<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Dining, shopping and nightlife]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/entertainment/the-scene http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:35:54 -0800 Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:35:54 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[IHOP Celebrates National Pancake Day]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 05:44:18 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/national+pancake+day1.jpg

Grab your fork and knife!

Tuesday is National Pancake Day at IHOP. Diners can enjoy a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes. In exchange, customers will be asked to consider making a donation to the Children's Miracle Network.

Since starting National Pancake Day 10 years ago, IHOP has raised nearly $16 million for community charities. This year's goal is to raise $3.5 million, according to the IHOP website.

Check here to look up the closest IHOP.

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<![CDATA[Syrupy Savings: Free Pancake Day at IHOP]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 13:07:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/020513+ihop+pancakes+miramar.jpg

People once at breakfast for dinner, but didn't discuss that choice with friends and neighbors. The idea that someone might prefer morning foods to the hearty eats of nighttime was, if not controversial, than a revelation ripe for the tut-tut-ing.

But breakfast-all-day fans are tut'd no more. The pancake's profile is on the rise, from maple syrup perfumes to savory versions dotting the rosters of tony restaurants (and that's not even counting the continued reign of the scallion pancake, a stalwart of the classic Chinese appetizer menu).

IHOP, however, has always been in the pancake's corner, and in the corner of those who love free pancakes, too, as well as helping others. The country-big pancakery hosts a National Pancake Day every year, but this isn't just a catchy name to catch eyes: IHOP gives away free pancakes.

Note we said "pancakes" there, as in plural: You will indeed get a free short stack of pancakes, plural, as in multiple, if you go to any participating IHOP restaurant on Tuesday, March 3 "while supplies last."

If ever a phrase could inspire someone to rise earlier, for most any good giveaway, it is that one: while supplies last.

But March 3 isn't just about you, a short stack of pancakes, and your unopened wallet. It's about helping out, and always has been with this promotion. You'll get your gratis pancakes, but you'll also be asked to donate to the Children's Miracle Network Hospital and other children's hospitals as well as local charities.

The goal for 2015? Some $3,500,000 raised. "(N)early 16 million" has been raised "to support charities in the communities in which they operate" in past years. 

National Pancake Day started in 2006. 

And if you're wondering if that short stack is buttermilk, of course it is. We live in an age of broad thinking where breakfast is concerned — breakfast for dinner, maple syrup perfume, and so forth — but sometimes that classic batter just hits the spot, regardless of the time of day you're pancaking it up.



Photo Credit: Julia Bagg/NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Happy 90th, Highland Theatre]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 06:44:29 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/HighlandTheatre111.jpg

If you're a film director, and you're going to have two stylish characters meet on a rooftop for a secret deal or romantic assignation, you will, without a doubt, make sure your scene includes a gigantic, big-lettered, noir-cool, neon-glowing (or marquee bulb-glowing) rooftop sign, the kind that used to announce the name of the hotel or apartment building or cinema below.

Not too many of those signs exist nowadays, but the Highland Theatre in Highland Park boasts one of the best.

It's a prominent and stunning signal that the cinema below was born of a different day. That day was March 5, 1925, to be specific, and a quick calculation reveals that the Highland Theatre is about to turn 90.

Which means, of course, a grand 90th birthday party is in order for the Figueroa Street landmark. The Highland Park Independent Film Festival is behind the bash, which will occur nine decades, to the day, from when the movie house first opened: Thursday, March 5.

Should guests think "Roaring '20s" for their manner of dress? Yes. Will there be a history-filled peek at the venue via the documentary "Highland Theater, A Legacy Uncovered"? There shall be (and it is the flick's premiere). Will vintage artifacts be on display? Look for them -- they'll be in the house. And will "Lady of the Night," the film that first opened the Highland back in 1925, screen along with live accompaniment? But of course.

The price? The organizers suggest a five-dollar donation. It's not a 1925 price, but it is quite 1925-y in spirit, making the night an affordable, everyone-join-in jubilee. Five bucks for a night of flapper chic, film history, and the knowledge that you're sitting under one of the most beloved roof signs in all of Los Angeles is a fine way to spend your film dollars.

Happy birthday, Highland Theatre. Always remember that when film directors plot their rooftop assignations, the ones that always take place in front of those cool signs, they absolutely have you in mind, as a prime and lasting example of the form.



Photo Credit: Highland Theatre]]>
<![CDATA[Popular Bakery's Recipes Stolen]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 08:12:41 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/0227-2015-Cruffin.jpg

Binders containing hundreds of sweet recipes mysteriously disappeared overnight from Mr. Holmes Bakeshop, a three-month-old start-up in San Francisco's Tenderloin that's growing in popularity.

In fact, on a typical weekday 7 a.m. opening, most goods are sold by 11.

Word got out to the shop's loyal following, and customers were worried those famous "cruffins" -- a croissant and muffin hybrid -- were history.

Fortunately, the shop's recipes were all backed up on a computer.

"Some people were calling up through the day, like 'Hey, if they stole the cruffin recipe, are you going to have cruffins tomorrow? Because if not, we might not come!'" said Ry Stephen, a co-owner of the bakery.

Stephen suspects a copycat may be the culprit.

"There's a sense of competitiveness in pastry just like in a sport or in writing," Stephen said.

No equipment or cash were taken from the bakery. While there were no signs of forced entry, the owners insist this was not an inside job.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Disneyland Dressy: Dapper Day]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 20:37:17 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/StephenieDapperDay2014nbc.jpg

Many of the ubiquitous Disneyland bags you see around the Magic Kingdom contain Mickey-cute clothing, the sweatshirts and tees that guest plan on wearing back home.

But there's a growing contingent of people who shop away from the world's most famous theme park -- sometimes hundreds of miles away -- in preparation of the very careful, highly planned outfit they'll wear during their big day at Disneyland. 

These are the Dapper Day at the Parks fans, the Disney devotees who arrive in Anaheim -- and in Orlando and Paris, too -- a couple of times of year with a single sartorial motive in mind: Enjoy the parks, and do so in very high, often vintage style alongside "20,000+ other fashionable guests!"

The Spring Dapper Day is set for Sunday, March 1, with a Dapper Day Expo running at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel on Saturday, Feb. 28 and Sunday, March 1.

If you've ever been at one of the three parks that the Dapper Day dressies dress up at, on the special day in question, you can find yourself agog: Strolling fashion-forward people rocking fedoras, seersucker suits, seamed stockings, crinoline-cute frocks, and prim gloves are out in force. The look isn't always '30s and 1940s, though; sashaying in your "Sunday's Best" is really the only ask of the organizers.

Dapper Day began in the winter of 2011, and has become quite the fancy phenomenon, with attendees regularly traveling from all points of Southern California, and beyond.

There's a sold-out Lawn Party for the Spring 2015 Dapper Day, though rain may lead the revelers inside. Suggestions as to what to enjoy, like a ride on the Mark Twain Riverboat, are on the Dapper Day headquarters. 

Other tailored, pin-tucked to-dos pack the picturesque happening, an event that produces many a stunning photo of well-frocked fun people standing before the colorful King Arthur Carousel and the marquee bulbs of Main Street.

Need more info before you bow tie yourself right up? Saunter this way. Want to see the always great and plentiful photography that follows? Dapper Day can help you out there, too.



Photo Credit: Stephenie Pashkowsky for Dapper Day]]>
<![CDATA[Landmark Dims Lights for Leonard Nimoy]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:48:34 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Chinese_756077.jpg

Any "Star Trek" devotee will tell you that numbers and facts and statistics are a pretty big part of one of the most famous fandoms on earth.

How many times, for instance, does Captain Kirk call Dr. McCoy "Bones" during the series? How many times was "Beam me up, Scotty" said? How many times was the Vulcan nerve pinch employed to best an adversary? And how many handprints from the original cast members are in the cement in the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theatre?

Answer: Seven, the largest number of handprints within one group. Many a fan of the beloved sci-fi series will visit those handprints on the evening of Friday, Feb. 27, when the landmark Hollywood movie palace dims its forecourt lights in honor of Leonard Nimoy, who passed away on Feb. 27 at the age of 83.

It's the ninth time in its long history that the venue, which opened in 1927, will give such an honor. The time? The dimming occurs at 7 p.m.

The last time the TCL Chinese Theatre gave this specific and rare honor was in August, when it paid tribute to actor Robin Williams.

Beyond Mr. Nimoy's handprints, fans will certainly know the long legacy of "Star Trek" and the Hollywood Boulevard landmark. Five "Star Trek" films had their premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre "in addition to the JJ Abrams' reboot in 2009."

Mr. Nimoy served as an executive producer on that film. 

The actor also lived in the neighborhood, as a young man, and once told TCL Chinese Theatre historian Levi Tinker that he never dared to dream he'd "be immortalized" at the landmark.

Want to gather at 7 p.m. Friday? All fans are welcome — be sure to don your Starfleet uniform, if you have one.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Leonard Nimoy's Legacy Shines at SoCal Spots]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 10:36:10 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/leonardgriffith1234.jpg

Leonard Nimoy, the actor who brought Mr. Spock to life in the original "Star Trek" series — and several later films — died in Los Angeles on Friday, Feb. 27 at the age of 83.

It's no surprise that Mr. Nimoy, beyond his cosmic turn as the contemplative Vulcan, was also a tireless advocate who stood for several issues, often serving as the congenial and persuasive ambassador for equal rights and the important role of the arts.

Meaning this: Fans across the world will want to remember the man and the thespian, either through repeated viewings of favorite episodes like "Amok Time," widely held to be one of Spock's most intense turns, or by donating to charities Mr. Nimoy supported.

Those fans living in Southern California, though, have some unique opportunities to remember the man: A few locations around LA have ties to either Mr. Nimoy or "Star Trek" or both.

The show famously used many outdoor locations in and around Los Angeles, from Griffith Park to the Vasquez Rocks near Santa Clarita, but you can go to the source of where all of those interiors were filmed, on the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood.

While the sets are gone, including the Enterprise's bridge, you can stroll the very place where Gene Roddenberry hatched what would go on to be, for Mr. Nimoy, his co-stars, and sci-fi fans everywhere, a life-changer of a television series.

How to visit the lot? On a Paramount Pictures Studio Tour, of course.

