Marathon Life

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Regina Spektor at El Rey Theatre - Los Angeles, CA

On Tuesday night (7/28) I was lucky enough to have tickets to the sold out Regina Spektor show at El Rey Theatre. My friend Linda from San Diego picked me up at work in Irvine around 4pm with my friend Ivan and we hit the road. It only took about 1 hour 20 min to get there with no really bad traffic. We had time to kill so we went to El Toro Cantina, just down the street. It was Taco Tuesday so they had $1 taco and $5 margarita specials. (All photos on this post were taken by me)

After waiting in line for about 45 min they finally opened the doors around 8:15pm. We immediately went to the front left side area that was elevated by a few steps. It was actually the best place to take photos. I did have to zoom in quite a bit and had issues with getting the right lighting since I wasn't using a flash. It was a standing room only show so there wasn't a lot space to maneuver around.

Just when I thought there was no opening band some lame group came out at 8:50pm. I was hoping Regina would start at 9:30, but she didn't begin her set until 10:15. We were impatiently counting down the songs. It seemed their set would never end. I don't even know the name of the band as they never announced themselves. You would figure it would be a good marketing practice to actually announce who you are to an audience who most likely has never heard your music before. They were trying so hard to be like hippies and all 70s like it was kind of pathetic. Their 40-min set went on forever. Regina needs to pick a better opener for her future tours. Sorry.

Finally Regina came out (yay!) and played a great show with supporting musicians that included a drummer and 4-piece string section (two upright basses, a violin and a viola!) I have been to two previous shows in San Diego where it was just her and her piano solo so this was a great bonus to have the full effect of the music. So much of Regina's music is rooted in orchestration.

Regina represented her new album Far pretty heavily, opening with "The Calculation". Other highlights for me included "Eet", which is my favorite track from Far. Her first single "Laughing With" was also enjoyable. The sound quality was great througout the evening. I never had to strain to listen to the keys as I have had to do several times at Tori Amos concerts. Regina definitely interacted with the audience and looked like she was truly enjoying herself up there.

Regina played many songs without the orchestra/drummer including the always emotional "Samson" during her 5-song encore. The strings came back in full force with her hit "Us" that was from her 2004 debut album Soviet Kitch. I really believe it was that song in particular that got Regina Spektor on the musical map. I recall being in my first apartment in San Diego when I when heard a distinctive voice from the other room that resembled Bjork's but it was a bit different, slightly Russian in tone. Then I turned to the TV to see Regina in a video for "Us". I went out and got the album the next day.

I'm really glad she played the bonus track from Far called "Time is All Around". It's such a great song and anyone who doesn't own the bonus CD should really go out and buy it. It's worth the extra money! Also, I was glad she played "On The Radio" from her second album Begin to Hope. That is one of my favorite tracks from her and it's always an up-beat tempo and fun song to hear. Usually I am drawn to her slower, more mellow songs but this one just does it for me.

I don't know if this set list is completely accurate (in order of songs) but her management posted some of it on her Facebook page discussion board.

Set List
The Calculation
Blue Lips
Laughing With
Folding Chair
Man of 1000 Faces
That Time
Bobbin' For Apples
Poor Little Rich Boy
Time is All Around
One More Time With Feeling
Apres Moi
Genius Next Door

Hotel Song
On The Radio
Love, You're a Whore

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posted by Anthony at 12:18 AM 0 comments

Friday, July 24, 2009

Massive Waves Crashing in Newport Beach

I saw the tragic news today about a man who was killed by the waves at The Wedge in Newport Beach. I had to go there and check out the monstrous waves myself.

My friend Ivan and I walked down to the Balboa Island ferry and took it across to the Balboa peninsula to watch the waves. We later grabbed $1 tacos at Great Mex. I love their $1 taco specials every Tuesday and Friday!

Anyway... right now and all weekend there are 15-20 foot high waves/swells over the Newport Beach Balboa peninsula. I took a video that captured the waves crashing against the pier with some even got as high as the floor of the pier. We weren't standing toward the end of the pier, but a lot of people who were got soaked. It was amazing to watch. On the same video I also caught a lifeguard rescue of a swimmer who was trying to get back into shore as a set of huge 15-foot waves pummeled him. He was almost slammed against the pier's wooden stilts. Actual pieces of wood were thrown off the pier by the force of the waves. Actually my roommate's boyfriend got a video of this on his camera. This was an amazing sight.

