Monday, December 26, 2011

The Greatest Cartoons Ever!

So, it's the day after Christmas, and I'm feeling pretty run down. Since laughter is the best medicine, I decided that The Greatest Cartoons Ever! at the Alex Theatre in Glendale might just do the trick.

What fun! The Alex Film Society selected eight great ones: "Duck Amuck" with Daffy Duck improvising each scene; "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse" with Tom and Jerry; "Mother Goose's Birthday Party" with Mighty Mouse; "Popeye the Sailor Man Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves" with Popeye, Olive, Wimpy and Bluto; "Gerald McBoing Boing," a delightful piece by Dr. Seuss; "Lonesome Ghosts" with Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and a quartet of ghosts; "The Cracked Nut" with Woody Woodpecker; and "What's Opera, Doc?" with Elmer, Bugs and the classic "kill the wabbit!" chant. In between, we saw some of the animation tricks, like Popeye's combined 2D and 3D animation from 1937.

It was fantastic to view these cartoons on the big screen, like they were created to be seen. The audience ranged from seniors to families with young kiddies. And, yes, we all laughed throughout the show at the same gags! I think we ALL felt better by the final curtain.

Click here to go to the Alex's Web site.

Friday, December 23, 2011

South Pasadena Rose Parade Float

Shh! Here's a sneak peak at this year's South Pasadena Rose Parade float. When Life Gives You Lemons is the theme, and it showcases what happens when a space ship crashes into a grove of lemons. What else to do but make lemonade?

I volunteered today to decorate, and I got to fill in gaps in spiky seed pods. It will just look brown when you see it, but I contributed. Woohoo! The coolest part is when they backed the float out of the tent - no small task as you may imagine - to test run the moving parts and the sound. I'm not going to spill all the beans, but it was super exciting and impressive!

Speaking of beans, I've often thought float decorating could be a kind of personality test. In earlier float-decorating episodes, I've had friends who could spend hours gluing on beans ONE AT A TIME. I lasted about 30 seconds on that task and was reassigned to swashing huge areas with glue and patting statice on it. Now that's more like it! Today's spiky seed pods was a nice blend between those two activities. Who wants to give it a try and find out if you're a bean person or a statice person?

Click here to go to South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade's Web site.

Click here to go to the Tournament of Roses' Web site.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Noodle Star

I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted from the holidays, and we're not even there yet. The weather hasn't been cooperating either, and my sinuses are not happy from everything the winds have stirred up.

Noodle Star on Van Nuys Boulevard in Sherman Oaks sounded like an ideal fix to what ailed me. They live up to their Noodle Star name, with Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese noodle soups, plus pan fried noodles, and a whole variety of Asian dishes.

Here you see the Chicken Tom Yum, from the spicy Thai section of the menu. Yum is right, and the lemongrass, lime juice and chili paste certainly soothed and comforted me. I almost feel normal again! If I relapse, I still have a huge portion of this soup at the ready.

Click here to go to Noodle Star's Web site.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Handmade Galleries LA












Almost every day, I sit in Ventura Boulevard traffic in front of Handmade Galleries LA, always wondering exactly what it is all about. Well, today I found out.

To cut to the chase, it is wonderful! Imagine an antique mall, except all the display cases are filled with goods that are, well, handmade. Just to list a few of my favorites: a remade vintage pearl necklace with an awesome floral cluster pin with a bee sitting on top; Remington typewriter keys repurposed into fantastic necklaces, bracelets and earrings; Day of the Dead figurines and artwork, and a wild selection of books and cards.

The backside of their business card is classic; it says "Things you must buy to make me happy..." See above, in case you've forgotten that my birthday is shortly after Christmas!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Nicole's Gourmet Foods

Argh, it's been one of those expensive days: first it was $300 at the dentist, then another $300 for contacts. While heading home, I passed by Nicole's Gourmet Foods on El Centro and Meridian, on the south side of the Mission Metro station. I certainly didn't want to drop another $300 on lunch, but the little bistro tables and market umbrellas on the sidewalk did their alluring job today. I was pleasantly surprised by the offerings and the prices at Nicole's.

Here you see the day's special: toasted brie and tomato on baguette, and tomato beet bisque in the lion head tureen. Yes, fancy-schmancy grilled cheese and tomato soup for $6.95. Such a deal and delish!!

Otherwise, they had an interesting marketplace with cheeses, deli meats and salads, cooking and baking supplies and equipment, and a case of very appealing pastries. Definitely give Nicole's a try.

Click here to go to Nicole's Web site.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Proof at Norton Simon

Have you had a chance to see any of the exhibitions connected to Pacific Standard Time? If you haven't heard, Pacific Standard Time covers the Los Angeles art scene from 1945 to 1980, with exhibitions at more than 60 cultural institutions. This is a huge undertaking, and, as a museum person, I need to dip my toe into these shows.

Seeing Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California at Norton Simon was a great start. Not only is Norton Simon in my backyard, but printmaking includes one of my favorite styles of art, like those wonderful WPA posters that were made by silkscreen, lithograph or woodcuts - all printmaking techniques.


One Roy Lichtenstein woodcut blew me away! Back in the day, before we had fancy-schmancy scanners to capture images for printing, we had to use a stat camera with various dotted screens for the conversion. I always connected Roy's art with those screens, never imaging his dots were cut by hand!

The companion exhibition, The Original Print: An Introduction to Printmaking in the Postwar Period, does a fantastic job of displaying and explaining the differences between relief, intaglio, lithography and screenprinting. No need to go all technical here - go see the exhibition if you need to know.

Only 59 more Museums to go ... anyone want to recommend my next PST stop?

Click here to go to Norton Simon's Web site.

Click here to go to PST's Web site.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Daisy Mint

I've been hearing about Daisy Mint in Pasadena from several sources. Located on that stretch of Colorado between Michael's Art Store and Zankou Chicken, it is easy to whiz by. Well, except now there's an explanation for the lines out front, and all those accolades.

Daisy Mint is a small space, with maybe twelve tables plus the community table. And, it was hopping tonight! Power is still out to many area residents due to the hurricane-force wind storms, and customers were picking up their to-go orders to eat by candlelight, romantically-inclined or not. (As usual, my imagination filled in the blanks as each order was carried out the door.)

After starting with the Garden Grilled salad, here you see my main dish: Spicy Catfish with shallots, green apple, cashews and cilantro with the awesome spicy lime dressing. Because I lingered over the grilled veggie appetizer, the catfish filets totally soaked up that spicy lime dressing and zinger-ooed my tastebuds. WOW!! The shredded apple give a wonderful textural change to the dish while allowing my mouth to recover from the flavor explosion. (You may recall I featured the Saladang Apple Salad in a September 2009 post. These Thai places sure know how to work a Granny Smith!)

