<![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 Sat, 25 Oct 2014 01:59:13 -0700 Sat, 25 Oct 2014 01:59:13 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Opera Eerie: Bluebeard's Castle]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:20:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LAOBluebeard1.jpg

How opera became distanced, in some minds, from some of the juiciest tales of all time is a subject that would make a very fine opera in itself. "Opera's Opera" would be riddled with peaks, valleys, a few excellent villains, a lot of people bickering/loving, and songs of what went wrong -- and right.

For the old and epic form has been laced-up and be-doily'd for too long, according to some contemporary could-be fans, when, in actuality, an opera can deliver a host of sordid pleasures, woe-is-me drama, and some heavy delusion, destruction, and terrifying twists that'll give any art house film a run.

Look to "Bluebeard's Castle," a one-act fantasy that is forbidding and foreboding, both, the perfect dastardly treat to open just ahead of Halloween at the LA Opera. It's paired with "Dido & Aeneas," which deals with a royal heartache, old enemies, and sorcery.

No perfume-scented doilies or overly posh doings here, no sirree.

One could view this operatic event as cultural counterprogramming to a lot of the Halloween-themed to-dos out there, but be warned/intrigued: The stories go to devious, soul-pinching places, where there are no plastic smiling pumpkins.

The pair of "one-act masterpieces" debut at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Saturday, Oct. 25. They'll run into early November, for six nights in all. Barrie Kosky, the director behind the ferociously fizzy "The Magic Flute" -- the one that recently revved up the Pavilion in the style of a silent film -- is at the helm.

Meaning this: You won't be on the edge of your seat as much as you'll forget you're in a seat.

And if you're now scratching your chin, in the way that people do when they ponder, wondering if "Bluebeard's Castle" is the scary story of a husband, his new wife, and the sinister secrets behind the locked doors in his home, ponder no more: It's the very one. So you get we weren't pulling legs about the whole forgetting-you're-in-a-seat business.

Scary stuff, very much devoid of plastic pumpkins but not chills/stomach pits/general delightful dread.

Photo Credit: LA Opera]]>
<![CDATA[Check Out "Nature's Best Photography"]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:39:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/1GrandPrize_TinManLee%281%29+copy.jpg Washington, D.C.'s National Museum of Natural History's annual "Nature's Best Photography" exhibition showcases 60 large-format prints of this year's most breathtaking nature photography. More than 20,000 entries from 50 countries compete for the prestigious recognition. See all winners here.

Photo Credit: Tin Man Lee]]>
<![CDATA[Rose Parade First: A Float Christening]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:50:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_champagne_shutterstock_162519605.jpg

If ever there was a modern organization that understands, heart and soul, the spirit of long-standing tradition and the culture of custom, it's the Tournament of Roses Association.

Might we even say their p's and q's are very well-minded? We might.

After all, that seen-by-millions-around-the-globe event the association oversees each New Year's Day is steeped in heritage and practices that are observed each and every year. The white-suited volunteers? The queen and her court?

Tradition, capital T.

So when a parade participant comes along with its own quirky custom, at least regarding what the float in question will depict, you have to know that the Tournament people are quite sympathetic.

Dare we say they might even be "bubbly" over the idea that the Princess Cruises people intend to christen their 2015 float in the bottle-against-boat -- we mean float, rather -- manner?

Yes, "bubbly," as in Champagne. Yes, we're leaving it.

The drink will fly front of the Phoenix Decorating Company's Pasadena headquarters on Saturday, Oct. 25 at the un-Champagne-y hour of 7 a.m. Two other floats will be out for testing that morning, too, if you're a float fan and like to see behinds-the-scenes-y work. Nope, the Western Asset float won't have its flower covering yet, nor will the Farmers Insurance float, but you'll get to see how a large parade vehicle rolls, up-close.

And 7 a.m. is not too bad, really. Surely you can get "bubbly" at the thought of waking up to see some float prep weeks ahead of the parade?

Yes, we're still leaving it.

A representative for the float-building company, which has wayback ties to the Tournament, says this is the first traditional float christening that he's aware of it.

It's all in honor of the 50th anniversary of Princess Cruises. And if you're wondering if the cast of "The Love Boat" will be aboard the travel-themed float on New Year's Day, wonder no longer: They shall be, from Gopher to Isaac to Julie.

Rose Parade, looks like you're getting a new float custom, the old-school boat-meets-bottle one, which is pretty cute, considering that the intersection of Colorado and Orange Grove Boulevards, the nexus of the Rose Parade, is some 27 miles from the nearest ocean.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Why You May Spot Teal Pumpkins This Halloween]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:45:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC-teal-pumpkins.jpg

Halloween can be a challenge for parents of trick-or-treaters with food allergies.

Screening candy can be difficult and some children may feel singled out because they receive less than their friends.

However, the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) group has started a new campaign called the “Teal Pumpkin Project” that recommends giving out non-food treats and letting other families know by painting a pumpkin teal and placing it on their porches.

Possible non-food treats include: glow bracelets, pencils, vampire teeth, mini notepads, and playing cards. You can see more on FARE’s website.

“Food allergies are potentially life-threatening. When we are looking at a Halloween celebration, it is really nice to provide something that is safe,” FARE spokeswoman Veronica LaFemina told Today. She noted that one in 13 children in the United States has a food allergy.

In a post on FARE’s blog, the campaign said that it has reached nearly 5 million people on Facebook. The hashtag #TealPumpkinProject is also filled with photos from many Twitter users embracing the campaign.

Here is some of what people have shared:

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<![CDATA[Weekend: Gourds and Gorey, at the Zoo]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:23:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/boozoohippopumpkin.jpg

THE ZOO'S SO ZCARY: If there hasn't been a Halloween horror film made about a particular animal yet -- spiders, frogs, and so forth -- trust that someone is dreaming of it. And yet? Our beasties aren't bad and they don't grow to 30 feet tall come the scary season. They do gnaw on pumpkins, though, at least many do, and the LA Zoo will be rolling out the gourds on Oct. 25 and 26. And on Friday the 24th? Night of the Living Zoo takes a grown-up turn, with dramatic vignettes presented around the grounds, little plays hailing Poe and Gorey. Chills? For sure, but then we think of a hippo eating a pumpkin and our frown's turned right around.

MORE MACABRE DOINGS: If you're anywhere near Rainbow Lagoon in Long Beach from Oct. 24 through 26 -- but especially on the evening of the 25th -- something undead may shamble in your direction, courtesy of the Long Beach Zombie Walk. Desire a Halloween-y experience with a dash of history and lace? Heritage Square is presenting mourning rituals of the Victorians. It's a topic that's especially atmospheric when considered among all of those real and quite old buildings. And in Riverside, the ballet again takes on local spirits of the night, via a bevy of walks.

OC TREATS: Anaheim's Fall Festival and Halloween Parade will mark their centennial in just a decade. So how does one reach 90 years of festive-making? By being charming, creative, and full of fall flavor. That's going down on Oct. 25. And nearby at Muzeo? It's "the official haunted house of the Anaheim Fall Festival." Ready for Motel 6 Feet Under? It'll run well past Oct. 25, and it opens on Oct. 24, so hold a friend close and brave it, if you feel you can.

IN THE ARTS: Deeper, darker themes in opera? Well, doesn't every opera have a touch of the OMG to it? It absolutely does, and the opening of "Dido & Aeneas/Bluebeard's Castle" at the LA Opera makes for a stylishly sinister start to Halloween week. And Rob Floyd's Cocktail Theatre -- imagine libations and zombies in one flavorful spectacle -- lands at 41 Ocean Club on Oct. 24 (and later, Oct. 29). And dozens of artists lend support to Vista Del Mar Child and Family services at a party-big TCL Chinese Theatre pop-up art show from Branded Arts.

HAUTE DOG HOWL'OWEEN PARADE: You have to face facts well before you even head to this Long Beach pre-Halloween tradition: You're going to coo, you're going to aww, you're going to want to pet at least a hundred dogs, all of them in costume. But there are many more dogs than that in this huge Belmont Shore strut -- over 500 dogs, most in full regalia of some sort, show up to show off. The owners very often dress in tandem, too, take note. Sunday, Oct. 26

Photo Credit: Jamie Pham/LA Zoo]]>
<![CDATA[Dia de los Muertos + Dino Skeletons]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:59:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/nhmdia1234.jpg

Dinosaurs, way back, say, around the Jurassic give or take, were not known for whooping it up. Survival and eating and such were the name of the dinos' game, and pausing to acknowledge a fall celebration didn't ever fall on the giant beasts' calendars (which had to have been very, very big, like refrigerator-big, probably.)

But we humans of the modern era rather like celebrating things, and it doesn't escape our notice that the holiday that's most tied to calacas and calaveras and beautiful skeletons of all sorts -- hola, Dia de los Muertos -- would welcome animalia into the festive fold, those creatures who've crossed over but still have stories to tell.

The Natural History Museum is telling those stories, via its many dinosaur bones and full-structure skeletal figures, which makes it an ideal home to a Day of the Dead party. Nope, those rare jawbones and skulls won't get made up with traditional Dia make-up -- flowers around the eyes, and smiley teeth up the cheeks -- but visitors to the Saturday, Oct. 25 to-do can still admire their skeletal lines.

This is a bash for museum members at the Naturalist level or higher. Been thinking of joining? Yeah, this would be a great moment, because then you are a member -- bonus -- and you get to go -- bonus.

If you're not a Naturalist member of the NHM, but you still want to jamboree-it-up near all of those bones, take heart, Halloweeners: The museum throws the doors open for a daytime celebration on Sunday, Oct. 26.

You don't need to be a member, you just need to pay admission.

On the dino-y docket that day? A Halloween-themed scavenger hunt, trick-or-treating, a DJ spinning holiday-perfect tuneage, pumpkin decorating, and such.

There are stories to learn, about all of those old bones and the colossal creatures that once roamed our planet. And you can learn from tiny creatures, too, that currently call our planet home: Spider Pavilion is still on at the Exposition Park museum.

Don't you feel like you need to pull a web or two out of your hair whenever you read the words "Spider Pavilion"? That's a good reaction, we suppose, because so few things, in this seen-it-all-done-it-all world, offer such a visceral response.

Spiders. You do provoke, in all the wonderful, spine-tingly ways. You, too, dinosaurs.

Photo Credit: Natural History Museum]]>
<![CDATA[Whimsy + Learning: The STEAM Carnival]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:41:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/steamcarn2345.jpg

Carnivals, as an idea, are often cotton candy-scented and scored by the sounds of a calliope, but they can take on many different characters and attributes.

They can even be places of learning. Look to the STEAM Carnival, which puts up the big top -- at least proverbially -- in the Port of Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 25 and Sunday, Oct. 26.

"STEAM," of course, stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math, and it is an acronym heard far and wide nowadays. (If you're into the "M" part of STEAM, perhaps you know, to the inch, how far and wide.)

Thus the STEAM Carnival promotes greater understanding and imagination in those expansive, education-rich areas, all of which are ready to be plumbed both by students and by those who are no longer in school but want to grow and grow and grow their brains.

Will there be traditional carnival stuff in San Pedro, the clowns and the calliopes? The merriment of the midway will be present, but "high-tech amusement and project-based kits" shall reign. This adds up to "challenging games" plus "workshops, contests, prizes" and other goodies that possess both the spirited vibe of the carnival and the mind-enriching awesome-a-tude of deepening one's science and art and engineering knowledge.

