Award Winner


I’m now an award-winning writer!

My wife and I recently attended a Yelp Elite Event at The Vermont in Los Angeles. One of the vendors was Tabanero Hot Sauce. Although I’m not the hot sauce junkie I was as a younger man, I still enjoy spicing up my food. Back when I could stomach it, the hotter the better. Nowadays I don’t need to be sweating through my clothes in order to appreciate a tasty hot sauce.

We tried Tabanero with deconstructed chicken tacos (basically chicken nachos) and I liked the flavor. It’s not a vinegar-based sauce and it has a little kick to it, thanks to the habanero pepper recipe. I also enjoyed the Tabanero bloody mary mix.

A few days after the event I learned that the company was sponsoring a contest; anybody who attended the event was eligible. All that was required was an “ode to Tabanero” and a lucky few would win a three-pack of Tabanero Hot Sauce.

Summoning my ode-to-hot-sauce writing skills, I came up with this haiku and as they say in the casinos, Winner winner, chicken dinner! My food will be extra spicy for months to come.

Next up: The Pulitzer.


My 2016 Yelp Goal

2016 Yelp Elite badge.

2016 Yelp Elite badge.

Last week I received my 2016 Yelp Elite badge, my fourth in a row. As I’ve written before (here and here), I wear my badge proudly and love all of the perks I’ve received. From free event/concert tickets to awesome parties, Yelp takes care of its most dedicated users. My wife and I have enjoyed some terrific date nights, compliments of Yelp.

Although I’d used the site for years without actually writing a review or posting a photo, this changed in 2013 when I took the Yelp 100 Challenge, which is an unofficial challenge to write 100 reviews in a year. That year I reached my goal and also became a part of the Yelp Elite squad.

As I became a Yelp power user, not only did I get to go to fun and complimentary events, but I also made some new friends along the way. That alone makes it worth the time and effort it takes to write 100 reviews in 365 days.

Day 364: Final Countdown

The Final Countdown

The Final Countdown

Eight more to go.

I’m not counting down the hours until the new year, but I’m counting down how many more Yelp reviews I need to write to meet one of my goals for 2015.

Last week I had less than 80 Yelp reviews written in 2015. I’m now at 92, with a little over 24 hours to go.

So, assuming I finish the reviews and write one more blog post tomorrow, here’s how I fared with my 2015 Goals:

  1. Write 100 reviews on Yelp.
  2. Read 26 books and review them on Goodreads.
  3. Break 100 on the golf course.
  4. Watch all of the AFI 100 Greatest American Films of All Time.
  5. Play 10 new board games.
  6. Blog Every Day in 2015.

Not too shabby. I didn’t break 100 on the golf course and I didn’t watch all of the AFI Greatest American Films of All time.

I hardly golfed at all this year, which was a bummer. But at least I was able to get out a few times with my brothers and my nephew. My last round was during Thanksgiving when the four of us played a little 9-hole par-3 course. These are the games that mean to most to me, as all of us Gaviola guys can bond for a few hours.

With all of the reading, writing, and board gaming I did this year, there wasn’t enough time left to watch all of the AFI films. I still want to watch every film on the list, just not in a single calendar year.

So, four out of my six goals will be finished by tomorrow. I’m going back to writing Yelp reviews now, but I’ll see you here tomorrow as I complete My Quest to Blog Every Day in 2016.



Day 343: Catching Up


I committed to writing 100 Yelp reviews this year and I’m lagging. I’ve been focusing on board gaming as well as posting a bunch of stuff on my Star Wars blog, so my Yelping has fallen behind schedule.

I’ve got a bunch of half-finished Yelp reviews, so I’ll try to finish my 100th by the end of the year. Actually, I’ll do that by the end of the year. Do or do not … well, you know.

Day 249: Fanboy/Girl Moment


I’ve written about my love of the Fung Bros. and their unique brand of hilarious and informative food vlogs, so it was a treat meeting them last night after my wife and I were done representing Yelp at the 626 Night Market.