Expansion is on the horizon, with a second location of Daisy Mint opening in January. They are taking over a space on Lake, although I'm not sure where. I'll look for you in that line, too!

Click here to go to Daisy Mint's Web site.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Counter

You know about the one burger a month plan, right? Well, that one better be really good! Although I generally steer clear of franchises and chains for meals, The Counter is a tasty way to stray when I'm going to do it.

In case you've missed out, The Counter is a build-your-own-burger joint (similar to Slater's 50/50 post from April). They give you a clipboard with a gazillion options to checkoff so you can "have it your way." Or, if you are decisioned-out for the day, there is a list of signature burgers with pre-selected fixin's like this Counter Burger with crispy onions strings, sauteed mushrooms and tomato topped with provolone. Not a bad way to go at all!

I'm thinking I would like to expand this concept to The Boyfriend Counter, where you can order-up your own Dream Date. Ask anyone, I really am this immature! Okay, single ladies, I'll lead with these two categories that immediately come to mind: Sense of humor (sarcastic, bawdy, Far Side?) and Willingness to wear a kilt: (nonexistant, as needed, always?). Offer up some suggestions for our Dream Date men-u!

Click here to go to The Counter's Web site.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Scottish Heritage Center at the Queen Mary


















Have I shared that I'm taking bagpipe lessons (again)? If not, I'm (re)diving into the world of circular breathing into a bag, then squeezing that air through three pipes and the chanter where the notes are played. As my (new) instructor has pointed out, there are only nine notes, how hard can it be?!

Of all the instruments I could pick, why bagpipes, you ask? They're yet another of my Hoosierland influences. My high school's mascot was the Highlander. Pipers played in the marching band. I was on the journalism track, so I wrote for "The Bagpiper" school newspaper and our "Bartizan" yearbook. (Bartizans are castle turrets and are part of Scottish Baronial style architecture.) Bagpipe music and the accompanying men in kilts were just slices of normal for me.

Once again, it was the move to NYC to shake that reality. On my first trip there - spring break during senior year of college - I was registering at a job placement agency. It happened to be St. Patrick's Day, and there was a parade in the street. The whole office stopped upon hearing the skirl of the pipes and rushed to the open window. Once the pipe band passed, everyone went back to work as if nothing happened. I was definitely not in Indiana anymore!

Since then, I've taken classes and actually learned to play the pipes. Woohoo! I bought my pipes from my high school, so that connection continues. But that was 14 years ago, and I'm starting over. My biggest challenge so far is unlearning old instructions and relearning new techniques. Oy! Luckily, I have some resources in the process, including the Scottish Heritage Center at the Queen Mary. As you may imagine, bagpiping supply outlets are pretty few and far between. There aren't that many options for instant gratification for bag seasoning, as an example. The folks at the Scottish Heritage Center totally hooked me up! And, their location on the Queen Mary is very cool, indeed.

Stay tuned for my latest adventures with the pipes. The Scottish Heritage Center sponsors the Long Beach Scottish Festival in February, so I'll be looking forward to that. Fingers are crossed that I'll be blowing my pipes by then!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mofongos

I'm checking in on some friends' place in North Hollywood while they're away on vacation. Woohoo, satellite TV at my disposal! They suggested I try and post on Mofongos, a Puerto Rican restaurant on Lankershim and Hatteras, so off I went.

I'll apologize here to all my PR chums for my naivete or inaccuracies. From what I have discovered, the classic dish mofongo is fried green plantains which are then mashed with garlic, olive oil, and bacon or pork rinds, then shaped into a ball or ring. You can see it surrounding the plastic cup with the broth. Meat is then heaped on top, with the broth poured over it all. Comfort food, PR style!

Here you see the fixings for Mofongo de Pernil with pork shoulder roast, with salty tostones (fried flattened green plantains) in the back. It is much more festively served in the restaurant than in this to-go box. Note that the mofongo is definitely starchy as opposed to sweet if you're trying to imagine how it all works together.

Mofongos is the only restaurant in Los Angeles that serves a full PR menu. Who wants to join me?

Click here to go to Mofongos' Web site.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Diner on Main










I'm accomplishing errands in Alhambra, which includes new passport photos (and the photographer asking me "don't you want to fix your hair?" Lady, this is fixed!), some Rossing, and a Target run. Betwixt and between these stops on Main Street, food was needed. I've been eyeing the Googie-style Diner on Main for many years, and today was the day!

As we're approaching Thanksgiving, I went with this Turkey Dinner Sandwich. YUM! I'll break it down: toasted sourdough bread, cranberry sauce, sauteed spinach, sage-y dressing, turkey breast, more cranberry sauce. Now there's no need for gorging on Turkey Day, especially after pumpkin pie in the form of ice cream - with a bonus scoop of my favorite black licorice and surprisingly available after Halloween - at Fosselman's!

Diner on Main was designed by Armet and Davis, the architectural firm that gave us Pann's (see February 2011 post), Johnie's Coffee Shop (sadly closed since 2000) and the Hollywood Bowl. Give it a try when you're in the 'hood!

Click here to go to Diner on Main's Web site.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Simon's Cafe














Yet another reason to dig Sherman Oaks: Simon's Cafe on Sepulveda, just south of Ventura. I've now hit 16 months at the Skirball; in that time, I've spent uncountable hours driving in and around the area while passing Simon's a gazillion times. Finally, I ventured in, and I'll definitely be back for more!

Here you see Simon's penne with freshly grilled eggplant. The smokiness of the aubergine combined with the chunky tomatoes was delicious! What you don't see are the internationally-inspired bookends to the entree: the borscht soup and the baklava dessert. Additionally, Simon has a whole Moroccan-side to his menu, and I'm salivating over the lamb dishes already. Who's on the road to Morocco with me?

Click here to go to Simon's Web site.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Watson Drugs and Soda Fountain

Watson Drugs and Soda Fountain in Old Town Orange is the third installment in my old-fashioned ice cream series. You may recall accolades about Butt Drugs (June 2011) and Fair Oaks Pharmacy (June 2009), and now we can add Watson's to the list.

Here you see three classic soda fountain specialties: (Diet) Coke Float at the far end, Chocolate Malt to the left and my mountainous Chocolate Ice Cream Soda front and center. I can't vouch for my chums' choices in the taste department, but mine was delish and quite the sight! Can you see the chocolate foam under all that whipped cream?! Or, the scoop of ice cream precariously hanging over the edge?! Wow, another reason to visit the OC every now and then.