An adult Saturday ticket is twenty five bucks, while a student pays twenty.

And this is not at all to cock an eyebrow at the traditional carnival, which will remain, forever, a twinkly repository of whimsy, old-timey music, and tent-striped fun. But folding those core subjects into the carnival concept just works.

Because filling fun with skill-building prowess and idea-stokery is a not the opposite of fun, or outside of it. Living the STEAM dream is beyond fun, because it pairs creation with recreation.

Photo Credit: STEAM Carnival]]>
<![CDATA[The Haunting Times of Heritage Square]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:33:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/235*120/heritagesquareevening0234.jpg

If you were to grab the passenger seat in a friend's car, maybe that one friend who is obsessed with all of the cable shows about creepy castles and haunted houses and real-life ghost sightings, and if that friend were to drive you around town, asking you to point out the areas that were most likely to be haunted, what would you choose?

Well, the Magic Castle, obvious, right? The Queen Mary, of course. And maybe a few of the Addams-Family-esque abodes of Angelino Heights.

And you'd have to, just have to, give a knowing nod toward Heritage Square. The handsome grouping of Victorian-era mansions and buildings may be just yards from the zoomy 110 Freeway, but they're far and forbiddingly apart from our modern, non-ghost-y LA lives.

Well, "forbiddingly" at Halloween time, at least -- they do charm the rest of the year. But come the weekend before Halloween -- that's Saturday, Oct. 25 and Sunday, Oct. 26 -- the historic nook shall gaze back at the grave and fascinating lore surrounding mourning and funereal rites and rituals of the Victorians.

How were people laid to rest in the 19th century? What exactly were widows weeds? And how long did wakes last?

For sure, it's got a touch of Poe to it -- this was the author's time, or just after it, and funerary dress was very dark, very lacey-and-top-hatted, and especially spooky to our contemporary eyes.

In short? You'll feel the history of the houses, you'll learn something about how our forebears bid their relatives goodbye as they departed this world, and you may even feel a cold chill or two, behind you, as you stand next to one of those atmospheric abodes.

Yep, if you had to name an area of LA that looks oh-so-haunted, you'd have to go with Heritage Square, a place where history and fun win out, except over one skin-prickly October weekend.

Photo Credit: Heritage Square]]>
<![CDATA[Quiz: How Pumpkin Savvy Are You?]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 07:07:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/pumpkin-177531910.jpg

With fall upon us and Halloween fast approaching, it's high season for all things pumpkin. You may sip pumpkin spice lattes with the best of them or carve a mean jack-o'-lantern, but how well do you really know the seasonal staple? Test your knowledge in this interactive quiz.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Brrrains: Long Beach's Zombie Walk Shambles On]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:38:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/halloween2k11ghostzombie.jpg

If "The Walking Dead" or any number of recent undead-themed shows and films have taught us anything, it is this: Be sure you're wearing your favorite outfit when the apocalypse arrives, because you'll be in it for the rest of eternity.

Call it a fine reason to never choose those pants that pinch in the waist on any given morning.

The participants of the Long Beach Zombie Walk understand that the Undeadening can happen at any moment, which means you'll see a variety of get-ups: brides, bankers, sleepers in their nighties. Yep, you'll be in that nightie every day of your life, for always, dear zombie.

You'll see those bankers and brides and a bevy of get-ups that are creative and gleefully gruesome. We say "gleefully" because there's some merry mirth to the proceedings. Yes, zombies moan and dead-eye you, and they occasionally talk in ways about your brain that may make you slightly uncomfortable, but the camaraderie of the walk makes it one lively dead night out.

Or nights, rather. The walk, which marks its lucky seventh year in 2014, has become one of the largest along the West Coast. So, you betcha, it's not a single evening now but a long weekend of happenings. Dates? Friday, Oct. 24 through Sunday, Oct. 26.

But three days of dastardly doings doesn't add up to all zombie walk, all the time. There's a Zombie Prom on Friday night, a screening of Shaun of the Dead (also Friday), and Sunday is "Zombie Children's Day." 

So that's a thing.

Not just a thing -- the dressed-up kidlets'll get to watch "ParaNorman."

And the centerpiece zombie walk? That's Saturday evening around Shoreline Village. So, if you have a first date scheduled for Oct. 25, and you're looking for a restaurant, and hordes of zombies to groan at you, go there.

It'll be a conversation starter with your new friend, we're thinking?

And maybe you two will fall in love and join a future Long Beach Zombie Walk. This mega moaner is clearly here to stay (as are the clothes you choose when the apocalypse happens -- really, think this over.)

Photo Credit: Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Free Tickets for All: AFI FEST]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 20:30:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/afihomesman123.jpg

Cinephiles across SoCalandia can be forgiven for going a bit slack-jawed, each October, when they again hear the news they recall from the year before: Tickets to AFI FEST are totally free.

AFI FEST, as in the film festival that premieres and spotlights and breaks-out big movie after big movie. The very festival marquee-level stars venture to, nightly, to Q&A and walk read carpets and wave from their seat in the theaters.

Whatever is small potatoes in this world, AFI FEST presented by Audi is on the opposite side of the small-potatodom spectrum, at least in terms of high-wattage works and above-the-title performers.

Tommy Lee Jones is one such actor in this year's crop; his hardscrabble Western "The Homesman" is the Centerpiece Gala film. Look for it at the Dolby Theatre on Tuesday, Nov. 11.

"The Gambler," starring Mark Wahlberg, gets its World Premiere during the festival, and the much-fawned-over (we're trying to allay "buzzy" for the time-being) film "Foxcatcher" closes the Nov. 6 through 13 festival out.

"A Most Violent Year" is the fest's World Premiere opener, and it, too, qualifies in the fawned-up, buzz-big departments. As does Ms. Sophia Loren, who shall be specially tributed.

The fest, by the by, spreads beyond the Dolby, to theaters up and down Hollywood Boulevard. So you and your free ticket may find your movie-lovin' self standing inside the TCL Chinese Theatres or the Egyptian or the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which is the glittery (we're trying to allay "see-and-be-seen" for the time-being) hub for the whole shebang.

And the whole shebang revs up on Friday, Oct. 24 when those free -- free free free hooray they're free* -- tickets go on sale online to the general public. It's year six for doing so, Audi is lending the free oomph, and if you haven't seen a caboodle of celebrities and cinephiles stir it up, Tinseltown-style over a fourth of November, well...

You've never done AFI. It's buzzy and see-and-be-seen, both, a big thing that makes one want to summon oft-used terms that really apply.

* you totally got that they're free, right? Aces.

Photo Credit: The Homesman]]>
<![CDATA[Puppies 'N Catwalks: A Human Fashion Show for Animals]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:01:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/219*120/shutterstock_23868331.jpg

Someone, somewhere, is pulling a sparkly sweatshirt adorned with kittens over their head, likely at this very moment, and thank goodness for that. Animals appearing on our adornments is a tradition that stretches back for thousands of years, and we carry this sweet sartorial thing forward each time we reach in our drawer for our puppy-bedecked pajamas.

But animals and fashion have other tales -- tails, even? -- to tell.

For sure, we dress up our pets come Halloween, and come practically any other day of the year, too, but clothing can support creature-sweet causes dear to all of us, from sales of t-shirts supporting a preserve to clothing drives where the funds help a local cat rescue.

Fashion show, too, lend a fancy show -- or hoof or paw, if you prefer. The Animal History Museum, "the first museum dedicated to understanding and celebrating the human-animal bond," is already hosting a bevy of events though it brick-and-mortar LA County-based museum is still in the works.

"Inspire: An evening of compassionate couture to benefit the Animal History Museum" struts on Tuesday, Oct. 21 at the W Hotel in Hollywood, and while the humans'll be on the catwalks, bet that cats, and other beasties of all stripes and whiskers, will be the night's main focus.

"(S)ome of the leading cruelty-free designers" will see their work featured during the evening, which includes a plant-based buffet, a silent auction, and sips to go with the general swankiness.

A sneak peek at the museum's first exhibit'll be up for view, too.

A general admission ticket is thirty five dollars, but if you can't make it, you can still support the Animal History Museum, and learn more about its mission.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[The One Up: Old-School Arcade + Fancy-Fun Edibles]]> Sat, 18 Oct 2014 08:17:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/theoneupshermanoaks.jpg

Ask anyone who had a high score on Asteroids 'round about 1983 what their go-to victory meal was, after an especially heated battle spent dispensing rocks hurling through deep space, and they will tell you, to an ingredient, what they ate and drank: a raspberry slushie, a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips, and a handful of Pez.

Food and arcading are as tight a pair as Mr. and Ms. Pac-Man, but the cuisine scene in some of the modern versions of old-school video-gameries have gone far beyond the chip-backed vending machine.

Look to The One Up, which made its recently bowed in Sherman Oaks with "15 arcades offering over 400 FREE GAMES" and an interesting, swank-but-not-too-serious menu that's completely devoid of raspberry slushies and Pez but does include craft beers, lovely cocktails, and a whole bunch of nice bites that'll fuel your next Centipede run.

On the food front? Local Sweet Corn Hushpuppies, Goat Cheese Tots, and Short Rib Crostini go way beyond the chip bag. As for drinks? A Dill-Lighted sip goes with St. George gin, dill and cuke (both fresh), plus lime, soda, and St. Germaine. Local beers, like the Eagle Rock Black Mild Ale, are on tap.

We won't malign you slushie, ever, swearsies, but sometimes an arcadist, of age, prefers a refreshing brew post-Space Invaders.

Games arrive vertically and horizontally. If you can think it, it's likely on this list. Defender? Galaxian? Dig Dug? We could happily sit here typing game names, followed by question marks, for the next several paragraphs, but we need to keep our fingers limber for joystick action. It's best if you eyeball the lengthy list out on your own time.

(Is it as long as Pac-Man's path is ghosty? We'll let you determine if that comparison fits, once you see the game list.) (It totally does.)

Nope, the '80s aren't over -- The Cure and Simply Red are shouted-out on The One Up's stylish, neon-moody site -- and we wouldn't want them to be, fully. We had fun, those who didn't arcade-it-up the first time around adore the decade, mostly, and we're still trying to get over our first raspberry slushie headache.

Better go play Donkey Kong again, to work the brain freeze out.

Photo Credit: The One Up]]>
<![CDATA[Ravioli Riches: Market City Caffe's Pasta-Perfect Menu]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 18:10:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/marketcitycaffe11234.jpg

What whets your appetite more: When a restaurant introduces a special, single-focus menu, one meant to complement its permanent menu, for a few delectable weeks out of each year? Or pillow-like foodstuffs, where a tasty outer layer envelops a stuffing of cheese, meats, nuts, or vegetables?

Answer: They're both pretty darn scrumptious, and, yes, we were blatantly talking about the ravioli in our second question (though calzones could certainly apply). These two appetite-whetters are dovetailing -- or raviolitailing, if you prefer -- at Market City Caffe in Burbank, which is hosting its sixth annual Ravioli Festival through Sunday, Nov. 2.

Nope, this isn't a festival with balloons in the trees and a clown. It's a separate menu, distinct from the cucina Italiana's regular offerings, and it spotlights nine different ravioli dishes, all savory, all tempting to the serious lover of little pasta pillows of stuffed spicy, meaty joy.