I am totally going back tomorrow with some friends to get more footage of the waves and hopefully people body surfing at The Wedge - check out a video compilation of body surfers I found on YouTube here. Crazy stuff man. I'm totally wedging out dude.

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posted by Anthony at 11:25 PM 0 comments

Monday, July 20, 2009

San Diego Pride - Weekly Running Tally ending July 20, 2009

This past weekend I was in San Diego again for Pride and to dog/house sit. It was a great time. I thoroughly enjoyed being with my friends. I felt like I spread myself out a little too thin though. I never had a chance to truly just chill out. On Saturday morning I rushed down to the parade after searching for a parking space about a mile away. I met up with Ryan, Nima and Sakis, then eventually Alexis. We were there for 3 hours. I took a lot of great photos of the floats, etc. The photo on the left is of Ongina, who was a contestant on the Logo show Rupaul's Drag Race. I loved that show and Ongina! He was robbed of the title and should have made it further than he did.

On Sunday morning Alexis, Ryan and I went to a nice brunch at a private home in the Marston Hills area of Hillcrest. I was so envious of this small craftsman style home. It even had a separate dwelling in the back with vaulted ceilings that served as an office for the owner. I found out he actually works in Solana Beach 2 days a week since he runs a gallery. What a nice life. He can work in the comfort of his own home and just be in charge of his days. I want that so bad. That is my goal for when I get older. I want to have the flexibility to work for myself. Corporate America is very draining, but I have to pay my dues now. When I am in my 40s hopefully I'll escape this cubical way of life.

As for running I had some issues this week with a small injury to my lower inside calf area. I am not sure what it is exactly. I first got this pain in mid-May. Then I had the appendectomy and didn't run for 3 weeks. It is a ligament or tendon that runs along the inside of my right leg but not quite on the shin. It's only on one isolated spot instead of the entire ligament. I felt some moderate pain during my last run (7.1 mile run on 7/16). Then I didn't run Fri, Sat, Sun or Mon. I will skip today (Tues) so I will have 5 days of no running. I did do elliptical yesterday and upper body chest/back weights and abs. I felt good. I think I just need to rest the leg. I iced this weekend and that helped a lot. I did a lot of walking at Pride so at least I got some exercise. Below is my log for the period ending July 20.

Min per Mile
HR Max

HR Ave

July 13, 2009
Barely got a run in on this Monday. Worked late.


July 14, 200929:144.26
I ran in the morning since I was going to do something after work.
178 (95%)

158 (84%)

July 14, 2009
I ran again today since I didn't go to a work function.
170 (91%)

161 (86%)

July 16, 2009
My longest run yet but I developed the pain in my lower calf/shin area. I could still run fast with this slight pain, but obviously I am worried about doing anything longer than 6-8 miles. How will it hold up on a 12- or 20-miler? Going to the doctor Aug 3.
168 (90%)

153 (82%)

Week ending July 20, 2009
Well due to skipping 3 days this period I was well below my goal of 30 miles. I will see how this injury goes after taking 5 days off from running in a row...
172.6 (92%)

157.3 (84%)

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posted by Anthony at 10:00 PM 0 comments

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Front Row Center Tori Amos

I don't even know where to begin. I saw Tori Amos perform at LA's Greek Theatre last night and it was one of the best shows I have ever attended. Getting upgraded to FRONT ROW CENTER certainly didn't hurt! The photo on the left is one I took in 2005 when I had a photo press pass (was a journalist at the time). Last night my phone went dead so I have no pics unfortunately.

I've been a fan since 1995 and saw Tori for the first time live during her Dew Drop Inn tour of 1996. I recall the day, it was during finals week. I was a sophomore at UMass Dartmouth. I had a Portuguese final the next morning at 8AM but I didn't care. I drove up with a friend from southeastern Mass all the way to UNH in Durham, NH. Those were certainly the times. How innocent and young I was, barely 20 and so naive.

