<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Dining, shopping and nightlife]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/entertainment/the-scene http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:42:11 -0700 Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:42:11 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Positive Plates: Heath's Dinnerware Exchange]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:22:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/heathhomeplate.JPG

Many a fine homegrown company is associated with California, and many of those are committed to making where we live a better place.

One such outfit? Heath Ceramics, which was founded in Sausalito by ceramist Edith Heath in 1948. The quality dishware line, which is famed for its hallmark sheen, its understated beauty, and solid heft, is still made in the Bay Area community. But you don't need to journey north to buy it: The Los Angeles showroom is located on Beverly Boulevard between Fairfax and La Brea avenues.

And come August each year, the Heath store kicks off its Home Plate Dinnerware Exchange Program in support of the Skid Row Housing Trust, the "non-profit permanent supportive housing provider in downtown LA."

How it works: Visit Heath Ceramics at any point from Aug. 1 through Aug. 31. Have dishware you'd like to donate with you -- bowls, plates, cups. Give to the store, and then get 25 percent off a corresponding piece of Heath dishware.

Donated a bowl? Get a discount on a Heath bowl. Donated a plate? Same deal.

Your donated dishes then go to the Skid Row trust, where they are given to "former homeless residents during four separate 'Dish Depot' days at the Trust's Star apartments, where residents can choose dish sets to take back to their new homes."

Over 16,000 pieces have been donated since the Home Plate exchange program started four years ago. And to celebrate the half-decade anniversary of the give-back, domestic-nice drive? Heath on Beverly will throw an opening night reception on Friday, Aug. 1.

Have a few bowls, need a few bowls, want to help out, and desire a discount on some classic California true-blue Heath? Here are the details. Want to attend the opening night? RSVP here.



Photo Credit: Heath Ceramics]]>
<![CDATA[Pub Crawl LA via Metro Rail]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 10:02:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/metro903938.jpg

If you've ever lived in a smaller town or a village abroad, chances are you've heard the words "crawl" or "hop" follow the words "pub" or "bar" or "tavern."

That's because in highly walkable compact cities the time-honored jump from bar-to-bar does indeed involve walking or strolling (or, if you prefer a more colorful synonym, crawling or hopping).

Los Angeles, though, has never been especially famous as a pub crawl kind of place. We're not talking to you, Santa Monica -- we know you and your neighborhood-knit ways support a few well-attended crawls throughout the year -- but rather the region at large.

Thrillist is game to address this issue in one fell swoop -- or one fell map, rather: The site has listed a number of watering holes that are withing walking distance of our subterranean rails,

Or "crawling" distance, if you want to stay whimsical and true to tradition.

So what made the Metro Rail station-adjacent list? Old-timer Pig 'N Whistle in Hollywood is on there. The new-timer The Greyhound of Highland Park made the roster, too. And Shannon's on Pine, Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, and Auld Dubliner are part of the Long Beach contingent.

There are dozens and dozens -- 80 in all -- Metro stations in Southern California, so not every cocktail-ready, chillax-out spot is listed. But the map is an excellent, well-researched reminder that drinking and driving definitely don't mix and there are ways to sip a beloved beverage and get around, and get home, in a responsible manner.

Could the day be faraway where we start using pub crawl -- or pub train -- 'round these parts? Let's start that safer, compact-city tradition now.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kevin Bacon Brings His "Six Degrees" to Comic-Con]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:06:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kevin+bacon6.jpg

Kevin Bacon's "Six Degrees" world got even bigger Sunday at Comic-Con.

During a Sunday panel for his Fox show "The Following," a fan brought up the pop culture game known as "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," whose premise is anyone in Hollywood can be linked to the actor. She wondered if by talking to him she could then be a part of his universe.

Bacon said that technically you need to be in a movie with him to be connected in the "Six Degrees" world.

The actor then stood up and took a video of the crowd in the San Diego Convention Center's 6,500-seat Hall H.

He also got laughs when a young girl told him she loved him in the 2011 movie "Crazy Stupid Love."

"Thank you for loving me for such a long time, I guarantee you that I have socks that are older than you, but time is relative," Bacon said.

In "The Following," Bacon plays an FBI agent who hunts down killers. He spent the first two seasons tracking a psychotic murderer, played by James Purefoy, who manipulated others to follow his lead.

Show creator Kevin Williamson said at the panel that he was looking at season 3 as a reset.

To do that, the show needed "a bigger, badder, more complicated villain," show runner Jennifer Johnson teased. "It will take a few episodes before you start to understand what that means. We're going to throw the title of the show on its head."

The audience also got to see an alternate ending of the season 2 finale, where Purefoy's character is shot. In the version that aired, he was arrested.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Toasting Old-School Tiki Bar Culture]]> Sat, 26 Jul 2014 15:56:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tikiegyptiandon.jpg

We SoCalers get pretty dang huffy if we see a Top 10 list, one that covers the entire U.S., and a regional location or factoid or event doesn't appear on it.

Okay, granted, we don't love being on those congestion- or traffic-oriented Top 10s, but the ones about the cool things LA and its environs offers? Yeah, we tend to dominate.

Case in point: The classic tiki bar. The coconut-bedecked, pineapple-chunk laden island-sweet taverns proliferated around Southern California after World War II, and perhaps no spot was more visited, more revered, or has been more recalled, with fondness, than Don the Beachcomber.

American Cinematheque pays tribute to the former Tinseltown tiki bar with an afternoon of tiki drink samplings -- for the 21-and-over set, of course -- and tiki music and tiki shopping.

Plus? A talk about the tiki legend (Don the Beachcomber was a Mr. Ernest Gantt), his bar, and drinks from author Sven Kirsten, author of "Tiki Pop, America Imagines Its Own Polynesian Paradise." And a screening of "Enchanted Island," the oh-so-baroque Warner Bros. treat from 1958.

The tiki doings? They start at 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 27 at The Egyptian, just a short walk from where the original Don's was. Price? Fifteen bucks. (Vendors'll start vending, though, at 3 p.m., if you want to get your tiki on a little early.)

You're wearing a lei, a bright shirt, and your favorite island wear, yes? That's the lively, in-theme look of the afternoon.

And if you want a slice of Beachcomber kitsch, you can still get it, SoCal denizens: There's a Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach.

Photo Credit: The Egyptian]]>
<![CDATA[Chile Relleno Pretzel Burger Takes Top OC Fair Spot]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:40:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ocfairgrantsburger23.JPG

While the majority of us may stand before our pantries and refrigerators, staring deeply at the shelves while attempting to build an innovative and delicious dish out of the ingredients on hand, the wizards of the OC Fair must snap their fingers to summon a savory new dish.

Well... There's probably lots more that goes into the process beyond easy finger-snapping, but the OC Fair concessionaires do make it look a little effortless. Come fair time, year in and year out, the interesting foodstuffs get an early spotlight -- the new Cherry Pop Rocks Donut qualifies here in the "interesting foodstuffs" category -- and we fair goers vow to be more creative in our own cookery.

Creative? "Wacky" is perhaps a more fitting word.

And that challenge to all of the home cooks to step things up has just stepped up: Grantburgers' claimed the tip-top spot in the fair's Concessionaires' Cup Contest.

What's the contest all about? Food vendors submitting their very best dishes for pro judging. "The 70 entries submitted by Fair food vendors were first judged on a set standard for Gold, Silver, and Bronze rankings," explains the fair. The Gold-ranked items were further judged on creativity, originality, and "value for menu price."

Local chefs and cuisine mavens weighed in, including OC Fair demonstrator Ernest Miller, so the buds doing the tasting were of the toniest variety.

And the burger itself, which combines three flavorful components not typically found together on the same plate? It's "a towering sandwich with a spicy chorizo patty, jalapeno jam, avocado, tomato, cheese, and a whole chile relleno in a soft pretzel bun."

Yep: a whole chile relleno. That works by us. You, too? Thought so.

Want to sample this inspired bit of culinary kookyness for yourself? The OC Fair is on in Costa Mesa through Sunday, Aug. 10.

Our only question is this: Will you chase your burger with that Pop Rocks donut, which is truly and honestly real? 

Photo Credit: OC Fair]]>
<![CDATA[Online Feline: Grumpy Cat in SoCal]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:03:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/grumpycat.jpg

Centuries from now, when future sociologists look to the early days of the internet, and how photos were shared and how they were altered and the ways that popular memes and jokes developed, all of their graphs and pie charts and Venn Diagrams will lead back to a single source: Grumpy Cat.

Has the land of online fancies ever seen a celebrity like this sourpuss? Science will show it has not. The famous feline, who first came to the world's rapt attention in the fall of 2012 via a photograph posted to Reddit, has out-meme'd other memes and out-catted all other internet cats, which is saying something.

You've totally heard that Grumppucino is this whole deal, right? Grumppuccino. That's a thing in the world.

Now Tardar Sauce -- Grumpy Cat's actual name -- has a new book out called "The Grumpy Guide to Life -- Observations by Grumpy Cat." And, as a Person of Note does when dropping a new project, Grumpy Cat is going on the road.

Did we say "Person of Note"? Okay, substitute "Cat" for "Person," all you wiseacres out there ready to call us on that.

Stop one for Ms. Cat -- or Ms. Sauce, if you prefer -- is Southern California. The date? Monday, Aug. 4. The place? Kitson in Santa Monica. The time? The not-too-grumpy hour of 6 p.m.