How to choose among all nine? Short ribs continue to be a hot dish in whatever form they appear, and there is a ravioli paying homage to the deep-toned dish (think osso bucco-style and smoked tomato sauce).

It's an autumnal offering, but so is the Butternut Squash Agnolotti, which is sauced with an also-autumnal sage brown butter.

Sage brown butter enjoyment on top of ravioli eating? We wouldn't call it an embarrassment of riches, because we're not embarrassed.

The Short Rib Ravioli is $18, the butternut presentation $17, and there are seven ravioli entrees, beyond that, to try.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a pillow of each, upon your plate?

Actually, scratch that, what with the melded flavors and such. Better just to return a few times and try the ones you want to try, and if you can't get them all in, by Nov. 2, anticipate the next time Market City Caffe's special, ravioli-riffic menu rolls around.

More pillow-pocket foods stuffed with stuff, please, inventors of new noshables. Be ravioli-inspired.

Photo Credit: Julian Easley]]>
<![CDATA[Community-Nice Fundraiser: Four Local Breweries Unite]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:42:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/angelcityfourbrewery1.jpg

A community gathering place is a funny and typically organic beast. Planners can set up particular locations with the idea of local-neighborhood-i-ness in mind, but people will gather where they will for their events, fundraisers, and let's-be-together, no-reason-needed days.

The Angel City Brewery parking lot has become one of those de facto spots. True, the fact that bespoke beer is brewed steps away from the Arts District spot can't hurt, but concerts, dog washes, and other fun, come-one-come-all-who-are-21+ events frequently pop up there.

Even other local breweries are welcome, in the spirit of camaraderie and doing something great for other people. Such will be the case at the craft-minded Keep a Breast Foundation fundraiser. A quartet of our buzzed-about SoCal suds-makers -- Angel City, Golden Road, Highland Park, and Eagle Rock -- will all pick two excellent sips to serve on Sunday, Oct. 19.

Those eight sips served during the Pint-Sized Beer Festival shall stir up money to help the "youth-focused" foundation, which supports "programs for impacted by cancer..." Prevention is one of the hearts of the organization's mission.

There are two sessions, you get a 5-ounce glass and eight tastes, and the cost? Twenty dollars.

And the giving back? So nice, so good, so essential.

And this communal spot? The beer community is famously tight 'round the region, but it is extra sweet to see 'em all head over to someone's house -- er, brewery -- to lend their libations for a good, good reason.

May more parking lots host more fundraisers that draw communities closer together. To this, we raise our pint glass.

Photo Credit: Angel City Brewery ]]>
<![CDATA[Pacific-Close Party: Aquarium Sea Fare Celebration]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 09:58:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Penguinchickaquarium1234.jpg

Food at the Aquarium of the Pacific, outside of a quick burger at Cafe Scuba, tends to be very much about what the residents eat.

So, inside the cafe? Pizza, chips, and such is what is snacked upon. In the rest of the Long Beach ocean-minded institution? Look for the food to consist of planktonic crustaceans, bull kelp, mollusks, flatfishes, and other goodies from the deep.

There is a night, though, where edibles are served beyond the aquarium's cafe: It's Sea Fare, a fish-fun fundraiser, and, nope, attendees don't have to swim for their crab or dive for kelp.

The food offerings, from some 25 local Long Beach restaurants, are actually presented on tables and small plates, people-style. If you want to place your appetizers on your abdomen, otter-and-abalone-style, and eat 'em that way, well... go for it? Not saying you won't get some side glances for other partiers, though.

Highlights of the Saturday, Oct. 18 evening include an open bar, a "Go Fish" opportunity game (c'mon, you rocked it as a tot, you can triumph again), and a live and silent auction. One highlight? You can bid on the chance to name a penguin chick.

Please. You'll visit that chick for years, bragging to anyone in earshot that you picked the name Cutie-Patootie-Feet. (Maybe don't pick that one, though, because the other penguins may not take him seriously.)

Cost? It's one hundred and twenty five dollars, and the funds fund sharky stuff at the Pacific-adjacent spot. Not just "sharky," of course, but all sorts of scale-and-gill-great programs and initiatives.

Of course, the jellies don't have gills, nor do the mammalian residents, so we don't want to leave them out. It's a diverse and wonderful place, and one we can support.

Seriously, though: Forget we ever said Cutie-Patootie-Feet.

Photo Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific]]>
<![CDATA["Bulls on the Beach" in Southern California]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 06:21:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*123/bullsbeach.PNG

Bovines on the beach?

That’s no bull.

Huntington Beach will host the first-ever "Bulls on the Beach" competition Saturday where contestants will ride live bulls that weigh more than 1,000 pounds each. Top bull riders from around the world will compete at the event that kicks off at 2 p.m.

The eight-second ride will garner a $25,000 prize to the winner, according to PBR.com.

The event is the last competition before the PBR – or Professional Bull Riders – World Finals, according to the City of Huntington Beach's website.

The winner will get a shot at the coveted "Gold Buckle," and a grand prize of $1 million at the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas.

The event will be held at Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway near the Huntington Beach Pier, and will be free.

<![CDATA[Weekend: Taste of Soul]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:45:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/tasteofsoulplate1.jpg

TASTE OF SOUL: It's often said that classic soul food dishes are best enjoyed among friends, family, and others around a communal table. That table welcomes thousands of convivial cuisine fans when Taste of Soul returns each autumn, bringing with it loads of live tunes, kidly activities, and so much excellent food (buffalo chicken funnel cakes and greens-and-meats pairings galore are some of the goodies). Queen Latifah was recently announced as the festival's first celebrity chair. Happy 9th, Taste of Soul, and see you on Crenshaw on Saturday, Oct. 18.

INTERFAITH BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS: With 300 beasties showing up at 1 Granada in Long Beach -- horses, dogs, cats, and hedgehogs among 'em -- this annual gathering is the largest in the nation (to take place on or near St. Francis's Day). It all goes down at sunset, making the scene as pretty as all get-out, and many of the animals are festively attired. Want some kind words for your sweet creature? Be there on Sunday, Oct. 19.

PINT-SIZED BEER FESTIVAL: A quartet of Southern California breweries -- Angel City Brewery, Eagle Rock Brewery, Golden Road Brewing, and Highland Park Brewing -- are teaming up, tap-to-tap-style, to support The Keep a Breast Foundation, an organization that seeks "to eradicate breast cancer for future generations." There'll be eight top-notch beers in all -- each brewery is showing in the Angel City parking lot with two -- and the funds help this fine, youth-directed cause. Sunday, Oct. 19.

SEA FARE: The Aquarium of the Pacific is generally a pretty come-as-you-are and fancy-the-fishes kind of place, except on this swanker night. It's a fundraiser for the LBC institution, yes, and you can have a crack at naming one of the new penguin chicks, via the auction. An open bar, live music, and "dancing with the fish" -- we hear they're incredibly coordinated and charming partners -- fill out the festive happening. Saturday, Oct. 18.

PUMPKIN FESTIVALS: Whether you head east or west matters not over the coming weekend, because one sight will greet you: gourds. Many, many gourds, in fact, as two of SoCal's longest running pumpkin parties pumpkin up their respective cities. The Calabasas conviviality boasts a patch, natch, and food and live music. Dates? Oct. 18 and 19. And over in Pomona, which throws its pumpkin bash over the same dates? It's year 22, there's corn and munchy things to each, and the oh-so-loved Insect Fair. Don't let it bug ya, though.

Photo Credit: Taste of Soul]]>
<![CDATA[Vibrant Vehicle: Haider Ali's Live Truck Painting]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 20:25:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/truckartpacificasia.jpg

Los Angeles is home to some famously colorful automobiles, from Angelyne's candy pink Corvette to actor Dennis Woodruff's sign-and-word-laden car.

But when SoCalers travel abroad, they learn what a car with character and oomph and pizzazz is all about. Cities around the globe are well-known for their whimsical rolls, and Karachi is home to many of them. Haider Ali, a Pakistan-based painter who's gained acclaim for his detailed full-truck paintings, finds inspiration in the vehicles of his hometown, and he's bringing that art, and talent, to a truck here in Southern California.

The truck, which is popping around the USC campus through Wednesday, Oct. 22, did not arrive in Los Angeles fully done; rather, Mr. Ali has been painting it, brush stroke by brush stroke, for much of the month. Processes don't come much more painstaking, given that this is a sizable machine, and not a typical canvas, and the artist often incorporates birds, animals, people, and touches that require more patience and deftness than the broadstrokes often given to what we drive.

Want to see Mr. Ali and his magical truck? Make for the USC Pacific Asia Museum through Sunday, Oct. 19. It will return to the museum on the Oct. 22, the last day it will be on view, and the truck is schedule to appear elsewhere around the University of Southern California on Oct. 20 and 21.

Make for the museum, which is working in partnership with the Pakistani Arts Council, Dara Shah Khan/Shahnawaz Restaurant (the vehicle's sponsor), and paint suppliers Sherwin Williams on this hue-happy, tradition-rich project.

Photo Credit: USC Pacific Asia Museum]]>
<![CDATA[Sweet & Savory Spectacular: Support for Tomorrow's Chefs]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 20:14:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/233*120/tlmd_dieta_segun_signo_zodiacal_9.jpg

Conversational ice breakers pop up in top 10 lists on your favorite social media site, oh, approximately every three hours, but we cocktail party avoiders tend to clean forget every last one of 'em once we're standing in front of a stranger holding a glass of Chablis.

Here's the only question to remember, when facing a stranger at a party: Savory or sweet? Everyone falls on one side of that line, with strong opinions as to their preference, and then your conversation is off and running.

You can have both, and how, at the Sweet & Savory Spectacular, a foodie fundraiser that's set to bring the sugar and spice to The Art Institute of California in Santa Monica on Sunday, Oct. 19.

Does "bring the sugar and spice" go quite far enough, though? Over 60 local restaurants, including Chinois on Main, Angelini Osteria, Petrossian, and Charm City Cakes'll be setting up the bites, all with something shiny and wonderful and very much tied to food at heart: "Event proceeds will benefit local, underprivileged youth by raising funds to provide them with culinary career opportunities and scholarships in the restaurant and hospitality."

Careers through Culinary Arts Program is behind the gourmet feastery, a feastery that will include 40 chefs in the house, cooking, chatting, and demo-ing for fans.

A craft beer and wine tasting garden, a silent auction, and classes are the to-dos beyond the sweet and savory supping. A competition shall go down, among chefs, too, complete with judges (if you're a fan of competitive shows, grab a spot to watch the chop-chop-chop).

Admission? A hundred bucks, which scores you entry into "all tastings, classes, demonstrations" plus the chef throwdown and a gift bag to boot. Plus you'll be helping future chefs gain a foothold into their toque-topped dream.

If you do love foodie TV, and the cuisine arts, you know the road for every person at the stoves is a long one, filled with education, real-world experience, and some flavorful ups (and, fingers crossed, only a few downs).

Helping those talented chefs-to-be is a delicious choice, whatever side of the sweet or savory fence you stand on.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Largest in the Nation: Animal Interfaith Blessing]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 22:12:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/justinruddinterfaithblessing.jpg

The only places where you'll see a dog and a kitten and a hedgehog and a goldfish and a horse and a lamb and a gecko and a chinchilla all cozily together? We'd have to go with calendars, children's bedtime books, and Pinterest boards.