Last night's show was packed with songs from the 1990s. There were 22 songs in all, performed in just over 2 hours. Tori is like an elite marathon runner of musical performance. She played the classics the entire night with sustained energy. We were transported to the mid-90s watching this show. Flashback central. There was "Graveyard" that went straight into "Cornflake Girl". There was and updated arrangement of "Bells for Her" using both the piano and her synthesizers. She did and aggressive version of "Sugar" with full band and my all-time favorite song "Precious Things" from her first album Little Earthquakes. This is a staple for most of her tours. Every since she incorporated a full band for this song I have fallen in love with it even more than her studio version. So powerful.

A rare song called "Siren" came out of the bag last night. It's one of my all-time favorite non-album tracks. Tori wrote it for the Great Expectations soundtrack (film from 1997 starring Gweneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke). This song is so chaotic and I love how fast Tori plays it on keys. She was jumping up and down while throwing her hair around like a crazy bitch - classic Tori. I loved it! Check out the entire set list at Undented.

My favorite part of the night was early on when she did "Icicle". Tori incorporated the band into it and the middle section exploded in rage when she sang "I could have, I should have...". "Icicle" is one of my all-time favorites. It brings back the rage I felt while in my early 20s. I had so much drama pent up inside. I would listen to this in my dorm room and just let go. I listened to it a lot during the later part of my college years (1996-1998).

Another highlight for me was the new arrangement of "China". It was just superb. The drums and bass were a nice addition to its delicate and emotional core. "China" always reminds me of not being able to see people who live very far away. "China/All the way to New York/I can feel the distance." It reminds me of my long-distance relationship of almost 2 years with J**.

Tori only played 6 songs from her new album Abnormally Attracted to Sin. My favorite was "Curtain Call", a more paino-based uptempo song, so fitting for LA since it deals with being in the entertainment industry for so long. I did enjoy the interlude when she explained her song "Mary Jane" to us. The song, performed solo on the piano, is about a 15-year old boy asking his mom for permission to bring "Mary Jane" over for the weekend. Little did she know that he was referring to the smoked substance, not a female. She then did "Jackie's Strength" solo at the piano as well. I love that track from From the Choirgirl Hotel.

This was probably my 25th or 30th Tori show. I have to go back and count all my ticket stubs. I will always be a fan and attend as many shows as I can.

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posted by Anthony at 10:07 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, July 15, 2009




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Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekly running tally - ending July 12, 2009

Below is my training log for the period ending on Sunday, July 12, 2009. I felt good overall!

Min per Mile
HR Max
HR Ave

July 6, 2009
Longest run yet post-surgery. I felt good and pushed it pretty hard.
173 (93%)
158 (84%)

July 7, 200931:30
I ran harder tonight. It was a struggle but I averaged a great pace. I feel my body getting stronger and my legs.
170 (91%)
152 (81%)

July 8, 2009
Another fast-paced run. It didn't feel like I was going that fast.
169 (90%)
154 (82%)

July 9, 2009
I did a shorter run since I stopped and did some push ups at Irvine Terrace Park.
173 (93%)
155 (84%)

July 11, 2009
It was hotter than usual at 8:30 when I started. I ran from the shop where I got my brakes done. I was in San Diego for the weekend so I ran from University Heights to Mission Hills. It explains my higher heart rate.
177 (95%)
165 (88%)

July 12, 2009
Fastest pace run yet. I was only going to do 4 miles but felt good. I think since it was hot I ended up
174 (93%)
160 (86%)

Week ending July 12, 2009
A solid week overall. I was glad I ran 6 days. I need to really be consistent. I am going to try to do an 8-9 mile run next weekend. Building up...
172.6 (92%)
157.3 (84%)

I went to San Diego for the weekend and it was really nice to just sit by the pool at the house in Mission Hills I was staying at. I was helping my friend Justin dog sit. I always love dog sitting at this house since it is just so spacious and amazing with 5 bedrooms and 5.5 baths. The European kitchen is so great to cook in. There is a den in the back of the house that has French doors that open to the triangle-shaped pool. It's currently on the market for well over $2 million! Oh and there are lemon and grapefruit trees on the property.