Click here for Watson's Web site.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wicked Lit: Halloween Performance

(Wow, my second time traipsing around a mausoleum and cemetery this month. Where is my life heading?!)

Back in June, I posted about seeing a Wicked Lit production at the Biltmore Hotel. It was a trial run for the Halloween season, and I planned then to see this year's series. As you may guess, it was wicked fun!

Big picture overview: our location is the Mountain View Mausoleum and Cemetery in Altadena, and everything takes place on these grounds. There are two sets of productions, each with three different performances retelling a horror story. You see the performance in your set, then rotate to the next until you've seen all three. Yes, that means that six performances are going on at any time around the mausoleum and cemetery! But, each performance may or may not take place in the same space, so instead of having a set change, you move to the next scene.

I chose the B set, and my three performances in order were "Casting the Runes," "A Ghost Story" (a revamped version of what I saw in June), and "The Body Snatcher." I won't be a full-on spoiler, but "Casting the Runes" was about a magician literally cursing an editor who dismissed his manuscript, and how the curse was removed. That one took place inside the mausoleum, and we moved to a number of creepy spaces as the story unfolded.

"A Ghost Story" took place in one space and was a fun revision of the story I already enjoyed. Here you see our "host" for that performance, dramatically reading "The Raven" after being completely mute - well, except for "myeh" and other grunts - throughout his storyline.

"The Body Snatcher" focused on finding cadavers for the Edinburgh School of Medicine students, and the shocking depth one woman went to keep her job there. For this one we went to the lab, then watched while a corpse was being collected....

I'll stop right there as the effects for these shows was amazing! We imagined what was happening as opposed to having to see it, which was actually more powerful. (Remember the scene in "Shallow Grave" where they are sawing up bones? I do, because you see nothing but shadows and hear the sounds. My mind did all the work!) I'm trying to wrap my head around the master flow chart for six productions, multiple rooms and spaces for each, timing so that they were about the same length, plus lights, sound, and props galore, and so it goes. Holy cow!

I'm considering doing the other set before it ends on November 6. Anyone interested?!

Click here to go to Wicked Lit's Web site.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Munchie Machine

I was invited by my married friends to join in a Halloween festival at their kids' school. They were highly involved with the design and production of the Hauntitorium, an awesome haunted trail through and around the Auditorium. This was not your typical grade school production! A model of Bela Legosi in a coffin greeted you, there was a classroom for zombie training, a Psycho room with strobe lights flashing through the shower curtain plus a crazy lady in a rocking chair, aliens scattered across a wall, framed portraits that transitioned from life to death (Uncle Arthur now has an ax in his skull), creepy kids coming at you, and a gorilla that seemed to appear and disappear out of nowhere. I went through five times, and I'm sure I still missed some "killer" details!

Between the laps through the Hauntitorium, I was hungry! They had arranged for food trucks, and I think I've found my favorite. The Munchie Machine was there with an appealing selection of grilled cheeses, PLUS s'mores. (I have soooo been in the mood for s'mores, but apartment living doesn't lend itself to open flames.) I went with the maple bacon s'more, which you see here. Yes, it is two graham crackers, a full Hershey bar, marshmallows doused in maple syrup and flamed with the mini-blowtorch, and a delicious slab of bacon. DANG!! If the spooks and scares weren't enough, I'm sure my heart was fully shocked after that!

Click here to see where The Munchie Machine will be next.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Zelo Pizzeria











I know, I tease with a pizzeria yet show a salad. But, I have my reasons: this salad was soooo tasty plus the unique detail of the pizza didn't photograph well.

Zelo's Pizzeria in Arcadia has cornmeal crust pizza as their distinction. Then there's their unique toppings, well, like corn and other gourmet options. I had the day's margherita slice special, and that cornmeal crust added a fantastic layer of flavor to a stand-by favorite. I'll plan to take a deeper dive into that menu!

But, back to this salad: beets, bleu cheese, walnuts atop greens and balsamic dressing. YUM! Fresh, crisp, and a nice nod to my herbivore tendencies. Delish!

Click here to go to Zelo's Web site.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Natural History Museum Dinosaur Hall

Finally, after visiting the dinos in DC, I saw the new Dino Hall at OUR Natural History Museum.

As shared, I worked at the Natch for more than eight years and cut through the old Dino Hall each day where the T-rex (half of the Museum's mascot team; Triceratops is the other) and other specimens stood - and sometimes laid - statically behind railings. They actually looked dusty and dried-up.

Wow! These new dinos are ALIVE! Walk around and under the articulated skeletons, and over glass-covered foot print paths. Hear how they think dinos sounded, based upon skull structure. Learn about the dino-bird evolutionary connection, and see a T-rex growth series. It's all very cool! Go see it for yourself.

Click here to go the Natural History Museum's Web site.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hollywood Forever

I have a random Saturday off. What did I choose to do? Join the Art Deco Society for their 28th Annual Hollywood Forever Cemetery Walking Tour.

I've been to Hollywood Forever for the film screenings shown on the crypt shared by Douglas Fairbanks Junior and Senior. Today, it was great fun to tour with the Art Deco Society docents to learn about the 112-year-old cemetery and the "inhabitants." Where else can you pay your respects to personal icons like Cecil B. DeMille, Rudolph Valentino, Carla and Alfalfa from "Little Rascals," Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, Don Adams, Toto, and Johnny Ramone?

From that party-pack, I'm selecting Johnny Ramone to represent here, highlighting my long-time fascination with the Ramones. I was first blown away (literally, remember when they blew up the school?) by them in 1979's "Rock 'n' Roll High School" movie and instantly was a fan. I got to see them live multiple times - including the punk-rock mecca CBGB - while living in NYC in the late '80s. Dang, what did I do with those t-shirts? The Ramones frequently appear on my mix tapes to this day, and now my teenaged nephews are fans. Hey ho, let's go!

Forever Hollywood is an active cemetery, and there were several services taking place during this tour. Which celeb would you like to be buried by?

Click here to go to Hollywood Forever's Web site.

Click here to go to the Art Deco Society's Web site.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Washington, DC: Museum, Monument and Memorial Marathon

I'm in Washington, DC for a conference (actually across the Potomac in National Harbor, MD), and I only have one day to see the sights of the city. Let's do this!!

INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM

My first stop is the International Spy Museum, a place I've been wanting to visit since a friend encouraged me to apply for a visitor services job there more than 10 years ago. After an overview to the world of spying, you select a personae that you will maintain throughout the visit. You are then questioned twice as if you are that person, so be sure to pay attention to the details. My character was Carol Liu, an architect from Santa Monica, CA. Since I had a delicious "Art Vandelay" burrito from the Moe's Southwest Grill during a stopover at the Atlanta airport, Carol seemed like a natural extension of that joke. But it gets better! At the second checkpoint, I learned that Carol had to deliver a microdot of coded information planted into - what else - a visitor services guide for the museum. Perfect!! Along the way, I was surprised by great displays like a miniature gun masquerading as a lipstick tube, and the dog doo hiding a tracking device. The takeaway is to pay attention to everything around us. Note that photos are not allowed inside so this cool logo will have to serve as the tease.

