Monday, August 31, 2009

Academy Cinemas

LinkSo, LA is on fire, and the SGV is filled with smoke in addition to being 100 or so stifling degrees. Escapism at the movies has a whole new meaning! And, with the Academy Cinemas in Pasadena close by, it can also be a bargain. The Academy is a second-run theatre, so you won't see this week's blockbuster. And, you won't be nurtured in plush stadium seating. What you will get is movies for $2 or $3, depending on the starting times, and hot dogs for $1. True, the sight lines are off, the seating configurations are a bit weird and the screens aren't always centered, but who cares for $2? I saw Up and Public Enemies, had two hotdogs and a jumbo refillable root beer -- all for less than $10. The air conditioning and non-particulate filled air was worth that alone!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Picanha Brazilian BBQ

Picanha Churrasciaria in downtown Burbank is a carnivore's dream come true! Based on the Brazilian tradition of gaucho BBQs, grilled skewered meats are brought right to your table where you select what and how much you want, and it is served on the spot. You even get tongs with the flatware service to grab your slice. Although there is an attempt to humor the herbivores with salads and other sides, this is all about the meat. I actually felt sorry for the guy at the next table who said he was vegetarian. Yes, the mashed potatoes and black bean options were very good, but he was soooo at the wrong place.

I can verify that I sampled seven different meats: Polish and Brazilian sausages, Parmesan and Spicy chicken, lamb, and both medium and rare steak. Perhaps my dining chums will remind me of others that I've overlooked in my current digestive coma state.

Each table has a wooden cylinder with a green end and a red end to identify if you want the servers to continue bringing the meats. Green means oh yeah! and red you need a breather. Flip it back and forth as your waistband allows.

My only suggestion is that there should be a way of serving desserts this way -- bring out various cakes and other treats on big platters and you decide what kind and how much you want right then and there.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum

Sorry for the short notice, but the Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum is way cool, especially since we don't normally get to experience this quantity and variety in our normal day-to-day. Open from Easter to Labor Day - which means it will be closing in two weeks - the BP is home to 40 or so species of butterflies and moths, all flying about and living their brief lives in the enclosed structure on the south side of the Museum. How many and what kinds can you spot?

And take note: when the BP closes for the season, it transitions to the Spider Pavilion with the huge web-weaving spiders just in time for Halloween!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Monty Python's Spamalot is a hoot! It's witty, crude, offensive and hilarious all blended together, kind of like, well, the ingredients in a can of Spam.

I didn't want to Wicked it (loved the book, couldn't get into the play - she's not supposed to have arms! is a good example, then didn't enjoy rereading the book) so I specifically stayed away from brushing up on the Holy Grail, Life of Brian and other Monty Python DVDs and videos. Obviously, from the howls of recognition in the crowd, many folks spoke Pythonese. But even if you don't, the crazy dance performances, wonderful costumes and props, and amazingly clever staging will have you doing the 100 sit-up laughter.

It was practically a full house at the Ahmanson, and this was on a Thursday night, so you know it's gotta be good! Go see it before it leaves on September 6th, so that you, too, can always look on the bright side of life.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Baskin Robbins Drive-Thru

Yes, I know Baskin-Robbins are a dime a dozen, but this is the only Baskin-Robbins Drive-Thru in Los Angeles! Located in Burbank "where it all started," this B-R is actually the training center where the newbies learn all about the yummy treats. Mind you, don't use the drive-thru if you're looking for samples because they're really not set up for that, and the people waiting behind you will get cranky. Park and go inside for tastes. I've tried flavors there I haven't seen elsewhere, like Makin' Cookies with the delish brown sugary ice cream base. Then, just try to get the "ice cream and cake, do the ice cream and cake" song out of your head.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Grand Central Market

I love popping into downtown's Grand Central Market. I'm like a kid in a candy store, eyes all aglow at the neon signs and options inside. Dating back to 1917, the GCM vendors do sell candy, plus produce, legumes of every sort, spices, fresh meat and fish. My visual favorites are the raw chicken feet and the whole deep-fried fish. Prepared meals include Chinese, Salvadorean, Mexican, and Vietnamese, plus sandwiches, kabobs, juice, ice cream and pastries. It's always a fun stop, and you'll end up being hungry. So, pick an old favorite or try something new. You really can't go wrong.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round

After the delightful ride on the Ferris wheel last week, I was due for spin on the Griffith Park Merry-
. I ride the M-G-R several times a year, and I have a few friends who also refuse to grow up and join in the fun. (My profile picture was taken on one of these steady steeds.) I was cutting through the park to avoid traffic on the 5 and heard the enchanting band organ piping out the music. That was all I needed to plunk down $2 for a ticket.

