Thursday, March 24, 2011
Running, Coffee and Jeopardy!
A few weeks ago I headed out to California to appear on a game show. But that's not the important part of the story.
I was scheduled to tape the show on a Tuesday, and rather than flying out the day before and risk that my flight would get delayed, cancelled, or otherwise messed with by winter weather, I opted to build in an extra day. Who wouldn't want to spend an extra day in Los Angeles, right? Early on in the planning of the trip, I also decided that I wasn't going to rent a car. While LA without wheels might seem like heresy, of at least a bad idea, I saw it as a challenge. Also, I find driving in LA to be far more stressful than driving in other parts of the country, and the last thing I wanted the day before appearing on national TV was more stress. I e-mailed some locals about renting a bike, but the logistics didn't seem too favorable, as there was nowhere near the hotel (where I happily asked for the "Jeopardy contestant rate, please") for me to rent a bike.
I also e-mailed Caitlin, a fellow Team Joe runner who spends a good deal of time in California each spring. I asked her for any suggestions for running routes, and she enthusiastically recommended I run in Santa Monica. A few Google Map searches later, I had found the surprisingly comprehensive bus routes that would take me from my hotel in Culver City to the start of her running route.
Having packed my running gear (as well as some flashcards about the US States and Presidents - gotta get that last-minute studying in), I left cold, rainy, dismal late-winter New York for LAX, where I was disappointed to learn that the weather was to be unseasonably chilly. Turns out that the weather forecasters were wrong. I woke up on Monday morning to blue skies, a slight breeze, and temperatures in the low sixties. I put on my running shoes, hopped on the Culver City bus, transferred to the Santa Monica bus ($1.40 with transfer - a bargain!), and soon I was at the shore.
I walked along the manicured space that is Palisades Park to San Vicente and started my run, admiring the real estate as it moved from multi-million dollar apartments to multi-multi-million dollar homes. Caitlin had suggested I run the four miles to the Peet's Coffee in Brentwood, where I might spot the likes of Reese Witherspoon and whomever she was dating at the time. While Reese was nowhere to be seen, I took my latte outside. At the next table, a Brit was telling his table-mate about "some horrible Harrison Ford project". Pronouncing it "PRO-ject" rather than "PRAH-ject" made the moment perfect. The latte was fine, but not up to Joe standards, of course. Observe the lack of latte art:
I started back towards the shore, spotting actor James Frain (True Blood! The Tudors!) eating lunch outside the Whole Foods, not as exciting a celebrity spotting as Reese, but good enough. As I picked up my pace, I realized the best part of this experience was not just the exercise or the scenery or even the weather. It was the luxurious feeling of going running in the middle of a work day. I was not the only runner out there, and I did wonder what these other folks were doing not behind a desk. Actors between auditions? Housewives, desperate or otherwise? Don't these folks have jobs to go to? All the same, I couldn't think of a better way to spend my free time. I got back to the beach, crossed over the highway and made my way to Venice and Marina del Rey to catch the 183 bus to Culver City, where I could not have been more relaxed and ready to do battle the next day.
As for the game show, I can't say much, as I had to sign something that said Sony Pictures Entertainment retained the right to have their legal department crush me like a small bug if I revealed anything. I think I'm safe in saying that yes, they had (adequate) coffee (and pastries!) in the green room and that there was one category of clues that would be of particular interest to the readership of this blog. For more than that, you'll have to tune in on Monday July 11 (on Channel 7 at 7pm, if you're in New York).
And, finally, one last gratuitous palm tree shot. Because LA really does look like this sometimes.