If you want to see what the crew of the Enterprise wore on the bridge, you're in luck: The Hollywood Museum is not far from the Melrose Avenue movie studio, and it boasts an exhibit called "The Best of Science Fiction." Look for costumes from "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier," including uniforms worn by Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk, in the display.

And Griffith Observatory, a heavens-looking landmark not too far from some of the Griffith Park locations used in the first "Star Trek" series, offers an important and lasting tribute to the actor: It's the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater, where "lectures, presentations, and demonstrations" about all things space abound.

The space is a gift to all fans who seek deeper knowledge about what's beyond, as well as the tenets that Mr. Spock represented, tenets also represented by the actor who brought Mr. Spock to lively, look-within life. 

Leonard Nimoy is now, and has always been, a friend to many.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Silver Screen Collection]]>
<![CDATA[Loaded Toast: Stir Market's Bready Bliss]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 09:14:37 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/stirmarketloadedavocado.jpg

The food and drink we see every single day, and can grow a little complacent over, has a charming way of finding new life as the frou-frou discoveries of the culinary world.

Milk becomes a star via fancy milk punches at the most old-school taverns, while water goes highbrow ("Sparkling, flat or tap?" is now a common question restaurant customers face). 

And what of toast? Browned bread, served with a pat of butter, has a way of wowing cuisinaires from time to time, especially after people have tired of dishes bending under the weight of a dozen whimsical additions.

Stir Market, which opened on Beverly Boulevard a few blocks east of Fairfax in 2014, is on the toast train, but Executive Chef Chris Barnett is not riding the regular rails. Artisan breads are his choice for his roster of loaded toasts -- think baguettes and brioches and hearty nine-grainers -- and the toppings are piquant partners to the breads serving as their bases.

Piquant and sweet, we should say. There is an After-School Cinnamon Toast that arrives with carmelized apple butter sugar, and if you guessed brioche would be the bread of choice, you know your toasts.

A seasonal, get-it-when-you-see-it nine-grain bread with fig & ricotta is another toasty titan of Chef Barnett's menu, as is the California Avocado Toast, a green dream that's the best-seller at Stir Market. (Yep, avocado is involved, and a baguette, and sea salt, plus zingy touches like peppercino and shaved lemon zest and olive oil.)

The chef says which bread types got paired with which building blocks -- avocado, ricotta, cinnamon -- was part of the fun challenge. Loaded toast combinations are almost endless, when you think about it: A square of grainy goodness can hold just about any stack o' anything at all, be it meaty or sweet or fruit-focused or dairy.

We do like when the everyday staples come back around as tony cuisine. It reminds us to value our day-to-day dishes and drinks more, but it also reveals all that can be done. Toast, we like you, but loaded toast? You sound like the summer blockbuster version of what humble toast can be, with a little oomph. We're buying a ticket.



Photo Credit: Stir Market]]>
<![CDATA[NoHo Yum: Los Angeles Vegan Street Fair]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 19:10:13 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/cookieskarmabaker1.jpg

If a friend who favors hamburgers and a friend who is vegan attend a street fair together, chances are one friend will find the eating choices more plentiful.

To have a full-on vegan food festival, though? A formerly rare thing, thought the winds of cookery, and culture, say that such happenings may become happily more plentiful, serving many people who've formerly found choices a bit limited. Look to signs like the recent vegan chili cook-off and vegan hot dogs fundraisers at Burbank's own Tony's Darts Away, and look to the first Vegan Street Fair, which lands in North Hollywood on Sunday, March 1.

Ken Schoech, organizer of the fair, says that "NoHo is the first city to host in LA." Yay on you, NoHo, and yay for the stroller diners who will not have to go digging too deeply to find the food they seek.

Because vegan-minded chefs shall be out in savory, sweet force. Participants include Doomie's Home Cookin', The Karma Baker, Vegan Pizza, Southern Fried Vegan BBQ, and Divine Dips (Premium Vegan Ice Cream).

And while every grub-gathered-up to-do has different pricing rules and try-a-taste plans, the fair is keeping it affordable: It's free to get in and "(a)ll bite-size portions are $3 max."

So think bite-size, rather than whole plate, and think about trying a wide array of vegan vittles. You won't need to think "is there something that I can order here?" when you approach the next booth or chef or tray of goodies — there will be.

Make for Weddington Street and Bakman Avenue in North Hollywood from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 1 (and fingers crossed the rain stays mostly away, though rain can't dull a delightful, targeted-to-you dining experience).



Photo Credit: Karma Baker]]>
<![CDATA[Photo Fundraiser for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:15:46 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/GettyImagesairstreamelizabeth1.jpg

When we mere mortals daydream of Hollywood's Golden Age, we often picture movie stars engaging in no-mere-mortal movie-star-type activities: Arriving at a glamorous gala, strolling down a picturesque boulevard alongside other movie stars, and posing on a film set.

Elizabeth Taylor engaged in just those sorts of activities during her lifetime, and was photographed doing so, multiple times, much to the thrill of the magazine fashion editors, newspaper shutterbugs, and her devoted public.

But her most gracious and giving gesture of all was not when she greeted fans or brought an emotional note to the silver screen, lovely though those moments were. It was when she founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, an organization that has raised funds, awareness, and hopes in the areas of support, care, and advocacy almost a quarter century.

The Wilding Cran Gallery is paying homage to Ms. Taylor's loving and strong-hearted legacy as an advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS via a special sale, one that coincides with what would have been the actress's 83rd birthday, Feb. 27. 

Ms. Taylor's granddaughter Naomi Wilding, along with her husband Anthony Cran, opened the gallery in 2012 as a virtual space, and debuted their physical location in the spring of 2014.

A number of "classic photographs from the Getty Images archive" featuring the movie star, in just the sort of iconic activities described above, will be for sale via the Arts District gallery. Purchase a photograph from Thursday, Feb. 26 through Friday, March 6 and see 100% of the proceeds go to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

Ms. Wilding and Mr. Cran will also donate 50% of the gallery's profits during that same time period to the foundation.

Want to learn more about the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation? Click. Want to see the photographs for sale? They're here. You'll see Ms. Taylor as Cleopatra, and you'll see her cutting Richard Burton's hair, and there she is, strolling a rainy boulevard with an umbrella in hand.

Talk about your movie star material, and a life made great by standing up for others.

Image: Getty Image Archives, Taylor on Giant Set, 1955, Wilding Cran Gallery, $700



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Wilding Cran Gallery]]>
<![CDATA[KFC to Serve Edible Coffee Cups in U.K.]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:29:53 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/178*120/kfc+edible+coffee+cup+scoff-ee.jpg

Chicken lovers in the United Kingdom have a new treat to try — edible coffee cups that will be served at KFC restaurants in Britain.

A one-of-a-kind cookie, lined with heat-resistant white chocolate and covered with sugar paper, make up the consumable drink holder — known  as "scoff-ee cup," according to a news release from the Kentucky-based poultry chain.

"We have been experimenting with edible packaging to see if it could be a feasible product to bring to market...and thought that if our customers occasionally like to have their cake and eat it, why wouldn't they want [to] have their cup and eat it instead," said Jocelyn Bynoe of KFC.

Colonel Sanders' team partnered with food scientists at The Robin Collective to develop the new product, which was created to celebrate the launch of Seattle's Best Coffee in its restaurants.

"We've infused different cups with a variety of ambient aromas including coconut sun cream, freshly cut grass and wild flowers, said Brandy Wright, a designer at Robin Collective.

French vanilla and mocha are yummy and popular coffee flavors, but we'll have to wait and see how Brits react to java that puts a hint of mowed lawn on the palette.

The item has not yet been added to British stores' menus and a KFC U.K. spokeswoman told NBC they have no date set for the scoff-ee cup's launch.

A stateside KFC spokesman said their are no current plans to bring edible cups to the United States.



Photo Credit: Oliver Dixon/KFC]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: LA Chinatown Firecracker]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:41:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/2012firecracker5k.jpg

LA Chinatown Firecracker: The Lunar New Year parties around Southern California last about a month and pop up in a number of delightful ways, but this pop-pop-pop happening, which is typically one of the last things on the new year celebration calendar, sends of the start of the year with sound and sparkle. There's a run, yes, and firecrackers to start it off, and a festival, too, which includes taiko, lion dances, Latin jazz, soul bands, and performances aplenty. Haven't had your moment to welcome the Year of the Ram? Follow the big sound to Chinatown's Central Plaza on Saturday, Feb. 28 and Sunday, March 1.

Camellia Festival and Tea: It may seem fictional to folks in icier parts of the nation that flowers bloom around Southern California in the wintertime. Not only do they bloom, but there's a superstar bud that is seen throughout January and February: camellias. Descanso Gardens has the largest collection of the flower on the continent, and it pauses one weekend a year to spotlight its genteel and soft-petaled glory. Saturday, Feb. 28 and Sunday, March 1

Disneyland Memorabilia Auction: The nostalgic items on display at the Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks have been drawing impressive crowds for the last several days, but auction time has arrived. Do you have your eye on the Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room items, including that vintage cast member costume? Or maybe the Pirates of the Caribbean postcard machine? It's a real trove for those who know their Monorail from their Matterhorn. (No, but seriously... everyone does, right?) The exhibit wraps on Feb. 27 and the auction runs on Feb. 28 and March 1.

Dapper Day: And speaking of all things Magic Kingdom, the stylish swells shall be out, in full Fantasyland force, on Sunday, March 1. This is the ever-growing gathering of people who like to dress in vintage togs -- think old-school frocks and suits and hats -- and stroll about Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. It isn't just about dressing vintage though, as dressing nicely will do, and if you need a few piece, there's an expo on all weekend at the Grand Californian Hotel. Yep, it might be a bit soggy in the forecast, but bet you'll see a swanky umbrella or two in the mix.

Library Fundraiser: Most fundraising events expect the magic of your presence, be they in a ballroom or convention center or restaurant. This annual donation drive, which is hosted by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, is asking you to stay home, or the place of your choice, and read a book on Sunday, March 1. Looks to be gloomy, so dig out that classic you've been meaning to re-visit, or eye your TBR pile, and send a little love the Library Foundation's way.



Photo Credit: Todd Mazer]]>
<![CDATA[George Harrison Tree: The Grand Re-Planting]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 06:08:42 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ghtreeagp1.jpg The first Griffith Park pine was felled by beetles; fans gathered to welcome tree #2.