This M-G-R dates back to 1926 and has been in the park since 1937. The band organ is a treat all to itself, with the boxes and boxes of paper music rolls ready to be played. Stop by, have a listen, and climb aboard. Adulthood can wait!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dolores Restaurant and Bakery

Dolores and I go way back. I've planted my tush in these booths many, many times over the last 15 or so years. I've had uncountable big Dolores salads, Jumbo Jim burgers with Suzy Q fries, and liver and onion dinners. Lots of meals that were all anchored by their otherworldly cinnamon roll.

And anchor is the appropriate word for the massive treat! This baby is like six inches across, gushing with cinnamon and dripping with glaze. It is even served with a steak knife to cut through the heft. Wow!!

Dolores, in the Century City-Santa Monica adjacent area of LA, went through a change last year. On the back wall where the Toulouse-Lautrec Moulin Rouge-esque prints are hanging used to be the home of the dessert rotating display case. The menu prices went up with the addition of the Wi-Fi service. And just the back portion of the seats were updated from the brown vinyl. But, I'm thrilled to share that the cinnamon roll hasn't changed one tasty bit!!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier

This was a total whim, heading to Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier. Whim, yes, but one I will definitely do again!

Pacific Park is like an old-time carnival, with whack-a-mole and ring toss games and the vomitorium also know as the Scrambler, but with awesome new-fangled rides, too. The 85-foot-tall Pacific Wheel is the world's only solar-powered Ferris wheel! As you can see from this picture, it also offers awesome views of the shoreline far, far below. Then, there's the steel roller coaster, as opposed to the old-school wooden ones prevalent on boardwalks, and the electric vehicle bumper cars.

Next time, I'm getting the wristband for unlimited rides, because there was plenty of fun to be had at Pacific Park. Who's with me?!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Audubon Center and Debs Park

Nestled across the 110 from the Southwest Museum in Highland Park, the Audubon Center and Debs Park abounds with pleasant surprises.

I first heard about the Audubon Center in connection to their Platinum LEED rating, meaning they achieved the highest possible level for green buildings. And, they were the first in the nation to earn that honor. I had to go check it out, and I was blown away by all the Center and the Park had to offer.

Debs Park has about a dozen trails, all of which I plan to hike. On my first visit, the Butterfly Loop led to a mental vacation from LA! Imagining the traffic zooming down the freeway was flowing water, then spotting the hawk flying overhead, and I was definitely not in the city anymore.

The Center's Sustainable Technology signage details the design, systems and material selections "to make the gentlest impact" on the environment. The nugget that amazes me is the wealth of resources loaned to park visitors. As shown in the photo, you can borrow baby carriers, binoculars, art supplies, and guide books to make the most of the visit. They even have trail strollers available.

Another surprise was the free Tai Chi classes Sunday morning. I'll see you there, near the lily pond or out on the trails, for as Henry David Thoreau said (as does a sign by the entrance) "We can never have enough of nature."

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pete's Blue Chip in Eagle Rock

It's Saturday, so that means getting up at the crack of dawn and running with my training group. And, it usually means that food will follow. Today, Coaches Jeanne and Bert had a tempting menu from Pete's Blue Chip on Colorado in Eagle Rock. I remembered Pete's Burgers down by USC with their yummy fish sandwiches, so I was totally game, thinking it was the same joint. I'm thrilled to report Pete's Blue Chip is way better.

Better because they serve breakfast burritos all day, for starters.

You may already know about my fixation with breakfast burritos, surprisingly spurred by one at a DQ in Indiana. Since then, I've been on the hunt. At Pete's, I ordered the mushroom, egg and avocado version, and it was fabulous. Not only was it about the size of my forearm (no joking, I almost used that picture but you couldn't see the filling), but the avocado was fresh and plentiful, and there was a tasty salsa mixed in. Yummy! For about $7, I got the burrito plus a root beer with horchata chaser. Be prepared to be shocked, but I could only eat half and look forward to finishing it off for dinner tonight.

As you can see from the photo, the portions are more than ample, and everything is cooked to order so it's fresh. There are lots of other menu choices to sample, including some delish-looking zucchini fries. Whether I ever order those other things is up in the air, as my blue chip at Pete's is pretty well set.

No Web site at this time. Street address is 1701 Colorado Boulevard, LA 90041. Cross street is Mt. Royal (in Eagle Rock). Phone is 323-478-9022.