And if you add in a gorgeous beach or sunset as the backdrop to all of that peaceful animalia? Well, people will think you've gone too far, in the beauty-meets-beasties department.

But there is a real-world location where this unfolds, furrily, and it happens steps from Rosie's Dog Beach in Long Beach. The Haute Dogs Interfaith Blessing of the Animals, which happens every year on or near St. Francis's Day, is billed as one of the planet's largest, which fits, given that the blessing's parent events, the Haute Dog parades, regularly draw over 500 costume-wearing dogs.

If you're waiting on that famous Halloween parade -- apologies, Howl'oween parade -- hang tight: That's on Oct. 26, in Belmont Shore. Sunday, Oct. 19 is about every animal getting a good word spoken in his or her honor, not just pups, and SoCalers do show up with a wide variety of peep-making, bark-producing, meow-meowing pets, including some they ride in on (that would be the horses, natch).

Piglets, donkeys, and ducks have all made past showings, so while dogs can dominate the scene, a full complement of creatures, some bearing flower wreaths and other picturesque accessories, stop by for a benediction on the beach.

It's a sunset ceremony, which lends to the general picturesque, cameras-are-out-in-force mood of the proceedings. "More than 300 animals are expected to attend," says the Blessing's HQ, including "a battalion of bulldogs." (Organizer Justin Rudd is a longtime bulldog buff.)

A moment of silence is held for animals involved in sport dog fighting.

If you'd like to attend, do -- it's free and all "well-behaved pets" are welcome. Some barnyard animals are set to cameo, making the evening happening very much like a calendar, or kids' picture book, complete with sunset and ocean and happy, hobnobbing people in the frame.

Photo Credit: Justin Rudd]]>
<![CDATA[Grown-Up Halloween Treats: LA's Fearsome Fall Eats]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:11:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/candycornsaltstraw.jpg

When we ponder the sugary side of Halloween -- which, don't be too shocked, is a rather significant part of the holiday -- we tend to picture the orange pumpkin bucket, the one that brims with wrapped candies of every stripe.

But seasonal sweets abound for the adults, too, and they don't arrive via plastic candy holder, and we don't need to go door-to-door. We only need enter the doors of a few Southern California restaurants to experience fearsome flavors that pop with a cheeky and chilling Halloween bent.

Look to...

Salt & Straw: Anyone who's visited Portland knows that the city is a true capital of Halloweenia. So it fits that the new Salt & Straw on Larchmont Boulevard -- the famous ice cream shop's first outside-Oregon outpost -- has made some morbid flavors in honor of the macabre month. Candy Corn ice cream is on the list, as Essence of Ghost ("A mysterious mixture of scotch and vanilla sherbet with wisps of black cocoa swirled in") and Dracula's Blood Pudding ("A heady mix of spices and cream cooked into real blood pudding and spun in our ice cream laboratory").

Oh, we're scared. But not so scared that we won't take two scoops, on a cone, thank you. The flavors are available over the final week of October.

Ayara Thai Cuisine: Truly, autumnal goodies do not arrive prettier -- they do not -- than this only-around-for-a-little-bit treat. The Westchester-based restaurant re-introduces its much-requested Pumpkin Crème Brûlée on Oct. 17 for a "short time" only. And what makes it so pretty? The creamy yum arrives in a wee pumpkin. (Yep, you're permitted to "awww" over this edible.)

Cecconi's: In honor of Halloween, the West Hollywood eatery is going the luscious libation route. Pumpkin margaritas'll be in the house on Oct. 31, and over at Gracias Madre on Nov. 1? Pumpkin Cake complete with "candied pumpkin and piloncillo glaze with vegan cinnamon ice cream" is the treat in honor of Dia de los Muertos.

Let's break those two words out, for emphasis: Pumpkin. Margaritas.

Love those plastic candy buckets, but a dessert-y drink that arrives in a tall glass makes the creepy top cut this year, too, at least for of-age trick-or-treaters.

Photo Credit: Salt & Straw]]>
<![CDATA["Thriller" Time: Learn October's Unofficial Dance]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 10:06:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/thrillermonth92325384.jpg

You could round up a group of thesis-writing post-doctoral students, and summon the greatest minds of our time, and they'd still reach the same conclusion we all would, to a person, when asked this question: "When dancing the 'Thriller' dance, which move do people always, without exception, start with?"

The answer: the claws.

It's always the claws, in the air, first at one side of the head, then the other, but the funny thing, of course, is that the claws don't appear in the "Thriller" video, Michael Jackson's 1983 John Landis-directed, Vincent Price-narrated phenomenon, until deep into the dance of the undead.

Which means this: People probably need to learn the dance, from scratch, rather than tapping into their memories of what turned out to be one of the most famous, if not the most famous, music videos of all time (if such things can be measured, and we're sure someone is working on that).

Thrill the World LA is stop one. It's part of the global Thrill the World event, where zombies -- are they zombies, really, or traditional, fresh-from-the-grave undead? -- gather in spots around the planet to go claws up in one joyous, seasonal dance. There are typically rehearsals, and you can study past performances on line (hardcore Thrill-the-World-ers are prone to showing up at Staples Center and other local spots for flash mobs outside of October).

Thrill the World LA 2014 goes down at the Queen Mary on Saturday, Oct. 25. It's free -- parking isn't -- and you can come down and watch the merry madness. Or get involved with the "Thriller" crew. They like to wear spooky make-up and zombie-esque duds, which is fun stuff in our workaday world.

And Kim Blank, one of the original dancers from the video (and a ghoul who's a friend to this writer, disclaimer), also teaches a yearly one-time-only dance class that flaunts all the moves she learned from Michael Peters, the video's choreographer. Class size is limited, people do dress up, Swerve Studio is on West Third Street, and the moves?

Well, they go way, way beyond the claws in the air, as you'll see if you sign up for the Sunday, Oct. 18 workshop. Prepare for disciplined and cheeky instruction from a professional dancer who was one of the few to shake it, undead-style, on-screen.

"Thriller," after all, isn't just about the big scary eyes and shreddy clothing but about those jerky but precise movements, the low, menacing squats, and, yes, the occasional clawed hand.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Creamy Dream: The All Mac 'N Cheese Restaurant]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 17:23:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/macoliciousplate.jpg

There are particular foods that, once made and composed, we home chefs leave as is, with barely a dressing of salt to finish the dish.

But mac 'n cheese? It's probably the ultimate add-on edible, if only because that nearly supernatural combination of creamy dairy and curly pasta accepts all applicants, savory, nutty, or both, without question.

Even more cheese, atop an entree laden with cheese, is not uncommon, with a sprinkling of extra cheese on top of that.

Which all translates into this: If ever there was a single supper meant to rule the menu of an entire restaurant, it's the elbows-meets-cheddar wonder.

mac-o-licious, an around-the-town truck that began to roll earlier this year, has now been brick-and-mortared in Valley Village. Kelly Chapman is the gourmet-minded visionary behind the creamy concept, and her signature Southern Mac is at the top of the rich roster.

Other macs to try? Maine Mac, which, you betcha, has lobster in the mix, Just Baking Bacon, a version featuring the breakfast's salty superstar, and Crab and Bacon Fried Mac Pops, because consuming macaroni and cheese in all of its festive forms is something a diner must not deny, when the call is sounded.

A Garden take on the treat, and a gluten-free option, are among the other choices on the mac-packed menu.

But how do you do the stuff at home? Do you add ketchup? Do you add croutons? Is there a milky component, or a dash of hot sauce? And are you a mac 'n cheeser, complete with the apostrophe'd 'n, or do you go ampersand or "and"?

Oh, m & c -- the sky, or the condiment cabinet, is truly the limit with you.

We sense in Ms. Chapman's kitchen that limits are pretty boundless when it comes to dressing up and paying homage to that ultimate add-to-it comfort food.

Photo Credit: mac-O-licious]]>
<![CDATA[Peek Backstage at Hollywood's El Capitan]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:41:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/elcaptours123.jpg

While most modern movie fans take their pre-film entertainment from the trailers, the posters in the lobby, and snacking on candy, film goers of the past had other delights ahead of the main entertainment.

There was a cartoon short, a news reel, and maybe some songs on the Wurlitzer. And, of course, the theatre's design itself, all swirls and velvet curtains, was very much a part of the show.

The El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood is one of the last remaining movie palaces to follow this wow-'em-start-to-finish traditions. But while mini stage shows featuring Disney characters -- Disney reopened the Hollywood Boulevard landmark in 1991 -- and cartoons and the Wurlitzer are well-known to regular attendees, the story of the spectacular theater may be more of a mystery.

But it'll mystify no longer: A new tour -- actually make that two tours -- has launched to give Hollywood history buffs, Disney mavens, and lovers of old flicks a peek behind the proverbial curtain. 

The Disney Movie Palace & Backstage Tour is a 30-minute docent-guided tour through the high-ceilinged gem. You'll wander the lobby and by those upstairs historic photos, yes, but you'll also peek backstage at the Sherman Brothers Star Dressing Room (the Sherman Brothers wrote the music to "Mary Poppins" among many other films, as every Disneyian knows).

It's $15 and begins at the rise-and-shine-y time of 8:30 a.m. daily. Nope, 8:30 a.m. isn't the crack of dawn, but call it an early hour for a theatre tour -- you could fit one in before work.

As for the quickity tour around the El Cap? That's called the Express, it's 15 minutes long, five bucks to join, and it happens throughout the day. Call it a fast overview, with no backstage peek but some solid history in the mix.

For example, the El Capitan wasn't always named the El Capitan, for one. Yes, it was in "The Muppets" a few years back. And it has hosted a raft of big Disney premieres, as well as live stage shows starring Tinseltown's brightest lights, back in the day.

With all of that pre-show entertainment we focus on inside the landmark, isn't it satisfying to know some more about the building that started it all?

And hey, docents -- why are there are so many curtains at the El Cap? We never change, but we're coming with questions to ask.

Photo Credit: Disney 2014]]>
<![CDATA[Free 'N Rustic 'N Fun: Farmers Market Fall Festival]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 18:55:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/fmpieeating1.jpg

If the modern age, social media, and marketing techniques have made us cock a collective eyebrow when we see anything too folksy or homey shoehorned into a citified setting, we can all relax when it comes to the Fall Festival at the Original Farmers Market.

Why? Because the festival is as old as the landmark market, or nearly, which means it has been goating and pumpkining up the corner of Third & Fairfax since 1934. When the Fall Festival started, there were actual farmers and pick-ups on that corner, selling apples and eggs and such.

So, points for authenticity? A win for genuine homespun-a-tude? Yes and yes, Farmers Market has it.

And will again, on Saturday, Oct. 18 and Sunday, Oct. 19. The free two-day party -- "free" being about as dang homespun as you can get -- is all about the messy-faced pie-eating contests and the goat-milking and musicians playing washboards next to musicians playing fiddles.

Oh, and that wandering scarecrow handing out buttons. That hay-headed guy is major. Beyond.

Planning an itinerary? Mapping a schedule? Nope, we're not going to recommend for such an easy-sweet tradition. Just show up, pet some animals, watch some wool spinning, admire leatherworking, and, hello hello, flintknapping will go down, just steps from the posh shops of The Grove.