Photo Credit: Alysia Gray Painter]]>
<![CDATA[Magical Teas Open at The Langham]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 13:54:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/177*120/langhammagictea.jpg

Peek-a-Boo -- which might have been called Peek-a-Boo-I-See-You in your home, which also totally works -- is one of the earliest social games we learn as babies. Even more than a "game" per se, we're gaining interaction skills and a love of joyful surprise.

No wonder we're all into magic tricks from a very early age, having been primed by Peek-a-Boo fun and rabbits-in-hats at various birthday parties. Yet between kidly birthday parties, and adulthood, there's a bit of a dearth of abracadabra awesomeness, one that The Langham Huntington, Pasadena and some junior members of the Magic Castle want to address, magically.

The Imagine Teas are the ticket. The thrice-a-year afternoon teas are designed just for the youngster set -- well, youngsters and their grown-ups, of course -- and illusion, and kid-nice edibles, are what's up the landmark hotel's sleeve.

The first Imagine Tea of 2015 is on Sunday, March 1, with the others to follow on June 7 and Sept. 13.

As for the magic? The junior magicians will perform close-up illusions for the tea attendees. As for the food? Look for "magically decorated cookies, ham, turkey, and PB&J sandwiches and whimsical desserts," plus pink lemonade, milk, and tea sans the caffeine. As for the cost? It's thirty six dollars for young tea enthusiasts ages 4 to 12, and $48 apiece for the grown-ups.

Speaking of the young tea enthusiasts, The Langham invites everyone to take the "imagine" part of the "Imagine Tea" to heart and don the costume of "any character, person, or animal" that inspires their imagination. 

So could you have tea dressed as a talking hedgeghog? You could, or Harry Potter, or Dorothy Gale, or a cloud. All imaginative inspirations are welcome.

And the day's beneficary? Five Acres, "a child and family services agency that strengthens families and prevents child abuse through treatment and education in community-based and residential progams." 



Photo Credit: The Langham]]>
<![CDATA[Colossal Camellia Collection: Descanso's Star Flower]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 13:48:56 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/camelliadescanso123456789.jpg

It's no shocker that Southern California would be home to North America's largest collection of a certain winter-blooming flower, a bud that's known to burst into color right when the rest of the nation is busy finger-tapping their thermometers, in hopes that they can push the mercury up a smidge.

We speak of the camellia, a wonder of the winter season. January and February are its months to shine, as you've likely seen on camellia bushes around your own yard or neighborhood. And as for the nature-filled SoCal destination that is indeed home to the continent's biggest camellia collection? Why it is Descanso Gardens, of La Cañada Flintridge, a place that pauses each February to spotlight its star bloom.

Make that February and March this year: The 2015 Camellia & Tea Festival expands its petal, prettily, on Saturday, Feb. 28 and Sunday, March 1. 

Oh, you're right: It was previously dubbed The Camellia Festival. The tea end of things means that experts from Chado in Pasadena will be on hand, hosting tastings, and there's a Japanese tea ceremony, too.

The sipping of a potent brew and the contemplation of the flowers, flowers that have been a part of the sprawling estate since the late '30s and 1940s, go together so very well. 

As for the floral-focused to-dos? Camellia-oriented walks and talks and camellia craft-making dot the weekend, and a dance performance, too (something that makes a nice thartner to tea and flowers). 

"Thartner" is the third partner, in a series of three things, of course.

Cost? It's free with your Descanso admission. Enjoying wintertime flowers in profusion under a bright blue sky? That pays dividends to the soul, surely. And surely when our friends and relatives elsewhere keep tapping that ol' thermometer, trying to see if the mercury will rise above freezing, just a little bit.



Photo Credit: Descanso Gardens]]>
<![CDATA[New: Historic Los Angeles Site Launches]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 21:55:53 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/HPLAhomepage2.jpg

When you ponder the many places possessing reputations extending well beyond their borders, Los Angeles is at the tippy top of the outlandish heap.

We've been dismissed as a city solely enamoured with shiny objects, a loopy location with runamuck architecture, a metropolis with a collective memory that reaches all the way back to last Thursday afternoon.

It's all poppycock, of course, but this longstanding wrongheaded rep has served LA rather well; in short, it has been a galvanizing force of sorts. Preservation-minded advocates and lovers of bygone eras and steamed citizens who really adore that turquoise-hued dingbat building on their block rallied against this mindset for years, protecting, in the process, a rather robust landscape of historic sites.

And the City of Los Angeles and the Getty Conservation Institute just spent the last decade and a half cataloging these places, for good (as in permanently) and for good (as a positive tool for all Angelenos).

HistoricPlacesLA.org, which was unveiled on Tuesday, Feb. 24, is the impressive result.

HistoricPlacesLA.org is "the first online information and management system specifically created to inventory, map, and describe Los Angeles' significant cultural resources." The creators hope that the system will serve "as an important tool for protecting and preserving the character of Los Angeles' distinctive neighborhoods as the city continues to grow and change."

Hooray that. And what others may call "runamuck architecture" or "streets that look like every flavor in the ice cream case" we call "distinctive neighborhoods" and "buildings of unique character." And we love them, oh yes we do, be they loopy or a landmark or somewhere in the middle.

But traditional structures aren't the only places getting that love. Parks, streets, gardens, and a whole complement of Southern California chunks, be they huge or bitty, are part of HistoricPlacesLA.org.

Is there a handy map view, you're wondering, to behold all of this municipal memory-keeping? Oh, there is indeed.

SurveyLA, by the by, has done the gathering of information, which is no small task, thanks to our big-of-size, big-of-everything megacitylopolis.

"Prior to 2010, only 15 percent of the city had been surveyed for historic resources," reveals the Getty, but SurveyLA has brought that number up to "75 percent complete." This is a win for both preservation groups and developers, too, who may want to consider "adaptive reuse projects" inspired by information found within the HistoricPlacesLA.org system.

Want to see if the places that carry a lot of story and local meaning for your neighborhood or street are in the list? HistoricPlacesLA.org is live.



Photo Credit: Stephen Schafer]]>
<![CDATA[Watch Mayor Garcetti's Favorite Film (with Garcetti)]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 22:09:17 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/223*120/ericg12345airplane.jpg

We live in a moment when any pop culture-famous quip, any movie line, and any oft-repeated on-screen joke can be summoned, in seconds, with the help of our thumbtips.

But that wasn't the way of things when "Airplane!" debuted to re-quoting acclaim in 1980. The Internet didn't exist — well, in your hands, anyway — which meant that all of the serious memorization that was done, regarding the cult-favorite laugh-it-up, was done in theaters, and not via YouTube or fan sites.

A tweenage Mayor Eric Garcetti was one of those "Airplane!" super fans, if we might call him one, because he's named the comedy as his very favorite film, a film that will screen, for free, at the Million Dollar Theatre downtown on Thursday, Feb. 26.

Will the mayor be in the house? Oh, you betcha; we just wonder if he'll want to quote along, a time-honored "Airplane!" tradition at many a screening.

The gratis evening is part of the Zócalo/My Favorite Movie series, from KCRW, and, for sure, there shall be a Q&A with the mayor, as well as the creators of the film: David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams.

Talk about your power quartets.

KCRW's Madeline Brand leads the discussion, which, fingers crossed will include a contemplative, highbrow study of all of the film's many sight gags, which about a million later movies, give or take, went on to homage, borrow from, and re-intrepret.

Leslie Nielsen starred, as you know, because you memorized his every move back in 1980. Remember how you begged your mom to drop you off at the cineplex every Saturday, for five Saturdays in a row? Good times.

And remember when clips couldn't be instantly revisited on the Internet? Should we be nostalgic for that? Because it, just perhaps, made viewers watch a bit more intensely, if they were unsure when they'd see the film again?

If you want to know the mayor's favorite scenes, and sit in a historic movie palace while doing so, and applaud the creators of the funny phenom, and not pay to see it, and have Grand Central Market next door, for your pre-film noshing, turn your wings/point your nose for downtown on Feb. 26.



Photo Credit: Foto/AP and Airplane!]]>
<![CDATA[On Display: The Grand Budapest Hotel Model]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 12:31:13 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/grandbudapest475121609.jpg

Film fans, in the days following the Academy Awards, often seek out the movies that won the gold, man-shaped statues, or at least the movies they missed seeing when the films first debuted in theaters.

But we here in Southern California can go beyond the screen and deeper into the winning film. Costumes and props typically go on display, somewhere, around Oscar time, meaning you can both see the movie at the cinema and eye, up-close, the material objects that gave the film its look, feel, and general vibe.

The vibe is high at the Hollywood Museum, in the Historic Max Factor Building, where numerous props and costumes, including several from the Oscar-nominated and -winning films, are now on view.

Including the miniature model from Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel," a film that won four Oscars at the Sunday, Feb. 22 awards, including the Oscar for Production Design. Adam Stockhausen was the film's Production Designer.

Many kudos have gone to the pink-hued, dollhouse-delightful world of the whimsical hotel depicted, a depiction further enhanced by the model seen on screen. 

Also on view in the Celebration of Entertainment Awards exhibit? The Dodge Challenger driven by Jake Gyllenhaal's character in "Nightcrawler," a "Big Eyes" frock (worn by Amy Adams), and "hundreds of authentic costumes, props, and memorabilia from nominated films and TV shows."

The exhibit runs through Sunday, April 26.

As for "The Grand Budapest Hotel" model? It measures nine-by-14-feet, which is likely larger than any dollhouse you might have owned as a child (or currently own now). As for its signature hue? It is a tad softer in person. Few iconic movie buildings have been as pink or as easy to visit without boarding an airplane.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Oscar Stage: The Swarovski Crystals, by the Numbers]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 17:58:44 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/stagePhotoCreditStefanieKeenan.jpg

If you had a knack for those grade-school "guess how many buttons are in the jelly jar"-type games, the ones where you had to estimate a pretty large number and stay fairly accurate, you probably ruled your Oscar party.

We're not suggesting you guessed how many times an actor's agent would be thanked; rather, you probably pinpointed, with applause-worthy precision, how many Swarovski crystals bedecked the stage at the Dolby Theatre during the Sunday, Feb. 22 awards show.