Yes, she'll be there, in the fur. Yes, she'll be scowly. Her nickname is Grumpy Cat, after all.

But what's beneath the seen-everywhere-all-the-time-online scowl? Is this wee animal truly so judgmental, demanding, difficult? Of course not. Word has it that she's a doll, a love, and a sweetheart.

Should we have spilled those beans? Will this rumple Grumpy Cat and her pretty adorable brand? Well, anything to up-grump-ifty the internet's grumpiest icon can't be a bad move, right?


Photo Credit: Grumpy Cat]]>
<![CDATA[Costumes of Comic-Con]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 08:08:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Costumes-Comic-Con-45267843.jpg Comic-Con wouldn't be what it is today if it weren't for the fervent fans in outrageous and elaborate costumes and makeup. Here are some snapshots from the convention floor of those incredible costumes at 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International.]]> <![CDATA[McConaughey Makes Surprise Comic-Con Visit]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:43:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/452624060.jpg

Celebrity surprises are part of the fun each year at Comic-Con and that proved to be the case Thursday when Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made an unannounced appearance at the massive event.

The A-lister and director Christopher Nolan delighted fans when they made a surprise drop into Comic-Con, specifically Hall H.

The pair spoke on stage during the Paramount Studios presentation in the exhibit hall at the San Diego Convention Center and showed a new trailer for their film “Interstellar,” according to a report from TIME, as well as snapshots from Getty Images.

“By far, this is the most ambitious film that Christopher Nolan has ever directed,” said McCoughnahey.
“Interstellar” hits theaters on November 7 and also stars Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastaine.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Shakespeare and Shrews: Help Theater, Get Cupcaked]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:36:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/189*120/shrewtamingISC.jpg

Did you have themes at your birthday parties, back when you were but a tot? And, if so, what were they?

Was your den covered in clowns, dinosaurs, cowboys, robots, Shakespeare? Didn't you have a Shakespeare-themed birthday bash as a tot, complete with guests in period costume?

No? You still can.

The Independent Shakespeare Company, the spritely troupe behind the free summertime Griffith Park plays, has an offer out for theater-loving sorts who have a birthday on the horizon: Come see a play in the park, round up your Bard-digging buds, encourage them to consider making an ISC donation instead of a gift to you ("or in addition to presents" blithely suggests the company) and then? You'll get a cupcake and a stirring round of "Happy Birthday" sung in your honor.

Really, wouldn't it be rather terrific if every birthday spent at a cultural event ended with a song sung in the birthdayee's honor and some giving back to the cultural event? 

World, please evolve in big-hearted ways to make this dream so.

Birthday people? Just let "House Manager Sarah" know when you arrive at the Old Zoo in Griffith Park on a play night. And you're going soon, yes? Because "The Taming of the Shrew" opened on Thursday, July 24.

The theater company has been posting photos of an actual shrew puppet to stir excitement, because, obviously, shrew puppets equal instant excitement.

We're not even being snarky. It's dang whimsical.

And if you weren't born in late July or August? You can still see "Twelfth Night" or "Shrew" for free.

No one is stopping you. Maybe only your fear of seeing banter that is so fresh and saucy that it might put any other banter you've enjoyed in your banter-enjoying life to shame. Shakespeare is just that good.

Really, why didn't we all have Shakespeare-themed birthday parties as kids? Balloons covered in famous quotes? Neck ruffs for everyone? Reciting of famous monologues for prizes? Pin the tail on the donkey-headed gentleman from "A Midsummer Night's Dream"?

Photo Credit: ISC]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: Day of the Cowboy and Cowgirl]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:28:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/daycowboydaniellek.jpg

DAY OF THE COWBOY AND COWGIRL: How are your lasso twirling skills? Your square-dancing moves? Do you wear a ten-gallon well? These are all important questions when you ponder life on the romantic range, the herding of cattle, the singing of songs under the stars, and shining of spurs. The Autry celebrates the wide-open clip-clop saddle-sweet life with a day of tunes, nifty trickeroos, Wild West photos, leatherwork, and the kicking up of boots. Yeehaw? Yes, yeehaw. Saturday, July 26

NATIONAL DANCE DAY: So if you should stroll by Grand Park on a fine and sunny Saturday, say, Saturday, July 26, and if you should see hundreds of people shaking their stuff in unison, courtesy of a routine they are learning in honor of this joyful day of dance, what will you do? A) Join in. Oh, sorry, B) through E) don't exist. It's free, Grand Park/Music Center serve as the mondo event's West Coast flagship location, and it's health- and happiness-enhancing.

CENTRAL AVENUE JAZZ FESTIVAL: When song scholars and historians of the American music legacy ponder the spots along the West Coast that became iconic in the jazz world, they look to LA's own Central Avenue. The tunes still reign each year during the summertime Jazz Fest, which raises the vibes on Saturday, July 26 and Sunday, July 27. Set to play the 19th outing? Kamasi Washington & Next Step, Gerald Wilson Orchestra, and other acts bringing those deep and true jazz notes.

COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL: Where did everyone go? They're very likely inside the San Diego Convention Center, rocking an outlandish costume of their own making, watching a panel about next summer's mondo blockbuster. It's time for the biggest pop-comic-game-film-TV-you-name-it convention in the Milky Way, and thousands -- thousands and thousands -- will con-it-up through Sunday, July 27. Maybe not the whoooole Milky Way, but chances are solid.

FREE TV EXHIBIT: If you do love your costumes but can't make San Diego, take heart (and skip taking the cash): The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising's annual exhibit honoring television fashion is heading into its first weekend. It's on through Sept. 20, it is open Tuesday through Saturday, and admission? Zilcho. Pay nothing to eye over 100 costumes from some 20 shows (hello, "Orange Is the New Black").

Photo Credit: Danielle Klebanow]]>
<![CDATA["Frozen": Popular Sing-A-Long Returns to Hollywood]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:01:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/frozensingalongelcap23445.jpg

Call it one of the most charming spats of the last year's holiday season.

Nope, we're not talking about which child would get to talk to Santa first, nor are we referring to the age-old white lights vs. color bulbs on the tree (color, of course).

Rather, we speak of the heated decision, among your kids, regarding who got to sing the Anna parts and who'd sing the Hans parts in "Love Is in Open Door," the cute duet near the start of "Frozen."

Indeed, the film brims with catchy tunes known by children and adults and everyone, far and wide. "Let It Go"? How many times have you sung that, alone, in your car this month? Ten? Twenty?

Which means this: The Disney animated hit, which very much dominated screens, hearts, box office returns, and the Oscars, is back. And its fervant fans can warble again, together, loudly, with cheer, at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood when the "Frozen" Sing-A-Long returns for a two week-plus engagement.

Make that the super-mega-huge "Frozen" Sing-A-Long. Did you attend the first go-around earlier this year? It was busier than Elsa's packed-to-the-turrets coronation ball.

Call it a fun back-to-school treat (which is not-so-coded speak that the dates are Aug. 22 through Sept. 7). Call it a fine way to feel a blast of cold in what is traditionally SoCal's toastiest stretch of the year. And call it easy to follow, since lyrics'll be up on the screen.

But, please. Do you even need lyrics to "Do You Want to Build a Snowman"? No, you do not.

A few extras: A new-new-new Walt Disney Animation Studios short called "Feast" will screen before each showing. There's a "Breakfast with Elsa" option before the 10 a.m. screenings.

And will there be snow inside the El Capitan? Again, please. This is "Frozen." Snow'll be in the house, literally.

Or "magic" snow, rather. Nope, it isn't the stuff that Olaf is made out of, but it is a perfect complement to a chilly, cinematic, sing-a-long summertime treat.

So, all together now: Let it go, let it gooooooo (but not quite yet).

Photo Credit: Disney]]>
<![CDATA[Free Exhibit: Top TV Costumes on Display]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:44:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/452412086.jpg The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising highlights twenty current shows.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Comic-Con: The Bite-Sized Tips]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:35:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/cc174033140.jpg

If we had a rare 1938 Action Comic Books #3 featuring Superman for every time someone said Comic-Con International is "humongous" and left it at that, well. We'd be a comic book-owning scion, that's for dang sure.

Because "humongous" and "gargantuan" and "larger than Godzilla" and "bigger than fifteen solar systems smooshed together" are incredibly common descriptions of the world's largest pop culture convention. (Okay, maybe that last one less so.)

But how will those generalities help you when you reach San Diego on Thursday, July 24, which happens to be the everything-made-or-being-made extravaganza's opening date for 2014? Answer: They will not help. Here, however, are some lickety-split tips that might (we said might, so don't get huffy if they don't apply to you, which they probably should).

1. Celebrities. They should probably rename the San Diego Convention Center "Celebrity Ville" for the duration of the con, since oodles of famous people show up. ("Oodles"=several dozen, at least). Charlize Theron, Quentin Tarantino, and the perfect Betty White are on the "expected to show" list.

2. Masquerade. The weekend's showboaty (said with supreme love and admiration) costume-o-rama love fest gets the mega queue, the huge applause, and the hours and days and weeks of preparation. Seriously, people who gussy up and perform in the Saturday night staple are mega. Extreme effort. Props.