Click here to go to the Spy Museum's Web site.

SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

Just a mile walk away was the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Even though I worked for the LA Natural History Museum (AKA the Natch) for eight years and had been exposed to most of the things on display, I still could've spent eight or more days in these galleries! Here you see a giant jellyfish model soaring overhead in the Ocean Hall. Some other cool galleries were the Mammal and Dino Halls, and the display on Human Origins. In that space, there was a camera that converted your face to what you would have looked like as a early human! Scary and fun! My favorite gallery was the one simply called Bones, with skeletons of a wide range of animals. It was strictly old-school Museum exhibition-style and I loved it! Orange and avocado graphics with gold raised type behind the bones. You know what I'm talking about! Instead of boring benches, there was a classic round donuty thing with seating indentations for six. That photo almost displaced the jellyfish!

Click here for the Smithsonian NHMH's Web site.

SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY

After a quick lunch in the NHM cafe, the next stop was the Smithsonian National Museum of American History next door. I had been advised about the trifecta there: Julia Child's kitchen, Dorothy's ruby slippers, and the Star Spangled Banner flag. Americana wow! The Star Spangled Banner was the biggest surprise, mainly because it is HUGE! It is displayed in a darkened room, which I'm sure the conservators love, but it also gives a chance to get into Francis Scott Key's head to imagine what it was like that crazy night. Dorothy's shoes were fun to see, and Julia's kitchen was quite a hoot. She had traced the proper placement of each pot on her peg board. I didn't know she was all OCD. (As a bonus, I had already seen Julia's photo at the Spy Museum, providing some insight into her earlier career choices!) It was also amusing to see the First Ladies' inaugural dresses, including Michelle Obama's, all gathered together. Otherwise, it was time to move on. I'll have to further explore America's attic on the next visit!

Click here to go to the Smithsonian NMAH's Web site.

WASHINGTON MONUMENT

Museuming is now done and it is time to see some monuments and memorials.

The Washington Monument is first in line on the eastern end of the National Mall and happens to be the oldest structure there (1885). It is still the tallest building in DC, the tallest obelisk ever constructed and the tallest stone structure in the world. You may be able to see the ropes dangling down the sides for the engineers checking out the damage from the August 23 earthquake. The monument is still closed, with no real timeline of when it will reopen. (Like Julia Child, George Washington was another icon exposed at the Spy Museum. Apparently, he used multiple spy-worthy tricks while winning the Revolutionary War for us!)

Click here for the Washington Monument's Web site.

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. NATIONAL MEMORIAL

While walking west, I saw the White House and Jefferson Memorial from afar and stopped by the World War II Memorial, where I was a little disappointed to see the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is under construction. Bucking up, I kept moving. The next major site was the new Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. The Memorial was supposed to be dedicated on August 28 (the 48th anniversary of his "I Have A Dream" speech), but Hurricane Irene changed that. The dedication is moved up to October 16. If you haven't seen images of the full display, there are three stones: two mountains of despair and the stone of hope. You enter by walking between two stone mountains before seeing the quote "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope" on the side of the stone with Dr. King's likeness. Walls with powerful King quotes surround the Memorial and capture his greatness.

Click here to go to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial's Web site.

FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT MEMORIAL

The next stop walking around the Tidal Basin is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Roosevelt served an incredible 12 years as President, during some incredibly difficult times. He got us through the Great Depression (something current leaders should be studying!), and initiated the Works Progress Administration that put Americans back to work. (By the way, WPA artwork is among my favorite styles.) Although he died before we won WWII, victory was clearly in sight. His Memorial is divided into four "rooms," one for each of his terms. I selected these "I Hate War" stones, especially after seeing the WW II, Korean and Vietnam War Memorials on this walk through history.

Click here to go to Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial's Web site.

LINCOLN MEMORIAL

As my final stop, the Lincoln Memorial was the one I really wanted to experience. As I've shared here, I've always been fond of Abe, as a man and as the Great Emancipator.

Unfortunately, my Aquarius brain was bouncing between the greatness of Lincoln and the beauty of this Memorial, then remembering the Tim Burton directed (another Burton-Lincoln connection!) "Planet of the Apes" ending where Mark Wahlberg lands his ship at the Lincoln Memorial and General Thade's head is there instead of Abe's! I hope I'm not spoiling it for anyone, but the movie is 10 years old.

Still, it was awesome to finally see the Memorial and read the excerpts from the Gettysburg Address and his second Inaugural Speech on the walls. There's also a little exhibit inside, showing pictures of historic events at the Memorial, such as Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech. To see those pictures in the context of being there was incredible!

Click here to go to Lincoln Memorial's Web site.

Eight hours later, and my mission is accomplished! Whirlwind tour of DC is complete, and I am inspired and feeling patriotic. Go, America!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Elena's Greek Armenian Cuisine

















It was lunchtime in Glendale and I just couldn't decide what it would be. So, I logged on to the ever-trusty Roadfood.com site for some recommendations. Atop the list was Elena's Greek Armenian Cuisine, and off I went.

Here you see why Elena's was listed even though there are gazillions (maybe I overestimate, but not by much!) Greek and kabob places in Glendale; one happens to be kitty-cornered to Elena's spot on Glendale and Acacia Avenues. You start with the pickled cabbage salad and warm pita with garlic spread, then move on to the lemony lentil soup, while saving room for lamb shish kabob with rice, grilled tomato and green pepper. YUMMY!!

The decor is on the cheezy side, which you know I love. It is like a closed-in patio with columns and ancient Greek-style paintings on the wall, except with some really vivid colors. Street parking only, so you may have to walk a block or two during the busy hours.

Click here to go to Elena's Web site.

Click here to go to Roadfood's Web site.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stinking Rose









I'm taking full responsibility for the gloriously garlicy scent wafting throughout Los Angeles today. Well, me and the delicious offerings at the Stinking Rose.

Here you see - I really wish you could smell! - their 40 Clove Roasted Chicken, served with garlicy mashed potatoes and a good number of those cloves. What you don't see is the warm garlic rolls, and the garlic relish with parsley and olive oil to dip the rolls in while waiting for your food. I was certainly safe from vampires, and my antioxidant count was off the chart, after cleaning this plate!

