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My Trip to La La Land (part 2)

  part 1

Ring, ring


"Hello, Erich?  This is Neil, I'm in town now.  Remember, I was going to stop by your place?"

The next voice I heard could only be described as the best Ms. Doubtfire impersonation since, well, since I called Jordu to inquire about visiting his studio.  Hmmm... I think I see a trend.

"Ohhhh, Erich has moved."


"Yes, it was quite unexpected."

"Come on Erich, Jordu tried the same thing."

"Ah damn, ok.  You can come by, but I'm going to ignore you and don't ask any stupid questions."

Ok, maybe the conversation didn't exactly go that way, besides Erich is way to nice to tell me to bug off over the phone. 

I got in touch with Erich a week or so prior to my trip to La La Land.  The idea was to come by on Sunday and his wonderful fiancee Antoinette would cook me a nice dinner.  Erich said they could only dig up lobster tail and and filet or two because their fridge was bare.  I suppose I'd have to slum it that night.

Then, Erich and I decided to visit Henry on Sunday. 

"Hey Erich, can we make it lunch instead?"

"Ah jeeze, you're killing me.  Let's see, we have Chateu Briand lunch size portion and a fine Chianti, will that do or will we have to go to the store?"

"Hmmm... I suppose". 

Of course anything I plan changes from minute to minute.  When Jordu decided to accompany us to Henry's the plan changed once again.

"Hey Erich, we are going to meet at Jordu's right around lunchtime, can we make it breakfast instead?"

"Damn you, you'll get toast no butter!"

Whew, glad that was settled.

I had made up my mind to stay in Riverside that night and get to Erich's house early.  I inquired as to the best place to stay in Riverside.  Erich said there's a hotel on every street corner, I should have no problem.  He forgot to mention there is only one street corner and I had no idea where it was.

I made the trip out there in just about an hour.  You can probably make the same trip in 17 minutes if you are rushing for a plane (note my careful use of foreshadow used to entice you to read part 3).

I had found my lodging destination and entered the lovely lobby of this quaint, yet tastefully furnished hotel.  I waltzed past beautiful statues, flowers and potted plants and slipped my credit card through the little slot at the base of the bullet-proof, reinforced, night window and after 3 rounds of interrogation, I  was rewarded with a room key.  Yes, a room key.  I haven't seen a room key in years.  All I ever get at hotels are little plastic cards that open doors.  I felt a pang of melancholy longing for the days of room keys, but alas that feeling passed.  It may have also been the remnants of Taco Bell, but both feeling are strangely similar.

Once in my room, I was heading off to sleep and decided to watch a little TV.  I was sifting through the channels and came across a channel that appeared to show nekkid nude folks.  Wait a minute, those people are doing more than just walking around nekkid nude and there's no little black moving spots covering important areas.  I checked to make sure I wasn't paying for this room by the hour.  Nope, seems like a regular hotel, I've only heard one or two sounds of gunfire outside my door.  Maybe I have the managers room.  There was no point pondering the morality of a porno ridden hotel TV and the possibility of a child staying there, so I settled in to watch a little more TV and to thank the satellite Gods for my good fortune.

Bright and early the next day, I headed off to visit Erich.  Erich's abode was not too far from where I was staying.  I arrived and approached the door only to be greeted by Ms. Doubtfire's bellybutton.  You see Erich is tall.  I don't mean 6'2" tall, Erich is 6'8" tall.  He's so tall, Shaq would give him a head nod and a wink if he passed him in an airport.  Erich's build also fits his height.  Not only is he tall, but he's proportionate and he doesn't look like Ms. Doubtfire at all.  Well, except for that gray wig and those dentures, but the gray is much different from Ms. Doubtfire's gray, it's more a whitish gray.  I ran for the car screaming like a little girl when Erich bellowed for me to stop.  I felt this arm grab my shoulder and realized Erich had a grip on me all the way from the porch.  More screaming and crying.  This wasn't how I imagined my trip to Erich's to turn out.   I was coaxed (Erich's term for bullied) back to the house and eventually went in.  Erich was introducing himself and his family while skillfully ducking the fan like those amazing kids that jump rope while doing flips and stuff.  It was quite a feat. 

As it turned out, all that size and intimidation, Erich is probably the nicest guy in the the mask world.  That either says something about Erich, or something about the mask world.  Anyway, we had a great breakfast of ham, eggs and of course toast no butter.  all skillfully cooked by his fiancee.

Once I popped my shoulder joint back in place, we headed out to his studio.  Erich is a seasoned mask maker.  How do I know this? Because he abides by the first rule of mask making: Your studio should be as far away as humanly possible from the family.  There you have it, the answer to the first question on your mask test.  Make it tough for the family to come bug you as Erich has so skillfully done.  We hiked through the backyard through mountains, ravines, rivers and fought off two bears until finally reaching his studio. 

Erich also follows rule #2 in the mask making rulebook.  Your studio should be 10x smaller than humanly possible to work in.  Erich opened up his studio and sat in the rotating chair.  I asked him where he paints, he rotated the chair to the right.  I asked where he sculpts, a quick turn to the left.  I asked where he molded, this required a 180 degree spin.  I had to ask where he peed.  He spun toward the door and asked me to kick it open.  We had a blast trying to outdo each other in distance.

After I got my knee out of his hip and he removed his elbow from my spleen, he showed me around the rest of his studio.  It was my turn to sit in the chair.  Beautiful masks of many varieties adorned the walls, mostly by Erich's hand.  There was also this glop monster that appeared to be a melted toy that seemed to be Erich's prize possession.  He tried to sell it to me for 3 easy payments of just $99.99 but I was short on cash.  He reminded me of his vulcan death grip from the porch incident, so I agreed to his terms.  A quick jaunt outside the shed, I mean studio and there was his mold farm.  You see, to grow a mold farm, you plant plaster in the spring.  By summer, you get these gorgeous molds that pop up out of the ground.  Harvesting these molds is what a mask maker excels at.  Too early and the mold is ruined.  Too late and well, you miss Halloween.  What's neat about a mold farm, it's a crap shoot as to what mold goes to what mask.  Erich typically pours latex in the first mold that he bangs his shin into and just sends the customer that one.  Not a terribly efficient system, but saves you alot of hassle.


Look at those beautful molds, that bastard!  Most people are envious of other's pretty spouses, not mask makers, we love pretty molds.

The time had really flown by and we needed to get moving to make it to Jordu's place so we could then go to Henry's.  I offered to drive Erich back to La La Land which is another less subtle use of foreshadowing for that plane reference I made up at the top.  I'll wait here if you want to scroll back to read it.  Hum dee dum.  Ho hi diddle do... hummanna hummana.  You back yet?  Was it worth the scroll back?  Are you excited to read part 3?  Good, because part 2 is officially done.  Oh wait, I have pictures, never mind.




  After my part 1 picture taking fiasco, Erich warned me not to post any pictures taken by my hand.  I was again threatened with that shoulder thingy, so I obliged.  Any camera kudos go to Erich and a big thanks to Erich for covering my butt since I didn't have my camera.
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