3. Special Guests. So, we heard that your favorite artist and/or writer is totally going to be there. Okay, so that was a guess, but an accurate one, we'll wager, given that comic book biggies Neal Adams, June Brigman, and Eleanor Davis are set to show, as well as oodles of others. ("Oodles"=several dozen, again, for reference.)

4. Everything Else. The shopping, the books, the toys, the t-shirts, the panels -- THE PANELS -- the hobnobbing, the costume-admiring, the walking from one end of the convention center to the other and passing three Hulks, the social aspect, the Comic-Con-o-sity, which is a real thing. Are you ready to queue? To listen? To applaud? To chat? To get your forearm signed because you don't have a piece of paper on you?

Yeah. You so are.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Celebs Expected at Comic-Con 2014]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 06:29:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NUP_159097_0271.JPG San Diego Comic-Con International 2014 runs from July 24-27 at downtown's San Diego Convention Center. As usual, the pop culture extravaganza will be packed with celebrities from both film and television. Here are just a few of the celebs expected to attend this year.

Photo Credit: Rodolfo Martinez/NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Operatic Outlandishness: "We Will Rock You"]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 08:24:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/wewillrockyouduo123.jpg

What are the great dashboard songs?

We're talking about those percussive, power-deep ditties that a passenger, and occasionally a driver, will pound out on a vehicle's dashboard (here's hoping the driver parks before dashboarding).

Journey tunes are up there, and Rush, but the number #1 tune, forever and ever, in this arena, is Queen's "We Will Rock You." Thank you. Goodnight. Nothing else to discuss. A fact, through and through.

Which makes it the perfect title, and theme, for the musical of the same name, which is summering-up summertime with a stylish sound blast at the Ahmanson Theatre.

The writer? Comedy legend Ben Elton. The music? It's all Queen. The rock 'n roll references, topical in-jokes, and lines from dozens of songs outside of the Queen catalog? They're plentiful and playful. And the '80s-riffic, space-age-y, dystopian setting, which explores a world where rock is verboten, dangerous, and delightful? Oh, it's campy, and cool, and deeply cheeky, not to mention threaded with satire and pumped up with ferocious volume.

A volume that got cranked up in London's West End when the show first bowed in 2002. Meaning thousands of people have had their will to rock reborn in the decade-plus since.

Call it a classic music video come to life, rife with pop-culture-y dialogue, cheesy winky knowingness, a fun and fine message about art and individuality, and, you betcha, a glow stick on many of the seats inside the theater.

And those glow sticks? They'll be lighting things up at the Ahmanson through Aug. 24.

Your dashboard, though? And your radio? Those are yours as long as you have your car, or a friend's car, and the will to drum out one of the most percussive beats of all time, on the section above the glove box. We, will, we, will, rock you. Tap, tap, clap...


Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik]]>
<![CDATA[First for LA: The Sunset Idea House]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 08:10:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sunsetideahousela23.jpg

Sunset magazine is famous for its devotion to Western living, the pleasures of the outdoors, and easy, soft-skies style.

And, of course, for that much-drooled-over, goodie-packed, techno-wonderful Idea House which pops up in the Bay Area's own Menlo Park each year.

We're not saying that a lot of magazine-reading types around Southern California might deal with bouts of Menlo Park Envy...

Wait. We're totally saying that.

Of course, domestic-devoted readers from all quarters are invited to see the dream home, but there's some journeying involved, a good six hours from Southern California. But envy no more, local Idea House fans: LA now has its first.

The Los Angeles Sunset Idea House will throw open its artfully designed doors for six weekends in a row, beginning on Friday, Aug. 1. Make that long weekends, as opening days are Friday through Sunday. And tickets? They're 18 bucks. You'll want to get yours, too, soon. Sooner than sooner than later, to put a fine point on it.

East Manhattan Beach is the location, Louie Tomaro of Manhattan Beach is the architect, and LA's DISC Interiors is behind the home's look, which is described as "eclectic, warm, modern" and the epitome of gracious-but-not-too-serious SoCal domesticity.

Some Scandinavian design elements are ever-present in the modern space, which clocks in at 4,500 feet (break that down into four bedrooms and five-and-a-half baths). The home also gives a nod to "downtown's emerging restaurant scene." Downtown is home to DISC, so there's a handy connection right there.

Look for drought-tolerant greenery dotting the home's exterior, and multiple touches that speak of SoCaliana and la vida LA. An outdoor kitchen? An edible garden? The all-important swimming pool? Yes times three.

If you're going to build a dream house with local roots, a pool is your build-out square one, one imagines.

Still feeling Menlo Park Envy? Sure, and that's okay. Sunset magazine and the Palo Alto-adjacent nook have been home-cozy partners for years. But things are looking brighter for longtime fans of the magazine who live around or near LA and would love to get their own peek of future, Western-swanky homes to come.

Bay Area, we're still buds, but SoCal is now feeling the casual-cool casa love, Sunset-style, too.

Photo Credit: Sunset Idea House]]>
<![CDATA[Michelle Obama Style Guide]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:41:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/michelle-obama-AP19328115164.jpg The first lady proves she's first in fashion.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Rare Sighting: Bryde's Whale Seen in SoCal Waters]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 05:54:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/brydeswhalesocal.jpg

Whales aren't simply whales in the general, loosely grouped sense. Not to the nature-loving, bio-minded adventurers who regularly venture off our shores to study and admire the largest animals on earth.

Whales are individuals, with stories and histories. Take Hook and Delta, two of the much-talked-about blue whales seen off Long Beach in the summer of 2013. You'll recall that Hook's fluke has a bit missing and Delta's tail? The ends point at the sky.

Likewise, orcas were popping up -- or swimming by, rather -- in the late autumn. Many of them, in fact, leading to multiple sightings of the black-and-white beauties (and producing much photographic love on various social media sites).

As for the blowhole-bedecked superstar of the summer of 2014, at least in this neck of the ocean? That honor might just go to Bryde's whale. The "rare" and "elusive" behemoth has been spied not far from SoCal shores a few times, including on July 6 and July 21, by the Blue Whale and Sea Life Cruise. (Update: Another boat in the area spied the whale, but the Blue Whale and Sea Life Cruise is on the watch.)

The cruises are operated by Harbor Breeze Cruises in partnership with the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.

What's the Bryde's tail, er, tale rather? The whale "is typically found south of this region in tropical and subtropical waters," says the aquarium. They're not a frequent tourist to these here parts, in short. Not like those SoCal-skimming blues and the grays, the Bryde's whales' blowhole-y mammalian brethen.

And speaking of the blue whales: This is their time of year, if you want to try and spy one. They're endangered, lest we give all the "rare" focus to the Bryde's, and they're the largest animal on earth. Thus if a journey out onto the Pacific yields a blue sighting but not a Bryde's, it is a good and even magical day.

A day to remember, in fact. And if you do run into a Bryde's on a cruise, best know how to pronounce their handle: It's BROO-duhz, says the Long Beach-based institution.

Photo Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific]]>
<![CDATA[Punch Bowl Revival: Tam O'Shanter Gets Traditional]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:21:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/189*120/tampunch.jpg

Decanters and bottles and jugs that serve liquid refreshment aren't typically worth much note, except to say they're useful when we need hydration.

But a few libation-holders have entered the realm of comment, humor, and pop culture over the years. The watercooler is a big one -- that's where we discuss last night's TV cliffhanger -- and the punch bowl, too.

Punch bowls are harder to find than watercoolers, except at the Tam O'Shanter, which now has a punch bowl for any table that orders it. That's right: A bowl of punch right on your table.

Wonders? Please never cease.

The slightly antiquated dish has long served as the spot where wallflowers gather at a dance, a charming, fruit-flavored meet-up point. But not at the cottage-like Atwater Village landmark: It's you and your party enjoying "a special 50-ounce communal punch bowl" which equals four to six glasses.

Cost? Nineteen bucks.

The punches change from week to week, with Spanish Sangria and La Fleur (think St. Germain and Champagne) making cameos in recent weeks. It's available during the Tam O'Shanter's Sunday brunch, which is on from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on, you guessed it, Sundays.

Will this change up the punchbowl's doily-sweet reputation? We do like its old-fashioned character so very much. Meaning the Tam, which will celebrate its centennial in just a few years, is the perfect place for the punchbowl to once again make its sip-worthy stand.

Here's hoping that watercoolers never start appearing on restaurant tables, though, honestly, in LA, it is probably only a matter of time.

Photo Credit: Tam O'Shanter]]>
<![CDATA[Free: National Dance Day Downtown]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:20:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NationalDance-102345.jpg

Excluding clubs and theaters and football stadiums and bars, where can you dance in public?

People find places to shake it, sometimes covertly, sometimes not. Shoppers twirl next to the granola bars, when a classic disco song comes on the market's loudspeaker. Pedestrians will kick up a heel when a passing car blasts a ballad. And hundreds of happy hoofers? They show up at Grand Park and the Music Center on the last Saturday of July.

That's National Dance Day, here in Southern California and locations far beyond. Nigel Lythgoe, co-creator of "So You Think You Can Dance?" founded the stomp-your-feet spectacular in 2010, and it has been growing in spark-a-latude ever since.

Yes. Spark-a-latude.

That's because dancers from every dance background, and absolutely no dance background -- that's important to note, so note it -- show up on National Dance Day to learn a couple of routines and then perform them, under the sun, in the fresh air, as a whole. Indeed, the full group of strangers moves as one unit by the end of the event.