The space itself is a hoot. Some of the tables are surrounded by canvas tents; perhaps Stinking Rose is an oasis in the desert we call Los Angeles. There are stars painted on the ceiling with little hot air balloon models floating about. Naturally, there are murals with bulbs of garlic taking on human features, too. Be sure to take a looksie around when you go.

Alas, this time I did not get the crème de la crème of the Stinking Rose: the garlic ice cream. It's just what you're imagining it would be: creamy vanilla ice cream surrounding cloves of garlic. Although it won't replace my Fosselman's black licorice and pumpkin blend (see October 2009 post) on my ice cream fave list, the garlic ice cream is definitely worth a try. Hey, what's a little more garlic at that point?!

Click here to go to the Stinking Rose's Web site.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Good Girl Dinette

This vegetarian pot pie from Good Girl Dinette in Highland Park is an excellent example of patience in action. Yes, from me!

How so? Check back to February of 2010 and the Du-Par's post, when I talked about winning Dalai Lama tickets during the Craig Ferguson taping with Peter Sagal. My friend who joined me for the Dalai Lama event talked about the Good Girl Dinette then, specifically their vegetarian pho. I checked their Web site, and the vegetarian pot pie looked like the clear winner when I could go.

Flash forward 18 months, and I was due for a catch-up with that same friend. It had to be the GGD! Dang, this pot pie was sooo good: zucchini, potato and carrot in a yellow curry, with the most delicious biscuity crust! The fresh spring rolls as a starter were also amazing!

GGD also has meat dishes - the slow roasted pork baguette looked especially tasty - and I was tempted to ask the neighboring diners for a few of their fries. Alas, I've already had my fries for this month. Ah, patience applied once again...

Click here to go to Good Girl's Web site.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pie 'n Burger












I know it is called Pie 'n Burger, but I went with the hashbrowns and burger today.

As I've shared, I'm dietarily budgeted for one burger and one order of fries per month. Since I already had my tasty batch of fries for September, they were not an option today. Hashbrowns were the compromise, but delish in their own right.

The burger was phenomenal, an excellent choice for the one-a-month club! Old school with no fancy-schmancy toppings. Just the classics: lettuce, pickles and Thousand Island on a toasted bun. Wow! Classic is an apt descriptor for P'nB: wraparound wood-grained counter with 21 stools and four or five tables in the back. If you order a soda, they make it the old-fashioned way by adding the carbonated liquid to the cola syrup. The waitresses appeared to know everyone, and most of the customers seemed to be regulars. As you can see, the diner-style plates have seen lots of love!

As for the pie, I couldn't rationalize it this time. The slices I saw were enough to trigger an insulin pump. P'nB is known for their ollallieberry pie, but I had a big ol' piece of the rare-berry pie at Linn's in Cambria (see February post), so I was still good for 2011.

And, I've faced this struggle before - burger with hashbrowns OR burger with pie - as the trifecta is virtually impossible if you go alone. P'nB has been around since 1963, and I'm confident they'll be there the next time I need some pie.

Click here to go to Pie 'n Burger's Web site.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Getty Villa




















Embarrassingly, I had not been to the reopened Getty Villa. How could I consider myself a museum person?! Sure, I was there back in the day, but it has been now more than five years since the renovations were completed. It was time to get my Villa on!

For some back story, the Getty Villa used to be THE Getty Museum. Then the huge Getty Center on Sepulveda opened in 1997, and the Villa was closed for renovations. The Villa's collections focus on Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities, while the Center's galleries contain a much wider range of artwork, including one of my faves, van Gogh's Irises.

First off, the Villa's grounds are stunning, with multiple pools, fountains, trees and flowers. One of my event planning friends was staging a dream wedding in her mind, considering the bride's entrance, where the guests would stand, and the bouquet toss. Statuary and more architectural details were spotted at every bat of the eye. Two others asked how employees got any work done with this vista each day. And just try to count the varieties of marble throughout the campus. So, of all the visuals I could have shared, why this one?

In the Myth and Mythology room, I found this statue of Orpheus. Per the label copy, "Orpheus, the son of Apollo (god of prophecy and music) and a Muse, was considered the most skilled singer in antiquity. Another adventure is alluded to here: Sailing with Jason and the Argonauts, Orpheus encounters the Sirens, mythical bird-women whose seductive singing lured sailors to their deaths. Orpheus rescued his companions with a song so beautiful that the Sirens despaired and threw themselves into the sea."

So it was the Jason and the Argonauts/Ray Harryhausen connection - at a place of such incredible beauty - that inspired this post. Maybe one day I'll mature, but don't count on it!

Click here to go to the Getty's Web site.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

John Doe at the Grammy Museum

Such is my life: Philip Glass last night at the Hollywood Bowl and John Doe performing tonight at the Grammy Museum! Once again we have to go back to Indiana for these musical roots, this time for where it all began with John Doe. (That series of Hoosierland Influences I started back in June is taking on a life of its own!)

I'm not quite sure how I first heard of John and his punk rock band X. Yes, I had cable in the early '80s, when X was lashing out with "Los Angeles." Or, maybe it was the long-standing Rolling Stone subscription. Or, in 1986, when I worked at a rockin' radio station in Louisville, KY, where I frequently took home stacks of albums (again, the '80s!) by a wide range of singers, some who I knew and some who I came to know. In any event, I feel like I'm a longtime fan that somehow took hold in my Hoosier years.

Flash forward to 2011, and through Grammy Museum colleagues, several of us from the Skirball were invited to John's release party for his new album Keeper. I thought it would be a huge crowd, but there were only 226 seats in the Clive Davis Theater, so it was quite the intimate event. What started off in conversation ended with a rowdy show! I couldn't quite grasp that John Doe - with his 30 plus years of rock and roll attitude - was still wearing his suit jacket and tie while jamming. It was quite the visual disconnect, but the audio component was awesome! In any event, here's hoping for another 30 years of this music maestro!

Click here to go to John Doe's Web site.

Click here to go to the Grammy's Web site.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Powaqqatsi and Philip Glass at the Hollywood Bowl
















It would not be summer without a trip to the Hollywood Bowl. This season, I had to see Philip Glass perform with his Ensemble to the movie "Powaqqatsi" (again).

My first exposure to Philip was in the early '80s in Indiana, thanks to access to cable TV. I heard him play selections from his "Glassworks" album (from 1982) and was immediately a fan. It was totally different from what I thought of as classical music, yet all the typical orchestral instruments were there. It was wild stuff! If you don't know his style, he describes himself as a composer of "music with repetitive structures." It was - and still is - a little trippy and hypnotic!

