Urban Outsiders At Our Home

HGTV came out and redid our backyard in Los Angeles for their new show Urban Outsiders. This blog follows the entire journey and will be updated as the show airs. Entries are listed from recent to oldest-- just like with most blogs-- so if you want the whole story from the beginning, start in the archives.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Post HGTV: My Sister and HGTV

No, my family doesn't have a knack for getting on the HGTV network. In fact, up until last week I didn't even know my middle sister, Joanne, watched it. But she was very excited about Steve's and my taping for Urban Outsiders and then sent out an e-mail about her recent backyard project...
When you think day off, don't you have visions of reclining somewhere and doing nothing? HMMMM

Well, I got a fountain for the garden for my birthday. It did not come with labor - not even the gift giver (OK, especially not the gift giver - Brianne- her teenage daughter.) offered to install it.
So, that's how I spent my day off today. What did I learn -
1. The people on HGTV have all the cool tools that your average person doesn't have and isn't going to buy for one project.
2. The people on HGTV make things look much easier than they really are.
3. It's much easier to hire [someone to have] it done and be the idea man/woman.
4. The average two hour project takes only two hours if you don't have to make three trips to Lowes...
5. One project will lead to three more -
a. Once the fountain was in, I realized how much the garden needed to be weeded.
b. Once the fountain was in the area around it looked bland and needed river rocks (trip 1 to Lowes)
c. The area around the fountain is bigger than it appears (trip 2 to Lowes)
d. The rocks were nice, but needed some color (trip 3 to Lowes)
6. A 12" level will not tell you if two things 24" apart are level.
7. Once stepping stones are in place, they should be left there. I don't care if they sink into the ground and get covered by mud. Just leave them. You didn't need to step there anyway!
So, I started at about 9am and it is now 4:30. It is done. Attached are the pictures (the frogs were already part of the landscaping).

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Post HGTV: Our Cranky Nose-Blowing Neighbor

During the course of production we had a run-in with our next door neighbor. He's an older Mexican guy-- probably in his 60s-- with an avocado shaped body and a bulbous nose that's always red; kind of like Santa Clause but without any of the jolly. He's the guy who places his trash cans in the driveway so that no one can make a 3-point turn on our narrow street using his property, and he frequently yells at the neighborhood kids for being too loud. He also blows that rosey nosey so loudly that at any odd hour and we can hear it in our house.

We'd been doing fine in terms of run-ins with him, but on the last day of shooting one of the landscapers parked his car in front of Hornblower's place and he yelled at the guy. Now I didn't understand it at all-- and I do know quite a few Spanish swear words so I figured it was lots of anger without too many slurs-- so I apologized. He just looked at me like I was a side-dish he didn't order and then tromped back into his house, slamming the screen door behind him.

Mind you, our neighbors on the other side were very nice and let both the construction team cut the wood slats in their yard, and the production team to set up lights there as well. Very nice people. The husband is a busboy at The Magic Castle. We love them.

So Steve and I tried bringing gifts to both neighbors--a thank you to one and a peace offering to the nose-blower. Here's how the second one went.

Steve and I walk up to the door holding a beautiful potted plant from Whole Foods Market. I knock as Steve stands a few feet behind me in case our Horny has a gun. We wait for thirty-seconds. Door opens just slightly.
ME: Hi. We wanted to thank you for putting up with all the construction.
He starts to shut the door. I hold out plant.
ME: For you? Para ti?

He did open the screen door and took the plant, but he didn't thank us. We quickly left. It was annoying, but I figure we tried. Oh well. Maybe we'll yell at him the next time he blows his nose at three in the morning.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Post HGTV: A Little Sadness...

Here's a pic of our friend Jerry, Steve's brother Jeff, and Steve enjoying our new garden. It's a happy scene because-- as I am well aware-- this is a very happy time for Steve and I.