Beautiful, right? You can see why we trucked out "spark-a-latude" for the occasion.

The cost to join? Free. The clothing/gear required? Nothing special, just stuff you can shimmy in, without restriction.

You'll want to start in Grand Park at 10 a.m. then head for the Music Center for "salsa, hip-hop, lyrical, afro-cuban, and modern dance styles." Baby Loves Disco, a kid-nice happening, will meet in the Grand Park fountain.

Basically, come Saturday, July 26, both the downtown park and adjacent Music Center will be afizz -- yes, afizz -- with frolicsome movement and joyful dance. It's a day meant to promote dance, of course, and all of the health and happy-making benefits found within.

Yeah, you can probably get down to that, even if you're not a person who shakes their stuff in the grocery store. But you totally are, right? We've seen you. Don't be shy.

Photo Credit: The Music Center]]>
<![CDATA[New: Free Hammer Museum Membership]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:53:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hammerpainting932.jpg

There can be free things and free happenings and free products and free extras in this world, but the one-step-up higher level membership end of the deal? 

Yeah. That's not free, typically. So very much the opposite of free.

But here's a new asterisk: The Hammer Museum is now offering free membership. Nope, this isn't the same as the pay-no-admission policy the Westwood institution kicked off last February. That's still in place, fear not: You can get into the Hammer for no bucks. No bucks at all.

This is about membership, being a member of one of the region's cutting-edge-iest art museums, and this is how the shiny new deal works: Visit the museum, get yourself what's being called "a punchcard of sorts," and proceed to earn a point with every visit.

One Hammer visit=one point. And you "get your first point when you sign up on the site." Nice.

Get twelve points in a year and bingo! You're a member of the Hammer PLUS earned membership at the Participate level. (We thought we'd shout "bingo" there since collecting points is rather game-like and easy to follow.)

So what does a Participate level membership net you? Membership cards for two people, oh yeah. Invites to all of the "exhibition opening receptions and one HAMMER PLUS event" (make that invites for two, so you and your plus-one'll have a full calendar, for sure). And "(p)riority entry and seat selection for two at Hammer public programs" (so think the Billy Wilder Theatre which brims with cool cinematic happenings).

You'll get the Hammer calender in the mail, too.

The new Participate plan was launched during Made in LA, so if you take it on, you'll be one of the early adopters. "(W)e want everyone to enjoy a deeper, more meaningful relationship with the Museum," reads the Hammer site.

That's nice. It involves art. Also ideas. You won't spend cash. Except for maybe parking. And snacks. If you like snacks. But the membership? Free in just 12 visits. You can do it.

Photo Credit: Hammer Museum]]>
<![CDATA[Superhero Smooch: Pride Meets Comic-Con ]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:06:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/233*120/pacificsandiegocover1.jpg

Nobody knows better than a busy, eyes-on-the-city superhero that major events don't happen one after the other but rather all at once.

Take San Diego Pride and Comic-Con International. Both are huge happenings, boasting thousands of attendees and multiple spin-off to-dos that fill long and festive weekends. That those weekends arrive back-to-back, toward the late-middle of July, didn't escape the notice of Pacific San Diego. The free magazine merrily celebrated both extravaganzas in one memorable cover illustration, a picture that's worth approximately 57,000 words, given the buzz it is generating.

Indeed, it's the famous upside-down Spider-Man kiss as seen in the 2002 film "Spider-Man." But rather than Mary Jane Watson planting a big one on her arachno-boyfriend, the illustration shows Batman doing just the same in the rain.

Hello, Pride. Hello, famous movie moment. And c'mon down, Comic-Con.

KPCC notes that the DC/Marvel meet-up is "unauthorized." But surely fans of both comic giants can dig when worlds collide, as they so often do in the realm of fantasy, building-to-building leaps, and secret millionaires who protect various metropolises. Cosplay, after all, is at the creative heart of many a pop culture convention, including Comic-Con, and dress-up opportunities and pride celebrations are no strangers.

Comic-Con International opens on Thursday, July 24 though hordes of fans arrive early, typically. Some even early enough, perhaps, to take part in the weekend-before Pride Festival.

As for that famous Tobey Maguire-Kirsten Dunst smooch? The romantic moment was filmed on the backlot of Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank, and the VIP tour always makes a point to show exactly where.

Who knew when it was filmed that it would become so iconic? And who is next to play those roles in illustrations and cosplays to come?

Photo Credit: Pacific San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Councilman LaBonge Declares Nelson Mandela Day]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:49:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/85787673.jpg

Remembering a great man, someone who stood up to apartheid and, in doing so, raised hope, started change, and inspired millions, is an act that calls upon our best thoughts, some stirring and true words, and often art, that timeless translator of emotion and spirit.

Nelson Mandela, who served as President of South Africa and the visionary behind the anti-apartheid movement, is such a man, and Los Angeles remembered him, with art and ceremony, on Friday, July 18.

City Councilman Tom LaBonge declared July 18 Nelson Mandela Day, and a host of civic and community leaders joined to commemorate his honor, including Rep. Maxine Waters, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, South African Consul General Cyril Ndaba, and Councilmen Herb Wesson.

The Inner City Youth Orchestra lent the morning ceremony some joyful and moving music. A highlight of the ceremony? The unveiling of a portrait of Nelson Mandela by muralist Kent Twitchell. It's on the Berlin Wall Monument on Wilshire Boulevard, so if you would like to visit and spend a moment in memory of a man who changed history, head for wall segment at 5900 Wilshire Boulevard between Genessee Avenue and Spaulding Avenue.

The day was also a celebration "of the 25th anniversary of the toppling of the Berlin Wall."

It's a powerful pairing, the legacy of Nelson Mandela and a chunk of one of history's most notorious barriers. And one that should cause passersby to pause, reflect, and believe that humans really can alter history for the better.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[100K+ Cyclists: CicLAvia Pedals for South LA]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 18:18:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/garyl_ciclavia_1345.jpg

There are a dozen chestnuts and venerable old sayings that claim one can never walk the same path twice. True? True. Something along the way changes, or the sunlight is different, or you'll spy a new bird or signpost or shrub.

And so it goes with CicLAvia, the mega, free-to-ride, no-cars-in-the-streets spectacular that regularly draws well over 100,000 riders. The gargantuan bicycle roll, which lifted the kickstand in Los Angeles in October 2010, is coming upon its tenth ride this autumn, and it is celebrating the milestone by returning to some beloved stomping grounds.

Or rolling grounds, rather. But with a twist: The classic Heart of LA ride, a CicLAvia favorite, will again zoom through downtown but by wending through a few fresh spots along the way, including parts of Echo Park and Broadway's Historic Theatre District.

Call it a path you love but with a couple of offshoots to explore. Date? Sunday, Oct. 5.

The December ride, though, is new, new, new for CicLAvia: South Los Angeles. Cyclists will take in Martin Luther King Boulevard between Crenshaw and Central. Yep, if you're thinking Central you're probably wondering if there'll be a visit to the Jazz corridor and indeed, there shall be. 

Leimert Park will be called upon, too, during the Sunday, Dec. 7 ride.

If you're loving the idea of fresh byways, stay tuned: The mega roll is expanding to four dates in 2015, with sights set on Pasadena and the Valley (in two separate rides, natch). Could you be popping a wheelie soon on Ventura Boulevard? All signs are looking positive for CicLAvia's continued growth, so keep your handlebars shined up and your spokes looking sweet.

Photo Credit: Gary Leonard]]>
<![CDATA[Here Comes the Free Ice Cream Truck]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 06:40:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/freeicecreamtrucksocalhonda.jpg

What are the unspoken but widely known rules for running after an ice cream truck on a warm summer afternoon?

Not wearing flip flops is recommended (tennies make for safer jogging). Yelling for all of your friends, loudly enough so they can hear inside their houses, is important. And sticking to the sidewalk and not the street? Wise.

But there'll be no need to dash after the blue ice cream truck that's set to start popping up at spots around town over National Ice Cream Weekend. It's the SoCal Honda Dealers Helpful truck and it shall be handing out "a colorful assortment of free treats for everyone!"

We can get behind the exclamation point, what with the "free" and the "treats."

Kick-off day is Friday, July 18, but where the truck'll park is a question mark. It will make for "various community activities, parks, sporting events, and concerts..." across Southern California. Meaning if you're in Hollywood on July 18, Huntington Beach on July 20, Riverside on July 27, and Simi Valley on Aug. 16, you may be handed something refreshing.

And you won't even need to dig in the coin jar to get it. (That's another tip for chasing ice cream trucks: Place the coin jar near the front door.)

The SoCal Honda Dealers Helpful team has been good-deeds-ing up the summer, with litter pick-up at beaches, valet parking over Father's Day Weekend, and giving away water on toasty afternoons. Want the truck to head your way for a little volunteering-style niceness? It just might.

As for the gratis giving-out of sweet treats? That'll keep on delighting unexpected people who didn't know they were craving an ice cream (but totally were) through Saturday, Aug. 23. 

Final stop? Garden Grove.



Photo Credit: SoCal Honda]]>
<![CDATA[Dachshund Dash: The Wiener Nationals]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 14:50:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/dachshundrungetty.jpg

Any human who lives with a Dachshund will tell anybody one true fact: Their dog is the toughest, hardiest, most fearless little soul, full of courage and daring and desire to bark at anything that comes within a hundred yards of the backdoor, give or take.