Flash forward to 1987, and my move to NYC. There I met other Philip fanatics, but they were devotees due to his scoring for the movie "Koyaanisqatsi," a Hopi word for "life out of balance," released in 1983. As I knew the drill, it wasn't a huge stretch to imagine a film consisting totally of imagery with no dialogue and only Philip's accompanying music. So, I watched the movie a few times on laser disc (remember, this was the '80s!) and jumped at the chance to see Philip and his Ensemble performing with the movie playing on a theater screen. It was awesome!

"Powaqqatsi," meaning "life in transformation," was then released in 1988, and I got to see it performed with Philip shortly afterward. Twenty-plus years later, now in Los Angeles, I'm watching "Powaqqatsi" (again) with Philip Glass, and a whole new group of friends, outdoors at the Hollywood Bowl. In the two decades since, there has been lots of transformations in my life, but I'm happy to note it was just as good as I remembered! (I'm also glad that I did get to re-experience "Koyaanisqatsi" live at Royce Hall probably 10 years ago.)

There's still the third installation of the Qatsi trilogy, "Naqoyqatsi," or "life as war" from 2002, that I haven't seen. Mr. Glass, you coming back to town any time soon?

Click here to learn more about Philip Glass.

Click here to learn more about the Qatsi trilogy.

Click here to go to the Hollywood Bowl's Web site.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sweet & Savory















I'm not sure how I heard about Sweet & Savory in San Marino, but I'm glad I did! I was heading to the Santa Anita Mall and wanted something other than food court options for lunch. Luckily, I pulled Sweet & Savory out of my mental Rolodex; they are conveniently located on Huntington Drive en route to my shopping.

Here's the result: brie and Granny Smith panini with spinach, cranberries and candied walnuts nestled inside. Savory, indeed! Unseen in the picture is the lemon miniature cupcake with frosting and a raspberry, and a cup of strawberry lemonade. Sweet, indeed!

In a "we're not in Indiana anymore" reality check, while I was enjoying my food, local moms were coming in to order lunches for their kids. Meals that are delivered to the schools (this is swanky San Marino, afterall). In my day, you either packed your own or went with the cafeteria's offerings. I was out of college before anyone delivered my lunch.

In any event, I'll be back to S & S. The caprese salad I sampled was delish, and their kale salad looked good, too. Then there's the breakfast menu and a whole bakery case. Yes, I'll be back.

Click here to go to Sweet & Savory's Web site.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Vroman's Bookstore







OK, answer truthfully. When was the last time you went to a brick and mortar bookstore for a book? It had been way too long for me. Like most of my generation, I became reliant on Amazon for any book, CD, or DVD need. What a treat to go into Vroman's in Pasadena! I was looking for the book "Half the Sky" for a work project, and, instead of directing me to aisle seven or a computer to look it up myself, the chipper staffer actually walked me over to the stack. Wow! Instant gratification and great customer service to boot! While looking through the shelves, I ended up spotting and also buying the latest Bill Bryson book. That's something that probably wouldn't have happened if I was making an online purchase. I'm trying to imagine the triangulation that could have connected the two distinctly different themes!

And for a personal soapbox moment, I'm going to remember to utilize this bookstore before it goes the way of the record store. Don't get me started on that day the music died.

Click here to go to Vroman's Web site.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sweet Butter
















Sweet Butter
is my newest fave restaurant in Sherman Oaks. They opened in November, and I predict a hearty future for them!

From the get-go, it is a winner. Great name, eye-catching location on Ventura Boulevard (between Van Nuys and Woodman), with outdoor seating. I've noted the tables have been full any time I passed by, and I totally understand why.

You enter their little marketplace/ordering station, and it is decision time. You can select from the menu, the ready-to-go boxes, or the day's specials. Then you choose a table, either on the sidewalk under the misters or an inside courtyard. If you know me, you know I was outside, checking out what everyone else ordered while patiently waiting my turn for delivery.

I went with the day-of specials: kale salad with cranberries, candied pecans and some cheese (I'm sure it was something fancy, but can't remember what!) and a crisp dressing, and a baguette with proscuitto, mozzarella and basil. Delish!! Sweet and savory!

I've already eyed the breakfast menu, and checked out the pastry case, too. Yes, we're going to be Sweet friends!

Click here to go to Sweet Butter's Web site.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa














Today, I'm needing to re-recharge the batteries; I'm needing a Glen Ivy spa day.

I've never been to Glen Ivy alone, but when I couldn't rally any troops, going solo was the only way to go. And, it worked out fine. I actually went off the grid for several hours!

I spent the day jelly-ing in the jacuzzi, baking off (in the shade!) the red clay mud bath for wonderfully soft skin, and floating in the saline pool with each vista as beautiful as the next. Oh, and lots of time lounging under bougainvilleas, totally shutting off my head.

This impressive sashimi plate was a total surprise! I was set for a spinach salad-esque lunch and was very pleased to hear that there was a sushi bar now on location. This is the Big 3 Sashimi, with salmon, tuna and yellowtail. I hope you're also noticing the edible petals, cucumbers and Japanese radish spirals shaped into flowers. I pretty much licked the plate clean! Awesome!!

Now, maybe you'll step up when you hear I'm making a Glen Ivy run. I'll be recharging soon!

Click here to go to Glen Ivy's Web site.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Spitz
















I recently initiated a "fries once a month" limit to my diet. There were other components, like more salads in general and fewer cholesterol-challenging dishes. What it really means is that I have to be selective about the monthly splurge. For August, it will be these from Spitz in Eagle Rock, a decision I would readily make again!

I went with the Döner Combo, which is a sandwich, side and drink. You then get to personalize each component. I chose The Classic meat (combination of beef and lamb) with red onion, green pepper, cucumber, tomato, tzatziki and spicy chili sauce, in the Street Cart flavor style (adds garlic aioli inside, and lavash outside instead of bread), and the thin-cut seasoned fries. The real magic was the Street Cart dipping sauce. Absolutely delish!

OK, who wants to recommend some worthy fries for September?

Click here for Spitz's Web site.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Diamond Bakery

One of my chums out in Camarillo called to tell me she was pregnant - already in her third trimester - and invite me to her baby shower on Saturday. Wow! How out-of-touch have I been?! In any event, I couldn't attend the shower as it was during my work hours. But, I could come see her today and have a pre-party.

And, I knew just the treat: this fresh mango cake from Diamond Bakery in El Monte, as she introduced me to this delicacy years before. What you're seeing is thinly sliced mango draped over the lightest angel-foodish layer cake with whipped cream filling, and fresh fruit atop. Amazing!

Hmmm, maybe I'll need another cake when I meet the baby. Keep the celebration going!