In the front of the home it has a "great room" that features a panoramic view of Mission Valley and the golf course. On the second floor you can slightly see the ocean, which is about 5 miles away. Someday I will have a home like this. Well, I think I need to change my career if I am going to make the kind of money to be able to afford a multimillion dollar home. Or J**** needs to make a lot of money with his job. He stands a better chance than I, but I am going to start playing the lottery once a week.

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posted by Anthony at 11:07 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Filing Grievances with Insurance

I went into my Anthem Blue Cross account online today to check on the claims related to my emergency appendectomy that I had on June 9 in New York. They have already screwed up once since they posted all the claims to my OLD insurance account that I had at my former employer. I also had Anthem and my new member # is almost the same except for the prefix sequence. When I was in NYC I told the hospital to use my new insurance. I even limped my way went down to the billing dept after I was discharged to MAKE SURE they had all the correct info. Still, it was charged to my old insurance. Great job! I called today and Anthem is going to post the charges to my new insurance acct that went into effect on June 1. So at least that issue will be taken care of.

Unfortunately there was another serious billing issue I discovered. I was reviewing the claims online because there is a separate claim for each doctor. For example, the anesthesiologist charges a separate fee. The radiologist charges a separate fee, etc, etc. There were 3 separate charges for the surgeon who performed my appendectomy. Anthem will not pay the entire claim because he was an "out of network" doctor. Although it has not been billed yet and it says "pending" on the online claim, my possible portion of the bill will be $1666!

How would I have known the doctor was out of network? Oh, I guess I forgot to ask while drugged up laying naked on the operating table, "Before you slice open my abdomen, is the surgeon in my network?" The hospital did what they needed to go to get my surgery completed and they had to call in a specialist. I understand that completely. This was not a planned operation and I HAD NO CHOICE IN THE MATTER. That's what an ER is all about - the unexpected. I didn't PLAN to have my appendix almost burst while in NYC. Now, this argument hopefully, will save me $1666 in charges.

The Anthem rep, who was amazingly helpful, told me that he hears these cases all the time. HE told me he would file a grievance for me. I will know in 30 days what the judgment will be. He says they have an entire dept at Anthem dedicated to researching grievances and negotiating with the various doctors who charge the exorbitant fees.

What I don't understand is why I may be responsible for charges that could have been prevented. It's not fair and I actually have insurance! What is wrong with this picture? Should I have refused the operation and risked my life? What about all the people who don't even have insurance? Here I am, possibly having to pay $1666 for an operation that, according to my insurance, should have only cost $250. That's right, according to my benefit coverage, if admitted to a hospital I only have to pay a $250 co-pay and all physician and surgical services are covered at 100%. That is for in-network though. Could the hospital used one of their own doctors to do this surgery? I have no idea. Again, I had no control over the situation and I wasn't making the decisions. The decisions were being made FOR ME. I was out of the loop and shouldn't pay the price. I was traveling on business and had no idea this was going to happen.

It seems like I should have a great case to escape the charges. I hope I do. Although I have no idea what the Grievance Dept at Anthem does exactly, the rep told me the rep told me they deal with these situations all the time with out of network doctors charging INSANELY high fees. Oh I almost forgot, one of his fees for "ER services" cost $1125. I only remember seeing him one time just before I went up to the operating room. All he said was "Hi. I'll be performing your appendectomy tonight." That was it. What exactly cost $1125? He never touched me in the ER. He was in street clothes and looked like he just got there. Also, the day after the surgery he came to see me for about 3 min and looked at the bandages. That cost was $595 and my portion is $350! Whatever. I really hope Obama can get universal health care passed so everything is regulated. This is out of control.