Did you say 95,000? If you did, you won the whole jelly jar full of buttons: That's correct. Swarovski, which has provided the lavish look of the Oscars for eight years running, released the glittery numbers on all of those crystals the day after the movie industry's biggest night wrapped.

The stage, which was overseen by designer Derek McLane, bore a celestial spirit for much of the evening and boasted "a crystal closedown wall featuring 22,200 Swarovski crystals." It took about 580 hours for nine crystal-careful artisans to put the wall together ("crystal-careful" because the ultimate result was a wall featuring 250 pounds of pure crystal).

A trio of crystal curtains also graced the stage, with different numbers of strands. The upstage curtain contained 78 strands, and each strand weighed in at around 760 pounds, with over 50,000 crystals glittering up the three distinct drapes.

And the opera boxes of the Dolby glinted, too, with some 70 crystal-encrusted panels. 

The crystal company, which was founded in Austria, is marking its 120th year.

Sparkle sparkle. The final, years-spanning tally of all of that light-catching crystalogy? The Academy Awards have seen over 675,300 Swarovski crystals twinkle-up its stage style since 2007 (with many more on the gowns of the attendees).

Just another reminder that when you're nominated one day, you best ponder who the sure-to-glitter backdrop will reflect your gown, tux, and hairstyle. These are very important considerations in the realm of Oscar-based daydreaming (as SoCal a pastime as stages dressed in Swarovski).



Photo Credit: Stefanie Keenan]]>
<![CDATA[George Harrison Memorial Tree to Be Replaced]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 13:41:38 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/gh854469.jpg

"No one I think is in my tree" is among the most memorable lines from The Fab Four's colossal canon, but the '60s-era "Strawberry Fields Forever" lyrics didn't predict that one day, far in the future, something would definitely be in George Harrison's tree.

That something? Beetles, in a rather humorous twist that the Beatle, who produced some of Monty Python's funniest films, might have found ironic.

Headline writers absolutely found the beetles-Beatle connection ironic when it was announced in 2014 that the Griffith Park pine was destroyed, and all fans found dismay that the peaceful symbol would be no longer.

But the George Harrison Memorial Tree, which isn't far from Griffith Observatory, will live again, at least in the form of a replanted tree. The tree replanting will happen on Wednesday, Feb. 25, says the LA Times, which is timely indeed: George Harrison was born on February 25, 1943.

The memorial tree wasn't the only tree ever to meet with beetle damage at the park, but it is, for certain, the most legendary.

The new tree be planted near the plaque that commemorates Mr. Harrison, who passed away in Los Angeles in 2001. (The plaque reads "In memory of a great humanitarian who touched the world as an artist, a musician, and a gardener.")

Will the new tree stand far, far longer than a decade, which is just about how long the first tree lasted? Here's hoping.

Will LA City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, a longtime friend to the park, be at the afternoon ceremony? Of course, along with Beatles-cool radio host Chris Carter.

One of the musician's most famous solo hits remains "All Things Must Pass." It's a fine philosophy for approaching the non-permanence and flow of life. And a reminder that if one pine ends, another sapling can be planted with the same moving message in mind.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best Costume Design: See Oscar-Winning Togs Downtown]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 07:41:17 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/grandbudapestmcfidm.jpg

The Monday morning following Oscar Sunday Night can be a yawny one for movie mavens who follow Film's Biggest Event, but there are a typically a couple of events that always occur.

1. Catch up on all of the photos, tweets, commentary, and replays.

2. Parse the winners (and not-so-winners) with other cinephiles at work/school/home.

3. See the film that won Best Picture, or in the acting categories, if you missed it.

Add to that a fourth pursuit, one of a fashion bent, and one that can only be done in Los Angeles: Admire the clothing, in-person, from the film that went home with the Best Costume Design award.

Or rather, the costume designer. Milena Canonero, a legend in the silver-screen sartorial business, won for "The Grand Budapest Hotel" at the 87th Annual Academy Awards. 

It was Ms. Canonero's fourth Oscar win, and her light-catching pants, which were roundly cited around the internet for being one of the loveliest get-ups of the night, speaks volumes about her own bold style and the high concept visions for the clothing worn in the Wes Anderson film.

You can see the costumes that caught voters' eyes, including the pillbox-hatted hotel employee costumes, the dowager-dressy cape coat worn by actress Tilda Swinton, and Saoirse Ronan's peach-pretty ensemble, at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising downtown, as part of the 23rd Annual Art of Motion Picture Design exhibit. 

The exhibit runs Tuesdays through Saturdays through April 25. Admission is free.

If you miss Ms. Canonero's "Budapest" designs, worry not: As is tradition, the previous year's Oscar winner always shows again the following year, meaning the outfits shall return next winter to FIDM.

To see more of Ms. Canonero's iconic film work, make for Hollywood Costume at Wilshire and Fairfax, in the old May Company building, before the exhibit shutters on March 2. Her work for "Barry Lyndon" -- the designer worked with Stanley Kubrick in addition to her multiple collaborations with Wes Anderson -- is on display.

image: Alex J. Berliner/FIDM



Photo Credit: FIDM/Alex J. Berliner]]>
<![CDATA[World Spay Day: Mobile Unit to Be Unveiled Downtown]]> Sat, 21 Feb 2015 16:47:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/cityhalldogcatspaymobile.jpg

For being the shortest of all months, February is full of holidays and notable days and special days off of work and occasions worthy of being occasioned. 

One of the most worthy of all falls on the last Tuesday of the month, and it involves our furry companions, both feline and canine. It's World Spay Day, a global reminder that pet populations still boom when the spaying and neutering of pets is not given the highest priority.

To remind us of its import, a number of civic leaders and representatives of animal protection organizations will gather at Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 24 to mark World Spay Day. Noted dog lover and Los Angeles City Council President Herb J. Wesson will be on hand, as well as Brenda Barnette, the general manager of the Los Angeles Animal Services Department.

Our city's own spay/neuter programs will receive a spotlight, as well as the message of World Spay Day: "(S)aving the lives of companion animals that otherwise might be euthanized."

Spay4LA, a Gary Michelson Found Animals Foundation grantee, will unveil its second mobile pet clinic, "a state-of-the-art hospital on wheels that will allow the organization to serve thousands more pets in areas that desperately need access to affordable spay/neuter services." 

Tours of the mobile clinic will happen at the City Hall event, which is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 24. The Found Animals Foundations estimates that the clinic will provide around 5,000 spay and neuter surgeries in 2015.

The Found Animals Foundation, which focuses on ways to "reduce the number of pets euthanized in shelters each year," is based in Los Angeles.

Want to know more about the mobile clinic? Click.

Want to read up on the specifics of spaying and neutering? No Kill Los Angeles has a handy FAQ.



Photo Credit: Found Animals Foundation]]>
<![CDATA[Lime, Tequila, Salt, Sweet: Margarita Day]]> Fri, 20 Feb 2015 15:18:37 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/summer-drink-lead.jpg

Calendar quirks that pair up disparate events are, by and large, rather charming, and we've already been lucky enough to experience a few this year. 

Valentine's and Friday the 13th and Presidents Day and Mardi Gras, or at least pre-Mardi Gras, all fell over the same three-day span, making those revelers intent on eating cherry pie and chocolate roses and not walking under ladders and wearing beads very busy, indeed.

And those who count the margarita as a favorite libation and the Oscars as their must-watch show have another double-holiday of sorts just ahead. You guessed it: National Margarita Day and Academy Awards Sunday are the very same day in 2015, making it quite easy for those hosting at-home parties to decide what to serve guests, as far as the drinks go.

One suggestion: Just don't run the blender too loudly, though, during the acceptance speeches.

If you want to find that classic LA libation out-and-about, though, make for one of Southern California's many margarita-serving restaurants and bars. Like ...

The Little Door Santa Monica: You've been to the longtime West Third favorite, but if you haven't checked out its new westerly sibling, you can do so and order a Pomegranate Margarita for fifteen bucks. Fresh ingredients from the Santa Monica Farmers Market are in the sip, as are top-shelf liquors like Dos Armadillos Blanco.

Malibu Pier Restaurant & Bar: You're not far from the waves — in fact, you are on a pier, as the name of the eatery you're inside would suggest — and you want something that's ocean-adjacent light in tone. The Hibiscus Blood Orange Margarita contains both hibiscus syrup and blood orange, too, plus some fine tequila action.

Dia de Campo: The Hermosa Beach nuevo Mexican gem serves up a stripped-down take of the margarita that includes grapefruit, tequila blanco, home spice, lemon, and froth. Oh, froth — fancy. It's called the Rubi and it's twelve dollars and it is arrives with a very happy, orange-bright hue.

If you're still keen to do the Oscar-watch thing, and have your 'rita from the comfort of your own couch, the National Margarita Day headquarters boasts a bevy of lime-nice, oh-so-kicky recipes. 



Photo Credit: Philip Nealey]]>
<![CDATA[Your Oscar Plans: Hollywood's Biggest Night]]> Fri, 20 Feb 2015 12:36:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/oscarprep463792276+%281%29.jpg

An invitation to watch the Academy Awards at a friend's house typically asks that the guest bring an appetizer or a bottle of wine or dessert. Rarely, though, does it specify the amount of chitchat that will be permitted, by the host, during the telecast.

It's the touchiest of Oscar night subjects, and fraught with Firmly Held Opinions by all involved.

But Oscar aficionados recognize the need for such a rule: If revelers around you are talking and you can't hear the speeches, you get a mite miffed. And no one should be miffed on Oscar night (it's like a law).

Enter Sid Grauman's Million Dollar Theatre, which shall once again serve as the shush-free sanctuary for those who would love to truly watch the show, sans snarky sass/complimentary comments, in an old-school movie palace setting (much like the early settings the 87-year-old awards show once occupied).

Date? Sunday, Feb. 22. Time? Doors open at 4 p.m., the show is at 5:30 p.m. The host? The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation.

As for the dress code? Why it's glamorous, of course, but you don't need a stylist: You can dress in honor of a vintage Tinseltown star, or wear your loudest vintage blazer, or rent a tux, or go awards-show casual (button-up, no tie). Think of this as the alt-Oscars, a dressy but relaxed gathering that's in Los Angeles in a big theater on Oscar night, but without any of the nominees or movie people.