Still, though. Do we coo over these long-bodied pups and nickname them "frankfurter" and "sausage boy" and "footlong" and "weenie" and "red hot" because, well, they rather look like hot dogs? We most certainly do. Many of us. All of us, nearly. Without apology.

Thus the fact that frankfurter-famous chain Wienerschnitzel is the company behind the Wiener Nationals makes perfect sense. Nope, the venerable frankfurterery is not putting bun-to-bun in a food competition; rather, low-to-the-ground pooches are competing under the Wienerschnitzel pennant for glory and greatness.

Next date for this devastating cuteness? Saturday, July 19 at the Los Alamitos Race Track. That's where the Wiener Nationals will run, and if you haven't properly prepared yourself for the sheer speed of a Dachshund, best take measures to get ready. Because, seriously: They're fast.

"It's the race that decides on the fastest wiener dog in the West!" trumpets the page. The stakes? So high.

As for the big caboodle in terms of quick wiener dog skills? That happens at San Diego's Holiday Bowl at the end of each year, at the Big Balloon Parade. So mark that one on your canine calendar.

Want a sniff back at last years Los Alamitos race? Videos don't come more Dachshund-y 'round the internet (nor adorable).

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: 75 Root Beers, One Fizzy Taste-Off]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 16:46:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/coke+with+ice.jpg

THE GREAT ROOT BEER TASTE-OFF: Soda comes in 9,897 flavors now, give or take, but back in the day, when polished marble counters with stools were just about the only place you could procure the foamy beverage, root beer truly ruled the school. Galco's Soda Pop Shop in Highland Park gives that most vintage of pop some libation-y love with a grand tasting on Sunday, July 20. How many bevs'll be up for sipping? Count 'em: 75 root beers. C'mon, have you only ever sampled like three in your life? Branch out (root beer joke).

GLENDALE CRUISE NIGHT: It's all in the numbers, or mostly. Picture over 350 cars parked along Brand Boulevard. Make that pre-1979 cars, so, yep, tail fins shall be large and space-age-y swoops shall be pronounced and muscle cars will be making a fierce cameo. Cost to stroll? Nada. Number of years this has been going down? Twenty one. The Cruise Night deserves its crown as one of SoCal's favorite fender shindigs. Saturday, July 19

RYMAN ARTS SHOW: Summer is prime time for seeing some of the best student and recent graduate artwork exhibitions around the city, and Ryman Arts artists are displaying some of their best paintings and works at the California African-American Museum in Exposition Park through Saturday, July 19. CAAM is also hosting an off-site bus tour of the Hancock Park and West Adams homes designed by the great Paul Revere Williams on July 19 as well. Do both? Absolutely.

"ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES": Look, we are 100% not going to lay the finger of blame on any killer tomatoes messing things up, behind the scenes, at the Old Pasadena Film Festival. But the campy classic was supposed to open the fest in early July and, alas, an electrical problem arose. The happy do-over has arrived, and the not-too-fearsome film will screen in Central Park on Sunday, July 20. Seriously, killer tomatoes, do not mess with the electrical this time around. Be polite. Please. Thank you.

U.S. AIR GUITAR SEMIFINALS: This is where the true masters of invisible instruments come out to play. Did we say "play"? We meant rock it hard, strum it soundly, and give it all they've got. The dials'll be cranked, the speakers primed, and the not-really-there guitars gingerly removed from non-existent cases at The Troubadour on Saturday, July 19. Are you ready to rock? Well, duh, right? Always.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Free Summer Concerts: CityWalk Thursday Nights]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 11:32:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/citywalkfreesummershows.jpg

When does your weekend unofficially start?

For a lot of people, that answer falls around 5 p.m. on Friday afternoon, give or take. That's when the tie knot gets a little looser, the social texts pick up steam, and pie-in-the-sky plans finally get cemented or ditched.

No one is saying, though, that the weekend can't be visited for a few hours on a Thursday night. Call it a happy harbinger of easy times soon to come, and call it even happier when it is free.

And things are pretty dang free -- save a few bucks for parking, so hang tight on that -- at Universal CityWalk on Thursday nights during the summer. Been to the neoniest, King-Kong-iest, theme-park-adjacent-iest stretch in all of LA on a hot-weather Thursday evening? Yeah: There's mondo tuneage.

Yep, we said "tuneage" to make is a little extra bit cool, because it is: The free cool concerts are on at CityWalk every Thursday through Aug. 31. Coming up: Megan Nicole and Ian Thomas on July 17, EC Twins and D'Arrigo on Aug. 14, and Power 106 Presents: Far East Movement on the final day of the series, Aug. 31.

Oh, and the official name? Summer Music Spolight Series at 5 Towers on Universal CityWalk. But you won't need that to get in the door, because there is no door, because CityWalk. Just follow the revelers.

Parking is not free, but if you catch a film before or after the concert, there's two-buck movie parking. Also, the Red Line goes to Universal City. You know this, right? Go Metro, music lovers. 

And visit your weekend, for a few hours, on a Thursday night. Yep, you'll work hard on Friday, but a little preview the night before, of good times to come, is a rather delightful anticipation-builder. And life needs more of those.

Photo Credit: Universal CityWalk]]>
<![CDATA[New: Contemporary Art Museum Headed for Downtown]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:59:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_108263612.jpg

There are some stretches of our city, like any city, that practically embody the term stasis. The buildings remain unchanged, the businesses look like they did a decade ago, the details along the block are constant, as are the vibe, the hues, the everything.

Downtown's Historic Core is not that stretch. You can visit a Downtown Art Walk, and then join another just two months later, and you'll see time, development, and fresh enterprise spinning madly. But while things are a-changin' at a notable clip in the area, vintage structures still rule Spring and Main Streets, meaning that the old and new are pairing up in a bevy of ways.

Enter The Old Bank District Museum. Real estate visionary Tom Gilmore, a name very much associated with the Historic Core and the revival of buildings therein, is pairing up with architect Tom Wiscombe to launch an epic, locally minded art institution within the stalwart structures shouldering Main and Fourth Streets.

Jerri Perrone is Mr. Gilmore's partner in visualizing the museum and squaring up financing for the project, which will focus on th work of downtown artists.

The buildings -- the Hellman, Farmers and Merchants Bank Building, and the Old Bank Garage, per Curbed LA -- will see a full re-think in all quarters. All quarters=basement to rooftops. The Old Bank Garage is set to see an art-major, sculpture-forward garden pop up on its tip-top.

Speaking of sculpture-forward and Ideas of Tomorrow, Mr. Wiscombe is much-associated with the forward-go Southern California Institute of Architecture as is Mr. Gilmore, who donated a million dollars to SCI-Arc in 2013 for an endowed chair.

Soon, it appears, the Old Bank District will truly be the newest place in town. For now it remains the nextiest, which is not a technical art term but it fits the into-the-future movement of the Historic Core quite well.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Tryout Time's Here, Halloween Scare People]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:04:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Knotts2011.jpg

Remember how your little sister used to stand behind the refrigerator door, waiting for you to close it so she could claw her hands, jump high and yell "boo" at you in her most monsterly voice?

We have a good guess what she's up to each September and October if she's a resident of Southern California. That's when a number of our local theme parks transform -- or transmogrify, more like it -- their rides and plazas and entrances into a heavily themed Halloween wonderland packed with ghouls and blinking lights and fog machines and dreary noises.

But the parks can't simply ring up the mythical town of Ghoulville to staff these major undertakings; they need humans, or "humannnnns" if you prefer to read it in a zombie-like movie-scary voice.

That's where the annual July auditions come in.

Mid-summer is the time when the parks beef up their screamy staff lists. Given the hundreds of people hired, and all of the vampire/werewolf/ghost costumes needed, and the creative make-up, and the onboarding meetings, well, July works.

Even monsters need onboarding, of course.

So who's hiring? Knott's Scary Farm will hold its Buena Park tryouts on Saturday, July 19. Aspiring scaries'll need to be 18 or over with "a desire to scare." There are some other to-knows, and you should have some of your early fall free, so read all before donning that audition-worthy scowl.

Universal Studios Hollywood is looking for "(e)nergetic male and female performers to portray various types of monsters throughout Halloween Horror Nights 2014" through Thursday, July 17. Two of the announced mazes? "The Walking Dead" and "From Dusk til Dawn." You could be in the French aristocracy creepy street scene, too; it's a big event with oodles of eerie actors in every corner of the park.

But if vampire dancing is your thing -- and high fives if so, because that is wonderfully specific and creative -- stay tuned: Aug. 1 is your Halloween Horror Nights audition date. Details.

Photo Credit: Knott's Berry Farm]]>
<![CDATA[Barbra Streisand at Home: "Buyer & Cellar"]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:56:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/buyerandcellarmarktaper.jpg

There are two things commonly said about people who live in Southern California and toil in showbiz.

One? SoCalers like seeing films and plays that gently satirize or less gently skewer the entertainment industry. (True.) And two: If you're an actor in town, you only ever work as a waiter between roles. (False.)

