Cast of Characters

I am very fortunate to have a number of good friends, many of them virtually lifelong. As a matter of course, they make appearances on the blog, often frequently. The purpose of this entry is to give frequent readers a bit more insight into the cast of characters that make frequent appearances. For convenience, I have broken these folks into a variety of groups so that it is slightly easier to understand how I know them.

The High School Gang

Need to know how to properly hook up your antique VCR to your new high-definition, flat panel TV? AJ is your man. While A.J. didn’t go to our high school, we all consider him an alumnus of the Former President Grover Cleveland Humanities “School Without Walls” Magnet High School, in good old Reseda, California. Entries involving AJ.
Need to know how to stop A.J. from hooking up your antique VCR to your new high-definition, flat panel TV? Denisse is your woman. Hailing from Peru, Denisse is A.J.’s wife and we are birthday twins–one of the only people I know to share my birthday. Entries involving Denisse.
Andy (a.k.a


A New Yorker living in L.A., and a fellow Yankee fan, I went to high school with Andy and have known him now almost twenty years. He is known for his sports fanaticism, as well as drinking Ketchup out of the bottle. He is one of the few of the high school crew left living in Southern California. Entries involving Andy.
MandyAndy’s better half–or better third, since Mandy is so much smaller than Andy. Mandy didn’t go to high school with us, but I remember the first time I met her at an Italian restaurant in Brentwood and the smile she put on Andy’s face. She has flicked off most of Andy’s rough edges. You should see their cute family portraits with their little baby, Rudy and their even newer baby, Hannah. Mandy is from South Africa and has the coolest accent. I am good at accents but I have a lot of trouble with that one. Entries involving Mandy.
Eric (a.k.a


Ryane (a.k.a.


Eric is another high school croney whom I have know for nearly 20 years. Back in the day, we co-authored half a dozen hilarious short stories which were circulated around school, and, if were circulated today, would have probably gotten us expelled. Eric is a Cardinals fan, possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of music, and can beat me in Trivial Pursuit without breaking a sweat. He is quite possibly the funniest person I’ve ever met. He also introduced me to my first Indian food and Tequila shot. Entries involving Eric.
Ryane, Eric’s wife, did not go to our high school, and is therefore one of the most educated people in our group. She has a Ph.D. in political science, and is, in fact, a college professor. She is also an Angels fan, which has, I imagine, led to some interesting discussions between she and Eric when the two teams have played one another. Eric and Ryane have a little boy, Damian, and a little girl, Cali, although I should stress that the siblings are of different breeds. Entries involving Ryane.
Lisa (a.k.a

, a.k.a “Linky” Lisa)

Lisa is another high school pal, whom I’ve known for a long time even though she, like Norm, is a few years younger than I. She and Andy are the remaining members of our original high school crowd still sticking it out in Southern California, although I think Lisa is wavering. (She’ll say she’s not, but pay her no mind.) In addition to the exciting world of project management, Lisa is also a magazine editor. She used to edit a pet magazine and now edits a dental magazine. I even have an autographed copy of the former which I have tried selling on eBay, claiming it was signed by Lisa Kudrow. Lisa, in my mind, looks like a young Dorothy Lamour. I think of this every time I watch the movie, Road to Bali. Entries involving Lisa.
Norm (a.k.a


Vicky (a.k.a.


Norm is yet another high school buddy I’ve known forever.  In an odd twist of events, Norm (and Vicky) lived for a few years in a small town in upstate New York where I spent my summers as a kid.  Like Ryane, he is super-educated, and fearfully intelligent, even though he does watch too much TV.  At one time, Norm had an affinity for cats, but now, it seems, he only has eyes for Mets fans.  I once saw Norm “lose it” on the “Soaring” ride at Epcot.  I’m not making this up.  There were witnesses.  Norm and Vicky are expecting twins.  Entires involving Norm.
Vicky is the Mets fan for whom Norm now only has eyes. I mention the Mets fan thing to illustrate the fact that no one is perfect. I don’t think I have ever before seen two people who are more perfectly suited for each other than Norm and Vicky. In addition to the Mets fetish (which we can overlook), Vicky also has a Disney fetish and if she could live inside the Magic Kingdom, I think she would. Vicky and Norm were married at Disney World, for instance.   She also once made Norm and I hike to an unimpressive waterfall in the middle of the desert. It was Vicky’s idea that I do this cast of characters, because she didn’t know anyone I was talking about in my blog entries.  Entries involving Vicky.

The College Gang

I met Dan on my first day at UCR and mistook him for a jock. (I think it was his haircut). In actual fact, Dan was a Republican from Orange County with a secret passion for punk music. Sixteen years later, Dan is a hardcore Democrat living in Morro Bay, Califoria. I like to think I had some influence there. I have been to more concerts with Dan than with anyone else I know: two. He taught me everything I know about punk music, whether I was a willing pupil or not. (I memorized Henry Rollins “lectures” having listened to them so many times in Dan’s car driving to OC. Dan acts in real life the way Jim Carrey acts in the movies.  Entries involving Dan.
If Dan had a secret passion for punk music, then his passion for Megan was far from secret. He and Megan met during our junior year in college and they have been together ever since. In fact, Dan and Megan were my first friends to get married and they’ve been married over 11 years now. Megan is one of the most patient people I have ever met. She also has enough common sense for Dan and I put together. If Dan reminds me of Jim Carrey, then Megan reminds me of Meg Ryan. A few years back, the three of us went to Hawaii for a week and Megan came back the whitest of us all.  Entries involving Megan.


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