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posted by Anthony at 9:49 PM 0 comments

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Weekly Running Tally ending July 6, 2009

This week I felt more tired than usual on my runs. I ran two days less, I was aiming for 5 days but ran only 4. J*** was in town so I wanted to spend more time relaxing. I was shocked I did a run at 6:33 pace. I did have a scare on one of the runs when I felt a sharp pain in my left knee. I think I just need to not push as hard on the uphills. I found a hill on Seadrift Avenue near Irvine Terrace Park that is moderately challenging. No real pain in the abdomen. Today I ran 6.1 at 6:45 pace for my longest run yet post-surgery. I will be posting that in the log at the end of the week. Below is the latest log:

Min per Mile
HR Max
HR Ave

June 29, 2009
It was a Monday run. I felt ok. Worked in some hills. Average HR was good. Trying to keep it around 80% of max.
166 (89%)
151 (81%)

July 1, 200931:04
Ran after a long day at work. I was tired and my HR showed it. I had to work extra hard to keep pace.
176 (94%)
156 (83%)

July 3, 2009
Wow, this was a tough run. I was breathing pretty hard. I pushed it a bit too much I think I felt a twinge in my left knee. I had to stop. It went away though.
174 (93%)
155 (83%)

July 4, 2009
Wow, my fastest pace yet. I was so in the mood to just get it over with. Happy 4th of July!
173 (93%)
155 (84%)

Week ending July 5, 2009
Trying to get at least 25 miles next week. I will try to run 6 days but pace slower. I don't want to overdo it.
172.2 (92%)
154 (83%)

J***'s visit was great. We did a lot. We went over to the Balboa Peninsula a bunch of times. The night he came in we took the Balboa ferry and ate at The Newport Landing on Thursday for their $1 tacos. We each had 4. They were good. It was super busy though and lots and lots of high school kids. I forgot what it is like to be a teenager. The kids in SoCal seem very spoiled though, much different than Boston teens.

Friday we didn't lay out on a beach but drove 2 miles over to Corona Del Mar, a section of Newport Beach. It has many cute shops and restaurants. We at at Thai Del Mar, a small place on Pacific Highway (PCH). We both had the lunch special for $6.99 but it was not enough food. I was left hungry and had to immediately eat a whole wheat bagel at Bruegger's across the street afterward.

We attempted to drive to Balboa Island and park my car, but there was not a single space left on the island. Yes, we made the grave mistake of actually driving off the island during 4th of July weekend. My roommate actually assumed we had walked to Corona Del Mar. So after 20 min of not finding a space we decided to head to Fashion Island up the road and check out some stores and walk around. We then parked in a neighborhood nearby and walked went to Corona Del Mar State beach. We took photos of The Wedge from afar. Waves can get insanly big there (up to 15 feet high). They were only 3-4 feet last weekend though.

Saturday we ended up taking the ferry again and going to the Balboa peninsula beach for a few hours. It was a perfect day with perfect sun. I didn't bring my boogie board since I don't think I am ready to do that just yet post-surgery. My abs still feel sore inside where the incisions were. We did go into the very COLD water though. The waves crash close so you can get pounded pretty easily. For lunch we initially headed to Great Mex for some great Mexican food. We were going to go on Friday, but it was way too busy and no places to sit. We then walked down the Pier and saw the over-priced menu items at the Ruby's diner. Later that night we want to Shanghai Pine Garden on the island for some great Chinese food. I had the steamed chicken and veggies with a garlic sauce on the side and J*** had shrimp with string beans and rice. The prices were $9-$11 for a lot of food. Granted, it's not the most fancy place, but it's convenient and good.

Sunday we went down to hike at El Moro Canyon at the Crystal Cove State Beach. We opted for the 3.1 mile loop since we were hungry and doing the 4-6 mile option was not going to be an option. In the future I would like to do a very long hike there. It's a nice workout with very steep inclines and declines. After grabbing some salads at Trader Joe's we headed to the Cystal Cove State Park's beach at Pelican Point, which is very nice. The $10 fee for doing the hike got us into the beach parking area too. Not a bad deal if you do both activities.

J*** left this AM and then I went into work early. I will miss him! I stayed until 6PM per usual. I become unproductive mid-day and then I get a lot done from like 3-6 so I just go with it. I should have left earlier since I came in at 7:30AM! Anyway, I am tired now and will go to bed.

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posted by Anthony at 8:25 AM 0 comments

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