But when you go through something like like having your yard redone for very little money, and you feel like you've won the backyard lottery, you can experience a post-event sadness. It's like when I used to work on youth group retreats, or even now when I attend a big comic-convention weekend or go on a fun trip where I meet new people and have this Amazing time. The period expends a ton of energy, involves loads of emotions, and then you're suddenly thrust back into your normal life and it's like... What? Did that just all happen? And you keep thinking about the event and talking about it with others, trying to convey the highs you experienced but never quite being able to recreate that macial "something" that was more feeling than concrete event.

For example, the crew from our shoot was made up of guys our age so every day we'd spend time talking about great restaurants or clubs they should go to in LA. Then the next day they'd report in on where they went, that they loved it, and it was a fun little ritual. They asked how Steve and I met, how he became an animator, what my telenovela was about, and I heard about their girlfriends back in the UK. It was just fun. So the other day Steve and I were talking about how we missed them. They were like these friends of ours who weren't technically our friends, but for those seven days I would certainly have been there for them the same way as I would for any of my other guy and girlfriends.

It's strange. I liken this melancholy sensation to when I've worked on film productions-- or even when I was in high school drama class-- you do these intense short-term projects, become very close, swear you'll be friends forever and then you go back to your world. And again, you feel that little bit of sadness...

Don't get me wrong, it's kind of a sweet feeling. And the only way to experience it is to share in a truly wonderful moment. Steve and I have had that through HGTV-- which Steve is now called "How Gay Television"-- and thus I'm grateful. It's a sadness that makes me reflect on my life, and think about how blessed I am to be here, now, in Los Angeles, and living an amazing life with Steve by my side.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

HGTV - Day 7 - The Blog of Revelation

It's finally done! The big reveal!

But to fully prep you for those changes... let's take a moment to reflect on the "Before," shall we?
And who could forget...?In honor of the Black Eyed Peas, as well as our British crew who loved singing their songs, join Steve and I in a little ditty... "Our dumps! Our dumps! Our lovely lady dumps! Check it out!"

Thankfully, everyone showed up for work yesterday-- early-- and designer/host Matt James returned from being sick to help us finish the garden. When he left, the only thing that had been worked on was clearing out and building the planter box. Here he is, seeing the space for the first time. Trust me, this was snapped at an off time but he was really thrilled with the space. According to Matt and the film crew, they had never done a cool space like this and were very excited.
Needless to say, so were Steve and I...

Meanwhile, Chuck Carr of Carr Landscape Management-- who does a ton of work for the HGTV shows-- came in with his team to get everything finished up: tiles, bar removal, light installation, LOTS of painting (even though we thought we'd done a lot ourselves), cleaning up, etc. Here's Chuck cutting the bars off the windows.

Later in the day, while Steve took young Bernie (director) and Ian (the infamous cameraman-- I don't know why we gave everyone titles, BTW) on a location scout for Matt's show introduction that would feature downtown LA in the background, our friend Saydi stopped by with her baby Hannha (So yes, that would be "Saydi with a baby!"; say it out loud and it makes sense.) Saydi is the person who first introduced us to watching The City Gardner, Matt's U.K. show, so it was only fitting to get her in a photo with Matt.

Then the plants came in...
They even got planted...
And the backyard was transformed.

Mind you, by 8:00pm Steve and I ordered dinner for the crew and dug out the cold beers, then we started the interviews and blazed through them-- which is why when you watch the episode in July you'll realize we did a night-time reveal. Thank God our yard is so beautiful because it made for an absolutely lucious reveal and final interview. (And thanks to Megsbian who stopped by and took the only picture we have with Matt James.)

But let's take a moment and reflect on the amazing things a beer or two will do to get the words flowing. I mean, sure, we had two cameras rolling, but we only had to go through the interview twice, basically, and that was a real accomplishment. (Whether it really had to do with a director who was too tired/tipsy to care anymore while he filmed us on top of our roof, remains to be seen...)

Here is a shot of Matt when he does his final segment, talking to Bernie, Phil, and Ian on the roof of our house (see what you can achieve even when you can't afford an expensive crane shot?)