But movie-mad people will be plentiful. And reverential, we hope, or at least a bit. Nope, we can't promise that the people in your row won't chatter a bit during the telecast, but call Hollywood's Biggest Night at the Million Dollar a better spot to land if you want to watch the show without the running commentary of your neighbor's cousin's not-so-hilarious best friend.

General admission? Thirty dollars. Swanning about Grand Central Market, the theater's nearest neighbor, in your Oscar-ready gown and tiara, and enjoying a burger before the show? Well, that's probably about ten bucks, for the burger, plus the immeasurablely nice feeling that you're out on Oscar night and headed to a screening party in a landmark theater. 



Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Chicken Selects Returns]]> Fri, 20 Feb 2015 07:58:16 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds+chicken+selects.jpg

Watch out, Chicken McNuggets. Soon there will be a new breaded chicken dish in the house.

Oak Brook-based McDonald's announced Wednesday that Chicken Selects will return to menus nationwide next month.

"The Chicken Selects will make a national return in early March and be sold as an order with three pieces. We look forward to bringing back this customer favorite made with chicken tenderloin," Terri Hickey, a McDonald's spokesperson, said.

McDonald's describes Chicken Selects as "crispy strips of all white chicken breast, premium dipping sauces...this is luxury lunching."

The menu item will only be available nationally for a limited time, but markets will have the option to keep them on the menu if they want, Hickey said.

Chicken Selects were first introduced in 1998 and were pulled from the menu in February 2013.

The menu item previously came with a variety of dipping sauces to choose from, including chipotle barbeque, creamy ranch, hot habanero, honey mustard, hot mustard, spicy buffalo, sweet chili, sweet 'n sour, honey and tangy barbeque.

The fast food company's announcement comes just two months after company officials said they were planning on trimming their menus. This decision was prompted by a decline in U.S. sales that many attribute to McDonald's unhealthy image and an increasingly health conscious society.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Auspicious Eats: Chinese New Year Dining]]> Fri, 20 Feb 2015 14:24:10 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hakkasanbhdining123.jpg

Why do we choose what we eat on a holiday? The reasons are far more plentiful than any other day of the year, and the foods we select are very much threaded through with tradition, tales, and the themes that the holiday evokes.

The Chinese New Year brings with it feasting of the grandest order, and the dishes made in homes and restaurants carry with them a wish for good fortune over the year ahead. Several Southern California eateries will be making such entrees and desserts, as well as dishes that are special to the restaurant and its own way of celebrating a holiday festooned with dance, cheer, music, firecrackers, art, and every auspicious wish.

Where will you wish in The Year of the Ram (or the Sheep or the Goat)? Find plenitude in plates at ...

Hakkasan Beverly Hills: The special eight-course Chinese New Year menu is available through Sunday, March 1, if you find yourself busy this weekend at the Golden Dragon Parade. Sha cha mock duck with cloud ear, celery, and bamboo shoot is one of the elegant entries, as is abalone and dry scallop fried rice. And a kumquat wishing tree dessert pays tribute to the restaurant's Wishing Tree, where guests may leave "their hopes" on a small piece of paper.

Shanghai Rose: The Studio City dim sum favorite will incorporate traditional stringed music, played live, during the dinner seatings on Saturday, Feb. 21 and Sunday, Feb. 22. On the new year's menu? Look for dumplings fashioned to look like silver ingots, longevity noodles, and spring rolls that bear a resemblance in shape to gold bars. Moon cakes, too, shall be served, lending the lively dinners another dose of good fortune.

Patina at Walt Disney Concert Hall: Executive Chef Paul Lee is presenting a six-course, $135 Chinese New Year menu from Thursday, Feb. 19 through Sunday, Feb. 22. Peking cooking is paired with French traditions in dishes like Muscovy duck Breast and Chocolate Namelaka. Oh, and guest will get a red envelope that contains a voucher for a glass of bubbly that is good "when dining at the restaurant within the next 30 days." Things delivered in red envelopes are so very nice.

Little Sister: Searching for Peking duck, spring rolls full of shiitake mushrooms, and a bevy of bites honoring the new year? Make for Manhattan Beach and Executive Chef Tin Vuong's special Chinese New Year roster of lucky (and luscious) eats. The menu is available through Saturday, Feb. 28 and includes jumbo prawns and pineapple fried rice, pork, crab, and garlic dumplings, and house-spiced citrus bubbles, which fill the fortunate feasting with a bit of dash.

WP24: Hot & sour oxtail soup sounds both fortune-filled and fortifying, especially since some weather is due over the first few days of the Chinese New Year. If you'd like to dip a spoon into the traditional broth, or go for Peking duck, head for The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles through Thursday, Feb. 26.



Photo Credit: Hakkasan Beverly Hills]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: 116th Golden Dragon Parade]]> Thu, 19 Feb 2015 19:32:54 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/goldendla903441.jpg

HAPPY NEW YEAR: Only a handful of local, lasting, still-on, still-drawing-thousands-of-revelers happenings that began in the 1800s are still rolling today, and The Golden Dragon Parade is very much among them. It's the 116th annual this year, the Year of the Ram (and the Goat and the Sheep) shall be auspiciously, heart-happily welcomed, and the parade'll dance (and be filled with floats and bands and costumes and tradition) on Saturday, Feb. 21. There's a festival, too, filled with magicians, fruit carving, acrobats, DJs, calligraphy, dough sculpting, food trucks, a beer garden, and beyond. The parade and fest? So free to see. Many, many people join, so go Metro for your arrival/departure.

87th ACADEMY AWARDS: You're best advised not to go anywhere near the bustling vicinity of Hollywood Boulevard between La Brea and Highland this weekend, unless, of course, you're an Oscar nominee. Then you absolutely should, and you probably should get a ride, too, from a friend (if you want your gown/tux to stay neat). The big asphalt-covering red carpet is out, and those giant shiny gold men standing sentinel, meaning movie's biggest night is nigh. Want to get dressy and watch the doings from a proper theater? The Million Dollar downtown is throwing a gussy-up bash, film fans.

U.S. COFFEE CHAMPIONSHIPS: How do your lattes turn out? More foam-lumpy than art-worthy? See the cup-wielding artists who create all of those coffee-toppers -- kittens, suns, hearts -- and the experts who know their beans. Really know: A bevy of caffeine-related competitions are set to steam up the Long Beach Arena. If you've never given two thoughts to the sip you enjoy thrice daily, best bone up, as a spectator, at one of the most major of mochaccino-half-caf-no-whip happenings on the calendar.

LA TRAVEL & ADVENTURE SHOW: When science one day breaks down the content of our daydreams, it may find that a full 65% involves hiking in a mountain meadow or wading into a clear lagoon. This mega expert-filled booth-y wonderland of travel information, tips, ideas, and inspiration can stoke those daydreams, and maybe even push them to a place where they become reality. Rick Steves, Samantha Brown, and other globe-trotting smarties'll be in the Long Beach Convention Center house. (NBC4 is a broadcast sponsor.) Saturday, Feb. 21 and Sunday, Feb. 22

A MODERN RETELLING OF "PERSEPHONE": Summoning spring via ideas and performance and the arts is a tradition as old as the arts and springtime, and this puppet- and video-centered presentation at the Getty Villa will do just that. The main character is Cora, "a contemporary Persephone whose annual return to the 'upper air' has been the catalyst for spring." Are you ready to bid winter adieu in a beautiful, contemplative setting? Be there on Friday, Feb. 20 through Sunday, Feb. 22.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Happy 50th, Universal Studios Hollywood]]> Wed, 18 Feb 2015 16:08:45 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/fandfsuperchargedteaser1.jpg

While we live in an age that frequently provides the nosy among us behind-the-scenes-y peeks into the movie industry, and how life is for stars on set, getting a glimpse behind the celluloid curtain was once something of a rarity.

Except at Universal Studios Hollywood, which was, and remains, at the forefront of showing fans how movie magic goes down (or up, in the case of the moment the "Jaws" shark pushes out of the water, much to the delight of tram guests, during the Studio Tour). 

And that magic will be much on display during the park's big 50th Anniversary year, a year which will see new attractions, fresh updates, and, yes, the continued approach of one Mr. Harry Potter.

Some of the reveals announced by Universal on Tuesday, Feb. 17? The 2015 opening of "Fast & Furious — Supercharged," which is described as "a pulse-pounding, adrenaline-filled thrill ride," a ride that peels out as "the new grand finale to the world-famous Studio Tour."

The 3D-HD extravaganza occupies a 65,000-square-foot building on the back lot.

Not so faraway from the fastness is the town of "Springfield," as in the Springfield from "The Simpsons," so prepare to wander the candy-hued burg, an attraction that contains several of the businesses seen on the long-running animated hit. (You betcha there's a Krusty Burger.)

A Nighttime Studio Tour is also on the soon-to-be-revealed slate, but you won't simply be tramming it through shadows. How those shadows and starlight and the darkness are employed to capture after-sunset scenes will be one of the themes of the on-the-roll cinema class.

That's pretty Universal Studios Hollywood, though. Fans have been peeking into soundstages and makeup rooms for just about a century, making it the first studio to connect with the public on a large-scale, "this is how it is done" platform. 

It's a platform that continues through the park's 50th Anniversary year with both cine-speedy treats, like "Fast & Furious," and Universal-style Movie 101 knowledge to lend structure to the splashy stuff.

And speaking of splashy stuff, "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" trucks along, or rather whizzes along, like a boy on a broomstick. You can see it rising up, up, up, near the heart of the theme park, as it is busily readied for its 2016 hello. (Nope, the busy crews can't just wave wands in this case, to make it all happen at once.)

The theme park, which is nestled soundstage-by-attraction with Universal Studios, has the unique draw of being where films and TV is made, so it is nice to see it continuing to give lookie-loos a chance to see behind the screen. Wouldn't it be a bummer if a theme park was next to a movie studio and didn't do all of that cool stuff?

Thank goodness the park uses its studio-snug location so very well.

Comcast is the parent company of both NBCUniversal and NBC4.