Both ideas are impishly prodded, with aplomb and fearlessness, in "Buyer & Cellar," which is on at the Mark Taper Forum through Sunday, Aug. 17. The play, written by Jonathan Tolins and staring Michael Urie of "Ugly Betty," follows an not-acting-so-much actor as he heads to a job in Malibu: working in the re-created shopping mall inside Barbra Streisand's basement.

That's no mere flight of stagecraft or Funny Girl-esque fancy; Ms. Streisand's actual true-life subterranean shopping mall was profiled in Harpers Bazaar in 2010, complete with glossy photographs of a doll shop and a sweet shop.

It's a fun fact about one of the world's most famous women, and a domestic detail too tempting for the playwright to resist. No, Ms. Streisand is not in the play, but her legend is omnipresent.

And Michael Urie? Filling the shoes of a man who'd like to be filling other shoes -- as in acting roles -- while working in Barbra Streisand's below-home shopping mall takes a streak of delightful devilishness and a willingness to be all in. Mr. Urie winks from his vantage point, but doles out the genuine smiles, too, meaning this is both a work of satire and one of real fondness, with fondness ultimately triumphing.

Are you an actor? Have you held some strange gigs around town while waiting on an exclamation point-filled text from your agent? Yeah, this is a common and quirky Southern California experience.

Photo Credit: Buyer & Cellar]]>
<![CDATA[Observation Deck Headed for LA's Tallest Tower]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 20:32:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/usbank56812694.jpg

The U.S. Bank Tower has gained a notable amount of fame for a variety of disparate appearances and roles.

Runners races up its 1,679 steps each fall to raise funds for the Ketchum-Downtown YMCA. Beloved television host Huell Howser gave viewers a peek at what the very top of the fabled "Tallest Building in the West" looked like. And "Independence Day," yeah, we all know the scene of eager, sign-waving people wanting to jump a ride on a spaceship out of town.

But the tower at 633 W. Fifth Street may hold a new place in the minds and hearts of locals and visitors: tourist destination.

The LA Times writes that Overseas Union Enterprise Ltd., a hotel and real estate firm out of Singapore, would like to make it a "busy tourist attraction like the Empire State Building in New York and the Willis Tower in Chicago."

Both of those structures exceed the U.S. Bank Tower in height by a couple of dozen stories. The 72-story building, which was built in the late '80s and finished in 1989, is still called the Library Tower by many an Angeleno.

A restaurant is planned for the 71st floor, with an observation deck on the 69th story. Bloomberg reports that renovations are in the works for the tower, which was purchased by OUE in 2014 for $367.5 million.

Like other buildings of its stature with observation decks, there'd be a fee to visit the deck.

The question for every SoCaler will ultimately be this: Can you see your house from there? Give that the tower, which is typically lit in multi-hue form at its crown for the holidays, can be seen from the Inland Empire in the right weather, and just about every hilltop in the region, the answer could very well be "yes."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Watermelon-Glazed Turkey Legs: It's Watermelon Fest Time]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 06:27:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Shutterstock+Watermelon.jpg

If anything makes it to its half century mark, and then a few years beyond, there's bound to be a few changes and tweaks and refinements to the process.

Even with something as simple and straightforward and deliciously sweet as watermelon. Like many fruits found around the Golden State, it gets its own annual bash courtesy of the Sunland-Tujunga Lions Club. But like there isn't just one way to enjoy a watermelon -- it can be cubed, sliced, blended, and beyond -- the club's popular Watermelon Festival has taken a few twists.

At least location-wise. If you've followed the fruitly doings wherever they've landed, turn toward Santa Anita Park in Arcadia on Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20. Nope, there won't be ponies about, but there will be watermelon-glazed turkey legs.

We kind of want to let that just sit out there, on its own, for another sentence. Watermelon. Glazed. Turkey. Legs. County fairs? You have some serious competition in the kooky (but tempting) food department.

Other treats that involved the H20-iest of fruits'll be sold -- hello, Watermelon Funnel Cakes -- but the day isn't strictly about eating (and getting your shirt covered in whatever doesn't make it to your mouth, as is the watermelon's way). Music and activities and a royal court, including a Watermelon Queen, are hallmarks of the long-running bash.

Oh, and when we say long-running? It's been around since 1961. Not a ton of events, food-related or not, can say that.

Admission is ten bucks, parking is four, and pocket some cash for those watermelon-glazed turkey legs. We assume your pockets will be on pants or a shirt you don't mind getting soaked.

Because, please: Who wants to be neat while consuming the Universe's Most Juicy Edible? No one wants to be neat, is the correct answer.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Farmers Market at 80: A Look Back]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 07:34:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/193*120/10379928_10152773421758149_8542707335632709560_o.jpg The landmark public market celebrates with Taste of Farmers Market.

Photo Credit: Original Farmers Market]]>
<![CDATA[Pasadena Futurist: Wearable Tech Confab]]> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 17:18:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/wearbletechconference.jpg

The Crown City is known for some distinct outfits and accessories. The famous blue polos and khakis of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists, the elegant white suits of the Tournament of Roses volunteers, the tiaras of the Tournament's royal court.

But come Thursday, July 17 people in and around the Pasadena Convention Center may think that they dropped into the near future, what with all the tricked-out glasses and computerized bracelets and the other pieces of clothing and accessories that tell us the time, read our email to us, and tweet.

Wearable Tech LA lands at the convention center on that day, bringing with it a host of leaders in the industry for a series of "Ted-style talks" on what is next on the technology-laden togs horizons.

Art Center College of Design and Innovate Pasadena will be in the house.

The buzzy topics to be covered? The Future of Wearable Music, where sports fits into the scene, and the Future of footwear.

Can it be long before our tank tops are talking to us? Surely this is another realm predicted by science fiction.

While industry-focused, tickets are available for those who have to have a peek at the future, or at least what the future may mean in terms of what we pull over our heads and strap onto our wrists in a decade or two. Cost? It's $395, futurists.

Nope, you don't need your jetpack to attend (though that, surely, will be another conference coming up soon).

Photo Credit: Wearable Tech]]>
<![CDATA[dineLA Is Here: Hello, 300+ Eat-Out Deals]]> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:26:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dinelashutterstock245.jpg

There was a blog trend a few years back that involved a blogger doing X amount of things over X amount of days and reporting on each experience in humorous and lively detail.

The format is still around -- it may be here to stay, thanks to perimeters that are blissfully clear-cut in a noisy internet world -- which means we can hold out hope for some intrepid Angeleno taking on all of the restaurants of dineLA Restaurant Week, a major project indeed.

dineLA opened on Monday, July 14 and runs through Sunday, July 27.

But how long would it take a food-obsessed blogger to eat a meal at every one of the participating eateries? There are over three hundred in all, meaning that the writer would need to eat every lunch and a dinner out, each day of dineLA, for roughly the next dozen dineLA events over the next several years.

Mega stuff on the meal front, for sure.

But until a blogger with such a wide-ranging appetite comes along, we lovers of supper savings can make a go of eating a several dineLA restaurants ourselves. Every restaurant on the list, from West Hollywood's RivaBella to Santa Monica's Farmshop to Culver City's AKASHA, is offering prix fixe meals that range in the $15-$25 range for lunch, roughly, while dinner clocks in at $25 to $45.

Not every participating restaurant serves both lunch and dinner, note, though many do. Here's the roster, complete with links to the prix fixe menu each spot is offering for the summer 2014 event.

Might this be the year you start that dreamt-of foodie blog? Where you fully and completely cover all of dineLA over a half dozen years? It's an epic project, one that will zigzag you around town, but it could be done with commitment, a great URL, and a willingness to try a couple hundred places that might be new to you.

Big-thinking bloggers, the time is nigh (and so very delicious).

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[826LA Fundraiser: Kids Create Pizzas at Mohawk Bend]]> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 10:31:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mohawkpizza1.jpg

Parents very often line up the makings for pizza -- the crusts, the jars of sauce, the pepperoni, the chopped peppers and olives -- as a way to A) keep their kids busy and B) have some dinner made in the process and C) maybe stoke the early fires of an interest in cuisine.

But what if that pizza-based inventiveness could have another satisfying dimension, one that includes fundraising for a local organization devoted to promoting literacy and writing skills in young people?

It could and shall: Mohawk Bend is teaming with students from 826LA on Wednesday, July 16 for a few hours of pizza-makery alongside the restaurant's Executive Chef. The program? It's called "A Piece of the Pie," and whatever pizza is voted the kids' favorite will go on the eatery's menu for August.

And any time that pizza is ordered? Yep, some money goes to the literacy-loving programs of 826LA. Four bucks, in fact, which is nothing to sneeze over. (Sneezing and pizza should only go together if you add too much chili powder, of course.)

Four bucks multiplied by a lot of savory pizza goodness sold during the long month of August could do a world of good for children who dream of authoring books one day, or who are swinging by 826LA to polish up sentence structure, learn more about syntax, or just daydream a story or two.

A nice coda? Both Mohawk Bend and 826LA are in Echo Park. We guess it is true that neighbors really do have each others' backs.

And one more interesting Mohawk Bend event for July, though it isn't related to the pizza-fundraising-826LA good times: Sriracha-loving cookbook author Randy Clemens'll be by the eatery on July 21 to make a meal based on his heat-loving vege-loving cookbook. Four courses of Sriracha spiciness? 

We'll raise a rooster-labeled bottle of red hot sauce to that.