We finished around 11:oopm. Steve and I then sat in our new backyard and looked around, amazed by the transformation and wondering how we got so lucky. We still think it's the house.
But as Matt James described the house as a "Modern Med" design (short for Modern Mediterranean, ya see), we both realized our backyard has been transformed from being the butt of the pink cupcake house into Club Med.

Forget the bars, kids, the parties are at our house this summer. (We'll have daytime photos soon, but we both have to go to work now.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Okay, nothing to report

They finished the wood, some of the grouting, and that's it. Tomorrow is killer bootcamp day, and depending on how much work we have to do, Steve and I should be taking pics and perhaps even posting as we go along.

On the upside, I wrote the last two episodes of Secret Obsessions. SUPER GOOD! I'm really excited. Now it's on to a flashback episode I have to handle and rewrite hell. Joy.

HGTV Day 6 - The Penultimate Chapter

Ever since I learned the word "penultimate" in forth grade I've wanted to use it in a sentence, but I never think of it until it's too late; you know, it's like I hit the "ultimate" whatever and then you can't really go back, now can you?

Fortunately, I was desperate for a title and this one came to me at 3am. A lot of writing stuff has been coming to me at the wee hours of the morning. I think it's the stress keeping me from sleeping. But that's all beside the point.

Nothing really happened on the house yesterday. Steve painted the back planter wall but the construction people didn't come out. The show's reveal is scheduled for tomorrow so all the major work should finish up today.

This meant that yesterday and today are being spent in my home office writing the final two episodes of Secret Obsessions. There will, of course, be rewrites but I'm almost done. I have one other episode as well, a flashback sort of deal, but I need to meet with the other adapters so I'm saving that up for Thursday/Friday when I can be back in the office and meet with them.

Finally gotten a chance to hit the gym again yesterday, and I can go again today so I've got to run. We'll have more photos come tomorrow.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

HGTV - Day 5 - A Day of Rest

...For everyone on the crew. For Steve and I, we needed to paint more of the house while I took some time to write. Here's a pic of me from my old office at Fox, channeling good TV so that I can write the last three episodes of our fall telenovela series that has absolutely nothing to do with our HGTV appearance.

Thanks to Allen at Paramount for this fun addition to my wardrobe! Steve and I have a matching set of these boxy denim outfits, but when we go out he's thinking of busting out his Madonna "Vogue" tour jacket.

More work on the house tomorrow, after the Easter holiday. Supposedly the weather will remain as perfect as it is today.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

HGTV - Day 4 - Back In Action

Matt James from City Gardener (or as the US version will be called Urban Outsiders) is still out of action but the contractors and crew were hard at work as the rain cleared up and we began work on Day 4.

Steve and I woke up again at 6am so that we could finish painting the walls cream; we'd painted yesterday, but the rain created streaks on those surfaces so we had to patch everything up. Here's Steve observing work from our bedroom window.
Here's our carpenter, Paul, putting in the cedar slats on the wall. Notice how he's balancing on one board to do the job because the tiles below him (laid out by Henry, the guy on the left) are still wet. But at least you can get an idea of how that wall is going to look now.

Here's Ian, the camera man, after he stepped on one of those wet tiles and and it squished out of place. He was kind enough to fix it.

With Matt away, our very busy crew hung out quite a bit. Here's Phil (sound), Bernie (director) and Ian the notorious cameraman.

For an interesting visual twist, Ian and Bernie got up on the roof. Here they are about to shoot us. They discovered this when the contractor, Bernie, and myself had to lower something from the front of the house into the backyard via the roof. I'll keep you in suspense as to what that was for the actual show.

More interviews with Steve and I also happened today. Tomorrow everyone is taking off. It was supposed to be our "reveal" day but with Matt out that's not going to happen. We think Wednesday will be the day now, but I'll keep you posted.

Happy Easter y'all. Jesus loves you and so do I.

Friday, April 14, 2006

HGTV - Day 3 - Tragedy!

Okay, not really... But it sounded awfully dramatic, didn't it?