LA, we love you.

But, asterisk: Maybe maybe eye the schedule for what bands you want to see and when. Music'll fill those awning-topped stalls through the days and evenings of the weekend.

And now we'll take it all back, what we began with: Yes, it can be a bit cagey to unleash a bucolic bash onto our busy city boulevards, and it just might be a marketing ploy, but, c'mon: goats and hay and pie and the charms of the country. We'll take them, cagey or not or if they've been rocking Third & Fairfax for eighty years.

Photo Credit: Farmers Market]]>
<![CDATA[Last Chance: LA Zoo Photo Day Sign-Up]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 05:50:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/zoophotodaysherryyuenruan.jpg

Photos, as a concept and an idea that many of us are focused on, tend to be on the rise over the last third of the year.

Maybe school pictures kick us all into gear, and then all of those holidays card photographs we mean to get done well ahead of Thanksgiving. But even people who'd claim to be non-photographers are breaking out the cameras come fall.

As for the those who spend a lot of time snapping frame-worthy pics? They've got cameras on the mind, too, in large part because so many visual to-dos come into play. One of the majors is the LA Zoo Photo Day, which is all about shutterbugs, and their gear, making their way into the Griffith Park animal park on the early side, the better to snap great pictures of the orangutans and tigers without the bustle of the crowds.

Well, the usual zoo crowds'll arrive later in the day, on Sunday, Nov. 9, but people who hold a ticket to LA Zoo Photo Day can slip in at 7:30 a.m. for that early morning sunshine and the room a still-closed zoo affords.

Other perks of the day, which stretches through 4:30 p.m., include hands-on workshops with instruction for novices on the basics of wildlife and nature photography..." and "loan equipment from major manufacturers" and a "catered lunch, guest speakers... animal close-ups for photography, and a photo contest with prizes."

Cost? It's $175, and the deadline to register is Oct. 15.

Yep, this is a registration deal, so don't attempt to arrive at the zoo's gate on Nov. 9 with your tripod in hand.

But if wildlife snapshots are your passion, and you aren't able to make it to a forest or far-off preserve in the next few months -- the holidays, after all, are upon us -- let the zoo be your lens-lovely, lion-close photo getaway.

You totally want to have some excellent animal pictures to frame for calendars to give the family next year, right? 

Photo Credit: Sherry Yuen Ruan]]>
<![CDATA[Halloween High Jinks: Ghost Tours of Tinseltown]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 10:57:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ripleys11172233996.jpg

Was Hollywood responsible for a new kind of ghost story?

We're not talking about the movie industry or television series, but the city itself. Consider that, prior to a century or so ago, the bulk of phantom-starring tales were gothic potboilers, centered around old, crumbling manses full of flickering lights and ghoulish gargoyles.

Hollywood's gargoyle is a clock-chomping dinosaur, and the flickering lights are neon, but the city has built a rep as one of America's most eerie, without a mansion or attic or gothic castle in sight. Tours and spooky sites dot the boulevard and its off-streets, making the town that makes ghost stories something of a larger ghost story itself.

Dearly Departed Tours, "a multimedia bus tour" takes on the stories of celebrities who've passed through the veil to the Great Beyond, with stops at actual locations around Tinseltown (and further afield). Ghosts & Legends, a Horror Film Location drive, and the occasional jaunt led by Allison Arngrim -- Nellie Oleson of "Little House on the Prairie" -- fill out the company's phantom-fearsome schedule.

The Hollywood Museum not only is housed in the ultra-atmospheric Max Factor Building, but it holds within its Hollywood-and-Highland-close walls a trove of costumes that evoke the most chilling works ever to appear on screen. Hyperbole? Then check out the Hannibal Lector cell in the basement, and take a walk through -- and into -- "The Silence of the Lambs."

As for real haunted locations? The Pantages Theatre, The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Boardner's, The Hollywood Wax Museum, and the area outside The Knickerbocker all boast spirited sightings. In fact, it's hard to go two phantom-free blocks along the boulevard, or Sunset for that matter, because everyone working in every business, or just about, has heard from a friend of a friend about this one ghost of this one starlet that only appears on moonlit nights.

Take that, gothic stories of yore. Tinseltown helped usher in a new form, the urban ghost tale, complete with neon and elevators and busy streets. It's there for the looking, brave ones.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Halloween Frights Go Alfresco]]> Sat, 11 Oct 2014 09:46:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/hayridebradheaton.jpg

Deep, twisty mazes and dark warehouses and hallways upon hallways of webs one must push through, in order to find the exit?

Those are some of the heart-jumping hallmarks of the Halloween season around Southern California, the world's creepy capital of movie-style haunted attractions. But not every experience that raises the forearm hairs takes place under a roof.

The city is dotted with scares that happen, if not totally, then mostly under the sky. This means we can get our chills on when it is actually a little chilly, courtesy of the night air, and we only need look at the stars above if the fright grow too fearsome.

Here are a few alfresco destinations that are Halloweening-up this October...

Los Angeles Haunted Hayride: Hayrides by their very hay-oriented nature, tend to be a nature-based happening, and this eerie extravaganza at Griffith Park's Old Zoo delivers on the outdoor part. For sure, there's a few inside things, like a way-dark maze called The In-Between, but zip up your jacket for this one: You're among the trees. Brr/eek. Through Oct. 31

Silver City Ghost Town: Here's a history-haunty twist on the Halloween mazes: An actual ghost town a couple of hours north of Los Angeles. Nope, you won't be going through tunnels, nor will monsters jump out at you, but you will wander an Old-West-y street with paranormal investigators, and you'll be doing so after dark. There are only a few dates left for 2014, so sign up, brave ones.

The Terror Tram: The roll into the deepest recesses of the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot'll take you by the "Psycho" house, yes, but plenty of shrubs and low hills. Then you're off and under the night sky, trying to do your very darndest to avoid the walking dead. Does facing off with walkers from "The Walking Dead" get easier outside? You be the judge. It's part of Halloween Horror Nights, and it is on through Nov. 2.

Photo Credit: Brad Heaton]]>
<![CDATA[Doodle Away, LA: The Big Draw]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 19:41:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/bigdrawla12345.jpg

If you could have one shining talent, that you aren't fully in possession of at the moment, what would it be?

While "singing" is probably way, waaaaay up the list for most people, the ability to draw is a regular placer in the top 5. Not only does it come in handy at game night -- you want to draw a dog that looks like a dog, and not a snail -- but it can lead to a host of illustrative careers and hobbies.

We all have the itch to at least doodle our way to greatness, in short, and The Big Draw comes along, each and every year, to give our pencils, pens, markers, and crayons a nudge in that aspirational direction. An all-October, 60-event, city-wide happening, The Big Draw puts artists of every caliber, and on confidence, before easels and reams of paper and invites them to go to town.

Or draw a town. Or a dinosaur. Or a dinosaur looming over a town. Or a town eating a dinosaur.

You get the proverbial picture, and many such pictures shall dominate the day when The Big Draw lands at Grand Park on Saturday, Oct. 11.

Make Your Mark in the Park is a five-hour extravaganza of "participatory drawing activities" involving "thousands of Angelenos." Yep, it's billed as The Big Draw's flagship event, so bevies of imaginative image-makers'll be out, looking to turn curves and lines into dinosaurs and towns.

It's completely free to join.

And it won't all be straight-up, sit-down drawing. You can make a Thaumatrope -- you know the cool spinning mabobs from the 19th century -- and join in creating a Sumi Ink Drawing.

Oh art. There are so many ways to enjoy you.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., live music and food trucks will be around music-ing and food-ing, and art stations shall dot the expansive park. Which, lookie-here, is steps from the Music Center, which'll host free open house tours on the morning of the 11th.

Photo Credit: The Big Draw]]>
<![CDATA[Join, Volunteer, Donate: AIDS Walk LA]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 18:30:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/aidswalkla123456.jpg

AIDS Walk LA has been a date on the Los Angeles calendar for the last three decades, and while the date of the mega fundraiser, which will set out along Santa Monica Boulevard on Sunday, Oct. 12, is an important one, the work starts long before the fall event arrives.

It is, in fact, a year-round effort on the part of the many volunteers and organizations who support the walk, and for the people who donate money? That, too, isn't simply about one day on the calendar. Which is all to say this: If you can give the time or the effort and it doesn't happen to be October, that is most excellent. Hooray to that.

And if it happens to be Oct. 12? You can still join in, walk, donate money, join friends as they stroll the 6.2-mile route through West Hollywood (a route that takes about two to three hours, per the AIDS Walk LA site). Colorful t-shirts, balloons, and signs are part of the day's look.

As for the beneficiaries? AIDS Project Los Angeles, or APLA, is a heartbeat for the cause, as are several other local organizations, including South Bay Family Healthcare Center, Camp Laurel, Venice Family Clinic, Project Angel Food, and more.

If you're already registered for the Oct. 12 event, get your parking info, your time-to-be-there stuff, and all of the other doings of the day. Like? Paula Abdul and Drew Carey are set to appear, as well as a bevy of other celebs.

Yep, it's major, but three decades of heartfelt fund-raising and active involvement in clinics and organizations across Southern California has a way of creating an event many SoCalers want to back. So, can you volunteer, walk, donate? On Oct. 12, or any other time of the year?

Because, as with all walks of this magnitude, the big day represents an even bigger swath of time, effort, and people.

Photo Credit: AIDS Walk LA]]>
<![CDATA[Hello, Hello Kitty: Major Exhibit Opens at JANM]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 10:31:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/hellokittyjanm1.jpg

When your parents advised you to take care of your stuff, back when you were a kid, they truly meant all of your stuff, even the lip balms and toy phones and writing pads and various plastic gewgaws that festoon a childhood.

One reason being that all of that stuff could end up in a museum one day. That is, of course, if it is connected to one of the powerhouse pop culture figures of the last four decades, a whiskery icon so recognizable that small tots knew both her name and the company behind the phenomenon.

The icon? Hello Kitty. The company? Sanrio. And the museum that's holding a major exhibit in honor of her 40-year reign as one of the sweetest and seen-everywhere characters in the world? The Japanese American National Museum, which cuts the proverbial ribbon (we're picturing pink here) on Saturday, Oct. 11.

It's the "first large-scale Hello Kitty museum retrospective in the United States" and many of the items on display come straight from the Sanrio archives. You can bet you'll see a pen or a bauble that you owned a kid, or something close. The lunchbox? Oh yeah. So. Many. Hello Kitty lunchboxes, back in the day, lined our school cafeteria tables.

The show's not just about spotlighting the stuff, though. The arc of Hello Kitty's popularity, and her journey to lunchbox domination, is traced as well. And we all know now she is not a cat, but a little girl? The pop culture headline of the summer of 2014.

Other meow-worthy events orbit the exhibit, which runs through April 26, 2015. A food-oriented scavenger hunt, Hello Kitty Con at the end of October/beginning of November, and a Hello Kitty-themed rooms at The Line, the convention's official hotel, all add to the bow-topped fun.

No, seriously: Did you save any of your stuff, from back in the day? The Hello Kitty phone? Maybe its in the shoebox under your bed. Turns out the parentals were right -- we should treat our toys nicely, because one day, quite possibly, they could go on exhibit at a prestigious museum.