Click here to go to Diamond's Web site.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Dinosaurus!" at the Page




















Another summer, another wacky round of B-Movies and Bad Science, courtesy of the Natural History Museum. This time, it's an all dinosaur line-up (Note to self: I really need to go see the new Dino Hall at the Natch!), all shown on the lawn at the Page Museum (Reminder to readers: no dinos at the Tar Pits except the ones in these movies!).

Here you see the prehistoric stars of "Dinosaurus!" During an island construction project, T-rex and Brontosaurus were discovered "frozen in time" and drudged up from the harbor. Left on the beach until the head honchos could figure out what to do with them, both dinos were struck by lightning and - oh no! - came back to life. I won't further spoil the plot (as if!), but will throw out that a caveman resuscitated from the same lightning storm adds some random comic relief to the terror of the reptilian rampage.

I am totally looking forward to two upcoming B-Movies, both with Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animation: "The Valley of Gwangi" on August 6, and "One Million Years B.C." on August 27. I gave shout-outs here to Ray in May and October last year, and will be giving shout-outs at the Page both these nights. Come on, you know you want to join the cheeze-fest!

Click here to go to NHM's B-Movies and Bad Science Web site.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hugo's Studio City











As I think I've shared, I drive a marathon back-and-forth to work each day. That means I pass by lots of restaurants in the 26-ish daily miles, once during breakfast and then later for dinner.

Tonight I'm meeting friends from opposing valleys; one lives in the SFV and the other SGV. We agreed on Hugo's Studio City, due to the location and their wildly-varying menu. Let the decisions begin! It was tough, but here you see my order: Moraccan-Style Stew with butternut squash, carrots, potatoes, green beans, garbanzo beans, and raisins in a yummy broth. I added grilled chicken to boost the protein factor (Even though I'm not currently marathon training, my coach's words still echo in my brain!). The crunchy cucumbers, yogurt and quinoa totally rounded out the flavor explosion. Wow!

Prior to tonight, I've only been to the West Hollywood location for brunch. I'll be back to the Studio City spot. Afterall, I gotta eat, and I gotta drive home.

Click here to go to Hugo's Web site.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thai Purple

I was all set to see "Horrible Bosses" at the theater in Alhambra on Garfield, even though my timing was horribly off. After running some errands, I was bummed at arriving between showings and with a grumbling tummy. I considered my options: theater food pre-show (all the while remembering Elaine on "Seinfeld" saying she'd rather lick the floor than eat a theater hot dog), or grabbing something quick nearby.

Glancing just across the street, I spotted Thai Purple, and I gave it a green light. Here you see the lunch combo: mint leaf chicken, Thai BBQ chicken (with a big knife to slice it!), salad and rice, along with some really tasty lemonade. Delish! And, all for $8, tax and tip included. For the same amount I might have been able to get a kid's popcorn and soda but probably not much more. And, I would've still been ravenous.

"Horrible Bosses" was fun, but not in the funny way I expected. I recommend it, but be warned it is not for kids or the easily offended. Yes, I know, neither probably applies to you...

Thai Purple does not currently have a Web site. Street address is 27 North Garfield Avenue in Alhambra. Phone is 626-300-9083.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Carmagettaway - Bryce Canyon National Park

After the majestic views of Zion, I was completely unprepared for the splendor of Bryce Canyon National Park. Although they are only about 150 miles apart, Bryce could have been another planet.

Here you see what makes Bryce so unique: the hoodoos. Bryce was formed by a different geological process than Zion; here a freeze/thaw cycle (melting snow drips into the rock, freezes and expands, then cracks the structure) causes erosion and creates these wonderful, whimsical formations. The red color made me think I was on Mars! These people on the Navajo Trail give a good perspective on the scale, variety and hue of the hoodoos.

We should have learned this in Zion, but the trail mileage markers have to be "as the crow flies," and not based on the standard 5,280 feet per mile. I know MY feet felt like each trail was substantially more than the posted amount! Then again, maybe it was the gazillion stops for pictures that added to my over-estimation of miles covered. In any event, both the Navajo Trail/Queen's Garden Loop (billed as the "world's best 3 mile hike," although I'm still questioning that distance!) and the Inspiration Point Trail were stunning. Each turn of a trail delivered a new vista, with another photo. Beautiful!

Also, be sure to check out the Bryce Canyon Lodge, dating back to 1925. Worthy of its own post, we had an amazing lunch in the restaurant. My meal started with a sweet potato and andouille sausage soup, followed by a spinach salad with ribeye steak chunks, bleu cheese, tomato and bacon, with a bacon-balsamic vinaigrette. Yes, I have pictures, and one would be of my contented, smiling face.

Getting back to "reality," we learned that the 405 project was completed early and there was no meltdown in Los Angeles. Begrudgingly, I would have to start heading back shortly. Nevertheless, I was thrilled that I got out of dodge and recharged my waning batteries during all that drama. I'm already noting that they'll have to demolish the other half of the bridge at some point. I'm starting to think about Carmagettaway #2 now...

Click here to go to Bryce's Web site.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Carmagettaway - Zion National Park

The next stop on the roadtrip was Zion National Park. Zion, a Hebrew word for refuge, was just that for the weary city gals out in nature. We immediately stopped thinking about emails, voicemails and deadlines and starting thinking about the awesome beauty that surrounded us.

Here you see one of the monoliths at the base of the Weeping Rock trail. Zion is all about water and the erosion of sandstone by seeps, drips and streams. Trees and plants grow out of cracks in the rock, precariously clinging to cliff edges. At Weeping Rock, a continuous waterfall both wears away the rock and nourishes the flora.

For the notable Zion fauna, while we were on the Emerald Pools trail overlook we observed a deer family frolicking in the creek, experienced bats zipping around (!!), lots of salamanders and other amphibians scurrying about, and a fox.

And, a special recommendation for the non-claustrophobic, non-motion sickness folks: check out the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel, a 1.1 mile long, pitch-black cut through a massive rock, followed by a series of switchbacks. The tunnel dates back to 1930 and is a "short cut" to Bryce and Grand Canyon National Parks. I dug it but can only imagine what the "long way" entailed!

Click here to go to Zion's Web site.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Carmagettaway - Las Vegas














It's Carmageddon weekend, that dreaded 56-hour shutdown of the 10 miles of the 405 freeway between the 101 and the 10. A partial bridge demolition is scheduled and complete chaos is expected. Overwhelming warnings from the media to stay away have been blasting for months.

The Skirball was going to be closed that weekend, so I would get a random couple of days off. Being the ever-resourceful gal, I turned Carmageddon into a Carmagettaway, enlisting two of my midwest friends to come along for the ride.