Even the most blessed of houses run out of luck at some point, and that's what happened today. Matt James, our host and designer from The City Gardener in the UK, suffered heat exhaustion yesterday and so he was out of the mix . While the work continues, he won't be here to oversee it. Likewise, it will push our "reveal" day a bit because that's the day Steve and I will carry in the plants, help put them in the ground, and then do our wrap up. No idea yet as to when that will happen.

But it will create built-in drama for the episode... though Steve and I aren't that worried. I can't wait to see how "dramatic" this all becomes once the episode airs.

See the green dot where the freeways merge in this satellite photo? That's our house, and that's the rain storm from Northern California that is currently crashing onto our house.

Mind you, today was the day that we were supposed to paint the walls and have the tiles put in. Fortunately, there is a production taking place so the workers put up a blue tarp.

Here I am painting our pink, purple, and green walls a lovely shade of Mediterranean cream. (Though it did end up streaking in certain areas when the rain really poured.)
And here is Luis, our tile man, working through the rain to get half of our tiles laid out.
Steve worked at the office today, then when he came home they interviewed us on our thoughts regarding the progress. All good.

Tomorrow they will shoot me "working" from home. And us painting again. And the wood slats go up on the walls as well as the completion of the tile floors.

But the big exciting news??? We get to sleep until 7am tomorrow morning! And there ain't nothing tragic about that!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

HGTV - Day 2 - The Great Cover Up!

When the crew came yesterday they warned us that on days 2 and 3 it looks like nothing really happens even though they have done a lot of work. I didn't take an end of day shot since today it's just ended now at 8pm and the light is gone, but I'll do it first thing in the morning.

Today, though, the guys did our "fancy" interview; we wore collared shirts. They then shot us living our real lives in our real environment; we made martinis.
In terms of the yard, the guys built the cedar wood cover that will hide this lovely washer unit, which up until now has been the only "water feature" in our yard. The cover looks fantastic and it will match the cedar paneling that will disguise the back and side walls as well. They then built in the planters, and that's what the guys were working on until now.

Here's a pic of the guys building our box.

In theory, we're painting tomorrow and the tiles are going in. We'll see. I'm becoming very Zen about this, since tomorrow we're supposed to have thunder storms. Mind you, today it was 75-80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

Send up a prayer that it all holds...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

HGTV's Urban Outsiders a.k.a. The City Gardener Day 1

God loves our house. The weather turned out to be 75-degrees, clear and sunny on our first day, which was crucial because it's when host Matt James interviews us for what we want in our backyard...
Here's Matt doing a wrap up of the first day's work.

Besides the interviews and initial ground breaking, we also dealt with every delivery in the history of mankind happening on our small street. To get an idea of the size, the city has posted "No Parking" signs on both sides of the dead-end road because you can only fit two car widths in most places. If an emergency vehicle needed to get through-- like a fire engine-- it would fill up the entire street and not be able to turn around to exit.

Here's a pic of me looking at only three of the trucks that arrived outside.
This is no joke: It started with our tiles arriving, then the trash recycling truck, then the trash vegitation truck, then more tiles, then the wood delivery, then Office Depot with my new file cabinet and office supplies, then UPS with our Madonna tickets, then the cement mixer and pump machine (or something like that) for our neighbors across the street who are building a patio that none of us knew about, then the stucco workers for our neighbors down the block who are redoing their backyard that none of us knew about, then the regular trash truck, and finally our contractor and his crew. But no drama. It all flowed very smoothly because, as I said, God loves this house.
Here's the crew filming Matt with his plans. We know some of those designs, not all, but we're super excited anyway.

Tomorrow we paint the walls. Friday it may rain and Saturday could have scattered showers, but since this house is blessed I don't think there will be any problems at all.

Oh my God...

They're here!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Backyard Weather Watch - Day 1 - Too Late Now...

According to my new favorite website, LATimes.com, it's supposed to rain on Friday and perhaps Saturday. But really, here's the deal...

