the folder and carried it, loose coins and all, to the register.

Next came the part of the evening where some guy starts to pontificate, and it’s always the guy with the bluetooth still in his ear, and the camera still around his neck. Our man was going on and on in Chinese, about Costco, mostly, and about how important it was to understand what he was saying, and then repeating himself because his friends were not getting it. I really wanted to go over and tell him next time to order the menudo.


The following morning at the free hotel breakfast he was still at it, enjoying the hard-boiled eggs, weird bagels with Down’s syndrome, and orange juice. His friends said that they still didn’t get it, and he said, it was because it had been so late when he was explaining it last night, that they’d get it, eventually, because it was so important.


Thai food in an LA strip mall on a Saturday Night


You know the kind of strip mall I’m talking about, the corner lot with two exits/entrances, where more backwards driving is done than forwards, with pockets of weird parking spaces that make no sense, like the one we parked in, where upon finishing our dinner we saw that we were blocked by not one but two cars.

The first car was owned by a fellow Thai crispy pork aficionado, and the other figured that after that car got moved, we could squeeze by, so the three guys inside this second car stay put, giving us a thumbs up as we pass.

Within minutes these three guys become either loiterers, carriers of open containers of alcohol, or skateboarders in public, as the LAPD shows up in an unmarked black Dodge Charger and issues them a ticket.

A very fancy BMW with a driver who is either a valet or an Armenian comes roaring into the parking lot. Turns out it’s the latter. He gets out, unwraps a new auto detailing clay bar and immediately starts to dress his tires. He finishes one tire and walks over to talk to the cops. He leaves the bar wrapper on the ground.

David tells Bill and I about when he was sixteen and worked at a Haagen Dazs and how a co-worker’s dad would wax his Jaguar (the one with two fuel tanks) in the parking lot as he waited for his son to get off work. Bill asks how many days a week the kid had a shift. David says 3 or 4. Bill says that the dad probably had a serious build up of wax.

The fancy BMW exits the parking lot, turns right, screeches to a halt, backs into the mini mall and then exits again, turning left. After ten minutes he comes back.

The BMW driver tells a couple, who are the only people on this planet wondering if their parking spot is legitimate, that it’s OK to park where they are, because “we’re closed.” “We” meaning his store, so presumably he’s the owner of the Armenian/Russian/Spanish deli we are standing in front of. The couple goes into the Thai restaurant. (This is a given, the only woman hanging out in the parking lot is me, and one of the cops). A fancy Mercedes drives up behind the BMW and the guys have a chat and a smoke and then leave again.

I peek into the deli, trying to see if he sells my favorite Bulgarian juice. The disco lights inside make it impossible to tell for sure but they look like they’re in there, sour cherry, apricot, black currant. YUM! And suddenly crazy Armenian man is my new best friend, and I am seriously hoping he comes back so I can ask him if he’ll sell me some juice off hours. Bill reminds me that it isn’t a good idea to watch Cassavetes’ movies one after the other.

There’s a moment when we try to figure out why the doughnut shop is called Windsor Donuts, since Windsor is a few blocks away, and that digresses to why the House of Windsor people in England don’t actually have last names.

We try to figure out what a movie is about from a poster hanging in the deli’s window. The text is in Armenian, but it’s got a graphic of Russia, France, and Armenia and the man is holding a hammer and sickle flag and smiling. Must be a comedy, says Bill. Another poster advertising a performance with “Bouzoukia style seating” gets all of us googling, and once you pull out the phone, you know it’s time to go home.