The brothers were doing their man-on-the-street interviews and were soon surrounded by fans and curious onlookers. After a few minutes wait, we were able to get a selfie with them. David had some kind words for Yelp, saying that they use the site often while researching their videos.

I’m proud to represent Yelp at events like these and praise like that was a nice bonus. It made our fanboy/fangirl moment of the night.

Day 225: Bingo

Bingo Under the Stars

Bingo Under the Stars

I’ve played bingo in smoke-filled halls. I’ve played it at family get-togethers. I’ve even volunteered at a church bingo event.

Tonight was the first time I experienced Bingo Under the Stars at the Americana at Brand and it was a blast!

The game itself was standard bingo, with a few of the fun versions included (blackout, four corners, criss cross, etc.), but the event was better than a typical game, thanks to “Bingo Boy” Jeffrey Bowman and his lovely assistant Devon. They were hilarious and kept the game moving quickly.

Even though my wife and I didn’t win anything, we enjoyed every minute and laughed a lot. I learned a few new callbacks (actually, quite a few, since the only one I ever remember is “B-4 … and after”).

It’s nice to start the weekend early with a Thursday date night. It’s even nicer when we get the VIP treatment, thanks to Yelp.

Day 220: Yelp Street Team

I Love Yelp

I Love Yelp

I volunteered for the Yelp Street Team tonight, representing the brand at the 626 Night Market. It was a lot of fun handing out Yelp swag to the attendees and in my three hours at the Yelp Booth, I noticed one thing: people LOVE Yelp.

Actually, I noticed two things. In addition to the Yelp love fest, I saw how ginormous the 626 Night Market has grown. I was here in 2013 and thought it was big then, but tonight was nearly overwhelming. So much food, so many people, and plenty of good vibes. When you have an event centered around food, it seems to produce a less hostile crowd than, say, a Dodgers-Giants game in the middle of a heatwave.

Most people already had the Yelp app on their phones, so it was easy to get them to check-in and claim their free tote bag or drink koozie. My fellow street teamers Tiffany and Ruth gave out free high fives upon request, as did my stepdaughter, who helped out for an hour. We even posed for photos with a few people who made us feel like rock stars.

My favorite part of tonight? Talking to other enthusiastic users of Yelp. There were a lot of them, including several who stopped by the booth just to say how much they loved Yelp.

I told them I knew exactly how they felt.

Day 194: Tacos Ensenada

Fish Tacos at Tacos Ensenada

Fish Tacos at Tacos Ensenada

Any time I’m in Duarte, California, I make a stop at Tacos Ensenada. It’s a small taco shop that serves excellent fish tacos: lightly battered and fried fish served on warm corn tortillas with fresh pico de gallo, cabbage, and crema.

I’ve already raved about Tacos Ensenada on Yelp (read my review here), so I’ll just say here that the tacos de pescado are still muy delicioso.

Day 182: Carl Crawford

Dodgers' Carl Crawford DH for the Quakes

Dodgers’ Carl Crawford DH for the Quakes

The last time I caught a Dodger doing rehab with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes was when Andre Either played a few games before going back to the big leagues. Last night I met some local Yelpers for our third Unofficial Yelp Event at the Epicenter (technically Loan Mart Field). It was Recycle Tuesday, so fans who brought 10 CRV cans and/or bottles received a free seat at the game. Spending a summer night at the ballpark is something I love to do, so being able to do so for free (while helping the environment) was a real treat.

The five of us Yelpers were treated to a Quakes blowout, as they took it to the visiting High Desert Mavericks early and often, putting up 6 runs in a few innings. The Dodgers’ Carl Crawford was DHing for the Quakes and while he went 0-for-3, he did have the most important RBI of the game. This season Quakes fans’ lucky number is seven; when the team scores seven runs, everybody gets a coupon for two free tacos at Jack in the Box. When Crawford grounded out while driving in that seventh run, it was one of the biggest cheers of the night.