Photo Credit: Japanese American National Museum]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: Free Music Center Open House]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 20:38:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/moviedancemovesmusiccenter.jpg

HAPPY 50TH, MUSIC CENTER: Downtown's glittering, be-fountain'd, be-Dorothy-Chandler'd hub de culture is marking its first half century with a morning of free tours -- you'll wander inside the Dorothy Chandler, Mark Taper, Ahmanson, and Disney Concert Hall -- and other convivial, cultural to-dos. Like? Well, $1 dance lessons, which'll focus on line dances from around the planet. Call it a free-to-not-expensive daytime bash for a place that gives SoCal a lot of dance, ballet, opera, and drama. And check out that view of City Hall, boy oh boy. Saturday, Oct. 11

INDIECADE: Gamers, the people who make independent games, the people who write about independent games, and the games converge in Culver City for one long weekend of gameplay, industry insidery hobnobbing, and chillaxed fun-having. "(M)ore than 150 independent games" shall be about for fans to try, and that includes tabletop in addition to digital and real-world. The key word is "independent," so just prepare to gaze into the future of gaming. Oct. 10 to 12

LA STORYTELLING FESTIVAL: Been awhile since you enjoyed a ripe, well-told yarn with a few high points, a twist, a couple of gasp-inducing surprises, and a congenial storyteller at the mic? This mega event, which stretches from here through to Oct. 16, spotlights a bevy of performers (including a storyteller who is pals to this writer, disclaimer), and a whole garden to juicy topics. It's not stand-up comedy, but there is comedy, pathos, heartache, tension, fun, and more more more.

"GREMLINS" AT 30: You may forget the plot of a movie you saw two weeks ago, but you'll never forget the rules of this Joe Dante's 1984 monster-comedy, which is marking 30 years at a Street Food Cinema screening in Pasadena on Saturday, Oct. 11. Don't get 'em wet, keep 'em out of bright light, and feeding them after midnight? That's a big ol' nope. Star Zach Galligan will be there, to Q&A, but Gizmo? Well, even if he doesn't show, he's in all our hearts forever, right? That wittle fluffball.

FURTHER AFIELD: Like smooth jazz? JazzTrax opens for two music-packed weekends on, where else, Catalina Island, one of the HQs of smooth-jazzdom. Like athletes throwing heavy objects? The astounding Seaside Games shall unfurl in Ventura (wear your kilt). Like dozens of fanciful scarecrows? The Santa Ynez Wine Country is full of 'em over the next month. Like seafood? It's Harbor Festival time, in Santa Barbara. What? You want robots? Okay. Riverside has 'em.

Photo Credit: Music Center]]>
<![CDATA[It's On: The Academy's Oscar Bleacher Seats Drawing]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 15:35:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/250*120/oscarclooneyfanbleacher.jpg

The news that the annual try for a bleacher seat via an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences drawing could very well send film lovers scurrying to their local theater, to catch up on potential Oscar nominees.

But, as any cinephile knows, October is still way too early to call movie's biggest contest, and, for that matter, there are still many potential Oscar nominees yet to be released.

However, it's never too early to stoke excitement about the film industry's starriest night, which is a date not in contest: The 87th Annual Academy Awards will red-carpet-up Hollywood on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. And you could be there, on a bleacher seat, shouting out the name of someone in a tux or glittery gown.

Shouting? We mean, calling gently.

Nah, people shout, applaud, hoot. It's a thing.

You could be there, that is, if you enter the Academy's yearly try-for-a-close-perch-above-the-action drawing. The Oscars Red Carpet Fan Experience opened on Thursday, Oct. 9, and entries shall be accepted through 5 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday, Nov. 9.

It's a one-entry-per-person dealie, but "up to 100" bleacher seats'll be given away, so, yep: People do get 'em. Happy, braggy, excited people. (Nothin' wrong with braggy, either, from time to time.)

There are rule and things to read. You know this. Embrace it. Read it.

And start dreaming what you might wear outside of the Dolby Theatre on Feb. 22. Daydreaming ahead of the actual drawing is part of the fun; plus, if the movie stars, or their stylists, can put a lot of thought into the fashion, why can't those in the bleachers gussy up?

Well, it is February, LA's rainiest month. Maybe think warm and cozy ahead of strapless and chic. If only a designer could put all of those things in a single gown...

Photo Credit: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences]]>
<![CDATA[No Longer Moosing: Bullwinkle Found in Beverly Hills]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 11:49:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/paleycenterbullwinkle12345.JPG

When a giant crane lifted the Bullwinkle and Rocky the Flying Squirrel statue up and out of its longtime Sunset Strip spot back in the summer of 2013, it seemed no less than the pernicious, villain-minded work of the animated duo's archenemies, Boris Badenov and Nastasha Nogoodnik.

But the crane was actually procured via innocent means by Dreamworks, and the fan-based fretting as to where the cheerful statue would end up has been allayed, at least for the time being: Moose and Squirrel can now be admired at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills.

The statue is the silly -- er, somber and important, rather -- centerpiece to the just-debuted Jay Ward Legacy Exhibit. The three-month exhibit "explores the world of the legendary animation producer Jay Ward from Rocky & Bullwinkle to Mr. Peabody & Sherman with over 60 pieces of rarely seen artwork, sculpture, and memorabilia on display." 

Dreams Animation and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment are the twosome behind the exhibit, which marks the Oct. 14 Blu-Ray and DVD release of "Mr. Peabody & Sherman."

The Paley Center for Media is open Wednesdays through Sundays, and admission is free, though a suggestion contribution of ten bucks is recommended for adults. That not Badenov at all.

Where will the Rocky & Bullwinkle statue, which now rocks a spiffy paint job since it was last seen on the Sunset Strip, head next? The exhibit is on through the end of the year, and word has it the statue may hold court at the Paley for a bit beyond that. 

Figure this is an excellent chance to get up-close to the comical work of art, something that all of those thousands of drivers who sped by it on Sunset over the decades likely never took the opportunity to do.

Photo Credit: Dan Steinberg/Paley Center for Media]]>
<![CDATA[Halloween Make-Up: Be Prepped by a Pro ]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 10:56:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/halloween+makeup.jpg

Visiting make-up professionals are a common part of weddings, quinceañaras, proms, and other major celebrations. It's not unusual to see an elaborate, multi-tiered make-up kit sitting open next to a bevy of bouquets and sparkly headbands.

But going to a pro for a big Halloween event? Far fewer people do it, choosing instead to wing it, swinging by the drugstore at the last minute or digging through the cosmetic drawer at 6 p.m. on Oct. 31 for inspiration.

This is Hollywoodland, though, and the Ritz-Carlton Spa wants to see people bring it, a bit harder, in the haunting make-up department, regardless of where the haunter plans to haunt come Halloween night, or the night after. With that in mind, the Olympic Boulevard relaxery is inviting make-up professionals to stop by and give patrons a touch of something magical -- or monstrous -- on either Friday, Oct. 31 or Saturday, Nov. 1.

The Full Face Transformations begin at $150 and include Walking-Dead-esque zombie visages and Wicked Witch looks. Oh, and hello: Grumpy Cat, too.

The Special Effects Express Services start at $30 and run the ghouly gamut from a half-skeleton face -- eekers -- to fang bites to superhero eye masks to faux eyelashes.

Yep, it is an instant game-upper, especially if you're hosting a bash but don't have time to Grumpy-Cat-up your own face. Oh, and a sweet Halloween twist at the swanky downtown hotel: ginger cookies and hot apple cider will be served during the cosmetic-applying sessions.

But the Spa Spooktacular? You'll need to book ahead of time. Contact the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles and stake your scary spot.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX to Repeat One Movie Over 24 Hours]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 14:41:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Chinese_756077.jpg

Cinemas occasionally step out of their normal schedules to stage interesting screenings. We're not referring to the screenings themselves, as in the content of the films, but rather how the films are presented, and why, and how often.

Take AMC's Best Picture Showcase, which puts up all of the movies nominated in the Best Picture category just days ahead of the Oscars (and, yes, all the movies screen in a row, making it a day-long thing). And take those major franchise nights, where three or four of the franchise's early films screen ahead of the newest chapter, to stoke fans' fervor.

The stoking-of-fan-fervor files are about to get a bit deeper with the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX's next move: The Hollywood landmark will screen Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar" for 24 hours straight starting on the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Yes, this is a few days ahead of the film's Friday, Nov. 7 opening. For sure, it'll be in IMAX 70MM, "the biggest format available." Indeed, this is film, not digital, making it a pretty magical moment for old-school fans, especially since digital download is the way most other theatres will go with the film.

Yes, it is opening at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX ahead of anywhere else in the country. Yes, a Christopher Nolan film looks rather sharp when played that crisply; remember the topsy-turvy hallway scene from "Inception"?

Your stomach just flipped, didn't it?

The first "Insterstellar" screening is at 8 p.m. on Nov. 4, while the last showing of the 24-hour cycle falls at 10:45 p.m. on Nov. 5. Are you planning on attending every one of 'em? There are eight screenings in all, which might seem a little light for a full day of movie-repeating, but consider that the space-themed epic in at 169 minutes.

Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, and Michael Caine star in a script penned by Jonathan Nolan.

As for the accoladed director? You can get into his head -- or at least his footprints -- in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX. Christopher Nolan left his prints there back in 2012.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pumpkins: From "Food of Last Resort" to Fall Flavor King]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:29:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/451601919.jpg

Fall is in full swing and so is the seasonal menu staple no one can escape: pumpkin spice.

The autumnal flavor, long found in pies, breads, and beers, experienced a boom in popularity in recent decades and is now found in everything from Oreos to dog treats. 

America’s love of the orange squash dates back to the New World, as historian and author Cindy Ott recounts in her book “Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon.” In an interview, Ott explained how the simple pumpkin went from being a “last resort” food to an American favorite. 

When did pumpkins become a part of American cuisine and culture?

Pumpkin is actually the oldest domesticated plant in the new world. It was domesticated in 10,000 BC in Mexico, so it’s older than corn and beans. Indians in America in precolonial times relied on pumpkin for daily sustenance and they had all kinds of special ceremonies — many of them did celebrate pumpkin. But for Europeans, it meant something much different. For them, it was associated with natural abundance like it was for Indians, but then it had connotations of being a symbol of wild nature and cultural backwater. So people ate it when they had to but then they preferred to eat European food, like potatoes and onions and cabbage, when they could.

When did pumpkin move from a food of “desperate times” to say, a seasonal treat?

First of all, all forms of squash and pumpkins are interchangeable, they’re botanically interchangeable—you can crossbreed a zucchini with a field pumpkin and get a mix. It wasn’t until the 19th century that people started distinguishing something as unique pumpkin and then these different stories started developing. Pumpkin was kept in production because it was cheap. Farmers used it for substitute for livestock feed. It was considered a food of last resort for people, associated with the small family farm that wasn’t a part of the big market economy. Just at that same time people aren’t really using it for practical reasons anymore, they’re moving into cities and Americans are getting nostalgic about this old-fashioned farm life. The pumpkin starts appearing in poetry in the mid-19th century and paintings. People start celebrating because they’re nostalgic for that old life of old times and the pumpkin in particular.

Its recent popularity and the obsession with pumpkin flavors has sparked a bit of a backlash. Has America’s love for pumpkin become a joke?