Photo Credit: Mohawk Bend]]>
<![CDATA[Outfest: 3+ Decades of Great LGBT Film]]> Sun, 13 Jul 2014 08:57:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/190*120/spacestation76outfest.jpg

Every large-scale event should have a tagline that fits the event's mission, outlook, and scope.

Some go a little too large -- i.e. "the World's Greatest/Biggest Event" -- but others are right on target.

Look to Outfest, which bears the tagline "Creating Change. One Story at a Time." That's just what the festival, which is devoted to spotlighting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender cinema, has been doing for over three decades since it was founded at UCLA. How so? Every LGBT cinema showcase that's started in the last 32 years can count Outfest as an inspiration and model.

Lofty stuff, but the festival, which is on through Sunday, July 20, is also devoted to having a not-too-lofty, come-one-come-all good time. Parties before and after the screenings are standard, and lively panels, and plentiful hobnobbing opportunities. The DGA Atrium will see plenty of social action each night, including the All-Girl Friday bash on Friday, July 18 and a caboodle of pre-screening happenings on Saturday, July 19.

As for the screenings themselves? "Space Station 76" with Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler, and Matt Bomer is the stylish closing night presentation at the Ford. There's a "The Wizard of Oz" sing-along at the Ford, too, on July 16.

"Helicopter Mom" with Nia Vardalos, "Lilting" with Ben Whishaw, and the 25th anniversary of "Longtime Companion" are three more highlights of a highlight-filled week. Oh, and the Docs @ 5, a fine chance to take in some fresh documentaries for five bucks.

Need the big grid? The venues, which run the gamut from the Director's Guild to the Orpheum and many spots in-between? Click here. And happy 32nd, Outfest: The tagline continues to fit.


Photo Credit: Space Station 76]]>
<![CDATA[World Cup Final: Spots to Watch]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 17:16:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/wc494162559.jpg

You can usually tell a major sporting event, whether it be two local teams squaring off or the World Series, but how far the cheers ring from bars, restaurants, and your neighbor's house.

And, of course, your own.

Typically, though? Those events wrap after an afternoon or evening, and the spectators head home or send their guests out the door. But what of the month-long, globe-gargantuan spectacular that keeps the "ohs" and "ughs" and "hoorays" echoing from seemingly every place with a television? 

World Cup, you've dominated completely, and your final match, which happens on Sunday, July 13, will win the hearts, minds, and remote controls of SoCalers aplenty.

If you're not cheering the players on from home, or down at your local tavern, where should you go to watch Argentina vs. Germany? Roll your proverbial ball towards...

Santa Monica Place: It's a two-day, middle-of-the-day Brazilian beach-close party, with Samba dancers, live tunes, face-painting, and, for sure, viewing of the both the Brazil vs. Netherlands game on Saturday, July 12 and Argentina vs. Germany on Sunday, July 13. Free-style soccer players'll be around, too, showing off some skills and mad footwork. Admission? It's free.

The Hammer Museum: Need to be adjacent to art while you watch the art of deftly sending a ball into the net? The Westwood institution is screening the last weekend of FIFA World Cup in both its Annex and Billy Wilder Theater. It's free to attend, as is the Hammer now, and Ammo has some food specials on for the sports spectacular weekend.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts: The Costa Mesa cultural destination is known for ballet and splashy musicals, but it is fully about soccer 'round its spacious plaza come World Cup Weekend. Both the July 12 and 13 matches'll screen, there shall be food trucks on the grounds -- hello, Dogzilla Hot Dogs and Ninjas with Appetite -- and you don't need to pay to attend.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Steak Frites, Poodles, Can-Can: SoCal Bastille Day ]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 19:17:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/steakfritemelrose.jpg

July 14? It's a decorated day of parties and toasts and dances across France. Village squares are festooned in grand fashion and large cities throw festivals and everyone raises a flag, or glass, to Bastille Day.

As do many French citizens and Francophiles living around Southern California. Our region's Bastille Day observances run the gamut from kooky to culinary, so choosing how you want to observe France's venerable holiday is really the only big choice you have to make.

Join le partie in...

Santa Barbara: The city's long-running French Festival is known for its entertainment -- think can-can dancers and accordions and such -- and its food -- think croissants and pastries and the like -- and its much-photographed, much-awww'd-over Poodle Parade. That's on Sunday evening, July 13, but the whole celebration is on all weekend long. July 12 and 13 (though not July 14, note).

L'Assiette Steak Frites: Only specialize -- truly specialize -- in one iconic French favorite? That's what this opened-earlier-this-year Melrose eatery does. In addition to steak-frites and cheese plates, every L'Assiette diner over 21 gets a free Kir Royale to toast the July 14 holiday. Salut!

Bar Covell: If simply going the French wine route for Bastille Day tempts, turn for this Hollywood Boulevard spot where a number of hand-selected and oh-so-celebratory French vinos will be on the pour in honor of July 14. Think Domaine Daniel Largeot Bourgogne Rouge Pinot Noir 2012 and other delectable, holiday-worthy libations.

Les Noces de Figaro: The downtown bistro is going with a "special French-only" prix fixe menu on Monday July 14. Will Soupe L'Oignon make a showing? Mais oui. How about escargot? That, too. And coq au vin and le moules a la marienieres are the two choices for your mains. Price? That's 35 (dollars, not francs).

Napoleon's Macaroons: A certain sweet disc-shaped goodie is as French as a frite but, of course, not savory. This macaroonery, which has outposts in Santa Barbara, Woodland Hills, and Glendale, is creating a Bleu, Blanc & Rouge macaroon to pay tribute to a certain flag. Dessert on Bastille Day is wrapped up.

Photo Credit: L'Assiette Steak Frites]]>
<![CDATA[New for Long Beach: All-American Soap Box Derby]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 09:57:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/soapboxlongbeach245.jpg

Long Beach has gained the deserved reputation as the place where skilled drivers go to race fast cars in the streets (we're looking at you, Toyota Grand Prix).

Meaning this: It shouldn't surprise anyone when another pedal-to-the-metal happening zooms into town, with bells on.

Well... "pedal-to-the-metal" isn't quite the case when it comes to soap box racing. Soap boxers depend on gravity for their go, and a lot of oomph, luck, and pluck, too. So when the All-American Soap Box Derby pulls up alongside the Queen Mary on Saturday, Aug. 23 and Sunday, Aug. 24, you can count on spectators aplenty showing up to admire "the granddaddy of all inertia motor sports."

The prize of the weekend? The Queen's Cup, which makes beautiful sense, given the location.

Bigger plans may be in the works for the derby. The Queen Mary's General Manager John Jenkins said "Our goal is to test the concept of hosting a major soap box race at the Queen Mary. The August race will tell us something about how to create a race event that might be scheduled to coincide with the annual Long Beach Grand Prix weekend."

Longtime soap box participants as well as novices are welcome to sign up for the race. "A track will be installed adjacent to the ship," lest you're trying to visualize just where the gravity-seekers'll roll.

As for those regular soap boxers looking to get to Akron, where the championships are held each and every year? Points will be awarded at The Queen Mary, so look for serious competitors to be out in derby-fierce force.

"Walk the pits of any major racing event and you're likely to meet a former Soap Box Derby racer," says Mr. Jenkins.

He's right. Which means that the Soap Box Derby may make a fine and nostalgic addition to the Grand Prix's car-loving calendar down the road.

How many Grand Prix drivers'll wish they were over at the Soap Box? Probably a few.



Photo Credit: All-American Soap Box Derby]]>
<![CDATA["World's Largest Thermometer" Renovated, Relit ]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 08:18:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/baker+thermometer+159270675.jpg

A giant thermometer rising from the Southern California desert is once again a beacon for tourists headed to and from Las Vegas.

The roadside attraction off Interstate 15 in Baker was relit Thursday after a top-to-bottom renovation.

The July 10 date is significant: it was on the same day in 1913 that the hottest official temperature on Earth was recorded in Death Valley.

Willis Herron built the thermometer to a height of 134 feet to match that record.

Herron's widow, Barbara, says it made her sad to see the Baker landmark -- billed as the "World's Largest Thermometer" -- fall into disrepair in recent years.

Her family took it over again, aiming to make its 5,000 light bulbs glow once more -- although they've now been replaced with energy-saving LEDs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Stores Offer Free Slurpees, Sandwiches and Discounted Doughnuts]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 07:25:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/slurpeeEDIT.jpg

Who doesn't like free food?

7-11, Chick-fil-A and Krispy Kreme are offering deals on free snacks, drinks, sandwiches and more. Here are the three you should know about for Friday.

1.Oh Thank Heaven...For Free Slurpees!

Friday is July 11 (or 7-11), and 7-Eleven is giving out free small Slurpees to celebrate. Swing by any 7-Eleven from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. to grab a free drink while supplies last.

But that's not all. If you download the 7-Eleven app you can enjoy new freebies every day until July 19. Some highlights include Twinkies, Big Gulps and M&M's.

(Psst... If you miss 7-Eleven day on Friday you can use your app to get a free Slurpee on the 19th!)

2. Cow Appreciation Day

Love Chick-fil-A's "Eat Mor Chikin" campaign? Now you can be a part of it! Dress like a cow and show up to any Chick-fil-A restaurant on July 11 to receive a free meal.

If you are feeling shy about your love of cows, you can dress in partial cow attire and still receive a free entree.