Photo Credit: Universal Studios Hollywood]]>
<![CDATA[Brew Battle LBC: U.S. Coffee Championships]]> Wed, 18 Feb 2015 16:10:04 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/coffee166507684.jpg

The way we order a coffee these days has been dissected, lampooned, satirized, and pondered, from the half-cafs to the no-foams to the one shot of peppermints pleases to our most Byzantine, offbeat espresso-themed requests.

But how we wait for our coffee as it is made has not yet come under full consideration, which it should, as there are those who love to linger by the pickup counter, admiring the barista at work. Those are the latte lovers who will be out at the Long Beach Arena, from Thursday, Feb. 19 through Sunday, Feb. 22, eyeing the U.S. Coffee Championships.

Which are not just the U.S. Coffee Championships but also the U.S. Brewers Cup, the U.S. Baristas Championship, the U.S. Latte Art Championship, the Roasters Guild Choice Competition, and the U.S. Cup Tasters Championship. 

Big. Very big. This is not, in short, a decaffeinated gathering, in any sense.

Each showdown spotlights different skills and gifts among coffee professionals. Triangulation is the name of the game in the U.S. Cup Tasters Championship, which presents tasters with a trio of cups where "two cups are identical and one is different." Time is of the essence to break down "taste, smell" and other qualities found in the cups. 

Hard stuff, especially if you've sipped the same brew every morning for the last 12 years. Could you do it?

Let us also wow over the latte art, given that even straight-up pouring a foam-type product in a cup can test most of us. How those talented baristas form swans and hearts and cats and more baroque imagery is a wonder, one best seen up-close or at a not-far distance.

Which is why we like to linger by the pickup counter to see the barista at work. Yes, how we take our coffee is about as individual as we are, but a timeless act? Watching an artist at work. And if that artist is handling the very libation you put so much faith in — and can't start your day without — admiring what they do seems like it is a nice end of a daily bargain coffee fans should uphold.

Spectator tickets? They're brewing right here, Americano aficionados.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mighty, Not Meaty: Vegan Chili Cook-Off]]> Wed, 18 Feb 2015 07:33:56 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/chili-shutterstock_80394193.jpg

Sundae toppings and baked potato fillers and guacamole ingredients may bump elbows in the competition to see what can have the most variations, but they're all outdone by the queen of the caliente crop, the one dish with almost limitless variations: chili.

Asking for "beans" or "no beans" isn't even the half of it, when it comes to hearty saucy tomato-based (or not-tomato-based) fare in a bowl. Cilantro, cheddar, onions, garlic, and about 908 different elements come into play.

Let us pause here to admire one whole fiery facet of chilidom, the vegan chili. Tony's Darts Away will do just that, on the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 22, and a number of local Burbank and not-Burbank chefs and food experts'll show to make their very best unmeaty chili.

Tony's Darts Away's own Chef Caroline Concha shall be cooking, as well as Chef Roy Elam of SunCafe, Chef Doomie of Doomie's Home Cookin', Plant-Based Parties Chef Jennie Cook, and Vegan Yack Attack's Chef Jackie Sobon.

It's year three for this popular event, which gives a buck from every ticket sold to the Burbank Community YMCA. (The price, by the by: Pay a tenner and get five tastings at three ounces a pop.)

You can't get your ticket in advance, though -- "DAY OF ONLY" is in all caps on the Facebook page, with a vow that it shall sell out.

And why wouldn't it? A Sunday afternoon in February is practically custom-made for a chili taste-off. That the ingredients will be vegan, and the people at the pots knowledgeable about spices and flavors and vegan-y add-ins, is the non-dairy dollop of sour cream atop this savory socialize-and-sup stew.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Disneyland Memories: A Valley Gallery's Vintage Artifact Auction]]> Tue, 17 Feb 2015 12:03:20 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/189*120/monorailvaneatongalleries.jpg

Consider yourself a true Disneyland scholar?

Put your Magic Kingdom ken to the test: Stand in any line for any ride at the Anaheim theme park and start talking about when Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse or the roles of the fairies in "Sleeping Beauty" or how Space Mountain was developed and you'll soon find a number of nearby strangers weighing in on the topics, most ardently.

Disney fans are, by default, Disney experts, because the deep nostalgia of the world's best-known theme park, and how its multiple stories weave together, encourages Mickey mavens to master every date, character, attraction, and anecdote. And these are the people who will bid on the numerous Disneyland artifacts going up for auction in Sherman Oaks on Feb. 28 and March 1.

Exhibit and auction name? The Story of Disneyland, which is certainly a big name. Like Matterhorn-big.

Even if you can't commit to owning a vintage Disneyland Hotel flag or a First Year Disneyland Cast Member ID Badge, you can swing by Van Eaton Galleries through Friday, Feb. 27 to eye, admire, and get a little rhapsodic over the many old-school bits of Disneyana heading for the auction block.

We mean, this is serious stuff, buffs: There's a color swatch for paint at the main gate, circa 1956, lest you think the exhibit will only feature the goodies more commonly seen on the Disneyland-fan circuit. Another rare treat: A flier from 1959 talks about construction in the park, with a few illustrations of what's to come (you'll surely recognize the white-topped mountain depicted).

Yeah, this one's for you, Disneyland devotees of the highest order.

Want to check out the whole catalog? You can, here. Want to bid on a few things? Don your mouse ears and study up on the process.

Want to make a few other people jealous? Talk in the Mr. Toad's Wild Ride line, or the queue for Dumbo, about how you bid on, and won, a Disneyland cast member hard hat from 1962.

Okay, it is a good jealous, a happy envy, because all Disney people know that fans keeping the nostalgia alive oils the unseen, forever-turning wheels of the Big Park. 



Photo Credit: Van Eaton Galleries]]>
<![CDATA[Fat Tuesday Favorite: Po' Boys of SoCal]]> Tue, 17 Feb 2015 09:24:54 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/poboys345432.jpg

Social media overflows around the middle of February with tips on getting to know your date/boss/friend better, from the questions to ask on a first date to conversational topics for the next work happy hour.

Whatever method of drawing closer to people you choose, just make sure you know the next person you eat a po'boy in front of very, very well.

A po'boy is not your average, crust-bordered sandwich: It is a lengthy submarine stuffed beyond mathematical reasoning with shrimp or roast beef or crab or seafood. Often thought of as Louisiana's luscious take on the hoagie, the po'boy is as apt to get all over your shirt as something you've willingly spilled on your shirt, but its spill-ability makes sense, given how a po'boy is overstuffed and sauce-laden and easy-to-nosh.

The po'boy's history, by the by, is as full as the sandwich itself: Born in New Orleans and served to those on strike from the Big Easy's famous streetcars, the French bread-y meals were meant to be incredibly filling.

So on Mardi Gras, and any day that is not Mardi Gras, where do you go for this king among long, messy sandwiches? The ultimate meal that demands you know the person you're dining with well? Southern California has plenty of classic and inventive po'boys about. Bib up and make for ...

Orleans & York: This deli on Slauson is known for its po'-boy-o-sity, so much so that po'boy buffs can text to "poboy" to place their order. Catfish, oysters, roast beef, and other savory stars fill the menu, and the tempting salmon po'boy as well. Oh, and andouille chicken sausage, which sounds as Mardi Gras-ready as a beads tossed from a balcony.

The Little Jewel: When faced with 17 different versions of the po'boy, how do you alight upon the one you'll order? Well, here's a thought: Just head back to this Chinatown eatery sixteen more times and try them all. There's the Irish Channel Roast Beef Po'boy, a Creole hot sausage po'boy, a mixed shrimp and oyster po'boy ...

Blue Plate Oysterette: We know, the blue-and-white-tiled seafooderie's Lobster Roll is so savory — hot or dressed with cool mayo-plus — but the West Hollywood branch is doing up a $17 shrimp po'boy for Mardi Gras. That's Tuesday, Feb. 17, so don your beads and saunter down West Third Street.

The Little Easy: If you're in the downtown neck of the woods, and near The Alexandria Hotel, swing by for po'boy sliders. Think of 'em as po'boys in easier-to-grasp form, with two tasty choices: shrimp or catfish. Plus? You can check out this "NOLA-inspired haunt" which just debuted in January.



Photo Credit: Po' Boys]]>
<![CDATA[Fairytale Dance: LA Ballet's "The Sleeping Beauty"]]> Mon, 16 Feb 2015 19:19:08 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/193*120/labsleepingbeauty123.jpg

How many levels does an oft-told fairytale work on? That depends a great deal on the viewer and the journey they wish to take. A fanciful story is one level, while the symbolism within forms another layer, and what the tale has come to mean in modern times.

But place the fairytale in the world of ballet and you get something a bit different from the version found in books or on the screen: Dance does the talking, the emoting, the raising of drama and the finding of resolution. "The Sleeping Beauty," with a score by Tchaikovsky, has served as le ultimate, or at least one of the paragons of the fairytale-meets-movement form, for decades, and remains a standout in the realm of employing pirouettes and violins to spin out a textured story.

The Los Angeles Ballet is taking on the Tchaikovsky-scored, oh-so-textured story of a young maiden who slumbers under a wicked enchantment. Marius Petipa's original choreography is given true-hearted tribute in this new production, which boasts choreography by the ballet's co-artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary.

If you're tapping your chin and thinking that the troupe, which typically calls upon a few venues with a single show, has been on a Tchaikovsky run -- or leap, since this is ballet, is perhaps the better word -- you're correct: "Swan Lake" and "The Nutcracker" unfolded on local stages in 2014.

As for "The Sleeping Beauty"? Look for the mood-filled, spinning wheel-laden spectacle to go en pointe in Redondo Beach starting on Feb. 21. The Valley Performing Arts Center, Glendale's The Alex, and Royce Hall will follow on select dates into late March.

Princess power in the air, both in cinemas and in young adult novels and television, too. Add to that a very classic ballet, with symbols and pockets of meaning, a work that fairytale fans will both recognize and find fresh, in terms of the telling.



Photo Credit: Los Angeles Ballet]]>
<![CDATA[Mardi Gras Feasting: Messhall, Gumbo Pot...]]> Mon, 16 Feb 2015 16:16:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mardigrasmesshall.jpg

The flavors of Mardi Gras are as bright and eye-catching as a handful of purple, green and yellow beads. Though perhaps "palate-catching" is more apt, given that we see the flashy beads and we chow down upon foods laden with Creole spice and Cajun history and modern twists on French Quarter-style dining.