We quickly developed a plan to see some geology and focused on Zion and Bryce National Parks. It seemed most efficient for them to fly into Vegas, one from Milwaukee and one from Chicago, and I would drive and pick them up.

By the time we met up in Vegas after planes and shuttles for them and 200 or so miles for me, we were all pretty famished. Hash Hash A Go Go at the M Hotel was our oasis in the desert. Here you see my salvation: the chorizo hash with jalapenoes and tomatoes served over roasty potatoes. That's a rosemary stalk inserted into a flaky biscuit, and my refreshing mint lemonade to wash it all down. Delish A Go Go!!

HHAGO has a "twisted farm food" bend to their food with lots dishes with Indiana-themed names. Although their Chef is also a Hoosier, I can attest that my people did not eat like this in the homeland. Which may have contributed to me leaving...

Next up, Zion National Park.

Click here to go to Hash House A Go Go's Web site.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beverlywood Bakery

Back in April, I alluded to an impending pastry smackdown: Diamond Bakery versus Beverlywood Bakery. Well, I actually found myself geographically between the dueling bakeries and decided to find out who really ruled.

Here you see the contenders, all classics in the bakery world, lined up nose to nose: black and whites, raspberry linzers, danish, and ragulach. Beverlywood is on the left with Diamond on the right. And, yes, I just happened to have these pink plates in my office to serve as the perfectly neutralizing background. Naturally, I switched plate positions pre-tasting so that it wasn't clear which was which.

As expected, passions and opinions flared up. Yes to the linzer's powdered sugar on one side of the aisle (Beverlywood); yes to the almond crumbles on the other. One taster insisted that flaky layers is what made this ragulach the best (Diamond), while cinnamon balance was the determining factor for another's. The black and whites had fans of the cookie base, fans of the icing, and fans of the cookie/icing proportions. And the danish were literally apples and oranges to be compared by my bunch.

Did I walk away with a clear winner? No. Do I need more research on this subject? Yes! I'll let you know when the next round of bakeries is bracketed.

Click here to go to Beverlywood Bakery's Web site.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Griffith Park Hiking Trails













At last count, I've posted on eight attractions at Griffith Park. Number nine (and counting!) is the hiking trails.

GP offers more than 50 miles of trails, fire roads and bridle paths, all at no charge. I've hiked a lot of these trails, but I still have many miles to explore! The local Sierra Club chapter leads groups each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, with different grades of difficulty depending on the leaders. They depart from the big parking lot by the Merry-Go-Round at 7 p.m.; expect a large turnout of devoted fans!

Lately, I can't seem to connect with the right pace group, so I've been hiking on my own. This switchback trail overlooks Glendale, and if you look closely, you can see the red-and-white roof of the MGR. From another vista, the skyscrapers of downtown and City Hall. Cool!

Although people are up and down these trails from dusk to dawn, please be prudent and stay aware of your surroundings. There are coyotes, snakes, poison oak and other potential dangers. And when the sun goes down, it is DARK!

I'm dusting of the Merrills now, thinking about the next outing. See you out there, and happy trails to you!

Click here to go to GP's hiking Web site.

Click here to go to Sierra Club's GP hiking Web site.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tokoro Japanese Restaurant

I've acknowledged that I'm a pretty tame sushi eater on my own. However, when I'm with a friend or friends, I can go a little wild. Here's a delectable example of some crazy girls getting some sushi!

In the picture, you see two of the delicious dishes from Tokoro Japanese Restaurant in my 'hood of South Pasadena. At top is the Tuna Tower, with the freshest layer of (faux) crabmeat that I've ever tasted situated between the avocado and tuna. At bottom is the Tokoro Roll special with an unusual green tomato salsa-y covering more tuna and avocado.

What you don't see is the Crazy Girl Roll with tempura-ed spicy tuna rolls, the albacore or fresh water eel sashimi. All incredibly fresh and tasty. This crazy girl's going back!

Click here to go to Tokoro's Web site.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sugar Fix

I was kicking the tires at the Apple Store in Old Town Pasadena, shopping for a new laptop. (Think about the blogging turnaround time then it actually happens, as I'm working on an eMac now.) July is a three paycheck month, and I'm reasonably comfortable financially to splurge. But, will it be MacBook Pro with a 13, 15, or 17 inch monitor? How much speed and storage can I rationalize? What new software will I need? Wireless printer? Can I finally get rid of the computer desk?

Needless to say, I needed a snackie afterward to get the blood recirculating. I needed a Sugar Fix, and luckily for me, there was one on the corner of Green and Raymond. I spotted it while dodging the Scientologists passing out tracts, on my walk back to the Schoolhouse parking structure.

As you may imagine, with all the Mac questions floating around my head, I was in no mental state to consider all the yummy lip-smackin' treats displayed. So I went with the chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and bonus red, white and blue sprinkles (Happy Birthday, America!), and the lemon tea cake. To go. To scarf down at home. Where I could start thinking again about the computer desk and the wireless printer from the happy, sugar-fixed perspective. Stay tuned for final purchasing decisions...

Click here to go to Sugar Fix's Web site.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Carnival Restaurant















Today, we were on a deadline project, and one of my work pals went on a food run to Carnival Restaurant on Woodman (just north of Ventura) in Sherman Oaks. I'm usually not fond of the to-go option, but the only alternative was vending machine fare. Mentally settling for blah styrofoamed food, I was incredibly surprised by the get-away delivered to my desk.

Here you see the lamb chops plate with four deliciously tender grilled choppies, with lentil soup as the warm-up and pita, grilled tomatoes and fries to boot. Delish! It's in an unfestive strip mall (I drive by often but never noticed), and I can't wait to go for another feast!

Click here to go to Carnival's Web site.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Street Cred

It may seem strange, but one of the things I wanted to see on my first trip to NYC was some real subway graffiti. It was spring of 1987, and Keith Haring's simple - yet powerful - outline-ish drawings were popping up everywhere. His art, and graffiti in general, was atop the list with finding a job, shopping at Tower Records, and pondering if I could make it there on that initial visit.

Flash forward 24 years, 21 of those spent in LA, and I'm again seeking out graffiti at the Pasadena Museum of California Art and their Street Cred exhibit. The "from Concrete to Canvas" subtitle hints to the displays of an artist's graffiti next to his gallery-ready painting, drawing or sculpture inspired by and connected to the rougher "street" art. Cool concept!

You'll also walk away with a good 101 understanding of the artform, such as tags versus bombs, legality issues, evolving styles, and where you can see graffiti in LA.

This photo is from PMCA's parking lot, with graffiti-ed walls, just for the show, I'm assuming.

Click here to go to PMCA's Web site.

Click here to go to Keith Haring's Web site.