It’s always had these negative connotations. It’s just now because less people are living on the farm that those associations aren’t as negative as they were in the past. There’s a sense still you can make fun of someone for being [a country bumpkin] from rural areas. Ichabod Crane in the 19th century in “Sleepy Hollow,” he’s scared and he’s this silly character and he’s associated with the pumpkin. He thinks it’s this ghost coming to get him, but it’s really a pumpkin head. For a man, a pumpkin head is someone that’s pompous, that’s full of themselves and not so smart. It’s still used in political cartoons. You can see politicians being illustrated with pumpkin heads. 

Does this popularity help or hurt pumpkin producers?

I think it all ties into helping these small family farmers. It’s a niche market for small family farmers, so for example, many small family farmers pulled up their pigsties and put in a parking lot and pumpkin patches because they made more money six weeks out of the year instead of raising hogs.


But, why pumpkin? Sales for Starbucks' other seasonal beverages, like the Eggnog Latte, come nowhere close to the company’s sales of Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Why the lack of nostalgia there?

There’s really no practical reason for this answer, right? There’s corn, apples, cherries in American culture that have strong folklore traditions but they also have this very practical use. There may be something great about a big apple, about 12 ounces or something, but that doesn’t compare to the world record of a 2,032-pound pumpkin. It’s a very American story. In Germany and France, you go into the markets and now they’re starting to have big slices of pumpkin out there, but there’s no sense of ceremony. It’s just shoved next to zucchini and lettuce.

What’s the most unusual pumpkin hybrid you’ve seen in your research?

There was a Tiffany’s crystal pumpkin key chain that was a pretty good mix of metaphors and association, so that was a pretty funny one. You can have a zumpkin, where you mix a zucchini and a field pumpkin and now there’s a lot of appreciation for these old-time varieties.


What’s your favorite pumpkin food?

Your basic Thanksgiving pumpkin pie is probably my favorite recipe. The first time it appeared was in 1796. The first cookbook, “American Cookery” by Amelia Simmons, was first published in the U.S. That was the first time the pumpkin appeared as a pie and the first time the squash appeared as a vegetable. So I think in terms of flavor and tradition, it’s my favorite.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Flickr RF
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<![CDATA[Rob Floyd's Cocktail Theatre]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 10:35:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/cocktailtheatre123.jpg

A cocktail maven can perch atop a stool at a bar and watch their bartender squeeze lemon slices and sprinkle sugar and shake shakers and do all of the things that are typically done behind a bar, and the price of the show? The cost of the drink.

But what if that show contained buckets of razzmatazz, some education, a few Mexican wrestling masks and/or zombies, some posh food pairings, and a spooky seasonal theme? Then you'd have Rob Floyd's Cocktail Theatre, a mixology-meets-the-classroom event that arrives with a strong whiff of madcap and plenty of humor.

Mr. Floyd, a mixologist who has created cocktails for a bevy of award shows and big events, returns to 41 Ocean Club in Santa Monica on Friday, Oct. 24 and Wednesday, Oct. 29. Purpose? To make Halloween sippables, with showmanship and style, and, yes, a few additional performers. The crew from the last Halloween Cocktail Theatre was masked and/or caped, so, yep: It's outlandish.

The theme of this particular Cocktail Theatre -- Mr. Floyd travels far and around presenting many iterations of his staple show -- is Zombie Apocalypse, so prepare for a side of moan with that martini.

Cost? It's $125, and that nets you five signature cocktails (so line up that cab) and a trio of dishes from Chef Jimmy Martinez. If you'd like to skip the drinks, you can attend for the show and food and a quintet of non-alcoholic sips for fifty bucks.

Fun fact? Cameron Romero, son of George Romero, master of all zombie-film-yuckity-goodness, is an 41 Ocean Club member and is serving as the director on this Cocktail Theatre.

Libations from the great beyond? With spectacle, laughs, and true art? Call it a few steps beyond sitting at a bar watching your mixologist compose your drink. A few steps beyond=more zombies, in this case.


Photo Credit: Rob Floyd's Cocktail Theatre]]>
<![CDATA[Gremlins Cackle in Pasadena]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 19:01:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/gremlinszach123.jpg

Cinema holds many unanswered, still-argued-over questions. Like... what's in the briefcase in "Pulp Fiction"? What does Bill Murray whisper to Scarlett Johansson at the end of "Lost in Translation"? And if you shouldn't feed a Gremlin after midnight, lest they turn evil, when can you feed them next? Dawn? 8:15? Brunch?

But that isn't even our biggest question regarding the 1984 hit, which marks its 30th anniversary this year with a bevy of special to-dos, including a screening on Saturday, Oct. 11 in Pasadena. It's this: Is "Gremlins" a summer or winter film? It debuted in June of '84 but it is, of course, one of the snowiest, most Christmassy of all movies. Also, it a small-town cute flick or a love letter to LA's studio backlots?

Joe Dante's much-revisited cackle-a-thon is all of those things, and, moreover, it features the incomparable charms of Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, and Polly Holliday. Mr. Galligan will, in fact, make an appearance at the Oct. 11 Victory Park screening, though we're fairly confident he will not have Gizmo in tow.

The Street Food Cinema event will also boast live music from Reasons Be and a host of food trucks (think Tocky's Pitas, Riceballs of Fire, and such).

And the summertime movie-music-meal-it-up lovers aren't through; the Street Food Cinema run will include "The Conjuring" in Culver City and "The Exorcist" in Eagle Rock, both on Oct. 18. And hello hello: Star of "The Exorcist," animal rights advocate Linda Blair, will make a cameo, in support of her World Heart Foundation.

Reserved seating for "Gremlins" is seventeen bucks. The weather is still fine, and not at all snowy like the small town square depicted in the movie. So, we ask again: Is it a film that celebrates sleepy hamlets or the many charms of the Warner Bros. and Universal backlots? And is it a film best enjoyed in summer or winter?

We vote fall, this time around. And as for feeding little balls of fluff after midnight? It's probably best that they eat right after their bath.

Photo Credit: Gremlins]]>
<![CDATA[LA Classic: Explore Vintage Garden Apartments]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 13:33:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lagardenapts1234.jpg

Selling the pleasures of the Los Angeles lifestyle to snow-tired Easterners, back around the middle of the last century? It became something of an advertising art form: The pools, the sun, the big backyards, the umbrella-topped tables, the gaily striped lounge chairs dominated brochures and posters and magazines.

But few people who landed in Southern California moved directly to that big backyard; rather, they found their slice of nature, and their Golden State dream, in a garden apartment.

Many such buildings still exist, and many are beloved, though several of our local landscape-surrounded abodes have faced possible tear-down in recent years. The LA Conservancy has stood on the side of preserving these postwar apartments, and they're eager to give architecture buffs a peek at three classic SoCal examples, including two that were recently spared the wrecking ball.

That peek happens on Saturday, Nov. 1, when three quintessential garden apartments will open up for exterior strolls (and some interior peeks). Baldwin Hills, Venice, and Sherman Oaks are the locations, so, for sure, you'll want wheels for this one, to make sure you get to all three.

And those three? The famous Village Green of Baldwin Hills, built in 1941; Venice's 1951 Lincoln Palace; and Chase Knolls in the Valley, which debuted in 1948.

An info-packed session at the Wilshire Ebell kicks off the day, and tickets are $35.

It's a glance back at a particular style, yes, but also an aesthetic. While "mixed use" buildings continue to be all that, it's worth noting that architects were incorporating indoor-outdoor ideas some seven decades ago, and not just for grand estates. Rather, cheerful, window-bright buildings that held multiple families also got a dose of the California dream.

Turns out that dream wasn't just about a backyard for everyone but building a community with tree-dotted green space, where every apartment dweller had access to sunshine and fresh air.

Few landmarks are live-in, but the vintage garden apartments of LA definitely qualify.

bottom photo: Village Green, courtesy of Steve Keylon

Photo Credit: Courtesy the Korsbaek Family]]>
<![CDATA[Grown-Up Ghoulishness: Night of the Living Zoo]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 10:50:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/nightofthelivingzoocondor_jamiepham.jpg

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens are known for many things -- expansive grounds, extensive rose gardens, the occasional stinky Corpse Flower -- but several fans cite the one night in October that the San Marino plot stayed open past sundown. Purpose? So that Drama After Dark could bring the chilling words of Poe and Edward Gorey alive in the darkness.

That longtime favorite is not happening at the Huntington this year, but lo and behold and wowza and hooray: The Los Angeles Zoo will serve as the scary setting for Drama After Dark, on Friday, Oct. 24. Forsooth and forswear, those Victorian-costumed actors shall take to the zoo's pathways and nooks and Poe it up, for the delight of humans and beasties alike.

But the zoo's 18-and-over Night of the Living Zoo party isn't just about cobwebby prose; a costume contest, neo-rockabilly tunes from So-Cal Rocket Dynamics, DJ Johnny Hawkes dj-ing, and other goodies await.

As for the animals' end of the eerie doings? Look for feedings of "fearsome" residents of the zoo and keeper talks enlightening visitors to the animal park's more notorious -- read big-teethed and many-legged -- residents.

Food, drink, and moresuch shall be for sale. ("Moresuch" is a Poe-ish word, and we do encourage you to speak the same way, while attending the bash.)

Best, too, that you know the costume categories, before plotting your outfit. Scariest and Most Original are on the docket, as they are at many Halloween gatherings, but so is Best Animal. Can you dress like a koala? A cobra? Go for it. Out-animal every other reveler.

Tickets are $46, include two drinks, and, you betcha, the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association gets the love.

No, seriously, what animal are you going as? Or will you dress Victorian, in honor of Drama After Dark? Could you go as a Victorian animal? A koala in a waistcoat? A bear in a bustle? This monstery night may prove to be the perfect mash-up opportunity.

Photo Credit: Jamie Pham]]>
<![CDATA[Indie Game Buffs Converge on Culver City]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 19:37:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/indiecade20934.jpg

"Tomorrow" was a very big selling point in the "Mad Men"-era of advertising. Nobody wanted "today"-type stuff, or at least they were told they didn't. Rather innovation, experimentation, and modernization were keys to a door labeled "Future."

We don't have many cracks at Tomorrow as a concept anymore, except in a few spots. One of those fabled misty lands is Culver City, which hosts a large-scale gathering each fall that's fully devoted to independent games, many with recognizable handles but many that sit on the cusp of recognition and household-namery.

"The cusp of recognition" reeks of Tomorrowness, of course. Which means fans obsessed with independent games'll be out in full, joystick-rocking force at Indiecade, a three-day celebration that alights at a number of Culver City locations from Oct. 10 through 12. Creators of these independent game, the imaginative types doin' their own outlandish things, will get the spotlight, and, of course, so shall their creations.

Creations that gamers'll get to try out. That's at the heart of Indiecade, not just looking but actually doing, which means that "hands-on gameplay with more than 150 top independent games" will be a major draw for tomorrow-loving game fans.

Digital games are big, but table and real-world games make their stand in Culver City, too.

As for the people making all of this try-it-for-yourself entertainment? A host of panels, social happenings, info-packed-full events, exhibitors, and other connections-made doings fill out the daily grids.

Call Indiecade both for the game aficionado and the game honcho, a weekend both brand-new gamers and longtime programmers can enjoy. It isn't often these two groups meld into one fun thing, but maybe Tomorrow will hold more of that coming-together-ness, in games and in everything.