At this point, it's too late to get flustered about the weather. Steve and I just have to focus on the things we can control. For example:
--Clothing choices. What can we wear that's tight enough to show off our bodies and yet not so tight that we look like the poster boys for the Gay Mafia (and there is one, you know, we're just not in it).
--Grooming. Because nothing says "classy with a K" than having a close up of your nose hairs on TV.
--Facials. Because I look tireder than a $2 hooker in the middle of Mardis Gras from all this work and that is completely unacceptable when I'm on camera.
--Tidy Up. Or more precisely, have Loyda make a cameo to neaten up so that the house smells like fresh housekeeper for when the crew arrives tomorrow.

So that's our deal at the moment.

Also, for you friends out there, the producers told us as of last week that we didn't need people to come help and there may not be an actual big reveal other than to just Steve and myself. So I apologize in advance if you don't see yourself on the show... Of course, we also have a full contractor crew who will be playing our friends so at least we'll look loved during the demolition portion of our show.

But the real insane thing is that starting tomorrow we shall begin to have our new yard.

Woo hoo!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Backyard Weather Watch - Day 2 - The Brighter Side...

Looking at the weather started getting Steve and I depressed, but being obsessive, we couldn't stop doing it each morning. So instead of going to Yahoo for weather I thought I'd check out LATimes.com. Guess what?

Okay, it may be a blurry image (don't ask me why) but now it looks like the weather will actually be nicer through the weekend. You see, I don't care if it's accurate or not, I just like positive news.

So now I am no longer looking at Yahoo for my information. Too negative. Besides, Yahoo Maps got us so frickin' lost trying to get to Cirque du Soliel on Saturday that I hate them now. (I do have this theory that they get paid by cities to send people through the most economically depressed areas so that you'll stop, ask directions at a convenience store, and then buy a coke or something just to be polite. But that's my whole conspiracy theory thing kicking in so I'll move on now.)

Yesterday, Steve's dad came by the house with some fried chicken from Pollo Campero. Steve and I first stumbled on the chain a couple years ago when one opened in LA and we saw lines of Latino families winding down the block trying to get in. Most recently it's been featured on the Food Network show "The Secret Life of..." and that was enough to make Kurt hungry.

All I have to say is: YUMMY!

The chain was founded in 1971 in Guatemala and now it's a leading restaurant chain from Latin America. This is their big push in the US, and they're so popular because the crisp breading that encases those juicy pieces of meat has a somewhat spicier taste that is so good! Of course, it ruined our diet for about 10 minutes, but let's face it: our TV diet has been pretty weak as it is.

Seriously, you'll notice I stopped posting pictures of our healthful lunches, now didn't I?

Thank God we're not going to be shirtless and in jockstraps while working on the yard. That would've been flabby and tacky.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Backyard Weather Watch - Day 3 - Heading Into a Zit Storm

I'll save you the (relatively useless) weather chart:
Wed: showers
Thur: light showers
Fri: rain/thunder/lightening
Sat: partially cloudy
Sun: rain

But the big news? Last night, Steve and I went to Cirque du Soliel's touring show Quidam, which just so happened to be the same weekend as the Long Beach Grand Prix; other than traffic, there was no conflict. The show was marvelous-- though parking at the Queen Mary sucked prune twinkies so we will never see a show in that same location again-- and it was by far one of the funniest ones I've seen to date. But during one performance, as I gasped at some marvelous feet and threw my hands up to my face... I felt a pimple emerging on my bulbous nose. And another on the side.

I began patting down my face during the show like an epileptic but that's all I've found... for now. Perhaps the bad lighting from rain will make me look blemish free and young. One can always look for the bright side of things, you know.

So I'm going to e-mail the producers now and see what the plan is. I'm betting we just go for it and lay down some towels in the office leading to our bathroom so the crew can pee without messing up our floor. But I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Backyard Weather Watch - Day 4 - The Great Flood!

"Oh my God!" Steve yelled, startling me awake from a very deep sleep. "The entire kitchen is flooded!"

I stumbled out of bed in my skivvies and staggered into the kitchen to see him crouched down trying to mop up the floor with paper towels and our kitchen rug. Steve sleeps in the buff, just so you get the visual. It was 8am, and I immediately looked to see if our living room drapes were open and offering our neighbors a free show. They weren't.