Don't know where to find a cow costume?

Fear not, Chick-fil-A has you covered.

Download and print off a cow costume here.

3. Happy Birthday Krispy Kreme

Most people celebrate their birthday with cake and ice cream, but Krispy Kreme obviously prefers doughnuts!

The chain turns 77 on July 11, and to celebrate they'll give you a dozen glazed doughnuts for .77 cents with your purchase of any dozen doughnuts.

Photo Credit: 7-Eleven]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: OC Fair Opens]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 16:05:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/ocfairfromabove.jpg

OC Fair: Local fair followers know that each county spectacular is distinct and has its particular pluses. As for the Costa Mesa midway-bright, concert-cool extravaganza, which shall fair it up, majorly, from July 11 through Aug. 10? That ol' red barn is a favorite (chicks and mama pigs). The shows at the Pacific Amphitheatre are outsized (c'mon, Pat Benatar is a headliner). White Mountain, that huge steer, typically makes a cameo. And the funny foods? The Pop Rocks-covered donut is one of this year's sweet stars. Let's type that again, for good measure: Pop. Rocks. Cherry. Donut.

FRENCH FESTIVAL: Many a cafe and restaurant will be offering up specials on frites and French wines ahead of Bastille Day -- that's Monday, July 14 -- but Santa Barbara is le home to one of le biggest parties, a bash that passed its quarter-century mark and can-can dances on into the future. Make for Oak Park for croissants, tunes, art, and, oh yes, that famous Sunday evening Poodle Parade (which includes all sorts of pups, for what it is worth). Saturday, July 12 and Sunday, July 13

CHRISTMAS IN JULY: Has your Santa hat been sitting there, in the closet, looking rather forlorn? Fear not, festive soul: Two different happenings on Saturday, July 12 are all about adding some sugary sparkle to the summer season. Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo shall screen the vintage treat "Christmas in July" and Eat|See|Hear has "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." That's a fundraiser for dogs in need, by the by.

CHINATOWN SUMMER NIGHTS: There are only three of them, during the summer, so missing out? Not an option. Consider the food truckery and DJ spinnery and the projecting of large-scale videos and the cooking demos and the other merriments that go down around Chinatown's Historic Plaza. It's free, arriving on your bike is kind of the thing to do (although driving or going Metro are fine, too), and the scene is warm-night lively. Saturday, July 12

FOOD GPS RIB FESTIVAL: And if you hang around for a day, or head home and return, you'll be back at this all-ribs all the time ribs-laden ribs fest, which'll feature the meatastic offerings of over a dozen chefs and restaurants. Cliff's Edge, The Grilled Cheese Truck, and Komodo Food'll all be calling upon Chinatown. You? You need to show and you'll need at ticket. They're $65 bones each. Yes, bones. How could we not type that? Sunday, July 13

Photo Credit: OC Fair]]>
<![CDATA[Frank Gehry, Meet the Tar Pits: LACMA Hotel Ahead]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 12:45:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/urbanlightlacmawilshiremuseum1.jpg

Well, this is going to blow the minds of those ol' tar pits mammoths when they learn who is moving in next door.

Or just down the street, rather. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is working towards building a high-rise tower -- think hotel and condos -- at Wilshire Boulevard and Orange Grove Avenue, where a future Purple Line Metro entrance may be in the works.

The LA Times reports that a new architecture and design wing for the museum may be added to the tower complex, or, rather "skyscraper," if you crave more visualization. Think tall. Downtown tall, if you your mind goes there.

Oh, and speaking of architecture? LACMA is looking to Frank Gehry to design it, the visionary behind our own silvery, spectacular, and highly spaceshipian Walt Disney Concert Hall.

If ever one desired to see the duality of the very, very ancient alongside the far future in our city, they'll only need to stand on a center island on the Miracle Mile and turn their gaze from the La Brea Tar Pits to Mr. Gehry's tower, which will surely be inventive and singular and will appear as though it was constructed in the year 2234.

Summoning elegant structures from centuries still to come is what Mr. Gehry does so very well, of course.

And what of architect Peter Zumthor's curvy "bridge" across Wilshire Boulevard, which was announced in June? That, too, is on the drawing table.

Tar pit mammoths, we know you represent the eons passing slowly and all, but best strap yourself in: The future's faster on your home turf, the famous Miracle Mile. The future could, in fact, begin to arrive in time-lapse form, like one of those vintage cartoons where a city of tomorrow rises nearly overnight.

Photo Credit: © Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner]]>
<![CDATA[Noir's Shining Star: "Double Indemnity" Screens Downtown]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 07:01:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/noirdoubleindemnity.JPG

The City of Angels gets razzed, on occasion, for its overly sunny cinema. We're talking the flicks filled with happy sandy beach songs and happy salty surf fun and silly goofy roller romance, all of which have had a deserved place representing Southern California on the big screen.

Then there's noir, which is as homegrown as a French dip, a tar pit, and the Santa Ana winds. But the ultimate in LA cinema isn't very sunny; rather noir is dirty dealing, double-crossing, and as seedy as all get-out.

"Double Indemnity" is at the top of that seedily spectacular heap. Director Billy Wilder's 1944 cold-hearted walloper is light on scruples but brimming with bad deeds and people performing them with pluck and gusto.

Those people? Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. Hoo boy. Plotting couples of cinema, you have nothing on these two. Nothing.

Want to see it, again, but on a large screen in an old theatre? The kind of theatre the on-screen duo might have sat in the back of to scheme and argue? You can: Alison Martino's Vintage Los Angeles is ending its noir series with a screening of "Double Indemnity" on Saturday, July 19 at the Million Dollar Theatre downtown.

Tickets? They're right here.

Grand Central Market, which has a lot of noir to its style, is now open later on the weekends, so you can nosh there first. It's next door to the Million Dollar.

It's a fun night in an epic venue, and yes, noir is fun. It's LA's character-filled contribution to moviedom, and bookdom, too. We're not saying the sunny roller-skating flicks need to roll away, but a little time with spent with fedora-sporting connivers as they connive and get their come-uppance is pretty dang delicious.



Photo Credit: Double Indemnity]]>
<![CDATA[Mega Hollywood Costume Show Heads for Future Oscar Museum]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 20:56:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Titanichatcostume1.jpg

Previews, in the cinema, mean one thing: Two- to three-minute clips showcasing the highlights, and often much of the plot, of an upcoming film.

People like 'em, usually, because they give a distinct taste of what's to come. But there's a different sort of film foretelling ahead for Los Angeles, and it arrives with the huge, huge Hollywood Costume exhibit, which is set to open at the May Co. building at Wilshire and Fairfax on Thursday, Oct. 2.

Are you scratching your noggin here and thinking "huh, the May Co. -- isn't that where the Academy is opening its movie museum?" You are correct, noggin-scratcher: It is.

But it isn't open yet, meaning this traveling show -- and we stand behind the "huge, huge" we unleashed earlier -- will fill out much of the museum before there's actually a museum there.

Yep, Tinseltown adores its time-bending stories, even in real-life.

In the exhibit, which will remain at the May Co. through March 2, 2015? Costume pieces from "Titanic," "The Hunger Games," "Django Unchained," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," and "Mary Poppins." How costumes create character is one of the themes of the show, which will include a "non-chronological, four-gallery journey" through ideas such as how costumes start real-world trends and the collaborations between directors, actors, and costume designers.

The exhibit is organized by the Victoria & Albert Museum of London. Over 60 lenders have provided the 145 costumes, and the Academy is supplying some 30 more.

Call it a feast for sartorial and cinema mavens, and call it an apt preview for what is soon to come for the May Co. building, when the Academy Museum finally sets in in all of its prop- and costume- and history- and screen-filled cinematic feastery.

"Soon to come"=2016.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox.]]>
<![CDATA[New LA River Hangout: Frog Spot Café]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 10:39:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/frogspotlariver.jpg

Coming across a drink stand while on a hike or paddling up to a lake-close sandwich shop are two lovely but rare respites. Outdoorsy lovers generally tow along their hydration and snacks along with the knowledge that they'll need to finish their path or route to get to a place serving sustenance.

But such a sustenance-serving place has popped-up, literally, on the LA River. The Frog Spot, a wee and welcoming café, is the new hangout in Elysian Valley. It's adjacent to the river and the bike path and it doubles as a welcome center, too.

First up? The food part. Cyclists and saunterers and anyone wanting to soak up a little river-style beauty can swing by on the weekends for "light snacks, brewed and iced coffee," and, perhaps best of all, "free drinking water with ice."

Restrooms, free wifi, info about the river, shady al fresco seating, a kids' area, and the only bocce court on the Los Angeles River are also part of the Frog Spot's scene. Pumps and patches'll be available to cyclists starting on July 12.

Is it open all year long? Nope. Frogs often hop away, and the Frog Spot will, too, when summer wraps.

It's free to visit, though bring cash for food and drinks. And show with extra cash on Saturday nights, when ticketed events -- think music shows -- leap, with amphibian-like energy, into the Frog Spot.

Now, where to find it, exactly? Go for the Glendale Narrows area of the river and you're there.

Truly, it's nice to see nature with our nature, but the occasional helpful hub, full of edibles and information, only serves to help the traveler along her or his merry, adrenaline-raising way.

Photo Credit: The Frog Spot]]>