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.