Compared to last year: more picture, but less drunken revelry.
Add in the fact that I missed Nishant's birthday... I had only 50% of the madness. Oh well!
At least the planning went off better this year. Gaby's Mediterranean was actually able to accomodate our reservation for 20, and to my amazement we actually had seating for all 19 of us. (two unexpected no-shows from Joycelyn and May were compensated by others...)
Food was served family style, delicious if a bit slow. Tons of Lebanese food... something like five kinds of appetizers plus four main courses (roast beef and roast chicken pieces matched with chicken shawarma and lamb shawarma to round out the main courses) and salad. Delivery of pita bread was slow and I completely overlooked the fact that Gaby's does not have a full bar, but those were overlooked after the last of the food arrived!
Who showed up... Barry & Kim, Jimmy & Mimi, Walter, Viet, Kim (yes, two Kim's), Thomas, Billy, Cheston & Angie, Tara, Brooke, Sophia & Justin, Carley, Dave, Alan. Apologies for the lack of a group picture. =(
Much the same as last year, people brought a few gifts, which were completely unnecessary. I just ask that they come so we can have a good time, skip the gifts! The car racing DVDs from Kim/Cheston/Angie/Viet/Billy are greatly appreciated, as are the gift cards from everyone else. (as though I need an excuse to go to Best Buy or REI and go shopping... *grins*)
After a 2 hour dinner, things broke up as roughly half of us had other places to be. Specifically a few of us were headed for clubbing, which isn't exactly the most ideal place or method to get me drunk. The half of us left headed to McGabe's off Santa Monica Blvd. and 25th, a subdued Irish pub with five very important things: beer on tap, hard liquor, pool tables, darts, and foosball. They also had an unexpected bonus in the form of two U2 albums in their jukebox.
Thanks to Thomas, we started with a round of Patron for everyone. For the lightweights that quickly lead to warm happy places in the belly all night. Whoops. Maybe that was a little bit too quick of a start. Second round was more leisurely, with beer and mixed drinks... it wasn't til the third round (shots of Jameson) that I realized my friends were not going to get me drunk tonight. *cough* By then we'd finished an 8-person (4 teams) round of darts, several foosball games, and were starting pool and hand-sized shuffleboard. The other patrons at the bar were probably getting tired of all the U2, in the form of Running To Stand Still, Bad, Where The Streets Have No Name, and other stuff. They then got to sing Happy Birthday, as Tara or Brooke or Sophia or someone found that song buried in the jukebox. It was a fun night. (and embarassing. =þ )
Even if I stayed much more sober than I was anticipating. *grins*
Finished things off around 2am... Tara and Brooke headed home, as did Sophia/Carley/Justin, so Viet, Kim, Billy, and I grabbed dessert at Norm's, where Kim finally got to order the chocolate brownie a la mode and everyone got to embarass me again with singing happy birthday.
The day technically started off that morning, going to Magic Mountain with Barry, Jimmy, and Mimi. We did a whopping 3 rides in 5 hours: Deja Vu, Scream, and X. We probably could have squeezed another ride or two in on Viper or something else, but I don't think any of us had been on X recently... and X was so freakin' good with the chairs spinning the seats independent of the motion of the track-- freakin' amazing ride. We decided to end it there, because no other coaster would have been any better!
Deja Vu was pretty good-- like a really big version of one of the rides at Great America (Invertigo?)-- pointing straight down was just as frightening as we remembered! Scream wasn't as exciting as we were hoping, but that's just us being critical. And hungry for roasted corn, I think. Yuuum...
Last 22 pictures (imgp___) are courtesy of Viet. He has both my pictures and his pictures on his site as well, albiet raw and unedited for those who want the actual carnage...