November 19th, 2004

Not Left-Handed

Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!

Wednesday night Xta and I drove down for a reception and taping of Wait Wait at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, on the west side of the Monterey Peninsula (and I do mean right on the west side -- like, with a view of the ocean any time it wasn't foggy, which it was between about 7pm and 10am). Traffic was reasonably light (at least on our side of the highway; I'm glad we weren't going north) and we got down in time to check in at the desk and look around a bit, then head over to the dinner/reception thing.

There was a great deal of good wine, possibly because five of the six event sponsors were local vineyards, including Bonny Doon. The food was impressive: the appetizers weren't really my thing (tuna sushi and a chanterelle/truffle crostini). But the soup (artichoke bisque with crispy pancetta) and main course (beef in red wine sauce and poached lobster with stewed leeks and parsley root puree -- which basically was like mashed potatos except much better for you and with a pleasant herbal aroma) were superb. For dessert there was assorted cheese, fruit, bread and honey, and chocolates.

In addition to food, of course, there was the company. Before everyone sat down I got to chat with Peter Sagal (who looks much better with facial hair than he does in his picture for his NPR bio) and Carl Kasell, and we were seated with Adam Felber, who is probably my second favorite comedic media figure after Jon Stewart (and only second because Jon's in a position where he gets to do things like insult Tucker Carlson to his face). Various people started collecting signatures on their menu cards, and in response, Adam passed his menu card around the table for all of us to sign, and kept it in his shirt pocket as a good luck charm. (An extremely effective one, as it turned out.) Our table also had Adam's wife, a marine artillery officer studying at the Naval Postgrad school and his SO (not sure if they were married), a local postal carrier, and another DoD guy whose exact job I never found out (possibly it was classified). There were a lot of very bad puns, some of which may or may not have concerned the don't-ask-don't-tell policy and veganism. There was also a brief war of words between Adam and his co-panelist, Sue Ellicott, over whose table was better. Sue did have a compelling argument in that her table had thought to steal the extra hors d'oeuvres from the unoccupied seats at other tables. But I think our Fearless Leader showed pretty decisively, the following night, who was the wonkiest.

After dinner it was pretty late, so we went over to our room and crashed. The next morning, at breakfast in the dining hall, we chatted a bit with a couple of transportation dep't administrators (apparently there was a state-wide conference going on) from Napa and Sacramento; interesting guys. We took a walk down to the beach and poked around. There was a huge pile of sea foam in one little inlet, probably prevented from collapsing by the amount of agar in the water. There was a fair amount of kelp lying about; it's very odd stuff -- the main stalks are much harder than they look, but still fairly light. After that we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (very nifty -- we saw the feedings at the sea otter, outer bay, and kelp forest exhibits, and the jellies and penguins were also pretty neat), walked down Cannery Row, swung through downtown Monterey for coffee and a walk on the marina, then went back to the conference grounds and got dinner at Fishwife. (I had sole piccata, which had kind of a Cali/Mex twist. Xta had clam chowder. We both had key lime mojitos and key lime pie. All very nice, and cheap for the quality.)

Then we got back over to the conference grounds for the taping. Very, very funny. Everyone should listen to the show tomorrow (11am on KQED, which you can get online; or it may be some other time on the weekend on your local NPR station). Of course, they edit out some of the sillier comments and in-jokes. I doubt that Adam's shout-out to Team Felbers will be in the final cut. Nor will the discussion of how the residents of Monterey are a bunch of pinkos.

Speaking of, at the coffee/dessert reception after the show, I realized something. For decades, conservatives have called liberals "reds" -- and they do still resort to the "commie!" thing from time to time -- while declaring themselves "true blue" Americans. Now it seems that not only have we managed to label ourselves blue, and them red; we've gotten them to declare pride in being reds. I'm sure the irony of this is well beyond their comprehension. Is it a liberal media conspiracy? We report, you decide!

We drove home through some fairly impressive fog. I have a stack of mail at home I have to deal with, and a bunch of administrative junk to get to at work today. (Work was not helped by the fact that I had to run home after getting here when I realized I'd left my laptop bag on the couch instead of taking it all the way down to the car.) So, I will get back to doing that now.

Should any Wait-Waiters stop through -- you were all really nice, and fun; hope to see you again some time. And of the cast and crew -- you're all far too good-looking to be working in radio! And I'm not just saying that because I want a shot at the prize! Nor because Peter looks like he could be my dad's younger brother!
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