Fat Tuesday is Feb. 17, and Los Angeles, never a city to deny a good round of laissez le bons temps rouler, will boast plenty of Bourbon-Street-y eats, from crustacean-rich stews to puffed-up pastries sitting in shallow, dry lakes of powdered sugar.

Even if you're beadless -- but, please, you probably won't be if you're out celebrating Mardi Gras in the City of Angels -- you can still go NOLA, food-wise, at a handful of SoCal spots going full bon temps. Point your trumpet towards...

Messhall: Recently arrived chief toque Shane Pritchett is doing it up in Los Feliz on Fat Tuesday in honor of his hometown, New Orleans. Chef Pritchett, by the by, was hired by Emeril Lagasse to work at Emeril's, so count on the two-course feast, which includes a crab & shrimp boil, to have that big-flavor bayou zing. Shall there also be cinnamon raisin bread budding with praline sauce to de-hot any over-zing'd palates? Yes. Also, let us daydream about praline sauce. Also, an over-zing'd palate is rather marvelous come Mardi Gras.

House of Blues: Of course the Southern-focused kitchen of the Sunset Strip staple is going the good-eatin' Mardi Gras grub route. Look for "homegrown soul food" -- beignets and ribs and corn fritters and po' boys are on the menu -- and a whole slate of sounds inspired by Louisiana's liveliest accordion-plus-blues-plus-dance beats. Need tickets? This is an out-sized, multi-floor party, so better snag 'em ahead of time.

The Original Farmers Market: The Third & Fairfax public market kept the beads aloft all weekend long ahead of Mardi Gras, but the party continues on Mardi Gras itself. The Gumbo Pot will stay busy in the West Patio -- think jambalaya and beignets and beyond -- and Eddie Baytos and the Nervis Bros will play. Can you dance while holding jambalaya? Well, you could try, but best down it first before hitting the dance floor. (Dancing while holding a beignet, though, should be plenty safe.)



Photo Credit: Messhall]]>
<![CDATA[South Pasadena Presidential House for Sale for $3M]]> Mon, 16 Feb 2015 22:07:23 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/garfieldpasadenahousebuenavista.jpg

When we think of presidential homes, we think of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in our nation's capital first, and then the many estates and manors dotting the Midwest and the East Coast. Picture Monticello and Mount Vernon and the dozens of grand houses that once served as shelter to a Commander-in-Chief and his family, or his family following his death.

But while the other coast dominates in this domestic field, the West Coast has its own stately clutch of presidential pads -- Ronald Reagan's Rancho del Cielo and Richard Nixon's La Casa Pacifica among them -- and the very occasional president-related home you can buy.

Meet The Garfield House, one of Southern California's prime examples of Craftsman architecture, an example made even primier by the designers of the South Pasadena home: Greene & Greene, the legendary team behind The Gamble House (which first posted about its sibling house going up for sale).

The Greenes designed The Garfield House for Lucretia Garfield, widow to President James Garfield, and the home was completed in 1904. And you can own it, a century and a decade and a year after its debut.

Well, the asking price is $2,995,000, so best take that into account before digging out your checkbook. The Craftsman, which is chalet-style -- picture a dramatically peaked front entryway -- has five bedrooms, five bathrooms, "a generous living room," and the mature oaks and deodar cedars one daydreams about when one daydreams of living in an historic Crown City Craftsman.

The home went on the market earlier this month.

The Greene & Greene Virtual Archives at the USC School of Architecture describe Lucretia Garfield as a "distant relative" of Charles Greene. She gave a lot of input regarding her winter residence, which once held a laundry porch (which sounds quite 1904 to the modern ear).

It also once held an elevator.

For more on the history of the home, and see a vintage photograph, click. To eye The Garfield House's modern updates, renovations, and interiors, there's a virtual tour of the abode at 1001 Buena Vista Street.



Photo Credit: The Garfield House]]>
<![CDATA[Dancers Take the Tango to LAX ]]> Sun, 15 Feb 2015 20:45:51 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Terminal-Tango-021515.JPG

There's probably no other dance that conveys the message of romance and passion better than the tango.

To help spread the love, a group of 40 local dancers took the Argentine tango to a SoCal airport terminal on Sunday.

"Tango is symbolic of Valentine's, of relationships, of love, of passion, of everything that is joy in your life," said dance instructor and event organizer Ilona Glinarsky.  "We wanted to bring a little bit of joy and maybe a little love to a place that seems to be a little dry and a little stressful at times."

Although it was the day after Valentine’s, the group of dancers from Living Tango dance studio in El Segundo put on quite a show in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Men and women dressed in red and black performed the highly improvisational dance.

The first few bars of the song were choreographed, but the rest of the performance was completely improvised, Glinarsky told NBC4.

In addition to a free show, the Living Tango dancers treated travelers to Valentine’s candy.



Photo Credit: Joel Cooke ]]>
<![CDATA[Get a Sneak Peek at the New Broad Museum]]> Fri, 13 Feb 2015 22:55:45 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web_broad_kim_5p_1200x675_399097923823.jpg We get a preview of the new Broad Museum in Downtown Los Angeles. Kim Baldonado reports for the NBC4 News at 5, Feb. 13, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Happy February Halloween: ScareLA's on the Move]]> Fri, 13 Feb 2015 19:54:33 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/sb10066500g-001.jpg

It's just about the middle of February when we finally get around to scraping the hardened candle wax off the front steps, the same wax that ran out of the jack o' lantern's wide grin last October 31st.

Perhaps we should have left the wax where it was, because Halloween is again on approach, or at least ScareLA is headed this way, with maniacal chuckles and villainous glowering in tow.

LA's mondo Halloween convention, which covers the ghoulish gamut (think make up, costumes, haunted yards, inside props, eerie eats, theme park reveals, and everything to do with the spookiest of seasons), just made a Valentine's Eve reveal: The booth'd-out, presentation-filled happening is pulling up stakes from downtown LA — The Reef had been its HQ for a couple of years running — and shambling for the Pasadena Convention Center.

What hasn't changed? The convention, which draws experts in the fields of entertainment, haunting, and turning people into the undead (at least for a night), will still spread its prodigious spiderweb over the second weekend in August, as in years gone by. Those actual dates in 2015? Saturday, Aug. 8 and Sunday, Aug. 9.

Hey there, wait one scary second: This was all revealed on Friday the 13th. Very clever, ScareLA. Just when we were writing our Valentine's cards, and planning our Mardi Gras bead party, you crept out of the shadows and made us jump.

Well, jump with joy, since Halloween is quite the busy, moneymaking, fan-garnering industry for Southern California these days, with thousands of enthusiastic participants, from the big theme parks to the family down the block who creates nifty special effects for their garden. 

This means that an early August date is not too early, at all, for Halloweenies to start plotting their Octobertime haunted houses as well as those terrifying tryouts for monster roles inside the theme parks. (Actually, those auditions fall in the summer, too.)

The lineup is still TBD, as are other details with the still-six-months-away convention. Put plan on Pasadena, plan on that second weekend in August, and if we were you, we'd just leave the hardened wax on the side of the porch step, because it won't be long before another jack o' lantern is grinning from that very spot. 



Photo Credit: © Jochem Wijnands]]>
<![CDATA[ScotsFestival: The Queen Mary Kilts Up]]> Fri, 13 Feb 2015 14:21:15 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/qmsheepdogboatscot1.jpg

It's a common question to ask, and be asked, around Southern California, and the answers given are as plentiful as places on the planet: "Where are you from?"

While saying "right here" does happen, and meeting a longtime local is a treat (they always have flavorful anecdotes to share), other locations abound, including Clydebank in Scotland.

That's where the Queen Mary hails from -- nope, we weren't restricting the question to humans only -- and Scotland receives its festive due as the ocean-liner's birthplace each February.

ScotsFestival & International Highland Games XXII can't transport the hundreds in attendance across the Atlantic for the weekend, but Scotland can alight in Long Beach for two days, complete with bagpipes, athletics, and those always cooed-over, camera-ready sheep-herding demos.

The sheep baa and the bagpipes thrumble and drams of whisky pour at the landmark boat, or rather just adjacent to it, on Saturday, Feb. 14 and Sunday, Feb. 15. Dancing, harp music, knighting ceremonies, the tossing of cabers, and the Grand Parade of Clans & Bands are part of the tartan-hued doings.

Speaking of tartans, surely you know this fun fact: The Queen Mary, which has called California its forever home since 1967, has a regal tartan that was designed in its honor. Dominating color? Why blue, of course, for the ocean.

You don't have to wear a kilt or tam o'shanter to gain entry to ScotsFestival, but you will have to pay admission. It's eighteen dollars for a one-day general ticket, but there are various levels with different happenings attached. Oh, and stay-over packages, too. The Queen Mary does possess numerous rooms that include beds, after all.

That's because she once sailed the world's waters, and passengers stayed aboard for weeks at a time. The Queen's story is definitely an international one, through and through, though if you were to query where she's from, and she could answer, the River Clyde in Scotland is what you'd hear.

Though perhaps the Queen Mary does speak. Ever heard that big, big horn? You don't even need to linger next to the tall stacks to feel its chest-thrumbling vibrations (a thrumble that has a cousin in how a bagpipe sounds, which is a charming coincidence).



Photo Credit: Queen Mary]]>
<![CDATA[True Love, Caught on Camera: Creative Public Proposals Go Viral]]> Fri, 13 Feb 2015 13:41:15 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ellen+proposal.jpg

In the mood for everlasting love as Valentine's Day approaches? Here's a look at public marriage proposals over the past year that are sure to get the waterworks (of joy) going.

Epic Proposal from 26 Countries, 4 Years in the Making 

"I'm going to marry this girl eventually," is what Jack Hyer says he wrote in his travel journal shortly after his first date with his girlfriend Becca. Over the next four years of the relationship, he filmed himself singing 1980s hit "I'm Gonna Be" as he traveled the world, with clips from places as far as China, Tanzania and Thailand. He used the reel to propose to her, also on camera in a restaurant, and posted the entire feat on YouTube.

Man Chases Love with 5K Proposal

This finish line was extra sweet for one runner who finished the Phillies Charities 5K, when her boyfriend pulled off what the sponsoring baseball team says was the first-ever proposal at the end of the event.