Photo Credit: Indiecade]]>
<![CDATA[Movember: Moustache-Growers, Sign Up Now]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 16:57:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/movember123943.jpg

The growing of a moustache begins with... well... spoiler alert? The decision to grow a mustache, and nothing more. A gentleman can simply decide to become furrier in the upper lip region without any accessories or equipment required to aid his new course of action.

There is one big-hearted, giving-of-support exception to the moustache-growing rule: Movember. The all-November-long fundraiser asks men to make moustache magic in support of men's health initiatives.

The upshot? Start growing your face hair on Nov. 1, party alongside other facial hair fundraisees on Nov. 30, the better to show off your fuller 'stache in its full, magnificent flower, and inspire loved ones to donate cash to the guy-loving cause along the way. Women, let us also note, are also major Movember participants, raising money and occasionally donning costume mustaches at various social outings.

So you can see that there's some prep to this moustache-growing, some planning, and it starts asap: Participant sign-up is open on the Movember site.

This means that you can start gathering the needed info and tools to get the word out that you're going to do this wacky thing come the eleventh month, and family and friends can earmark some cash to give.

Oh, and, yeah: You might want to invest in some pomade and a comb or wax for your moustache's tips. These extras aren't required, but one spin through Movember's photos of the past reveals that gentlemen bring the style to their 'stachery. This style is also apparent in Movember's use of the classy "moustache" over "mustache" (though whether you choose to grow a moustache or mustache is open to you; we're not splitting hairs here).

You can grow a basic bushy one, with no work, but if you go full barbershop quartet? Prepare for a rain of high fives where you go this November, Movemberist.

Photo Credit: Movember]]>
<![CDATA[Made in LA: The Six-Layer Cereal Cake ]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 13:39:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/185*120/cerealcakephoenix1.jpg

It's best if we start gently here, and a little slowly, and with a good amount of caution, if only because we believe that many people are still reeling from the knowledge that such a thing as a Cherpumple exists, and it is edible, and it was created -- or brought to life, rather, Frankenstein-style -- right here in Southern California.

Funny slide-show historian Charles Phoenix invented the "three different pies baked inside three different stacked cakes" dessert, a sweet that gained notoriety, cocked eyebrows, and ardent fans far beyond the borders of Mr. Phoenix's beloved home of Los Angeles.

Now the chef-hyphenate-humorist-hyphenate-retro-champion is at it again, in his famous test kitchen, and the result is probably about to blow breakfast out of the water.

Or, um, milk? That.

It's the Six-Layer Milk-Soaked Cereal Cake with Frosted Flake Frosting, and if you want to politely triumph over all other desserts at the local bake sale/pot luck, you probably only need to stand in the doorway holding this cereal-laden tower, a treat that's as tall as a shelf lined with cereal boxes is long.

The innovative kitchen tester recently paired a sextet of cereals with their appropriate flavor matches in boxed cake -- think Apple Jacks and spice cake -- and then set the oven to bake. Frosting and Frosted Flakes make up the crunchy-icing filling (and make an easy duo to remember, too).

Step-by-steps are here, with photos. Oh wow. The cakey colors. Look upon them.

Will there be cereal cake at Mr. Phoenix's Museum of Contemporary Art talk on Sunday, Oct. 12? Since it deals with ye olde SoCal architecture -- Vintage LA is the sponsor -- the Lucky Charms-laden dessert will likely not cameo.

But that doesn't mean you can't make it yourself, at home, for friends. With the baking season soon to kick into high, gooey-dough gear, isn't it time you gave the sugar cookies a rest?

Well, no, since everyone likes sugar cookies. Let's not stir up any hornet's nests during the holidays.

Creating a cake out of six cereals, though, will make you the talk of the social season. That is, if you like being the marveled-at center of attention, of course.

Photo Credit: Charles Phoenix]]>
<![CDATA[You Pick Your Pizza Price (and You Help Animals)]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 09:43:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/pizzarev34.jpg

Restaurant openings are no longer about the cutting of the ribbon in front. Giveaways like this past weekend at the Dog Haus in West Covina are common, as are concerts, contests, and more stir-up-excitement to-dos.

One opening day to-do with a heart as large as a pizza oven -- and as warm -- is the fundraiser that helps out a local organization. PizzaRev, the fast-casual, customize-your-own pizza place that started growing here in Los Angeles in 2012, is walking that raise money road on Thursday, Oct. 9 at the opening of the Koreatown shop.

It's a pick-your-own-price thing, for patrons, meaning if you visit PizzaRev on its first day in K-Town, you can tell the cashier what you'll pay for your 11-incher. As for where your three bucks -- or thirty bucks -- will go? LA Animal Services North Central is the beneficiary.

An eight-dollar donation is suggested. (Each pizza, regardless of the selected ingredients, is $7.99.)

The opening revelries don't end on Oct. 9, however; the Koreatown PizzaRev, which is located at 3150 Wilshire Blvd., is hosting a Social Media Fan Appreciation Night on Sunday, Oct. 12. "Anyone who likes or follows PizzaRev on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter" shall nab a free pizza from 5 to 10 p.m. Yep, you have to show it on your phone or via print-out.

There's also a free pizza for a year contest afoot, if free pizza for a year is your thing. Deadline is Nov. 30 -- details are here.

Can't make the Oct. 9 opening but still want to lend some love to LA Animal Services? You can, and you can read all about the fine things they do, from microchipping to spay & neuter mobile programs.

Photo Credit: Soren Barahona/Pizza Rev]]>
<![CDATA[Movie-Major Clothing: Hollywood Costume Exhibit]]> Sun, 05 Oct 2014 16:34:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hollywoodcostumeampas123.jpg

What do you have that pretty much every movie character ever has, whether they spend their screen time below the ocean's surface or live on a planet across the galaxy or answer to "your majesty"?

"Clothing" is the answer, something all movie viewers have on, to varying degrees, when entering a theater. It's our instant commonality with the beings on screen. With this in mind costume exhibits, particularly wide-scale, deeply considered display, are not only is a pretty thing to gaze upon. They're the audience's easy, I-have-a-dress-on-too entry into a film.

Hollywood Costume, which debuted in the May Co. building on Oct. 2, is such a display. The Swarovski-backed exhibit, which debuted at London's Victoria and Albert Museum a few years back and is presented in Los Angeles by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, boasts over 150 recognizable outfits from "Star Wars" and "Blade Runner" and "Django Unchained" and "The Birds."

Wait, "recognizable"? Surely we meant "iconic" there. A certain blue-and-white gingham frock and a pair of ruby slippers hold court in the Miracle Mile exhibit, so "iconic" is really only the half of it.

Deborah Nadoolman Landis is the curator, which fits like a hand in a carefully measured, hand-sewn evening glove; she served as the costume designer for several major films, including "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

Which also makes a high-spirited costume cameo, complete with Dr. Jones's fedora and leather jacket and snap! Literally -- Indy's whip is in the house, too.

The show, which foretells of the Academy moving into the May Co., permanently, in 2017 -- that's the projected year that the Academy Museum is set to debut -- has the feel of stepping directly into a film. This comes courtesy of the sweeping soundtrackian music scored just for the exhibit as well as the lowered lights. You may feel as though you are indeed inside a cinema, with key beams on the characters and costumes (many of which do glitter, making Swarovski the ideal sponsor).

Other treats? A whole section devoted to Meryl Streep, with an innovative twist: Her character from each film "talks" from a screen above each outfit. Another area created just for the crown-wearers of cinema is a show stand-out, as is the imposing Darth Vader costume from "The Empire Strikes Back."

Truly, fictional characters, even those who live on spaceships and moons, dress like us. Well, with more capes and shoulder pads and boots and gigantic hats, sure, but clothes matter to the larger picture. It's strong sartorial connection between viewer and viewee, with clothing as the button between.

Hollywood Costume is on view at the May Co. at Wilshire and Fairfax through March 2.

Photo Credit: Richard Harbaugh / ©A.M.P.A.S.]]>
<![CDATA[Free Hot Dog: Dog Haus West Covina Opens]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 12:25:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/doghauswestcovina.jpg

In the past, when a restaurant opened, you might have received a balloon, a handshake from the owner, and a mint to suck on on your way out the door.

Today? The eating-out game has stepped up, as have the dining destination debuts. Sure, you may still meet the owner -- always a nice thing -- but chances continue to grow you'll get a free meal out of the opening day visit, too.

Try it, like it, come back? That's the deal.

Dog Haus is all about this. The Pasadena-born frankfurter palace, which has been stretching its buns in recent months into various corners of Southern California, with shops in Canoga Park and Alhambra, is look further east. West Covina, to be exact, and Saturday, Oct. 4, which happens to be opening day for this location, brings a tasty treat for hot-dog-ists ready to queue up: a free hot dog.

For sure, this is a one-dog-per-person deal.

And, for sure, the Dog Haus has become known for creative toppings and interesting names and timely tie-ins to big events like the FIFA World Cup. Who here tried the boutique "craft casual" chain's Thanksgivukkah Dog last year? The turkey dog that arrived topped with a latke, in honor of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving? 

Yeah, they'll go there, with flair.

The Oct. 4 opening day hot-dog-giveaway-stravaganza is on from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., so you can make it, whatever else your Saturday holds. While you're waiting, check out the menu, which also goes the burger and sausage route. (Are burgers and hot dogs the peanut butter and jelly of the fast-casual dining world? Discuss.)

Nope, opening days aren't what they used to be, but that's okay. Change is good, right? It gives us latke-topped hot dogs at the holidays and free franks at grand opening events.

The West Covina Dog Haus is located at 2678 East Garvey Avenue South.

Photo Credit: Dog Haus]]>
<![CDATA[Creepy Queen Mary: Dark Harbor Debuts]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 13:06:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/darkharborqm12345.jpg

The Queen Mary's haunted stories pop up a whole bunch, in a whole bunch of places -- cable channels, bookstores, local guides -- and words like "hull" and "long hallway" and "swimming pool" are often mentioned as murky, ghosty spots.

But the Long Beach landmark is so thick with eerie ambiance, especially by night, that you don't have to be in the hull the experience the ethereal. And the ocean-liner cranks up the eerie knob, come October, with its seasonal maze-stravaganza, Dark Harbor.

The Halloween treat is now lurking about the LBC, on select nights, through Sunday, Nov. 2.

There's a scary storyline, too, that ties into the ship's history: Graceful Gale, a passenger from the 1930s, is the star, and where she went -- if she left the ship at all -- is one of the screamy themes of the attraction. Is that Gale, shimmying across the Queen Mary's dance floor? Be careful which way you look.

Other areas abound around the ocean-liner, including the new B340 maze, which follows a 1940s passenger on the ship.

And the Exclusive Encounters "will take a very limited number of thrill seekers on a terrifying top secret paranormal journey through the depths of the ship," a night-frightening nook "that has never been open to Dark Harbor guests before."

May we pause to "eek" here? Gently and properly, as befits the Queen Mary's swanky days sailing the seas of the world?


Dark Harbor tickets, tie-in hotel packages, and all of those ghost tours that happen outside of October may be found this way, prospective passengers, if you follow us down this dark, long, shadowy, can't-see-a-foot-in-front-of-you hallway.

C'mon. Right this way...

Photo Credit: Queen Mary]]>