I opened our sink cabinet but the water wasn't coming from there.

"It looks like it's coming from the refrigerator," Steve said. Then he realized he was naked. "I'm going to put clothes on..." He walked back into the bedroom. I opened the refrigerator door to pull it out so that I could see what was wrong, praying that we didn't have a new appliance purchase in our future.

That's when I realized that the inside of our refrigerator was full of water. It seems the washers on our 12-year-old Britta water filter are no longer working and the whole thing leaked throughout the night. I breathed a sigh of relief and continued mopping up.
We are scheduled for load in and first day of shooting on Wednesday. Oh fun! Now the rain is getting closer! But today is bright and sunny, and instead of enjoying the outdoors, I'm going to be writing restaurant reviews for Metrosource.

Extended forecast...
Yesterday I climbed on the roof and pulled a lot of the loquats off our tree. They are small, yellow fruit and our tree produces them in abundance. They're also yummy and juicy, a combination of apricot/apple flavors. I think we might be able to make a nice slushy out of them, perfect for a blended vodka drink. I can't wait for summer and cocktails in our new yard.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Backyard Weather Watch - Day 5 & supply run

This is the five-day forecast leading up to our taping on HGTV's new show Urban Outsiders (I guess they didn't think The City Gardener would resonate with US Audiences or something. Or maybe there was a legal issue... who can say? But the press link tells about the show.)
So look at today's weather. While it says partly cloudy, it's actually very sunny right now. Crisp and clear with a wonderful view of the Craftsman homes in the hills and downtown skyline in the distance. So maybe they're not entirely accurate. But...

Here's the 6-10-day forecast:
THIS IS CALIFORNIA! Could someone please tell God to stop the rain! Lord!

At least it looks to be sunny for the final "reveal" day, which is also Easter. Hallelulia!

Steve came home Wednesday and there was a note saying a lumber company tried delivering the wood for our backyard remodel. The plastic tarp used to cover the wood had been left, as had some packing wood and the invoice, but nothing else. Steve panicked.

Now Steve will freely admit that he doesn't do well in a crisis-- that's my territory-- though I have no doubt he can rise to the occasion like when I got dehydrated in Las Vegas from too much drinking. But what if the mountains of wood had been stolen? What if they just ditched it when they saw our house was pink. WHAT WAS GOING ON????

He called the lumber company and the guy had no idea who he was or what was going on. It was like Steve was speaking Greek; which wouldn't have been helpful because the man was Hispanic.

I e-mailed the producers from work and by the time I came home the crisis was answered: the delivery came a week early and the workers called the producers when no one was here to pay for the wood. They had to take it back to wherever they came from. Probably Anaheim. By Disneyland.

Let's pray that this is the only crisis we have to deal with.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Backyard Weather Watch - Day 6

California is known for its good weather. In fact, after a number of heavy rains today is bright, sunny, and the skies are clean and clear. All looks good, right?

Well, now that we have HGTV coming to redo our backyard, it's becoming the wettest winter EVER. So like all the story-starved news stations in LA I'm starting.... Weather Watch!

The crew is scheduled to arrive next Wednesday, April 12th. As you'll see above, it's supposed to rain. Granted, that's the day they do load in, interviews with Steve and I in our nice, warm house, and start work. And yes, I know 10-day forecasts can't be trusted. But yeah... we're worried.

Let's hope some sort of front or whatever it is passes through and changes that.

TV diet is going well... until Colet, a producer on the telenovela, handed me a box of mini Ritz crackers in peanut butter. She wanted me to remove them from her office because she had been eating them all, and I have such strong will power.

The entire box is now empty.

Made low-fat, low-carb sloppy Joe's for dinner. We ate them inside bell pepper shells so as to avoid the buns/bread. Cheese was sprinkled on top. We didn't take photos because we ate them too quickly. For lunch I now have a salad, leftover Sloppy Joe meat and cheese, one cheese stick, and one fiber cake muffin; no, I don't really need the extra fiber but I worship anything resembling a bread product.

Time to go boxing.