NASA Love

Talk about a lift off! This man taped himself proposing in front of Pad39 A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, which he notes on YouTube was "where we sent Apollo to the moon and Space Shuttles launched." You can't hear the words, but he says he wooed his wife-to-be with,"Some of mankind's greatest journeys started right here - I want to start my next journey with you -- will you marry me?"

On Bended Knee on "Ellen"

Is there any better place to propose than in front of a studio audience with Ellen on hand? There must be dancing after a life changing event like this. 

Sometimes You Have to Say Yes on the Subway

Subway trains can be gross, slow and crowded, but the chance to witness a proposal on board the train is sure to put your commute (and day) on the right track. Robert Waters told Gothamist that he planned to propose to girlfriend Carley Frese on the train, complete with a hired gospel choir, because "wanted to make it a special place for her the way that it is for me." 

A Musical Flash Mob 

The message was clear: "Who cares baby, I think I want to marry you." The groom-to-be surprised his future bride with a dancing flash mob proposal at Tivoli Village in Las Vegas, according to the videographer who captured the special moment.

Wildflower 

After surviving the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, Bonnie Kate was proposed to by her filmmaker boyfriend inside a movie theater. He told Today.com that he decided to stage the elaborate proposal, complete with a video documenting the ups and downs of their relationship, because he  "had to in some way shine light on the darkness."

 Rose Bowl Proposal Spectacular

This proposal took place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, where the couple met years before. But that was far from the only special detail of the event. Her boyfriend surprised his wife-to-be with a scavenger hunt that included pampering, lunch with friends, shopping spree and a meeting of the future in-laws before popping the question, according to the film company that captured the event.

Surprise Scavenger Hunt Engagement 

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel helped stage a proposal by selecting a "random" audience member to go on a scavenger hunt. The woman comes back with Elmo, but this was no joke. The man under the mask was her future husband. 


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<![CDATA[Stay Lucky: Feting Friday the 13th ]]> Fri, 13 Feb 2015 07:31:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/219*120/041509clover.jpg

Just when you had your paper garland of Cupids draped along the walls ever so perfectly, and just when you've memorized a slew of presidential facts, and just when you've found all of those Mardi Gras beads you stowed last year, it strikes: Friday the 13th.

As if the middle weekend of February wasn't already flush with a trio of top-tier holidays -- true, Mardi Gras is on Tuesday, Feb. 17, but places around Southern California are stirring the gumbo pot early -- Friday the 13th saunters by to join the Valentine's, Presidents Day and Fat Tuesday four-day weekend-long partay.

(Truth time: If you invited this particular quartet of holidays to a dinner party, we're not even how you'd break the ice, conversationally, though we suspect they'd all hit it off by dessert.)

But how to mark Friday the 13th, save walking around ladders, tucking four-leaf clovers into various pockets and not breaking mirrors?

You're in luck: Machine Project, that avant garde group of art-happening merrymakers based in Echo Park, shall devote a night of PowerPoints to that most eerie of calendar dates on, you guessed it, Friday, Feb. 13.

It's free, but you'll need to RSVP. (There are no superstitions surrounding RSVPing, right? Except it is rude to not RSVP when requested to do so? Maybe this social transgression delivers so-so luck for 13 days.)

The PowerPoints are timed -- and short, should you not feel like sitting through an evening of PowerPoint after compiling your own at work all day. Plus, how often at work do you take part in PowerPoints dealing with superstitions? Probably not often, unless you're employed by ghosts, or vampires, or perhaps cats.

(Truth time: Cats need a break in the superstition department. Meow.)

Best of luck on this Friday the 13th, and hang tight: Hearts, history, and King Cakes are on their way.



Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons]]>
<![CDATA[Dog Runs Away From Home, Tracks Down Owner With Cancer in Hospital]]> Fri, 13 Feb 2015 03:53:45 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_hospitaldog0212001_700x394.jpg A miniature Schnauzer ran away from its Iowa home to track down its owner, who was recovering from cancer in a nearby hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.]]> <![CDATA["Death Star" is Legoland's Latest Mega Addition]]> Thu, 12 Feb 2015 16:51:52 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Death+Star+Legoland.JPG

Legoland’s latest attraction is made up of more than 500,000 Lego pieces, weighs more than 1,900 pounds and took a crew of construction workers to assemble.

Rest your eyes on the Death Star, the planet-shaped model that’s the latest addition to the LEGO Star Wars Miniland. You can check it out for yourself starting March 5.

Workers used a fork lift to perch the Death Star above the Star Wars display, which was no small task, as the model is 8-feet wide and 13-feet high.

The Death Star is inspired by Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, which featured the famous trench run scene where Luke Skywalker steered his X-wing fighter through the combat zone to destroy the Death Star.

The opening of the Death Star is a precursor to the Star Wars Days even on March 7 and 8, which will include various activities centering Star Wars.

]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: Valentine's, Presidents Day, Mardi Gras]]> Thu, 12 Feb 2015 17:43:25 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/238*120/valentinepresmardi1234567.jpg

One Long Weekend, Three Holidays: We know, we know... Fat Tuesday is, well, on a Tuesday, and doesn't technically get to be included in the Mondo Mid-February Long Weekend Stretch of Holidays. But since places around town are starting the bead-throwing, zydeco-stomping party early -- hello, Original Farmers Market -- Mardi Gras gets to be part of the weekend festivities. Kicking it all off, though, is Valentine's Day, which will be seen at tables-for-two at restaurants across SoCal. We suggest you take your honey swimming, because swimming on Valentine's Day, wow x 10. As for the Commanders-in-Chiefs? President Lincoln, President Washington, President Jefferson, and President Teddy Roosevelt will visit the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda on Feb. 16 (there shall be cherry pie in honor of Presidents Day). Also? The national parks are free to see all weekend long.

Historic Gems Re-Debut: How lucky are lovers of landmarks this weekend? (Answer: Majorly.) Both Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House, the home perched at Barnsdall Art Park, and Idle Hour, a posh tavern opening inside North Hollywood's famous barrel-shaped building, are re-debuting on Friday, Feb. 13. Hollyhock House has been closed for about three years for renos; 1933 Group is returning the Idle Hour to its early name (with swanky sips and eats in tow).

Edwardian Ball: Fans of illustrator Edward Gorey, and lovers of lace, brass, steampunk, corsets, parasols, theatrics, dramatics, aerialist, make-up, bustles, and everything ye olde shall promenade into The Fonda on Saturday, Feb. 14 for one very elaborate soiree (a soiree that boasts a side of merry wickedness). Need costume inspiration? The FIDM movie costume exhibit is now open, Tuesdays through Saturdays, through April 25.

Citrus Tours Open: The beautiful weather, so beautiful that we say "byooootiful" to folks living in colder places, drawing the word out, braggily, is to be enjoyed, because temperatures will soon dip again. One way to spend a gorgeous February day? Learning how tangerines grow, then taking a bag home. Tours open on Feb. 14 at Friend's Ranches in Ojai, and you'll learn lots, and enjoy orchard strolling, too. Hoo boy: It's so very easy to be braggy when citrus and sunshine are the standard setting 'round SoCal.

Oscars on the Way: We are a week out -- well, a week-ish -- from the Sunday, Feb. 22 Dolby Theatre gowns-and-statues-and-speeches spectacle cinematic. Want to get a jump on the Best Pictures? You can start on Feb. 14, at an AMC Theatre Best Picture Showcase. Find the participating AMC near you, then settle in for hours and hours of top-notch movie entertainment. Have they started rolling out the red carpet on Hollywood Boulevard yet? When they do, you and your Oscar telecast-watching opinions will be at the ready.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Nixon Library/Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Valentine's Sweet: Spider Monkey Pair Finds Friendship]]> Thu, 12 Feb 2015 15:05:43 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/valeriepepe2345323-tile.jpg

Everyone hopes that, upon meeting a new friend, a fine companion, and a possible soul mate, words like "joy" and "play" and "chatter" will be expressed by onlookers. If the first meeting can elicit moved and kindhearted reactions, surely the future looks bright.

They're perfect words to meditate on during the days leading up to Valentine's Weekend, and that a pair of rescued spider monkeys making headlines inspired them makes their meeting, and story to come, all the more charming.

Meet Valerie and Pepe, two spider monkeys who definitely needed a pal.

Los Angeles-based Animal Defenders International, which works on "securing animal protection legislation, drafting regulations, and rescuing animals in distress" located the frolicsome simians.

But they weren't located together. Valerie was found in Lima, where she was "being used as entertainment in a restaurant," and Pepe hailed from Cusco, where "the intelligent, playful monkey had been kept alone for eight years and chained by the neck for eight years." His canine teeth had also been removed.

The organization, which also has offices in London and Bogotá, is raising funds to create a habitat in the Amazon for animals like Valerie and Pepe and the indigenous wildlife that volunteers spend time diligently rescuing and nurturing. Animal rights supporter Bob Barker gave a half-million dollars for a center in Peru, but it is described as a "temporary holding" place, not the wilder habitat ADI seeks.

For now, though, Valerie and Pepe are together, chattering and playing. If you need a dose of duo-sweet coming-together-ness, and two spider monkeys making merry, this is the video.



Photo Credit: Animal Defenders International]]>
<![CDATA[Fat Tuesday Fur Fun: Doggie Gras Parade]]> Thu, 12 Feb 2015 08:57:54 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hwacmuttdi13.jpg Rancho Santa Fe's Helen Woodward Animal Center celebrates with a merry procession of pups.

Photo Credit: Helen Woodward Animal Center]]>
<![CDATA[NoCal City's Humorous Traffic Signs]]> Thu, 12 Feb 2015 08:45:03 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/signs2.jpg

A Northern California city is using humor to get drivers to slow down and pedestrians to pay attention.

The City of Hayward has placed traffic signs along a downhill boulevard that read "35 — It's a speed limit, not a suggestion'' and "Heads up! Cross the street, then update Facebook.'' Another sign warns: "Downhill: Use eyes, brakes, brain.''

The Oakland Tribune reports city workers installed the offbeat traffic signs in January along Hayward Boulevard, which is known for cars zipping down from the hills.

City spokesman Frank Holland says authorities hope using humor will get people to do a double-take and be careful on the hill.

A recent survey found speeding was a top concern for residents in the area.



Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>